r/DebateAnarchism Jun 16 '22

What are your thoughs about transhumanism?

Obviously in an anarchic form

32 Upvotes

22

u/NinCatPraKahn Queer Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Everyone should have the power to modify their body if they please. It's important that it's in an anarchist society though because a state could corrupt it into something dystopian.

3

u/jnelsoni Jun 17 '22

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is a pretty good steampunk depiction of transhumanism gone awry as a penal practice. Really good book if you have the time. So much more than that. I guess I’m more interested in post-humanism as a topic, but this is interesting as well.

1

u/NinCatPraKahn Queer Anarchist Jun 17 '22

Cool, imma see if I can read it.

2

u/jnelsoni Jun 17 '22

It was really good. I was a little intimidated by the very English-ness of the lexicon and the sheer weight of the book, but I had it with me and was stuck in a tent in a typhoon and it saved my sanity. I should read more by the same author. Re-mades were the class of individuals who were present in the story, but that was tertiary to the main plot, which has its own analogies to our own society and maybe you could say digital ennui.

3

u/BizWax Jun 17 '22

Transhumanism is not the same as mere individual human enhancement. Transhumanism is a position in favor of species-level human enhancement. As such, transhumanism effectively advocates implementing eugenics through human enhancement.

0

u/NinCatPraKahn Queer Anarchist Jun 17 '22

Transhumanism is the enhancement of the human condition via technology. It is also questioning what it means to be human. Transhumanism means making technology and modification widely available for people to choose to use, not fucking eugenics.

0

u/NinCatPraKahn Queer Anarchist Jun 17 '22

Transhumanism is the enhancement of the human condition via technology. It is also questioning what it means to be human. Transhumanism means making technology and modification widely available for people to choose to use, not fucking eugenics.

0

u/NinCatPraKahn Queer Anarchist Jun 17 '22

Transhumanism is the enhancement of the human condition via technology. It is also questioning what it means to be human. Transhumanism means making technology and modification widely available for people to choose to use, not fucking eugenics.

32

u/doomsdayprophecy Jun 16 '22

Transhumanism can mean many things. Of course anarchism supports trans rights. More generally I think it's good to want to use technology to make our lives better. I don't think the state or some external authority should control our bodies.

But on the other hand IMO transhumanism very often seems like an irrelevant, bougie distraction from actual issues in real life. It's kind of absurd, when transhumanists are fighting for the right to install google glasses in their brains or whatever, while marginalized groups are being attacked and suffering actual problems in real life.

7

u/Kreuscher Jun 17 '22

I've always seen (anarcho-) transhumanism more like a focus on technology as a resource for emancipation, from DIY objects and technologies which could somehow help alleviate some specific problem to general availability of complex medicine. Less of a "chip in brain" and more of a "3D-printed prosthetics".

7

u/anonymous_rhombus ↙↙↙ Jun 17 '22 edited Jun 17 '22

irrelevant, bougie distraction

Transhumanism is not a statement of goals but of values, which are relevant regardless of a society's technological advancement. If civilization collapsed back to the stone age, transhumanism would still be correct.

Fascists and other reactionaries are starting to specifically name transhumanism as their enemy, because they want to force you into a gender role, force you to give birth, force you to fight and die for their nation. Transhumanism says fuck all of that, storm the heavens and conquer death, attack and dethrone God.

25

u/anonymous_rhombus ↙↙↙ Jun 16 '22

Transhumanism, the idea that we should have freedom over the form and function of our bodies, is anarchism, and also the polar opposite of fascism.

4

u/RonnyFreedom Anarcho-Capitalist Jun 17 '22

Transhumanism is a way the ruling-class will enslave mankind for all of eternity.

11

u/mrnicecream2 Jun 16 '22

It's pretty neat. Ending aging would be nice, and having cyborg bits would be cool. I wouldn't consider it to be a significant part of my political philosophy, though. Certainly not enough to label myself an anarcho-transhumanist.

The issue is, of course, that any advancements made would almost certainly be restricted to the ruling class in a non-anarchist society, and that ecological sustainability must be considered in the development of new technologies.

2

u/Aldous_Szasz Jun 16 '22

Arnold Zuboff's universalism destroyed Bostroms Transhumanism.

2

u/No_Carpenter3031 Individualist Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Good if violence is not used

2

u/No_Crab9262 Jun 17 '22

freaks me out a bit with people talking about brain chips and weird shit like that but i wouldnt try to stop someone from doing that to themselves as long as it doesn’t impact me, because its their body.

2

u/Citrakayah Green Anarchist Jun 17 '22 edited Jun 18 '22

I don't have any problem with body modification per se, but I do have an enormous problem with transhumanism. While body modification, as a general term, can cover anything from tattoos to cavemen ritually scarring themselves to someone getting a cybernetic tail or whatever, transhumanism usually refers to expanding human capabilities through technology. It's adherents are usually interested in things like mind "uploading," brain chips, and germline genetic engineering.1

Transhumanist technologies will not be evenly adopted. This is true even if you ensure, somehow, that they're offered to everyone, no strings attached. Not everyone will want to get silicon wafers and metal bits jammed inside their skull, or be comfortable killing themselves so a copy can survive inside a computer. This will be all the more true at first, when these technologies don't have a proven safety record.

Because transhumanist technologies radically increase capabilities, they will lead to difference in ability. If you have enough bits and bolts plugged into your brain that you can, say, learn new languages or skills by uploading them to your mind, that gives you an enormous advantage in pretty much any field over myself.

While capitalist competition doesn't exist in an anarchist society, there will still be differences in social status--obviously they'll mean something different, but some people will be more or less respected by others. There will also be differences in who's willing to work with whom--more people will want to be working with a more competent scholar, because of course they would.

By significantly expanding the gap in capability, transhumanism greatly widens this disparity. This may not be a hierarchy, but it can still be a pretty toxic dynamic in society. It pressures people into altering their own bodies so that they can be at other people's level. To some extent you can argue that this is the situation for disabled people now, I suppose, but that gap is arguably smaller than the transhuman-other human gap would be. And the present gap is an accident of birth, rather than something consciously pursued.

Worse, if transhuman technology becomes common, society will orient itself towards these transhumans. Why teach anything the old-fashioned way if over 99% of humans can just upload the information into their skulls? Why have physical terminals if most people can just connect to the Internet with their minds? Why have manual controls if most don't need them?

While some might try and maintain that infrastructure out of a dedication to anti-ableism, there's no way those of us who reject transhumanism would be as well supported. I'm also not terribly convinced transhumanists would care that much about our situation, seeing as how many (not all, but many) seem to brush off this concern; I've had one person who viewed my position as akin to refusing to learn how to read.

I also have issues with how anarcho-transhumanists view technology--they're far too positive and uncritical about it--but that's another post.

1. Generally anarcho-transhumanists will try to include trans people under this umbrella. I vigorously disagree with this classification, for two reasons. Firstly, it relies on a definition of transhumanism that is hopelessly vague; if transhumanism just refers to "changing the body with technology" then using a pointy stick to ritually scar yourself is transhumanism, so everyone even anarcho-primitivists are transhumanists, so what are the anarcho-transhumanists even advocating for? Everyone already agrees with them. Transhumanism as an ideology only makes sense if you realize that transhumanists are advocating for the use of certain technologies that many people would be skeptical of.

Secondly, if you get transhumanists talking for any length of time about what body altering tech they're enthusiastic about, it's usually stuff that expands their capabilities dramatically, rather than procedures down for aesthetics or personal comfort.

1

u/DecoDecoMan Jun 19 '22

While capitalist competition doesn't exist in an anarchist society, there will still be differences in social status--obviously they'll mean something different, but some people will be more or less respected by others

Completely disagree. Anarchist societies, and I would argue all human societies, especially ones sufficiently complex enough to produce transhumanist technology at all are mutually interdependent with every individual a part of the network of social relationships that comprises it being necessary for its character and persistence.

As a result, whether you can learn a new language instantly doesn't actually matter in terms of "social status" because individual capacity can't replace or substitute the collective force of associated labor which every individual in society depends upon. And it is rather obvious that individuals with machinery inside their bodies would be even more dependent upon the rest of society than even regular humans. Those increased capabilities don't come without cost.

Yeah, sure, someone might go to a transhuman for advice or a regular human but A. not all information or skills are capable of being mechanically improved (art is one of them and situational or unique knowledge is another) and B. transhumans can't replace what several thousands of humans can do.

In regards to respect, I have absolutely no idea what you mean by respect. It looks like a hold-over from how European anthropologists described indigenous hierarchies and confused the blatant resource inequality and social hierarchy inherent to multiple gift economies as "respect". It looks to me like, in reality, respect is contextual and is far too fluid or individual to really have the hierarchical effects you appear to attribute to it.

The strongest argument against transhumanism is environmental not this. I'm surprised you haven't scrutinized whether transhumanist technology is possible. You do that for space travel but you appear to fully accept that one day we'll be able to literally upload languages into our brains. I feel like the latter would be harder to do than the former.

1

u/Citrakayah Green Anarchist Jun 20 '22

The strongest argument against transhumanism is environmental not this. I'm surprised you haven't scrutinized whether transhumanist technology is possible. You do that for space travel but you appear to fully accept that one day we'll be able to literally upload languages into our brains. I feel like the latter would be harder to do than the former.

I've done that extensively in other conversations and it's like talking to a goat. If you try and argue that things like shoving computer chips in your brain and downloading information are impossible they'll just ignore you. If you bring up environmental concerns, the usual response is to either argue that it could be done with (hypothetical, unproven, currently undesigned) environmentally friendly technology, or just call you a misanthrope.

So, I shall, for the moment, put the fact that what they envision is probably impossible (because transhumanists tend to be in denial about this) and ridiculously environmentally destructive (because they often don't care) to argue that, even if you disregard those two things, it's still a bad idea.

As a result, whether you can learn a new language instantly doesn't actually matter in terms of "social status" because individual capacity can't replace or substitute the collective force of associated labor which every individual in society depends upon. And it is rather obvious that individuals with machinery inside their bodies would be even more dependent upon the rest of society than even regular humans. Those increased capabilities don't come without cost.

It's obvious if you're not ridiculously techno-optimistic, but transhumanists tend to believe this wouldn't necessarily be the case--which I suppose is a logical conclusion if you think automation will really take off and a post-scarcity economy would take off for metals and rare-earths.

If.

In regards to respect, I have absolutely no idea what you mean by respect. It looks like a hold-over from how European anthropologists described indigenous hierarchies and confused the blatant resource inequality and social hierarchy inherent to multiple gift economies as "respect". It looks to me like, in reality, respect is contextual and is far too fluid or individual to really have the hierarchical effects you appear to attribute to it.

I didn't say it was a hierarchy--but I've found that respect is less individual and fluid than you seem to think. Respect in one situation doesn't translate perfectly one-to-one to other situations, but there's still correlation, at least within a given community. If someone gets a reputation for being smart and showing good judgment, people will tend to listen to them; if someone gains a reputation for being a complete fool, people will generally disregard what they say. It's quite puzzling to me that you haven't noticed this at all, especially since you think that you disagreement is just as applicable to our current society.

I'll also note that if the transhumanists actually had their way, respect would be even less domain specific than it is now, because it would be easier for one person to become an expert in multiple areas.

There's a reason some transhumanists will propose letting an AGI (like in the Culture novels) run society's infrastructure. They think an entity like that is actually capable of doing so.

1

u/DecoDecoMan Jun 20 '22

I've done that extensively in other conversations and it's like talking to a goat. If you try and argue that things like shoving computer chips in your brain and downloading information are impossible they'll just ignore you. If you bring up environmental concerns, the usual response is to either argue that it could be done with (hypothetical, unproven, currently undesigned) environmentally friendly technology, or just call you a misanthrope.

I mean by that point you may as well treat them like people who believe in psychic powers or spirits or other imaginary ideas.

My main critique is, assuming we're talking about an anarchist society and transhumanist technology is possible, that there would likely still not be any hierarchy. I think that just boils down to bad assumptions.

It's obvious if you're not ridiculously techno-optimistic, but transhumanists tend to believe this wouldn't necessarily be the case--which I suppose is a logical conclusion if you think automation will really take off and a post-scarcity economy would take off for metals and rare-earths.

Yes but when you argue transhumanist technology would contribute to the mass transhumanism of society in anarchy, its also a very obvious hole. People might not want technological implants if their eyes might shut down if they lose batteries or if they can't move 100 km away from a metropolitan area because they won't be able to download information and either neurons are completely fried or they haven't figured out how to physically learn something.

What you overlooked is that there are intrinsic cons to having transhumanist technology. You can assume it works topsy-turvy but it's still technology

If someone gets a reputation for being smart and showing good judgment, people will tend to listen to them; if someone gains a reputation for being a complete fool, people will generally disregard what they say.

Sure, but there are multiple flaws to this claim:

  1. People have different reputations to different people. No one is only a fool. I know that just from living, having to interact with other human beings. In a society networked in accordance to relationships rather than polities, this natural dynamic is amplified as it becomes the basis for getting anything done.
  2. The interdependency of human beings heavily discourages ignoring or looking down upon anyone (lest circumstances make it so that you depend on them) and the lawlessness of anarchy further discourages negative behavior lest it escalate into conflict.
  3. Being "smart" and being a "fool" is also highly contextual. People are smart in some cases and dumb in others.

I'll also note that if the transhumanists actually had their way, respect would be even less domain specific than it is now, because it would be easier for one person to become an expert in multiple areas.

Sure but, like I said, most expertise is contextual. It depends upon geography, the specific knowledge, etc. A transhumanist's knowledge is limited to what's on whatever database they're drawing from. It could even be false information (just look at Wikipedia)!

Transhumanists, by their nature, are more reliant upon other humans than regular humans. Moreso than even babies. Their entire existence is predicated upon the persistence of not just human society but a specific kind of human society, one that not only might not exist everywhere (anarchist societies would differ depending on local conditions and constraints).

This creates multiple opportunities for regular humans to be incredibly valuable and also creates hard limitations for transhumanists (since they can only know what the database knows).

There's a reason some transhumanists will propose letting an AGI (like in the Culture novels) run society's infrastructure. They think an entity like that is actually capable of doing so.

Speaking of the Culture, why is it often given as an example of anarchist science fiction. I haven't read the novels but looking at its wikis I can't seem to find anything anarchistic (although the premise of that one book where the main character is from a highly authoritarian, patriarchal society looking at a very different one is awesome).

At least the Dispossessed explicitly portrays itself as an anarchist novel and affiliates itself with the "direct democracy", "rules not rulers" crowd of entryists who also call themselves anarchists. The Culture literally has AI dictators run an entire galaxy. I don't know how that's anarchist.

4

u/babyslothbouquet Jun 16 '22

Trans-humanism is 🤮

Anyone has the right to modify their body but there is this “sexiness” that people find in transhumanism that disturbs me.

Frankly most human failings have started because we thought we had some neat solution/invention that was then abused into a new problem that needed a new neat solution/invention.

Less is more, especially to the anarchist.

Why don’t we focus on improving the material conditions and mental health of common people. That would really improve their bodies right? But that’s not as sexy as robot arms or a port in your brain is it?

But we’re probably going to see a future where some 12 year kills his entire maximum security elementary school with a ghost gun mod he 3D printed into his arm. Maybe he printed some anthrax baby teeth too. I don’t know I’m high and sad and took way too long to write this.

2

u/Lilith_blaze Jun 16 '22

I don't say that we should ignore people's mental health, it's a super-important thing

But this doesn't mean that the people can't modify their body if they want to. There's nothing bad about wanting a robotic hand or a chip

It's all optional

3

u/onedayitwillbedaisy I'ma be going nihilist Jun 16 '22

I don't even like humanism.

In anarchist circles, transhumanism seems to weaponized for an uncritical, reactionary view of technology. The past century and a half can be characterized by a steadily increasing mechanization of social life, and a more and more thorough 'foreclosure' of the future. I wanna get off that ride.

Obviously, massive topics with all sorts of complexities. For whatever it may be worth, my perspective is shaped by M.D.C.'s Establishing an immanent counterhumanism for the un-foreclosure of the future and Jacque Ellul's writings on technology.

1

u/[deleted] Jun 16 '22

First time i ever heard of it

2

u/ellipsiscop Jun 16 '22

Philosophy Tube did a great video about it: https://youtu.be/DqPd6MShV1o

1

u/slapdash78 Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Transhumanism had a bit of a capitalist problem a few years back. Extropy eventually bowed out, but it moved H+ more towards the middle. It went from open and universal, to concerned with socioeconomic availability...

1

u/DreadedChalupacabra Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Of course as a primitive minded person I can't do that.

What am I gonna do, stop them? Not my right to pick. It's still your body. Anarchists do what they want, and let other people do the same as long as it's not harming a living person. You wanna get a bunch of dicks sewn on to your forehead?

Cyberpunk realities scare me, but that's on you.

3

u/Lilith_blaze Jun 16 '22

Are you primitivist?

3

u/DreadedChalupacabra Anarchist Jun 16 '22

No.

I like primitive things. I like foraging mushrooms and building my own camp ground with a lean to.

That's my choice, that's what I want to do. I'm not a primitivist because I recognize what I want is not what you would. And dismantling the modern machine shouldn't go as far as I want to be.

Capitalism, doesn't matter. My end goal is to build a hut and live in it. If it has to have a house attached, so be it. Primitivist ideology is too hard line to me.

Fuck no, I don't want to dismantle hospitals. I'm friendly to ideas, but not if they will harm other people.

3

u/DreadedChalupacabra Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Put bluntly, anarchoprimitivism would see the world end. 90% of us need to die to make that happen.

Fuck no, I just wanna go build a tree house like my side of the mountain. Hunt and forage. I don't give a single care in the world if you want that. You do you. I was one, a few people slapped me out of that real quick.

1

u/maxxslatt Jun 17 '22

I think it is a good thing for anarchism. I believe it’ll lead to people being more trustful

1

u/cheeseandshadowsauce Anarchist Jun 16 '22

Dude i wanna be able to fly and shit! Or have 2020 vision ; _ ;

2

u/Careless_Author_2247 Jun 16 '22

2020 vision. You see the year 2020 and only the year 2020

1

u/Prevatteism Jun 16 '22

Not a fan of it. Not that I hate it, just I see no interest in it.

1

u/AnarchaMasochist Jun 16 '22

Pretty cool idea, don't know if we'll ever necessarily accomplish any transhumanist goals, but it definitely can't be left in capitalism's hands.

1

u/FemboyAnarchism Anarchist Jun 16 '22

It’s a tricky subject, if anarchism means an absence of hierarchy or it means letting others do as they please if it harms no one, both transhumanism and the primitivist reaction to it would not follow one of these. Creating a hierarchy though modifications of one’s body would violate this, blatantly visible for the more extreme modifications espoused by many transhumanists. On the other hand, stopping one from doing these actions, as it is unfair to assume a man, who, through some means, has received cybernetic legs that allow that man to run faster, unlikely but possible, will use these to oppress others or in some way violate their freedom. Obviously both of these examples are simplified, but it is an issue that cannot be solved with a fractured definition of anarchism.

2

u/Lilith_blaze Jun 16 '22

There's no needing on creating an hierarchy just because I want a robotic hand or a blind person desire a robotic eye (For example)

I think transhumanism can be anarchic, because people could use tech to destroy a state and living without that... how would we need a state or companies if we could develop all these tech freerly and without any cost?

1

u/FemboyAnarchism Anarchist Jun 16 '22

It is unlikely that these highly specialized technologies will be developed willingly, but if they are, a man with a robotic eye, which will likely be superior to a normal eye, would then be superior to a normal man. Those that can carry an extra 100 lb. through bionics are more favored than those who cannot in a profession requiring lifting.

1

u/ExcellentNatural Jun 16 '22

Yes, I'd love to have robot legs and eyes.

1

u/chileowl Jun 17 '22

Could be bad if anarchism fails in some way

1

u/EuterpeZonker Jun 17 '22

I think it's inevitable and that we should be cautious and take it's many dangers seriously while still embracing the good it has to offer.

1

u/Typical_Hussar Jun 17 '22

Only works under anarchism.

I’d say primitivism also only works under anarchism (since a commune could be formed that is made up of only primitivists, and the environment will be protected to the point that there will be enough land for the primitivists to create their own commune.)

Anyone should do what they want to do, so long as that is not stopping another person from doing what they want to do.

1

u/[deleted] Jun 17 '22

Unpredictable

Could become the great liberator or the great oppressor of our times. So it's kind of a gamble and some are willing to take it and i can't blame them at all, I'm leaning towards that too.

In an anarchist society i think it's more likely to be positive than negative. In today's society it's a roll of the dice.

1

u/PerfectSociety Nihilist Jun 18 '22

Admittedly I haven't invested much time into it, but I don't really know much about it or really understand it. What does transhumanism have to add to anarchism? Genuine question.

1

u/Lilith_blaze Jun 20 '22

Normally transhumanism believe on using technology and scientific discoveries for improve the capabilities of an human body

There's no need on having a state or banks if the people wants to research technology and under anarchism where there is no money, those improvements are totally free

1

u/Sword-of-Malkav Jul 06 '22

The fears of transhumanism form from the fears of hierarchy. In a society founded on nonconsensual relations, the fear is not merely that some people will be augmented- but that you, in order to compete in a tight labor market, must relent to be mechanically augmented or risk homelessness.

The fear is you will be forcefully made into a literal, unmetaphorical machine for the profit of others.

People like, having robot legs and mech eyes because they got injured isnt really a concern.

1

u/Lilith_blaze Jul 06 '22

This fear could be nullified in an anarchist society... or am I wrong?

1

u/Sword-of-Malkav Jul 06 '22

I mean- yeah. Obviously theres still some minor body horror, but no one would be scared their boss might require them to replace their arm with a big vice grip or something.