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The Riots in Charlottesville and the Prevention of Violence – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

The Riots in Charlottesville and the Prevention of Violence – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Note: The observations in this article are offered in a personal capacity, although I consider them to be consistent with the United States Transhumanist Party Platform, particularly Article III, Sections II and XL of our Constitution, which directly oppose many of the mentalities and ideologies of hate and intolerance that precipitated the violence in Charlottesville. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, August 31, 2017

I admire the courage of Ford Fischer, who reported the events of the Charlottesville street riots directly from the scene and obtained close-up, highly informative documentary footage regarding the tragic events that transpired. He was even a victim of collateral damage; some of the pepper spray aimed at the fascist marchers instead found its way to him.

I recommend that everyone watch his 23-minute documentary in order to have a better understanding of the facts on the ground.

My impressions, based on Mr. Fischer’s reporting, are that the entire situation was a volatile powder keg – with tempers running high and many regrettably radicalized, armed, and incensed demonstrators looking for a fight. “Who started it” was often difficult to discern in the various brawls – although clearly the murder was committed by a detestable and ruthless alt-right white supremacist. More generally, though, past a certain point, once the violence is in full swing, distinguishing between legitimate self-defense and the initiation of force becomes nearly impossible in the din and chaos (a confusion readily taken advantage of by opportunistic fanatics who relish violence).

This is why, to the extent possible, the infrastructure of society should be configured to prevent such “powder keg” situations from emerging in the first place. Once civil discourse (which could include heated but peaceful and polite debate) is replaced with the shouting of expletives and threats by lines of armed rioters, it only takes one particularly unhinged individual to commit an atrocity. Most people, I hold, are decent and inclined toward peaceful behavior; this probably included most protesters – even on the alt-right side (who probably just wanted to hear their leaders speak). However, events such as these necessarily attract the minority of persons who temperamentally crave violence – and those people, irrespective of ideology, rile up the rest until the chaos is uncontrollable. For them, ideology is epiphenomenal, and violence is an end in itself.

In the immediate moment, police should have taken a more active role in separating the demonstrators. The right of free speech, even obnoxious or heinous speech, should be protected as long as it remains speech only. However, there is no reason for “in your face” confrontations between two incensed opposing sides. Mr. Fischer noted that the police initially took a largely “hands-off” attitude with respect to brawls. This was a mistake on the police’s part; each brawl constitutes assault and battery – criminal acts. Both the protest and counter-protest might have ended peacefully had a line of police remained between the opposing sides at all times. What was interesting is that a contingent of private militiamen was also present and impartial, desiring only to keep the peace and aid those who were injured. There is a role for this kind of citizen initiative (but only to keep the peace, and only to help), and I wonder if this might be part of the solution for future events where the police fail to protect life and property.

In the long-term, though, what is required is a revival of cultural standards of decency and tolerance in discourse – the prizing of civility and the search for constructive common ground, rather than the complete denunciation and demonization of those who disagree with one’s point of view. Because of deteriorating norms of conduct and a toxic media culture that has fomented political insults as entertainment, we have reached a crisis point where too many people have become radicalized beyond the condition where they even recognize that common ground might exist. So they try to beat one another with sticks instead of beating one another in debate. But words can still work. Words can change the culture – not right away, but with enough perseverance. This will be the work of decent persons who abhor violence and desire for precious lives and infrastructure to be preserved.

Gennady Stolyarov II is Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. Find out more about Mr. Stolyarov here.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Six-Month Message and Principles of Conduct

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Six-Month Message and Principles of Conduct

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Gennady Stolyarov II


As of May 17, 2017, six months have passed since I became the second Chairman in the history of the United States Transhumanist Party. When Zoltan Istvan originally requested that I assume leadership of the Transhumanist Party from him, he did so with the expectation that I would agree to remain in the Chairman role for at least six months. Now that my first six months have elapsed, I realize that the task of building a self-sustaining organization is just beginning. From the standpoint of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s history, the initial period of my tenure has been characterized by peaceful, steady growth. The following achievements, in particular, have been notable:

In other words, we have begun to lay the groundwork for an effective political organization, but this is a task of years rather than months. At this early stage, the Transhumanist Party’s main impact will be on public opinion, rather than on the ballot box directly. To maximize that impact now, we need both more members and more activity from existing members. The vision of the Transhumanist Party as a member-driven organization holds that individual members would exercise their initiative in proposing and carrying out projects that utilize their unique talents. You can simply e-mail me to request a Delegation of Authority to undertake an endeavor on behalf of the U.S. Transhumanist Party – and, if your idea has potential, you may become a Member Delegate and affiliate your project with us. A speech, meet-up, discussion group, video, representation at a public event, or online promotion and advocacy on behalf of the Transhumanist Party would all be welcomed – as would member submissions of written works (both non-fiction and fiction), techno-positive artwork, and relevant scientific research (if you have the right to share or republish it – for instance, under a Creative Commons license). Other creative ideas for influencing public opinion and attracting new members would be welcomed as well. You are always encouraged to share our membership application form with others, and to emphasize that we offer the most cosmopolitan, inclusive, and logistically easy-to-obtain member status of any political party in the United States, and likely in the world today.

In order to highlight the unique value proposition offered by the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which renders it worthy of active support and considerable growth, I would like to identify some principles of conduct which have set us apart from other political organizations, and which will continue to distinguish the Transhumanist Party during my tenure as Chairman. (I would also like to acknowledge the input of Martin van der Kroon, our new Director of Recruitment, in suggesting and helping to frame some of these principles.)

  1. At this time, the U.S. Transhumanist Party is a non-monetary organization. As an organization, we have no assets or liabilities. All of our activities are made possible by volunteers, who use their own property and retain ownership and control of that property as individuals. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not accept donations or have any revenues or expenses as an organization. Therefore, there is no room for monetary influence by any politically connected special interest. We have effectively “taken money out of politics” – at least with respect to our own operations. Indeed, this manner of operation simulates (however imperfectly) the manner in which organizations would function in a future of technological radical abundance, which would be “post-scarcity” in the sense of basic human needs being always readily fulfillable, and which would therefore not pose the all-too-common conflicts between money and integrity that we observe in our era. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not aim to take in money; rather, our purpose is to promote ideas that could enable us personally to reach that future of radical abundance – both by living long enough to witness it and by advocating the specific technologies that will greatly augment material production. Donations should instead be directed to the researchers working to expand lifespans and develop other technologies of the future.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party resolutely opposes the downward spiral of incivility, hatred, and even occasional violence that have come to characterize politics in the United States and in some other Western countries over the past two years. We see politics as being about policy first, and are committed to focusing on constructive solutions of the pressing problems of our time – both through technology and through advocacy. We are also uniquely situated to take a longer-term view and advocate policies that could improve our lives decades and centuries from now, since we are not bound to the myopic focus which often comes with the desire to win proximate elections at all costs. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not condone ad hominem attacks or smear campaigns, including against persons with whom we disagree from a policy perspective or whose actions we may find reprehensible (although we may certainly express criticism of such specific actions, where warranted). We always aim to engage in civil discourse and to seek common ground with others where possible. However, we also always aim to remain rational and driven by facts, evidence, and logic. We may, as we deem necessary, respond to any policy or political behavior with thoughtful communication, based on the information available, and acknowledge when gaps of information exist to as to prevent definitive statements. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is committed to reason in the political arena.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party’s commitment to reason means that we value freedom of speech highly and insist on the importance of constructive criticism where warranted. We strive to avoid “flame” wars, tribal politics, or political witch hunts. We renounce political violence categorically, as it can derail our civilization and needlessly damage and destroy lives that could instead have taken a productive course and contributed to technological and societal progress. Per Article I, Section III, Operating Principle 2 of our Constitution, we will automatically disassociate ourselves from any individual engaging in such violence, threats of violence, or intentional prevention of peaceful gatherings. At the same time, we would seek for anyone – whether they agree with or dissent from our stances – to engage us in honest, good-faith, constructive dialogue about how political systems could be improved to make a future of universal radical abundance possible. Both collaboration and civil criticism – by us and of us – are welcome. We will positively acknowledge others, regardless of their political position, who engage in reasoned thought, action, and debate. We will not have internal censorship and will not attempt to project censorship outward. We seek to create not an intellectual “safe space” but rather a vehicle for discovery, problem-solving, and positive cultural transformation.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party will not chain itself to pre-existing ideological “packages” and will not espouse a dogmatic approach with regard to any such “package”. We do articulate many principles and strongly held convictions – particularly regarding the feasibility and desirability of radical technological progress – but those convictions need not prevent us from seeking common ground with individuals who may have some similar goals but may use different vocabulary to articulate them. We recognize that any person who approaches the realm of ideas with sincere intentions for constructive outcomes, would be able to generate ideas of merit. Whatever religious, non-religious, political, or philosophical labels others may associate with themselves, we will not dismiss their ideas solely in reaction to such labels. Rather, we will consider these ideas based on the merits of the arguments made. We also recognize that we are not alone in striving for a better future and acknowledge that technological innovations and medical advancement are likely to happen at an accelerating rate regardless of any influence by the U.S. Transhumanist Party. This insight should give us hope and comfort, as our contributions will not be the only ones that improve the human condition. Others who hold different views from ours may, even inadvertently, contribute to human progress in ways that we would find clearly favorable. Too many past and present organizations have fallen into the unfortunate and highly limiting trap of ideological purism. We will endeavor not to let ideological constraints prevent us from being open to positive possibilities and opportunities arising from the work of others.

If the above principles of conduct inspire you to work toward a new political ideal, then I encourage you to contribute your efforts to the Transhumanist Party and to help spread awareness of it among others. Please e-mail me if you would like to organize a project on the Transhumanist Party’s behalf, and please encourage other thoughtful persons to join us as well. No individual alone can advance humankind into its next era, but the sum of our efforts might just be able to take us there.

Sincerely,
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