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Transhumanist politics

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Transhumanist politics constitutes a group of political ideologies that generally express the belief in improving human individuals through science and technology. Specific topics include space migration, and cryogenic suspension.[1] It is considered the opposing ideal to the concept of bioconservatism, as Transhumanist politics argue for the use of all technology to enhance human individuals.[2][3]


The term "transhumanism" with its present meaning was popularised by Julian Huxley's 1957 essay of that name.[4]

Natasha Vita-More was elected as a Councilperson for the 28th Senatorial District of Los Angeles in 1992. She ran with the Green Party, but on a personal platform of "transhumanism". She quit after a year, saying her party was "too neurotically geared toward environmentalism".[5][6]

James Hughes identifies the "neoliberal" Extropy Institute, founded by philosopher Max More and developed in the 1990s, as the first organized advocates for transhumanism. And he identifies the late-1990s formation of the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), a European organization which later was renamed to Humanity+ (H+), as partly a reaction to the free market perspective of the "Extropians". Per Hughes, "[t]he WTA included both social democrats and neoliberals around a liberal democratic definition of transhumanism, codified in the Transhumanist Declaration."[7][8] Hughes has also detailed the political currents in transhumanism, particularly the shift around 2009 from socialist transhumanism to libertarian and anarcho-capitalist transhumanism.[8] He claims that the left was pushed out of the World Transhumanist Association Board of Directors, and that libertarians and Singularitarians have secured a hegemony in the transhumanism community with help from Peter Thiel, but Hughes remains optimistic about a techno-progressive future.[8]

In 2012, the Longevity Party, a movement described as "100% transhumanist" by cofounder Maria Konovalenko,[9] began to organize in Russia for building a balloted political party.[10] Another Russian programme, the 2045 Initiative was founded in 2012 by billionaire Dmitry Itskov with its own proposed "Evolution 2045" political party advocating life extension and android avatars.[11][12]

In October 2013, the political party Alianza Futurista ALFA was founded in Spain with transhumanist goals and ideals inscribed in its statutes.[13]

In October 2014, Zoltan Istvan announced that he would be running in the 2016 United States presidential election under the banner of the "Transhumanist Party."[14] By November 2019, the Party claimed 880 members, with Gennady Stolyarov II as chair.[15]

Other groups using the name "Transhumanist Party" exist in the United Kingdom[16][17][18] and Germany.[19]

Core values[edit]

According to a 2006 study by the European Parliament, transhumanism is the political expression of the ideology that technology and science should be used to enhance human abilities and characteristics like physical beauty, or lifespan.[1][20]

According to Amon Twyman of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), political philosophies which support transhumanism include social futurism, techno-progressivism, techno-libertarianism, and anarcho-transhumanism. Twyman considers such philosophies to collectively constitute political transhumanism.[21]

Techno-progressives, also known as Democratic transhumanists,[22][23] support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and prevent technologies from furthering the divide among socioeconomic classes.[24] However, libertarian transhumanist Ronald Bailey is critical of the democratic transhumanism described by James Hughes.[25][26] Jeffrey Bishop wrote that the disagreements among transhumanists regarding individual and community rights is "precisely the tension that philosophical liberalism historically tried to negotiate," but that disagreeing entirely with a posthuman future is a disagreement with the right to choose what humanity will become.[27] Woody Evans has supported placing posthuman rights in a continuum with animal rights and human rights.[28]

Riccardo Campa wrote that transhumanism can be coupled with many different political, philosophical, and religious views, and that this diversity can be an asset so long as transhumanists do not give priority to existing affiliations over membership with organized transhumanism.[29]


Truman Chen of the Stanford Political Journal considers many transhumanist ideals to be anti-political.[30]


Flag of anarcho-transhumanism, represented by a blue and black diagonal flag, where the blue is representative of futuristic symbolism[31]

Anarcho-transhumanism is a philosophy synthesizing anarchism with transhumanism that is concerned with both social and physical freedom respectively.[32] Anarcho-transhumanists define freedom as the expansion of one's own ability to experience the world around them.[33] Anarcho-transhumanists may advocate various praxis to advance their ideals, including computer hacking, three-dimensional printing, or biohacking.[34][32]

The philosophy draws heavily from the individualist anarchism of William Godwin, Max Stirner and Voltairine de Cleyre[35] as well as the cyberfeminism presented by Donna Haraway in A Cyborg Manifesto.[36] Anarcho-transhumanist thought looks at issues surrounding bodily autonomy,[37] disability,[38] gender,[37][32] neurodiversity,[39] queer theory,[40] science,[41] free software,[32] and sexuality[42] whilst presenting critiques through anarchist and transhumanist lens of ableism,[39] cisheteropatriarchy[37] and primitivism.[43] Much of early anarcho-transhumanist thought was a response to anarcho-primitivism. Anarcho-transhumanism may be interpreted either as criticism of, or an extension of humanism, because it challenges what being human means.[32]

Anarcho-transhumanists also criticise non-anarchist forms of transhumanism such as democratic transhumanism and libertarian transhumanism as incoherent and unsurvivable due to their preservation of the state. They view such instruments of power as inherently unethical and incompatible with the acceleration of social and material freedom for all individuals.[44] Anarcho-transhumanism is generally anti-capitalist, arguing capitalist accumulation of wealth would lead to dystopia while partnered with transhumanism, instead advocating for equal access to advanced technologies that enable morphological freedom and space travel.[45][46]

Anarcho-transhumanist philosopher William Gillis has advocated for a 'social singularity', or a transformation in humanity's morals, to complement the technological singularity. This social singularity will ensure that no coercion will be required to maintain order in a future society where people are likely to have access to lethal forms of technology.[47]

Democratic transhumanism[edit]

Democratic transhumanism, a term coined by James Hughes in 2002, refers to the stance of transhumanists (advocates for the development and use of human enhancement technologies) who espouse liberal, social, and/or radical democratic political views.[48][49][50][51]


According to Hughes, the ideology "stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives."[49][52] The ethical foundation of democratic transhumanism rests upon rule utilitarianism and non-anthropocentric personhood theory.[53] Democratic transhumanists support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and to prevent technologies from furthering the divide among the socioeconomic classes.[54] While raising objections both to right-wing and left-wing bioconservatism, and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes aims to encourage democratic transhumanists and their potential progressive allies to unite as a new social movement and influence biopolitical public policy.[49][51]

An attempt to expand the middle ground between technorealism and techno-utopianism, democratic transhumanism can be seen as a radical form of techno-progressivism.[55] Appearing several times in Hughes' work, the term "radical" (from Latin rādīx, rādīc-, root) is used as an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the root or going to the root. His central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.[49]

According to Hughes, the terms techno-progressivism and democratic transhumanism both refer to the same set of Enlightenment values and principles; however, the term technoprogressive has replaced the use of the word democratic transhumanism.[56][57]


Hughes has identified 15 "left futurist" or "left techno-utopian" trends and projects that could be incorporated into democratic transhumanism:

List of democratic transhumanists[edit]

These are notable individuals who have identified themselves, or have been identified by Hughes, as advocates of democratic transhumanism:[58]


Science journalist Ronald Bailey wrote a review of Citizen Cyborg in his online column for Reason magazine in which he offered a critique of democratic transhumanism and a defense of libertarian transhumanism.[25][26]

Critical theorist Dale Carrico defended democratic transhumanism from Bailey's criticism.[59] However, he would later criticize democratic transhumanism himself on technoprogressive grounds.[60]

Libertarian transhumanism[edit]

Libertarian transhumanism is a political ideology synthesizing libertarianism and transhumanism.[48]

Self-identified libertarian transhumanists, such as Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, are advocates of the asserted "right to human enhancement" who argue that the free market is the best guarantor of this right, claiming that it produces greater prosperity and personal freedom than other economic systems.[61][62]


Libertarian transhumanists believe that the principle of self-ownership is the most fundamental idea from which both libertarianism and transhumanism stem. They are rational egoists and ethical egoists who embrace the prospect of using emerging technologies to enhance human capacities, which they believe stems from the self-interested application of reason and will in the context of the individual freedom to achieve a posthuman state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.[63] They extend this rational and ethical egoism to advocate a form of "biolibertarianism".[61]

As strong civil libertarians, libertarian transhumanists hold that any attempt to limit or suppress the asserted right to human enhancement is a violation of civil rights and civil liberties. However, as strong economic libertarians, they also reject proposed public policies of government-regulated and -insured human enhancement technologies, which are advocated by democratic transhumanists, because they fear that any state intervention will steer or limit their choices.[26][64]

Extropianism, the earliest current of transhumanist thought defined in 1988 by philosopher Max More, initially included an anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the concept of "spontaneous order" in its principles, which states that a free market economy achieves a more efficient allocation of societal resources than any planned or mixed economy could achieve. In 2000, while revising the principles of Extropy, More seemed to be abandoning libertarianism in favor of modern liberalism and anticipatory democracy. However, many Extropians remained libertarian transhumanists.[48]


Critiques of the techno-utopianism of libertarian transhumanists from progressive cultural critics include Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's 1995 essay The Californian Ideology; Mark Dery's 1996 book Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century; and Paulina Borsook's 2000 book Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech.

Barbrook argues that libertarian transhumanists are proponents of the Californian Ideology who embrace the goal of reactionary modernism: economic growth without social mobility.[65] According to Barbrook, libertarian transhumanists are unwittingly appropriating the theoretical legacy of Stalinist communism by substituting, among other concepts, the "vanguard party" with the "digerati", and the "new Soviet man" with the "posthuman".[66] Dery coined the dismissive phrase "body-loathing" to describe the attitude of libertarian transhumanists and those in the cyberculture who want to escape from their "meat puppet" through mind uploading into cyberspace.[67] Borsook asserts that libertarian transhumanists indulge in a subculture of selfishness, elitism, and escapism.[68]

Sociologist James Hughes is the most militant critic of libertarian transhumanism. While articulating "democratic transhumanism" as a sociopolitical program in his 2004 book Citizen Cyborg,[51] Hughes sought to convince libertarian transhumanists to embrace social democracy by arguing that:

  1. State action is required to address catastrophic threats from transhumanist technologies;
  2. Only believable and effective public policies to prevent adverse consequences from new technologies will reassure skittish publics that they do not have to be banned;
  3. Social policies must explicitly address public concerns that transhumanist biotechnologies will exacerbate social inequality;
  4. Monopolistic practices and overly restrictive intellectual property law can seriously delay the development of transhumanist technologies, and restrict their access;
  5. Only a strong liberal democratic state can ensure that posthumans are not persecuted; and
  6. Libertarian transhumanists (who are anti-naturalists) are inconsistent in arguing for the free market on the grounds that it is a natural phenomenon.

Klaus-Gerd Giesen, a German political scientist specializing in the philosophy of technology, wrote a critique of the libertarianism he imputes to all transhumanists. While pointing out that the works of Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek figure in practically all of the recommended reading lists of Extropians, he argues that transhumanists, convinced of the sole virtues of the free market, advocate an unabashed inegalitarianism and merciless meritocracy which can be reduced in reality to a biological fetish. He is especially critical of their promotion of a science-fictional liberal eugenics, virulently opposed to any political regulation of human genetics, where the consumerist model presides over their ideology. Giesen concludes that the despair of finding social and political solutions to today's sociopolitical problems incites transhumanists to reduce everything to the hereditary gene, as a fantasy of omnipotence to be found within the individual, even if it means transforming the subject (human) to a new draft (posthuman).[69]

Marxist Transhumanism[edit]

Marxist Transhumanism or Left Transhumanism is a political ideology synthesizing marxism and transhumanism.[70]

Marxist Transhumanists believe that the class struggle central to a Marxist approach to society and economics must be put within a Transhumanist context. Arguing that without class struggle and class consciousness Transhumanism will amount to a form of elitism due to free market mechanisms. Furthermore it is argued that this trend is already occurring in the early stages. Citing Bryan Johnson's costly medical treatments and Jeff Bezos's Altos Labs as a case in point that the capitalist class is slowly gaining the ability to obtain longevity treatments while the rest of humanity dies at a rate of 100,000 per day.[71]


Marxist Transhumanists hold that a new society must come about either through revolution or reforms for the masses of people to truly experience the opportunities of a Transhumanist society. Despite the abundance that may occur if a society has vastly automated labor. The social relations which dictate society will not allow that abundance to be distributed in a egalitarian manner under capitalism. Marxist Transhumanist often point to food production and hunger as well as the producible results of fast fashion and the 1 billion people without shoes as foreshadowing of the conditions which will encompass longevity treatments or an abundance of resources.[72][73][74] In addition Marxist Transhumanist assert Transhumanism should return to its roots in regards to economics, holding that a return to a transhumanism akin to Russian Cosmism or Individuals such as Alexander Bogdanov, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, or Ivan Yefremov. Another fundamental concept within Marxist Transhumanism is the texts and literature of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. In which proto-transhumanist ideas can be found as well as the numerous philosophical connections between Marxism and transhumanism. Marxist transhumanism would comply with the definition of communism of Marx and Engels, and it could even be said that Marxism is, essentially, transhumanist in its foundations, even when it defines posthumans as New Men, or Men Made In Property.[70]


Jeffrey Noonan argues that a Marxist transhumanism is politically and ethically incoherent. While it is true that Transhumanists and Marxists believe that human beings are self-determining and self-transforming. Transhumanists are committed to transcending the material conditions of organic life with their ultimate aim being to encourage the emergence of an artificial superintelligence whose self-creative capacities are not limited by the needs of organic life forms. Socialism, by contrast, is a political and ethical movement committed to ending the suffering caused by capitalism, by changing social institutions and the values according to which resources are distributed and utilized.[75]

See also[edit]


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