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“99 Percent of the Native Americans I Have Met Are the Most Reactionary People One Could Meet” July 12, 2012

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Decolonization, Despair, Environmental justice, Primitivism, The Singularity, Transhumanism.

So quoth Intomorrow over at IEET. I know the settler mindset dominates transhumanism but this is getting ridiculous. My response follows.

57% of the Native folks I’ve met are the most revolutionary individuals out there, but you know what they say about statistics. Remember that plenty of Native Americans reside outside of reservations for some or all of their lives. Stereotypes both perpetuate oppression and muddle our thinking. Just because indigenous people to tend to value tradition, community autonomy, and environmental justice rather than salvation via technology doesn’t make them reactionary.

This discussion illustrates where I differ with mainstream (if such a thing exists) technoprogressivism and transhumanism. Y’all seem most concerned with getting to that awesome future or at least with convincing others to thinking positively about technoscience. I want the transformation in human relationships away from hierarchy and inequality. In the absence of such change, I don’t expect much good to come from the march of innovation. I contrast “reactionary” with “revolutionary” rather “progressive.” If political project opposes the established power structure and promotes freedom, I’m down, regardless of whether it looks backwards for inspiration. All programs of reclaiming or returning to the past in fact constitute a future vision.

Peter’s suggests that I lean toward anti-progressivism. I’d need to unpack exactly what that term means to be sure, but the observation strikes me as accurate. Though decidedly both, I’m an anarchist first and transhumanist second. I hold abiding skepticism for all things related to the narrative of progress, which I view as intimately entangled with European supremacy and the associated oppressive cultural values. While also thoroughly troubled, the revolutionary tradition appeals to me over the progressive one. Yes to Ricardo Flores Magón, no to Theodore Roosevelt. I feel far greater affinity with primitivists who want to bring down civilization to end oppression than I do with elitist Singularitarians who assure us techno-heaven approaches as long as we stay the course of industrial capitalism.

To clarify, I advocate collective liberation based on solidarity, not patronizing attempts at conversion. The orientation of trying to “bring these people along with us” reiterates hierarchy. Yes, I want to spread transhumanist ideas, but not on the evangelical model. The following quotation from a Queensland Aboriginal activist group sums this up beautifully:

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

Few if any of us like being coded as inferior. Missionary endeavors encounter that inherent problem and at best create a new privileged class. Often they simply arouse resentment. Let’s try mutual aid instead.


1. shagggz - July 12, 2012

“Just because indigenous people to tend to value tradition, community autonomy, and environmental justice rather than salvation via technology doesn’t make them reactionary.”
Actually, that’s exactly what it makes them. By definition, in fact. At least for the tradition bit. And largely so for community autonomy.

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