Status: 24/11/2022 06:40
In the conspiracy scene, the term transhumanism is currently experiencing a boom – not only because it integrates existing narratives into a kind of umbrella brand. However, experts see traction as limited.
This term is used by ideologues from Vladimir Putin’s environment as well as vaccination opponents, LGBTIQ enemies, technological skeptics, esotericists, religious extremists, climate change deniers or critics of capitalism. Especially in the corona denial scene, the myth of transhumanism as a global conspiracy is currently gaining ground as it seamlessly adapts to the “Great Reset” and “Great Swap” narratives.
Population reduction and mind control, genetic manipulation, gender politics, technical implants, the dictates of artificial intelligence controlled by the elite along with the decay of human values and norms – this is the dystopia that the followers of this myth conjure up. . The editor-in-chief of the right-wing populist online broadcast AUF1 even talks about the “end of humanity” triggered by the “globalists”. He specifically names Israeli author and historian Yuval Noah Harari as a “pioneer”.
The Israeli author Harari is one of the main targets of transhumanist mythologists.
an elusive term
The term transhumanism has been around for decades and has undergone a number of changes in meaning throughout its history. In principle, it describes efforts to expand the boundaries of human possibilities using technological procedures, i.e. the effort to take evolution into one’s own hands and control it. These include established technologies such as pacemakers, but also artificial intelligence or genetic manipulation – up to applications that can be attributed to eugenics.
Psychologist Sebastian Bartoschek has been dealing with conspiracy myths and the topic of transhumanism for a long time. He thinks beyond human beings, he says ARD fact finder. “These ideas are diverse and wide-ranging. However, in public discourse, especially on social media, one thing remains: transhumanists want to transcend the ‘current human being,’ so to speak.”
In the view of most transhumanists, however, this is not the case, “but it creates fear, namely the fear that one might be cast out as ‘unworthy’ or controlled by the ‘new man'”. On the one hand, it is a topic that fundamentally affects everyone, on the other hand, it is a topic that is mostly misunderstood and, moreover, causes fear. “Also, there are some vocal transhumanists who actually serve the cliche.”
Classic conspiracy structures
Political scientist Jan Rathje from the Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (CeMAS) sees a classic dualism in the instrumentalization of the term, which is the basis of all conspiracy ideologies: “It’s about artificial versus natural, which means good versus evil,” he says ARD fact finder. They build on old enemy images and modernize them. To this end, existing conflicts would be ideologically interpreted and exploited.
Google, the World Economic Forum, the LGBTQI+ movement and genetic engineers are all working to destroy humanity, according to Magneto.
Connectable in many ways
Accordingly, other social conflicts would be subordinated to this story. Social Darwinist, anti-LGBTIQ or racist ideologies would also find their place in it: modern, “unnatural” medicine against “natural” selection, “natural” gender dualism” against “unnatural diversity, “natural” ethnic differentiation against “unnatural” Integration and mixing.
“Such stories caught on among vaccination opponents,” says Rathje. Here we could connect with the myths of genetic manipulation and population reduction by vaccination, as well as the claim that vaccines contain microchips. The narrative is also compatible with orthodox religious currents: “For some people, abortion is already considered transhumanism,” says the political scientist.
Skepticism is completely justified
The heroes hardly deal with the current idea of transhumanism – or, at best, with particularly extreme representatives. There is certainly reason to critically question the ideology behind it: “Overcoming human boundaries can help eliminate or widen inequality,” explains Rathje.
The right-wing extremist magazine “Compact” also uses the narrative of transhumanism as a global conspiracy.
Image: “Compact” magazine.
Little encouragement yet
Rathje does not want to venture into prognosticating whether the myth of transhumanism will succeed in a conspiratorial environment. Although some of the protagonists would heavily advertise it in the scene – “it’s more of an internal elite discourse at the moment”. Classic topics like the supposed risks of vaccination would work even better for now.
Psychologist Bartoschek also finds it difficult to make predictions: “Conspiracy stories often merge, merge and develop further. They are often enriched with classical motifs.”
Bartoschek believes that it is conceivable that there will be a merger with child abduction stories like those spread by the QAnon movement, “according to the slogan: they are experimenting with them in view of the supposed ‘small elite.’ Reviving the UFO theme is also conceivable – because it is a special technology.
Bartoschek warns that the discourse on transhumanism needs to be taken seriously – on the one hand, because technology in this field is increasing. “On the other hand, there is not enough good communication on the part of science – this also promotes conspiracy thinking. The topic of transhumanism will definitely be of great importance to society as a whole in the coming years and decades.”