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Biopolitics. A Transhumanist Paradigm

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Stefano Vaj

on 24 May 2015

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Transcript of Biopolitics. A Transhumanist Paradigm

Foucault describes biopolitics as "a new technology of power...[that] exists at a different level, on a different scale, and [that] has a different bearing area, and makes use of very different instruments."
What is biopolitics?
Biopolitics
We have entered a time when "politics" is again about
Weltanschauungen
, not just sociology but anthropology itself, at a level that is unprecented since the Neolithic revolution or hominisation itself.
The very concept of "bioethics" tends to evade the responsibility that "comes with great powers", namely the responsibility of collective,
political
choices, in the name of adhesion to allegedly universal, eternal values of a "humanistic" nature.
Transhumanists and radical bioLuddites are at least in agreement on the fact that the great divide of this century will be on biopolitical issues, while many other people are still in denial and think it is, after all, "business as usual".
Let us imagine three men thrown on board a sailing boat at large...
Where does this leave us?
is also a key concept of this anthropological view:
The Third Man
A Transhumanist
Paradigm
Opting for a
Posthuman Future
But if Modernity is over...
Acceleration of progress? Where?
No posthuman change without a posthumanist change
The real threat is not neo-primitivism or any "happy" de-growth, but the

Brave New World
Transumanism is
just a choice,
not a fate
"The question is: Is man, as man in his nature til now, prepared to assume dominion over the whole earth? If not, what must happen to man as he is so that he may be able to “subject” the earth and thereby fulfill the word of an old testament? Must man, as he is, then, not be brought beyond himself if he is to fulfill this task?" (Martin Heidegger,
Who is Nietzsche's Zarathustra?
)
2014, English translation in print and for Kindle by Catarina Lamm.
2003, first version
2005, printed book
2007, Web version (http://www.biopolitica.it)
2008, interview by Adriano Scianca on the book's reception (printed book)
2010, English translation on the Web (http://www.biopolitix.com)
... and he also writes: ""As the archeology of our thought easily shows, Man is an invention of a recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end. If those arrangements were to disappear as they appeared, if some event of which we can at the moment do no more than sense the possibility – without knowing either what its form will be or what it promises – were to cause them to crumble, as the ground of Classical thought did, at the end of the eighteenth century, then one can certainly wager that Man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.”"
... AND THERE WE ARE!
Oppose that to the fact that "The future in the 1990s was seen as a
continuation of modernism
.

Similar to the present, with about the same sorts of technology and societies, only more of them... Opposing this was the narrative of eco-disaster, the man-made destruction when humanity Prometheus-like over-stepped nature’s boundaries. The green visionaries had quite strict ideals of a decentralised, small scale and self-sufficient society in mind – a society that often felt particularly vulnerable to outside pressure...

Dolly, and the rapid adoption of the Internet showed the fallacies of both the modernist vision, and its proposed alternative. Not only was the Future closer conceptually, but qualitatively different from the popular contemporary visions of it.
The emerging technologies seem to be applied to change much of what was regarded as the fundamental human condition
." (Waldemar Ingdhal)
- The second suggests they impose a rule that prohibits any interference with the random drifting of the boat, except for its maintenance; and he is above all intent to grab hold of the available rations and the best berth; or at most to find some way to divide them up equitably so as to maintain peace on board.
A third stance, which we may call – without going too deep here into the different shades of meaning of these terms – transhumanist, posthumanist, postmodern, futurist or overhumanist.
being the immediate product of primary hominisation, of the advent of language, of hunting-gathering societies, of shamanic magic that allows him to identify with models borrowed from the environment in which he is immersed and so to compensate for his natural deficiencies and to take advantage of his ethological plasticity. (Arnold Gehlen)
is the man of the Neolithic revolution, of agriculture, of politics, of religion, of the division of labour, of what has come to be called the “pyric technology,” of great Spenglerian cultures.
At the time of the second man, the “natural environment” has now become a cultural environment for good.

In fact, not only is the natural environment from now on shaped and influenced by man’s presence but the specifically human factor has become inextricably woven into the purely biological data in a combined action, which affects single individuals as much as it affects the selective pressures forging their genetic lineages.
Accordingly, the THIRD Man represents the transition, from a merely transformative action of one’s own cultural and natural environment, to the full responsibility of a direct determination of an environmental context, and of an identity that is also biological, which both henceforth can only be through and through artificial (a park or a myopic eye being by now no more "natural" than a satellite or a cybernetic prosthesis, both being products of human choices).
- The first imprecates the fate that brought him there, and insists that involuntary passengers like himself should abandon ship using the lifeboats, or even swimming if necessary.
- What instead matters to the third man is the possibility to steer the boat where he wants, learn to manoeuvre it, and decide on the route to follow.
The FIRST Man
The SECOND Man
by Stefano Vaj
But What Is the
Second Man
Really
About?
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
"And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."
Genesis 11:4–9
The Postneolithic Cultures
(Paleolithical societies)
"Cold" cultures
"Warm" cultures
The "hot", Faustian culture
Moral Refusal
of History, Technology, Self-Determination, Cultural Diversity, Idolatry, Becoming, Collective Destinies, etc.
?
The Second Man, a blessing or a curse:
Prophets of the End of History
vs
Wisemen, Builders, Founding Heroes, Poets
Gimme a Break!
We all know that Prophets of the End of History established a (kind of) egemony from 400 to 1400 CE, which was later expanded in areas colonised or influenced by Europeans (and muslims) westward and to some extent eastward.
The related repression of the "Neolithic" spirit led however to the birth first of "modern" science, then, roughly in the period 1870-1970, to the "death of God" and to an unprecented period of technoscientific, cultural, artistic, political, social and economic incandescence, of which we are the (perhaps undeserving) heirs.
which is open on either the End of History and an eschatological return to paleolithical "naturality" and "immobility", a secularised Rapture from the Babel curse; or a Regeneration of History at a new level, in a fully New Paradigm.

This in turn is bringing us toward a
Zeit-Umbruch
, a
Rupture of Times
“The industrial revolution which today is drawing to a close marks in fact the end of the so called ‘advanced cultures’, that prevailed between 3500 BCE until after 1800 CE, and fosters the emergence of a new kind of culture, as yet not well defined.

Along these lines of thinking, one could indeed come to believe that the ‘civilised age’ as historical period is about to pass away, if one understands the word civilisation in the sense that has been exemplified by the history of the advanced cultures of humanity until today.” (Arnold Gehlen)
what is going to replace it?
The Second Man explored and changed its ecological environment and himself by the implicit societal programming and "eugenic" manipulation of his living environment and populations, so driving his own evolution, including as an "extended phenotype." (Richard Dawkins)
We are now challenged by an increasing ability to
design
what we, and our offspring, are going to be in a space increasingly subject by our influence, through a direct interventions on our germlines, our body, our reproductive process, our biochemistry, our mind, our interfaces with the world, our information processing mechanisms, and the species we interact with, as predicted by Foucault.
A Quantum Leap
To accept this challenge means to play
God
at an altogether different level from what
was possible before:
The ultimate blasphemy, indeed, for those who had hoped to have eventually the
End of History and the Last Man
within reach, and have to fight instead against
Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
(Francis Fukuyama)
BNW Humanist Dictatorship

One-worldist biopolitical technocracy imposing a single global model, pseudo-sustainable stagnation
Lip service is paid to micro-hedonism of individuals and their freedom to do and go as they please (same as Brownian movement of molecules in a static gas), but societies cannot go anywhere and not much changes from one to another, so that you cannot really vote with your feet, and even "secession" would be moot
Perversion of technology to avoid any further change, including, but not limited to, adoption of game-changing technologies and researching, inventing and spreading of new breakthroughs
"Virtual" does not prepare and support "Real", but takes its place
"Do NOT Rock the Boat!!"
Nietzsche again:
“What is ‘good for the individual’ is as illusory as what is ‘good for the species’. The former is not sacrificed for the latter. The species, seen from afar, is something just as insubstantial as the individual. The “conservation of the species” is only a consequence of the growth of the species, which is the same as a victory over the species, on the way to a stronger species. […] It is precisely by looking at every living being that one can best show that he does all he can not to conserve himself, but to become more than he is.”

And if one is not much into continental philosophy see...

Enough is Enough: A Thinking Ape’s Critique of Trans-Simianism.
A Few Concepts for a Different,
H+ Brand of Biopolitics
- The Quest for Knowledge, Change, Greatness, Power, Growth, as a value
per se
- Masters of our fate: not the the Divine Providence, the Natural Law, the Market
- Individual and collective self-determination: modernity has reduced biological /and cultural (as well as political, artistic, lifestyle, morphological, linguistic...)
diversity
, technology can make it explode again
- Proactionary Principle (Max More): catastrophic outcomes of doing nothing are morally worse than those arising from inaction and omission
- Popular (and plural) sovereignties: may our clade bloom into hundred flowers, let us not keep all the eggs in one basket, against ideas of universal optimality

Humanism renounces humanity, meaning what made us become trans-simianists in the first place, in the name of an abstract concept that denies and curses our historical freedom, preventing us to go “where no man has gone before” - nor ever will.
Let us do it instead!
Courtesy of Giancarla "Rhapsody" Parisi, from
The Transhuman Woman
Thank you!
Full transcript