Charlie Stross has found an odd turn of events in Italian Politics:
…transhumanism is going to influence the next century because, unless we are very unlucky indeed, the biotechnology, nanotechnology, and telecommunications industries are going to deliver goods that combine to fundamentally change the human condition. We’ve seen the tip of the iceberg so far: news stories like this would have been fodder for an SF story twenty or thirty years ago, and this video (playing pong! Using transcranial brain interfaces!) probably still is. But don’t be deceived: we’re entering strange territory.
And what particularly exercises me is the possibility that if we can alter the parameters of the human condition, we can arbitrarily define some people as being better than others — and can make them so.
Not all transhumanists have good intentions. Earlier I went on for a while about Italy, home of the Modernist movement in art and birthplace of Fascism. Italy’s currently in the grip of a wave of racism and neofascist vigilantism, presided over by an allegedly racist media mogul with a near-monopoly on broadcast media in that country.
So it’s probably not surprising that Italy is the source of a new political meme that I hadn’t heard of before this week: overhumanism:
“Italian overhumanism is heavily influenced by the “Nouvelle Droite”, a fringe political movement that emerged from the French neofascist microcosm in the late ’70s/early ’80s, and which attempted to bring far-right ideas into the mainstream by discarding the trappings of historical Fascism in order to convey a similar message in a less unpalatable form. In common with the Nouvelle Droite, it borrows heavily from the extreme left (anti-americanism, anti-clericalism, opposition to globalisation), and has adopted neopaganism as a religious stance. While affirming the importance of science in modern life, this hybrid offspring of neofascism also maintains more traditional far-right positions such as elitism, antiegalitarianism and an interest in ethnic identity that crosses into differentialist racism.”Did you get that? The fascists have noticed transhumanism, and decided that they like it.
For those not up on Transhumanism, this may seem a little baroque. Basically, your regular H+ folk want to use biotech and cybernetics to make biotailoring a unique form of self expression. In this day-dream future, we all get to be mutants, only cooler. Sort of like the Anti-borg. All the cool toys with none of the weird laser eyes and claws (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Interresting ideas, at least. But the Overhumans want to improve themselves and those who are worthy. With force, if they don’t volunteer for Upgrade. The others well, they aren’t too specific on those ends but, words like “Genocide” probably wander into the room, though wearing some technotrousers and sparkly shirts with LED lights. Basically, the Overhumans are Cybermen. With Italian accents.
As creepy as it is that real people think like fictional villains form Doctor Who, the writer in me can’t help but stare in perverse fascination.
At the very least, I think I found the villains for my next book…