Oct 02 2012

Austerity Doesn’t Augur A Bright Future: Some Unsolicited Advice For Libertarian Transhumanists


There are many different political views in the world of transhumanism.  If you look at the recent IEET poll,  which cast a very broad and accurate net by inviting participants from the virtual places where transhumanists gather, you will find that — when asked “what is your political position?” — the majority of transhumanists fall into categories that are usually defined as “progressive’ or ‘left.”  If you total up Liberal, Socialist and Marxist selections, you wind up at 54% (rounded off).  Libertarians come in at 27% (rounded off) — making that an approximately 2 – 1 ratio.  (The remainder describe themselves as moderates.)  Still, libertarianism and transhumanism are frequently paired in the minds of many of its critics and even some of its adherents.

Whatever your broad ideological views may be, it strikes this writer as bad PR for any advocates of a world beyond limits to line up with a contemporary conservative (libertarian or authoritarian) economic political trend that supports austerity programs as commanded by the state-supported economic banking and finance giants.  If nothing else, listen to the language.

Ideological abstractions — such as the idea that the perfect free market will bring about the greatest wealth — have their place.  But in on-the-ground reality, the program of austerity is experienced by poor and middle class people as an attack on their well being and, as such, it fosters anti-technological reaction.  People know — literally or intuitively — that their world is already being buffeted by technological acceleration.  Is it wise to pull the survival net from under them (us) during these fragile times?

Libertarians believe in reducing the size of government and keeping it out of people’s private lives.   There are massive government expenditures for corporate welfare — government and business “partnerships” have built massive “complexes” that we describe as military-industrial, prison-industrial, ad infinitum.  Crony capitalism is rampant throughout Europe and the US.  And governments have not been backing away, in the least, from interfering with people’s private lives and personal rights.  We’ve witnessed the build up of massive — and expensive — apparatuses of surveillance and repression. But the only influence libertarians have in the actual political world is as part of a conservative coalition that squeezes the “entitlements” that affect the poor and middle class. Notice how you only get the low hanging fruit.  Apparently, the rest of the libertarian ideological package isn’t particularly in the interests of those who actually wield power.

So here’s a suggestion.  I hope some flexible and strategic-minded libertarian transhumanists will try to reorient and refocus their political discourse and activism toward this notion: end corporate welfare first; end crony capitalism first; end the expensive and excessive national security complexes first; end the interventionism that leads to expensive wars first.  Leave the devolution of centralized programs that effect the most vulnerable for last.

Maybe by then, the technologies of abundance will be so advanced that no one will have to suffer austerity. And maybe you will have avoided an uprising of people “fighting the future.”

Just a thought.