The Lexicon of Transhumanism Isn’t the Movement’s Problem

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on May 10, 2010

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

It’s been awhile since I checked on the latest anti humanism pitched by the transhumanism propagandist, J. Hughes. He has apparently decided that the usual buzz words used to promote the movement–the notion that we should “seize control of human evolution” (as if we have the wisdom)–hurt the cause rather than help it. From his article, “Beyond the Human Race–and ‘Human Racism’:

The problem with the idea of posthumanity is that the thing it is supposed to be beyond, “humanness,” is an imagined community to begin with. So why imagine posthumanity at all? There will certainly be identities that unite and divide us in the future, and some of them may revolve around the technologies we use to modify our bodies. People who have had nose jobs or vaccinations, or who have pacemakers or prosthetic limbs, may feel some faint abstract solidarity with one another. But few think of themselves as technologically modified transhumans who are transcending humanness. So why do we imagine that our descendants will suddenly feel this desire to declare themselves a new species?…

I have contributed to this illusory posthumanity problem. As a transhumanist my comrades and I talk a lot about transhumans and posthumans as if there will be such a break. But I fear that accepting these terms carries a lot of unnecessary baggage that plays into the hands of the “human-racists,” those who believe there are clear boundaries that define humanness which must not be transgressed.

But the words used to sell the movement aren’t really important. Transhumanism is essentially about destroying the human race in order turn us into something better–actually an infinite variety of something betters since the very idea of norms is rejected as tyrannical. And in that anarchy would be sown the seeds of tyranny, since without the glue of commonality–and the right to modify oneself at will would hardly promote cohesion–society would descend into chaos, the cure for which would definitely not be liberty.

But that isn’t the primary threat to human freedom posed by transhumanism, since creating infinite varieties of post humans will certainly never occur. Here is Hughes’ core point, from which the real danger arises:

Isn’t it clear that human-racism, like racism, is just another effort to suppress the divisions between haves and have-nots in favor of a fictional solidarity of humans against illegal immigrants who haven’t even arrived yet, and when they do will be us and our children?…If the imaginary moral community of humanity is flexible enough to expand beyond white male property-owners to all human beings surely it can expand a little further to include gorillas, cyborgs and mutants.

That’s nonsense. Racism is wrong because it denigrates the equality of equals. But apes are not our equals, they are animals. Cyborgs would be inanimate, no matter how they were programmed to appear human, and should no more have rights than my Toyota Rav 4. (I am not sure what he means by mutants. Perhaps he’s read too many X-Men comic books.)

Contrary to Hughes belief, transhumanism’s emotional rejection of human exceptionalism–the so-called “human racism”–and embrace of utopianism, would lead to oppression, not liberty’s embrace. As we have seen in the last five hundred years, the worst evils in human history were not caused by religion or atheism, but by utopianism–the quest for perfection, which leads directly to an absolutist mentality in which the less than ideal–whether based on race, characteristics, capacities, or beliefs–become the common enemy. Think the French Revolution’s Terror, the killing fields of Cambodia, the current Jihad, the eugenics pogroms, the Holocaust, the Gulags, etc. In their own ways, each of these movements–and the many others that could be named–rejected human exceptionalism and embraced utopianism’s presumption to make things right by any means necessary. The blood thereby unleashed will never be quantified.

Advocates like J. naively believe transhumanism would be utterly democratic and individualistic because it would be covered by national health insurance–as if we could ever afford it. But the ideas that under-gird the movement would drive human society in the exact opposite direction.

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