Settling the Future: Transhumanism without Indians July 7, 2012Posted by Summerspeaker in Decolonization, Despair, The Singularity, Transhumanism.
But, again n’ again, it goes back IMO to what Fukuyama (who wants to make amends for his “End of History” folly) writes: if we encourage a motley coalition of culturally conservative oppressed—and they are in fact v. oppressed—we go nowhere fast. You can communicate with them as you please, however for me to be honest with them it would be the proper thing to say to them their culture only interests me i.e. artistically/anthropologically/archaeologically—otherwise such contains little or nothing of a progressive nature. I feel quite strongly that we go nowhere by attempting to be all things to all progressives—assuming they are even progressive as we define progressive in the first place. To put in plain language, what do ‘Indians’ have to do with technoprogressivism or even progressivism as conventions define technoprogressivism? Besides, re Native Americans, it has gone way past colonialism- you are many decades too late; we are not discussing India under the British.
White nationalists are often oppressed poor as well; what would reaching out to them accomplish? they have told me they fear the effects of transhumanism on their families, thus it doesn’t take Cheiro to foresee we would have a similar difficulty with reaching out to other oppressed primitives. Wasted motion. College students, yes, and many others who are receptive; Native Americans?: I see it as simply a waste of time in proving we are caring (or smarmy) towards minorities.
Unless any of you you possess evidence they are willing to listen. – Intomorrow
No words. This penultimate comment on my recent IEET article leaves me sputtering and speechless with indignation. The expressed derision toward the oppressed in general and Native Americans in particular on the basis of technoprogressivism reinforces my abiding suspicion of the the progress narrative. Intomorrow suggests hopping on that spaceship to awesome and ignoring the “oppressed primitives” too “culturally conservative” get on board. I’m not even sure what ey means by progressive – if you’re reading, please clarify – but I assume it approximates IEET’s broad position about ethically employing powerful emerging technologies to improve or transcend the human condition. Intomorrow describes the impoverished and brutalized masses as too poor soil to grow the glorious future. Because of backwards cultural values that incline them to mistrust the technoprogressive agenda, these people have little or nothing to offer.
While idiosyncratic in its details, I would guess that this position resonates in the transhumanist community. Those in positions of privilege typically take pleasure in describing their others as behind the times if not downright uncivilized. Progressive white folks fixate on communities of color as homophobic and misogynist; owners and coordinators bemoan working-class racism. These tales serve to justify racial and class domination.
I argue that such claims about cultural deficiencies of the oppressed do no useful intellectual work. As an alternative conceptual framework, I recommend the intersectional approach to identity and power. Needless to say, we shouldn’t idealize the oppressed – even the super oppressed! – as sources of absolute truth or unmediated knowledge. Huge cultural barriers indeed hinder radical organizing. However, Francis Fukuyama’s elitism and its echoes contribute nothing to overcoming these challenges and crafting successful coalitions.
In this context, Intomorrow stands out for how ey unambiguously identifies indigenous people – “Indians” – as irrelevant. As an example the racism, notice how ey juxtaposes “college students” with “Native Americans.” While I’m tempted to stress the value of indigenous culture the project of sustainability and elaborate on the revolutionary credentials of Native peoples, doing so threatens to reiterate the hegemonic dynamic that centers settler desires. Native lands, communities, cultures, and religions have too long been taken as a resource for non-Natives.
Instead, I repeat and expand on my initial claim that contemporary technoscience relies on exploitation and environmental devastation. The record of uranium mining and nuclear weapons production here in New Mexico illustrate how this plays out. Furthermore, I add that technoscience in the Americans rests on the foundation of settler colonialism. Like the Middle Eastern oil that drives the United States economy, close to every acre comes drenched in blood. As Native lands continue to be targeted for resource extraction – especially of energy resources – this dynamic belongs to our own twentieth-first century as much as the nineteenth. Any attempt to make technoscience ethical must directly confront settler colonialism to have any hope of success. As the syndicalists say, an injury to one is an injury to all.
Intomorrow’s style of futurism scares me silly. The unwashed multitudes – including poor white nationalists, as incomparable as they are to Natives – have legitimate reasons for rejecting assertions of cultural superiority from those with material power over them. Death to all domination everywhere, however rationalized. I dream of wide alliances based on egalitarian and anti-authoritarian principles mighty enough to overturn the status quo. Here’s to revolution and relationships – not progress.