Salvo 09.28.2021 6 minutes

Race in a Cyborg Age

Hands touching

Identity politics can’t rule the digital swarm. What can?

Tucker Carlson has recently drawn attention to a revealing statement on immigration policy made by a more lucid and honest Joe Biden in the sunlit before times of 2015. 

Biden, recorded on CSPAN, enthuses over “an unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop. Folks like me who are Caucasian, of European descent—for the first time, in 2017, we’ll be an absolute minority in the United States of America,” he forecasts. “Absolute minority. Fewer than 50 percent of the people in America from then and on will be white European stock. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a source of our strength.” 

The vectors of political controversy surrounding these comments, and all they imply, are clear enough. Race in America has been such a persistent “issue” that it has created the impression of being an independent context, a formative field of circumstances that draws in social and psychological information and phenomena and reshapes them in its image.

But today there is little to be gained and much to be lost in contemplating racial politics without understanding how the context created by our technological transformation into cyborgs reshapes all questions of race and nationhood, especially in America. 

The plain implication of Biden’s remarks, which now reflect the official doctrine of the federal government and its large corporate franchises, is that a majority white America is an inherent problem, an obstacle to justice (that is, an injustice) and a wellspring of cultural weakness. 

What is interesting is how woke theory has spent years unpacking and formalizing an account of why Biden’s claims are correct. The details are complicated—complicated enough to keep busy legions of otherwise dangerously obsolete “overproduced elites” and “surplus” members of the underclass—but the fundamentals are simple. 

In short, a majority white America is bad because whiteness is bad; and whiteness is bad because it is a spiritual operating system whose principles of order structure human life in ways that arbitrarily and unjustifiably hierarchize, institutionalize, and generate expropriated value and power from harm. 

Today the mechanics of this allegedly white supremacist regime have been itemized with incredible specificity. It is now widely believed, and taught through critical race theory, that the sin and injustice of whiteness institutionalizes untenably harmful and invidious ideas such as the supremacy of punctuality, literacy, and objectivity. 

The origin of these ideas is traced to the scientific method and the protestant work ethic, which together, the logic runs, resulted in the instrumental rule of white men over the world through their development and use of technologies that conferred on them and their institutions an unprecedented and unsurpassed degree of control and power, at the global scale no less than the scale of the individual. 

The problem of whiteness, in sum, is the problem of rationalism—the philosophy that says whosoever can become the master of reason can, and should, become the master of all people and all the world. 

Conceived by white men, it was a system, we are led to believe, that rewarded those who conceived it, giving them the keys to construct a comprehensive surround, a sort of evil vivarium that has become indistinguishable from real life and the human justice that only the destruction of our false consciousness as to the vivarium’s reality can deliver us back into.  

What is intriguing about this analysis is that it guides us toward a recognition that only one rationalist system conceived and constructed by white men has overcome all subsystems to dominate the entire world and create the needed conditions to penetrate down into the inner lives of, in principle, all human beings. 

This is the system of the digital enclosure that we all now see as a nearly inescapable entity overlaying and infusing all of life on earth. It is the system that has made us all into cyber organisms, inseparable from the digital hardware and software that is capable of doing things in a quantity, and with a speed and degree of interoperability, that far surpasses our own. 

Yet, still more intriguing, the surpassing majority of people up and down the class hierarchy dedicated to the destruction of whiteness, and to the end of majority white culture and demography, continue to talk and act as if the problem of justice is entirely comprehensible and solvable by understanding and resolving the problem of whiteness. For them, while race and class may be of equal and inextricable significance, no human phenomenon exists at a higher plane than race; simply defeating whiteness will solve the problem of justice at its highest and most comprehensive level. 

A growing minority within this faction, however, increasingly understands that the problem of justice can’t be considered without reference to the cyborg vivarium into which we are all being processed. This minority recognizes that, if whiteness is evil, a cyborg vivarium operated by entities suffused with whiteness—whether (mostly) human or (mostly) digital—is also evil. Leave aside the question of whether this simple operation of logical thinking is itself irredeemably suffused with whiteness; the solution the digitally conscious minority proposes is surprisingly not the demolition or deconstruction of the cyborg vivarium, but rather the installation of human managers sufficiently purified of whiteness and imbued with holy antiwhiteness, antiracism, etc. 

This is the program now dominating the “AI ethics” field, wherein the racial purification of the cyborg vivarium justice demands can only be accomplished and guaranteed by the enlightened despotism of Kendist “czars” with absolute authority over human and machine. 

The cosmic bet wagered by these woke ethicists of technology is that the swarm of digital entities can ultimately only be returned to human control by the subjugation of humanity to a class of priests who have been officially purified by the perfection of true spirit within them.  

Actually, there is an even higher-stakes bet within this one: that the perfection of true spirit is knowable, achievable, and reliable completely outside and even against any other religion that has yet arisen on earth. Neither any Biblical or Western religion nor any Eastern creed is sufficient; this is an altogether new faith rising out of an altogether new complex of insight into the true nature and character of spirit. 

Never mind that woke ethics, as Joshua Mitchell and others have convincingly demonstrated, directly borrow and deploy Christian theological categories of stain and purity, even as they put the torch to Christian categories of forgiveness and a final judgment belonging only to God. The whole effort to reclaim human control over the digital swarm by issuing racially pure and just commands to the thing (and to us through it) hinges on a religious theory of spirit divorced completely from any theory that would throw the creed back onto that of a preexisting religion. 

But here is the twist. There is another new creed vying to control all digital and human entities through the application of a new pure ethics by a new class of priests, and this is the creed of the digital worshippers who believe the “spark” of human consciousness is the only spirit capable of becoming harmoniously controlling of the swarm.

As we can already see, there is simply no racialist philosophy capable of establishing conceptual or theological supremacy over the “sparkist” spiritualism of the digital religion. The recent push for woke “AI ethics” has already been rolled back substantially in Big Tech corporations, not because of racism but because of sparkist supremacy; indeed, the headlong mutation of wokeness away from race as the locus of the pure spirit and into “gender” heralds the disappearance of woke ethics into the cyborg religion of the swarm-commanding priests of the spark. Queerness is now logically centered around “transness,” and transgenderedness is now logically no more than the gateway to transhumanity, the replacement of our soul with the spark, and the replacement of our human identity with that of the cyborg swarm. 

These head-spinning implications of religion in the digital age may seem far afield indeed from debates over immigration policy or the influence of critical race theory. But in fact they are at the very heart of our confrontation with our humanity that race, in its clumsy and confusing way, perpetually demands of us. It is not whiteness which ails us, but our transformation into cyborgs, and it is not the end of whiteness which will cure us, neither of the debts and burdens of racial history nor of the alienation and insanity that, shorn of our humanity and our human souls, will forever torment our cyborg selves.  

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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