Fascist transhumanists and 21st century politics

Tom James @ 04-09-2009

chain_crossCharlie Stross has written an interesting and engaging blog post on the future of politics in the 21st century, specifically he identifies the emergence of a new form of fascism that draws on transhumanism, the overhumanists:

To get to the money shot: transhumanism is going to influence the next century because, unless we are very unlucky indeed, the biotechnology, nanotechnology, and telecommunications industries are going to deliver goods that combine to fundamentally change the human condition. We’ve seen the tip of the iceberg so far

And what particularly exercises me is the possibility that if we can alter the parameters of the human condition, we can arbitrarily define some people as being better than others — and can make them so.

Not all transhumanists have good intentions. Earlier I went on for a while about Italy, home of the Modernist movement in art and birthplace of Fascism. Italy’s currently in the grip of a wave of racism and neofascist vigilantism, presided over by an allegedly racist media mogul with a near-monopoly on broadcast media in that country.

So it’s probably not surprising that Italy is the source of a new political meme that I hadn’t heard of before this week: overhumanism

It had to happen eventually. It is sad to see the largely noble ideals of transhumanism (particularly my personal favourite strand of democratic transhumanism) subverted in this way.

Is the spread of fascistic transhumanism as likely as Stross fears? If so, what can be done to prevent it?

[from Charlie’s Place][image from cosmo flash on flickr]

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8 Responses to “Fascist transhumanists and 21st century politics”

  1. gmoke says:

    Transhumanist global guerrillas optimized by technology, overhuman overlords over useless eaters. Ubermensch cannibals and genocidal racists ready to run riot. Fun.

  2. khannea says:

    Transhumanism is a very small fringe movement but since it is composed of a heavy element it makes quite a splash when dropped in the pond. If it surrounds itself with a volatile outer layer one could call “fascista” the splash become a deeply reverberating sonic boom.

    Fascism still occupies a part of our collective consciousness that used to be occupied by demons and satanworshippers. There are arguments to claim the italians snugly and intentionally occupy that spot of collective superstition, to exploit the fear of those they oppose. I regard statements and fanfare like this as wearing war paint or scary samurai masks. As the above commenter suggests this strategy of spooking the midwives still works. The milk is already turning sour from fright, what will become of us.

    What to do about it? Regard this from the outside. Look at these antics like africans joining sinister african militias and dressing up like this:

    http://www.fmft.net/African%20infantryman%20of%20the%20year%20AK%2047%20African%20militias.jpg

    When I see those, I don’t tend to get these scare responses. In fact I see something like this:

    http://img.moronail.net/img/9/2/292.jpg

    Which of course is not meant to be racist.

  3. Stefano Vaj says:

    I happen to be the individual accused by a couple of semi-professional psycho-policemen of being a “no-global fascist”. Only, *I* happen to be on the side of “democratic transhumanism”, as it is abundantly documented by my intense participation to the life of transhumanist and technoprogressive fora, while *they* do appear to have dubious connections in neo-con, neo-fascist and catholic-fundamentalist circles.

    In fact, one must keep in mind that fake alarms for the “red-brown plague” has become in Italy the trademark of hawkish conservatism. The argument goes that since Mussolini used to be a socialist and an atheist, if you are either or both, well, even if you are not a fascist already, at least your doom is sealed. Everybody is free to appreciate the quality of such line of thinking…

  4. elba says:

    The media latches on to the most shocking edge of any movement. If you look at Evangelicals, not all are fundamentalists; some are actually socially conscious and globally engaged. Mind you Alex Jones’ “End Game” tried to paint H+ in a bad light and I saw little negative publicity emanate from that. Unfortunately most people understand little about politics and history, so concern about his hitting the mainstream is probably overblown.

  5. gmoke says:

    Mussolini was a journalist and D’Annunzio was a poet. If you are a journalist or poet, you are one step away from being a fascist. I like Sebastian Haffner’s _Defying HItler_ as my own particular window into how fascism arises.

  6. khannea says:

    We inhabited an era where ideologies emerged, flourished and only died when completely not in demand, or useless. However, ideologies are now having to actually compete for access to scarce human brainspace. As a result we are more and more entering an era where ‘ideology’ thrives if it actually causes displacement (or destruction) of other ideologies.

    There are a number of people inside and around the whole transhumanist movement (and around any other sincere movements, including catholicism, deep ecology, scientology, neoconservatism) that prey upon both the foes of these ideologies as well as the core ideologies themselves – with the pupose of spreading themselves.

    Question is – is italian fascism predating upon transhumanism, is it recycling transhumanis, or is it trying to displace it? … and regarding any ‘critics’ of transhumanism … are they trying to interject their own ideology, or do just just destroy to create an opportunity for other idea systems?

  7. gabe says:

    I don’t know if Mr. Stephano Vaj is a fascist. What’s for sure is that all his articles are published by L’Uomo Libero (www.uomo-libero.com/autore.php?id=6), and this bi-annual is considered an extreme right-wing and anti-jewish periodical, according to ‘Anti-semitism worldwide”, the annual report by the Stephen Roth Institute For the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism And Racism:

    http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2001-2/italy.htm

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=7Ds6X1j_qkgC&dq=%22uomo+libero%22+neofascist&q=uomo+libero#v=snippet&q=uomo%20libero&f=false

  8. tychoish says:

    I’m interested in thinking about the shape that fascism takes in the 21st century (and beyond,) and I think access to genetic engineering is one of the dimensions that is going to reinvigorate flagging notions of class and race moving forward, but…

    I’m interested to see what you all think of the idea that the transhumans will be previously underprivileged/blessed folks: people of color, queers, women, etc. Think the continuing logic from Melissa Scott’s _Trouble and Her Friends._ The empowered already have power and don’t need to augment themselves, as it were. And then there’s the whole mess about how with the ability to choose the sex of your child has lead to *more* girl-babies being born not less (this from nancy kress, who I trust in these things)

    In any case Facism, after all, tends to grow out of certain economic and social conditions rather than out of extreme racism. It’s easy to loose sight of it, because Racism is often the defining symptom of Facism, but I think it’s important to remember that fascism isn’t the culmination of “end stage racism,” but rather something different entirely.