August 5, 2019 – Members of the United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the transhumanist community roundly condemned the reprehensible, criminal behavior of convicted abuser Jeffrey Epstein, a man who does not represent, and has never represented, the values and principles of transhumanism or any aspect of the transhumanist philosophy, worldview, or movement.
“Jeffrey Epstein was never a participant in the transhumanist community that I know,” said Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP), whose membership comprises 1,680 individuals. “Epstein was never a member of the USTP and did not have any interactions with it. Indeed, I was not even aware of his existence prior to the recent news coverage of the scandals surrounding him. I understand, from said coverage, that Epstein was a prominent financier of many other causes – but if the leadership of the world’s largest transhumanist political organization had no knowledge of him, this is strong evidence that he was not involved in transhumanism to any significant extent. He is merely a criminal abuser and deserves his sentence. His conduct was also deeply antithetical to the transhumanist philosophy and the value that philosophy places on dramatically improving the human condition for all through reason, science, and technology. Epstein’s fate should reinforce the principle that wealth and power do not confer license to mistreat one’s fellow sapient beings, all of whose rights must be protected. The foundational values of the Transhumanist Party, as well as key documents such as the USTP Platform and Transhumanist Bill of Rights, point toward an inspiring future where the Epsteins of this world could have no sway.”
The USTP also fundamentally opposes criminal violence of all sorts as part of the Immutable Operating Principles of its Constitution. Article I, Section III, Operating Principle 2, reads, in part, that “The Transhumanist Party renounces all violence, except in self-defense against a clear, immediate act of physical aggression. In particular, the Transhumanist Party holds that violent political activism is never permissible or just. The Transhumanist Party commits to always pursuing its goals in a civil, law-abiding manner, respecting the legitimate rights of all persons. The Transhumanist Party shall not condone and shall necessarily and automatically disavow all violent criminal acts. Any person who commits a violent criminal act is automatically disassociated from the Transhumanist Party in all respects until and unless that person has made appropriate restitution or has fully undergone the appropriate penalties pursuant to applicable law.” Chairman Stolyarov remarked, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party considers the opposition to criminal violence to be so important that it has enshrined a strong condemnation of it within the portion of its Constitution which may never be changed. The criminal abuse of minors, in which Jeffrey Epstein engaged, clearly amounts to the kind of violent coercion which we condemn in the strongest terms. Perpetrators of such behavior would always become automatically disassociated from us – although Epstein was never associated with us to begin with.”
Renowned transhumanist philosopher and USTP member David Pearce remarked that “a commitment to the well-being of all sentience as enshrined in the Transhumanist Declaration (1998, 2009) is hard to reconcile with some of the traditional male primate behaviour of Jeffrey Epstein.”
All three of the candidates competing in the 2019 Electronic Primary for the USTP’s endorsement for President of the United States also strongly denounced Epstein’s behavior.
Candidate Charles Holsopple, founder and CEO of the Project 222 Human Rights Campaign, stated, “As a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, I adamantly refute Jeffrey Epstein’s connection in any way. His selfish, immoral, harmful, and grossly illegal behavior disqualifies him from belonging to any group of integrity and noble purpose. In no way is he associated with the Transhumanist Party.”
Candidate Rachel Haywire, musician, writer, and producer of the Extreme Futurist Festival held in 2011 and 2012 to showcase transhumanist arts and culture, emphasized that Epstein engaged in “appalling behavior that should never be tolerated in our community. Who cares if someone has big money and a ranch in New Mexico? If they are raping children, that is an obvious no. Transhumanists do not disregard human life. We expand it.”
Candidate Haywire further noted, “Yet transhumanism is not about people like Epstein, and his behaviors do not reflect the behaviors of a transhumanist. What transhumanism is about is transcending our limitations and creating a species in which we flourish in the future through art, culture, and visionary technology.”
Candidate Johannon Ben Zion, Chairman of the Arizona Transhumanist Party and author of The Futurist New Deal for America, observed, “We at the Transhumanist Party know what we stand for: longer life spans, better public health outcomes, and human development – a more techno-progressive and highly automated society. The association with eugenics-minded people like Jeffrey Epstein is horrid. This cannot be overstated. This is, however, a blip in the news cycle and one with which people outside of our community are not as preoccupied as I believe many of us are suggesting.”
Candidate Ben Zion expressed his view that “Still, the best approach to this kind of situation is to discuss it, salacious though it may be, not shy away from it – but rather to approach it with the appropriate explanations about how this is not true transhumanism and then describing our own views, and, more importantly, giving people some new ideas about the near-term prospects for life extension and other positive techno-futurist outcomes.”
Zoltan Istvan, who founded the USTP in 2014 and ran for office as its 2016 Presidential candidate, agreed with Ben Zion and offered the encouragement that “Transhumanists need to speak up about what their vision of transhumanism is so others and media know what it really is about.” Istvan also observed that “the transhumanism movement is vastly different than how Epstein interpreted it in 2011.”
USTP Officers echoed Istvan’s and Candidate Ben Zion’s call for discussion of the media coverage of the Epstein situation and the need to emphasize the genuine values of transhumanism. Pavel Ilin, Secretary of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, emphasized that transhumanism is not eugenics. Rather, Ilin explained that “transhumanism stands for original humanist values like the value of human life and individual freedom – and transhumanism definitely condemns any kind of violence, demeaning of human dignity, and neglecting of human rights. Also transhumanism is strongly against such terrible practices as eugenics and any sort of coercive breeding of people. Transhumanism emphasizes the ethical use of technology to improve the condition of human existence for everyone who chose any sort of improvement by free will.”
In elaborating upon what transhumanists stand for, Dinorah Delfin, the USTP Director of Admissions and Public Relations explained that the “USTP’s Officers are professionals and volunteers of various backgrounds and world-views. What we all have in common, however, is a desire, and I think the discipline, to help make the world a better place, not just for the human species, but for all sentient beings.”
Justin J. Waters, the USTP Legislative Director, noted that an application of transhumanist ideas might have prevented Epstein’s misbehavior: “Epstein was in need of moral bioenhancement. If after his 2008 conviction he was required to undergo court-ordered biohacking, i.e., involuntary chemical or surgical castration, he may have not committed his subsequent crimes.”
Many USTP members took exception to certain media outlets’ blanket associations of Jeffrey Epstein with transhumanism. Transhumanist hip-hop artist Maitreya One noted that “Transhumanism is about ending suffering, not causing it”.
USTP member Adam Perrotta called to task National Review author and long-time critic of transhumanism Wesley Smith for the unwarranted associations between Epstein and transhumanism. Smith’s article in the National Review had referred to Epstein as a “narcissistic transhumanist”.
However, Perrotta replied that “Transhumanists are horrified and sickened by Epstein, who has never been considered to be a serious transhumanist. [Cognitive psychologist and author] Steven Pinker called Epstein an intellectual imposter.” Perrotta asked, “What exactly is the problem with wanting to live a long healthy vibrant life? Transhumanists, with their commitment to rejuvenation and life extension, are advocates for the elderly. Death is not a biological program. It is the culmination of biological error.”
USTP Director of Publication Brent Reitze noted the irresponsibility of the July 31, 2019, article in The New York Times, wherein the authors stated that “Critics have likened transhumanism to a modern-day version of eugenics” – an assertion that, as Reitze noted, was “just thrown out there with no reference.” Perrotta similarly observed that “No transhumanist advocates the elimination or enslavement of individuals with diseases or disabilities (that is what eugenics is). We acknowledge and advocate for the dignity, rights, and freedom of every person.”
Perrotta expressed concern that the unwarranted association of Epstein with transhumanism in sensationalist media headlines could do real damage to the progress of life-improving technology. Contrary to Smith’s assertions, Perrotta explained that “Transhumanists do not worship science or technology. We view these things as tools that can aid humanity. We do not fear technology because it might be misused. We do fear that promising technology could banned because uninformed people get uncomfortable.” Perrotta emphasized that the essence of the transhumanist worldview needs to be accurately characterized: “Transhumanism is a benevolent philosophy that advocates the use of science and technology to better mankind and the world. Period.” USTP member Cybor Dre concurred and stated, “Transhumanism isn’t just about technology. It’s about elevating humanity and bringing the best of humanity along with us, raising our morals. It’s about being our best selves and striving for that.” Derek Leonard, owner of Transhuman Tees, agreed: “Transhumanism seeks to advance the human condition, to improve the quality of the life of people. Epstein demonstrated – by his actions – that he had no interest in such things.” Transhumanist Vyvian Looper remarked that “Transhumanists are motivated by the advancement of humanity” and that “Transhumanists are humanists at core but believe that societal benefit can be achieved through intelligent means” – aspirations that Epstein contravened repeatedly.
Other USTP members articulated that whatever Epstein might have personally thought about transhumanism – to the extent that this can even be known – should not be imputed to the transhumanist movement as a whole; rather, accountability for Epstein’s actions remains with Epstein as an individual. USTP member Daniel Yeluashvili stated, “Transhumanism is a people’s movement. As such, the actions of individuals who support it do not tarnish the morality of the ideology. We are transhumanists not because we are better than anyone else but because we value self-improvement.” USTP member David Miller noted that “The misrepresentation of good ideas to justify bad actions is as old as our species. If we are to advance as a species, it is time we began to differentiate bad actors in every ideology.” USTP member Jessica Clark observed that “All too often, subcultures attract human waste like Epstein. They use whatever power they gain to hide their intolerable behavior. It’s absolutely vital that they’re not only condemned personally, but such behavior is condemned as a whole. As a member of the Transhumanist Party, I am happy our community is taking a hardline stance against Epstein and his ilk.” USTP member Lennox Niece noted that the actions of “past mal-intentioned individuals such as Epstein should not dictate the future and face of the newer transhumanist movements. The USTP is an order of magnitude or more separated from the evils of Epstein. I have hope that the face of USTP, and other transhumanist organizations, won’t be tarnished by association with someone with whom the USTP does not associate: Epstein.”
In the wake of the overwhelming denunciations of Epstein within the transhumanist community, Chairman Stolyarov questioned the quality of the media reporting that associated Epstein with transhumanism. “This appears to be a case of certain media outlets interpreting some of Epstein’s personal idiosyncratic proclivities as somehow being transhumanist – even though such interpretation is based on a highly deficient understanding of what transhumanism actually means and stands for. Even if Epstein perceived himself to be interested in transhumanism, these media outlets have inflated any such interest massively out of proportion. This would be similar to a hypothetical situation where, if Epstein had occasionally shopped at a particular department store, the news headlines would be all about his ‘connection’ to the store – even though, as a shopper, he might not have done anything that typical shoppers would not do, and the store certainly had nothing to do with his crimes. Having bizarre personal views on genetics and the proliferation of one’s own genome is certainly not the same as adhering to the transhumanist philosophy. Unfortunately, media outlets are not always objective, and sensationalistic click-bait articles abound. While department stores are largely uncontroversial, transhumanism does have its critics. It is likely that the authors of these articles intentionally sought to add to the controversy surrounding Epstein by bringing transhumanism into the mix. What suffers from this approach is the characterization of a fundamentally benign worldview, as well as thousands of people who abhor Epstein’s behavior and stand for noble aspirations and principles of conduct. Criticism and debate regarding transhumanism are well within the realm of legitimate public discourse, but smearing good people by association is not.”
Chairman Stolyarov called for more objective and factually grounded reporting of the reprehensible behaviors of Jeffrey Epstein: “It is clear that transhumanists from all walks of life have denounced Epstein’s criminality. Media outlets need to take this into account and also to thoroughly check their statements and avoid nebulous generalizations. Any journalists who seek to learn about what transhumanists actually stand for are welcome to reach out to the U.S. Transhumanist Party as well as to various other representatives of the transhumanist community.”