The Early Days of a Better Nation

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Friendly Filming

The strange story of the Israeli agents [correction: possible Israeli agents] arrested as they filmed (with apparent jubilation) the WTC burning, and the even stranger tale that unfolded of Urban Moving Systems and Israeli 'art students', has gone from being noticed almost exclusively by to the mainstream press over here in the Free World.

A lot of people have confused this story with various absurd anti-Semitic canards of the kind that give conspiracy theories a bad name, but Neil Mackay carefully does not, and is circumspect in his conclusions:

Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit? That’s a conspiracy theory too far, perhaps.

Indeed, but the strangeness of the whole story, and its dramatic quality, might lead one to expect that the US media would be all over it. Needless to say, it isn't.

More than human, me

Some time ago I was asked to be an Honorary Vice-Chair of the World Transhumanist Association. This is an organization for people who are enthusiastic about the emerging possibilities of radically improving the human condition, but who don't necessarily share the full-bore Extropian disdain for democracy, socialism, social democracy, the welfare state, etc.

Left-wingers who are interested in extropian ideas without buying into anarcho-capitalism (etc) can point to H. G. Wells, J. D. Bernal and J. B. S. Haldane as examples of proto-extropian socialists. If life-extension is ever offered on the NHS, we'll take it. (Some of us might even demand that it be on the NHS.) An amusing fictional treatment of 'extropian socialism' can be found in Eugene Byrne's novel ThiGMOO.

The WTA isn't, I hasten to add, a liberal or leftwing rival to the Extropy Institute. The whole point of it is that you can discuss nanotech and life-extension and the Singularity and so on without getting into arguments about anarcho-capitalism, or whatever. It's one thing to persuade people to take seriously the possibility that they, or their children, could live forever, or that computers might start thinking for themselves. It's quite another to ask them to rethink their entire political outlook as well. 'You were doing all right with that stuff about us all being dead and in Sim City already, but you really lost me when you started talking about privatising the pavements.'

Needless to say, since I accepted the honour I've done absolutely nothing to justify it, or my use of 'we' above (apart from writing SF novels with transhumanist themes, which is what I do anyway), but this is about to change. I've just been invited to join the Cyborg Democracy blog:

A collaborative blog for democratic transhumanists, nanosocialists, revolutionary singularitarians, non-anthropocentric personhood theorists, radical futurists, leftist extropians, bioutopians and biopunks, socialist-feminist cyborgs, transgenders, body modifiers, basic income advocates, agents of the Culture and the Cassini Division, Viridians and TechnoGaians - transmitting a sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future


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