Reflections on transhumanists, transgenders, and the Ctrl-Left. Review of Martine Rothblatt's "From Transgender to Transhuman."
Greetings to all readers and subscribers, and special greetings to the paid subscribers!
Please scroll down for the main topic of this newsletter. But first:
The considerations in my previous newsletter “More thoughts on determinism and free will” seem to lead to the conclusion that God can be consistently conceived as either transcendent or immanent. The God of non-predetermined becoming is immanent, the God of deterministic being is transcendent, and the two views are complementary like the two possible alternative interpretations of a Necker cube or this picture.
I’ll produce new Turing Church podcast episodes with guests, starting next week with the one and only Howard Bloom.
I’ll now continue the reflections on transhumanism started in the previous newsletter, inspired by George Dvorsky’s recent Gizmodo piece titled “Whatever Happened to the Transhumanists? The once-vibrant transhumanist movement doesn’t capture as much attention as it used to, but as an idea it’s far from dead.”
I have stopped calling myself a “transhumanist.” Today I call myself a “cosmist” instead.
Some of the reasons I stopped calling myself a transhumanist are given in this 2018 post (and expanded upon in my book “Tales of the Turing Church”). TLDR: The Singularity is FAR - I have great expectations for the far future but not for the near future.
Physical immortality, mind uploading and all that will materialize one day but not within my lifetime. Or yours. I’ll die. And you. Sorry, but that’s how I see it. However, we’ll all be resurrected by God-like beings (perhaps our descendants) with awesome magic-like sci/tech in the far future, so no big deal.
I also want to take distance from the transhumanist practice of worshipping rationality, which to me is not an end but a tool, a very good tool for many applications but not the only tool and not always the best tool.
I also find annoying that many transhumanists tend to have inflated perceptions of their own intelligence. Nothing wrong with self-esteem of course, but come on, there’s only one smartest person in the world and that person is not you, or me.
This translates to a certain elitism that I also find deplorable. No, we (and I say we because I still share transhumanist convictions and esthetics) are not better than other people and we should try to understand their objections to our ideas.
But another reason I stopped calling myself a transhumanist is that, today, the prefix “trans” is used for something else.
“In 2011, Martine Rothblatt, the billionaire transhumanist and transgender rights advocate, took it a step further when she said, ‘we cannot be surprised that transhumanism arises from the groins of transgenderism,’ and that ‘we must welcome this further transcendence of arbitrary biology.’”
George links to a free online copy of Martine’s book “From Transgender to Transhuman: A Manifesto On the Freedom Of Form.” Soon after the book came out I wrote a book review for a magazine. But my book review was never published, so I’ll paste below a version edited in 2015.
I don’t talk about transgender issues often because I have mixed feelings. But let’s talk. Trigger warning: both conservatives and liberals will dislike what I say.
So on the one hand:
Martine is totally right (as usual): transgenders put in practice what transhumanists preach about morphological freedom.
In the nineties transhumanists imagined cyborgs, uploaded minds in robotic bodies, or something like that, but in hindsight it seems obvious that transgenders were to be the first wave of morphological freedom fighters.
The adult transgenders who, after careful consideration and research, choose to pursue happiness with gender transition technology that is still primitive or experimental, are pathfinders who deserve admiration and respect.
I firmly stand with all those who pursue happiness peacefully in their own personal way. I firmly stand against all those who act to deny others this right. I think everyone has the right to live in peace and the duty to let others live in peace.
I welcome transgenders to Turing Church with open arms.
But on the other hand:
I can be described as a classical liberal with a libertarian heart and a pragmatic mind. I’m a libertarian in the original and true sense of the term - to me, personal freedom and autonomy are central primary values. My libertarian heart fully supports transgenders.
Therefore, I find it very sad that the transgender right movement has allied itself with - or, I should say, has been hijacked by - the anti-libertarian Ctrl-Left.
Ctrl-Left “liberals” are against personal autonomy and empowerment, bold optimism, tolerance of risk, non-partisan education, freedom and diversity of thought, decentralization, imaginative science, crypto, nuclear energy, the so-called “right stuff,” and the working class. They love centralized control, the nanny-state, dogmatic indoctrination, militant atheism, confrontational identity politics, shaming & mobbing, and cancel “culture.” Of course, they are very much against space expansion.
I find the Ctrl-Left ideological package VERY toxic and dangerous.
I wish all the best to my transgender friends, but I can’t support their (self-appointed) Ctrl-Left “allies.”
But I will be among the most enthusiastic fans of the first transgender astronaut to walk on the Moon, or Mars.
OK, here’s my review of Martine’s book.