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Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.

Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.

Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.

Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.

Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.

Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.

In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.

Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to

Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.

Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.

There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.

Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.

If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.

If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.

Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.

Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.

Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.

If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.

Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.

In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.

None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.

The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.

Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically

Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.

In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.

Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.

By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.

But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.

The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.

Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.

In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?

In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.

These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.

In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.

It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.

The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)

More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.

In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.

These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.

By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.

PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.

Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.

After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.

As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.

This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.

In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.

Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)

Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread

These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.

Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.

The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.

The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.

As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.

First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.

Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.

This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.

Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.

The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.

Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.

Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.

As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.

The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.

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Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Fiscal Freedom | Cato …

Posted: November 16, 2016 at 4:29 am

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

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CFR-Trilateral pedophile Jeffrey Epsteins corporate …

Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:29 am

Jeffrey Epstein is currently infamous for his conviction for soliciting a fourteen-year-old girl for prostitution and for allegedly orchestrating underage sex slave orgies at his private Virgin Island mansion, where he purportedly pimped out underage girls to elite political figures such as Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and probably Bill Clinton as well (he also traveled to Thailand in 2001 with Prince Andrew, probably to indulge in the countrys rampant child sex trade).

But before these sex scandals were the highlight of Epsteins celebrity, he was better known not just for his financial prowess, but also for his extensive funding of biotechnological and evolutionary science. With his bankster riches, he founded the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation which established Harvard Universitys Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.

Epstein, a former CFR and Trilateral Commission Member, also sat on the board of Harvards Mind, Brain, and Behavior Committee. He has furthermore been actively involved in . . . the Theoretical Biology Initiative at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Quantum Gravity Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Santa Fe Institute, which is a transdisciplinary research community that expands the boundaries of scientific understanding . . . to discover, comprehend, and communicate the common fundamental principles in complex physical, computational, biological, and social systems.

The scope of Epsteins various science projects spans research into genetics, neuroscience, robotics, computer science, and artificial intelligence (AI). Altogether, the convergence of these science subfields comprises an interdisciplinary science known as transhumanism: the artificial perfection of human evolution through humankinds merger with technology. In fact, Epstein partners with Humanity+, a major transhumanism interest group.

Transhumanists believe that technologically upgrading humankind into a singularity will bring about a utopia in which poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past. In fact, eminent transhumanist Ray Kurzweil, chief of engineering at Google, believes that he will become godlike as a result of the singularity.

But the truth is that transhumanism is merely a more high-tech revision of eugenics conceptualized by eugenicist and UNESCO Director-General Julian Huxley. And when corporate philanthropists like pedophile Epsteinas well as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Google executives such as Eric Schmidt and Larry Pageare the major bankrollers behind these transhumanism projects, the whole enterprise seems ominously reminiscent of the corporate-philanthropic funding of American and Nazi eugenics.

In America, Charles Davenports eugenics research at Cold Spring Harbor was bankrolled by elite financiers, such as the Harriman family, as well as robber barons and their nonprofit foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Davenport collaborated with Nazi eugenicists who were likewise funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. In the end, these Rockefeller-funded eugenics programs contributed to the forced sterilization of over 60,000 Americans and the macabre human experimentation and genocide of the Nazi concentration camps. (This sinister collusion is thoroughly documented in War Against the Weak by award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black).

If history has shown us that these are the sordid bioethics that result from corporate-funded biosocial science, shouldnt we be weary of the transhumanism projects of neo-robber barons like Epstein, Gates, Zuckerberg, Thiel, and the Google gang?

It should be noted that Epstein once sat on the board of Rockefeller University. At the same time, the Rockefeller Foundationwhich has continued to finance Cold Spring Harbor programs as recently as 2010also funds the Santa Fe Institute and the New York Academy of Sciences, both of which Epstein has been actively involved in.

The Rockefeller Foundation also funds the Malthusian-eugenic Population Council, which transhumanist Bill Gates likewise finances in carrying on the population reduction activism of his father, William H. Gates Sr.

And in 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a transhumanistic white paper titled Dreaming the Future of Health for the Next 100 Years, which explores [r]e-engineering of humans into separate and unequal forms through genetic engineering or mixed human-robots.

So, considering that transhumanismthe outgrowth of eugenicsis being steered not only by twenty-first-century robber barons, but by corporatist monopoly men who are connected to the very transhumanist Rockefeller Foundation which funded Nazi eugenics, I suspect that transhumanist technology will not upgrade the common person. Rather, it will only be disseminated to the public in such a wayas Stanford University Professor Paul Saffo predictsthat converts social class hierarchies into bio(techno)logical hierarchies by artificially evolving the One Percent into a species separate from the unfit working poor, which will be downgraded as a slave class.

In his 1932 eugenic-engineering dystopia, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (Julians brother) depicts how biotechnology, drugs, and psychological conditioning would in the future be used to establish a Scientific Caste System ruled by a global scientific dictatorship. But Huxley was not warning us with his novel. As historian Joanne Woiak demonstrates in her journal article entitled Designing a Brave New World: Eugenics, Politics, and Fiction, Aldous brave new world can . . . be understood as a serious design for social reform (105). In a 1932 essay, titled Science and Civilization, Huxley promoted his eugenic caste system: in a scientific civilization society must be organized on a caste basis. The rulers and their advisory experts will be a kind of Brahmins controlling, in virtue of a special and mysterious knowledge, vast hordes of the intellectual equivalents of Sudras and Untouchables (153-154).

With the aforementioned digital robber barons driving the burgeoning age of transhumanist neo-eugenics, I fear that Huxleys Scientific Caste System may become a reality. And with Epstein behind the wheel, the new GMO Sudras will likely consist of not only unskilled labor slaves, but also child sex slaves wholike the preadolescents in Brave New Worldwill be brainwashed with Elementary Sex Education, which will inculcate them with a smash monogamy sexuality that will serve the elite World Controllers.

References

Huxley, Aldous. Science and Civilization. Aldous Huxley: Complete Essays. Eds. Robert S. Baker and James Sexton. Vol. III. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000. 148-155. Print. 4 vols.

John Klyczek has an MA in English and is a college English instructor, concentrating on the history of global eugenics and Aldous Huxleys dystopian novel, Brave New World.

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Ayn Rand – Salon.com

Posted: September 2, 2016 at 6:00 am

The HBO show’s creator may or may not be a Randian, but a version of her philosophy runs through his body of work

Carl Barney has run a lucrative nonprofit education empire under the principles of the libertarian figurehead

The Uber model just doesn’t work for other industries. The price points always fail — and that’s a good thing

Yesterday, the House Speaker apologized for calling America’s impoverished “takers.” But he hasn’t changed a bit

Snyder working on an adaptation of Rand’s novel makes perfect sensejust look at his body of work VIDEO

John Boehner is laying the groundwork for a “Draft Ryan” campaign at the GOP convention. The whole thing is absurd

Values voters, Tea Party conservatives, faux-populists grifting for book deals and Fox spots — meet today’s GOP

Fans feel “so betrayed” seeing the “Star Wars” heartthrob in an “Atlas Shrugged” shirt

The brilliant critic Evgeny Morozov discusses the myths Silicon Valley tells about itself, and why we believe them

The most effective ways to expose their contradictions and faulty logic

A stern, serious Krugman says anyone who doesn’t believe the GOP’s real gold standard fervor is deluding themselves

Freedom now means winner-take-all capitalism, and it’s slowly morphing our political system into a plutocracy

We’ve been a fed a myth about heroic individuals — and that allows the 1 percent to prosper at everyone’s expense

The Wisconsin congressman may be a radical, but he’s also a product of the insider cronyism the Tea Party abhors

Read about Paul Ryan and you might think he is a thoughtful, right-of-center policy wonk, not an Ayn Rand ideologue

The wingnut pundit resents the liberal tone of TV, but turns out cartoonish, right-leaning prose

What’s causing the GOP’s slide into complete dysfunction? It’s not overheated rhetoric; it’s the politics of race

EXCLUSIVE: New transcript of Rand at West Point in ’74 enthusiastically defends extermination of Native Americans

Conservatives have long wielded “socialism” as a pejorative — but Sanders owns it and is transforming politics

The objectivist classic is brimming with historical revisionism, faulty economic theory and dubious sexual politics

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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

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Freedom in the 50 States 2013 | Overall Freedom | Mercatus …

Posted: August 16, 2016 at 4:33 pm

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

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Deconstructing the Second Amendment – cnn.com

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And yet, for years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as an inalienable protection against tyranny; by others as a dangerous anachronism.

Here’s a look at the Second Amendment, its phrases parsed and placed in legal and historical context.

Our guides will be Constitutional experts Jeffrey Rosen and Jack Rakove.

What is a militia?

At the time of the American Revolutionary War, militias were groups of able-bodied men who protected their towns, colonies, and eventually states. “[When the Constitution was drafted], the militia was a state-based institution,” says Rakove. “States were responsible for organizing this.”

What did it mean to be well regulated?

One of the biggest challenges in interpreting a centuries-old document is that the meanings of words change or diverge.

“Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” says Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight.”

In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty.

What type of security was referred to here?

To get to that, consider the climate of the United States at the time. The country had just fought a war, won its independence and was expanding west. There were plenty of reasons to feel unsafe, and so “security” had a very palpable meaning.

“You have an expanding country, and the principle defense use of the militia would be to protect local residents from attack and invasion,” Rakove says.

It also meant physical protection from government overreach.

“The idea of a state militia would also be attractive because it serves as a deterrent against national tyranny,” says Rakove. “At the time, if government forces tried to take over land or overstep their boundaries, you’d have an institution in place — the militia — that would outnumber any army.”

Of course, with the size and scope of the modern United States military, and the fact that militias as we know it no longer exist, that notion is hard to imagine today.

In the debate over the Second Amendment, this phrase, “a well regulated militia,” remains one of the most cited and argued parts of the sentence.

What did a free state mean?

It may seem obvious, but Rosen and Rakove agree the Constitution bore a lot of contemporary moralism and not every word is well-defined.

In this case, the meaning of “state” is what it appears to be.

“This is referring immediately to ‘state’ as in one of the states of the original colonies,” Rosen says. “James Madison had the 1777 Virginia Declaration of Rights by his side when he wrote the Bill of Rights and he essentially copied and pasted language from it.”

But it could also speak to a larger understanding of liberty.

“So here,” Rosen continues, “George Mason (the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) is talking about not only the free state of Virginia.” He is also talking about a broader state of freedom.

What kind of rights?

This is another highly-contested area where it helps to know more about how the framers of the Constitution thought about complex ideas like “rights.”

“When we think about ‘rights,’ we think of them as regulations and exemptions,” Rakove says. “Back at the birth of our nation, they had a different quality. They were more moralistic.”

Rosen says this viewpoint is reflected in the Declaration of Independence:

“The framers definitely believed in natural rights — that they are endowed by a creator,” Rosen says. “They believed we are born into a state of nature before we form governments, and that we are endowed with certain fundamental rights.”

These natural rights included the right to religious expression, free speech, property and more. But they did not, Rosen says, specifically include the tenets of the Second Amendment.

“The framers did not talk about the right to bear arms as one of the set of natural rights,” he says. “But it is fair to say that the right to alter and abolish government — to the degree that modern people claim they have that right — the framers certainly believe it.”

“In that sense, it is historically accurate to say that the framers did recognize a natural right of self-defense.”

Who are the people?

Even the term “people” — the most basic catch-all — has limitations.

“You say people, you mean individual persons,” says Rakove. “But, if you go to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, it says the House of Representatives will be chosen by the people — who are the persons? Who are entitled to exercise that suffrage? You see, you can use the term ‘people’ to imply a collective mass, but there are some categories of people that can be excluded.”

After all, when the Constitution was written, slaves were considered property and women were not allowed to vote.

In addition, there is a more basic question of semantics: By “the people,” is the Second Amendment referring to people as private entities, or as participants in the militia?

The legal consensus is that the Second Amendment applies to individual rights, within reasonable regulations. More on that below.

What are Arms in this context, and what is the scope of bearing Arms?

The decision struck down the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which heavily regulated owning and keeping firearms in the District of Columbia.

In the above excerpt, we can see the Court considered the awkward phrasing of the Amendment. The Justices divided the Amendment into an operative clause: “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and a prefatory clause: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” The court determined the relationship between these phrases, as well as the historical context of the Constutition’s creation, clearly provided an individual right.

The term “arms” is also an ever-changing one, and there are ongoing debates about assault weapons and emerging firearm technologies.

“One thing people disagree about is whether assault weapons bans are constitutional,” says Rosen. “They also disagree about how we should interpret the constitution in terms of history or in light of new technologies.”

What does it all mean?

“It’s really striking that since these Supreme Court decisions… lower courts have upheld almost all of the gun regulations they have asked to review,” he says.

Rakove thinks the framers of the Constitution would be surprised at the conversations we are having today.

“While there is a common law right to self-defense, most historians think that it would be remarkable news to the framers of the Second Amendment that they were actually constitutionalizing a personal right to self-defense as opposed to trying to say something significant about the militia,” he says.

Words like “militia” and “rights” are loaded with historical context and nuance that can act as a Rorschach test, leading even the best-intentioned interpreters to different conclusions. If there were any clear answers, these 27 words wouldn’t be so incendiary.

Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History at Stanford University. His book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution” won a Pulitzer Prize in History.

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Libertarian ticket eyes post-convention opening and debate …

Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm

The Libertarian Party ticket, facing what polls show are two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern American history, is seeing a bump in support as the general election race moves into full swing and a surge in interest that could carry nominee Gary Johnson onto the prized debate stage this fall.

Despite Donald Trump and Hillary Clintons popularity issues and trust gap with voters, few expect the Libertarian ticket to pose a Ross Perot-style threat this year.

But the party is far more than a political curiosity in 2016. Rumors are swirling in the wake of the major-party conventions that high-profile Republicans are now considering backing the ticket; a recent video from Johnson and running mate William Weld generated considerable buzz; and the polls show Johnson getting close to 15 percent the threshold he needs to reach to land him on the debate stage with Trump and Clinton this fall.

The RealClearPolitics average has Johnson at 8.4 percent in a four-way race with Trump, Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, up from 4.5 percent in June. The latest Fox News poll released Wednesday, after the conventions, put Johnson at 12 percent.

An NBC poll taken toward the end of the Democratic convention put Johnson at 9 percent, roughly where he was in prior polling.

Party officials said the unpopularity of the Republican and Democratic candidates gives the party an unprecedented opportunity.

It goes from week to week and day to day watching for what new thing [Clinton and Trump are] going to do to become more unpopular with the American people, and frighten people, Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, told FoxNews.com. Those candidates are the gift that keeps on giving. Were running as the qualified adult in the room.

Sarwark pointed to Johnsons record as a two-term New Mexico governor, re-elected as a Republican in a Democratic state, in touting his credentials and appeal.

Unclear is whether the support in the polls will translate into support at the ballot box. In 2012, Johnson won just 0.99 percent of all votes cast — making him the most successful White House candidate in Libertarian history, but not making much of a dent in the race as a whole.

But this year, there are plenty of signs more voters are seeking an alternative candidate. At the Democratic convention last week, many Bernie Sanders supporters were getting on board with the Green Partys Stein. But so far, Johnson is polling the best among third-party candidates.

He and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Weld, generated some buzz before the conventions with a slick video ad listing their accomplishments.

Weve been there … And done that! the candidates say.

Johnson said in an interview Monday with the Los Angeles Times that he believes in addition to appealing to disenfranchised Republicans on issues like free trade, low taxes and smaller government, the Libertarian stance on social issues and foreign policy could bring Sanders voters on board.

Sarwark said the party is banking that while Trump and Clinton are about as well-known as they are going to be, Johnson still can introduce himself to voters not familiar with his story especially if he is able to get on the debate stage.

This is far from a foregone conclusion.

So far, while Johnsons support is higher than in past years, an 8.4 percent average is still a distance from the 15 percent hed need to make the debates.

And he would need to get there by Aug. 15 to qualify, hitting 15 percent in not just one poll but an average of five recent polls chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Politically, where we stand, is we have to get into those presidential debates to really stand a chance, Weld told The Wall Street Journal last week. If we catch a break or two, we may get there.

Even then, the record for third-party or independent candidates is not strong.

In recent political history, the one who came closest to the presidency was businessman Perot in 1992 who was an independent, not technically a third-party candidate. At one point, Perot was leading in some polls against then-President George H. W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. However, after dropping out of the race before re-entering, he lost support. He eventually garnered 19 percent of the vote, with some Republicans arguing he split the GOP vote and handed the election to Clinton.

Republicans, meanwhile, were arguably given a boost by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, when Nader picked up 2.7 percent of the vote against Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.

Johnsons potential impact is hard to gauge. The latest Fox News poll found Johnson siphoning support about equally from the Democratic and GOP candidates.

But he could get a boost in the coming weeks as some Republicans reportedly consider backing him.

Most notably, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reportedly are mulling endorsements for Johnson. Marvin Bush, youngest brother of Jeb and George W., also endorsed Johnson last week.

From what Ive heard from the Bush and Romney camps, theyre still considering it, Sarwark claimed.

Asked if the party is looking just to make a strong showing, or go all the way, Sarward was bullish: Theres a path to the presidency. The ground is there.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

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Post-Humanism by Perry Stoddart on Prezi

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:09 am

900-1200 600 BCE Post Humanism By: Kali Nicholas, Bode Faleye, Sheldon Scoggins, Perry Stoddart and Hieu Nguyen PhysIologIcal Relations Within Posthumanism Genetic Alteration

Computer-Aid Insertion

Cryonics and Nanotechnology

Cyborgization Memes

Artificial Intelligence

Assimilation of machines into society

Reduce human need Politics What Post Humanism Means for Society? Will the Future be More or Less Human? Economics Ethics aspects of Posthumanism “We do not wish to survive in order to survive…but we wish to live in order to become more and more powerful. Here, power does not imply physiological or military power, but primarily intellectual power and the capacity to interpret the world and advertise ones own interpretation in a way that convinces others,” (Sorgner, “Beyond Humanism: Reflections on Trans- and Posthumanism” 13). Five approaches to Posthumanism – Antihumanism – Cultural Posthumanism – Philisophical Posthumanism – Transhumanism – Posthuman Condition Humanitys curiosity and never-ending quest for knowledge will make the process towards post humanism inevitable. Since the very idea of society and its principles were created by humanity, society will change alongside humanity and the resulting class of humans created through post humanism what is A posthuman? -Higher mental abilitity -Ability to fluidly change perspectives and manifest oneself through different ideas The Essence of Humanity Modification Pros and Cons It is a matter of personal opinion… Whether technology will bring us closer to or distance ourselves from becoming posthuman. Whether the future will be more or less human Cultural Humanism Technology is just a tool ANtihumanism PostHUmanism Rejects and criticizes traditional humanism Renaissance 5 Islamic Culture in Medieval Times Why Natural Transhumamism? Rebirth of Greco-Roman ideals and philosophies Religious focus–> Scholarly Focus Enlightenment Defying natural evolution

Possibly a superior class of humans

Better creatures, Less mortalities A Utopia, is it?

Natural transhumanism violates the doctrine of equality

The $250000 Panamera vs. the coal delivery man’s bicycle: a transhumanism see-saw catalyst Humankind + Natural Transhumanism ? -Superior (Highest order) Beings Ancient Asian Ancient Greece/Rome 1000-600 BCE 1650-1800 1400-1600 Social Reform Self concern for society Science and Philosophy Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Individualism Skepticism towards supernatural

Focus on Human values Based on a certain self-definition vs anti-humanism being a lack of self-definition 600 BCE Technology Technology not just a tool Human dependency Posthuman redefines Human Nature, Current Perspectives and Philosophies What is Humanism? Current Perspective and Ideals of human nature viewed world in terms of reason rather than of gods 900-1200 -Will become useful in politics

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Humanism, Transhumanism and Posthumanism

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:33 pm

1.

Many philosophers argue that humans are a distinctive kind of creature and that some capacities that distinguish humans from nonhumans give us a moral dignity denied to nonhumans. This status supposedly merits special protections that are not extended to nonhumans and special claims on the resources to cultivate those capacities reserved for humans alone.

However, I will argue that if we are committed to developing human capacities and welfare using advanced (NBIC) technologies (see below) our commitment to other humans and our interest in remaining human cannot be overriding. This is because such policies could engender posthumans and the prospect of a posthuman dispensation should, be properly evaluated rather than discounted. I will argue that evaluation (accounting) is not liable to be achievable without posthumans. Thus transhumanists who justify the technological enhancement and redesigning of humans on humanist grounds have a moral interest in making posthumans or becoming posthuman that is not reconcilable with the priority humanists have traditionally attached to human welfare and the cultivation of human capacities.

2.

To motivate this claim, I need to distinguish three related philosophical positions: Humanism, Transhumanism and Posthumanism and explain how they are related.

Humanism (H)

For the purposes of this argument, a philosophical humanist is anyone who believes that humans are importantly distinct from non-humans.

For example, many humanists have claimed that humans are distinguished by their reasoning prowess from nonhuman animals. One traditional view common to Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Rousseau, Kant and others is that humans are responsive to reasons while animals respond only to sensory stimuli and feeling. Being rational allows humans to bypass or suppress emotions such as fear or anger and (for better or worse) cultivate normatively sanctioned forms of action and affection.

Responsiveness to reasons is both a cognitive and a moral capacity. The fact that I can distinguish between principles like equality and freedom, for example, allows me to see these as alternative principles of conduct: The power to set an end any end whatsoever is the characteristic of humanity (as distinguished from animality) (Kant 1948, 51).

Most humanists claim that the capacities such as rationality or sociability that distinguish us from cats, dogs and chimps also single us out for special treatment.[1]

For Kant, this capacity to choose the reasons for our actions to form a will, as he puts it, is the only thing that is good in an unqualified way (Kant 1948, 62).

Even thinkers who allow that the human capacity for self-shaping is just one good among a plurality of equivalent but competing goods claim that autonomy confers a dignity on humans that should be protected by laws and cultivated by the providing the means to exercise it.

Thus most humanists hold some conception of what makes a distinctively human life a valuable one and have developed precepts and methods for protecting and developing these valuable attributes.

At the risk of oversimplifying, the generic humanist techniques for achieving this are politics and education.

For example, in Politics 1 Aristotle claimed that virtues like justice, courage or generosity need a political organization to provide the leisure, training, opportunities and resources to develop and exercise these valuable traits:

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, andthat man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and notby mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity;he is like the

Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one,

whom Homer denounces- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts

Rousseau and Marx, likewise see the political as the setting in which humans become fully human. Liberal political philosophers may be more wary of attributing intrinsic value to politics but most see the social goods secured by it as thesine qua non of a decent existence.

Transhumanism (H+)

Transhumanists share core humanist values and aspiration. They think that human-distinctive attributes like rationality and autonomy are good, as are human social emotions and human aesthetic sensibilities.

They also think that these capacities should be cultivated where possible and protected: e.g. by ensuring basic liberties and providing the resources for their fullest possible development.

However, they believe that the traditional methods that humanists have used to develop human capacities are limited in their scope by the material constraints of human biology and that of nature more generally.

Our biological and material substrate was not a political issue until relatively recently because we lacked the technological means to alter it. Although philosophers like Aristotle, Hume and Kant proposed theories of human nature, this nature was essentially an encapsulated black box. One could know what it did and why it did it, but not how it did it. Thus a basic cognitive function, such as imagination is described by Kant as ahidden art in the depths of the human soul, whose true operations we can divine from nature and lay unveiled before our eyes only with difficulty (Kant 1978, A1412/B1801).

Transhumanists believes that prospective developments in a suite of technologies called the NBIC technologies and sciences will at last allow humans unprecedented control over their own and morphology.

NBIC stands for Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science.

The smarter we are the more effectively we can develop techniques for developing human capacities: e.g. by eliminating starvation or scarcity with new agricultural and manufacturing techniques, finding cures for diseases or by becoming better democratic deliberators.

Thus if advancing human welfare is a moral priority, and extending human cognitive capacities is the best way of achieving this, we should extend our cognitive capacities using NBIC technologies all other things being equal (A supplementary argument for a transhuman politics assumes that certain capacities are necessarily characterized in terms of some end or fulfilment. Thus they are exercised appropriately when their possessor strives to refine and improve them See Mulhall 1998).

The exercise of rationality requires many cognitive aptitudes: perception, working and long-term memory, general intelligence and the capacity to acquire cultural tools such as languages and reasoning methods. There appear to have been significant increases the level of general intelligence in industrialized countries during the twentieth century particularly at the lower end of the scale. These may be explained by public health initiatives such as the removal of organic lead from paints and petrol, improved nutrition and free public education.

These increases, if real, are a clear social good. However, there seems to be a limit to the effect of environmental factors upon cognitio
n because the efficiency of our brains is constrained by the speed, interconnectedness, noisiness and density of the neurons packed into our skulls.

Thus the best scientists, philosophers or artists currently alive are no more intelligent or creative than Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz or Kant. There are far more thinkers on the planet than in Aristotles time and they are better equipped than ever before but their minds, it seems, are no more able than those of previous artists, scientists and philosophers.

For transhumanist thinkers like Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil, this suggests that many major improvements of intelligence will require us to escape our biology by outsourcing our thinking to non-biological platforms such as computing devices. The components of the fastest computers operate tens of millions times faster than the spiking frequency of the fastest human nerve cell (neuron) so this suggests an obvious way in which humans transcend the biological limitations on our brains.[2]

Many early 21st century humans offload the tedious tasks like arithmetic, memorizing character strings like phone numbers or searching for the local 24-hour dry cleaner to computing devices. Transhumanists claim that the process of outsourcing biologically based cognition onto non-biological platforms is liable to accelerate as our artificially intelligent devices get more intelligent and as we devise smarter ways of integrating computing hardware into our neurocomputational wetware. Here the convergence of nanotechnology, information technology and biotechnology is liable to be key.

Brain Computer Interfaces like the BrainGate BCI show that it is possible to directly interface computer operated systems with neural tissue, allowing tetraplegic patients to control devices such as robotic arms with their thoughts.

Transhumanists see future humans becoming ever more intimate with responsive computer systems that can extend physical functions using robotic limbs or arms well as cognitive functions such as perception or working memory.

Thus it seems quite possible that future humans or transhumans will be increasingly indistinguishable from their technology. Humans will become cyborgs or cybernetic organisms like the Borg in the TV series Star Trek with many of the functions associated with thinking, perception and even consciousness subserved by increasingly fast and subtle computing devices.

As Star Trek aficionados will be aware, the Borg do not seem to represent an attractive ideal for the humanist who values individual autonomy and reason. The Borg area technological swarm intelligence like an ant or termite colony whose individual members are slaved to goals of the Collective.

Collectively the Borg possesses great cognitive powers and considerable technical prowess though these powers emerge from the interactions of highly networked drones, each of which has its human rationality, agency and sociability violently suppressed.

However, many argue that it is nave to associate the status of the cyborg with that of dehumanized machines.

The cognitive scientist and philosopher Andy Clark has argued that the integration of technology into biology is a historical process that has defined human beings since the development of flint tools, writing and architecture. We are, in Clarks words, Natural Born Cyborgs whose mental life has always extruded into culturally constructed niches such as languages and archives:

The promise, or perhaps threatened, transition to a world of wired humans and semi-intelligent gadgets is just one more move in an ancient game. . . We are already masters at incorporating nonbiological stuff and structure deep into our physical and cognitive routines. To appreciate this is to cease to believe in any post-human future and to resist the temptation to define ourselves in brutal opposition to the very worlds in which so many of us now live, love and work (Clark 2003, 142).

If this is the case, then perhaps the wired, transhuman future that I am sketching here will still be inhabited by beings whose aspirations and values will be recognizable to humanists like Aristotle, Rousseau and Kant.

These transhuman descendants might still value autonomy, sociability and artistic expression. They will just be much better at being rational, sensitive and expressive. Perhaps, also, these skills will repose in bodies that are technologically modified by advanced biotechnologies to be healthier and far more resistant to ageing or damage than ours. But the capacities that define that humanist tradition here are not obviously dependent on a particular kind of physical form.

For this reason transhumanists believe that we should add morphological freedom the freedom of physical form to the traditional liberal rights of freedom of movement and freedom of expression. We should be free do discover new forms of embodiment e.g. new ways of integrating ourselves with cognitive technologies in order to improve on the results of traditional humanizing techniques like liberal arts education or public health legislation.

Posthumanism (SP)

As someone who shares many of the humanist values and aspirations that Ive described, Ill admit to finding the transhuman itinerary for our future attractive. Perhaps some version of it will also be an ecological and economic necessity as we assume responsibility for a planetary ecosystem populated by nine billion humans.

However, there is a catch. While the technological prospectus Ive given may result in beings that are recognizably like us: only immeasurably smarter, nicer, weller and more capable. It might produce beings that are not human at all in some salient respect.

Such technologically engendered nonhumans or posthumans may not be the kinds of beings to which humanist values apply. They may still be immeasurably smarter and more robust than we are, but also alien ways that we cannot easily understand.

I call the position according to which there might be posthumans Speculative Posthumanism to distinguish it from posthuman philosophies not directly relevant to this discussion.

The speculative posthumanist is committed to the following claim:

(SP) Descendants of current humans could cease to be human by virtue of a history of technical alteration.

Clearly, this is a very schematic statement and needs some unpacking.

For example, it does not explain what ceasing to be human could involve. If Clark and the transhumanists are right, then ceasing to be human is not just a matter of altering ones hardware or wetware. A human cyborg modified to live in hostile environments like the depths of the sea or space might look strange to us but might use a natural language whose morphology and syntax is learnable unmodified humans, value her autonomy and have characteristic human social emotions such as exclusive feelings towards other family members or amour-propre.[3] Thus many of the traits with which we pick out humans from nonhumans could well generalize beyond morphology.

Some argue that the self-shaping, reflective rationality that Kant thought distinguished humanity from animality is an obvious constituent of a human essence. An essential property of a kind is a property that no member of that kind can lack. If this is right, then losing the capacity for practical rationality by some technological process (as with the Borg) is a decisive, if unappealing, path to posthumanity.

It can be objected of course that members of the human species (very young children) lack the capacity
to exercise reflective rationality while other humans (individuals with severe mental disabilities) are not able to acquire it. Thus that it cannot be a necessary condition for humanity. Being rational might better be described as a qualification for moral personhood: where a person is simply a rational agent capable of shaping its own life and living on fair terms with other persons.

If posthumans were to qualify as moral persons by this or some other criterion we appear to have a basis for a posthuman republicanism. The fact that other beings may be differently embodied from regular humans intelligent robots, cyborgs or cognitively enhanced animals does not prevent us living with them as equals.

However, it is possible to conceive of technological alterations producing life forms or worlds so alien that they are not recognizably human lives or worlds.

In a 1993 article The Coming Technological Singularity: How to survive in the posthuman era the computer scientist Vernor Vinge argued that the invention of a technology for creating entities with greater than human intelligence would lead to the end of human dominion of the planet and the beginning of a posthuman era dominated by intelligences vastly greater than ours (Vinge 1993).

For Vinge, this point could be reached via recursive improvements in the technology. If humans or human-equivalent intelligences could use the technology to create superhuman intelligences the resultant entities could make even more intelligent entities, and so on.

Thus a technology for intelligence creation or intelligence amplification would constitute a singular point or singularity beyond which the level of mentation on this planet might increase exponentially and without limit.

The form of this technology is unimportant for Vinges argument. It could be a powerful cognitive enhancement technique, a revolution in machine intelligence or synthetic life, or some as yet unenvisaged process. The technology needs to be extendible in as much that improving it yields corresponding increases in the intelligence produced. Our only current means of producing human-equivalent intelligence is non-extendible: If we have better sex . . . it does not follow that our babies will be geniuses (Chalmers 2010: 18).

The posthuman minds that would result from this intelligence explosion could be so vast, according to Vinge, that we have no models for their transformative potential. The best we can do to grasp the significance of this transcendental event is to draw analogies with an earlier revolution in intelligence: the emergence of posthuman minds would be as much a step-change in the development of life on earth as the The rise of humankind.

Vinges singularity hypothesis the claim that intelligence-making technology would generate posthuman intelligence by recursive improvement is practically and philosophically important. If it is true and its preconditions feasible, its importance may outweigh other political and environmental concerns for these are predicated on human invariants such as biological embodiment, which may not obtain following a singularity.

However, even if a singularity is not technically possible or not imminent the Singularity Hypothesis (SH) still raises a troubling issue concerning our capacity to evaluate the long-run consequences of our technical activity in areas such as the NBIC technologies. This is because Vinges prognosis presupposes a weaker, more general claim to the effect that activity in NBIC areas or similar might generate forms of life which might be significantly alien or other to ours.

If we assume Speculative Posthumanism it seems we can adopt either of two policies towards the posthuman prospect.

Firstly, we can account for it: that is, assess the ethical implications of contributing to the creation of posthumans through our current technological activities.

Vinges scenario gives us reasons for thinking that the differences between humans and posthumans could be so great as to render accounting impossible or problematic in the cases that matter. The differences stressed in Vinges essay are cognitive: posthumans might be so much smarter than humans that we could not understand their thoughts or anticipate the transformative effects of posthuman technology. There might be other very radical differences. Posthumans might have experiences so different from ours that we cannot envisage what living a posthuman life would be like, let alone whether it would be worthwhile or worthless one. Finally, the structure of posthuman minds might be very different from our kind of subjectivity.

Moral personhood presumably has threshold cognitive and affective preconditions such as the capacity to evaluate actions, beliefs and desires (practical rationality) and a capacity for the emotions, and affiliations informing these evaluations. However, human-style practical reason might not be accessible to a being with nonsubjective phenomenology. Such an entity could be incapable of experiencing itself as a bounded individual with a life that might go better or worse for it.

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Humanism, Transhumanism and Posthumanism

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