Gennady Stolyarov II
On November 17, 2016, I became the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. It was a turbulent era in American politics, although it now appears to me to have been a distinct prior epoch. The offer of Chairmanship from Zoltan Istvan came at exactly the right time. I was seriously considering emigrating from the United States, which would have been a mistake. For this role, however, an expatriate Chairman would not do; Zoltan asked me to remain for at least six months – hopefully a year – and then re-assess the situation. One does not get handed leadership of a political party often (or virtually ever), so this was a unique opportunity to make a difference in American politics in a constructive way, with instant gains in prominence, and without the distasteful maneuvering that many conventional political figures feel compelled to engage in to attain a comparable position.
It has been a year, and I am staying. I have indeed reassessed the situation, or perhaps the situation has been transformed so considerably than the already transitional interpretive framework of late 2016 can no longer adequately describe our present political reality. Whereas then the tumult seemed to have stemmed from a single source, we now inhabit a distinctly different sort of chaotic era, in which the chaos emanates from virtually all partisan factions espousing conventional political ideologies. The United States has not, despite my fears at the time, succumbed to dictatorship or totalitarianism – and, despite some ill-advised policy decisions and unfortunate increases in certain forms of intolerance and hatred (on both the right and the left), there are no waves of nativist “ethnic cleansing”; there are, thankfully and for now, no massive riots in the vast majority of cities, the vast majority of the time. Daily life proceeds in a largely peaceful, largely orderly fashion – and may that continue.
Yet the United States’ societal and cultural fabric has been torn to shreds by the climate of escalating partisan vitriol, in which being aligned with one’s “team” (be it one of the major political parties or more minor factions on the conventional left-right axis) is seen as more important than the reasoned pursuit of truth. Partisanship erodes the norms of civility and the disposition of good will with which it is important to approach discourse with others. When hyper-partisans insist that civilized discussion or even association with “the other side” is not possible (and their characterization of who comprises the “other side” becomes ever more sweeping by the day), they throw wide open the door to less genteel approaches to politics – the political violence that can claim lives, ruin infrastructure, and set back the progress of our civilization. The great immediate danger in American politics is not that squads of jack-booted enforcers will crack down on anyone who displeases their masters; it is, rather, that the increasing toxicity of prevailing political rhetoric will poison the minds and conduct of ordinary people, turning them against one another and inaugurating a low-key war of all against all, which necessarily cannot remain low-key for long. Hyper-partisanship is not, however, a grass-roots phenomenon, but has been fueled by behemoth political machines, with armies of paid political operatives, lobbyists, and “opposition research” firms honing the most effective ways to besmirch and divide people for range-of-the-moment electoral gains. Only a truly transpartisan organization, immune to the influence of this apparatus, can turn the tide against its malignancy.
The United States Transhumanist Party has stood as a bulwark against this toxic partisan tendency, inviting membership by individuals of all conventional or unconventional political beliefs, as long as they agree with our three broadly framed Core Ideals (and even sometimes if they do not), advocating for a worldwide acceleration of technological innovation and for making its products accessible to all, conducting transparent public discussions and votes using ranked-reference techniques that solve long-standing incentive problems of voters, and doing it all as a non-monetary organization, through the collaboration of volunteers and people of good will. We genuinely seek to embody and practice inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance – instead of weaponizing these terms to serve a particular preconceived political and social agenda and partisan machine. We transcend the destructive culture wars, just as we transcend so many other pointless divisions. We seek to be a microcosm of the society that will emerge after all this “sound and fury, signifying nothing” subsides, when people will come to see the toxicity as fatiguing and passé, and the task of building a new era can unfold in earnest. We need to focus on championing the advances that can benefit everyone through dramatically longer lifespans, vastly increased prosperity, and opportunities for individual self-actualization. Unlike identity politics, which focuses on what sets people apart, transhumanist politics seeks to bring all sentient entities together to forge the advances that can benefit each and all.
On the anniversary of my Chairmanship, the highlight of my day was a message from an individual who has been a member for as long as I have been Chairman. He told me that his membership in the U.S. Transhumanist Party has been one of the most important events in his life. What we do matters; it inspires people to strive for a brighter future; it coalesces a community of visionaries, achievers, innovators, and friends. Amid the tumult of the contemporary world, we preserve the transformative ambition that life can and should be better – that human existence need not be nasty, brutish, or short – that age-old problems can be solved with sufficient knowledge and ingenuity – and that the fates of our ancestors need not be our own.
We have achieved much since the U.S. Transhumanist Party was opened to membership during my tenure as Chairman. I provided an overview of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s key recent achievements in this brief video, which I prepared for the Transvision 2017 conference in Brussels.
Here, I will supplement, rather than repeat, the contents of that video presentation.
Many aspects of our Platform and processes enable the U.S. Transhumanist Party to stand out in American politics. The following are just several examples.
We are the first political party in the United States to use ranked-preference voting on its internal ballots. During the next year we will explore options for rendering this voting process even more streamlined and user-friendly. We will be searching for software that could simultaneously present all of the options and their text to voters, and automatically tabulate instant runoffs and their results, similarly to how the initial votes are tabulated today.
We are the only political party in the world – to our knowledge – which extends membership to anyone capable of forming a reasoned political opinion – including children and citizens of other countries, who may become Allied Members. Our Foreign Ambassador program specifically focuses on building connections with future-oriented thinkers in other countries and working to build transhumanism into a global, collaborative movement where ideas are exchanged and developed without regard to national boundaries.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party is one of only two political parties in the United States, along with the Green Party, that supports the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Our Platform, in Article III, Section IV, reads that “In recognition of the dire existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to sapient life on Earth – including as a result of such weapons’ accidental deployment due to system failures or human misunderstanding – the United States Transhumanist Party advocates the complete dismantlement and abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere, as rapidly as possible.” While this remains a minority political position in the United States, the abolition of nuclear weapons recently received support at the United Nations via the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. With the threat of nuclear war remaining disturbingly real, an increasing number of people and institutions are coming to recognize this dire existential risk and seek its alleviation. We welcome collaboration with any of them.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party was the first political party in the United States to suggest a universal basic income or unconditional basic income (UBI) as an option in dealing with the impacts of automation, job uncertainty, and the sub-optimalities of conventional, conditional, and cumbersome welfare systems. Now various jurisdictions are experimenting with some versions of UBI, and this concept is being actively discussed at the United Nations. We stand ready to offer our views and recommendations in this conversation – encouraging UBI systems that would preserve the core, elegant logic of an unconditional basic income available to all. Per Article III, Section XVI of our Platform, “the United States Transhumanist Party holds that all sentient entities should be the beneficiaries of an unconditional universal basic income, whereby the same minimum amount of money or other resources is provided irrespective of a sentient entity’s life circumstances, occupations, or other income sources, so as to provide a means for the basic requirements of existence and liberty to be met.” This vision, if championed consistently, can dramatically improve the life circumstances of many individuals throughout the world.
Our most important near-term objectives were recently outlined in our new, extensive FAQ document. Because of their importance, and the indication they provide regarding how the next year of the U.S. Transhumanist Party will unfold, I provide them again below.
- Grow in membership. We need to reach at least 10,000 members in order to have the widespread reach and internal, member-driven governance structures that we envision to be the most effective. You can help by joining for free and encouraging others to join by filling out our fast, simple Membership Application Form.
- Coordinate with State-level Transhumanist Parties. Various such State-level Parties exist, and some are already officially registered with their respective Secretaries of State. We have catalogued the State-level Transhumanist Parties known to us here. Work with them if you reside in a State where such a Party already exists. If such a Party does not exist, we encourage you to form one and contact us when you are contemplating doing so.
- Hold events and publish materials to influence public opinion. Ultimately, we seek to change minds to encourage widespread public advocacy of emerging technologies and a major redirection of resources toward such technologies’ funding, development, and dissemination. We encourage U.S. Transhumanist Party members to also organize their own events and submit articles for publication on our website.
- Explore running candidates at the local level. Interested candidates will likely need to officially run as independents at this time, but if they agree with key aspects of our Platform, they may receive the endorsement of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
- Gradually create the infrastructure to meet State ballot-access requirements. In almost every State, obtaining ballot access unfortunately requires at least thousands of petition signatures (hand-signed), obtained within a relatively short period of time. We need to build up a sufficient network of volunteers in every State in order for petition-gathering to be feasible. However, our emphasis on membership growth and coordination with State-level Transhumanist Parties is part of our effort to eventually get there and field candidates for State-level office.
Another unique approach that we are pursuing is our search for a candidate for the U.S. Transhumanist Party 2020 Presidential ticket. Unlike other parties, we seek to attract not the most politically ambitious, but rather the most erudite, thoughtful, and melioristic individuals to apply for the role. To this end, under the editorship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Education and Media Advisor, Newton Lee, we are compiling a book that will feature essays by leading transhumanist thinkers, Advisors, and members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. This book, tentatively titled Transhumanism: In the Image of Humans, will hopefully convey both the depth and breadth of transhumanist thought, such that at least one of the leading minds of our era might be sufficiently intrigued as to join our movement and seek to further these ideas by running a Presidential campaign based on the highest standards of discourse, conduct, and policy-oriented reasoning for the improvement of the human condition.
The tumult of our times is evidence that Robert Heinlein’s forecast of an era he termed the Crazy Years has come to pass. Charting the path from our current Crazy Years to a bright and universally uplifting transhumanist future will be no easy task, but no task is more vital. By a spectacular confluence of events, which still astounds me in retrospect, the Chairmanship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party has placed me in a unique position within this moment in history, where many radically divergent paths are possible for both humankind in general and for us as individuals. The path of amelioration and abundance of time and resources for all is still open, and the Transhumanist Party will endeavor to show the way to all those who seek the new era, and to build our civilization into a global and universal, human and transhuman cosmopolity – which should extend as far and as boundlessly as our own lives and well-being.
Will you join us in this effort? If so, becoming a member is free and easy – and the best of possible futures may be our joint reward.
Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF
Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party
Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator
Author, Death is Wrong