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Thinking Safety after the Orlando Massacre June 12, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics, Technology, Transhumanism.
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“Freedom is never very safe.”

Shevek says this toward the end of Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Tyranny isn’t safe either. In the wake of today’s deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we need to remember these principles.

Reactions to this atrocity follow predictable lines. Many progressives and leftists are warning about Islamophobia. Most liberals, along with some progressives and leftists, are blaming the National Rifle Association and encouraging state gun control. Some radicals are promoting armed self-defense for queers. Most conservatives and some liberals are blaming Muslims and beating the drums of war. Some antiqueer bigots are hailing the attack as God’s work, divine retribution.

Without question, the massacre highlights the horror of antiqueer bigotry. As with any mass killing, it stands out as a human tragedy, a site of spectacularly intense pain and loss. Because of this, the impulse toward mourning feels intuitive.

That’s not the approach I take here. Instead of prayers, I offer analysis.

While recognizing the appropriateness of mourning, I challenge it as an imperative. None of us can meaningfully mourn all of the death and suffering that happens in the world each day. Various valid responses exist, including reflection, looking at the big picture. It doesn’t necessarily make any sense that massacres like this attract more outrage than the structural violence that kills people more slowly, spread out across time and space. It doesn’t necessarily make sense that we mourn the massacres that the media tells us to and not others.

My reaction as a queer transhumanist anarchist adheres to its own predictable line: opposition to authoritarian security measures enforced through violence, whether controls on Muslim immigrants or on firearms. I likewise advocate criticism of Islam and other Abrahamic religions as part of the project of smashing straightness.

As I’ve previously written, state gun control has a racist history and enhances the power of elites. Moreover, as William Gillis argues, state regulation based on safety fundamentally conflicts with technological innovation. I don’t completely agree with Gillis, but find the broad sweep of the argument compelling.

First the state bans assault rifles; next it bans all 3D printers that could conceivably produce assault rifles. (How do they enforce these bans? With assault rifles, of course.) The logic of banning guns, of safety via state violence, tends toward totalitarian dystopia. It’s the logic of the cop wearing a pistol and body armor who’ll shoot you for possessing a knife. Perhaps enlightened progressives could somehow strike the right balance and allow for technological transformation while still reducing the odds of individuals going on murderous rampages.

I doubt it. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take. State gun control is manifestly hypocritical, unethical, and corrosive to freedom. The long-term dangers are overwhelming.

I do support nonstate efforts to reduce risks that come from the means of destruction, including firearms. Safety stands out as a hard problem for transhumanism. I plan to cover this in more detail in the future. For now, suffice it to say that I don’t want a nuclear bomb in every pot.

Banning guns is misguided. Further restricting Muslim immigration and targeting Muslims with increased security-based harassment stand out as far worse, nightmarishly oppressive prospects. Such prejudice and control run wholly counter to the principle of freedom.

With that said, despite how homonationalists tell me to join ISIS when I denounce the United States, I don’t buy into the mainstream narrative around Islamophobia. Islam, like other Abrahamic religions, contains endless oppressive elements. I don’t think there’s enough positive there to be worth salvaging, although I hold limited sympathy for Muslims/Christians/Jews/etc. who cultivate the best aspects of their religions.

I oppose prejudice against Muslims because region and culture determine religious identity more than adherence to dogma, and because anti-Muslim sentiment in the West primarily comes from imperialists, racists, and xenophobes. We should criticize and fight back those who preach oppression based on any religion or any other basis. This includes Islam.

Ultimately, I’m on the side of the apostates and blasphemers. Death to all domination!

Homonationalism Means Bashing Queers June 9, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics, Transhumanism.
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I just got back from Albuquerque’s Trans March to the Pride Candlelight Vigil. As I yelled “Death to the United States!” and “Death to imperialism!” during the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, two homonationalists put their hands on me, threatened to beat me up, grabbed my sign, and temporarily pulled it off its handle. This neatly illustrates what inclusion entails for normative LGBT subjects: bashing queers.

Pride 2016 Signs (1)

Earlier, during the Trans March, I engaged violent insurrectionist propaganda of the deed by following the lead of a few other folks and walking into the lane of traffic we were supposed to leave open. Security, safety, or whatever-the-hell people in reflective vests told me to know my place and get back in line. At first I ignored them. At a stop, when I don’t believe I was actually even blocking traffic, my presence out of the assigned area created a scene. One reflective person put their hands on me. Others endeavored to persuade me to conform. They said I was risking arrest. Somebody in the crowd said I needed to be peaceful.

“Death to peace!” I shouted. “There is no peace!”

When the march began moving again, I joined the main flow but on the outer edge, partially in the forbidden zone. When a person who identifies as an anarchist came to whip me into shape, I lost it and rushed through the crowd to the sidewalk. I the left the march at that point, as far I was concerned. I followed along as a bystander or perhaps heckler, not as a participant.

The security folks were doing what they thought was right, I’m sure. While I intentionally pushed the envelope, I suspect I would have gone with crowd after that pause if the peace police had simply let me stand there instead giving me a hard time.

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Some attempts at control prove counterproductive.

Taking the whole street would have been safer and more fun. It’s fully appropriate, given the importance of trans lives and trans visibility.

Because of this debacle, I arrived at the vigil already enraged. The event announcer, Tony Carson, told us to get patriotic. “Death to patriotism!” I responded. Carson said something about taking that Saudi Arabia. I continued yelling through the ensuing U.S. nationalist ceremonies. I wasn’t in any mood to hold back.

Carson was the first homonationalist to confront me. Ey demanded that I leave, threatened to hurt me, and got up in my personal space. I alternated between yelling anti-U.S. slogans for everyone to hear and arguing with em. Ey grabbed my sign and we struggled over it. Another homonationalist came up and said ey would knock me out. Ey identified as a veteran. I said was condemning the United States as a political entity, not the individuals in the military. This second homonationalist also grabbed my sign, albeit with less vigor than the first.

A prominent LGBTQ organizer intervened with a liberal narrative of tolerance and free speech. The homonationalists had assaulted me and threatened me with bodily harm, but whatever. We’re all equal; it’s all good. Homonationalists who immediately turn to threats and physical attacks are the same as loud but technically peaceful queer anarchists as far as the big-tent LGBTQ movement is concerned, right? We just need to learn to get along. What’s a little domination, hierarchy, and oppression between family?

Nah, y’all ain’t my family.

Eventually a few folks with (un)Occupy Albuquerque approached and engaged. It felt like they had my back in the moment.

Although the homonationalists didn’t deliver the bashing they talked about, their repeated threats and physical aggression show how homonationalism functions. Becoming a respectable LGBT subject means disavowing radical queers who pose a danger to the nation. It means bashing those radical queers if they criticize the nation and won’t shut up.

After all, violence against the enemy and against the traitor is what nationalism is all about. It’s not surprising that these folks want to hurt me for insulting the United States, but it does tell you everything you need to know about the mainstream LGBT movement.

Homonationalists are another group of queer bashers. Their norms ain’t quite the same as your stereotypical straight homophobic man’s are, but they enforce them in the same fashion.

Albuquerque Pride condones and enables homonationalist queer bashing.

Queer anarchists struggle against all such policing. I wish had a queer transhumanist anarchist crew. (Ideally, each of these identifications implies the other two.) However, this is Albuquerque. Furthermore, queer transhumanist anarchist values hardly lend themselves to community.

Pride 2016 Signs (2)

While I respect certain oppositional nationalisms under present conditions, I consider U.S. nationalism utterly pernicious. Emma Goldman’s analysis of nationalism from the early twentieth century remains essentially correct. Nationalism and militarism stand in direct conflict with the core principles of freedom and justice, as well as with those of innovation, science, and technology. Sure, nationalism and militarism fuel technoscientific development at times, but much of this is wasted effort. Ultimately, free flow of information and of people does the most to advance science and technology, to make transhumanist dreams reality. Borders, militaries, and governments cause vast human suffering and hinder progress.

Death to the United States!

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Detained with Dignity: Reformism in a Nutshell June 8, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Feminism, Queer politics, Uncategorized.
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California is taking action to ensure that trans immigrants are treated with dignity at detention centers.

This quotation and the linked article highlight the absurdity of reformism. Sure, a modicum of respect is better than the alternative. But detention centers shouldn’t exist at all!

Even by liberal standards immigration law and detention centers are unmitigated bullshit. You can make a reasonable argument for prisons and cops within the liberal tradition, valuing both stability and freedom. You can’t do the same for an immigration policy any more elaborate than basic registration.

Immigrant detention and deportation are horrific practices akin to the now widely condemned WWII-era policy of interment camps. Kidnapping, caging, and forcibly relocating people based on where they happen to have been born? How can that be anything but nightmarishly illiberal?

This isn’t a difficult or complicated issue, yet representative democracy still can’t get it right.

Democracy never! How about liberation instead?

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A New Tendency February 29, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Transhumanism.
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Conservative Anarchist Transhumanism (CAT) – At least something still makes sense!

Conservative Anarchist Transhumanism (CAT) – Say no to pleasureshaming!

Conservative Anarchist Transhumanism (CAT) – Preserve your pattern from the hivemind!

Tired of William Gillis lecturing you on the cosmic mission to convert the universe into computronium? Find the conceit of persistent personal identity deeply reassuring? Love technology and rationality but also your own arbitrary desires? Dislike the taste of bullets? Join CAT today!

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Why Anarchist Transhumanism? October 29, 2015

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Transhumanism.
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William Gillis tells you why here. As much as I enjoy the appeal, I don’t completely agree with this piece. It’s not accurate to describe laptops as grenades because they can’t easily be used as such. I likewise suspect design space exists for making technologies less dangerous and intelligent beings more resilient. Simply throwing our hands up and saying it’s cool to have the ability to unleash engineered plagues strikes me as unwise. I don’t necessarily care myself, but that’s a dubious foundation for enduring social and political systems. Of course state control is worse, but individual and community measures to reduce risk seem better. While the history of technological change to date suggest a trend toward increasing risk and ease of attack – guns, explosives, etc. – that trend need not necessarily continue. Intelligent beings can make choices to reduce risk and increase safety. More freedom and intelligence potentially allows more successful striving toward lower-risk systems. At a certain point, weighed alongside potential benefits, doing things that greatly increase risk of harm to other beings is bad and should be avoided. Examples for me include the existence of nuclear weapons – at least under present conditions – and engineered plagues (depending to some extent on the details). I propose persuasion via reason as the primary way to spread this position. In some cases force strikes me as potentially appropriate, such as if somebody said they nuclear weapon or engineered plague on standby and were planning to push the trigger. I plan to write more about this when I make the time.

William Gillis also recently released a piece criticizing primitivism, but I doubt anybody reading this blog really needs that.

William Gillis Finally Finished “Science as Radicalism” August 19, 2015

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Epistemology, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Science graphic.

You can read it here. The piece provides a useful intervention. I’ll provide further commentary when I get the chance. Check out the anarchistnews.org version if you’re brave.

The March of Automation August 2, 2015

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Technology, Transhumanism.
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It’s an old story, going back to the start of the so-called industrial revolution. However, now the prospect of near-complete automation is beginning to seem more credible. This piece recounts how a factory in Dongguan City in China has recently replaced 90% of its workers with robots and seen 162.5% increase in production with a considerably lower defect rate. Various other Chinese factories plan to follow suit.

In an economy that ran for the common good – and perhaps in a genuinely free market – this sort of thing would be awesome. More efficient production could in theory make us all better off. In actually existing practice it’s more complicated. Workers lose jobs and primarily the bosses on the top benefit. As the linked article mentions, the increasing automation of Chinese factories comes at the same time as the Made in China 2025 initiative, which delightfully includes a focus on strengthening intellectual property rights.

Vastly complex technological systems of production and distribution sustain the current world economy. This article provides a fascinating look at the shipping industry. Here as with Chinese factories we see movement toward replace human labor with its robotic equivalent. Author Tim Maughan notes that “ports like Rotterdam in the Netherlands have already moved to fully automated systems, with driverless trucks and robotic cranes.”

Chinese factories, Danish-run shipping lines, and so on supply the basic necessities/luxuries that so many of us rely on on a daily basis for our comfort and survival. At the same time, these systems involve incredible exploitation and suffering. Automation seems like an ideal solution to drudgery but I doubt it will such as such by itself. It’s no answer to the questions of contamination, displacement, and distribution that continually haunt the modern economy.

The solution, of course, is revolution, but not a revolution simply destroys the industrial economy – at least not without putting up something superior in its place. When reading Maughan’s piece, disrupting supply lines seems awfully easy. It’s almost amazing the folks who want to accelerate the supposedly inevitable collapse of civilization haven’t had more successful.

Transhumanist Colonialism from the Horse’s Mouth August 9, 2014

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Technology, Transhumanism.
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My recent piece on IEET has provoked Hank Pellissier to launch into a defense of colonialism:

“Colonialism”… I do not believe it is always 100% destructive

Neither do the colonized… the link below for example – its a popular chat site for Nigerians, read it and you discover that many/most of the posters think colonization provided some benefits…

http://www.nairaland.com/12021/colonialism-good-africa

also…

Untouchability in Hindu India… a long, wretched tradition that was partially alleviated by the British colonialists…

Sati – or Suttee – the burning of widows in India, also abolished by British colonialists…

or…

Albinos are occasionally killed for body parts in Tanzania – the Canadian NGO “Under the Sun” is trying to criminalize the profession of “witch doctor” there… Are they being “colonialist” in their attitude, imposing their values?

I wrote an article opposing Female Genital Mutilation – a commenter told me that I was displaying a “white, imperialist, colonialist” attitude because I was suggesting my cultural values were superior –

who is right or wrong?

is colonialism acceptable if it provides…. education, medicine, infrastructure, democracy, improvement in human rights… ?

Ey goes on describe U.S. military aid as a good investment:

Hi Kris – my essay, “Israel’s Value to Transhumanism” lists numerous ways Israeli innovation contributes to the creation of a better technoprogressive future. It was written four years ago, and Israel’s value has increased significantly since then. For example, Israelis have gotten 6 Nobel Peace prizes in Chemistry in the last decade… plus Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize in Economics, for his work in Game Theory, highly valued by AI researchers.

Israel’s “Value” is deeply unappreciated by its hostile neighbors.

To guarantee Israel’s survival, the DOD provides about $3 billion in weaponry to Israel annually.

I don’t think this is a terrible investment.  Here is a list for you of
“57 Contributions Israel Has Made to the World”

http://www.levitt.com/news/2005/08/04/57-contributions-israel-has-made-to-the-world/

IMO, people who want the elimination of Israel are desiring a future scenario that delays and destroys techno-progress

Peter Wicks concurs:

Honestly, I don’t have the slightest quibble with Hank’s reflections regarding colonialism. It indeed brought benefits as well as destruction and misery. And it was entirely relevant to the discussion (including the African example) given that we are responding to an article that essentially condemns Israel for being a settler-colonialist state.

While I wouldn’t argue that literally nothing positive has come out of colonial projects, presenting colonialism as beneficial to the colonized under current political circumstances strikes me as overwhelmingly pernicious. In Pellissier’s case, it goes hand in hand with support for U.S. military aid to Israel, support for supplying Israel with the explosives that have just killed hundreds of noncombatants in Gaza. Pellissier advocates exactly what I oppose: building the fabulous future atop a heap of bones.

As I’ve argued previously, programs that demand suffering today on the basis of knowing the future assume far too much certainty. If folks like Pellissier have their way, forty years from now we may well end up with compounding misery and no magical tech to save us.

Gaza Is a Transhumanist Issue! August 4, 2014

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Transhumanists as a rule may prefer to contemplate implants and genetic engineering, but few if any violations of morphological freedom exceed being torn to pieces by shrapnel or dashed against concrete by an overpressure wave. In this piece I argue that the settler-colonial violence in occupied Palestine relates to core aspects of modernity and demands futurist attention both emotionally and intellectually.

Read it all over at IEET.