Against Posthumanism: Posthumanism as the World Vision of House-Slaves

Borderless Philosophy 4:1-56 (2021)
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Abstract

One of the most influential recent developments in supposedly radical philosophy is ‘posthumanism’. This can be seen as the successor to ‘deconstructive postmodernism’. In each case, the claim of its proponents has been that cultures are oppressive by virtue of their elitism, and this elitism, fostered by the humanities, is being challenged. In each case, however, these philosophical ideas have served ruling elites by crippling opposition to their efforts to impose markets, concentrate wealth and power and treat everyone and everything as mere instruments in a way that is not only undermining democracy and threatening economic, social and political stability through growing inequality, but is crippling efforts to deal with the global ecological crisis. Philosophers, Nietzsche claimed, are physicians of culture. Why should people claiming to be philosophers, or at least aligned with philosophers, subvert their own calling? In this paper I will suggest that with the expansion of education and the rise of neoliberalism, those involved in education and research, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, have been proletarianized, and most have accepted this proletarianization. They have been reduced to a fraction of the proletariat - wage-slaves without economic security and therefore dependent on the will of others on whom they are dependent. They are not ordinary wage-slaves, however, but wage-house-slaves, having salaries rather than wages. If, as Marx argued, social being determines consciousness, posthumanism can be understood as the expression of ressentiment of these house-slaves at their condition while simultaneously serving to affirm their superiority to field-slaves while serving their masters. Their work is supported because it provides ideological cover for their masters, the new transnational managerial class or corporatocracy as they expand their power through information technology, while absolving this corporatocracy from responsibility for the consequences of their growing power. In making this claim I will argue that the real target of deconstructionists and posthumanists, although this is now seldom appreciated, has been the humanism of the New Left, a revival of the Radical Enlightenment inspired by Renaissance civic humanism and the German Renaissance.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology

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