Anarcho-Transhumanism (@H+) is a philosophy concerned with social and material liberty as understood by both transhumanist views on material conditions and anarchist views on power dynamics in society.
As many misconceptions about both anarchism and transhumanism persist, it is frequently confused with many other viewpoints and movements, such as technolibertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, liberal transhumanism, social futurism, or the Venus Project.
Central to Anarcho-Transhumanism is facilitating the equality of opportunity for all individuals to exercise self-determination. Conditions that unnecessarily limit either the viable options or the individuals able to exercise them are typically rejected, including arrangements based on equality of endowment or outcome. This leads to criticism of other groups in both parent philosophies that fail to address or even encourage such conditions.
History and Development
Anarcho-Transhumanists identify transhumanist sentiments from historical anarchists, such as Voltairine de Cleyre.
Relationship to Transhumanism
Borrowing from crypto-anarchism, anarchist activist William Gillis and others argue that the disruptive nature of emergent technologies are either incompatible or extremely dangerous with hierarchical structures of today, including representative or majoritarian democracy. Failure to challenge physical and social conditions together has been argued to risk oligarchic transhumanism, primitivism, or even extinction.
Individual Anarch-Transhumanists may or may not be singularitarians, variously considering an anarchist society and hypothesized singularity events as prerequisites, mutually exclusive, or inevitable outcomes of one another.
Amon Twyman listed Anarcho-Transhumanism among the suggested constitutents of a larger political transhumanist movement, observing that there is little common ground between branches of political transhumanism outside transhumanism itself, and questioning the viability of such a narrow policy platform to direct a present-day government.
Main article: Morphological freedom
Morphological freedom, disability rights, and functional diversity (including neurodiversity) are widely supported, especially in opposition to ableism and biochauvinism. Adding to anarchism's objections to the coercive power structures, transhumanist anarchism argues against their influence on the availability and viability of the means of exercising autonomy over oneself.
Racism, misogyny, and transphobia are similarly rejected.
Within an established egalitarian society, presumably capable of equiveillance, some scope of total history may be desirable to facilitate knowledge and decision-making, both individually and collectively.
Main article: Speciesism
Citing evidence of cognition in nonhuman animals, they are generally held to deserve protection from suffering. Support varies for personhood, rights, and capacity to participate in society, depending on species and sometimes degree of uplifting.
Opposition to substrate chauvinism
Anarchotranshumanist proponents of artificial intelligence and/or mind uploading value the continued autonomy of such conscious beings, and advocate against biochauvinism in anticipation of such issues.
Relationship with singularitarianism
Conversely, singularitarianism faces mixed support.
Criticism of singularity futurism arises from coercive pressures introduced by goverement and capital interests into the design or implementation of mass mind uploading, such as rent-seeking, or surveillance or ownership claims over the contents of subject minds. Rhetoric that holds uploading to be 'inevitable' or so superior to biological existence as to outweigh personal objections or lack of consent is particularly objectionable, and a technological singularity may even be considered an existential threat to anarchotranshumanism, general anarchism, or society as a whole, perceiving it as the conclusion or 'endgame' of hierarchical society and loss of the capacity to meaningfully dissent or change.
Anarchotranshumanist proponents of singularitarianism may believe the widespread adoption of anarchism likely to happen before, or even be a prerequisite to, the development of self-improving AI.
Opposition to Absentee Ownership
Anarcho-Transhumanists advoctate a variety of economic systems, with the common theme of rejecting systems based on absentee ownership of land and the means of production, such as capitalism, state socialism, and authoritarian communism. All Anarcho-Transhumanists are anticapitalist, owing to anarchism's understanding of capitalism as a hierarchial system with capitalists and landlords as de-facto rulers.
Government-mediated socialist and communist systems are similarly rejected, with the government and its agents replicating the role and issues with absentee owners.
With the rejection of proprietarianism comes the abolition of intellectual property. In addition to the problems cited by other anarchists, Anarcho-Transhumanists see numerous conflicts between intellectual property and an individual's self-determination that arise from emerging technologies. The presence of software or hardware components that are considered the intellectual property of others in a prosthetic device, in effect, means the partial ownership of one's body by another.
Communalism and Libertarian Municipalism
Libertarian municipalism and communalism, especially as described in Murray Bookchin's Post-Scarcity Anarchism, are a common starting point for Anarcho-Transhumanist economics.
Libertarian socialism and communism are commonly supported systems, possibly made more viable by a transition to post-scarcity. This transition could be facilitated by manufacturing techniques enabled by 3D Printing and nanofabrication.
Auxiliary economic systems
While futarchy as originally conceptualized is incompatible with anarchism's rejection of representative governance and elected officials, a prediction market not mediated by elected officials could be considered as a tool of informing decisions. Trust and reputation metrics based on public or personal records may also be useful, whether arranged as a market or otherwise. These systems can be cited as a suppement to a typical market or gift economy, often to bridge the gap between scarce and post-scarce demands. Spimes or blockchains may be used to track stakeholdership over goods and infrastructure.
Consent Issues, Social Contracts, and Antinatalism
While not a problem specific to anarchist forms of transhumanism, the emphasis on autonomy and self-determination intersects with the larger issue of consent to various enhancements and interventions, especially at the beginning stages of life and when unconscious or unable to communicate.
A common response to this is the observation that the initial conditions of one's life are never voluntary and cannot be, as one does not exist beforehand to evaluate and give or withhold consent.
This argument is taken further by antinatalists considering the creation of new human life, and sometimes other sapient life, to be an act of inherently negative value in *any* circumstance. Largely built on philosophical arguments, antinatalists sympathetic to dark green environmentalist perspectives may combine the two, as with the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
A parallel issue arises in social conditions that see the adoption of certain technologies as so widespread and essential to participate in society as to be unavoidable.
Necessity of industry and extractivism
Conflation with Other Anarchist and Transhumanist Perspectives
Many critics of Anarcho-Transhumanism may argue from a position that is not aware of the interaction between anarchism and transhumanism, or the distinction between their subtypes. Those unfamiliar with either may confuse it with positions even further afield, interpret it through conspiracy theories, and/or regard it as nonsensical.
For example, libertarians and other transhumanists may mistake anarchism's libertarian socialism for more authoritarian technoprogressivism and argue against planned economies, which are not a feature of Anarcho-Transhumanist thought.
Anarchists may also incorrectly assume that Anarcho-Transhumanists consider concepts such as mind uploading to be adequate responses to the problems posed by hierarchies such as capitalism and statism, or that Anarcho-Transhumanists are hostile or indifferent to environmentalist issues. The presence of libertarian transhumanists that mistakenly refer to themselves as anarcho-capitalists is another point of confusion.
General outlines include An Anarchotranshumanist FAQ, and an ongoing work-in-progress manifesto. Other websites and blogs include Human Iterations, Queering the Singularity, and Transcendiary.
The zine Anarchotranshuman collects anarchotranshumanist writing from many authors, as well as republishing relevant papers and manifestos.
William Gillis has made several public appearances as a proponent, including as the guest of Future Grind episode #17, Non-Serviam Media, and at the 2015 Future of Politics conference co-sponsored by the IEET.
|What is Anarcho-Transhumanism?||William Gillis||January 06, 2012||Human Iterations||Article|
|The incoherence and Unsurvivability of Non-Anarchist Transhumanism||William Gillis||2015||IEET||Article|
|Anarchotranshumanism: This Machine Kills Ability||Terra Brix||April 04, 2018||The Anarchist Library||Article|
|300 Million Random Assholes Voting On How You Die||R. Foxtale||October 30, 2016||Anarchotranshuman #3||Article|
|An Anarchotranshumanist FAQ||Various||N/A||Blueshifted||FAQ|
|Hello From the Wired - An Introduction to Cyber-Nihilism||n1x||December 20, 2016||b0x||Article|
In popular culture
In the Revelation space series, one of the main factions were the Demarchists who used a simply neural implant to constantly vote on issues, with voters who made 'good' decisions rewarded with greater influence. This system was called Demarchy.
In the game series Deus Ex it is often possible to avoid all collectivist alliances and play entirely independently.
In Shadowrun lore, there was a period of time where the city of Berlin had transitioned to an anarchist society; where a "Flux State" was formed in the wake of hierarchical governance:
"The Free City of Berlin is the former capital of Germany and one of the most interesting phenomenons to emerge in the post-Awakening world. In the wake of the anarchist revolution of 2039, the city seceded from the German state and created the Flux State. This grand experiment in social order is anarchy in practice, where the power structure constantly evolves and the crafty shadowrunner will always find ways to survive - and even thrive. Corporations tread carefully in the Free City - and even the great dragon Lofwyr only has so much influence here."
The Eclipse Phase roleplaying game's setting includes an outer solar system widely inhabited by anarchist and social democratic groups.
The short-lived web comic Political Ideology Catgirls featured an Anarcho-Transhumanist catgirl who hacks into people computers through using cyberhacking to espouse the virtues of mind uploading.
- The Incoherence and Unsurvivability of Non-Anarchist Transhumanism 29/10/15
- An Anarcho-Transhumanist FAQ
- Anarchist-Transhumanist “Manifesto” under development
- The case for anarchist transhumanism? - Youtube hangout
- Political Transhumanism is a Deep, Dark Rabbit Hole
Blogs and sites
- anarchotranshumanism.com anarchotech on Twitter
- laboriacuboniks.net Xenofeminism on Twitter
- humaniterations.net rechelon on Twitter
- An Anarchist-Transhumanist “Manifesto” Google Doc
- Anarcha feminist flag
- Blue rose inspired by u/nildicit I just made it into a mosaic
- "What is Anarcho-Transhumanism?
- F.1 Are “anarcho”-capitalists really anarchists?
- J.1.3 Why are anarchists against reformism?
- Center for a Stateless Society: An Interview with Voltairine de Cleyre, The Sun, March 04,1894
- The incoherence and Unsurvivability of Non-Anarchist Transhumanism
- 300 Million Random Assholes Voting on How You Die
- Transhumanism Implies Anarchism, William Gillis, Center for a Stateless Society, May 16th 2016
- Future Grind Podcast Ep. 17 – William Gillis on Anarcho-Transhumanism
- Anarcho-Transhumanist views on the Technological Singularity on r/Anarchotranshumanist
- The Singularity and the Future-Human under Capitalism, Wes Strong
- Transhumanism and Politics by Amon Twyman, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, October 07, 2014
- Anarchotranshumanism: This Machine Kills Ability, Terra Brix, The Anarchist Library, April 04, 2018
- Is that a singularity in your pocket or are you just happy to see me enslaved?: Transhumanism’s class problem, Phoenix Insurgent, The Anarchist Library, April 09, 2010.
- An Anarchist FAQ H.5 What is vanguardism and why do anarchists reject it?
- McGowan, K. “I Want to Know What Code Is Running Inside My Body”, Wired, 2016
- Anarcho-transhumanist graffiti in Lebanon
- Futarchy: Vote Values, But Bet Beliefs
- Idea Futures
- Futarchy: Vote Values, But Bet Beliefs
- Idea Futures
- Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective, Nick Bostrom, Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 493-506. (2003)
- William Gillis on Anarchy, Ethics, and Everything Inbetween, Non-Serviam, December 24, 2016
- Shadowrun: Dragonfall