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.
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    Membership representatives on the NEC

    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)

    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!

    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

    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

    Volunteering, local groups, & TP web presence

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

    1. Volunteering: Get involved!

    We are calling for volunteers to help get the party set up; both full party members and more general supporters can volunteer. If you would like to see the Transhumanist Party succeed, then please consider what you could do to help. Basically there are four ways you could be helpful, listed below, and if you would like to talk about any of them then please do email us: contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk

  • Join a core departmental team
  • TPUK is organised around six departments; Party Secretary’s Office, Treasury, PR & Campaigns, IT dept, Fundraising, Nominations & Liaison. We are currently looking for 4-6 volunteers per department, in order to spread the workload and maintain momentum. Some of these volunteer positions would involve the volunteer taking a seat on the National Executive Committee. By being a member of one of these teams you would be at the heart of party operations at the national level.

  • Local party organisations / national network
  • We are currently planning a two-day event on the 3rd-4th of October, in London and with online-accessible elements. The first day of the event (the “Anticipating 2040” conference) will be open to the public, and the second open to party members and special guests. The decision as to whether the second day will act as our first AGM (or whether that will follow separately, later) is due to be made on July 2nd. As we work toward that event this summer, the plan is to encourage the growth of local party networks and visit local groups as they develop. The first such group – Leeds Transhumanist Party – is now on Facebook. You could be of great assistance by joining (or in most cases, creating!) your own local TP group and letting us know about it, as soon as possible.

  • Join the party and/or donate
  • As always, we need both members, and resources in order to get anything done. If you are not already a member, please do consider joining. Don’t forget that you don’t need to be a UK citizen or resident to join the party, and that you can donate without joining if you prefer. We are working on a dedicated sign-up system on our own website, but for the moment have our join page being managed by the good people at Transpolitica.

  • Get creative!
  • If you can see another way you can help that isn’t described above, then you don’t need our permission to just go ahead and make things happen (as long as your actions don’t contravene the party constitution or generally bring the party into disrepute). If you have an idea then please do feel encouraged to run with it, or get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

    2. Navigating the TP web presence

    Some people have naturally been confused by the proliferation of Transhumanist Party groups, websites, and associated organisations on the internet. To a certain extent that’s a natural consequence of two dozen new national groups exploding into existence in a few short months, complicated by their relationships with various groups and forums which aren’t strictly speaking part of the Transhumanist Party. I would like to try to help make things clearer though, so here’s a very quick guide to the essentials, from a UK perspective (just a placeholder until someone can develop a more comprehensive “map” of this new movement):

  • Transhumanist Party (Global)
    http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org
  • Also known as TPG; this organisation is basically a hub, connecting the various national-level Transhumanist Party groups, plus some emerging partner organisations and affiliated initiatives. The website is a wiki, edited by movement members from around the world. The TPG site is not the domain of any one national-level group, and it does not tell any of those groups what to do. Instead, it exists to help us all stay connected and aware of each others’ progress.

  • Transhumanist Party (TPUK)
    http://transhumanistparty.org.uk
  • For historical reasons (i.e. following the example of the US party), the UK party is simply known as (the) “Transhumanist Party”. Our main website is still at a very early stage of development, and dealing with that is now one of our top priorities (volunteers needed, see above!). Public discussion forums are hosted on this site, and the direct link to them is http://forums.transhumanistparty.org.uk.

  • TPUK Facebook group
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/uk.transhumanistparty/
  • Our facebook group is essentially a kind of public “shop window”, where party members, supporters, and those more casually interested can discuss issues relevant to transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party. Party updates are posted in the facebook group, but you won’t see any serious planning in there.

  • TPUK members-only email list
    http://groups.google.com/group/transhumanistpartyuk
  • Unlike our forums and facebook group, the members-only mailing list is for – you guessed it – TPUK party members only. The list URL is given above for the convenience of members, and all new joiners are invited to the list (and can ask to join after the fact), but anyone else requesting to join will not be allowed access. Access is restricted in order to ensure a good signal:noise ratio, and a certain level of demonstrated commitment from all involved in discussion.

    You’ll hear more from us soon, and we look forward to hearing from you soon, too!

    Volunteering, local groups, & TP web presence