Friday, 14 February 2014

The significance of transhumanism

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Although explicitly confined to a tiny group of 'nerdy' intellectuals, Transhumanism has now become, implicitly, the most advanced and rigorous form of Left/Liberal/ Progressive ideology.

Transhumanism is the project, the desire, to regard as the primary virtue and have as the primary goal the abolition - via technology - of all forms of human suffering; including human disease, ageing and death - and beyond that to enable a continuous, albeit varied, state of happiness, bliss, positivity.

Transhumanism gets its name because it explicitly aims to transcend - that is to transform and improve - human nature.

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Until recently, all ideologies claimed or aimed to fulfil human nature - but in the nineteenth and twentieth century socialism or communism, then mainstream governments and corporations, aimed to change human nature - to make a New Man.

This was tried initially by psychological means - by propaganda, coercion, regimentation, brainwashing and the like. It was somewhat successful, but the results were far from complete. Transhumanism aims to extend and complete the process using biological means - the full range of modern technologies - pharmacology, surgical interventions, ultimately genetic re-reprogramming.

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Transhumanism may sound far-fetched, but one example is gender reassignment - in which technological (surgical and pharmacological) methods are used with the aim of changing a person's sex; and the results are nowadays in the West not a matter of individual opinion, but legally declared to have been successful.

A more mainstream example is that the majority of Western women have re-made their exteriors - using technological means - to simulate the exteriors of younger women - sometimes with, superficially (at a glance, from a distance), reasonable effectiveness. This also is deemed to have been a success - in that it is socially unacceptable, a slur or insult, to tell a woman over thirty that she looks as old as she actually is!

These provide examples of a similarity between the way that communism and transhumanism unfolded in practice - where the gap between aspiration and achievement was closed by force of law - and communism succeeded in the sense that was harshly-punishable to observe that communism had failed.

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With transhumanism, the intention is that utilitarianism (greatest happiness of the greatest number) would be operationalized and implemeted - any hope or ideal that happiness would be a matter of individual choice will stumble, fall and be trampled under the lability, subjectivity and inter-individual incompatibility from trying to make a social project out of an emotion.

Suffering is the worst evil, happiness now is the greatest good. These emotions will necessarily be decontextualized, abstracted and measured, so that they can be made into an engineering problem.

As with communism, these official measures of suffering and happiness will be made true by definition when their truth is disputed by individuals or spontaneous mass behaviour - and the crudity and coercion will be justified in terms of the imperative importance of the long term goals. 

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The problems of transhumanism are the same as the problems of communism, because it it trying to achieve the same ends merely by different means.

Transhumanism ignores the intractable problems of Leftism by dazzling itself with a vision of technological possibility; as when people are intoxicated by the idea that this could be a wonderful world if only everybody was sensible and nice to each other - which is true enough, as far as it goes...

For transhumanism, the world could be a lot better if technology was harnessed primarily to alleviate suffering and promote happiness - this also is true enough, so far as it goes; but meanwhile in the world the pharmaceutical companies - whose advertised intentions are transhumanist in nature - are actually mass marketing fake illnesses in order to sell drugs that reduce functionality and create dependence. 

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There are two major worries about transhumanism - that it will not work but like communism and Big Pharma the dishonest attempt to implement it will cause vast unneccessary suffering.

Or that it will work, and human nature will either be transformed or at least twisted and distorted by genetic re-programming into - well who knows what?

Then we enter a scenario variously depicted by the Tower of Babel, Brave New World, and That Hideous Strength.

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