Transhumanism in a political sense is historically tied to many of the libertarian ideas of the Extropy Insitute founded in California, at a time in the late 80's and 90's where government adoption of radical sciences seemed unthinkable, and involvement to be cautious.
Zoltan Istvan's 2014 internationally visible campaign for the Transhumanist Party caused a grass roots mobilisation of politically interested transhumanists from various political positions to develop often more liberal, considered practical political positions.
Transhumanist involvement in politics can be traced back to 1992 when Natasha Vita-More, under her previous name Nancie Clark, was elected to the County Council of the Green Party of Los Angeles County, representing the 28th State Senate district. She ran with a platform of transhumanist technologies to solve environmental issues, as promoted by the television show "Transhuman UPdate TV" which aired in the Los Angeles area from 1988 onwards. Natasha is the first and remains the only transhumanist elected to office and was elected with the most votes. She resigned her seat in 1993.
From the 1990's through to the mid 2000's Extropy Institute (ExI) advocated for the transhumanist philosophy and worldview. The term "extropianism" is a type of transhumanism based on the Principles of Extropy. ExI did not promote any one political view and its members held diverse political stances. However, the democratic approach of ExI embraced political views that support the goals of transhumanism. While many members sought a libertarian approach that endorsed human rights and personal liberty libertarian transhumanism, other political ideas were held and first used in conjunction with transhumanism.
In July 2014, Gabriel Rothblatt was described as "very possibly the first openly transhumanist political candidate in the United States" by H+ Magazine editor Peter Rothman. Rothblatt was running as the Democrat party congressional candidate in Florida’s 8th District. Rothblatt made the following points in the H+ Magazine interview:
Every movement begins as a fringe, successful movements eventually grow to become dominant trends, and that entails having a political voice. Especially in America there is great divide growing between science and politics, a divide that in a time of enormous technological growth, itself poses an existential risk for humanity. We cannot continue to let government ignore and fail to respond to the rapidly changing technological world around us. Transhumanism, must gain mainstream acceptance, or lose out to the idiocracy of luddites with thermonuclear capabilities.
In the early 90’s we saw some of the first movements towards the acceptance of ‘queers.’ Now twenty years later we are seeing a tsunami of supportive legislation. Same in the 50’s and 60’s with civil rights, the 10’s and 20’s with suffrage. Transhumanism is the next battleground for civil rights, and it needs leaders to do more than pontificate in chatrooms and internet comments.
Transhumanism, like feminism is more than just a single issue, it’s a philosophy and relates to many issues. Consumer Protections, Veterans, Healthcare, Property Rights, Civil Rights, Surveillance and Sousveillance, the 2nd amendment, personhood, immigration, disabilities… technology and multi-culturalism have changed how we interact with everything, in my opinion transhumanism is a path to understanding these relationships...
My personal identification and experiences as a transhumanist has certainly informed my world view...
My platform is predominantly about making education a solution and not an industry. My campaign does seek to educate people about the realities of the present and the choices of the future. It is my intention that through this campaign many people will take a closer more serious look at what transhumanism is and how they may already be, unknowingly well in its grasps...
I’m an extremely passionate advocate for Space, which is very much the essence of and a major driver for transhumanism. I also have a great amount of empathy for our veterans returning from wars and the difficulties of living with the realities and stigma of being ‘disabled.’ These issues highlight the already widespread, and long history of transhumanism. It’s now finally a time that we can connect the dots and begin pushing for public acceptance and equality for those already living as transhumanists and those who may choose to become one.
The issue of choice and more centrally, liberty, is something transhumanist I intend to push for. Specifically, I believe we may need an addition to our Bill of Rights to ensure our liberty in a exponentially technologically world. That is, what I would describe as the Freedom of Form, a right to exist and to transform into whatever extant reality possible. This would protect future beings who would chose to make adaptations to their body in an effort enhance their appearance, enjoyment or safety. It would maintain rights and protections for beings in stasis or virtual perpetuity.
The Transhumanist Party
Since the October 2014 start of Zoltan Istvan's high-profile campaign with his Transhumanist Party political organisation, many transhumanists have sought to develop existing transhumanist principles in directions where they can be more directly applied to short and medium term policy initiatives.
Transhuman National Committee of the United States
The Transhuman National Committee (TNC) was initially organized by David J Kelley in an effort to redirect political discord around transhumanism and politics and create a community driven effort focused on organizing as a 527 PAC in the United States to move a transhumanist lobby effort to affect Policy in the United States. The organization held a virtual convention in Feb 2016 where it adopted its chart rules and initial policy platform to which is moved into additional funding and organizational efforts post the convention. See http://wiki.TranshumanPolitics.com/
This new direction has sometime been controversial within the community, and the definition of what are and are not transhumanist political positions is still an ongoing conversation.
Transhumanist political projects
Political initiatives that have significant support within at least parts of the transhumanist community include:
- Longevity dividend
- Universal basic income
- Genomic choice
- Digital rights
- Drug law reform
- Morphological freedom
- Rights for non-human persons
- Politics 2.0
- Comparison of futurist related political positions
- Transhumanist political organisations
- Transhumanist politicisation controversy