IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Vision > Staff > J. Hughes > Technoprogressivism
Who are the Technoprogressives?
J. Hughes   Jul 14, 2013   Ethical Technology  

When we started promoting the term “technoprogressive” as the IEET’s ideological position back in 2006 it helped us move beyond being the left wing of transhumanism to being part of a broader, deeper and older political current with roots in the Enlightenment. Our recent survey of the IEET audience helps us continue to flesh out what kinds of people are responding to the technoprogressive political project.

More than 400 of you took the time to respond to the IEET survey, and half (48%) of you identified as "technoprogressive." (In later analyses of the survey I'll dig into the opinions of all the respondents, including those who didn't identify with the term "technoprogressive.")

"Technoprogressive" was one of the multiple political labels the survey provided, and most of you chose more than one to describe yourself. Of those almost all of the technoprogressives also chose political labels associated with left-wing politics, ranging from "liberal," "progressive," "anti-racist," and "Green," to various shades of radical left politics such as "libertarian socialist" and "anarchist." Surprisingly however – since the technoprogressive label was originally defined as a critique of libertarian transhumanism - some "technoprogressives" also identified as "libertarians," and a quarter (26%) of you identified as "upwingers or advocates of a future political system," as well as moderates, Euro-Liberals and Christian Democrats, and even conservatives.

Political Identities of Technoprogressives in the 2013 IEET Survey

Liberal/Social Democratic

69%

 

Libertarian Right

14%

Progressive

54%

 

Libertarian

13%

Democrat

25%

 

Anarcho-capitalist

3%

US-style "liberal"

22%

 

Minarchist

3%

Social democrat

25%

 

Randian/Objectivist

1%

Democratic socialist

15%

     

Market socialist

8%

 

Other Identities

 

     

Upwinger/advocate of a future political system

26%

New Left

64%

 

Moderate

22%

Anti-racist

42%

 

Other

11%

Green

35%

 

European Liberal

8%

Feminist

27%

 

Conservative

2%

Eco-socialist

14%

 

Religious socialist

2%

Socialist feminist

8%

 

Christian Democrat

2%

     

Far right

0%

Radical Left

34%

     

Libertarian socialist

15%

 

Not political

5%

Radical

13%

     

Socialist internationalist

10%

     

Anarchist

8%

     

Revolutionary socialist

5%

     

Communist

4%

     

Anarcho-syndicalist

4%

     

Marxist-Leninist

1%

     

 

Clearly, the technoprogressive label, like the term "progressive," has had a broader appeal than just to people on the Left.

We also asked about your support  for a variety of movements.  Among the self-described "technoprogressives" support for "transhumanism" garnered the most enthusiasm, with about two thirds (65%) of technoprogressives saying they strongly supported it.  There were however some technoprogressives who were hostile or indifferent to the transhumanist movement.  There was also almost complete support (above 80% on support or strongly support) among the technoprogressives for abortion rights, environmentalism, dignity in dying, disability rights, secular humanism and drug legalization. After these movements though there was a more mixed opinion about "animal rights" (70% support), "singularitarianism" (63% support), "great ape rights" (62%), trade unions (56%), vegetarianism (48%) and world federalism (46%).

Among the agree-disagree statements there were nine statements that stood out as having far more support from technoprogressives than from those who did not identify as technoprogressives.  Technoprogressives were more supportive of uploading, cryonics, personhood rights for robots, cloning, radical life extension, designer babies, uplifting, GMO crops and – not surprisingly – technoprogress.

 

Percent Agreeing

 
 

TPs

Non TPs

Difference

I would have my mind copied to computers if it was the only way I could continue as a conscious person.

73%

43%

30%

I would consider being frozen and re-animated later if it was the only way I could continue living.

68%

41%

27%

Robots that think and feel like human beings, and aren't a threat to human beings, should be granted human rights.

81%

54%

27%

Parents should be able to have children through cloning once the technology is safe.

74%

47%

27%

It would be a good thing if people could live in good health for hundreds of years or longer.

88%

62%

26%

Parents should be able to choose the sex, intelligence and other characteristics of their children.

61%

37%

24%

It would be ethical to genetically modify apes and dolphins to be able to think and communicate more like human beings.

49%

30%

19%

Genetically-modified crops present an opportunity to improve agriculture and nutrition, and should be actively developed.

73%

55%

18%

Through science and reason, human progress is limitless.

75%

57%

18%

 

​Demographically, as we usually find in surveys of the transhumanist and Left movements, the technoprogressives are overwhelmingly (91%) white/European and (91%) male, although not as straight as the population at large – 17% are GLBT. Fully half (50%) have a masters, doctorate or professional degree, while another third (34%) have a bachelors degree. Most (60%) identify as atheists or agnostic, but there are technoprogressives among the respondents with every religious persuasion we asked about – "spiritual" (17%), Buddhist (13%), Unitarian Universalist (6%), Pantheist (4%), Catholic (4%), Protestant (4%),  Pagan (3%), LDS (2%), Jewish (2%), Muslim (1%), and Hindu (1%).

Overall, the survey results show that our small political tendency has attracted a very diverse constituency of very well-educated people who are mostly secular left-leaning transhumanists, but who include religious people, non-transhumanists and people not on the Left. As we knew we have a lot of work to do to broaden our appeal beyond the male white/European base, which will happen naturally as technoprogressivism continues to evolve beyond its narrow subcultural community to build alliances with the diverse movements that it has strong resonances with. In addition to organizations like Humanity+, which a third (32%) of the technoprogressives belonged to, and support for transhumanist-identified projects like SENS (18%), technoprogressives also participate in political parties (27%), religious denominations (15%), political nonprofit groups and professional associations. Raising the flag for a technoprogressive point of view in these myriad arenas is the work ahead of us.

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)



COMMENTS

Great survey!

Re “Surprisingly however - since the technoprogressive label was originally defined as a critique of libertarian transhumanism - some “technoprogressives” also identified as “libertarians”

I understand that you are referring to the excesses of some gun-crazy, right-wing American self-identified “libertarians,” but I believe most libertarian transhumanists s favor a tolerant, anti-authoritarian, live-and-let-live interpretation of libertarianism centered on self-ownership.

I was around when we started using the technoprogressive label, and I certainly didn’t interpret it as a reaction to libertarianism, but rather as an extension.

I am a libertarian at heart, and I want everyone to be as autonomous and free as one can be in a society. I understand that regulations and limitations of personal freedom may be needed at times, but I consider them as a necessary evil, and I strongly oppose the control-freakery of today’s PC nanny-state.

At the same time, I think the freedom to do whatever doesn’t cost money is not very useful in today’s society, and that’s why I support basic income and some degree of redistribution of wealth—not as a reaction to libertarianism, but as an extension.

A proposed iconography for techno-progressive politics from Zero State:
http://transhumanity.net/articles/entry/techoprogressive-iconography

How can you be Libertarian and a Leftist?  How can you have liberty and take wealth from others by force of a government gun?

libertarian socialism / anarcho-syndicalism is voluntary and consensual cooperation and sharing - yes - very idealistic - but very real chance of coming true in a transhuman/posthuman world

With amazing technology emerging soon (warp drive http://io9.com/5963263/how-nasa-will-build-its-very-first-warp-drive), energy too cheap to meter (LENR http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.3913), and AI smarter than humans (for instance, Watson and Mind’s Eye with natural language and visual intelligence), it is hard not to be a techno-progressive.

BTW, the US Navy has just successful patented a method of making radioactive waste non-radiative!  http://coldfusionnow.org/navy-lenr-patent-granted-transmutes-radioactive-waste/

@StupidPeasant re “How can you be Libertarian and a Leftist?  How can you have liberty and take wealth from others by force of a government gun?”

Libertarian leftism is not unheard of, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass

The underlying theory of the Political Compass is that political ideology may be better measured along two separate and independent axes. The Economic (Left-Right) axis measures one’s opinion of how the economy should be run: “left” is defined as the desire for the economy to be run by a cooperative collective agency (which can mean the state, but can also mean a network of communes), while “right” is defined as the desire for the economy to be left to the devices of competing individuals and organizations. The other axis (Authoritarian-Libertarian) measures one’s political opinions in a social sense, regarding the amount of personal freedom that one would allow: “libertarianism” is defined as the belief that personal freedom should be maximised, while “authoritarianism” is defined as the belief that authority and tradition should be obeyed.

I value both personal freedom and social fairness, and the relative weights of these two values place me in the lower-left quadrant of the Political Compass. This is not a “pure” ideology, but “pure” ideologies don’t have a good track record in the real world. I prefer something that works.

In my view the way in which ideological terminology is used in the u.s. is quite confused.  I recently reread Jack Parsons’ 1945/50 essay: Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword, which today is considered by many to be a classic libertarian manifesto.  However he never uses the term and describes his views as the essence of liberalism.  Remember this was before the McCarthy propaganda blitz.

After the terms communism and socialism had been blacklisted and distorted into bearing diabolic connotations decades earlier, it now became liberalisms turn.  Liberals were described as subversive commie lovers and unpatriotic traitors, and denied legitimacy.  In many other places non right wingers would gladly and proudly accept the ‘unpatriotic’ label, internationalism being a cornerstone of most forms of socialism, communism and anarchism.  But in the u.s. this means crossing a red line, so the poor liberals did not have an answer besides unconvincing denials.

By the time the 60s rolled around the battlefield was littered with dead isms.  The revival of liberal tendencies and ideas brought about by the brutal suppression of countercultural movements by the system was in need of a fresh label, and thus the term libertarianism came to prominence, and this was also the origin of the libertarian roots of transhumanism.  However this movement was mainly concerned with the protection of private activities from government intrusion.  If there was an economic component inherent it was not, as misrepresented by many of today’s ‘libertarians’ the concern with government’s involvement in the economy, but with corporate involvement in government (military industrial complex).  So even the term libertarianism has now been distorted into fitting the current right wing political climate in the u.s.  Nowhere outside the u.s., and i have lived in about a dozen countries, is the term of much significance.

To me it appears quite useless to get involved in discussions about these terms with people indoctrinated by the confused ideas currently prevalent in the u.s.  And there is another problem with these labels.  As far as i remember i described myself in the survey as both anarchist and EU liberal.  These descriptions appear incompatible unless it is understood that anarchism entails my long term vision of not reforming but completely replacing current political, economic and social systems including abolishment of the concept of private (stolen) property, while EU liberalism is the only existing apparently viable system that may get us to a unified planet and abolish the bane of nationalism.

@Rene’ re “To me it appears quite useless to get involved in discussions about these terms with people indoctrinated by the confused ideas currently prevalent in the u.s.  And there is another problem with these labels.  As far as i remember i described myself in the survey as both anarchist and EU liberal.”

Note for all: EU liberal does not mean what “liberal” means in the U.S., on the contrary it is a mild version of libertarianism.

re “get us to a unified planet and abolish the bane of nationalism”

Here we disagree. I see a unified planet as a nightmare. Imagine if the “unified planet” is under the oppression of an authoritarian government—there would be nowhere left to run. I see nationalism (in the sense of local full autonomy and diversity) as an insurance against this nightmare scenario: if the government becomes oppressive and authoritarian where you are, you can at least try to move somewhere else.

Please don’t tell me that a previously civilized government cannot become oppressive and authoritarian in a very short time. We Europeans know better, and I am afraid Americans are learning that too.

Giulio, both of us put our hopes in different models, and neither of us has the power of prophecy.

Here are my reasons for not believing in the nationalist model:

1. - Nationhood to me involves an ideology, which came into being less than 500 years ago and represents a belief system, not unlike religion, that, while not being based in reality, assigns a value to an artificial mental construct, the nation, which then is presented as something indispensable, to be honoured, and important enough to die for.  This poisonous meme has since infected the whole planet, to the point that every polity newly freed from colonialism during the last century, and even more recently newly established ones (South Sudan) immediately aspired to nationhood.  It has become the sick default, wrapped in flags and noisy with anthems and marching boots, and is one of the main causes of eternal conflict.

2. Nationalism is ineffective.  It is the main reason for wasting enormous resources on mechanisms and tools for violent domination in ‘the national interest’, it unnecessarily replicates costly administrative structures 200fold, and it stands in the way of effectively addressing global problems.

3. AI will immediately perceive these problems and evaluate these structures as to be in need of complete replacement.  (And i truly hope that if people reject these conclusions they will be overruled.)

4. If and when we finally encounter mobile extraterrestrial intelligence we will have no way of dealing with the situation without unified action, and if, in the best case scenario, we find existing interstellar non hostile social structures, we will probably not be eligible to join them without unified representation.

Of course i have not much more than hope that my model of a unified administrative entity will not once or repeatedly turn foul.  But is always easier to change one system than 200, almost all of which currently are in dire need of being changed.  Your insurance does not seem to work too well.  Most current national governments are already oppressive.  The EU, while being obviously under development, is probably the largest polity actively pursuing at least some policies in support of humanist and enlightenment values.  Its rejection of the currently obvious intrusion of privacy by the u.s. government is only watered down by some of its national governments for the sake of currying favour and maintaining political, economic and military advantages granted by the u.s. administration.

Viewing the current state of most nations and comparing it with a so far hypothetical alternative that can however draw some valuable conclusions from the EU process so far, my choice for the latter is compelling.  Things can only get better.

@Rene’ re “is always easier to change one system than 200”

Changing one big system is easier than changing 200 smaller systems, but much more difficult than changing _some_ of the 200 smaller systems.

Sooner or later, every system will need change, even those started with the best intentions.

It is in the nature of power to seek more power and become corrupted, and it is in the nature of the state to become oppressive and authoritarian, unless the people watch the state carefully and keep it in check. External pressure helps a lot, and citizens can vote with their feet only IF there is somewhere else to go.

re “The EU, while being obviously under development, is probably the largest polity actively pursuing at least some policies in support of humanist and enlightenment values.”

Now, don’t get me started on that. The EU is a wasteful-by-design dictatorship of nanny-state bureaucrats, never democratically elected by the people. Actually, in those few occasions where the citizens of European nations have been called to vote on the EU in a democratic referendum, they have almost always said no, but the politicians have ignored the will of the people (I will not speculate on why, everybody knows that anyway).

“changing _some_ of the 200 smaller systems” - if i was unkind i would interpret that as implying that as long as at least some, the resourceful, among us maintain an exit possibility, that will be good enough.  My vision implies freedom from oppression for all, and i believe this to be a central plank in the tranhumanist platform.

“in the nature of power” - that nature is what transhumanists set out to change.

Yes, let us not get into a discussion of our views on the EU.  Apparently your ideas about it are so fixed that you see no need to even address the one point i made about it, even though i know that the issue is dear to your heart.

@Rene’ - If the resourceful can escape unpleasant conditions, there is a chance that the rest of us may follow. If nobody can escape unpleasant conditions, nobody can escape unpleasant conditions.

Also, it is usually the resourceless who emigrate in search of a better life. The resourceful stay home and buy their way out of problems.

Like yours, my vision implies freedom from oppression for all. But we must find workable ways to achieve that vision. I don’t have the slightest hope to see changes in basic facts of human nature, such as “it is in the nature of power to seek more power and become corrupted” anytime soon.

Europe is dear to my heart indeed, and that’s why I strongly oppose the European Union.

It’s interesting to me how closely aligned my political views and vision seem to be with those of René. I especially like the distinction between anarchism as a long term vision and liberalism as “the only existing apparently viable system that may get us to a unified planet and abolish the bane of nationalism”.

To Giulio’s point that “unified planet” could mean oppression of an authoritarian government, this is certainly a risk, but there are also risks involved with disunity. And concerning the EU, to say it is “wasteful by design” seems overly pessimistic. At its (historical) root, the EU (formerly the European Communities) has been a vehicle for Europe to get back on its feet after the devastation of two world wars, and despite all its failings - most recently manifested in the inability of its Member States to take the measures need to solve the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone without sadistic and unnecessary austerity measures - on the whole it has been quite successful. Furthermore, if we want to avoid an authoritarian singleton take-over, all the more reason to have a strong EU that is at least to some extent expressing humanistic and liberal ideas, rather than allowing Europe to become even more of a playground than it is already for much more authoritiarian and hegemonic external powers.

Regarding the alleged democratic deficit in the EU, this strikes me as largely a red herring. In all administrations everywhere, many of the important policy decisions are made by unelected officials. But unelected doesn’t mean unaccountable, and in this regard the EU is just as democratic as any other geopolitical group, with democratic control being exercised via a directly elected Parliament and the elected governments of its Member States. So for example, the EU’s lingering commitment to austerity has more to do with politics in Germany and elsewhere than with the mindset of Brussels bureaucrats; similarly, any threat to the most obviously wasteful of EU policies, the Common Agricultural Policy, immediately leads to blockades and violent demonstrations by French farmers (who among other things have a tendency to come to Brussels and uproot trees).

In summary, there is much to oppose about the European Union, but it is difficult to see how opposing the European Union itself is likely to improve the lot of European citizens, or steer us safely away from the global authoritarian singleton that Giulio fears.

“Here we disagree. I see a unified planet as a nightmare. Imagine if the “unified planet” is under the oppression of an authoritarian government—there would be nowhere left to run. I see nationalism (in the sense of local full autonomy and diversity) as an insurance against this nightmare scenario: if the government becomes oppressive and authoritarian where you are, you can at least try to move somewhere else.”

Giulio: the primary catalyst for authoritarianism and extremism is the presence of outside groups, which are made by demagogues to appear subhuman and used as scapegoats to raise nationalism. A unified planet would prevent this cause of authoritarianism.

Would we still have diversity on a “unified planet”?  Also, though some IEET members are anarchists, the reality is that no society, no matter how developed or underdeveloped, has a complete anarchy that last.  They eventually form a system of leaders and decision makers weather it involves the people or themselves or whatever.

@Christian
Indeed, but that’s why anarchism works as a long-term vision, not as a short-term solution. What is inevitable in the short term (“they eventually for a system of leaders…”) may indeed be avoidable in the long term.

My own take on hierarchical structures is as follows: they are OK on two conditions. Firstly, the structure must have a globally positive impact on wider society, and secondly it must be possible (and relatively easy - so no stonings for apostasy and so on) to opt out.

Re “Would we still have diversity on a unified planet”, I think it some respects we might actually have more. Diversity requires a degree of stability and security in order to flourish. There is far more diversity (just look around you) in a modern city than in any war zone, where the only things you’ll see are Kalashnikovs and combat gear.

@Wer900 re “the primary catalyst for authoritarianism and extremism is the presence of outside groups, which are made by demagogues to appear subhuman and used as scapegoats to raise nationalism. A unified planet would prevent this cause of authoritarianism.”

I don’t see much evidence in support of this statement. Think of Lord of the Flies.

History shows that a society without “outside groups” quickly creates some (Jews, blacks, gays, etc.) as a target for oppression, and the oppressed groups have a very hard time if they cannot escape somewhere else.

@Peter re “it must be possible (and relatively easy - so no stonings for apostasy and so on) to opt out.”

Exactly. And in the real world, the only way to opt out of oppressive hierarchies is to move somewhere else.

@Giulio
I’m not saying that the current situation conforms to my ideal. I was more putting some caveats around the extent to which I really want to buy into strict anarchism even as a long-term vision. Some people like hierarchical systems, perhaps because they like giving orders, perhaps because they like receiving them, perhaps simply because they appreciate the sense of order and structure it gives them. I think there needs to be a place for them as well.

Re Lord of the Flies, don’t forget that that was a novel, not a sociological study. While the tendency to create hierarchical structures is indeed deeply ingrained in the human psyche (which is why some people like them so much, perhaps even those of us who protest otherwise), this by no means always involves the identification of scapegoats. This is something that societies tend to do when under stress. They look for someone to blame.

And what is one of the more popular scapegoats in Europe today. Yep, you guessed it: the EU. In soccer it tends to be the referee, and the roles are not dissimilar. And among US libertarians, both left and right, it tends to be government, while the same libertarians complacently take advantage of government services and subsidies.

@Peter re “Some people like hierarchical systems, perhaps because they like giving orders, perhaps because they like receiving them, perhaps simply because they appreciate the sense of order and structure it gives them. I think there needs to be a place for them as well.”

But of course! 😉 Those who like hierarchical systems can and should form their hierarchical system! So those who like giving orders can give orders to those who like receiving orders, and everyone in their system can enjoy the sense of order and structure in the group!

Me, I just don’t like giving orders or receiving orders, and I want to opt out. As you said, there needs to be a place for us as well.

re “And what is one of the more popular scapegoats in Europe today. Yep, you guessed it: the EU. In soccer it tends to be the referee, and the roles are not dissimilar.”

The EU referees ignore evident red card fouls, and ignore evidently offside players (especially when they have cash). Instead, they punish players who fart on the field, and strictly monitor the length and colors of player’s hairs. If soccer were managed like that, I wouldn’t watch soccer.

@Peter re “Diversity requires a degree of stability and security in order to flourish.”

Very true. And this is why governments, in order to fight diversity and increase control and oppression, often do something to reduce stability and security. It seems that the Romans did that already 2000 years ago, but perhaps we can find closer examples… 😉

“And this is why governments, in order to fight diversity and increase control and oppression, often do something to reduce stability and security.”

Yes, that sometimes happens. Governments are, after all, human organisations, and this suffer from the same imperfections that other human organisations suffer from. But the issue here is not whether governments always behave perfectly, or whether the EU is playing its role as referee fairly and justly. It is perhaps rather whether governments in general, and the EU in particular, are so grossly dysfunctional that we would be better off without them at all. And in that context I remain of the view that we wouldn’t.

By the way, is is not a merely academic issue. Europe is currently on the brink of fissioning, with Scotland wanting to leave the UK wanting to leave the EU, Flanders wanting to leave Belgium, Catalunya wanting to leave Spain, and so on, and so on. Meanwhile the vultures gather around, preparing to fight over the carcass.

@Peter re “whether governments in general, and the EU in particular, are so grossly dysfunctional that we would be better off without them at all. And in that context I remain of the view that we wouldn’t.”

So do I, but governments should become less dysfunctional. Otherwise:

re “Europe is currently on the brink of fissioning, with Scotland wanting to leave the UK wanting to leave the EU, Flanders wanting to leave Belgium, Catalunya wanting to leave Spain, and so on, and so on. Meanwhile the vultures gather around, preparing to fight over the carcass.”

I tend to support separatist movements everywhere, but I realize that fission has its dangers. If the central governments want to avoid fission, they should stop interfering too much and too heavily in local affairs. Otherwise, someday the people will say enough.

I wonder whether interference in local affairs is the main problem, though. I think the other forms of dysfunction that you mentioned (ignoring red card fouls and evidently offside players especially when they have cash) is the more serious problem. And it would also help if more EU officials worked on their communication skills.

Just as a word of advise for this particular discussion, make sure you separate your political views from your moral views.

Giulio: Another reason for a unified planet is the elimination of economic differences between different parts of the world. History is written by the capitalists (a state of affairs evident in the handling of the euro crisis), and they will do anything to exploit differences worldwide to their advantage and the harm of many. It is best to remove such opportunities for the exploitation of billions.

Regarding Scottish and Catalonian independence, I think those are quite daft. In order to advance I think that it is important to realize that we have more in common than we think we do: a step toward doing this is to shun separatist movements unless they have bases in something more than “cultural autonomy.”

Separatism worldwide is like applying painkillers to a cancer, and painkillers only; they might make the cancer easier to bear but do not stop its progression. The cancer, namely, is the existence of “outside groups”—Jews, blacks, homosexuals, you name it. However, if the choice is made by countries to painfully endure separatism rather than capitulating to the demands of protesters (who are in reality controlled by powers they do not fully understand) or resorting to violence, we may be able to defuse the “us versus them” mentality and ultimately the existence of “outside group” scapegoats.

Moreover, the more diversity exists in a society, the less likely it is that “outside groups” will be found and blamed. For example, the reason that states like the United States and India have never had a figure like Hitler is simply the diversity of those countries and the fact that no single ethno-religious group dominates (although those countries have had their fair share of ethnic violence and nationalism, it is rarely government-supported and no longer institutionalized). Germany and Japan, by contrast, had maniacal, cruel leaders due to the extreme homogenity of those societies. The truth is, the world is very much a multiethnic society, so while there may on occasion be persecution, I doubt it would rise to the levels that the antebellum United States and Nazi Germany took it.

For the record, I support a world federation, modeled after the United States and Indian federations (those which have a track record of low ethnic violence in comparison with some of the travesties that happened before and since). Not a centralized, unitary state, but a federation.

@ Wer900 .. Hear! Hear!

Globalisation and unification of trade and socioeconomics is not a dirty word! Bring on the Global Federation of NON-Nation states?

However, is Separatism a consequence of Individualism? And we must surely not oppress individualism?

Agreed regarding Indian philosophy/Social politics - although the downside to acceptance of diversity may correlate with acceptance and indifference towards abject poverty and suffering, (Karma is cool but not ultimately panacea to indifference to poverty)?

 

@Christian
I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. I’m not suggesting that all moral issues are also political, but are there political issues that are not also moral issues? Politics is not morally neutral, in my view.

@Peter re “I wonder whether interference in local affairs is the main problem, though. I think the other forms of dysfunction that you mentioned (ignoring red card fouls and evidently offside players especially when they have cash) is the more serious problem.”

Yes, but interference in local affairs is what affects and annoys _me_. If in my community we use to wipe our butt with the right hand, and one day the dysfunctional EU mandates that everyone must wipe their butt with the left hand, like there are no important and urgent issues to address, then we have a big problem.

re “And it would also help if more EU officials worked on their communication skills.”

Why, they are fluent in Europese, a form of broken and punctuation-less creole English optimized for obfuscation and meaningless utterances hidden behind big words. I used to be very fluent in Europese, we played a game to see who could improvise on-the-fly the longest and most meaningless sentence.

“Why, they are fluent in Europese, a form of broken and punctuation-less creole English optimized for obfuscation and meaningless utterances hidden behind big words. I used to be very fluent in Europese, we played a game to see who could improvise on-the-fly the longest and most meaningless sentence.”

Well, they’re not all THAT bad, but yes, this is a symptom of the problem. What I think you’re still missing, though, is the extent to which many (most?) EU officials are genuinely trying to make a positive difference on what they do. I could go on and on about what I think is wrong with the EU and its institutions, but the risk in doing so is that we just end up feeding an anti-EU, and more generally anti-government, narrative that I believe is ultimately toxic.

Not that I’m suggesting that we should buy into the governmental narratives, either. But in Europe, I think we desperately need a narrative that is pro-EU, while being sufficiently independent of the governmental/institutional narrative to be credible. Demonising the EU itself seems to me counter-productive.

@Peter re “many (most?) EU officials are genuinely trying to make a positive difference on what they do.”

Peter, I know that! And you know that these officials don’t rise to the top, and often are kicked out to make room for lackeys and useless national officials as a pre-retirement bonus.

 

Actually some of them do, the current Commission Secretary-General being one of them. But this isn’t my main point. My main point is that by emphasising what is wrong with the EU, we risk feeding a narrative that is ultimately toxic, especially given the current rise of nationalism and xenophobia in Europe. This is what I am trying to avoid.

On the contrary, we feed this narrative by not emphasizing what is wrong with the EU, and by not doing anything about it. The current rise of nationalism and xenophobia in Europe is a direct consequence, and can only continue to rise if no urgent measures are taken. Most people are not stupid, we know when we have been screwed. At some point, we just stop accepting more meaningless big words and demand some real action and changes.

Emphasising what is wrong and doing something about it are two different things. I certainly agree that we should do the latter, to the extent of course that it fits with our respective personal priorities. As far as the former is concerned, I think it depends very much on the context. And there is also a difference between emphasising what is wrong, and opposing the EU per se. In any case the EU is not going to disappear any time soon, but I do think there is a possibility that it will slide gradually into irrelevance. And I unlike you I do not think this would necessarily be a good thing…

Giulio:

Like I said, the division of large entities and the creation of new states for ethnic reasons is merely a painkiller for the broader cancer of nationalism. I do not welcome the current attitude in Britain towards Europe, nor the attitude of some Scottish politicians to Britain. In the end, all that is happening is that some groups are trying to dismember an animal in preparation for vultures like Alex Salmond and Artur Mas to eat the carcass.

@CygnusX1:

Unfortunately, to many of my fellow countrymen (I live in the United States) those are dirty words.

I came back too late to edit my previous comment, so let me continue here:

Giulio:

You often speak of a divided world as providing opportunities to escape persecution. However, much persecution is created by corporations who know how to use these very differences to their advantage. Take the case of the Savar building collapse in Bangladesh, the fleeing of companies to jurisdictions like Singapore and Hong Kong for “tax mitigation” (read: legalized tax evasion), Apple’s incorporation of a major subsidiary in Ireland to avoid its paying tax on $30 billion annual revenue, horrible labor conditions in China, and the perpetual wars and coups in the Middle East. These are all created by bodies which transcend political authority, something that may be okay for individuals in controlled doses but is not good for for-profit corporations.

As a result of this persecution, few people have anywhere *to* go (do you think that the average African, Indian, Bengali, or Chinese can really leave their country? They lack the means to fly by air, let alone set up shop in other countries). Under a world federation, cultural rights would be reasonably respected while corporations would no longer have a free rein to deprive people of their human rights.

Besides, as transhumanists we believe that dying, disease, hunger, poverty and the like are themselves a form of persecution that need to be rectified. This is not achievable with a divided planet on which corporations foster ethnic and national divisions in order to reap the resultant profits, dividing countries that already exist as well as crushing regional cooperation. The governments of the world need to put their feet down and unite under a single, perpetual, indissoluble union.

Corporations fear a united world: they would have to pay their workers fair wages, pay taxes on all of their earnings, not funnel funds through shell companies, and be unable to start coups d’état and wars. In a united world without nuclear escalation, spending on defense would go down significantly, to the chagrin of companies like Boeing and EADS. A united world would be able to achieve solutions to the energy crisis far more quickly than a divided one due to greater accessibility to funds, eliminating fossil-fuel companies. There are many interests who would like to see the world divided forevermore, who under a guise of “escaping persecution” persecute many themselves for their own benefit.

@Wer900 re “Under a world federation, cultural rights would be reasonably respected while corporations would no longer have a free rein to deprive people of their human rights.”

You are talking of a good world federation. I am talking of a bad world federation, for example one where states and corporations oppress everyone and deprive them of their human rights. History shows that even the best governments, started with the best intentions, can become oppressive authoritarian police states in only a few years. I prefere to have an exit door, even if it is difficult to reach.

btw, rights must be respected, not “reasonably respected.”

Re “The governments of the world need to put their feet down and unite under a single, perpetual, indissoluble union.”

Common sense and every divorce counselor will tell you that if there is no legal way to opt out of a bad marriage, there is the risk that it will be ended in blood.  Same for a society. There must always be an exit door within easy reach.

There is already a world government, of a sort. It’s just a rather untransparent mishmash of ‘official’ international organisations (UN and so on), less official groupings of national and supranational (e.g. EU) governments, multinationals, international NGOs, religious organisations, and organised crime. I probably missed some, but that will do for now.

So if we want to continue this discussion, let’s focus on the question: how do we want this to change, and in what direction? We all agree that the current situation is deplorable in various ways, but what is likely to make things better.

And to Giulio in particular: what will this “exit door” look like? Do you seriously want the EU to disappear? How do you see that happening, and what would a post-EU Europe look like?

The problem is “too many” vested interests and “no unity”, especially within the EU. And the EU is not a global unified organisation, and is less interested in the world than in itself? Same with the UN? Politics and bureaucracy designed to perpetuate the status quo and of appeasement to Nationalism over and above global unification to mitigate war, famine, Climate catastrophe and international crises?

Still think the World has to get worse before the emergence of “real unity” becomes reality!

Catastrophe first, then maybe, just maybe, a few ‘Leaders” will emerge to instigate the constitution for a “genuine” global Federation. And it really only needs a few, (more than two?)

 

“Politics and bureaucracy designed to perpetuate the status quo”

Yes, I agree this is a major problem.

“appeasement to Nationalism over and above global unification to mitigate war, famine, Climate catastrophe and international crises?”

Nationalism, yes, but not only. In fact I don’t think the main problem is that there are “too many” vested interests. The problem is two-fold: firstly that the mechanisms for resolving those different interests are insufficiently developed, and secondly that too many sentient beings (let’s focus on people for the moment, but without forgetting…) just don’t have their interests represented effectively.

Also, for me global unification is not the goal, and if “mitigate war, famine, Climate catastrophe and international crises”, as well as the myriad other problems we face, can be achieved on other ways that’s also fine with me. It also depends a bit what you mean by “global unification”. What is clear is that Giulio, for one, seems to regard it more as a threat than an opportunity.

“Still think the World has to get worse before the emergence of “real unity” becomes reality!”

Perhaps, but beware of limiting beliefs.

“Catastrophe first, then maybe, just maybe, a few ‘Leaders” will emerge to instigate the constitution for a “genuine” global Federation. And it really only needs a few, (more than two?)”

I’m not holding my breath waiting for “Leaders” to emerge. We have to be the change we want to see in the world, Cygnus.

I still think we need “Leaders” to incite change. Seems that the “majority of Humans”, (not Humanity), are quite content to huddle together and look at each other, anxious and keen for “someone” to step forward - and this is exactly what does in fact happen?

Individual(s) with strength of character, integrity, supported by tenacity and courage, (to be accountable for both right and wrong), Humans who “care” just that little bit more to stick their necks out - pragmatism coupled with idealism?

Even Direct Democracy will not solve the World’s problems alone, and I don’t ever envisage Direct Democracy without central global governance, both working in cooperation to administer effective change and reaction to crises, and planning for crises management, (even Direct Democracy needs organization)?

I guess we all have different ideas concerning “realised” global unity and governance. Giulio criticizes bureaucrats, and yet it is bureaucracy that is the sloth? The machine itself needs deconstruction/reconstruction?

Strangely, tribes and tongues do and can communicate and cooperate with surprising efficiency when dire needs arise, (during World War?)

Necessity is the mother of motivation?

As I say, we don’t seem to be at that “precipice” as yet, although talking and “thinking” and sharing is moving us forward.

Individualism or Unity, or individualism + unity?
Leftist or Rightist, or Left + Right?

The tensions between politics and ideals help guide the middle way and wisdom - Universal values + application of Utilitarian pragmatism?

Life and survival is a Universal value?

 

“As I say, we don’t seem to be at that “precipice” as yet, although talking and “thinking” and sharing is moving us forward.”

I think that’s the key point. I agree that in practice it is likely to take a major crisis, and that leaders, of the type you describe, will be needed, and will hopefully emerge. But we need also to focus on what we can do now, and yes, talking, thinking, and sharing is already an excellent start. The more we do this, the less reliant we will be on crises and leaders to get the action we need, and the more likely we will be to survive the crises, with less suffering, and the more likely such leaders are to emerge.

Perhaps one of the things we can start thinking about is who those leaders might be? If you are right about the role of leaders (and I think you are), then nurturing such leaders is presumably an important priority.

@Peter Wicks:

Said world government is not at all democratic, and in fact in many way restricts the rights of the individual private citizen and subordinates him to larger powers. What is needed is a formal world federation, with a constitution respecting the world’s cultures and religions, perpetual and indissoluble, and democratic with judicial oversight. Existing government systems in federal states could largely be kept if they meet democratic standards (ie Saudi Arabia will be forced to change, a constitutional monarchy like Britain, not much, except perhaps to get rid of the hereditary peers of the House of Lords).

Fine in principle, Wer900, but how do you make it happen in practice?

I agree with your analysis of the status quo, and how the current “world government”, such as it is, in many ways restricts, rather than protecting, the rights of individual citizens. Not that this is necessarily an altogether bad thing..it very much depends what more empowered individuals would do with that freedom. It seems, from recent history, that some individuals like to use their freedom to plant bombs and fly planes into buildings. But would I like to see a fairer, less corporatist global government? Sure. But how to bring it about? That, for me, is the really interesting question.

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