We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


I suppose I should not be surprised that transhumanist ideas, mutilated in a fascist form, would start to reach breakthrough point. Slightly late in the day as this was noted in September, but drinking wine and trawling Stross is one way of dealing with Saturday’s ennui..

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

The new tech is going to foster discrimination and differentiation. This will be enthusiastically taken up by those in power to maintain control. It will probably have a short shelf life as all such attempts to limit the (trans)human spirit do; measured in decades rather than centuries now. No doubt the kleptocratic elites of many countries will jump on this bandwagon to paint their already black rule a darker shade. Tempted enough by shiny power to create closed systems, too stupid to realise that they just shortened the life of their political schemes, by curbing their ability to adapt and change. In the long run, they will either die out or be bought out.

My only prediction: by the end of this century, we are going to be sick and tired of the suffix, -humanism.

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10 comments to Overhumanism

  • Sam Duncan

    Hmm. I stopped reading here:

    If your ideological reality tunnel is so narrow that you don’t get that Mussolini was a Fascist and that Aneurin Bevan was not a Fascist…

    Yeah, way to miss Goldberg’s whole damn point there, matey. Geez.

  • Emma

    “The whole of our constructed weltanschaung of modernity and enlightenment values and democracy rests on the fundamental axiom that existing human lives are of equivalent value.” and “But as long as we’re only dealing with Humanity 1.0, it’s hard to argue on empirical grounds that one human is intrinsically worth more than another.”

    Says Charlie.

    The problem is that this is wrong.

    The equality of people is, always has been, and to be taken seriously always must be a moral stance, not an empirical one, for people are most certainly not equal!

    I don’t think people being equal empirically even makes sense, some people are better than others at certain things, some at many things, the contributions that people can make to each other are certainly not all equally valuable, but the moral point is that each persons life should be treated as equally important, because their life, and (equal) freedom are valuable to themselves (if not always anyone else) and therefore should be respected.

    The fascists disagree with this moral principle, the transhumanism is completely beside the point.

  • cjf

    Authority dismisses all else. (A matter of “Who sez”)

    I was once a person, listed in” peronnel “. Then I was a
    resource, listed in “human resources”. Retired, I await
    the lowest profile of all.

    Current “Humanism” seems like “Behaviorism” of the kind Orwell’s O’Brien explained to Winston Smith.

  • Laird

    A bit O/T, perhaps, but why is this posted under the heading “Science Fiction”?

  • Paul Marks

    What matters, as regards “overhumanism” or anything else, is whether people are allowed to argue against it in ways that their voices can be heard.

    Once dissent is attacked then the barriers between Fascism and the “democratic socialism” of people like Bevan cease to exist – there is no longer any practical difference.

    In the United States dissent from collectivism is already almost nonexistent on most of the government (“public”) schools and many of the private ones. And dissent is hard to find among the academics in most of the universities – whether state owned or “private” (of course only a handful of American universities are private in terms of their funding these days).

    That leaves the media.

    Of the well known newspapers only the Wall Street Journal expresses dissent from the movement towards ever greater collectivism (and that was a near run thing – if the Wall Street Journal had been bought by the British Financial Times group it would have been turned into a cheer leader for ever greater collectivism) and only on its editorial pages (the news coverage may be improving but it still stinks of “School of Journalism”).

    In terms of network news only Fox News (only available on cable and sat) allows much dissent as regarding collectivism to be expressed in a friendly environment – even John Stossel now admits that ABC is a lost cause, just as CBS, NBC and CNN are.

    That leaves talk radio and the internet.

    And such Obama Administration people as Commissar Mark Lloyd (“Diversity Officer” – a position created for him at the FCC) have all the above media where dissent is allowed, firmly in their sights.

    Nor is this just theory – look what happened to Humana (the largest medical insurance company in the United States) when it started to send out mailings warning the elderly about some of the consequences of the health Bill in the Senate.

    The Obama Adminstration at once issued a “gagging order” on the ground that Humana accepts government money via its work in Medicare Advantage (a part of Medicare that, like Medicare part D., encourages the involvement of private companies and competition between them). No such gagging orders were issued on the drug companies or on the AARP – when they used money (taxpayer financed) to put out pro Obama propaganda.

    The threat to free speech (to dissent) is not theoretical – it is actual, it is now.

    And if the left succeed in castrating dissent – then everything Philip Chaston points to becomes not only possible, but very likely indeed.

  • Current

    I think this shows that Charles Stross should stick to writing sf novels.

  • cjf

    People expand awareness deferentially. Technology has
    expanded exponentially. Science fiction moved faster
    than most people could defer to it. We are now living
    science fiction. What was once uncomfortable is now
    uncomfortingly close.

    Few people say “conspiracy theory” and “paranoia” with the arrogant sneer once so common. (1984)
    I can still recall that a camera was a novelty. People no-longer “smile for the camera”. that is everywhere.
    Common becomes rare; and, the rare is now common.
    I still remember that it was better for a boy to be caught with a “girlie” magazine than a Sci-fi one.

    What is not science fiction, is now fade-away.

  • What matters, as regards “overhumanism” or anything else, is whether people are allowed to argue against it in ways that their voices can be heard.

    The challenge, as Charlie has pointed out in some of his books and other posts, is not whether people are allowed to argue in ways that their voices can be heard, but can people actually argue because their brains have been altered sufficiently that arguing doesn’t even occur to them.

    I think that’s far far far far creepier than mere oppression of dissenting views. And a real possibility as we move to scenarios where we’re effectively running as software.

  • cjf

    After reading a book by Michael Crichton, a thought came to mind: “Someday they will already have”

    I’m behind it all. Not only is humanism ahead of me, so is post-humanism. When I catch-up to it all, it will probably be gone. Please leave notes to let me know how it went.

  • Paul Marks

    I never thought I would type the following:

    Daveon is quite correct.