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Source: (consider it) Thread: New political divides - does anyone recognise them?
Eutychus
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I'm trying to get a handle on a nascent French political movement which has some Christian inspiration. A friend of mine has just taken up regional responsibility with them.

One of its leaders sets aside historic left-right divisions in favour of:

quote:
"transhumanism versus bioconservatives; individual entrepreneurship versus collective intelligence; disappearing social ties versus rootedness in creative communities"
with their choice being in each case the latter of two (source).

Bioconservative, collective intelligence, creative communities as the foundation of a post-liberal society, then. What does this mean? [Help]

They also seem to set store by Emmanuel Mounier and his "personalism".

I'm no political scientist and basically unread in this field. Can anybody work out what this is all about, and/or point to any similar streams of political thought elsewhere?

[ 17. February 2018, 17:16: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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Sounds like sci-fi to me.

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Stetson
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I don't read French. From your brief translation, it sounds like it might be a European version of Communitarianism?

But who are Bioconservatives, and is this new ideology supposed to be for or against them? By the name, I'd guess Bioconservativism is conservtivism rooted in sociobiology, ie. not much point in trying to alleviate inequality because we're all genetically programmed to be either princes or paupers anyway.

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Stetson
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And the reference to "Creative Communities" sounds like an echo of Richard Florida.

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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
But who are Bioconservatives, and is this new ideology supposed to be for or against them?

A transhumanist is AIUI someone who thinks that we ought via either cybernetic or genetic means to improve the human condition. Extreme transhumanism would be plotting to upload human consciousness into indestructible robots.
Bioconservatives would be the reverse. So an extreme bioconservative probably is aghast at the idea of pacemakers and hearing aids.

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Ricardus
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I would guess at a modern rebranding of Distributism.

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
But who are Bioconservatives, and is this new ideology supposed to be for or against them?

A transhumanist is AIUI someone who thinks that we ought via either cybernetic or genetic means to improve the human condition. Extreme transhumanism would be plotting to upload human consciousness into indestructible robots.
Bioconservatives would be the reverse. So an extreme bioconservative probably is aghast at the idea of pacemakers and hearing aids.

Yes, within the context of "...vs. transhumanism", that's a more likely explanation than my sociobiological one.

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
I would guess at a modern rebranding of Distributism.

Which that article links with Christian Democracy, which in turn this article links with Communitarianism, as I mentioned earlier. And you can thrown in "One Nation Conservativism" and Red Toryism in there as well. (Plus, Social Credit, but they have a wacko monetary theory that no one else buys into.)

Basically, there have always been successive claims made by various ideologies to represent a "third way" between unfettered capitalism and stagnating socialism. Even the campaign-trail Trump with his promises to keep rust-belt factories afloat via protectionist measures had echoes of that, though he likely didn't know it.

[ 17. February 2018, 18:07: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
I don't read French. From your brief translation, it sounds like it might be a European version of Communitarianism?

Yes indeed. The leader tips his hat to the Big Society.

Communautarisme is however a dirty word in French, as it refers to tribalism, most often of Muslims, and runs counter to the "Republican Ideal" whereby there is just one community, that of the Republic.
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
I would guess at a modern rebranding of Distributism.

Yes, that sounds very much like it, very useful. And I see while composing this post that Stetson has linked this to Red Toryism.

At first blush this all seems a little idealistic (one paper by one of the leaders is entitled "the revolt of the hobbits"). The leader keeps saying things about how bad the "world" and the "system" is; when I objected that we are all in the world and that communitarianism was also a system, it didn't go down well. I wonder whether it's not a plan to cut state spending à la Big Society.

I must however admit to being drawn to some of the ideas. I'm really not sure about bioconservativism though. I picked up an opposition to surrogacy, which they tried to say they were opposing on grounds of monetization of the human body ("the system"), but with the benefit of Dead Horses experience I quickly unmasked as actually being a "natural law" standpoint, which no longer fully convinces me.

Hmm.

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Martin60
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E. baby. No. Just no. You're too damn smart for your own good. K.I.S.S. baby, K.I.S.S. It's a distraction. A.K.A. pseudointellectual, typically French connerie.

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Eutychus
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Well the wider question is if Macron has successfully blown a hole in the left/right divide, what opposition can there be?

I'm broadly happy with Macron's performance so far, and think the French need a Napoleonic leader at least right now, but I'm concerned at his concentration of power (not least how he has emptied the national assembly of its experienced politicians in one fell swoop) and the lack of alternatives. I'm trying to work out if this one has any traction.

(and how can one be too smart for one's own good? [Confused] )

[ 17. February 2018, 21:25: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Martin60
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Ooh, Enoch's Rule will apply soon enough.

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Eutychus
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According to the Interwebs, this either means that
quote:
Money is Energy. Currency = Power
or that one should
quote:
treat everyone as you want God to treat you
which might have something to do with Reciprocity, which these people seem to like.

Are you going to become less enigmatic, or are you looking to start a UK equivalent of this movement yourself?

[ETA or, apparently, something about dating in the OT. I'm sure you could use that over in Kerygmania...]

[ 17. February 2018, 21:50: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Martin60
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God is fair. What He gives in smarts He takes away in... other ways. He being a metaphor for genetics. Smarts often subvert themselves, create pareidolia of a high order or otherwise exact a very high price. Tanks theory and all that. Your strength is your weakness. You know the drill.

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Martin60
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All political lives... end in failure. Enoch Powell.

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Eutychus
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Tanks theory? [Confused]

Pareidolia? That means discerning order in randomness. Presumably at least some people have put some thinking into this movement. It's not just random. It might be a series of dog-whistles, but it's hard to know what for exactly.

And political lives are not the same thing as political thought.

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Martin60
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Yeah, can't find a reference, bin in my lexicon for years. Water levels in two linked otherwise sealed tanks. Up in one means down in another.

Pareidolia is seeing images, patterns that aren't there. Apophenia. The cleverest people I know spectacularly are prone to it. And are unable to transfer their visions. A certain RC convert used to do it here. A nasty generalization mediocrities like me like to comfort themselves with I'm sure. Funny... that looks like...

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Martin60
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The political life that will fail is Macron's. The political thought is the bollocks in the OP. That isn't actual political thought. Unless it's on a par with Lacanian analysis which I believe is on to something but is utterly beyond me.

[ 17. February 2018, 22:46: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Golden Key
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Haven't read the articles yet. But, based on the OP, sounds like some sort of artistic commune of flower children, who also have small businesses.

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Eutychus
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Well Martin it gives me exactly the same feeling I get when I try to make sense of Lacanian analysis; almost but not quite convinced this is total bullshit, tortured by the idea there might actually be something there.

(What gets me is how people can write entire books on a phrase or two of Lacan's, as though they are writing a Bible commentary; there aren't just Lacanian schools of thought, there are schools of thought about Lacanian schools of thought...our local psychology department is a hotbed of them).

Taking another look at Ricardus' link makes me think again there actually is something in this political movement's thinking, and that it very much is distributism, only these folks I met substitute "France" for "England" - there's an odd streak of nationalism there.

I'd already thought of CS Lewis when listening to these people, and Ricardus has reminded me that in That Hideous Strength, Lewis has one of the bad guys in N.I.C.E. (Curry) dismiss one of the Friends of Logres (Denniston) as having "gone quite off the rails since then with all his Distributivism [another term for distributism] and what not", implying Lewis himself thinks it's a good thing.

Certainly Lewis seems to sit close to the likes of Chesterton (mentioned in Ricardus' link) and other mid-20th century Catholics like Tolkien (cf "The Revolt of the Hobbits" [in French], mentioned upthread).

Certainly the NICE embodies the concept of transhumanism, and the end result is both prophetic and scary. But again, much as I love much of CS Lewis' thought, just as I balked at "bioconservativism" listening to these people (and found their explanations of what it was a bit disingenuous) I find myself stumbling over Lewis' strong emphasis in his works on natural law; his casual misogyny and talk of submission brings out all my worst misgivings about it.

Natural law (which I think is actually the non-political way of saying "bioconservativism") looks like it is a bulwark against all sorts of nasty dystopian developments, but on closer inspection looks (to me) rather like a way of perpetuating patriarchy and oppression - indeed, distributivists apparently look back fondly to the Middle Ages.

So, any views on distributism, any one? Fans? Critics? Is it inevitably bound up with natural law or not?

And for afters, is there any developed Christian political thought that isn't founded in some idea of natural law?

[ 18. February 2018, 06:40: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Ricardus
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[Big Grin] I was thinking of That Hideous Strength as well.

I'm sure I've seen references to bioconservatism, although not under that name, in an article recently about young French Catholics. The idea was that modern society sees nature either as an enemy to be overcome or a tool to be remodelled if it doesn't work properly, and this manifests itself on the societal level in the kind of large-scale interventions that destroy ecosystems, and on the personal level by abortion and gay adoption.

Personally I do not think it is possible to draw a coherent distinction between natural and unnatural ways for human beings to organise our own society.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus

So, any views on distributism, any one? Fans? Critics? Is it inevitably bound up with natural law or not?

Distributism is fine in theory, but seems impossible to deliver in practice. It dovetails with Schumacher's so-called Buddhist Economics - and basically calls for a political-economic system whereby people actually matter more than the bottom line. The Chestertonian concept seemed to be that individuals should be trained and equipped to be their own agents in the economy - imagine a situation where the whole country are self-employed - and any corporations only serve their interests rather than exploiting them. Thus Gilbert's quip that the problem today is not too many capitalists but too few.

Schumacher saw things a bit differently, and believed people could naturally form small economic units in local areas, thus "small is beautiful". I think the ideas of mutually and co-operation naturally flow from Chesterton and Schumacher; prioritising the small group of workers, hating the large profit hungry corporation.

In practice, the problem tends to be that corporations have economies of scale and organisation that it is hard to replicate (and compete with) on the small scale. Co-ops which are successful tend to be massive and tend not to be truly accountable. Small artisans attract a certain audience - with fancy food outlets, farmers markets and so on - but very often they're expensive and hipster.

In a very large number of real-life cases, self-employed people might hold their own tools and education but lack the ability to make much money in the economy and therefore are exploited by others.

Distributism was positioned as a better middle way between socialism (or communism) and capitalism but in practice seems to usually only amount to "wouldn't it all be nice if we were all artisans and everyone was jolly nice to each other" - and because it lacks the attention-grabbing large scale solutions of communism or The Market tends to be ignored.

[ 18. February 2018, 07:15: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Eutychus
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Ricardus, yes, absolutely, the Catholic former boss of a (very) small group of (very small) environmental engineering companies where my daughter works wrote a book very much along these lines, and I was just thinking I should send him a link to this movement!

Mr Cheesy: ah, so it isn't just so much sci-fi? [Biased] (probably my poor initial explanation didn't help).

In answer to a question of mine sort of along your lines, the argument was made (but not supported) that research had shown that smaller companies where people were better treated were actually more financially profitable.

You scratch some of my itches, notably is it actually possible for such a scheme to beat capitalism on its own terms, or should an attempt to make some form of accommodation be made?

(I was wondering how many of those involved owned Apple products [Devil] )

I'm out of time right now to respond to all the questions this has set buzzing in me. For now: how does natural law fit with all this? What is the distinction between distributist systems of Christian inspiration and the decidedly non-Christian anarchist systems such as that practiced by the ZADistes and their ilk? Is natural law foundational to this school of political thought, or is it an optional extra?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Mr Cheesy: ah, so it isn't just so much sci-fi? [Biased] (probably my poor initial explanation didn't help).

Oh that's because I didn't recognise the terms. If it had been labelled as Distributism, I'd have a better idea what it was on about.

quote:

In answer to a question of mine sort of along your lines, the argument was made (but not supported) that research had shown that smaller companies where people were better treated were actually more financially profitable.

Well I think the research is contradictory - I saw some suggesting that a very large number of the British self-employed have very low incomes. Personally I'd be surprised if there was a general truth that a certain size of business was most profitable - I think profits and losses are made everywhere.

quote:

You scratch some of my itches, notably is it actually possible for such a scheme to beat capitalism on its own terms, or should an attempt to make some form of accommodation be made?

Depends what you mean. I could bore you stupid with different examples of co-ops and how some do very well. Or we could talk about how large numbers of distributed workers in fields like IT are able to find a niche without being employees. But equally I could show you co-ops which are really struggling and individuals who cannot even earn the minimum wage as self-employed.

quote:

(I was wondering how many of those involved owned Apple products [Devil] )

Well certainly that's one sector which at least gives the image of successful small companies.

quote:

I'm out of time right now to respond to all the questions this has set buzzing in me. For now: how does natural law fit with all this? What is the distinction between distributist systems of Christian inspiration and the decidedly non-Christian anarchist systems such as that practiced by the ZADistes and their ilk? Is natural law foundational to this school of political thought, or is it an optional extra?

Well I suppose to start answering that, Chesterton and Belloc saw their developing ideas of Distributism as coming out from Catholic social teaching, and Schumacher was at very least influenced by it. And some of the most successful co-ops have developed directly from the church, such as Mondragon in Spain.

The link is a bit more tenuous in the UK. The co-ops have generally been more closely linked to non-conformist churches and labour unions rather than the Catholic church.

Without mumbling on too much now, I don't think anarchist ideas usually develop into embracing Distributism. Many anarchists are squeamish about institutions and for some I think even Distributism sounds too deliberate and organised.

Possibly also worth saying that CS Lewis was influenced by Chesterton.

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ThunderBunk

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For me, the most relevant thing about these new divides, especially the amount of ultimately fake self-employment around, is the inequality of tax treatment that comes with it. If our beloved tax overlords had anything about them, they would be destroying the wave of fake consultancy (working for their own one-person limited company) which is sweeping industries such as IT and treating these people as the employees they are, and ensuring that people who set themselves up in this way are not allowed to live on islands of fake self-sufficiency with borders that can be breached by them at will as soon as a public service is required.

To my mind, this is one of the most important emerging frontiers of the ever-evolving class war, and it is one which must be dealt with before it becomes an unbreachable bulwark of privilege.

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Martin60
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So I start wikiing all the terms and ohhhh, yeah, right. Nah. Doesn't touch Lacan. Or Islam. Or the rest of the real world, i.e. capitalism. It has nothing to say apart from the bleeding obvious (bioconservatism). What's speaking to me at the moment is the superbly empirical The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Now he IS right.

The trouble with Lacan is I don't even know what language I'm too old to learn is necessary, whereas with physics I need a masters in 'math' for a start, which will have to wait for the first decade or so after I'm dead with whatever learning capacity a glorified head gets. The language of analytical philosophy and psychology would be the key to starting with Lacan. I'll pick that up as I go along. Ask me a century after I'm dead. Better yet, teach me, walk with me then.

Macron is a thinly veiled maintainer of the status quo. I respect Hollande infinitely more. And he couldn't embrace SCIS.

Until we die, let's reach out without grasping.

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Eutychus
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Martin, sadly I'm going to go back to simply ignoring the parts of your posts that are too obscure. I sincerely wish you wouldn't leave us to join the dots so often. Sometimes I can intuitively follow you, but very often not (eg your obscure acronyms).

quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I saw some suggesting that a very large number of the British self-employed have very low incomes.

I'm a bit intrigued by what Thunderbunk said about the self-employed.

I'm self-employed, mostly happy to be so (and pay masses and masses in tax and contributions with none of the fringe benefits you get as an employee, at least here). I learned not so long ago that many Plymouth Brethren were self-employed, and that it seemed to be their way of sort of making a truce between them and The World™.
quote:
I don't think anarchist ideas usually develop into embracing Distributism.
That wasn't really what I was asking. I'm trying to work out whether bioconservatism is really foundational to distributism (and secondarily, how anarchism sees the issues of transhumanism and bioconservativism).

If these distributists are hardline bioconservatives I think I'll find it hard to be a fellow-traveller, especially if they disguise objections on the grounds of commoditisation when the real objection is on natural law grounds.

(They probably don't like the fact that Macron is a technocrat, whereas I think one needs at least a dose of technocracy in today's world - obscure the benefits of technocracy and you get the likes of "we've had enough of experts" Brexit).

Which is one thing I do want to ask Martin. Why is bioconservatism "bleeding obvious"? I'm really not sure about that either politically or theologically, or about "the natural as a moral category" as Wikipedia puts it.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
That wasn't really what I was asking. I'm trying to work out whether bioconservatism is really foundational to distributism (and secondarily, how anarchism sees the issues of transhumanism and bioconservativism).

If these distributists are hardline bioconservatives I think I'll find it hard to be a fellow-traveller, especially if they disguise objections on the grounds of commoditisation when the real objection is on natural law grounds.

I had to look up this term on wikipedia - it seems to be a "friendly" version of neo-ludditism. Assuming that is what it is, then I'd say that Chesterton had an ambiguous attitude to technology, and many of those who like the ideals of Distributism can sometimes talk as if they are luddites.

I've heard it said that the Amish are not against technology, but that they're still waiting to decide if the positives are worth the negatives.

I think this was basically Chesterton's view; he cautioned that technologies didn't always lead to benefits for individual humans. But then he often seemed to argue this in strange ways and couched in terms that seem misogynistic and paternalistic.

Less so with Schumacher, whose background was working as an economist for British Coal, an industry reliant on the best technology. But then Schumacher's ideas have often been interpreted as calling for the removal of high technology and a return to some kind of local, pristine, simple person-to-person production, uncontaminated by association with massive multinationals who reduce people's humanity and so on.

Less so again with co-ops, although they like to claim that they are businesses with values, and that might well lead to choosing human centred outcomes over technology.

I don't know what the transhuman thing means.

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Eutychus
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Transhumanism was not mentioned as such in the meeting I attended; what was mentioned was an opposition to surrogacy and dislocation of the family. I suspect this might have been a dog-whistle rather than a worked out political standpoint, nevertheless the visceral opposition to "evil technology" (as exemplified in "That Hideous Strength") seemed real, if unrealistic.

[ 18. February 2018, 17:34: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Transhumanism was not mentioned as such in the meeting I attended;

For an amusing take on transhumanism (with some truth in it) take a look at Charlie Stross' keynote from the recent 34th CCC:

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/01/dude-you-broke-the-future.html

I think he's correct in labeling some forms of it a 'christian heresy'. There's a 'Christian Transhumanist' body too:

https://www.christiantranshumanism.org/

Their blog and podcasts are occasionally interesting - though tend in parts to edge towards the post-millenial.

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mr cheesy
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Well again, Chesterton often seemed to talk as if the family unit was the only thing that mattered, which I think he got from Catholic social teaching. Part of the point about Distributism was that it maximised the economic benefits of working (by distributing the tools a man needed to make money for himself) leading to better off, stable happy families.

Quite how this is being used by contemporary religious conservatives, I couldn't say - but it would seem to be a blockage between them and anarchists, who tend to be against the patriarchy of marriage and family and all that stuff.

From what I read on wikipedia of transhumanism, this seems to be about maximising the benefits of technology (including body modifications etc) to encourage/direct optimum human evolution. Which wouldn't be something Distributism would support, I don't think, as they'd see that as a denial of humanity.

But I think we might be getting into the weeds here; exactly what the terms mean is going to depend on the way people are using them.

But I would say that I'd be surprised if Distributism could be repackaged as a political manifesto. It seems to me to be much more about "grassroots" and DIY change rather than (let's say) imposed changes via the conventional political process. I can't even really imagine what a local government run as Distributist would even look like - I suppose it would be commited to self-reliance and so on.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

From what I read on wikipedia of transhumanism, this seems to be about maximising the benefits of technology (including body modifications etc) to encourage/direct optimum human evolution. Which wouldn't be something Distributism would support, I don't think, as they'd see that as a denial of humanity.

Historically that is correct, but is a side effect of the era in which it developed (and is also the reason for the Chesterton connection, as he was in all other aspects fairly reactionary). From a transhumanist point of view, Distributism reaction against it would be a category error, purely because they would not seek to define humanity in the same way.
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mr cheesy
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Oh yes, those links remind me of a lot of stuff I've read before and which have a lot of links to neo-fascism.

The idea seems to be that we need to embrace the new tech in order to progress (and/or survive the coming collapse and/or apocalypse) - but that the majority of the sheeple will not know what to do until it is too late and so we'll need thinkers with TEDlike YouTube channels and dedicated bands of gamer and sci-fi fan followers to tell us what to do. And if we don't want to, or our democratic political systems are not up to the task, then they'll have to be turned over.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Oh yes, those links remind me of a lot of stuff I've read before and which have a lot of links to neo-fascism.

I think that's a fairly uncharitable (and relatively unhelpful) reading of those ideas, unless you want to dismiss everything labelled 'transhumanist' out of hand (see the allusions to what was considered such in the past upthread). I also don't think either of those links really dealt in the forms of elitism you claimed you diagnose.

There's a certain grappling with new/different forms of being that is needed if one doesn't end up being a fairly reactionary arsehole (as was Chesterton in his Chesterbelloc phase).

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Historically that is correct, but is a side effect of the era in which it developed (and is also the reason for the Chesterton connection, as he was in all other aspects fairly reactionary). From a transhumanist point of view, Distributism reaction against it would be a category error, purely because they would not seek to define humanity in the same way.

Mm. Well I have seen some in the hacker sphere ideolising Schumacher and pushing ideas of the future which involve using new technologies in neo-luddite ways.

Which seems contradictory, but for example I know of some people working on developing methods of genetic modification which can be used by everyone. They've often got this idea that technology is less scary if it is held outside of the existing structures and/or are accessible to everyone. So often they're really into stuff like blockchain and bitcoin.

Sort of advanced psycho steampunk.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
I think that's a fairly uncharitable (and relatively unhelpful) reading of those ideas, unless you want to dismiss everything labelled 'transhumanist' out of hand (see the allusions to what was considered such in the past upthread). I also don't think either of those links really dealt in the forms of elitism you claimed you diagnose.

Ok. Well this is what it sounds like to me.

quote:

There's a certain grappling with new/different forms of being that is needed if one doesn't end up being a fairly reactionary arsehole (as was Chesterton in his Chesterbelloc phase).

Ha. Well I'd rather talk about Chesterton, who I've read quite a lot of, than bioconservatism and transhumanism which I know much less about.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Ok. Well this is what it sounds like to me.

The first link is completely skeptical, the other is just another niche organisation pushing a fairly gradualist set of questions (unless having a blog etc discussing a set of ideas is in itself elitist), which makes the response seem knee-jerk.

Certainly on the neo/near-fascism side, 'bioconservatism' seems to be nearer the mark as many soi-disant 'bioconservatives' direct it in service of ethno-nationalism and historically traditionally gender roles (with transgenderism being seen as a terrible other).

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Quite how this is being used by contemporary religious conservatives, I couldn't say - but it would seem to be a blockage between them and anarchists, who tend to be against the patriarchy of marriage and family and all that stuff.

I agree. What I'm trying to fathom is whether it underpins distributism or not.

Social mobility seems difficult in distributism, and the preoccupation with the Middle Ages suggests some nostalgia for the Elizabethan Chain of Being, "the rich man at his castle, the poor man at his gate", which brings with it lots of unhelpful associations of patriarchy.

quote:
From what I read on wikipedia of transhumanism, this seems to be about maximising the benefits of technology (including body modifications etc) to encourage/direct optimum human evolution. Which wouldn't be something Distributism would support, I don't think, as they'd see that as a denial of humanity.
AIUI that's the exreme end. Your version sounds like it's veering into Roko's basilisk territory.

The lot I met sought to include surrogacy and issues like euthanasia, probably abortion though I didn't dare ask that one. I suspect they would see gender theory and self-determination of sexual orientation as essentially transhumanist because not according to the natural order. I can see my anarchist ZADiste friends not being too worried about those kinds of issue, but they would be very anti Monsanto, GM crops, commoditisation, technocracy, and so on.
quote:
But I would say that I'd be surprised if Distributism could be repackaged as a political manifesto. It seems to me to be much more about "grassroots" and DIY change rather than (let's say) imposed changes via the conventional political process. I can't even really imagine what a local government run as Distributist would even look like - I suppose it would be commited to self-reliance and so on.
Yes, and this is one of the things that puzzled me, since my friend has just become regional delegate with a view to them putting forward a list in the 2019 EU elections (totally tangential question, what's happening in the UK about those?).

It's one of the reasons I'm a bit suspicious of the national leader's motives (he was a former high-up in the Socialist party).

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Certainly on the neo/near-fascism side, 'bioconservatism' seems to be nearer the mark as many soi-disant 'bioconservatives' direct it in service of ethno-nationalism and historically traditionally gender roles (with transgenderism being seen as a terrible other).

Yes, because talk of "local communities" can quickly morph into local ethnic communities (immigration policy seemed to be another gaping hole in their agenda). But then again transhumanism veers off into eugenics and Nietzsche's Superman, doesn't it?

My current state of thinking is that you can't resist technological change, but you can educate people into not feeling obliged to avail themselves of it. That sounds more like a religious job than a political one, but it needs to be more than just reactionary.

[ 18. February 2018, 18:41: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Yes, because talk of "local communities" can quickly morph into local ethnic communities (immigration policy seemed to be another gaping hole in their agenda).

I'm reminded of Chesterton's novels The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Man Who Was Thursday.

quote:


But then again transhumanism veers off into eugenics and Nietzsche's Superman, doesn't it?

I don't know if the groups that I'm thinking of are transhuman, but they certainly seem to be neo-platonist at least in the sense that they imagine themselves as kinds of philosopher-kings who are destined to lead and save mankind in the near future.

But I'd also say that the groups I'm broadly describing as Distributist are far from being fascist. The groups which look to Schumacher (Schumacher college, Practical Action, the Organic movement etc) tend to be very fluffy - lots of earnest people in wooly jumpers and beards. The few that bother reading Chesterton tend to be focussed very much on tiny local activities and Catholicism. I don't see much sign that they're assembling a rebel movement to take over the government.

To me, one of the distinguishing features of fascism (if we are using the term with meaning rather than as a form of abuse) is the idea that one is prepared to use violence to gain political control to force the population to conform to your will.

I've heard people who are in this hacker subculture who believe that there is to be an imminent collapse actually say that. I don't know if that's exactly the same as the label transhumanism, but it sounds similar to me.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Yes, because talk of "local communities" can quickly morph into local ethnic communities (immigration policy seemed to be another gaping hole in their agenda). But then again transhumanism veers off into eugenics and Nietzsche's Superman, doesn't it?

Maybe. ISTM that the folk for who it does so aren't primarily interested in questions of transhumanism itself so much as some form of neo-feudalism (with technology as a possible enabler) and themselves at the top - the level of technology is somewhat immaterial to them (see Nick Land and others)

quote:

My current state of thinking is that you can't resist technological change, but you can educate people into not feeling obliged to avail themselves of it.

I think you need to go further than this - in educating those who don't avail themselves of it to live in the same society as those who do and vice versa. Certainly there's a large strain of trans-humanist thought that seems to focus on these sorts of lines.
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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'm trying to work out whether bioconservatism is really foundational to distributism

Not convinced there's any connection at all.

Distributism AIUI is the belief that ownership of the means of production - capital & land presumably - should be spread through the population. Rather than being either in the hands of a few plutocrats (arguably the end-state to which capitalism tends) or in the hands of the State (held in the name of the people).

I find Chesterton rather vague as to how this desirable state of affairs should be brought about, but it seems to involve a deliberate choice by society to eschew the efficiency gains from economies of scale. Either structuring the tax system to create diseconomies of scale, or by legislating against takeovers that would create too large a business.

To the extent that it would work at all, it seems at first sight possible to combine such laws with a highly bioconservative society in which all tampering with the human form or human genetics was outlawed. Or equally with a society where small bio-labs offer a wide range of modifications to the human genome.

Am I missing something ?

"Collective intelligence" on the other hand, sounds like a contradiction. There can be collective wisdom, where different individuals, focussing on different aspects of a situation, together make better decisions than any one person. But there's also collective stupidity...

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Natural law looks like it is a bulwark against all sorts of nasty dystopian developments, but on closer inspection looks (to me) rather like a way of perpetuating patriarchy and oppression - indeed, distributivists apparently look back fondly to the Middle Ages.

I think it can be a way of perpetuating patriarchy and heteronormativity, and indeed often is, but I don't think it need be. In fact, I'd say that the fundamental principle of natural law is that one should arrange one's ethical principles for the sake of human beings as they are, rather than human beings as your favourite theory thinks they ought to be.

I don't see anything wrong with looking back to the Middle Ages for inspiration if it's done critically.

quote:
So, any views on distributism, any one? Fans? Critics? Is it inevitably bound up with natural law or not?
I don't know enough about it as a political theory. I suspect it's utopian. But utopianism has an important role.

quote:
And for afters, is there any developed Christian political thought that isn't founded in some idea of natural law?
I should think most forms of secular political theory have a baptised version.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
In fact, I'd say that the fundamental principle of natural law is that one should arrange one's ethical principles for the sake of human beings as they are, rather than human beings as your favourite theory thinks they ought to be.

As they are now? And where they are now? (I mean, are you saying natural law can be contextualised and still be called natural law?).

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Martin60
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Sorry Eutychus. And my very thought, Macron's a technocrat. Not a democrat. And the trouble is he's not faceless, he's very personable, he's completely trumped Trump more than once.

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Enoch
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Tangent alert

Is it really possible to be a Christian thinker and not espouse some concept of Natural Law, even if you disagree with the interpretations many others place on the term and the conclusions they draw from it?

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Eutychus
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I'm waiting to see if I've understood Dafyd's meaning of the term, because if I have, it seems to me to be everything the movement I encountered didn't mean by "natural law".

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Martin60
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Any idea of natural law seems Aspy to me.

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mr cheesy
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I don't know if I'm understanding the term Natural Law correctly, but I think Distributism sees the current state of things - in particular the distribution of property and the treatment of individual people - as unbalanced and therefore against the true, proper way of things.

Many of those who still use the term Distributism are Catholic and would assert that the pervasive economic system is evidence of rebellion against God as shown by the evidence of bad thing happening to people.

But then I'm not clear how these bioconservatives define themselves. I don't know, for example, how much they consider themselves fellow travellers with Vandana Shiva - who has for a long time been resisting technological changes in India she identified as negative, calling for a return to simpler, more local solutions. I read a lot of overlap between Shiva and Chesterton, and although she's clearly not speaking from a Catholic perspective, maybe it can be said that she is operating from a form of Natural Law perspective in that she's calling for a return to the true human-focused way of things and the way that they should be.

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Eutychus
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Like many of these concepts, my idea of natural law is sketchy. It basically arises out of Ship discussions of Dead Horse homosexuality and christianity, and notably Joan Outlaw-Dwarf's definition (now over 16 years old!) here (position 3).

When I discovered these people's opposition to surrogacy (which they saw as the ultimate aim of SSM) was due to it being, in their terms, part of their "bioconservativism" and "obviously not natural", I put it to their leader that the foundation of his anti-surrogacy argument was not (as claimed) anti-commoditisation of the human body (i.e. rent-a-womb) but "natural law", with Joan's definition in mind, and was met with a resounding "yes".

I'm not sure we can get much further with this aspect of the discussion outside Dead Horses, although I wonder whether further investigation of what bioconservativism and/or natural law and the related ethics might be would have legs here.

[ 19. February 2018, 08:00: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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