Zoltan Istvan declares war on transhumanism.
I respond to this article by Zoltan Itsvan with a blanket rejection. Frankly, I am offended by Zoltan’s consistent lying.
Transhumanism—the social movement of merging people with machines & synthetic parts—is turning dangerously hard left.
We have inhabited a century of hard post WW2 repression originating from the US against anything reeking of socialism, communism, et.al. The US has always been a country of staunch capitalism, and it has always allowed the establishment of a neo-feudal billionaire class. This is a fact. Also a fact is that the billionaire class has always had a remarkably influence on US politics. The conjecture (or accusation) I make is that after WW2 the billionaire elites were actively terrified of an international take-over of the political spectrum towards socialism. As you may or may not know, before WW2 socialism was normal in the US. There were major socialist and communist parties and movements, and large sections of US political and union overton window had no issues labelling themselves either. Between the late 19th century and up to the new deal the biggest danger in the US for socialist, communist, social-democrat and democratic-socialist (what’s in a name) movements in US politics were originating from Pinkerton analogue billionaire funded private militia.
Here’s what a contemporary political commentator has to say about it:
Let’s look at the facts will we? In the 1950s this was the tax rate, as compared with current tax brackets.
The current percentile tax rates for the US are less than half of what they were in the WW2 and post war era, back when the US had, allegedly, the biggest economic growth ever. Around that time far right elements in US politics started actively asserting themselves, along stick&carrot lines – the high tax brackets were used, deliberately, to showcase the success of capitalism, by handing out redistributive efforts to the lower and middle classes, while at the same time McCarthyism went after those that had strong left ideologies, and destroyed them. So – when communism became part of the proverbial dustbin of history, the habit of beating up and imprisoning didn’t end much, and the PR efforts that alleged “capitalism is a pretty awesome system” where aborted. See the results before you.
Ever since then US politics has been, by any standard, rabidly far right capitalist – to the point of self harm. We can now see the results in US society and they are abysmal by any standard.
In the 1980s, when transhumanism first got started in California by libertarian-minded philosophers
So first Zoltan starts off with a lie. Transhumanism was established by people of many english speaking nationalities. I wrote strongly transhumanism centered articles when I was attending Philosophy at the RUL university in 1991, I didn’t use the name “transhumanism” yet, but it was already a very consistent ideology in my mind. I got familiar with other transhumanists and as far as I am concerned these people occupy the whole gammut of political viewpoints, from far left to far right. The original founder of the word, FM2030 wasn’t even English speaking – was was of Belgian born of Iranian descent and nowhere near right wing. In fact he assertively steered away from the right-left dualistic doctrine by establishing “upwing” politics, as alternative to the previous.
In the mind of many USians, especially those that inherited large sums of money from their parents and didn’t have to work particularly hard for all that money, the US is under constant siege from “far left” elements who want to appropriate a large amount of their money. In Libertarian thinking socialism is an ideology that “steals” what they have, no matter how they got it, and seeks to “redistribute” that money to “the undeserving”. Zoltan Istvan is no exception this rule as he actively runs for office as a Libertarian, and constantly hammers Libertarian viewpoints. Anything that detracts from his values (and property), such (as he calls it) “leftist climate change”, is rejected off hand, even if it veers in mass denial of science, fact, reality or truth. In certain insular right wing circles this kind of tonedeaf pearl clutching outrage is all fashionable these days.
Whether a social movement is embraced by the left or right can ultimately determine its course. Take environmentalism, for example, which has over a billion adherents. It’s decidedly a movement associated with leftist political tendencies. In fact, many leaders in the GOP outright deny climate change despite much scientific evidence, and our President has recently rolled back environmental regulations—all in a bid to push back against leftists gaining traction in this ever increasing hot-button political and social issue.
As you can clearly see from his own words – Zoltan supports climate change denial, and he actively supports “his president”, Donald J. Trump. Good graces indeed. That’s one way of doing PR.
Zoltan constantly affirms Transhumanism as a right wing originated, strongly Libertarian influenced ideology, by mentioning right wing or far right wing donors and ideologues, such as Peter Thiel (Who is actively funding efforts to rescind “democracy”, and return to a previous political order) or Mark Zuckerberg, who has been off recently constantly involved with attempts to actively sabotage democracy through the spread of ‘fake news’ and supression of leftist voices in the fakebook platform.
The truth is rather different. Transhumanism was actively and decisively founded through the World Transhumanist Association in the 1990s, and it’s key founder can not by any stretch of the definition be called someone of right wing persuasions. To suggest otherwise is worse than “lying by omission” – it is intentional misrepresentation of facts.
Occasionally Zoltan gets it right though
Most of the recent growth in transhumanism seems to be coming from the youth. Over a third of Americans are under the age of 35, and a large majority that are voting age identify as independent or Democrats. It’s for this reason, that transhumanism is turning left after years of being known as a libertarian-minded movement.
Yes, for many years throughout the early years of this century Transhumanism has been strongly influenced by US Libertarianism, which is contrary to historical Libertarianism a far right, and specifically property centric ideology. But yes that is changing, because the majority of transhumanists -as he states it- are now left leaning.
Transhumanism should be a dialogue, of course, and should comprise a mix of all ideologies, whether centrist, from the left wing, from the right wing or (as it happens) from blue sky or “upwing”. I myself abhor staunchness in right-left matters, and have taken from both but most of all identify as upwing.
I do not believe, at all, that a societal model based on billionaires making donations to key initiatives can maintain a functioning society. I strongly believe a state is indispensable to maintain a rule of law, provide environmental protections, establish a commercial presence in space industrialization, unlock new technological advances, protect from hostile enemies abroad, and (as it happens) to provide a somewhat dignified existence for all of its citizens. And that’s why I am for a traditionally Libertarian idea such as a basic income, and that’s why I believe the current welfare system mess needs to be replaced with such as fast as humanly possible. And yes, such endeavours must be paid for by money exacted from the rich elites world wide. I am certain people “who made their money by receiving handsome inheritances” or “who made minor fortunes in real estate” frown upon such ideological viewpoints, as it affects their ability to travel across the planet in luxury and espouse their Libertarian, or Propertarian viewpoints.
The idea that we may experience a return to a “cold war”, where we have right minded american capitalists in favor of freedom facing off against sinister authoritarians in russia is complete and utter drivel. The cold war has ended a generation ago and to rekindle its false duality is about as productive as the effort to artificially laud the historical relevance of civil war statues. Communism failed because it wasn’t socialism, and it actively cultivated rich and completely unaccountable elites in the soviet union and china. The US was so successful in the 1950s and 60s as it actively cultivated democracy, societal transparency, progress, science, engineering, prosperity in all parts of its society, and social progress and the cultivation of a middle class. Consequently the US currently is so much of a failure as it does nothing of these things and has returned to this archaic and woefully outdated maximum of again “cultivating rich and completely unaccountable elites” … like the soviet union did.
In doing so he closes his mind that the US ranks substantially worse in literally every metric that matters, up to child mortality, with dozens of other countries. The US isn’t as successful (except for Zoltan, and his vinyards) as the insular and isolated elites of the US might have you believe. Well, it is, for them, but not for most other americans these days.
If we are to spread transhumanist values, which in my mind are largely congruent with progress-loving values, we should immediately stop alienating people of a leftist bent (Because “Venezuela”). I really like Zoltan Istvan as a PR spokesperson, even though I am not at all happy with his outlandish political stance, and I recently shook his hand at Future Flux Festival in Amsterdam. I think he’d make a great spokesperson of Transhumanism if he’d get over his irrational fears that some “leftists” are plotting to take his Vinyards from him. The future should comprize as rich and diverse a tapestry of political opinions and persuasions as possible and by actively alienating and othering socialists as some kind of foreign enemy is not productive. We have seen where that leads historically and it is nowhere near pretty.
Just read his article, and make up your own mind. I can only state I believe he’s dead wrong in this.