The Techno-Corporate State and Posthumanity

“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In case anyone might think my earlier posting on “The End of the Human Race” is exaggeration and hyperbole, here’s a piece from The Observer, reprinted in today’s Guardian, that you might find sobering. In fact, if you Google up the words “end of the human race”, you will find quite a bit on the matter-at-hand. Ironically, even Mr. Fukuyama followed up his “End of History” tale with a book he entitled Our Posthuman Future, which he then followed upon with America at the Crossroads, both of which seemingly contradict the thesis that we have arrived at The End of History.

The end of the human race is practically a foregone conclusion. The problem is to interpret it properly. It would seem that the directions of that future possibility are already being charted for us whether we will have it or no. Recent events have pretty much revealed that democracy is dead — a zombie form — and that it has been replaced by the Techno-Corporate State as earlier “alarmists” like Bertram Gross, Jacques Ellul, and Arthur Selwyn Miller, amongst others, had foreseen, and that the exercise of political choice is impotent to change the juggernaut’s course. The emergence of the Techno-Corporate State and “cyborgism” are parallel developments which reflect each other and ultimately belong to a singular tendency. The situation reminds me of the words of the Psalmist pronounced against the idol worshipers (for “idolatry” is only another word for narcissism)

But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will become like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

Humanity recreating itself in the image of its machines (because men worship power) is certainly for me the ultimate in human narcissism, which may well end as an abortive development. But I recall Seth’s words about the present possibilities for the human that I cited to introduce the post “The End of the Human Race”,

“You are now poised, in your terms, upon a threshold from which the race can go many ways….” 

Well, perhaps it will go all of those ways, actualising every probability. Is it possible you may see organic, inorganic, or radically genetically modified forms of the formerly human each following its own line of development (or its own doom, being “de-selected” for fitness), with little marginalised pockets and outposts of the former biological “humanity” living in exile on the peripheries of various “civilisations”? One strand may well pursue the possibilities of enhancing (or perhaps overspecialising in) the mechano-materialistic aspects of the body towards physical automatism, while another strand will focus on enhancing the possibilities of awareness. You already see this principal bifurcation in, on the one hand, the so-called “New Age” movement or, on the other, the Cyborgian tendency promoted by Kurzweil and others under the names “Posthumanism”, “Humanity+”, or “Transhumanism”.

Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson is correct. Humanity will perish from “civilisation”. Instead of machines becoming extensions of human faculties, humans will become the extensions of the machine through the process I have been calling “ironic reversal”.

Just as the Psalmist sees.

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6 responses to “The Techno-Corporate State and Posthumanity”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    The term “techno-corporate state” appears to have been coined by Arthur Selwyn Miller, the late Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University, circa 1968. In a lengthy article in the Villanova Law Review from the Fall, 1968, Miller provides a definition and description of what he means by “techno-corporate state”. I only came across this article a couple of days ago, but you can see that 45 years ago, Miller is already anticipating what seems to have become the reality of the day, and the disturbing implications for the political, economic, and legal organisation of constitutional states — exactly the present controversy over state mass surveillance operations in conjunction with corporations (in this case, Booz Allen Hamilton).

    The article is located here: http://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1807&context=vlr . It is about 75 pages or so. Miller later expanded on the concerns here in The Modern Corporate State (1976) and in other titles.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    “Humanity recreating itself in the image of its machines (because men worship power) is certainly for me the ultimate in human narcissism.”

    AND

    “One strand may well pursue the possibilities of enhancing (or perhaps overspecialising in) the mechano-materialistic aspects of the body towards physical automatism, while another strand will focus on enhancing the possibilities of awareness.”

    Quite in-depth. It’s really sickening to see how “power” is often conceptualized, acquired or assigned, and applied among our ego-conscious species. But those luminescent “filaments” don Juan saw connected to our physical energy-body from the depths of the universe are where true power comes from in much the same way that the strength and growth of a tree come from the system of roots that extend from its trunk. Uprooting a tree will kill the plant in much the same way that man is uprooting himself by turning his attention outward in narcissistic ways. Mankind is disconnecting himself from the pure energy and wisdom of the universe and connecting himself to man-made batteries that come in flashy encasings.

    Mankind must turn his attention inward and recognize those immortal precious feelings and thoughts for what they are: our only connection to infinity and the boundless wisdom and power in the universe; methinks.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Uprooting a tree will kill the plant in much the same way that man is uprooting himself by turning his attention outward in narcissistic ways.

      I am reminded by the image of “uprooting”, after keeping abreast of the reportage on the NSA surveillance programmes, of Dick Cheney’s introducing the world to “the new normal”. Now, I think, we see the lineaments of this “new normal” along with the uprooting of the old norms and values.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        It’s like this “new normal” is a state of living in constant crisis. But, after Paris Hilton sex tape and public representative Anthony Weiner’s twitts of his manhood, I think the rest of us — at least here in the United States — have become immune to any kind of embarrassment due to any kind of data collection 🙂

        To be perfectly honest, I consider what is happening in K-12 education a much more serious threat to our future than anything that NSA can possibly do. NSA program can label and destroy a few good guys, but what is happening in the K-12 education is stupefying and sabotaging the future of the country on an industrial scale, it seems to me.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Maybe those little outposts of humanity on the periphery of “civilisation” I was suggesting are already being founded and established. Here’s an interesting article from The Guardian on “Transition Towns”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/15/transition-towns-way-forward

    • LittleBigMan says :

      The Amish are experts at this sort of living. It takes a lot of craftsmanship and persistence as it was mentioned in the article. But let’s suppose the economies of the world turned around for the much better tomorrow. I wonder what would happen then? Would everyone get caught up in the fever of making the big bucks and leave the Transition communities behind? A lot of this seems to be motivated by economics, which for me, makes its success a little dubious. I mean, the “Transition” communities could very well survive and flourish, but they will eventually end up like the cities they left behind — inheriting the same problems — if their inhabitants were/are purely motivated by economic conditions rather than by striving to achieve and maintain more equitable and cooperative co-existence with one another.

      On a side note, of the five colleagues of mine who have bought homes since the economic collapse of 2008, two bought their homes in the city and the other three bought cabins somewhere in the hills or in the forests of Northern California. Yet, the ones that bought their homes outside of the cities did so due to not having the money to purchase what they wanted within the city.

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