The following is an open letter being read as an address at the (US) Transhuman National Committee convention on 27th February 2016:
My name is Amon Twyman, and I am making this statement in my capacity as Leader of the Transhumanist Party, a registered political party in the United Kingdom, and as a founder of the worldwide Transhumanist Party movement.
The Transhumanist Party in the UK and beyond is fully supportive of the work of the Transhuman National Committee (TNC) in the United States. We see that work as an essential stepping stone toward the international development of our movement and a positive future for humanity. In addition to our general support and encouragement, there are three points I would like to raise which you may choose to reflect upon while planning the TNC’s next steps as an organisation.
1. Open source, decentralization and networking, rather than ownership
The Transhumanist Party movement is a loosely organised thing, still in the process of emerging as a mature phenomenon, but already a few things about its nature are clear. One is that we represent a political aspect of the broader Transhumanist movement rather than any attempt to replace the movement as a whole. Furthermore we cannot claim to represent all politically-inclined Transhumanists, but merely to focus on Transhumanism in our political efforts, and give a voice to all those who share that focus.
Similarly, we have learned that the growth of this movement is a process of developing respectful partnerships, networking, and simply finding ways to work with people who share our values and ideals. Not only do we not want to tell anyone what they can or cannot do, but more to the point we find all attempts to “own” the movement or its symbols to be counter-productive. With this in mind, you can see that there is no global authority within the movement which must give its stamp of approval to the TNC; instead this is a matter of like-minded activists in other countries showing our wholehearted support for the emerging US wing of the movement, and looking forward to working together.
2. Transcending limits, and creating a better future
When we talk of a global movement encompassing organisations such as the TNC, we naturally find ourselves asking (and being asked) what is the idea or common factor which ties the whole thing together. After all, any truly global movement will be a highly diverse thing, and while diversity can be our great strength, we need to be sure of a certain unity too.
There is only one idea that goes to the heart of what Transhumanism must and always will be, no matter the additional baggage or interpretations it picks up, and that idea is of transcending limitation through technology. To use every means at our disposal to overcome the limitations of the human condition. Such limitations are not only biological, but also philosophical, social, legal, and political, and a mature future Transhumanist Party movement can be a powerful tool in our fight against such limitations.
3. Pragmatism, effectiveness, and strategy
Even though we are a futurist movement with a particularly high-minded ideal at its heart, our goals are concrete. We want to live longer and better, to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to achieve those things, and not to allow anyone else’s beliefs to get in the way of that. To that end, we must always remember to prioritise clear goals and action over endless debate, squabbling, and preaching to the converted… all things which, let’s face it, Transhumanism has been known for in the past. Whatever names they go by, the various groups associated with the global Transhumanist Party movement must be focussed on what specific changes they can facilitate – what tangible goals they can achieve – and actively supporting other groups with broadly compatible goals.
While remaining focussed on our common ideal of transcending limitation through technology, each group must look to its own highest priorities first, and then actively and effectively support a small selection of like-minded organisations in a kind of “local network”. That way, we can develop an effective, unified movement with the power to determine goals in a decentralised way, while yet being unified by a clear common ideal. It is in this cooperative spirit that the Transhumanist Party in the UK is making clear its wholehearted support for the TNC.
Last but not least, it is important to consider the question of strategy in determining the next steps for our organisations around the world, including the TNC. What do you hope to achieve, in specific terms, and how do you intend to achieve it? Most broadly speaking, in many ways simply having clear goals and the determination to work toward them is more important than the actual details of those goals. At the same time however, there are a few home truths which we should take into account before making any grand plans.
The first is the question of whether you’re actually trying to facilitate some concrete change, or simply to make a splash in the media. Media outreach is extremely important of course, but it doesn’t count for anything if it does not help us toward an eventual goal. Toward real positive change. The goals of any given organisation will to some extent be determined by local conditions; for example directly contesting elections is a much more viable strategy under proportional representation systems than in countries where a “big two” parties dominate. Consider alternative approaches, and direct action rather than electioneering if it would be more effective. Ask yourself what strategies your opponents are using to suppress what you would see as a positive future, and think about how you could beat them at their own game. Think about how your organisation can help other, like-minded groups to achieve their goals. Remember that social change takes time (even taking technological change into account), and so being committed to this movement means playing the “long game”. The positive change we are working toward may take some time to achieve, but it will be real, and it will be deep.
The Transhuman National Committee has taken the first step in a long and historic journey, and the rest of our worldwide movement looks forward to helping in any way we can, and celebrating your successes!