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Anarchism Has Never Taken Ableism Seriously March 22, 2019

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Despair, Transhumanism.
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Woman no longer wants to be a party to the production of a race of sickly, feeble, decrepit, wretched human beings, who have neither the strength nor moral courage to throw off the yoke of poverty and slavery. (Emma Goldman, “Marriage and Love”)

 

🏴Like so many educated people of eir time, Goldman was a strident eugenicist who worried runaway reproduction under poor conditions was creating a breed of inferior beings. 🏴
 

Today’s anarchists follow in Goldman’s footsteps, despite whatever superficial nods to disability radicalism they might make. From fash to libertarians, the entire political spectrum can agree on ableism, on mocking & despising the unfit. Freak. Loser. Failure. Hardy a soul refrains from slinging such epithets against their personal & political opponents.

 

Even the best anarchists, at least the prominent ones, are ultimately still eugenicist bigots like everyone else. They hold nothing but contempt for suffering & marginalized folks. They insist on conformity to establish norms of social value like intelligence. Their interests & goals can never truly align with mine, with those of people on the wrong side of the genetic hierarchy, with those of any person who finds eirself on unsuited to eir environment.

 

Transhumanist anarchism holds the potential to break with custom & center the project of creating accessible & enabling environments for all feeling beings. To date, that potential remains utterly unrealized.

 

We can & must do so much better.

 

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Facts Don’t Care about Your Feelings! December 10, 2018

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Epistemology, Transhumanism.
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Success in current society comes from DNA, structural advantage, & sheer chance. The same for failure by dominant norms.

Fascists, open eugenicists, many centrists, many liberals, etc. embrace this because they support the existing cistem of genetic sorting (even if some want to tweak it to be even more nightmarish).

Other centrists & liberals as well as most radicals prefer to mystify this reality, whether because they’re part of the genetic elite & defending their position or because they wish the world operated differently.

I recommend accepting the truth & striving to maximize freedom & pleasure as well as to minimize suffering for all sentient beings. We can create ever more accessible & enabling physical & social environments.

Anarchism, Anticolonialism, Immigration March 18, 2018

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Transhumanism.
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During a one-on-one conversation the other day after talking about New Zealand’s immigration policy, I said I hoped we could all agree that at least Europe has no claim whatsoever to excluding immigrants on the ground of nationalism or self-determination. I extended this to colonized European groups like the Irish and Basques.

Yesterday, I went to a Saint Patrick’s Day event on the Irish national-liberation struggle and international anticolonialism/anti-imperialism.

While I consider purist anarchist arguments against oppressed nationalisms overblown, sometimes I can’t help but feel disturbed at how similar national-liberation rhetoric sounds to alt-right rhetoric. “Ireland for the Irish” can be anticolonial if targeted against British occupation, but “Sweden for the Swedes” serves as a fascist rallying cry. That’s goddamn confusing.

I support oppressed nationalisms in the current historical context so long as as they don’t mirror dominant nationalisms with their militarized borders and aggressive contempt for outsiders. I don’t have or want a homeland myself. If I went “back” to the lands my ancestors come from in Wales, England, Scotland, and France, I’d agitate for abolishing nations and borders there. I’d have no sympathy for using violence/coercion to preserve Welsh/English/Scottish/French culture.

According to prevalent left norms, it’s not my place to tell colonized peoples how to organize, what to do in their lands, and so on. This presumably includes colonized European groups. After all, I’m not Irish (except maybe a tiny bit ancestrally), Basque, etc.

In addition to present solidarity/alliance against common enemies, I’m curious about the possibilities for future coexistence between anarchists who don’t believe in homelands and Indigenous nationalists. Some of my dissertation looks at the Partido Liberal Mexican and its support of Yaqui self-determination for insight and inspiration on the subject. I plan to write a longer blog piece on this theme at some point.

I don’t know how it’s all going to work out. Perhaps we transhumanist anarchists will have to take to the seas and/or stars. For the moment, I’m happy to be fighting colonialism/imperialism with so many fabulous comrades.

On Markets, Meetings, and Social Value October 23, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Feminism, Queer politics, Transhumanism.
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No political tendency offers much to unpopular/unlovable folks. Some queer, feminist, and disability radicalisms make an effort. Communisms at least theoretically want equal material nice things for everyone.

In actually existing communism to date, of course, force & attractiveness (in its various modes) tended to determine access to resources. Party insiders at every level ruled the roost.

Popularity mechanisms such as markets and meetings necessarily exclude those of us who can’t compete, who can’t please other members of the species. They’re no good for freaks, outcasts, queers, losers, etc.

For the long term, transhumanism promises the satisfaction of all desires if only via virtual reality, the ability change or eliminate one’s desires, and the ability to copy whatever the successful folks have.

If I thought I could personally win the popularity game and didn’t care about those who couldn’t, then maybe I’d be a market anarchist.

Markets and currency might constitute the lesser evil temporarily and I’m grudgingly okay with that, but only if combined with attention to those excluded and attempts at correction.

Lonely Robots: Transhumanist Responses to Unfuckability July 4, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Feminism, Queer politics, Science Fiction, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Soon after I mentioned being genderqueer during a conversation at the Extreme Futurist Festival 2011, the person I was talking to responded, “Wow, it must be hard for you to find sexual partners!”

“Gee, thanks,” I thought. As tactless as that remark may have been, it wasn’t wrong. This piece by Meredith Talusan explores some of the dynamics involved. Unfortunately, complaining about not getting laid immediately calls to mind masculine sexual entitlement to women’s bodies. I’m not sure it can escape that established trope.

The question of who’s considered attractive and who receives affection matters, but it’s unclear what to do. Most successful folks on the left and elsewhere enjoy their social power and/or romantic/sexual attractiveness. Critiques of the status quo as making it difficult for some to realize their desires potentially unsettle the existing elite, so they’ve no interest in pushing such critiques.

It’s telling Talusan’s article centers the achievement of Jacob Tobia and Alok Vaid-Menon, taking for granted the notion that prominent folks should get dates. What about all the humans who conform to neither ideals of attractiveness nor of success?

Well, nobody cares about those losers!

Imagenes Tristes 84

Anybody who values the overall good should care, though, and some do, or at least pretend to. Transhumanism offers various theoretical easy fixes to the problems of loneliness and unfuckability, albeit with severe implementation issues and philosophical implications.

Morphological Freedom

Wait, some people are poor, ugly, crazy, and/or sick? Let’s use technology to get them up to standard. We can all be sexy immortal billionaires!

A lot of transhumanists think this way.

As simplistic as this perspective is seems, the difficulty if not impossibility of conforming to existing norms indeed accounts for much of their oppressive power. Currently, the genetic lottery, money, and time determine who’s beautiful, hot, sexy, stunning, etc. If anybody could make their body match ideals of physical beauty, the advantage the genetic elite have in this regard would evaporate.

On the other hand, the normatively gorgeous don’t necessarily have the kind of sexual and romantic relationships they want, so opening access to beauty hardly seems sufficient. Additionally, what about folks who chose unpopular aesthetics? They might still find themselves undesirable despite full morphological freedom. Additionally, deprived of the genetic hierarchy, attractiveness norms could shift to become akin to fashion: “Girl, that body is so last month!”

The prospect of modifying minds quickly leads to questioning the basis of individual identity. For example, assuming I could make myself think and behave as popular and successful people do, would I want to? What about rewiring my mind to disregard social status and affection entirely? Would I still be me if I did either of those? I don’t know. Many of us stubbornly wish to remain who we imagine ourselves to be.

Matching Algorithms

Given the wide array of different desires folks have, morphological freedom by itself seems inadequate for solving the problem of loneliness and unfuckability. And of course full morphological freedom would require technological innovation and economic transformation; it’s a long way off.

However, there’s potential to make things dramatically better in the nearer term. Matching algorithms, such as featured on dating sites like OkCupid, can facilitate connections and enable romantic/sexual relationships. This ain’t necessarily that great at the moment, but the principle of aligning people’s desires, interests, etc. has promise. As big the world is, there’s probably at least a few folks somewhere whose desires match up with any given person’s at any given time.

For instance, let’s say I want to get tied up right now. I don’t know anyone who I think would be interested, but there’s a decent chance one or more of the planet’s seven and half billion humans is, especially if they had an idea of who I am and a basic level of trust. There might even be somebody my city or neighborhood.

Increasingly sophisticated digital networks can theoretically hook people up for both romantic/sexual relationships and other interactions, decreasing loneliness and improving quality of life. We already try to do this with our social media, though it’s a rather blunt instrument at present.

Sexbots

Certain transhumanists and others look optimistically to sexbots, predicting physical and mental health benefits. Yet, in addition to raising questions about objectification, sexbots are unlikely be able to convey the social status associated with romantic/sexual desirability. While some may eventually function as romantic partners, this wouldn’t be equivalent to human partnership unless they had human-level or above artificial intelligence and autonomy like a human. Sexbots might well alleviate the pain of unfuckability by human standards, but it’s unlikely they would completely resolve the problem. As Sherry Turkle and company argue, the prospect of sex and love with robots has the potential pitfalls. I find those concerns mostly misguided but relevant here.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality offers a number of benefits for sexual/romantic relations, whether between humans or between humans and AIs. VR makes change ones appearance trivial, eliminating that aspect of the genetic lottery. By transcending geographic limitations, VR in conjunction with matching algorithms could dramatically increase the odds of meaningful connections.

VR sexbots have the same issues as physical ones, albeit with perhaps less stigma. With or without sexual/romantic elements, VR worlds could simulate social status, as games do today. Losing oneself in VR entails similar philosophical challenges to transforming one’s psyche as described above.

Conclusion

None of the above technologies can replace the political and social project of creating a more accessible and fulfilling society, but they can assist in that project and make life more livable in any case.

When Anarcho-Transhumanists Attack: Cyborgs vs. Tanks July 2, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Transhumanism.
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Bizarrely enough, my presence at a protest of the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) here in Albuquerque has sparked rumors that “anarcho-transhumanists” connected to the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) “fucked up” a PSL office.

For the record, I only showed up to the protest. I didn’t organize it. I’m not connected to C4SS beyond knowing William Gillis and liking some C4SS content.

It’s challenging to succinctly describe what went down because lots of us continue to debate it locally. I attempt an overview here.

For context, the PSL has been operating in ABQ for some years now. Various radical and progressive groups and individuals have had issues working with them. Earlier this year, the Red Nation broke with the PSL and published a statement accusing the party of anti-Indianism and sexism.

The protest on June 23 was called by various community members. They billed it as “Shut Down PSL” on Facebook. The PSL event in question was a Juneteenth event, which the protest organizers described as part of the PSL’s pattern of exploiting marginalized communities. There were no black speakers physically present at the event and few or no black folks in attendance.

I was with the protesters as they walked up to the PSL office. It quickly turned into a verbal confrontation. Eventually the PSL folks withdrew into their office and locked the doors. The police showed but didn’t do much beyond hanging around and talking with some people. Certain protesters did offer water to police and invoke them against the PSL (“they said you’re wack too!”). The PSL has tried to use this police interaction to discredit protesters.

Later on, after police left, a white neighbor came out holding a pistol and threatened protesters. This neighbor had apparently called the cops because eir nine-year-old son was scared Black Lives Matter was holding people hostage across the street. The neighbor shouted anti-BLM right-wing talking points. Medics ducked behind a car and prepared for the worst, which thankfully didn’t happen. Protesters managed to deescalate the situation.

Thursday, June 29, the PSL published a statement denouncing the protesters and saying somebody broke the windows to their office the night after the protest.

Debates on social media have been raging since then. It’s all a mess; for better or worse that’s how community is. I don’t agree with a fair amount of what the anti-PSL protesters did or said but I tend to believe the allegations of abuse from the Red Nation and others. I support calling out and confronting oppressive behavior.

Of course, as an anarchist, I additionally have a ideological axe to grind against the PSL and all other Leninists.

Over the course of debating this protest on social media, a PSL fan has threatened to contact my employer in order to silence criticism of the PSL.

Threats to give an employer public information are curious, but I assume I should be quaking in my rocket boots.

Pride’s Queer Future June 27, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Feminism, Queer politics, Science Fiction, Transhumanism.
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The year is 2020.

Pride events across the United States have banned cops, corporations, Zionism, & U.S. nationalism.

Talking heads rail about intersectionality as masked queers loot banks and big-box stores.

Cishet white men approach with caution, assuming the SJW mob will rip them apart. Instead they find themselves caught up in the revolutionary fervor.

Semi-autonomous remote-controlled drones assault police cars and stations massive numbers.

Law and order breaks down. It’s chaos in the streets.

New worlds are forming.

On Decolonizing the March for Science April 22, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Epistemology, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Today’s March for Science unsurprisingly prompted critiques of science from an antiracist and decolonial perspective. This one, from the Seattle group Women of Color Speak out, came across my social media. The post describes unsuccessful attempts to reach out to the local March for Science and make the event less “less racist/elitist/colonialist/sexist.”  Women of Color Speak Out’s first three points to the “Western White Cis Male Scientific Community” come much recommended:

1. We need a great deal of healing before the scientific community can be credible to the general public in terms of equity and “inclusivity” (inclusivity is a white supremacist term, implies that they are doing minorities a favor instead of simply doing the right thing).

2. In order for the scientific community to begin regaining trust of POC and marginalized people, they need to openly acknowledge how they have failed us for decades with their inaction on climate change. They must openly acknowledge that they have failed the Global South, POC, poor people, Indigenous peoples, and Womxn.

3. The scientific community must acknowledge that by staying silent for decades they have served the White Colonial Empire before the needs of humanity and nature.

Overall, the scientific establishment indeed served, and often continues to serve, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, ableism, heteropatriarchy, and other forms of oppression. Disentangling science a method, as a principle, from these pernicious systems of thought and action will take some doing. Women of Color Speak Out’s first points trace part of this long-term process.

Point four, by contrast, strikes me as misguided:

4. In their values they say ‘Science is the BEST method for understanding the world’. This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to ‘Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world’.

While I can see the logic behind lumping Indigenous communities with faith communities here, the addition of POC as well make it curiouser and curiouser. Though not necessarily always accurate or helpful, the narrative of indigeneity as entailing a worldview or worldviews distinct from and presumably at odds with the “Western” scientific one stands firmly established. But why exactly are people of color as a whole prone to taking offense to privileging scientific epistemology? Unlike Indigenous communities and faith communities, there’s nothing definitional to the category “people of color” that implies some epistemology or epistemologies in tension with science.

The fact that science offends faith communities (and other communities) strikes me as one of its beneficial social effects rather than something to avoid or minimize. As argued by Meera Nanda and William Gillis, anything-goes epistemological pluralism and situated knowledges rarely lead toward freedom.

Nanda’s argument from “The Epistemic Charity of the Social Constructivist Critics of Science and Why the Third World Should Refuse the Offer” merits quoting at length:

It is my contention that the epistemic charity of the postmodern and the postcolonial science critics lies in the constitutive role they assign to social relations and cultural narratives in providing the norms of truth. Because they see nothing—not truth, not beauty, not goodness—that is not fully social, they see the free play and autonomy of local webs of meanings as the supreme priority, not to be constrained by any ‘transcendent’ goal. But such a view of knowledge is problematic on at least three counts: (1) It allows social relations and cultural meanings, as they exist today with all their inequities and oppressions, to set limits on what we can know about the world. (2) Simultaneously, it disables any critique of the existing relations and meanings based on knowledge not derived from these same social relations. (3) Last but not the least, it delegitimizes and denigrates intellectuals and movements that bring modern science and scientific temper to bear on local knowledges. As we see in the following scenarios, under the prevailing contexts in most of the Third World, such a logic ends up strengthening those upholding the status quo, be they traditional cultural elites or the modern state. The losers in all these cases are the internal critics—people’s science movements, human rights, and democracy movements—that attempt to challenge the existing cultural mores by using the ‘alien’ worldview of science.

Now, Nanda’s generalization of the Third World (with the valuable qualifier “most of”) obscures important complexities and may not apply to Indigenous peoples in North America and elsewhere. The core logic remains sound nonetheless. Knowledge about our shared material and social world matters. Insulating situated local knowledges from outside engagement, including challenges, facilities abuse.

I hope the growing movement to decolonize science can avoid falling into this trap. I hope transhumanists, especially without a background in antiracism and similar, take seriously critiques of science from Women of Color Speak Out and others.

Transgender Day of Visibility March 31, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Queer politics, Transhumanism.
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Here’s to the struggle against gender norms and for universal morphological freedom. Despite what some radfems claim, we ain’t even near peak trans. The future promises to be weirder than any of us can imagine.

Does Truth Matter When Fighting Evil? January 22, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Transhumanism.
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spencer-liddell-confusion

So this image has been making the rounds on social media. It attributes a Colin Liddell quotation apparently advocating black genocide to Richard Spencer. That’s sloppy but arguably fair enough because Spencer was editing the site where Liddell’s piece appeared. However, Colin Liddell claims eir critics are misreading the piece, that ey used the figure of black genocide to highlight genocidal language supposedly used against white South Africans. I’m certainly not suggesting any of this is remotely acceptable or that it negates the case for punching Spencer, but accuracy still matters in times of war. Justifying physical violence against the outgroup via misattribution of a quotation taken out of context isn’t okay.