I’ve always considered myself a bit of a non-violent anarchist.  I’m extremely cynical about the value of organizations, particularly in an era when it’s easy to self-organize around specific tasks. 

Most mature organizations seem to degenerate into self-preservation activities (including assimilation).  The two major organizations that I belong to–one for work and one for religion–certainly seem to fit this ossifying pattern.

At my work, I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had bosses that have let me pursue my dreams, and colleagues and friends who have helped me actualize them.  But I’m much more the exception than the rule.  The Federal agency I work for is stagnating under the weight of its own history and its growing bureaucracy. 

With my religion, I’ve decided to live on the fringes, and so far survived.  A friend once told me that he is a “cafeteria” Mormon, and that description fits me.

I live parttime in Uganda (east-central Africa).  The country is poor beyond what most middle-class Americans can image.  It is a small country with a big population.  And it’s my belief that the only thing that can lift Uganda out of its miasmal mist are social change coupled with a heavy dose of technology. 

Because of my strong belief in the value of science and technology, I discovered transhumanism.  And surprisingly “cafeteria” Mormonism and transhumanism are a good fit.  But where does my anarchical streak fit in?  Today, I found the a description of anarcho-transhumanism.  The definition is vague, but here goes:

Anarcho-Transhumanism is the recognition that social liberty is inherently bound up with material liberty, and that freedom is ultimately a matter of expanding our capacity and opportunities to engage with the world around us. It is the realization that our resistance against those social forces that would subjugate and limit us is but part of a spectrum of efforts to expand human agency—to facilitate our inquiry and creativity.

This means not just being free from the arbitrary limitations our bodies might impose, but free to shape the world around us and deepen the potential of our connections to one another through it.

It means the tools we use should be openly knowable and infinitely customizable; it means bodies that are not locked into processes in which we have no say. It knows that the hunger for choice behind birth control, regrown limbs and sexual reassignment is the same hunger that organizes workers and sets fire to prisons. It is struggle to live free… and do so for one more year, one more decade, one more century. It means not just transcending the strictures of gender, but of genetics and all previous human experience. It means fighting to be allowed the fullest actualization of who and what we want to be, whenever we want to be it.

It means challenging and altering the conditions that might otherwise govern us. It means when the tools exist to better our lives they should be used; that no one should starve when such scarcity can be eliminated. It means vigilantly engaging with nature rather than bullying or surrendering to it. It is the knowledge that victory for the working class will only truly arrive when every worker individually owns the means of production—capable of fabricating anything and everything for themselves. It is proactive engagement with the environmental conditions that force hierarchy and inescapable collectivism. It means freeing our society from the hierarchies of 2-Dimensional landscapes, to move our destructive infrastructures outside the biosphere and to eventually shake off sedentary civilization and take our place as hunter-gatherers between the stars.

It means cryptography—unbreakable channels of private communication added up into an unbreakable hive of ideas and knowledge. It also means the abolition of public privacy—the creation of a world where the actions we take with one another are sharable and verifiable in an instant. And ultimately it will be the freedom to surpass the limited bandwidth of language and connect more and more directly to one another—to merge minds and transcend individual subjectivities as desired.

Anarcho-Transhumanism is all of these things and any one of them.

I suppose I might consider myself a non-violent anarcho-transhumanist.  But the above definition is little squirrely for my taste.

But change needs to happen if Ugandans are to have a future.  There needs to be more equality in opportunities.  There needs to be progress on the social and environmental front, as well as on the science and technology front.

This entry was posted in @n@rchy, mormonism, Organizational Dynamics, Religion, Social Justice, Technology, transhumanism, uganda. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Anarcho-Transhumanism

  1. susan says:

    Where do I begin?
    1. “I’ve had bosses that have let me pursue my dreams”. Not without a fight! Some people let others pursue dreams because it’s easier than fighting it. You have always been able to be the one to stand up in the bleachers and holler “foul ball” when you truly believed in something. Some bosses were too tired/old/weary/worn out/non-committal to care. Good for you.
    2. “Cafeteria Mormon”. I have argued this point before. I cannot come to grips with the fact that you can consider yourself to be a “CM” and still claim to be an Agnostic. One or the other?
    3. Anarcho-Transhumanism…”resistance against those social forces that would subjugate and limit…”. Some “limitations” are considered opportunities, or even actual freedoms. And “social forces” are subjective, because we don’t always get to pick and chose our social forces.
    4. “Free to shape the world around us…” —according to who?
    5. “It knows the hunger for choice behind birth control, regrown limbs, and sexual reassignment is the same hunger that organizes workers and sets fires to prisons. So Anarcho-Transhumanism justifies violences, i.e., setting fires to prisons? Seems to be a bit outrageous and does not fit in categorizing yourself as a “non-violent anarcho-transhumanist”.
    6. “…who and what we want to be whenever we want to be it…”. OK, for sake of argument, I want to be a professional felon, and take out all people who wear red on Thursdays. OK?
    7. “victory for the working class will only truly arrive when every worker individually owns the means of production-capable of fabricating anything and everything for themselves”… Who pays (financially) for this? We end up with another occupy whatever, which cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
    8. “take our place as hunter-gatherers between the stars”. I wish there was an icon for me rolling my eyes, lol.
    9. “abolition of public privacy-the creation of a world where the actions we take with one another are sharable and verifiable in an instant..” I would suggest that examples of “actions” are necessary. I shudder at the thought of abolition of public-privacy, which seems to be happening more frequently every day.
    10. “non-violent anarcho-transhumanist”. Roger, according to thus post, this is how you consider yourself to be. I would suggest you expand on the title to include that you are an environmental, humanitarian, agnostic, engineer. This is only a small example of words to describe you!

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    Hi Sue, Instead of answering each point one-by-one, I think I will just clarify a couple of points. First, the above description of anarcho-transhumanism doesn’t fit me very well. As I mentioned after the quote, I found it to be a little squirrelly for my taste. So I can’t defend all of it.

    Second, I see an end coming for most top-down organizations (maybe not the armed forces and some construction activities). As the world gets more and more complex, time begins to shrink in the sense that long turnaround periods for many projects are no longer acceptable. Many actions are moving closer to real-time. Also, it is no longer possible to control the message. Look at what is going on with the LDS Church. History is evolving into history instead of just a bunch of faith-promoting stories. China is trying to control the message, but it is becoming increasing difficult for its leaders to do so.

    Third, expressions like “limitations provide opportunities” sound like establishment propoganda.

    Fourth, everybody is a cafeteria Mormon. (No two Mormons believe the same thing.) But I’m an extreme one, who has so many doubts. Doesn’t that put me in the camp with the open-minded agnostics. There are many other things in life to enjoy besides arguing over the inanities of religious doctrine.

    Fifth, I realize that there has been no successful political anarchic movement. But with the arrival of social media and other similar technologies, we may be getting closer to making it practical.

    Sixth, in my ABOUT page, I describe myself as an introverted cafeteria Mormon anarcho-transhumanist agnostic environmental water engineer who works for the Federal government. And you wonder why I’m crazy?

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