[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!

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

Membership representatives on the NEC

The Transhumanist Party is now looking for suitably qualified and motivated membership representatives to sit on its National Executive Committee (NEC), in line with its constitution (which can be found here). Membership representatives (“reps” for short) are people who sit on the NEC for one year as full voting members, speaking on behalf of the membership as a whole, until they face re-election at the next AGM.

While we are still in the initial stages of establishing the party, our first set of five reps are being appointed by the other NEC members as they volunteer themselves, rather than pushing a full election outside of the AGM. All of these initial reps will, however, face re-election at the next AGM as required by the party constitution.

This is a chance to help the party and our movement, by providing a vital link between the membership and the National Executive Committee which makes decisions on their behalf. If you would like to be considered for the role of membership representative, then please email contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk.

We do not yet have a full role description for these representatives, but we can say the following things with confidence at this stage:

  • The position is unpaid, and carries reponsibilities including (but not limited to) engagement at NEC meetings twice per month and engagement with the party membership between those meetings.
  • All membership representatives must be full party members, and their activity is subject to the requirements of the party constitution and NEC.
  • Development of full role descriptions for the representatives will be the responsibility of the first set of reps.
  • Similarly, establishment and maintenance of AGM electoral procedures for membership representatives will be in the hands of the initial set of reps, subject to constitutional & NEC requirements.
  • Membership representatives on the NEC

    [Press] TRANSHUMANIST PARTY VIEWS ON ACTION IN SYRIA

    Contact David Woods
    Email PRESS@TranshumanistParty.Org.UK
    Website http://www.TranshumanistParty.Org.UK

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 25, 2015

    TRANSHUMANIST PARTY VIEWS ON ACTION IN SYRIA.
    STRICT CONDITIONS MUST BE MET FOR TRANSHUMANIST PARTY APPROVAL.

    The Transhumanist Party upholds the principle of Social Futurism: the social consequences of interventions, whether technological, political, or military, should be thought through in advance, to reduce the risk of unintended outcomes. In addition we support the right of minority self determination.

    Given the lack of foresight shown by successive UK governments over the past two decades which have reduced much of the Middle East to ruin, and noting that David Cameron now wants to bomb Syrian rebels this time, instead of the Syrian government when Parliament last refused his request two years ago:

    The Transhumanist Party would only support the bombing of Syria under the following conditions:

    (a) That the military action is limited to strikes against Islamic State and will not be widened to include other factions in the civil war or elsewhere.

    (b) That it is part of a wider plan to end the war in Syria to enable refugees to return home, even if it means backing Assad on a temporary basis with Russian assistance.

    (c) It must have the consent of the Syrian government or the United Nations.

    The cessation of all military action in Syria, as soon as possible, is a precondition that will allow the people in that region to participate in the collective technological, economic, educational and social progress which is their Human Right as defined by the United Nations Charter, and their extended Transhuman Rights”.

    If you would like more information about this topic, please contact David Woods at PRESS@TranshumanistParty.Org.UK

    [Press] TRANSHUMANIST PARTY VIEWS ON ACTION IN SYRIA

    Official Policies of the Transhumanist Party (2015)

    Last Sunday (4th October 2015), we held the inaugural Transhumanist Party Day in London, including our first AGM to officially determine Party policy by democratic means. You can find the list of our officially approved policies below, but first I would like to make a brief comment on the voting process.

    This was the first test of our party’s democratic processes, and it appears to have been an overwhelming success. The party now has a mandate from its membership, which started with policy proposals submitted by the end of August, followed by ratification by the National Executive Committee (to check that proposed policies did not contravene the Transhumanist Party Principles), and finally by an open membership vote held both online and at the AGM.

    There were two proposed amendments to the party’s constitution (see below), and I am glad to report that both were accepted with 100% support. Furthermore, there were six policy packages consisting of a number of proposed policies each. We offered members the chance to accept any package in toto, or to pick and choose which policies they supported. According to our party constitution only a simple majority threshold (i.e. 50%+) is required for a proposal to pass. Some consideration has been given to applying a higher threshold for this initial meeting, but it has been decided by the party leadership that an arbitrary threshold would do a disservice to party members who support any given policy which met constitutional requirements but not an arbitrarily higher threshold (and as importantly, one not announced in advance).

    As it happens, we received an overwhelming mandate from the party membership, with three packages accepted outright at the 50% threshold, and all individual policies still being accepted at the same threshold where the packages as a whole were not accepted. Where a package as a whole was not accepted and a member had voted in favour of an entire package, they were considered to have cast a vote in favour of each individual policy comprising it (if we didn’t do this, we’d have to explain why we were throwing away half the members’ votes regarding half the policies). All six policy packages are thus considered to have been adopted as official policy, in full. Anonymised voting numbers will be made available to party members upon request, once they have been properly prepared.

    Even though a higher acceptance threshold has not been applied, it is worth noting that only 3 of the 27 policy proposals would not be accepted at a 67% threshold, which in the party constitution is a threshold reserved for amendments to the constitution itself. In order to avoid undermining the established mandate, I will not be commenting on which three policies those are.

    These are now the official policies of the Transhumanist Party, until the next AGM or special poll of the membership. Rules for submitting new proposals toward future changes will be released shortly. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the party.

    OFFICIAL POLICIES OF THE TRANSHUMANIST PARTY (2015)


    A. Party Constitution amendments:

    1.0
    The Transhumanist Party’s ideological position is known as Social Futurism, which represents the integration of social and technological concerns. We adopt this position as a reminder that our central mission as a Transhumanist political party is to harness technological potential for the benefit of society.

    2.0
    The National Executive Committee (NEC) is responsible for drafting interim party policy where an issue is judged by the party leadership to have arisen for which there is no policy yet in place. The adoption of interim policy must be in accord with constitutional voting rules. Any such policy must be formally ratified at the first AGM following its inception, or be automatically considered rescinded in the absence of ratification.

    B. Initial Transhumanist Party policies:

    3.0 Political and Judicial Reform

    3.1
    Governance in the UK to be reformed toward greater democratic, technologically mediated participation in decision making (particularly with regard to functions which can be safely ceded to local authorities), and a greater focus on evidence-based policies rather than ideology.

    3.2
    Proportional representation is to be instituted.

    3.3
    The House of Lords to be transformed, over time, to a second chamber augmented by the most effective technological decision aids available.

    3.4
    No MP may take any other paid work while during their term in Parliament, and laws are to be enacted to reform the “revolving door” system of MP’s subsequent appointments and private sector political influence.

    3.5
    Freedom of speech will be vigorously defended, with the exception of speech that (1) constitutes a direct incitement to violence, (2) is libellous (with libel reform to have burden of proof put on the claimant), or (3) is the product of a crime designed to acquire or create the information transmitted (trading in or further transmitting such information will make one an accessory to the original crime).

    3.6
    Reform of intellectual property and software patent law, to allow only the most clearly justified limitation of freedoms of speech and information.

    3.7
    Laws addressing the regulation of emerging technologies will as far as possible prioritise the preservation of personal freedoms insofar as other people’s personal freedoms, rights, or the needs of society are not being curtailed. People should be free to use new technologies as they see fit if they are harming no-one else and there is no clear potential for such harm, and they must be guaranteed freedom from inappropriate intrusion by the state made possible by new technologies.

    4.0 Economics

    4.1
    The highest goal of the Transhumanist Party is to ensure that the potential benefits of technological change are as widely accessible as possible across society, and to create conditions which maximise opportunities for positive technological development.

    4.2
    The state pension, and retirement age, to be abolished. Those who cannot work will instead be entitled to claim state benefits. This is a policy to be introduced over a fifteen year timescale and culminate in a Basic Income Guarantee for all citizens.

    4.3
    A Land Value Tax to be introduced.

    4.4
    There will be no state subsidies for mature, profitable industries – no “bail outs”.

    4.5
    The state will provide full grants to all citizen students. Those receiving full grants will be liable to repay them if they emigrate within a ten-year period after graduation.

    5.0 Environment

    5.1
    Transhumanist Party environmental policies must emphasise the use of “Bright Green” technologies to improve the health and wellbeing of the natural world, and to minimise any negative environmental effects of technology. This will necessitate constant reform and improvement of environmental impact legislation.

    5.2
    Targeted year on year reduction in the use of pesticides and herbicides. Support for vertical farming and robotic techniques.

    5.3
    Factory farming of animals to be more strictly regulated. Research into tissue culture as a replacement source for meat to be actively supported and subsidised.

    6.0 Health and Education

    6.1
    The NHS will be encouraged to evolve in a direction in which greater emphasis is placed on preventive and regenerative biotechnology.

    6.2
    Laws governing pharmaceuticals will be modified to allow licensing of drugs that extend lifespan, enhance intelligence or make one “better than well”.

    6.3
    No culturally divisive education is to be supported by the taxpayer. This includes schools charging significant fees as well as those selecting by class, race or religion.

    6.4
    New technologies which can significantly reduce educational & health system costs and improve performance of those systems will be subsidised by the government in order to encourage swift adoption.

    7.0 Society and Europe

    7.1
    Although we are concerned with the wellbeing of humanity as a whole, our party focusses first and foremost on British societal needs. The demands of multiculturalism and other societies will be considered secondary to the needs of our own society. Within the broad boundaries of asserting our own societal needs first, we will strive to create an integrated, harmonious society.

    7.2
    Immigration policy shall prioritise skilled migrants, and while refugees will be welcomed with vigorous humanitarian support, such refugees will not be afforded the full rights or freedoms of properly recognised immigrants. Although we seek to support and enable our fellow human beings, we cannot do so in a manner which abandons our own right to future self-determination as a nation.

    7.3
    The Council of the European Union (AKA the Council of Ministers) should not be allowed undue control over the democratically elected European Parliament. The Council should be reduced to the status of ‘second chamber’ with power of veto over European Parliament decisions rather than direct legislative power.

    8.0 Defence and International Relations

    8.1
    An immediate halt to the selling of arms to nations that are not democracies, or are debtor nations in the international community to an extent significantly beyond the international norm.

    8.2
    Retain and properly maintain an effective nuclear deterrent.

    8.3
    No foreign aid to governments. Foreign aid should only be given direct to people who need the aid, or NGOs which can be trusted on the basis of evidence that they will properly distribute it.

    8.4
    No aid to nations with nuclear weapon programs.

    8.5
    Support for self-determination of culturally coherent peoples, where geography allows and can be shown to be viable (e.g. Kurds), as well as devolution movements (e.g. Scotland).

    Official Policies of the Transhumanist Party (2015)

    [Press] NO to blanket bans on Genetically Modified crops

    TRANSHUMANIST PARTY PRESS RELEASE

    Transhumanist Party press releases can be found here:
    https://transhumanistparty.wordpress.com/category/press-release/

    NO TO BLANKET BANS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

    Why the Scottish ban on GM is bad for Scotland and the UK

    The recent announcement by MSP Richard Lochhead to ban the growing of Genetically Modified crops in Scotland is short-sighted. By banning GM crop growing Scotland is announcing its intention to rely solely on outdated, cumbersome and increasingly non-competitive “natural” methods. Indeed, this ban will more than likely increase the potential for negative impact on the very industries we wish to preserve, making the very “gamble” that Mr Lochhead says he wishes to avoid.

    In an age of accelerating technological progress, this announcement appears to be anti-science and thus anti-progress, which may have far reaching effects beyond the Scottish border. It announces to the world that Britain is insular and unable to compete, converse or engage in this area, when biotechnology research is arguably one of the UK’s greatest assets. There is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that GM crop production has a negative impact on the environment or human health, so this announcement has no basis in fact and panders only to anti-technology extremists.

    Climate change is another factor we should consider, having an impact that is not yet fully understood, and GM crops have the potential to vouchsafe the future of food production in Britain, by allowing us to control the evolution of crops in response to radical changes in climate before they occur.

    We acknowledge that sometimes the business of trading in GM crops is not approached ethically (e.g. encouraging reliance on a few large companies for seed every season), so greater and more carefully considered regulation of GM crop business is warranted. The use of these technologies should be judged on a case by case basis however, rather than simply banned altogether.

    Party leader Amon Twyman says, “The Transhumanist Party fully supports well-regulated GM crop production, and the progress being made in the biotechnology industries to provide Great Britain with methods of sustainable agriculture. We call for Mr Lochhead to reassess the Scottish position on GM crops after a balanced review of the scientific evidence.”

    [Press] NO to blanket bans on Genetically Modified crops

    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

    AGM procedure: Get involved, have your say!

    Following the public Anticipating 2040 event on October 3rd, the Transhumanist Party will be holding its first Party Day on Sunday October 4th, which will include presentations, discussion, and the formalities of our first Annual General Meeting. We will be posting a registration page for the Party Day shortly.

    It is our intention to use each Party Day as a stepping stone to the next, making the event better each year and using it as a vehicle to develop the party. Certain aspects of the AGM are determined by the requirements of our Party Constitution, meaning that there are certain rules which we must follow. Within those broad constraints, however, we intend to keep things as simple and flexible as possible, for the time being at least. To that end, here are a few brief details about how voting in the AGM will work:

    1. TPUK members only, & importance of the members’ email list

    Although guests and journalists are welcome at the Party Day, the event is primarily for TPUK party members, and only full party members are eligible to participate in voting. Most of the logistics of voting and other AGM issues, and any announcements, will be handled via the email list which all members are invited to when they join the party. If you are not a member but would like to join in time to have some say in policy and other matters this year, you can do so here.

    2. Voting cards, and voting online / in absentia

    In order to differentiate between voting and non-voting attendees at AGM, party members will be given voting cards where they can record their response for all votes tabled for the day (and hand the card back by the day’s end, to be counted). Unfortunately we cannot ensure a high degree of (or perhaps any) online access to the event this year, so the use of voting cards allows non-attending party members to vote aswell. This will be done via the members’ mailing list, with all party members having the option of filling in a virtual voting card, online.

    3. Before voting cards: Proposing policy, representatives, and other motions

    AGM voting will cover a number of issues. Primarily, it will tell us which initial policies are to be put forward for official endorsement by the party. It will also involve voting for members’ representatives on the National Executive Committee and any other motions proposed by party members and approved by the NEC, such as possible amendments to the party constitution.

    Obviously it will take time to discuss and consider such issues, and even if we were foolish enough to think that people could digest all the relevant information and vote on the same day, that would still leave those not attending out in the cold. Additionally, it will clearly take time for party members and supporters to work up policy ideas and any other proposals for submission. The key dates defining this process are given below.

    4. Important dates and deadlines

    We are now at the end of July, with the Party Day a little over two months away. The deadline for all proposals (including policy proposals, potential Party Officers and members’ representative candidate names, and anything else) is Monday August 31st. Virtual voting cards will be issued via the members’ email list on Sunday September 27th. Voting will be open from that point, until the close of Party Day proceedings one week later, on Sunday October 4th.

    Further details will be posted in the members’ email list and in other TPUK forums over the coming weeks. If you have any questions or feel that you may have missed something important, the best place to raise a question is in the Transhumanist Party members’ email list. If you’re really stuck and don’t know how to find the list or join the party, then please don’t hesitate to email contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk!

    AGM procedure: Get involved, have your say!

    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!

    Working toward a new paradigm

    This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party, but not a dry technical report. Instead, this is the first in what I intend to be a new style of message, combining news of our activity with the bigger picture of the world situation. After all, we have not created a political party as a hobby or an exercise in vanity, but out of a deep dissatisfaction with the state of things and a thirst for change.

    1. Volunteer teams now active

    To start with practical matters: The party now has a “backbone” of volunteer teams starting to develop, and they are engaged in the first step of assessing what they need to do, and how they need to do it. All of our teams are organising their initial goals around our first Party Day in October (more on that below). If you would like to help the party at this stage, you can do so by volunteering (send an email to contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk letting us know your interests & skills), or by joining and/or donating.

    2. Anticipating 2040, Party Day 2015, and voting for policy @ AGM.

    It has been decided that most of our activity will now be geared toward a special weekend event on October 3rd-4th. On Saturday 3rd we are involved with the organisation of Anticipating 2040: A roadmap to sustainable abundance? This is a public, one-day conference focussed on themes central to the aims of the Transhumanist Party. The following day will be an event for party members and invited guests only, and will include a part of the day devoted to our first Annual General Meeting.

    More details will follow soon, but at this stage it is important to note a crucial feature of the planned event. The TPUK constitution requires that official party policy must be presented in the form of proposals to be voted on by the membership at AGM. Provision will be made for absentee voting and online attendance by party members where at all possible.

    For now, all you need to know is that details of the proposal process will be announced inside the next month, so if you have any thoughts on what Transhumanist Party policy should be then you are strongly encouraged to start making some notes and discussing them with other supporters. If your ideas are submitted and supported in AGM voting then they will become official party policy. If you don’t submit anything, then your ideas will remain nothing more than that as far as the party is concerned. We hope you will choose to get involved.

    3. Ten years on: New paradigm required!

    I would like to end by taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, and think about what we as a party stand for. In order to do that, I’d like to reflect on a little personal history.

    Ten years ago today, terrorists killed fifty two people in London, wounding and traumatising many more. I live in London, and was sitting on a tube train when the first blasts occurred that morning. I was among around two thousand people evacuated from the trains and encouraged to catch buses to our destinations instead (at this stage we had not been told of the terrorist attack, but many of us had our suspicions). My workplace was in Tavistock Square, and I arrived moments after the notorious suicide attack on the bus there. Suffice to say that it was a day that I and many others will never forget.

    The decade since has shown us a thing or two about the society we live in. It is most emphatically not a rational place, geared toward intelligently engineering a better future for ourselves and our loved ones. It is, in other words, not the world Transhumanists want to live in. We could still build that world, but sitting back and allowing things to run their course will not take us to the destination we desire.

    For example, Islamists are still among us, with a large number of young Muslims having recently left the UK to fight for Islamic State. We are constantly told that these people are themselves victims, and that they should be excused, helped to return safely, re-educated at the State’s expense. It is apparently impolite to note that these are the explicit supporters of a murderous, theocratic, totalitarian ideology who have demonstrated an ability to follow through on their words with action. After ten years, we should have learned that ignoring and apologising for totalitarians in our midst is utterly unacceptable. Anyone who is serious about a triumphant Transhumanist worldview must understand that militant theocracy is its antithesis, and such a thing can never be ignored for the sake of being politically correct.

    The other half of this equation is equally instructive, however. The very reason we even have this problem (of homegrown Islamic terrorism, and of other, innocent people who consequently feel persecuted for simply being Muslim in Britain) is the track record of governments who will not flinch at creating suffering for profit. We invade other countries despite a complete absence of appropriate evidence or rationale, thus creating opposition abroad and at home, because it serves the interests of certain industries. Our governing class (including all the major parties) has a common philosophy of governing for the benefit of vested economic interests, rather than the needs and desires of the British people. In short, these are governments that will drop bombs and dismantle social support without blinking if it will make a profit for their most influential friends.

    This is not a rational society. It is not one governed by people who have some vision for making things better for as many people as possible. Even the most idealistic of contemporary politicians lacks true vision or determination to make deep, positive change happen. Over the last ten years we have started to see where their philosophy will take us, and it is not a place where any Transhumanist should want to go.

    Transhumanists want to build a better world, geared toward more noble ideals than mere profit, constant attacks on less powerful countries, or the appeasement of authoritarian theocrats for the sake of appearing tolerant. We want a world in which such things will come to seem hopelessly antiquated, and we will work toward exactly that.

    Working toward a new paradigm