Announcements

Special Issue CFP: “Marxist Tranhumanism or Transhumanist Marxism?”

Guest editors: James Steinhoff and Atle Mikkola Kjøsen

Transhumanism is defined by its proponents as an “intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities”. While this description says nothing about politics, transhumanism has been deeply pro-capital due to its popularization in the 1990s via techno-libertarian “extropianism”. Because of this, the promethean project of improving the human condition by technological means tends to be joined with, and confused for, capital accumulation. Some of the most radical transhumanist thinkers have tended to assume to continued functioning of capital amid cataclysmic socio-technological change.

While transhumanism today appears to be a capitalist project, its historical lineage can be traced back to early twentieth century socialist thinkers such as Alexander Bogdanov, J. B. S Haldane, and J. D. Bernal. Marx himself has many, what we might call “high modernist” moments in which he argues for overcoming human and natural limits, and advocates the socialized use of technology to achieve freedom from necessity for all humans. This high modernist Marx can be read as expressing a transhumanist impulse toward technologically augmenting the human condition. With a few exceptions , Marxists have shown little interest in transhumanism, other than as an object of critique.

We argue that Marxist thought should seriously engage with transhumanism in order to “decouple it from its blindly capitalist trajectory, reflect on Marx’s own high modernist tendencies, and delineate a social project to embrace or escape” (Inhuman Power, 161). Therefore we ask how a Marxist transhumanism or a transhumanist Marxism might be possible. We are interested in contributions that engage transhumanism and Marxism with one another. We are not interested in Marxist dismissals of transhumanism. That is not to say that we do not welcome Marxist critiques of transhumanism. We are, however, seeking critiques which take at least some elements of the theory and/or practice of transhumanism seriously from within a Marxist framework.

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words in length, plus a short biography, to Dr. James Steinhoff (jsteinh@uw.edu) and Dr. Atle Mikkola Kjøsen (atlemk@gmail.com) by February 29th, 2020. Please put “New Proposals special issue” in the subject line. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by March 31st, 2020.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/13UdyRvUivMKlrV7vhA0t695XUH_SJ7DkLzeVVEyHsqc/edit?usp=sharing