[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

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

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)

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

What is Transhumanist Party policy?

Tune in: Dr Alexander Karran – independent Transhumanist candidate for the seat of Liverpool Walton in next week’s election – will be answering questions via a Google Hangout this Sunday evening, May 3rd, 7pm UK time.

Now that Dr Alexander Karran’s electoral leaflets have been posted out to residents in Liverpool Walton, he has naturally been fielding questions about Transhumanist policies. People want to know what the Transhumanist position is on every conceivable issue.

Alexander is standing as an independent electoral candidate (albeit one with the support of the Transhumanist Party), and so has been careful to draw a distinction between his own views and those integral to Transhumanism, but this does naturally lead us to think about future Transhumanist Party policy. About what we should or shouldn’t (must and cannot) have policies about, and what exactly our policies should be.

We already know that Transhumanist Party policy will naturally differ from nation to nation, thanks to differences in law and sentiment on the one hand, and different ways of doing things in the different Party organisations on the other. As if that didn’t make predicting policy tricky enough, we should note that the Transhumanist Party in the UK (at least, so far) has made a point of inverting the traditional political model and saying that its policies will be determined by all members, rather than just the leadership.

In other words, as long as certain basic principles (enshrined in the Party Constitution) are adhered to, then policy will be determined by those with the gumption to join the Party and get involved! The flip-side to this, of course, is that non-members have no say whatsoever in Party policy. We are not going to be held back by “armchair critics”.

Other Transhumanist Parties may choose to not follow the same model in future, but it has been established that citizens of any nation may join the UK party if they want, and so anyone who agrees with our principles can help develop our policies. Those policies are voted on at our Annual General Meetings, the first of which will double as a launch event (both online and in London) and is being planned for summer 2015. Generally speaking we want to encourage members to take the initiative by working up policy proposals themselves, volunteering to do the many things that clearly need to be done, and the AGM is a chance for everyone to come together and synchronise their efforts. To see that we are not just active individuals but a movement, together.

So, Alexander Karran has suggested a way forward for Transhumanism in Liverpool, and you can have a say in Transhumanist Party policy in the UK and around the world. You just have to join the Party, meet other members, and look for ways that we can work together to move things forward.

Tune in: Dr Alexander Karran – independent Transhumanist candidate for the seat of Liverpool Walton in next week’s election – will be answering questions via a Google Hangout this Sunday evening, May 3rd, 7pm UK time.

What is Transhumanist Party policy?