Posted: Mon, February 18, 2013 | By: Terra Bosart
Language is the first invention which distinctly separated us from other animals on this planet. Although some argue it was our dextrous thumbs capable of advanced tool wielding, I disagree. There are other species with thumbs, but no other species has the same vocal conveyance of intelligent thought in the form of abstractions, as we have.
Because language leaves no fossil record, its origin remains a mystery. It has been so long ingrained in our lives that we scarcely give second thought to the powerful technology our vocal chords wield on a daily basis.
Today, thanks to the Internet’s power, we see flippancy in how people use language in certain settings, especially in the digital town square of Facebook. Terms and phrases are easily thrown about, often without an appreciation of context, subtext, or etymology. All it requires is one person using a word incorrectly, and another gullible mind to spread its use among others… and the DisInformation spreads quickly.
My opinion is… the term “Borg” - in regards to Transhumanism - is a grossly inaccurate application. It is convenient, but derogatory.
As Transhumanism increases its social recognition - bio-conservatives might propagandize against it, using the “Borg” appelation.
“Hive-mind” can be used positively, to indicate a merger between technological and biological systems for greater efficiency, or a community of connected values and experiences.
Unfortunately, in Star Trek, the “hive-mind” concept is introduced via adversarial Borg collective.
Their hive-minded determination to assimilate all forms of life into their group should not be associated with Transhumanism.
If the Borg had bothered to include the irrational love emotion, they might have been cyber-Buddhas rather than rapists and pillagers of the galaxy. But they didn’t and it isn’t just compassion they lack, they also have no culture, no subjectivity with regard to notions of beauty. By modern standards, this is intolerable.
The negative traits of these characters must be consciously acknowledged, to avoid horrific pitfalls as we sail into the future. Objective rationalization, taken to an extreme, often begins with the best intentions. The Borg started in the pursuit of improvement, and may serve as a cautionary tale.
The Borg come from a habitual mindset, rather than a novelty-based mindset. They want to make all the same, to make everything one, rather than increase diversity or empower the individual. The Borg do not physically evolve, they subjugate, in their pursuit of proclaimed self-betterment. If doing so, they mimic the worst aspects of human history.
Rather than improve, they grow stagnant. Sucking life from others is their only survival prerogative. Their only procreation is subjugation. They denied “irrational” drives such as love and philosophy, in favor of a repetitive cannibalistic consumer-based culture, very much like locusts, vampires, and zombies.
The Borg are colored with the cultural nuances of our age - our fears and misgivings about a world with less privacy.
Obsolete Operating Systems:
The Borg acts like a fundamentalist religion gone astray, ruled by a psychopathic pseudo-genocidal/pseudo-rapist based matriarchy. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with religion, or matriarchy for that matter. It is the psychopathy, pseudo-genocidal, black and white thinking forced on a brainwashed hive-mind of masses that I take issue with. This, ironically, will be the same tactic conservative media will attribute to Transhumanism.
Glenn Beck has already fired the first verbal shot across the bow, in comparing scientific progress under Transhumanism to Nazi ideology. Self-identification as Borg, even as shorthand for cyborg, will be pop-cultural ammunition for bio-conservative manipulation of the fence-sitters. Beck’s hope to discredit by instigating fear of the unknown in his viewers is a traditional psychological tactic of the conservative, attempting to control and redirect the uneducated, into the mentality of a frightened mob.
Beck’s voice is part of the Republican platform which has been seeking one scapegoat or another for over a decade. For his purposes, a warning against Transhumanism may prove to be too late, as his credibility and that of his party has evaporated over time. However, transhumanists should avoid giving them ammunition to elevate their platform, in the form of slang terms like “Borg.”
Religions themselves are hive-mind communities, and the same can be said of any ideology. In extreme fundamentalist applications the tactic is clear. Pursuit of perfection resembles an arrogant notion of becoming a singular god through methods which more resemble a gnostic demon.
Transhsumanists should err on the side of caution. Self-identifying as “Borg” may be the very red flag that fencesitters need to become bio-conservatives or neo-Luddites. One need only look to the American 2012 election and campaign trail to see the disinformation rhetoric spread far among liberal detractors. Words taken out of context were the name of the game in raising one candidate over the other.
If bio-conservatives compare Transhumanists to the Borg, they will paint themselves as the good guys, which in Star Trek terms would be the Federation. That is to say, a planetary socialist government, which conservatives aren’t too keen on either. If anything, the behavior of the GOP and the religious right mirrors the behavior of the fictitious Borg collective by pushing an attempted ideological conquest toward centralized authoritarianism.
Cultural Homogenization as Upgrade:
Though a certain memetic Darwinism is at play in the world, in the form of a massive cultural homogenization, there are those who approach upgrading their perspectives and culture itself with trepidation. After all, the old traditions got our species this far, so why should they be rejected? It doesn’t seem very progressive to dismiss tradition as irrelevant, in regard to where our species came from, but progress does make older ways near intolerable to the modernized human.
As we become a planetary community, language and memes take on increased significance through consumed or created media. Our sense of identity is developed in the rapid fire environment of media conglomeration. Although we communicate using an agreed-upon symbol set, meaning becomes lost if terms are not precisely defined.
Media theorist John Thompson argues that “symbolic distancing from the spatial-temporal contexts of everyday life” takes place for media consumers. Continuing, he says that “individuals are able to gain some conception, however partial, of ways of life and life conditions which differ significantly from their own.” Viewing images of other ways of life provide a resource for individuals to think critically about their own lives and life conditions.
Our ability to imagine lifestyles of others can act as a catalyst for peaceful and patient understanding between groups of people. Our media creations can accelerate a sense of compassion for differences as we re-develop our notions of self to accommodate new information. This is a skill that both the Borg and Glenn Beck lack, in contrast to the general egalitarian aims of Transhumanism.
In building connectivity through communication, we may come to realize the unfulfilled dream of the legend of the Tower of Babel - a construct that stands, virtually, as a monument to human achievement.
Care in everyday speech should be taken to ensure that this tower cannot be destroyed through the confusion of Language.
Otherwise, this edifice might wind up resembling a dogmatically-simplistic Borg Cube.