Posted: Fri, October 19, 2012 | By:
by Kris Notaro
A short and simple overview of how anarchism relates to transhumanism….
Libertarian socialism The first anarchist journal to use the term “libertarian” was La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social and it was published in New York City between 1858 and 1861 by French anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque.” The next recorded use of the term was in Europe, when “libertarian communism” was used at a French regional anarchist Congress at Le Havre (16–22 November 1880). January the following year saw a French manifesto issued on “Libertarian or Anarchist Communism.” Finally, 1895 saw leading anarchists Sébastien Faure and Louise Michel publish La Libertaire in France.”
The word stems from the French word libertaire, and was used to evade the French ban on anarchist publications. In this tradition, the term “libertarianism” in “libertarian socialism” is generally used as a synonym for anarchism, which some say is the original meaning of the term; hence “libertarian socialism” is equivalent to “socialist anarchism” to these scholars. In the context of the European socialist movement, libertarian has conventionally been used to describe those who opposed state socialism, such as Mikhail Bakunin. (Who I am not a big fan of) The association of socialism with libertarianism predates that of capitalism, and many anti-authoritarians still decry what they see as a mistaken association of capitalism with libertarianism in the United States. As Noam Chomsky put it, a consistent libertarian “must oppose private ownership of the means of production and wage slavery, which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer.”
Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which endorses syndicalism. Syndicalism is an alternative co-operative economic system. Adherents view it as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by workers. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system, regarding it as wage slavery, and state or private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Anarcho-syndicalist theory generally focuses on the labour movement.
Anarcho-syndicalists regard the state as a profoundly anti-worker institution. They view the primary purpose of the state as being the defence of private property and therefore of economic, social and political privilege, even when such defence denies its citizens the ability to enjoy material independence and the social autonomy which springs from it. In contrast to other bodies of thought (Marxism–Leninism being a prime example), anarcho-syndicalists deny that there can be any kind of workers’ state, or a state which acts in the interests of workers, as opposed to those of the powerful. Reflecting the anarchist philosophy from which it draws its primary inspiration, anarcho-syndicalism holds to the idea that power corrupts.(1)(2)
Technology: Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning “art, skill, craft”, and -λογία (-logía), meaning “study of-” (3)
Noam Chomsky on Technology: “technology can be compared to a hammer. “It doesn’t care if you use it to build a house or crush someone’s skull. The Web is valuable if you know what you’re looking for, if you have a framework of understanding. But you always have to be willing to question whether your framework is the right one.” He compared simply browsing the web for information to pointing a student at the library knowing they had no idea what they were looking for. “Exploring the internet can just be picking up random factoids that don’t mean anything”, he said. “The person who won the Nobel prize in biology isn’t the person who read the most journals. It was the person who knew what to look for,””(4)
Transhumanism: is a intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other Emerging technologies for these purposes. Dangers, as well as benefits, are of concern to the transhumanist movement. (5)
Reality of the Production of Technologies Under Current Capitalism: “On the surface, companies like Jabil [HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco, AT&T, Motorola, Wal-Mart, Foxconn, Apple ] look clean and high tech. It seems well-run. But people looking in from the outside do not realize that the workers at Jabil are not treated like human beings. The workers must obey all demands from the factory and have absolutely no right to express disagreement. The workers are seen as components of a machine. During the entirety of their 12-hour shift, they are stripped of their humanity. They are not allowed to have their own personalities, feelings, desires or needs-even using the bathroom. For every second of every minute, they are controlled and ruled over by a prison-like management system.”(5)(6)(7)(8)
Capitalism and Working During the Human Condition: “To move beyond Marx and Anarchism in our current paradigm of the human condition may be an actual fallacy, an over criticizing of theory by intellectuals [including transhumanists] or Anarchists which have, out of awareness, a desire to move on past Marx and anarchism out of [the knowledge] of the dangers of simplifying the way people are supposed to be. Progress seems to come out of paradigmatic crisis, and this intuition may lead some to the point of over analyzing, yearning to either create crisis or move beyond crisis to a new paradigm because of authentic intuitive feelings of the yearning for progress and egalitarianism which many intellectuals experience and write about through out their lives.” (10)
“Though capitalism is meant to be based on competition, those at the top of the food chain have also shown themselves to be capable of inclusiveness and solidarity. The great Western Capitalists have done business with fascists, socialists, despots and military dictators. They can adapt and constantly innovate. They are capable of quick thinking and immense tactical cunning.But despite having successfully powered through economic reforms, despite having waged wars and militarily occupied countries in order to put in place free market “democracies”, Capitalism is going through a crisis whose gravity has not revealed itself completely yet.” (11)
Long story short: For all you republican, libertarian, and liberal capitalists out there that want to see a transhumanist future, the evidence is clear: you will have to abide by a broken system under the human condition. This includes capitalist free trade, unnecessary war, and wage slavery – are you really prepared to see transhumanist gadgets be set in stone within the history books as a time like that of apartheid or European and American slavery of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries?
Is your wealth, or dedication to the government and corporations that lead the way towards a transhumanist future really what you are all about? Transhumanists know that the future will include technologies that will replace government – worldwide. Transhumanists also know that democracy and/or singularity like computer intelligence will dictate our existential, utilitarian, and categorical imperative future. We will be networked together to feel and think as one via brain to computer interfaces. Whatever the means for higher critical thinking may be, rather morality drugs, nano-blood-bots, brain to computer interfaces, gene therapy, etc, the outcome will be socialized anarchism. Critical thinking does not lead the mentally “enhanced” individual or super-computer to be selfish, indeed just the opposite. Let’s take what we have so far as examples of critical thinkers who have come to the same conclusion but under the human condition. The list is long, but a few major examples are Marx, Einstein, Hawking, Chomsky, Russell, Arundhati Roy, most philosophers, anthropologists, and sociologists.
If we base human intelligence, logic and critical thinking on examples like these we are left with one conclusion: The mentally enhanced will be socialist anarchists, regardless of what kind of technology they may be – for universal health care, anti-war, anti-authoritarian, anti-discrimination, pro-democracy, pro-choice, anti-racism, and even anti-speciesism will be regarded as the highest value system ever pondered by the brain/mind.
Scientific inquiry, the scientific method, and scientific revolutions will bring the enhanced mind together. Scientific discoveries and theories, in my opinion will bring brain/mind together like that of the social theory of Anarcho-syndicalism. Science however does not need a State, government, or leaders to be accepted as the truth – the scientific method speaks for itself.
In conclusion, we have several things going on here: Transhumanism being State and corporate funded under a “race to the bottom” wage slavery economic system. But, we also have the claim that transhumanism will increase intellectual thought and compassion towards brain/mind. I personally would rather see the compassion come before transhumanism so that history doesn’t reflect that of our ancestors. Anarchism also allows the free-thinker some time to ponder what is right and wrong without an authority figure proposing and in some cases forcing concepts and theories on them. The scientific method, revolutionary liberal universities, colleges, and peer-reviewed journals will be of the utmost valued way of learning what is true and real - morally, ethically, and scientifically.
Kris Notaro works with the Bertrand Russell A/V Project at Central Connecticut State University, producing DVDs to be used in the classroom. His major passions are in the technological advances in the areas of neuroscience, consciousness, brain, and mind.
This essay first appeared in the weblog of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, here