Following the public Anticipating 2040 event on October 3rd, the Transhumanist Party will be holding its first Party Day on Sunday October 4th, which will include presentations, discussion, and the formalities of our first Annual General Meeting. We will be posting a registration page for the Party Day shortly. Continue reading
[EDIT: Lots of excellent progress since this was posted, I’m very glad to report! You can keep an eye on developments at http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org] This post is on behalf of Transhumanist Party Global (TPG), the international coordinating body for all TP groups. Let’s start with the punchline: The vast majority of currently-recognised Transhumanist Party groups are on track to be dropped from the list of those officially recognised, in a little over a week. Is yours one of them? If so, would you like to do something about it? Continue reading
I felt moved to write this post after seeing an article about the futility of Transhumanists standing in elections. As it happens I have already written a chapter addressing questions of strategy for the developing Transhumanist Party, but thought I’d lay out the essentials of my vision for the Party’s future here. Continue reading
This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party, but not a dry technical report. Instead, this is the first in what I intend to be a new style of message, combining news of our activity with the bigger picture of the world situation. After all, we have not created a political party as a hobby or an exercise in vanity, but out of a deep dissatisfaction with the state of things and a thirst for change. Continue reading
EDIT: Voting by full party members is now closed. You can see our new logo above! This week we received good news: That the Transhumanist Party is now officially registered in the UK. Along with that good news, however, we were also notified that our proposed logos were not compatible with Electoral Commission rules. The “+” in “h+” contravenes a rule against ticks or crosses in UK party symbols. The issue is an interesting one, since h+ is the most common shorthand for Transhumanism. Continue reading
This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party in the UK, focussing on the question of policy. Another post on recent practical developments can be found here. Two kinds of policy I have already briefly mentioned the question of Transhumanist Party policy elsewhere (see this blog post, and this book chapter for more detailed analysis), where the bottom line was that Transhumanist Party policy in the UK is not decided by one person, unilaterally. Instead, policy is developed by the party membership as a whole, and votes to confirm official party policy are held at our Annual General Meeting. We believe that this is necessary in a modern, ethical, democratic organisation. Of course we can make educated guesses about the likely broad strokes (Universal Basic Income, more funding for science, evidence-based policy, defense of augmentation rights and so on), but the point here is that we are building a serious organisation, and if you want to help determine its platform then you should get involved now. Such slow, ethical, democratic foundation-building doesn’t make for snappy headlines, however, and despite being necessary does not really reflect the radical nature of the Transhumanist program. After all, we stand for nothing less than total transformation of the human condition and society. As it happens, there is another way of thinking about Transhumanist Party policy which goes to the heart of who we are and what we stand for. A new platform, and the last political party Traditional political processes are obsolete, at best. They are quite simply unfit for dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century. More to the point, our political systems are often corrupt, and set up with all the wrong motivational incentives. In short, the system is broken, and the need for an alternative is becoming increasingly urgent. Of course others can see that too, but Transhumanists are particularly well-placed to see the bigger historical picture: That our civilization can no longer be well managed by political parties and other systems developed in Seventeenth Century Britain. It’s high time for a new evolutionary step. Transhumanists are as a rule wary of traditional party politics, and rightly so. We look forward rather than back, and seek direct technical solutions rather than to get dragged into the more pointless rituals of contemporary society where we can help it. After all, we want to solve the big problems, not merely “play the game”. The Transhumanist Party is no different, and that’s why we should think not just in terms of specific policies decided upon at AGM, but the bigger and more revolutionary picture that they fit into. That idea, essentially the context all of our policies fit within, is to switch society over to using new tools to make its decisions and allocate its resources in the most intelligent and compassionate manner possible. To create a new platform not just in the sense of a policy platform, but also a technological platform through which all decisions which could be made directly by citizens, human experts and software, would be. Our more specific policies (and those of other parties who are on the right side of History, collaborating with us in this effort) would shape the nature of that platform. I hope that non-governmental organisations will join the effort too, both charitable and business-oriented, to help us build a powerful and uniquely modern platform for decentralised governance of the UK, and technological empowerment of its citizens. The eventual goal would be to entirely phase out the current political system, which has been a powerful engine in our civilizational development, but which has now led us to the brink of financial, ecological, and military disaster. Over time we would attempt to use Transhumanist Party influence to sanction the decentralization of government, having its functions transferred to more modern, rational institutions where appropriate. Eventually the entire traditional political class could be dismantled or at least radically transformed, and political parties abolished… including, of course, the Transhumanist Party. This desire for the Transhumanist Party to make itself and all other parties obsolete to pave the way toward a better, more rational mode of governance is why I refer to it asthe last political party. A vote for the Transhumanist Party is a vote to end pointless, circular, tribal and exploitative patterns of “governance”, and inaugurate a new political age to complement the new era of technological possibility unfolding across our culture.
This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party in the UK, focussing on practical developments. Another post on questions of policy can be found here. 1. Volunteering: Get involved! We are calling for volunteers to help get the party set up; both full party members and more general supporters can volunteer. If you would like to see the Transhumanist Party succeed, then please consider what you could do to help. Basically there are four ways you could be helpful, listed below, and if you would like to talk about any of them then please do email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Join a core departmental team TPUK is organised around six departments; Party Secretary’s Office, Treasury, PR & Campaigns, IT dept, Fundraising, Nominations & Liaison. We are currently looking for 4-6 volunteers per department, in order to spread the workload and maintain momentum. Some of these volunteer positions would involve the volunteer taking a seat on the National Executive Committee. By being a member of one of these teams you would be at the heart of party operations at the national level. Local party organisations / national network We are currently planning a two-day event on the 3rd-4th of October, in London and with online-accessible elements. The first day of the event (the “Anticipating 2040” conference) will be open to the public, and the second open to party members and special guests. The decision as to whether the second day will act as our first AGM (or whether that will follow separately, later) is due to be made on July 2nd. As we work toward that event this summer, the plan is to encourage the growth of local party networks and visit local groups as they develop. The first such group – Leeds Transhumanist Party – is now on Facebook. You could be of great assistance by joining (or in most cases, creating!) your own local TP group and letting us know about it, as soon as possible. Join the party and/or donate As always, we need both members, and resources in order to get anything done. If you are not already a member, please do consider joining. Don’t forget that you don’t need to be a UK citizen or resident to join the party, and that you can donate without joining if you prefer. We are working on a dedicated sign-up system on our own website, but for the moment have our join page being managed by the good people at Transpolitica. Get creative! If you can see another way you can help that isn’t described above, then you don’t need our permission to just go ahead and make things happen (as long as your actions don’t contravene the party constitution or generally bring the party into disrepute). If you have an idea then please do feel encouraged to run with it, or get in touch if you have any questions or concerns. 2. Navigating the TP web presence Some people have naturally been confused by the proliferation of Transhumanist Party groups, websites, and associated organisations on the internet. To a certain extent that’s a natural consequence of two dozen new national groups exploding into existence in a few short months, complicated by their relationships with various groups and forums which aren’t strictly speaking part of the Transhumanist Party. I would like to try to help make things clearer though, so here’s a very quick guide to the essentials, from a UK perspective (just a placeholder until someone can develop a more comprehensive “map” of this new movement): Transhumanist Party (Global)http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org Also known as TPG; this organisation is basically a hub, connecting the various national-level Transhumanist Party groups, plus some emerging partner organisations and affiliated initiatives. The website is a wiki, edited by movement members from around the world. The TPG site is not the domain of any one national-level group, and it does not tell any of those groups what to do. Instead, it exists to help us all stay connected and aware of each others’ progress. Transhumanist Party (TPUK)http://transhumanistparty.org.uk For historical reasons (i.e. following the example of the US party), the UK party is simply known as (the) “Transhumanist Party”. Our main website is still at a very early stage of development, and dealing with that is now one of our top priorities (volunteers needed, see above!). TPUK Facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/uk.transhumanistparty/ Our facebook group is essentially a kind of public “shop window”, where party members, supporters, and those more casually interested can discuss issues relevant to transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party. Party updates are posted in the facebook group, but you won’t see any serious planning in there. TPUK members-only email listhttp://groups.google.com/group/transhumanistpartyuk Unlike our forums and facebook group, the members-only mailing list is for – you guessed it – TPUK party members only. The list URL is given above for the convenience of members, and all new joiners are invited to the list (and can ask to join after the fact), but anyone else requesting to join will not be allowed access. Access is restricted in order to ensure a good signal:noise ratio, and a certain level of demonstrated commitment from all involved in discussion. You’ll hear more from us soon, and we look forward to hearing from you soon, too!
EDIT: The post below raised some questions, and apparently some minor misunderstandings which I would like to briefly address. If you haven’t read the post below already, I would recommend doing so before reading the note which follows at its end. The Transhumanist Party represents a new branch of the Transhumanist movement, and as such is now taking the first steps in a long journey. Here at the beginning, we have the opportunity to consider how our movement will be organised, and what kind of character we want it to develop. We have a lot to think about, and work toward. One such issue confronting us is whether to operate according to traditional managerial models (often characterised as hierarchical, sometimes accurately), or something more decentralised and agile such as Holacracy. Holacracy (see here and here for descriptions) is a recently popular form of Holarchy, which is to say a non-hierarchical,recursive organisational model structurally reminiscent of a hologram or fractal. What does that mean in plain English? Simply, that we must ask ourselves whether the Transhumanist Party should have traditional “bosses”, or a more experimental and communal style of decision making. The best answer to that question isn’t obvious. On the one hand, clear leadership, vision, and lines of responsibility are important – and that’s without even considering that certain traditional things like Party Officers are required by law in countries like the UK. On the other hand however, we do need to be flexible, resilient, innovative, and to strongly encourage grassroots initiative within the party. We can’t have a leaderless free-for-all, both as a matter of pragmatism and law, but we also cannot have micromanaging “party chiefs”, or everybody sitting back and waiting for permission or instructions. As is so often the way of things, we must find a way to strike an intelligent and practical balance. How do we balance leadership and flexibility? Here in the UK, the Transhumanist Party has settled on a solution. Basically, the party as a whole runs according to a constitution with features required by UK law and the necessities of clear leadership, but each of its six administrative departments operates as a semi-autonomous, Holacratic organisation. The first thing to note is that the party is required by law to have a traditional party constitution and Party Officers responsible for certain key functions, and we have found the development of that structure to be very useful. The constitution both makes it clear how we will fulfill our legal and financial obligations, and additionally draws the line within which activity may be legitimately considered to be on behalf of the Transhumanist Party. We have taken care to develop a constitution which balances a few simple core principles which define the party, a National Executive Committee to handle administrative matters (more on that in a moment), and a voting membership to develop party policy. This gives us a party that is well prepared against any disruption or “mission drift”, but which at the same time puts many traditional leadership decisions in the hands of its regular members rather than a small group or single leader. As innovative as this is, it still falls within the broad category of “traditional” management models. The constitution does, however, divide the party into six departments, each led by one of the Party Officers. That division of the workload is partly pragmatic, and partly required by law. Those Party Officers (along with elected members’ representatives and additional non-voting advisors) collectively form the National Executive Committee (NEC). The key thing to note here is that the six departments are effectively semi-autonomous organisations falling under the umbrella of the Transhumanist Party, each of which is required by the party constitution to maintain its own core operating document, and that’s where the possibility of Holacracy arises. That’s because Holacratic organisations avoid relying on a vague, hierarchical sense of authority, replacing it with a constitution which makes their operating procedures clear. The six departments, and “circles” The six departments are as follows: (1) Party Secretary’s office, (2) Treasury, (3) IT dept, (4) PR & Campaigns, (5) Fundraising, (6) Nominations & Liaison. At the moment these are just very small volunteer groups – single people in some cases – but we intend to make this framework the basis of all party activity as it grows and develops. Right from the outset we have been keen to encourage a high degree of grassroots initiative (“just do it!”), but are aware that all initiatives must eventually be the responsibility of one department or another, otherwise the party would be wide open to disruption by those acting in our name but who do not share our goals or values, or have our best interests at heart. The answer seems to be that each department operates as a Holacratic organisation, with its own constitution making it clear how that organisation operates. In a Holacratic organisation the emphasis is not on leaders issuing instructions, but rather on small, overlapping teams of volunteers (called “circles”) which have their members’ roles, goals, and responsibilities clearly defined. This means that volunteers know what is expected of them, but they don’t have to wait for permission or instructions to do anything. Instead they should simply get on with creatively exploring their role, secure in the knowledge that no boss will intervene unless they have broken the explicit, written rules of the circle. The closest thing each circle has to a boss is a “lead link”, which is one person tasked with ensuring a good flow of information and potential collaboration between the team and other circles, both within and between departments (not to mention other organisations outside the party). The lead link is the person within each circle who is primarily responsible for ensuring that the circle as a whole is acting in accord with the departmental constitution, just as each member of the circle is expected to operate in line with the written terms of their role. A long journey ahead From now on, the Transhumanist Party will act as a Holacratic organisation in this fashion. Each department will maintain a public constitution which presents its operating rules, recognised circles, and the volunteer roles self-determined by those circles. People will be able to see what’s going on by reading each department’s constitution, and contact circles directly to get involved. Those six public documents aren’t ready yet, but as soon as they are links will be posted here and on the Transhumanist Party website. It is our hope that by doing things this way, we will be able to maintain a strong, coherent vision and goals, and yet still have a party built out of agile, innovative networks of teams ready to face the challenges of the 21st Century. Keep watching this blog for updates, to find out how our journey progresses! EDIT: A NOTE ON CRITICISMS I’ve heard the suggestion that the organisational model proposed in this post is “pseudo-Holacratic” (which may or may not be a bad thing depending upon your view of Holacracy), and that it implies a lack of trust in volunteers. I do not believe that such criticism reveals any true problem, for the following reasons: 1. Legal realities The simple fact is that political parties must operate within the legal framework of the countries that host them. In the UK, this means that certain functions are mandated, and the resultant core structure must to some extent be centralised and hierarchical. For this reason, no legally recognised UK political party can be run as a single, entirely Holacratic organisation of the most ideal type. In my personal opinion that’s actually a good thing, but my reasoning on that count is another topic for another day. Suffice to say that my personal preference is to balance competing extremes in most situations, rather than aim for solutions that embrace one principle so utterly that they completely reject other, equally important principles. 2. True Holacracy and True Scotsmen There does appear to be some temptation for people to imagine that Holacracy is entirely non-Hierarchical, particularly in some hypothetical “pure” form. This is simply not true, since even the most avidly Holacratic enterprises invariably exist to work toward pre-existing high-level goals. Thus the a priori goal has effectively been set in a centralised manner, and it is only implementation of such goals that gets ‘farmed out’ to Holacratic circles within the organisation. Therefore, even the most “pure” form of Holacracy is effectively a kind of hybrid system rather than being entirely “flat” or “headless”. 3. Loose decentralization, not dogma It must be stressed that TPUK will not be operating according to the dogma of any external organisation, so each of the party’s departments will only be “Holacratic” in the strictest sense to the extent that they choose to be, independently. More generally, the party encourages a kind of loose decentralization in which certain high-level goals are identified in accord with the Party Constitution, but then the various departments (and the groups within them) work toward those goals as they see fit. I have chosen to characterise this loose arrangement as ‘Holacratic’, and any disagreement anyone may have with that is their business. 4. Trust and political practicalities Finally, the idea of having a Party Constitution and structure which does not offer total trust to new volunteers by default has been criticised as suggesting a state of intrinsic mistrust. It has been suggested that special mechanisms could be introduced to gauge levels of trust in certain volunteers, supporters or party members before entrusting them with the ability to change certain things within the organisation. On the face of it that sounds reasonable, but there are at least three issues to address, here. The first is that, ironically, the introduction of trust measurement only exaggerates the mistrust which some might imagine to currently exist. Secondly, it is another sad but simple political reality that activists cannot all be trusted immediately, because some of them may be hostile entryists or simply incompetent. Thirdly, we have enough safeguard against problematic behaviour within the Party Constitution itself, so any additional mechanisms are entirely up to the various departments and circles to decide upon as they see fit. In short, if something is allowed by the Constitution then people are welcome and trusted to do it. If people cannot act in accord with the Party Constitution, however, then they are simply not welcome within the party. 5. Summary The bottom line is that we have practical realities to deal with, and the model proposed above is the most effective balance of traditional pragmatism and an idealistic “grass-roots” approach to organisation. As mentioned in the post proper, other Transhumanist Parties may not choose to follow the TPUK example, and that is entirely their business. The advantages and disadvantages of the approach we are taking should become clear soon enough.
A footnote in History: The first explicitly Transhumanist candidate Political Transhumanism is beginning to coalesce, and will become a force to reckon with as accelerating technologies increasingly transform society, and people seek a new paradigm to handle the wave of disruptive change. In the past we have seen Transhumanists standing in elections, espousing futurist ideas in general (such as Natasha Vita-More and Gabriel Rothblatt), even one or two elected politicians with Transhumanist views (e.g. Giuseppe Vatinno), and of course the first person to develop and promote the Transhumanist Party idea – US Presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan. Last night we saw the latest development of this trend: The first electoral candidate to face an election on an explicitly Transhumanist platform. That person is Dr Alexander Karran. Alexander stood as an independent, albeit one with the support of the nascentTranshumanist Party in the UK. His final vote count was 56, coming second last in the constituency, which sounds underwhelming until you stop to think about what we were actually trying to achieve here, and how we went about it. We were never so much as attempting to run a serious electoral race here, and even went so far as to deliberately support a candidate in a safe seat. Instead, we wanted to make a symbolic statement of intent on behalf of a party which only began to exist in the early months of this year, and make some regular people aware of Transhumanist ideas for the positive transformation of society. Also, it was a chance for us to learn something about electoral rules and processes, which we’d had no experience of whatsoever. Frankly, the very fact that 56 people would vote for someone and something they’d never heard of, with no warning or sense of familiarity, out of simple support for our vision of a Techno-Progressive future is very encouraging indeed. Now, initial statement made (and all of our very modest goals achieved), we can begin the real work of building the party and developing serious, long-term strategy. The bigger picture: New paradigms wanted! Stepping back to look at the bigger political picture in Britain, we see a nation-wide thirst for change, and a rejection of old-fashioned political platitudes. People don’t trust politicians anymore, and they want new ideas (take a look at this post from TPUK member, Humanity+ board member and Transpolitica founder David Wood on the kinds of ideas we might offer). The short version is that there’ll be a Conservative government (although whether majority or minority remains to be seen as I write), support for the likeliest “third parties” (the Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party) disintegrated, the Scottish National Party secured a remarkable 8% of the vote, and that was at the expense of the Labour Party, who will probably have sacked their leader by the end of today. This is a remarkable result, which among other things has sadly more than decimated much (subtle, implicit, and potential) Transhumanist support in the form of Liberal Democrat MPs such as Julian Huppert. That is a shame, but the bigger picture is that people have made it clear that they want serious change and cannot stomach broken political promises. This underlines the need for the Transhumanist Party to not develop into just another traditional political party, but instead point out a different way forward for society, in which 19th Century models of governance are phased out in favour of direct technical solutions to society’s problems, where possible. It may be controversial to say so, but I think that with a full Conservative government and a recession that isn’t going anywhere (despite all the obfuscatory talk of “green shoots recovery”) there will be plenty of societal problems for people to think about solving in the coming years. It is our duty to meet those problems head-on, with a radically new and different way of thinking. For further thoughts of mine on the birth of Political Transhumanism and future strategies for the Transhumanist Party, please take a look at this chapter from the recent “Anticipating 2025” Transpolitica book. What next for the Transhumanist Party? Globally, the Transhumanist Party movement is just getting started, and the various organisations constituting it are all looking for active and enthusiastic members, so please do check out the TP (Global) website and follow the links there if you’re interested. In the UK, now that the party’s registration is in the government’s hands and the election is behind us, we are embarking on Phase 2: Our “hard launch” event and first Annual General Meeting, in late summer (date TBC). We need members and supporters, volunteers and donors, so we can build a network of teams putting together something truly special. You can watch this blog for developments as they unfold, or you can go one better and become a party member now, no matter where you live in the world! (Please note that by joining the UK Transhumanist Party you do not automatically gain membership of any other party or group within the movement). In order to celebrate the launch of this new phase, an anonymous supporter has pledged to match the next £200 received in donations, so please consider making a donation today, to help us get this ball rolling! Transhumanism needs a voice in the political arena, in order to defend our vision of the future. You can help make that happen.
Tune in: Dr Alexander Karran – independent Transhumanist candidate for the seat of Liverpool Walton in next week’s election – will be answering questions via a Google Hangout this Sunday evening, May 3rd, 7pm UK time. Now that Dr Alexander Karran’s electoral leaflets have been posted out to residents inLiverpool Walton, he has naturally been fielding questions about Transhumanist policies. People want to know what the Transhumanist position is on every conceivable issue. Alexander is standing as an independent electoral candidate (albeit one with the support of the Transhumanist Party), and so has been careful to draw a distinction between his own views and those integral to Transhumanism, but this does naturally lead us to think about future Transhumanist Party policy. About what we should or shouldn’t (must and cannot) have policies about, and what exactly our policies should be. We already know that Transhumanist Party policy will naturally differ from nation to nation, thanks to differences in law and sentiment on the one hand, and different ways of doing things in the different Party organisations on the other. As if that didn’t make predicting policy tricky enough, we should note that the Transhumanist Party in the UK (at least, so far) has made a point of inverting the traditional political model and saying that its policies will be determined by all members, rather than just the leadership. In other words, as long as certain basic principles (enshrined in the Party Constitution) are adhered to, then policy will be determined by those with the gumption to join the Party and get involved! The flip-side to this, of course, is that non-members have no say whatsoever in Party policy. We are not going to be held back by “armchair critics”. Other Transhumanist Parties may choose to not follow the same model in future, but it has been established that citizens of any nation may join the UK party if they want, and so anyone who agrees with our principles can help develop our policies. Those policies are voted on at our Annual General Meetings, the first of which will double as a launch event (both online and in London) and is being planned for summer 2015. Generally speaking we want to encourage members to take the initiative by working up policy proposals themselves, volunteering to do the many things that clearly need to be done, and the AGM is a chance for everyone to come together and synchronise their efforts. To see that we are not just active individuals but a movement, together. So, Alexander Karran has suggested a way forward for Transhumanism in Liverpool, and you can have a say in Transhumanist Party policy in the UK and around the world. You just have to join the Party, meet other members, and look for ways that we can work together to move things forward. Tune in: Dr Alexander Karran – independent Transhumanist candidate for the seat of Liverpool Walton in next week’s election – will be answering questions via a Google Hangout this Sunday evening, May 3rd, 7pm UK time.