Friday, January 28, 2005

Utne Reader on the Emerging Biopolitics

Although she gets some of the details askew (I didn't help found the WTA for instance, nor were its founders "leftists") Alyssa Ford's review of my arguments for biopolitics and democratic transhumanism in the Utne Reader are a heck of a lot more positive than I would have expected. Kudos to them. Now I feel bad about saying in Citizen Cyborg that more people in the developing world want to live in a Wired future than an Utne future. If Utne is open to a techprogressive argument the future is a lot brighter.
By definition, social conservatives oppose the transhumanists, but the new movement also has many enemies on the new age, environmental, anti-GMO, and anti-biotech left. These progressive opponents have even aligned with right wing factions in opposition to transhumanist goals. In 2002, Jeremy Rifkin and other environmentalists joined with anti-abortion groups to float an anti-cloning petition. Abortion opponents again found themselves working with the left when a group of feminists and civil libertarians began pressuring the Indian government to restrict women's access to ultrasounds and abortions for fear of female infanticide. The transhumanists, in turn, call these anti-technology liberals "left luddites," "bioconservatives," and "technophobes" -- a not-so-subtle linguistic clue that the new biopolitical axis has the potential to completely reconfigure traditional politics.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Conf Religious Far Right in US - April 29-30, NYC

Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right - a Conference

A Two-Day Conference April 29-30

Co-sponsored by the NY Open Center and CUNY Graduate Center Public Programs


with Karen Armstrong, Joan Bokaer, Chip Berlet, Katherine Yurica, John Sugg, Hugh Urban, Frederick Clarkson, Jeffrey Sharlet, Skipp Porteous & Charles Strozier

“Until progressives come to understand what [fundamentalists] read, hear, are told and deeply believe, we cannot understand American politics, much less be effective.” - Joe Bageant

Most Americans outside the Bible Belt have little idea of the beliefs held by millions of fundamentalist churchgoers. We have an almost total lack of awareness of the rise of Dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism, forms of theology that advocate a biblical vision of God’s kingdom on earth. Some fundamentalists also foresee events such as The Rapture, the Times of Tribulation, Armageddon, and the Second Coming of Christ as we enter The End Days.

This conference will give rigorous attention to the worldview of Dominionism, its influence in contemporary political culture and its agenda for America. While not all Christian fundamentalists are Dominionists, Dominionism’s influence is powerful and growing. Its adherents play a significant role in secretive organizations such as The Council on National Policy, which exerts a strong influence on the strategy of the religious right

The 2004 election tells us that socially conscious citizens need to awaken to the ambitions of this influential religious movement. What do fundamentalist theologies advocate regarding theocracy, abortion and homosexuality? What is the nature of the world order under God’s law that they anticipate? How do many fundamentalists interpret the role of Israel? How does this affect U.S. policy? Why are so many fundamentalists opposed to environmentalism and the UN? Why are millions in America drawn to this form of belief, and how can we come to understand them?

Join us for this important conference as America grapples with the growing influence of fundamentalist religion and its political goals. Clearly, something within this movement addresses the need for spirituality and community in an America submerged under materialism and consumerism. The time has arrived to take the ambitions and prophecies of extreme Christian fundamentalism seriously, and to examine the compatibility of these beliefs with democracy as we currently know it.


Presentations include:

Fundamentalism: The Fear and the Rage - Karen Armstrong

The Rise of Dominionism in the U.S. Government - Joan Bokaer

Millennialist and Apocalyptic Influences on Dominionism - Chip Berlet

Learning about the Christian Right, and What in the World to Do - Frederick Clarkson

The Real Hidden Religious Agenda: The Theocratic States of America - John Sugg

Is an Unholy American Theocracy Here? - Katherine Yurica

On the Psychology and Theocracy of George W. Bush: Reflections in a Culture of Fear - Charles Strozier

Christian Jihad - Skipp Porteous

Jesus Plus Nothing: Elite Fundamentalism, Pragmatic Dominionism - Jeff Sharlet

Religion and Secrecy in the Bush Administration - Hugh Urban


Registration Information:

Friday evening, April 29, 7:30-10pm
Saturday, April 30, 10am-5:30pm

05WEC58TZI Full Conference
Nonmembers $85/Members $75

05WEC58TAI Friday only
Nonmembers $22/Members $20

05WEC58TBI Saturday only
Nonmembers $75/Members $65

Limited scholarships are available
Supporting donations are welcomed!

Monday, January 24, 2005

HI art

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the work of David Pearce is being celebrated by a group of New York artists. Understandably so, considering that the object of the homage is Pearce's The Hedonistic Imperative. The exhibition, which started on January 14, is a tribute to Pearce's 1996 online manifesto, which calls for the abolition of suffering throughout the living world. If you live in the area, I would strongly advise you to go --or, better yet, to organize a group visit with other transhumanist sympathizers. The event will take place at Jack the Pelican (487 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg, New York City), and will last until February 20.

One of the works exhibited:

Kim Keever, Where 3, 2000, photo, 48 x 60"

And an excerpt from the press release:
Jack the Pelican is pleased to present “The Hedonistic Imperative,” guest-curated by Graham Guerra.

Artists include James Adams, Matt Borruso, Carl D'Alvia, Michael Joaquin Grey, Paul Jacobsen, Jerry Kearns, Kim Keever, Ted Mineo, Norm Paris, Michael Rees, Robert Yarber and Suzanne Walters

The show is a tribute to David Pearce’s 1996 online manifesto of the same name, which calls for the elimination of suffering in all sentient beings through genetic engineering, nanotechnology and neuroscience. “The world’s last unpleasant experience,” he writes, “will be a precisely dateable event.”

Transhumanism and FM Esfandiary

Iranscope has a piece on Iranian futurist Fereidoun ‘FM’ Esfandiary and his role in jump-starting the early transhumanist movement. Although the author, Sam Gandchi, falsely claims that FM was the first to use the term ‘transhumanism’ (the term was not coined by him, nor by Max More –as some wikipedians would make us think--, but by Julian Huxley in the first essay of his 1957 book New Bottles for New Wine), the article is sympathetic to the movement, and has good things to say about luminaries like Eric Drexler and Marvin Minsky. It also praises the WTA. An excerpt:
It is interesting that although Fereidoun Esfandiary introduced very radical ideas in the political academic circles of Berkeley and UCLA in the 70's and 80's, and that he was familiar with the social and political issues of Iran, and even previously had been in sports and Olympics, as well as diplomatic politics of Middle East at the United Nations, nonetheless, not only among the Iranian intellectuals inside Iran there was no familiarity with his views, but even among the Iranian political students' movement abroad which was very active those years in Berkeley and UCLA, there was no familiarity with Esfandiary's views. FM2030 was very far ahead of his times.