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What is Anarcho-Transhumanism?
William Gillis   May 1, 2014   Human Iterations  

Anarcho-Transhumanism is the recognition that social liberty is inherently bound up with material liberty, and that freedom is ultimately a matter of expanding our capacity and opportunities to engage with the world around us…

It is the realization that our resistance against those social forces that would subjugate and limit us is but part of a spectrum of efforts to expand human agency—to facilitate our inquiry and creativity.

This means not just being free from the arbitrary limitations our bodies might impose, but free to shape the world around us and deepen the potential of our connections to one another through it.

It means the tools we use should be openly knowable and infinitely customizable; it means bodies that are not locked into processes in which we have no say. It knows that the hunger for choice behind birth control, regrown limbs and sexual reassignment is the same hunger that organizes workers and sets fire to prisons.

It is struggle to live free… and do so for one more year, one more decade, one more century. It means not just transcending the strictures of gender, but of genetics and all previous human experience. It means fighting to be allowed the fullest actualization of who and what we want to be, whenever we want to be it.

It means challenging and altering the conditions that might otherwise govern us. It means when the tools exist to better our lives they should be used; that no one should starve when such scarcity can be eliminated.

It means vigilantly engaging with nature rather than bullying or surrendering to it. It is the knowledge that victory for the working class will only truly arrive when every worker individually owns the means of production—capable of fabricating anything and everything for themselves. It is proactive engagement with the environmental conditions that force hierarchy and inescapable collectivism.

It means freeing our society from the hierarchies of two dimensional landscapes, to move our destructive infrastructures outside the biosphere and to eventually shake off sedentary civilization and take our place as hunter-gatherers between the stars.

It means cryptography—unbreakable channels of private communication added up into an unbreakable hive of ideas and knowledge. It also means the abolition of public privacy—the creation of a world where the actions we take with one another are sharable and verifiable in an instant.

And ultimately it will be the freedom to surpass the limited bandwidth of language and connect more and more directly to one another—to merge minds and transcend individual subjectivities as desired.

Anarcho-Transhumanism is all of these things and any one of them.

William Gillis is a theoretical physicist based in Oakland California and a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society. He's organized as an anarchist activist for over fifteen years and has written extensively on ethics and technology.


This is the best line in this brief article: “vigilantly engaging with nature rather than bullying or surrendering to it”.

I am not familiar with the rest of Gillis’ work, which probably covers the following more satisfactorily, but here i have one reservation and one objection:

1. “struggle to live free” - this needs a precise definition of ‘free’.  How to fix the delimiters between exercising one’s freedom and impede another’s ?

2. “victory for the working class will only truly arrive when every worker individually owns the means of production” - i have no interest in any classes ‘victory’.  Victory will be established by successfully abolishing the concept and reality of ‘class’ altogether, which must be rooted in improved (enhanced) psychology.  Besides not everybody will be interested in owning and operating such means, which would also be redundant.  Moreover the concept of owning has to go.

The capacity “to surpass the limited bandwidth of language” will go a long way toward that goal, as property and the economic systems based on it are dependent on secrecy.

Hmph.  You might want to change the name.  I agree with every single thing in this definition, but I have dismissed it out of hand for months because the name indicated to me the kind of radical individualism that I associate with Libertarianism.


In my opinion, the average “libertarian” is entranced with the idea that they, personally, are a rugged individualist who could be dropped on a desert island and instantly recreate the entirety of civilization. That they derived any sort of advantage from being a member of society is typically denied, with the usual attitude that they would have succeeded without any of the benefits they received as a member of society, so why should they be forced to contribute to that society in any way? (this is the usual justification for their hatred of government, and claims that taxation is theft)

Now, this is the typical, Ayn Rand worshiping “Libertarian,” which is more or less the most “common”. But there are other types. I would ALMOST be willing to call myself a “Georgian” Libertarian, as in “Henry George” author of ( if the term libertarian had not been so thoroughly hijacked by the Randians.

There seems to be some confusion about the connection between Anarchism and Libitarianism aka Neo-Liberal ideologies. From what I understand there are some major differences. The Neo-Liberal is a pure Capitalist, in that the believe that capitalist markets should be free of external forces that lead to inefficiencies. Anarchists, in particular Anarcho-Trashumanists believe in a purer form of freedom, that doesn’t hold Capitalism as it’s stake in the ground.

I didn’t understand this subtle distinction until I read Jeremy Rifkins’ newest book “The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons and the Eclipse of Capitalism.

Rifken proposes that we are adopting a new form of freedom in the commons that is a new paradigm replacing Capitalism in much the same way Capitalism replaced Feudalism; through the evolution of new technologies that make the old paradigm obsolete.

The Internet of Things is bringing back the concept of the commons; something that is shared by many for their mutual benefit. Private ownership is being replaced by access. Ownership means you have the right to exclude others from getting access to something. The commons is the opposite of ownership in that it grants broad access rights. Think of the making of DVD’s as the ownership paradigm where the artist owns the rights to their music and can restrict access except to those who pay a fee. Today we share music in an open forum, the music commons. Software is being made that is open source, it’s free to use. That is the commons.

Gills comment:
It is the knowledge that victory for the working class will only truly arrive when every worker individually owns the means of production—capable of fabricating anything and everything for themselves.

Refers to the coming manufacturing commons; when everyone can produce their own goods with 3D printers and the marginal cost of those goods approaches zero. The Capitalist cannot compete in that world. Producers in a world of zero marginal cost will mean the end of a capitalist oriented market in favor of a commons oriented market existing within a social space. Manufacturing and many other aspects of society will evolve from the Capitalist paradigm to the commons paradigm over the coming years until Capitalism is no longer the dominant model.

Where the Anarcho-Transhuminist gets involved is in the fact that the commons paradigm is a distributed democracy model as opposed the the centralized command and control model demanded by Capitalism as well and Government. It eliminates exclusionary private property rights in favor of inclusionary access rights granted by the commons. It offers a new kind of freedom, the freedom of access with out the top down need for government; and that is attractive to the Anarchist.

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