[TPG] Statement in support of the (US) Transhuman National Committee

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!

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[TPG] Statement in support of the (US) Transhuman National Committee

[ISF] The Jewel and the Lotus

The following post is from the Institute for Social Futurism (ISF). Although its concerns are essentially philosophical, they inform many practical realities for organisations in our network over the coming year and beyond.

If you’re looking for a quick punchline, this is perhaps not the article for you, but you could try skipping to section 1: The Jewel and the Lotus.

0. The Desert of the Real

Over the last few years, we have been developing a network of organisations which share a positive attitude toward technological change while being mindful of the serious challenges the world faces today. The idea is for that network to develop connections with like-minded others who wish to usher in a new paradigm for our society, based on a combination of science, technology, positive values and principles. During that time there has been a natural process of weaving together the ideas and views of many people, and that process has been driving the emergence of a worldview which we call Social Futurism.

Aside from the usual logistical issues of a growing movement, I have become aware of a strong need to reach beyond the complicated tangle of inspirations and concerns which have brought us together, and clearly articulate a single core idea underlying this nascent movement. To momentarily put aside our many assumptions and preconceptions, and examine the deepest ideological nexus which ties them all together. Having done that, we will be able to move forward sure in the knowledge that we are all working toward a common goal, no matter any differences in our philosophies, affiliations, or methods. In short, I have recently felt the need to cast a radically skeptical eye over everything we collectively believe and are committed to, throwing out all unnecessary assumptions in the hope of discerning a single common axiom. It seems to me that any such axiom must be extremely simple and incisive, akin to Descartes‘ “Cogito Ergo Sum“.

The key to this inquiry is to put aside every claim or belief which may not be true, or which can in any conceivable way be countered or argued against. We are of course very much in support of science and greatly value its utility, but no scientific fact can ever be our central axiom, as scientific facts must by definition be potentially disprovable by new evidence. Our common focus must be more akin to a steadfast attitude or conviction than a mere observation that could change at any time. Chinese and Indian philosophy traditionally saw the observed world as composed of myriad relative “facts”, apparent phenomena and distinctions which could change just as easily as a viewer’s perspective, and such schools of thought (particularly Taoism and Buddhism) consistently warned against identifying too closely with ephemera. The traditional Eastern view is that all identification with any apparent fact (perspective, observation, expectation, philosophy or ideal) would cast a “shadow” consisting of everything contrary to that position. Like Descartes, initiates of these religions were urged to let go of every conviction that could be doubted (both the Buddhists’ and Descartes’ conclusion was that everything could be doubted except the existence of Mind), and simply live in the world as they found it. We could learn a lot from the minimalism of this stance, encouraging activists to use the myriad facts of science and the world as necessary, but to embrace a common identity rooted only in a single, fundamental, undeniable axiom. That kind of strong shared identity would enable us to rest assured that we are all “on the same team”, no matter what disagreements we may have over any details, which would be a thing of great practical and strategic value to the movement as a whole.

A recent Western echo of these ancient Eastern ideas is particularly relevant to techno-social concerns in the early 21st Century, and to the future of our movement. In 1999, The Matrix presented such philosophical concerns about the nature of reality, along with issues involving technology and social control, in a very popular action-adventure entertainment format. The movie drew not only upon traditional Eastern thought, but among a great many other things the writings of French Postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard said that we are surrounded by simulacra or simulations which no longer refer to any underlying reality, such as news stories which reflect consumer demand and media manipulation rather than any deep truth. He further claimed that in this ultra-mediated environment, actual reality (i.e. unmediated, unmanipulated things-as-they-actually-are) is now extremely hard to find. We see things almost entirely through the lens of culture and technology, now. This notion of reality as an increasingly hidden, deserted place was summed up in Baudrillard’s phrase “the desert of the real”. The idea that we live in some kind of mediated bubble of false reality while an authentic reality exists “outside” is the central theme of Gnosticism, found today in the work of people such as Science Fiction writer Philip K Dick (both Gnosticism and Dick’s ideas were also prominent in The Matrix).

At this point you may well be asking what all these wild and wonderful ideas have to do with advancing technology, social progress, or indeed the real world. It all boils down to the intrinsic nature of the Transhumanist urge; to go beyond all that we have known in order to become more than human. To transcend the traditional limitations of the human condition. It is no accident that Transhumanists are regularly accused of being “neo-Gnostics”, because the idea of extending human life and health beyond current limitations is indeed reminiscent of the ancient heresy, albeit expressed in a very new way. This is a touchy issue, as Transhumanists are generally at pains to distinguish their technological hopes from ancient religious dreams, despite their clear common origin in simple human yearnings for a greater or happier existence. We should note that it is not as simple a matter as some people calling Transhumanists ‘Gnostics’ and Transhumanists themselves uniformly rejecting the idea. Not only are many Transhumanists open to spirituality of various types, even including nuanced (usually secular) interpretations of Gnosticism, but the “accusers” are often sympathetic to both (neo-)Gnosticism and Transhumanism (and therefore presumably trying to draw attention to what they see as a good thing). Perhaps the best example of this is Erik Davis, in his 1998 book “TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information” (to show the close interrelatedness of all these ideas, we may note that Davis is a scholar professionally interested in the works of Philip K Dick).

The thing that Transhumanists, Gnostics, and the heroes of The Matrix have in common is a pointed and total disrespect for the limitations of a world which pretends to be the whole of reality, but which is in fact only a subset of all that is truly possible. In other words, we Transhumanists are inherently driven to reject any convention or ideology that tells us to be content within our limits, to know our place. Instead, we seek to venture beyond those limits into the “desert of the real”, and in doing so take responsibility for directing our own evolution. I must stress that this need not imply a hedonistic, individualistic flight from communitarian responsibilities, when the very act of transcending limits makes it possible for others to follow our example; and for the whole of society to thus evolve and progress beyond its former limits.

In short, we feel that we could be more, that we could help others in the process, and that no-one has the right to impose their arbitrary limitations upon us. We would explore beyond the safe havens of the world as we know it, and out into the desert of the real… into the darkness of possibilities. This rejection of the world’s distinctions and limitations is the one and only thing that can unite our diverse movement. That movement already includes many people who do not consider themselves to be Transhumanists, and that will only become more true over time, but the common impulse that unites us is clear: To sweep away the old world that stands between us and a much better future. A person might oppose this impulse for whatever reason, but they cannot argue it to be false in any way. It simply is.

1. The Jewel and the Lotus

We have discerned the idea that lies at the heart of our movement’s many manifestations (i.e. not just Transhumanism and other forms of Futurism but all truly modern and progressive activism, and any number of related philosophies, arts, and sciences): That our salvation lies beyond the limits of the world as we currently understand it… and that by transforming ourselves we can transcend those limits. In short, that we can and should remake the world and our place within it. Paradoxically, this idea is truly ancient, and yet its combination with technology makes a powerful new revolution in human affairs possible.

At this point, we should take a moment to note a parallel between the advice offered for individual living by religions such as Taoism and Buddhism on the one hand, and the necessary way forward for any modern activist movement on the other. Followers of the ancient Eastern ways are encouraged to live in the present moment, rather than dwelling unduly on the past or future. This reduces identification with transient things, and thus reduces the suffering caused by regret over the past or anxiety over the future. Interestingly, any truly revolutionary movement would do well to heed the same advice, since the act of relinquishing the past and future (i.e. memories and expectations) is tantamount to rejecting limitation by those things. In other words, to focus on the present and to reject all unnecessary limitations are two sides of the same coin.

Having identified this central idea, our next question is of course how to simplify and condense its expression, to maintain its clarity for ourselves and communicate it easily to others. Traditionally this is the realm of symbols, or simple signs that stand for (and easily summon) complex sets of ideas. In keeping with the ancient Eastern philosophies mentioned earlier, I have settled upon two key symbols with a somewhat oriental flavour: The Jewel and the Lotus. In this section I will explain these two symbols, and their potential value.

It is common to depict an incisive axiom as a blade or sword, as in the cases of Occam’s Razor or Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot (indeed the very word “incisive” implies both clear, rational analysis and the act of cutting). In ancient Indian writings there is mention of a sword known as the Jewel of the Desert, and that strikes me as a particularly apt name for an axiom which refers to the Desert of the Real. This “Jewel” is our central idea – an article of faith which unites our emerging movement – and it can be expressed as follows:

Act Now and Be Free

(Nunc Agere et Liberi)

The only reality is action in the moment, and the bonds of the unreal demand to be cut. In other words, the individual and any movement for positive change must always focus on what they can be or do now, and all apparent limitations conjured by tradition, convention, history, hope or expectation with no solid basis in the reality of the present must be cast aside without hesitation. If an obstacle can be overcome, it should be. If a limitation can be transcended, then transcend it. This is a point of view which should come naturally to Transhumanists, Gnostics, all opponents of arbitrary and unwanted limitation, and all those who would sweep away the old to make way for a better future. It is often said that you can best know a thing by looking at what it opposes, and in this case we are utterly opposed to entrenched limitations which only exist out of a sense of history, social convention, or “natural order” rather than having something clearly positive to contribute to the future of humanity. We must tear down all such false limitations in our bid to remake civilization.

Beyond this central philosophical matter, as mentioned earlier I have become acutely aware of logistical issues that naturally arise with the growth of any movement. I won’t go into the details of these issues, except to say that they boil down to a question of resources: How to get the resources we need, and how to use the ones we have well. Perhaps the most pressing resource issue has been the question of time and communications. A lot of people have something to say or ask, but we simply cannot respond to every such contact in a centralised way. Instead, the network must scale up in such a way that local groups can handle initial contact in most cases, and important messages can be passed through the network as appropriate, meaning that no single part of the network is overloaded with messages from everybody. In order to make my own part of the network more manageable and to set an example, I will be restricting my personal engagement to the activity in eight official channels. I can no longer guarantee any response to any communication outside those channels, which are outlined briefly below.

If every part of the network were to operate in a similar manner, maintaining a small number of recognised and well-maintained collaboration/communication channels, then the result would be something like a mosaic of decentralised activity, a fractal heterarchy or holarchy. A symbol for the network (and any given node within it) which I find to be appropriate and appealing is the lotus flower. The lotus is essentially a memorable image which represents a centre connecting multiple channels or aspects. The lotus is also a symbol common to the various Eastern philosophies mentioned earlier, although a rose would be the equally appropriate counterpart traditional in the West.

Others are free to organise themselves as they see fit, of course, but the specific eight channels which I will personally be focussed upon, going forward, are as listed below. In each case I will only be working with a relatively small core team, rather than attempting to manage all functions of these wider organisations directly. Such functions represent my “close neighbours” within the network, that I collaborate with but am not directly responsible for. If we all operate in this way – with clear cooperative links but limited personal workloads – then we will be maximally effective as a network.

I am currently in the process of reorganising the core teams and preferred communications channels for these groups, and will link to further information and full contact details for all eight channels from here on Friday January 22nd, 2016. In the meantime you can still contact these groups as before.

This post has covered a number of complex and subtle ideas with an unfortunate but necessary brevity, where any of these could be the departure point for long conversations in and of themselves. My objective will have been met, however, if you remember the symbols of the Jewel and the Lotus. That the Jewel of the Desert is simply a determination to stand squarely in the reality of the moment and cut through the proliferation of illusions, distractions, and false limitations which we are constantly told to embrace and respect (or at least take seriously). And that the Lotus is merely a reminder that while remaining focussed and effective, you always have the option of being connected with others in a movement toward something greater.

[ISF] The Jewel and the Lotus

Zoltan Istvan does not speak for the Transhumanist Party

EDIT: Please note that the first paragraph below has been expanded slightly, to make it perfectly clear who the author is, and in what official capacity this letter has been written.

My name is Amon Twyman. This is an open letter to the entire Transhumanist community, written in my capacity as Party Leader of the Transhumanist Party (a registered political party in the UK), coordinator of the Transhumanist Party Global umbrella organisation, and founder of multiple associated groups. It is important to note that in the UK the Transhumanist Party is an officially registered and fully constituted political party, which operates in accord with a clear set of internal rules which are consistent with UK law. Our membership count has grown rapidly, in the few months since the party’s inception. The following statement is primarily made in my capacity as the leader of that party, reflecting both my official responsibilities to that party, and the due processes of that party.

I feel that it is now necessary to address an unfortunate apparent schism within the Transhumanist movement, and show the way forward toward a positive, constructive, intelligent solution to the problem. In other words, a solution which captures the intended spirit of Transhumanist thinking. In short, I feel that I must address the question of Zoltan Istvan. His role in relation to the Transhumanist Party, and in relation to the movement as a whole, and the mixed reactions to some of his more notable recent actions. It is not my intention to support or condemn any individual, but instead to offer perspective which will help us all move forward as a unified movement.

The Transhumanist Party is a rapidly growing, worldwide movement of organisations, some of which explicitly use that name (or some version of it) while others do not. It is effectively a network that represents the primary manifestation of Political Transhumanism, which is in turn an important current within the broader Transhumanist Movement.

The strength of the Party is the same as the strength of the wider Movement of which it is a part: Cooperation, and a sense of unity which paradoxically arises from an acceptance of diversity and pluralism. In other words, the Transhumanist Party – worldwide – is thriving because we understand that our members do not all have to believe exactly the same things in order to be on the same team and achieve common goals. The same goes for Transhumanism as a whole. The Party is just one aspect of Transhumanism, and Transhumanism as a whole thrives when we understand it to have many facets, all reflecting and supportive of each other.

I think this is important to understand, and sometimes visual metaphors can cement understanding, so you may wish to think on it this way:

Imagine a large room or chamber, effectively hidden (for now) from the eyes of the wider world. That chamber constitutes our entire movement, every aspect of Transhumanism as it currently exists. The chamber is filled with candles, each representing an aspect of the movement, a person or group or idea. There are small and large candles, candles standing alone and others in clusters, some larger than others. When they are all allowed and encouraged to shine together, their collective light might stand a chance of being seen from outside, and the world may come to see. We should not wish to extinguish any of the candles, or to imagine that the light of any single candle can ever shine brightly enough on the world to bring the changes we want to see. If we do not all shine together, we might as well not be shining at all.

Recently we have heard a lot of disgruntled mumblings about schism, and disunity within the movement. Most of this is just idle internet noise, but real issues and differences have flared up. Once such issue has involved unilateral statements made by Zoltan Istvan, ostensibly on behalf of the Transhumanist Party. People have increasingly been asking what right Istvan has to make such proclamations, and some worry that he is bringing the movement as a whole into disrepute, despite being a particularly bright-shining “candle” himself. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly sum up the situation, once only and as a matter of record.

Zoltan has a spectacular drive, sense of personal ambition, and ability to connect with mainstream media. We as a movement could all learn well from him, and intend to do so. But while his efforts gives him a unique opportunity to “brand” Transhumanism for a wider audience as he personally sees fit, he does not have any moral authority to do so. His implicit claim to moral authority comes from his claim to be founder of the Transhumanist Party, but the fact is that he is no such thing. He created and popularised the idea, to be sure, but he deliberately chose not to build a real party. He has explicitly rejected all real party-building, due process, and even democracy itself. There is a real party in the UK, and serious party organisations developing in Europe (supported by TP Global), and even a real party beginning to form in the U.S. – but Zoltan is not even a member of that U.S. Party. The simple fact is that he has his own small media group, which does what he needs to do to run a media campaign, and that’s it. Therefore, Zoltan has no mandate to speak on behalf of any other Transhumanists in terms of policy or anything else. His opinions are his own.

Now, I do not mean to imply that’s a bad thing. It’s a spectacular thing, and more of us should be doing it. But it does not make Zoltan anything more than a particularly effective advocate for the Party – one whose service the Party will always be grateful for. His personal organisation is a fraction of the size of the larger groups he inspired, but which are not under his personal control. His personal focus is on longevity, which is a great hook in media terms, but longevity technologies are only one aspect of real Transhumanist Party policy being developed… and which is not being developed autocratically by a single person, but in collaboration with multiple established Transhumanist think tanks, and in accord with rigorous, democratic due process.

Last but not least, unfortunately Zoltan has created the need for a statement like this, by starkly announcing that the Transhumanist Party believes various things which are violently incongruent with the beliefs of many bona fide Transhumanists. That would be OK if these things were true policy established by some valid process, but they simply are not. This unfortunate rupture has forced those of us working to build real Transhumanist Parties around the world to assert a positive, cooperative message, which we now extend to all Transhumanists and like-minded people:

We want to work as a fully cooperative part of the broader Transhumanist Movement, and will soon be working to extend our media and activist reach far beyond the traditional confines of that movement. We accept all the diverse branches of the movement as valid (or at least potentially so), and vigorously welcome healthy difference of opinion. That difference enriches us, rather than divides. We are already in full support of and in friendly relations with all the major Transhumanist organisations, and so would ask that everyone understand that there is no schism. There is just one Transhumanism, in its multi-faceted, argumentative, free-thinking glory. The Transhumanist Party is not defined by the views of even its most energetic advocates, but by due process (which you can shape by getting involved, whoever you may be), and its guiding mission is to support and carry forward the Transhumanism which already existed before the Party did. In other words, to support you.

You – all those people who we help and who choose to help us – are our mandate. Our due process ensures that it is a valid, and fair one. Zoltan Istvan’s views do not define the Party, and so there is no schism. There is just potential, whether you are politically-inclined or not. I feel that this is a message which every Transhumanist should intuitively understand and support.

Actions speak louder than words. Support an official, due-process driven Transhumanist Party organisation or indeed any active Transhumanist organisation of note, and we are on the same team. We want, and will achieve, the same things. Together.

http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org
http://transhumanistparty.org.uk

Zoltan Istvan does not speak for the Transhumanist Party

The official Transhumanist Party blog

This is the official blog of the Transhumanist Party (a registered political party in the UK) and Transhumanist Party Global, maintained by Dr. M. Amon Twyman, Leader of the UK Party and founder of TP Global.

Posts in this blog fall into five categories. You can browse posts in each category by clicking the title links below, or clicking the menu button at the top-right of your browser window.

1. Transhumanist Party (Category: UK)

This category consists of posts about Party news, events, and other announcements from the UK. You can find links to a variety of Transhumanist Party resources at http://transhumanistparty.org.uk.

2. Press Release (Category: Press Release)

This category is for official press releases from the Transhumanist Party in the UK.

3. Transhumanist Party Global (Category: TPG)

In addition to Party news from the UK, this blog offers news from affiliated organisations around the world, acting together as one movement under the umbrella of Transhumanist Party (Global). Posts in this category have the label [TPG] in their titles.

4. Guest-written posts (Category: guest)

You can use this category to search for insights from guest writers affiliated with the Transhumanist Party worldwide.

5. Social Futurism & the Zero State (Category: ISF/ZS)

The Transhumanist Party is connected to a growing web of like-minded organisations, which can be broadly characterised as “Social Futurist” or “Techno-Progressive” in nature. Some of those organisations were predecessors of the Transhumanist Party, while others are its current partners. All of them have the opportunity to tell us about their viewpoints, plans and achievements in this category.

This category is also a place where you can read posts from the Institute for Social Futurism, which is a think tank associated with the Transhumanist Party, exploring the relationship between social justice concerns and the radical transformative potential of modern technology. Posts in this category have the label [ISF] in their titles.

The official Transhumanist Party blog

[TPG] Is your TP group inactive?

[EDIT: Lots of excellent progress since this was posted, I’m very glad to report! You can keep an eye on developments at http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org]

This post is on behalf of Transhumanist Party Global (TPG), the international coordinating body for all TP groups.

Let’s start with the punchline: The vast majority of currently-recognised Transhumanist Party groups are on track to be dropped from the list of those officially recognised, in a little over a week. Is yours one of them? If so, would you like to do something about it?

There are two lists at the end of this post. One is a list of early-stage Transhumanist Party groups that have shown activity beyond facebook. The critical thing that puts them on the list is that they were active enough to at least make an initial edit of their entry in the TPG wiki, giving us some sense of their initial plans, goals, and deadlines (however modest). The second list is of groups who have not yet managed to do that, and which will be removed from the TPG roster in early August if the situation hasn’t changed by then.

I know that a small handful of groups have not yet edited their wiki page, but are active in other ways or very new to the movement. In those cases I am sorry to be pestering the groups in this way, but quite simply we need to move things forward, so the same deadline (August 7th) applies to all groups equally.

Removal from the TPG roster doesn’t mean that a group has been shut down by TPG, or anything like that. TPG doesn’t run things centrally in that way, but rather works to coordinate groups which manage their own affairs. What TPG can’t do, however, is maintain and support a roster of inactive “ghost” groups which may be blocking active volunteers from stepping up in their parts of the world. Or perhaps there are would-be activists associated with some of these groups who would step up to develop the groups, but for whom the way is blocked by inactive “representatives”.

In short, if your group is on the active list, that means someone in that group has taken some (very small) effort to put some information on the group’s wiki page. We look forward to hearing much more from these groups over the months ahead. If your group is on the inactive list however, then no-one has so much as made the effort to edit the group’s wiki page, and you have approximately one week to change that state of affairs or the group will no longer be supported. If you think it is a matter of taking over from inactive representatives or stepping up to help group leaders who need a hand, then please do just go ahead and do whatever it is that you have to do! The requirement for recognition at this stage really is extremely minimal, after all, and we have no more time to waste on inactive groups.

Last but not least, we should note that if a group gets dropped from the TPG roster then that doesn’t mean all ties are severed or that it can’t potentially re-join in future. It just means that the group will be removed from the TPG wiki, its representatives will be removed from the TPG mailing list, no more information will be passed on to facebook groups etc when there are developments, and later the group will have to meet the same public requirements for listing in the roster as would any other group if it wants to be affiliated with TPG and listed in the wiki once more. Basically, the group would be cut off until it can show it is active. It is possible that in the meantime another group of people might come along, wishing to represent the same country, who would meet the requirements first. In that case, the new group would become the officially recognised Transhumanist Party affiliate from that country.

Groups on the inactive list below who have not edited their wiki page to show initial plans, goals, and deadlines (however modest) by Friday August 7th will be removed from the TPG wiki.

I very much hope that by August 7th, a good number of our groups will be able to raise their game, and reaffirm their intent to work toward establishment of the Transhumanist Party movement. It is inevitable that the TPG roster is going to be much smaller on the 7th, but better to start from a small, vigorous base than to encourage the illusion of activity.

p.s. Clearly the US party is a special case
, but even there we have a problem, unfortunately. Zoltan Istvan’s activities are high-profile, but to be frank one person is not a political party. We still need to see activists stepping up to do party work in the US, and that includes something as simple and important as maintaining communications with the rest of the movement. I do hope someone will be able to step up and do this for the US party, because otherwise we’ll have an embarrassing problem; but better to acknowledge and solve such a problem rather than ignore it.


Transhumanist Party (Global) wiki: http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org

ACTIVE GROUPS:

Germany
UK
Australia

INACTIVE GROUPS – due to be removed from TPG roster Aug 8th if no change:

Brazil
Canada
USA
Austria
Croatia
France
Greece
Italy
Kenya
Netherlands
Poland
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Spain
Sweden
India
Korea

[TPG] Is your TP group inactive?

Don’t mistake elections for political change!

I felt moved to write this post after seeing an article about the futility of Transhumanists standing in elections. As it happens I have already written a chapter addressing questions of strategy for the developing Transhumanist Party, but thought I’d lay out the essentials of my vision for the Party’s future here.

Some commentators seem to believe that there are only two ways to develop political influence in Western societies. The first is to influence decision makers through policy institutes, and the other is to become decision makers by winning elections. Six months ago we considered these two routes with regard to UK politics, and decided to pursue both simultaneously. Thus, Transpolitica and other friendly think tanks would explore the near-term possibilities of influencing established parties, while we would also establish the Transhumanist Party with a view to direct influence in 15-25 years time. I have said on a number of occasions that I expect Transhumanist Party influence to be negligible for at least ten years, but that groups like Transpolitica could potentially achieve real results in that same time frame.

There is a third way forward however, and it is the direction I believe the Transhumanist Party should be most heavily invested in (in the UK at least). Before explaining what I have in mind, first I would like to briefly lay out my own view of electioneering (from the Anticipating 2025 chapter mentioned above):

When it comes to traditional political party activity, we can see the most scope for modest medium-term success in nations where parliaments are elected by a proportional representation system, such as Germany. The examples of movements like the Pirate Party, Syriza and Podemos make this clear, whereas in “first past the post” systems (such as in the UK) it can easily take twenty five years to become the third party, even with radical and unexpected success. To my mind, traditional political attempts in the United States and Russia are little more than publicity drives (which is most certainly a thing of value in itself) because the systems in those nations allow for no real third-party influence. In effective single-party states like China there is no real potential for an independent political party at all.

Clearly, I do not believe that we are going to win the hearts and minds of the British electorate with an explicitly Transhumanist message any time soon (or in fact ever). Alexander Karran has noted that in his own electoral campaign the problem wasn’t so much people opposing Transhumanism, as not knowing or even remotely caring what it is. Of course we Transhumanists know that the big issues are going to come crashing into people’s lives whether they care or not, and part of our mission is to increase understanding of the issues, but at the same time we must ask ourselves a question:

How do we solve the problem of an uncaring electorate?

The Transhumanist Party exists for a reason, and it isn’t just to promote ideas like longevity. Our reason for existence is to help build a new societal model that can make the most of massive impending technological change. We may not be able to make any difference, but we must try, just in case it turns out that we could have made the difference between a society which thrives on the new technological opportunities, and one which descends into a downward spiral of missed opportunities, fearful knee-jerk reactions, and authoritarian control. Given that challenge, we cannot simply shrug and accept people’s lack of understanding as an insurmountable obstacle. Instead, we have to think like Transhumanists, and treat the situation as a problem to be solved by technical means.

We expect technological change to continue accelerating, and almost certainly spill over into massively disruptive societal change. We’re seeing some of that change and disruption already. It may be the case that as people feel that change and disruption more and more viscerally, then they become dramatically more open to our message. We must remain engaged via traditional democratic channels in case that happens. But at the same time, we should not be pinning our hopes on such eventualities, and should instead be focussing on direct action which we think is much more likely to make a positive difference regardless of public opinion. Political parties can be powerful organisations regardless of their ability to win elections, and we live in an age where societal problems can be solved by powerful organisations regardless of whether they so much as dip a toe in electoral waters.

In addition to a traditional political platform, then, we also need to encourage the establishment of a technological platform. A gateway for technological solutions to societal problems, composed of tools developed privately and publicly, and officially recognised by the government as a valid way for communities to make their own decisions and manage their own resources.

True Technocracy, or, the Big Society for real.

You may have heard the terms “Technocracy”, or “the Big Society”. Technocracy can refer to either a historical U.S. movement to bring an engineering approach to politics, or more recently to the kind of ‘technical’ governance applied to economic crises in European nations such as Italy. The Big Society is a term invented by UK Conservative Party strategists which was basically a cynical ploy to make dramatic social funding cuts sound like a good thing, by painting a romantic picture of communities rallying around to solve communal problems (the reality, of course, being the evaporation of government funding and communities being left to fend for themselves with only cute rhetoric to pay the bills).

What if we were to take these ideas seriously? What if we could engineer a situation in which our local communities were not simply ruled by specialist ‘technocrats’ or abandoned to a mythical Big Society, but instead given the opportunity and support to manage their own affairs using the best technological solutions available? Of course some things (such as defense) would still need to be organised on a national level, but we now live in an age where a lot of issues could be addressed by local communities directly, in a decentralised and highly democratic manner. By championing and working toward the creation of that new system we would naturally be aligning ourselves against the old system, bureaucratic 19th Century politics, and indeed the entirety of party politics. Our goal would be to build a system of direct local governance that makes party politics redundant, spelling the effective end of all parties including our own, and which effectively ends the age of the political class as we have understood it for the last three hundred years.

That could never work… could it?

Transhumanists talk about things like Technological Singularity all the time, but often forget to stop and think about the massive social disruption such ideas imply. Political parties haven’t existed forever, and to imagine their day will never pass is simply myopic. The big question we must ask ourselves here is what alternative forms of governance will be enabled by an explosion of technological possibilities over the coming decades. Such a wave of change is inevitable, barring disaster on the scale of a nuclear war or total environmental meltdown. Given such levels of change, the real issue is not whether local communities can manage their affairs with the latest tools better and more flexibly than an antiquated central government can, but whether we as a nation are able to muster an orderly transition to a new governance framework before it is too late… and a very disorderly transition sweeps over us all.

I envisage a kind of governmental network spanning the UK, ensuring that certain standards and common procedures are followed, but generally letting the regions use the latest technologies to create a true Big Society in their own preferred way, making decisions that reflect local desires in ways that a national parliament never could. Most of our policies will inevitably focus on the benefits of specific technologies (such as automation-backed Universal Basic Income, and NHS genetic screening leading to longevity treatments), but our party’s focus as an organisation would be on creating a platform through which people could use those technologies to manage their lives and communities without referring to central government or political parties most of the time. We would obviously not create the platform out of whole cloth, but instead work to draw together collaborators of many different types who are already developing all sorts of technological tools that people need to hear about.

The final step, however, brings us back to electoral politics. Any platform that truly gives people the power to manage their own affairs will be proscribed by government if the technology intrudes upon governmental authority. Aswell as helping to build the platform, and helping people understand how they can use it to directly make things better for themselves, it would be our task to arrange legal sanction for this new way of doing things. To return to our original two routes, we could do that by winning elections and rubber-stamping the new model ourselves, and/or influencing other parties to do the same. If establishment politicians can see that the world is changing and that they have a choice between making history and being left in its dustbin, I believe they will come to help us simply so as to not be left behind.

Elections are not political change, so much as gateways toward it under ideal circumstances. Those ideal conditions are rare indeed, and with accelerating technology we have the opportunity to make real change happen directly.

Don’t judge the future by the standards of the past. Join the Transhumanist Party!

Don’t mistake elections for political change!

The last political party

This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party in the UK, focussing on the question of policy. Another post on recent practical developments can be found here.

Two kinds of policy

I have already briefly mentioned the question of Transhumanist Party policy elsewhere (see this blog post, and this book chapter for more detailed analysis), where the bottom line was that Transhumanist Party policy in the UK is not decided by one person, unilaterally. Instead, policy is developed by the party membership as a whole, and votes to confirm official party policy are held at our Annual General Meeting. We believe that this is necessary in a modern, ethical, democratic organisation. Of course we can make educated guesses about the likely broad strokes (Universal Basic Income, more funding for science, evidence-based policy, defense of augmentation rights and so on), but the point here is that we are building a serious organisation, and if you want to help determine its platform then you should get involved now.

Such slow, ethical, democratic foundation-building doesn’t make for snappy headlines, however, and despite being necessary does not really reflect the radical nature of the Transhumanist program. After all, we stand for nothing less than total transformation of the human condition and society. As it happens, there is another way of thinking about Transhumanist Party policy which goes to the heart of who we are and what we stand for.

A new platform, and the last political party

Traditional political processes are obsolete, at best. They are quite simply unfit for dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century. More to the point, our political systems are often corrupt, and set up with all the wrong motivational incentives. In short, the system is broken, and the need for an alternative is becoming increasingly urgent. Of course others can see that too, but Transhumanists are particularly well-placed to see the bigger historical picture: That our civilization can no longer be well managed by political parties and other systems developed in Seventeenth Century Britain. It’s high time for a new evolutionary step.

Transhumanists are as a rule wary of traditional party politics, and rightly so. We look forward rather than back, and seek direct technical solutions rather than to get dragged into the more pointless rituals of contemporary society where we can help it. After all, we want to solve the big problems, not merely “play the game”. The Transhumanist Party is no different, and that’s why we should think not just in terms of specific policies decided upon at AGM, but the bigger and more revolutionary picture that they fit into.

That idea, essentially the context all of our policies fit within, is to switch society over to using new tools to make its decisions and allocate its resources in the most intelligent and compassionate manner possible. To create a new platform not just in the sense of a policy platform, but also a technological platform through which all decisions which could be made directly by citizens, human experts and software, would be. Our more specific policies (and those of other parties who are on the right side of History, collaborating with us in this effort) would shape the nature of that platform. I hope that non-governmental organisations will join the effort too, both charitable and business-oriented, to help us build a powerful and uniquely modern platform for decentralised governance of the UK, and technological empowerment of its citizens.

The eventual goal would be to entirely phase out the current political system, which has been a powerful engine in our civilizational development, but which has now led us to the brink of financial, ecological, and military disaster. Over time we would attempt to use Transhumanist Party influence to sanction the decentralization of government, having its functions transferred to more modern, rational institutions where appropriate. Eventually the entire traditional political class could be dismantled or at least radically transformed, and political parties abolished… including, of course, the Transhumanist Party.

This desire for the Transhumanist Party to make itself and all other parties obsolete to pave the way toward a better, more rational mode of governance is why I refer to it as the last political party. A vote for the Transhumanist Party is a vote to end pointless, circular, tribal and exploitative patterns of “governance”, and inaugurate a new political age to complement the new era of technological possibility unfolding across our culture.

The last political party