Ultimately, movements such as these will fail because they stubbornly refuse to understand core human drivers and incentives: the desire for life, for prosperity and for growth.
Capital Thinking • Issue #1175 • View Online
“Want to be rich? Start a good business.
Want to be really rich? Become a socialist.”
Meet the eco-movement that’s hoping for humanity’s extinction
Bestowing legitimacy on anti-humanism.
A recent article from The Atlantic explores (extols?) the rise of “Anthropocene anti-humanism”, a movement “inspired by revulsion at humanity’s destruction of the natural environment”.
This is a faction within the environmental movement who believes that humanity has already assured it’s own destruction, and that the world will actually be better off without peoplekind to mess up the place:
“From Silicon Valley boardrooms to rural communes to academic philosophy departments, a seemingly inconceivable idea is being seriously discussed: that the end of humanity’s reign on Earth is imminent, and that we should welcome it. The revolt against humanity is still new enough to appear outlandish, but it has already spread beyond the fringes of the intellectual world, and in the coming years and decades it has the potential to transform politics and society in profound ways.” (emphasis added).
Where previous ecological thought heavily criticized our impact on the environment, yet conceded humanity’s right to exist on this planet (gee, thanks), Anthropocene anti-humanists see us as deserving extinction:
“In the 21st century, Anthropocene anti-humanism offers a much more radical response to a much deeper ecological crisis. It says that our self-destruction is now inevitable, and that we should welcome it as a sentence we have justly passed on ourselves.”
One of the things I find interesting about it all is that I haven’t seen anybody call out The Atlantic for amplifying a literally anti-human philosophy of extermination. If some right-of-center outlet did an expose on an otherwise fringe collective arguing for the elimination of any group, it would be roundly attacked as dangerous hate speech, even if it were merely analyzing, rather than endorsing it (except for maybe, the unborn).
But The Atlantic is “The railhead of the Left’s intelligentsia” (a Steve Bannon puts it). Being written up in the Atlantic in sympathetic terms confers instant left-wing legitimacy on an idea that is literally anti-human and anti-life.
“It is a spiritual development of the first order, a new way of making sense of the nature and purpose of human existence.”, the Atlantic gushes. Likening it to Christianity or Communism as among “the most important movements in history”
The Transhumanist variant.
The article’s author, Adam Kirsh, spends almost as much time comparing Anthropocene anti-humanism with transhumanism. They both look forward to the end of humanity in their own distinctive ways.
Where anti-humanism wishes good riddance to our species as a whole, transhumanists think humans will merely be obsoleted by super-intelligent constructs of our own design.
Transhumanism, as defined by the likes of LessWrong’s Eliezer S. Yudkowsky or Nick Bostrom, starts as a generally life affirming construct which posits that in addition to the myriad ways every individual human can employ toward self-improvement: physical conditioning, mental training, cultural refinement, moral virtues, philosophical inquiry – we can also employ technological means.
This is also welcomed by the high priests of what I call techno-utopianism like Ray Kurzweil.
But the nature of technological advancement tends to accelerate in self-reinforcing feedback loops in such a manner as we arrive at a dilemma: a big one.
It’s the point at which technologically improved humans aren’t human anymore. They’re post-human.
A level of intellectual and physical prowess so far ahead of mere humans that the former are comparatively godlike and the latter, in the words of another dignitary of transhumanism, Yuval Harari, are just “soulless, hackable animals”.
And that’s a problem.