It’s time to bet on humanity—before things get worse.
Less Human Than Human
Transhumanism is the accelerationist endpoint of liberalism.
A central tenet of transhumanism holds that humans will achieve eternal life in their merger with the machine. The human element that accedes to this merger is something like a pure, disembodied but ‘free’ cogito, the distilled essence of the Western liberal subject. Transhumanism used to be fringe, but it’s now permeated everywhere throughout culture. It is liberalism’s logical endpoint, and successor.
Liberalism tells you that you are a rational individual capable of making up your own mind about any and every issue, including your religion or spirituality (or lack thereof), your government, your gender or sex, and even the moment of your state-assisted death. You—not religious or cultural tradition—should be in control. Yet the religious impulse returns, for now you place your faith in technology—as through that leap of faith you will live forever in the machine. Once liberalism has fully deracinated all forms of life, it can no longer sustain itself; transhumanism, its accelerationist form, takes over in culture to provide a fantasy of consensus and technological “progress” leading to the “Singularity.”
Beliefs have consequences. Through the leap of faith, the transhumanist future is collapsed into the present; insofar as you believe you will merge with the machine, you act more like one today, as if to get yourself ready for the Singularity. This is a mirror-image of the devout acting in the image of God in the hope of ascending to Heaven. Transhumanists have been criticized for never coherently specifying how AI could merge with human consciousness, but perhaps, in a way, AI won’t need to, for humans will have dulled their own consciousness down to that of their simulacra.
“I’m excited to be here tonight to show you guys… I’m just so much more than that reference photo my sisters show their plastic surgeons.” –Kim Kardashian SNL monologue, October 2021
We see the results everywhere. On Instagram, everyone seeks to look identical—like Kim Kardashian, to be precise. Digital filters have been created for this purpose, but when that’s not enough doctors and aestheticians are called upon: Botox, fillers, surgery, implants. We are being taught that the human body is infinitely malleable and marketable. If you don’t like one aspect of your body, change it. Kim Kardashian’s “InstaFace” is a kind of global, exotic Sameness—it’s impossible to pin down any one culture to which it belongs. It is perfectly globalist, transhumanist, and precisely what a computer simulation would produce in transposing a bit of each culture into this seemingly perfect, Platonic ideal of a face. Given the vagaries of Big Tech, this spawns a negative spiral: as people click on InstaFaces, the algorithm prioritizes similar images, veering the culture ever more towards the vanishing point. This paves the way for eugenics writ large; soon enough everyone will be selecting for Kim’s “perfect” traits on a genetic level. Once this comes to pass, our entire evolutionary history comes to an end, and humanity with it. We will worship the AI that determines our evolutionary futures like a God, our selves reduced to sexless worker bees keeping it humming.
The ostensible goal of transhumanism is to create the “more human than human,” like the replicants of Blade Runner that “burn twice as bright”—as though a pure disembodied cogito could ever be mistaken for this. Indeed, transhumanism’s effects on our present are to make us less human, to converge us to the vanishing point of Sameness. It is a fascinating paradox that the humans at their most nominally free—free from worries of starvation and shelter, and through technology free to remake themselves—inevitably veer towards a kind of simulation of Sameness. Free to “choose,” our revealed preference is to become the monotonous globalized alpha male or female, or, if there’s truly no hope of that, the 400 pound pink-haired furry.
We used to integrate socially through our trust in one another, trusting that the words we speak would have meaning to each other, in the trace of a God that ultimately guaranteed said meaning. In other words, we made meaning through a shared—yet, because shared, crucially real—fantasy. Liberalism gradually killed off this fantasy, telling you that you are a rational island onto yourself. You can live a fully detached lifestyle, alone in your condo overlooking what remains of civilization. Of course, you endure as a social animal. You need others. Thankfully, you have fiber internet in your modern glass building; the developers thought ahead. Where once we were bound through blind trust, now we ‘connect’ through hyper-visible technologies and, more precisely, through the transhumanist ideology that animates them. We connect via technology because we no longer share experience through trust; digital consensus replaces deliberation to keep the game going.
The attempt to achieve Sameness is the logical convergence towards the vanishing point of a decaying, now-transhumanist civilization; and a desperate attempt to bolster the solidity of the system. Every InstaFace is a symptom of an order at odds with itself, anxiously trying to assert its integration with what remains of the system. A common thread of contemporary culture involves buttressing a system that is constantly on the verge of unravelling. In fashion, normcore reversed the logic of fashion; the goal was no longer to stand out, but to fit in, to assert you were part of a culture. It is to prop up the very notion of a culture against the backdrop of its disappearance. (A magazine like VICE, dedicated to hipster style and decadence, had to disappear at this same time; its logic of standing out was now outmoded.) Today, Kim is the focal point of culture, which seems absurd inasmuch as her reality shows are widely acknowledged as lacking any substance, or even content, whatsoever. They are truly shows about nothing. The “culture” that revolves around her is a culture denuded, degraded, demeaned, a transhumanist culture shorn of its humanity, of meaning. A culture without cultivation. A culture that is not cultured and cared for, but that is technologically instituted towards a technological ideal—the Singularity. Audience appeal for the Kardashians revolves around their Exceptional nothingness, their monarchic distinction. Like all monarchs, their subjects strive to become like them, but unlike previous monarchs the Kardashians are themselves striving towards a transhumanist ideal. All lines converge at the Singularity.
Transhumanist Politics and Beyond
New / Deep Right thinkers often remark that traditional conservatism is merely progressivism driving the speed limit. Such thinkers are often also proponents of accelerationism, which holds that the contradictions of the ruling ideology should be accelerated rather than contradicted. Liberalism, however, has already accelerated past itself. There is no need to argue for accelerationism when your enemy has already entered a death spiral. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears liberalism depended on conservatism to provide a cultural milieu in which the power of the free mind could situate itself in and against. Freed of this milieu—this environment of social trust preconditioned through faith—the cogito devolves into an orgy of consent. With nothing to limit it, it becomes a parody of itself—sex changes for everyone, 8 year-olds can consent to sex with adults, minors can consent to State-assisted suicide… The notion that conservatism is progressivism driving the speed limit is thus correct, but it cuts deeper: conservatism has been enabling progressivism by providing a cultural milieu for the liberal cogito to roam. Take the conservative brakes off, and liberalism accelerates all on its own towards its final form: transhumanism.
Conservatives shouldn’t get in the way of liberalism’s death rattle. Critical focus should instead be on the power structure that comes to rule in the place of (classical) liberalism: the transhumanist technocracy. Just as the disappearance of culture and its aesthetic standards leads to the seeking of the transhumanist Same, the erosion of representative liberal rule brings forth technocratic modes of governance. The last few years have been a testing ground for this globalist regime, giving it ample real-time opportunities to perfect its technocratic rule over populations. The technocracy fills in the void, and asserts its unambiguity on all issues. (It cannot handle doubt any more than HAL could in 2001: A Space Odyssey.) The technocracy does not, and cannot, operate on a level of meaning, interpretation and debate. It fills in for the disappearance of that level, and insists instead on complete consensus—synchronicity—in every moment. Like the Star Trekian Borg, everyone together simulates a hive mind, collectively assenting to the Current Thing. Tomorrow’s hive mind might contradict yesterday’s, but the contradiction is not lingered upon; it is structurally impossible to do so. (The hive mind has no more sense of time than the digital media that preconditions it.) Again, the transhumanist vision of the future is brought into the present: the hive mind is already here. Beliefs have consequences.
Our fates are not sealed. The present order is profoundly stupid and its power is entirely precarious, reiteratively secured only through forced daily affirmations of the Current Thing. This transhumanist technocracy is not sustainable, offering not nearly enough to sustain one meaningfully through life. It knows this, which is why it is rushing to decimate the middle-class and its potentiality for resistance, to criminalize any dissent that still manages to occur, and to create distractions like the metaverse to provide an alternate reality for discontented citizens to plug into. It cannot achieve the Singularity fast enough.
And that’s where its opponents will win, because it will never achieve this miraculous moment any more than the Christian subject will its Rapture. Its entire model is based on a failed vision and it is currently running up on the consequences of that failure. We are not better for striving for Sameness. And we know it. With this recognition the transhumanist technocratic regime appears in relief as an absurdly surreal enterprise. Indeed, is this recognition that preconditions the common notion that we’re living in a simulation. It really does appear like our present system was concocted by algorithms simulating how humans should live, precisely because it is deprived of the elements that define our shared humanity. But we need to go further. Don’t shrug off that apparent déjà vu of the black cat; it’s pointing to the very basis of technocratic order, and to its vanishing point of pod life (currently being spun as the “15 minute city”).
Liberated from complimenting and contextualizing liberalism, new/deep right thinking is free to consider a return to more human ways of life from the deep past, be they hunter-gatherer, bronze age, Roman, or early Christian. It is only in the confrontation with one’s own mortality that one becomes a responsible subject in the world, while (re)learning the importance of tradition. Life is messy. There is no technocratic perfection of language, government or health on the way. Rejoice in that, and take responsibility for its consequences. Dare to re-become human.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.