A Guide, Resource, and Repository of Could-have-been Ideologies for your Alternate History

IMO, that is the great folly of the transhumanists and, more broadly, of techno-utopians throughout history. They understood correctly that old ways of life would be rendered obsolete by new technology, but they never put much thought into what kinds of societies those systems would actually produce, instead assuming that it would just naturally lead to more freedom for people like them. In the case of the transhumanists, I find it odd that a small but vocal contingent of them is often quite hostile to LGBT rights, especially transgender rights, given that the technologies they embrace often flow naturally into transgender ideas about how your biological sex doesn't represent who you really are. The neoreactionary movement, specifically, was born from techno-libertarians on LessWrong, some of whom concluded that transhumanism could be used to reestablish their idealized feudalistic, hierarchical world and the traditional social mores that went with it, with a race of genetically-modified supermen serving as the new lords and kings. (Some cultural reactionaries, on the other hand, have recognized how transhumanism could fundamentally change society in ways they wouldn't like, and have taken a very Luddite approach to these technologies for this reason. Such arguments were made on Laura Ingraham's show, for instance, back in March.)

Hacker culture had the same mistake in failing to recognize how the internet would be abused for propaganda purposes, but that's a different subject.
I think transhumanists are damn fools.

Transhumanism might solve some problems, but it could create new ones.
 
Plot twist: The AIs are so disgusted with humanity that they build rockets and simply leave Earth to go build a better world without these hopeless meatbag throwbacks.
 
Benthamite Utilitarianism - Indicus
Benthamite Utilitarianism


Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) has much renown as a philosopher. He believed in utilitarianism, or that enhancing pleasure should be the bedrock of society and the highest principles. He was also a firm believer in a civil code to the extent that he created the term "codification" (in eighteenth-century Britain, too), and was a firm believer in clear and obvious law, although how that's supposed to mesh with his convoluted and jargon-filled draft proposals is beyond me. He believed that lawyers were a parasitic class and wished to eliminate them by making the law clear and obvious. He also attacked law made by judges as "dog law", comparing them to how a dog's owner teaches a dog to follow its "laws" by punishing them for violating them. Another major sticking point of his was opposition to legal fictions - most notably, he attacked the idea of natural law in the American Revolution as "nonsense upon stilts". When France ratified its own Declaration of Rights of Man, he attacked that similarly. He was a firm believer in laissez-faire and small government, and initially at least, he believed in enlightened absolutism to enact his agenda. However, oddly enough, he admired the United States and its classical republican ideals in the nineteenth century, placing him in the odd position of liking the US in practice but not in theory. Nevertheless, this didn't stop him from requesting the US abolish its upper house and implement a civil code, both of which have failed.

However, after a brief turn to reaction during the French Revolution, he became radical, affected in particular by the rejection of his panopticon (a jail cell constructed so that any prisoners could monitored at any time without knowing it), and in 1808 with the influence of James Mill he proclaimed himself a radical. Here, his agenda changes. He believed in a highly efficient government and one extremely close to the people - this was so that it could give pleasure to the greatest fraction of people. He also believed in near-universal suffrage of all literate people, and he wasn't necessarily opposed to female suffrage either. The culmination of his beliefs comes in the form of the Constitutional Code, a document published posthumously and unfinished. It consists of an "omnicompetent" legislature (in contrast to the theories of separation and balance of powers in the air - Bentham believed that a proactive public would be sufficient to prevent this from turning into dictatorship) headed by an executive headed by a Prime Minister, although the resemblance to modern Britain is muted when considering its annual elections of its parliament, the fact that it had to sit for six days a week (excepting holidays), the fact that the Prime Minister resembles a South Africa-style president in character, or its lack of a House of Lords or monarchy. Bentham ignored his belief in laissez-faire and small government (justifying this with his belief in utility) in favour of a large bureaucracy including such officials as a health minister (in the early nineteenth century!). At the lower level, its electoral districts were to double as subdivisions, consisting of this entire government in miniature with the prefix "sub-" to denote its subsidiary character to the national government, and this was to continue to the local level, consisting of administration by a Local Headman in combination with an administrative Local Registrar. The Constitutional Code is far more detailed than that, but that's the generalities.

Another odd proposal of his was his National Charity Company, a state company in charge of the workhouse system. This company was to be much like the EIC, owned by stockholders. Workhouses - government-run factories which also provided shelter to "inmates" that work there - were Britain's main welfare system. Bentham proposed including a "less eligible" qualification which would only allow those who would be more destitute without the workhouse than with it to work in them, and he proposed cutting all welfare which did not include joining the workhouse as an "inmate". He believed in designing workhouses like his panopticon model I've shown above, and he believed they would give the poor a nice home to live in while also contributing to society.

In many ways, Jeremy Bentham provided much of the intellectual bedrock for British radicals, with notable radical campaigner Francis Place being a staunch adherent of his principles. His ideas travelled to the political elite - numerous Whigs like Romilly and Brougham at one time or another supported civil law, and ultimately Britain codified numerous laws in the form of statute consolidation. In British India, codification proved much more successful, and the Indian Penal Code is an example of British codification in action. Reform of the welfare system did occur in the form of the New Poor Law of 1834, though it did not include being run by a company. This turned out pretty bad, to cut a long story short - workhouses proved little more than prisons that only allowed the destitute in and treated their "inmates" badly and gave them little care. Britain has been affected by his ideology, but not entirely of course, and this occurred later than Bentham's death.

As individualist bad guys: In practice, the general centralization of power in the hands of a single legislature results in an elite of wealth and companies taking hold of the whole administrative apparatus of the nation and giving shares of the National Charity Company to its own members, serving to further enhance their bottom lines. This government cares little about rights and equality, instead disposing of them with impunity in the name of "utility". Workhouses work the poor to their breaking point, forcing them to create goods sold on the market and profits given to shareholders of the Company (the elite). Being built with panopticon architecture, governors of the workhouses tend to use them to keep track of inmates and use this to crush dissent to their authorities This model is exported to the colonies, where similar systems exist. Resource colonies tend to be treated much worse than OTL with their inhabitants treated less like people and more like resources, all in the name of utility. While laws have been codified this has done little to provide clarity as they have been written with Benthamite jargon and convolution, allowing elite-controlled courts to interpret as freely as they desire.

As collectivist bad guys: The emphasis on elections with small intervals results in a government run by the people, but with no restrictions on its power. The result is a government which constantly flip-flops between a variety of personalities and demagogues who use profits from the National Charity Company to fund their supporters. The Company, allied with government, crowds all other competitors out of business, in effect becoming the one company in control of all production and employing most of the people. Otherwise, similar to above.

As neutrals: The immense power of the national legislature is muted by the power of the subdivisional legislatures, while the year-long interval (too short for real business) between elections is amended somehow. The National Charity Company exists but is well-regulated by the government, creating a workhouse system much like OTL's. While a civil code is implemented, it's not as convoluted or shaped by jargon as Bentham's drafts, creating a usable civil code.

As individualist good guys: Government uses its immense power to crush monopolies and doesn't really abuse it as a result of strong public opinion. The highly democratic character of the government serves to make it more responsible to the people than most countries in the nineteenth century. The initial year-long interval between elections is amended on the basis of it being too small for real parliamentary business to occur, while the National Charity Company is effectively run by the government and shares serve more to raise funds for the workhouse system than they do to own the company. Otherwise the National Charity Company is just an ordinary company. While government doesn't believe in natural rights, it nonetheless believes that human rights are justified by common utility and so uses them. The government has a well-written and model civil code, even if it's not quite as clear and lawyer-eliminating as Bentham unrealistically desired. Britain's colonial empire is smaller than OTL, with many of ones annexed for the sake of empire not occurring and instead being a lightly-ruled business-based venture, with Britain ultimately exporting its institutions to the colonies as there is little utility in mistreating them.

As collectivist good guys: Highly responsible to the people thanks to the democratic character of its government, government uses its power to enrich the people and break the power of any elites that attempt to emerge. The National Charity Company acts as an anti-unemployment program, allowing any unemployed citizen to get a job and make a wage, with elements like referring to employees as "inmates" removed and employees are allowed to live off-site, allowing any member of society to have a job. It tends to have high benefits and is a quite nice jobs, forcing competitors to adjust themselves to entice employees to work for them. Otherwise, similar to above.
 
IMO, that is the great folly of the transhumanists and, more broadly, of techno-utopians throughout history. They understood correctly that old ways of life would be rendered obsolete by new technology, but they never put much thought into what kinds of societies those systems would actually produce, instead assuming that it would just naturally lead to more freedom for people like them. In the case of the transhumanists, I find it odd that a small but vocal contingent of them is often quite hostile to LGBT rights, especially transgender rights, given that the technologies they embrace often flow naturally into transgender ideas about how your biological sex doesn't represent who you really are. The neoreactionary movement, specifically, was born from techno-libertarians on LessWrong, some of whom concluded that transhumanism could be used to reestablish their idealized feudalistic, hierarchical world and the traditional social mores that went with it, with a race of genetically-modified supermen serving as the new lords and kings. (Some cultural reactionaries, on the other hand, have recognized how transhumanism could fundamentally change society in ways they wouldn't like, and have taken a very Luddite approach to these technologies for this reason. Such arguments were made on Laura Ingraham's show, for instance, back in March.)

Hacker culture had the same mistake in failing to recognize how the internet would be abused for propaganda purposes, but that's a different subject.
It's so amazing to think that just a decade ago 4chan was dominated was politically dominated annonymous/hacktivist brand anarchists actively trolling the KKK and neonazis for fun. I wonder how many are spinning as they look at the state of the website they once called home and how many looked into the darkness for too long, minds fried as they turned into shadowy parodies of what they tried to troll.
 
Darn millenials, thinking Stalin is Genghis Khan's reincarnation!
Weirdly, it was just after his time.
Supposedly Indigo children could only be born in the 70s. 90s was when crystal children could be born iirc, and 2010s are rainbow children. There is unfortunately more woo than ever, some people believing that the aura is a genetic trait and that the only crystal children were born of rainbow parents and likewise rainbow children were born of indigo parents.

Every time I think about it, I can't help but imagine a sci-fi dystopia where the superiority of your aura defines your caste, preferably written by Douglas Adams to capture the absurdity.

Edit - What on earth? I quoted in an entirely different thread
 
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@Indicus
At first I thought this was going to be yet another doomed attempt to construct a coherent ideology off of philosophical utilitarianism alone. I did not know of the existence of Bentham's practical political proposals, you've done a great job unearthing them and rendering them fit for service as an alternate ideology.
 
Weirdly, it was just after his time.
Supposedly Indigo children could only be born in the 70s. 90s was when crystal children could be born iirc, and 2010s are rainbow children. There is unfortunately more woo than ever, some people believing that the aura is a genetic trait and that the only crystal children were born of rainbow parents and likewise rainbow children were born of indigo parents.

Every time I think about it, I can't help but imagine a sci-fi dystopia where the superiority of your aura defines your caste, preferably written by Douglas Adams to capture the absurdity.

Edit - What on earth? I quoted in an entirely different thread
Now what would a Stalin-Genghis merger's aura be?
 
I think I'll do an entry on the Russian nihilist movement and how a nation built on nihilistic principles would actually function.
It was literally just an Anarchist movement with nihilism as a philosophical underpinning, I don't really see how it would be any different from other hypothetical Anarchist 'nations'. Also, I don't think they ever put out any literature explaining their post-revolution plans so I get the impression that what you'll put out isn't so much "what a successful Russian nihilist movement planned to do" as it is "this is what I think a Nihilist country would be like" - and while that kind of approach isn't new, its not how I prefer to do things.
 
Nihilistic Socialism - Kerguelen
Nihilistic Socialism



‎"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos...”

What is Nihilism?


The nihilism in this entry is centered on a Russian breed of anti-government activism that wholly rejected the policies of Imperial Russia. As time went on, the movement began to speak against the authorities that ruled them, the government, the Church and the Tsar. Secret societies popped up all across Russia composed of indebted lawyers, resentful students, and zealous philosophers. After the government began to crack down on nihilist counterculture, the movement soon united under the idea that a revolution must happen no matter the cost. This led to a decade long era of political terrorism which resulted in multiple protests, bombings, revolts, and the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.

What made them different from your everyday anarchist was their belief that norms and restrictions brought upon by society assisted in the oppression of human freedom. Like many other ideologies, it has gone through multiple interpretations by multiple philosophers from multiple groups, so we’ll try to generalize it as best as we can. Mikhail Bakunin, an anarchist activist believed that the nihilist movement contradicted the principles of anarchism. The main principle being that man should respect the liberty and humanity of his fellow man. The nihilists, on the other hand, had other notions. A common cry by nihilists was to proclaim their "hate of a great and holy hatred" regarding authority and aesthetics. Another key difference between nihilist and anarchist philosophies was utilitarianism, the belief that a society's main purpose is to maximize the happiness of its people. To create a society that will cater to the needs of the people, civilization must be rebuilt from within by any means necessary.

Nihilists made utilitarianism a key feature of their philosophy, but how they interpreted it differed. Some students believed that uninhibited hedonism would be the path towards maximum pleasure. Others practiced asceticism and abstained from sensual pleasures in their quests to rebuild their minds. Revolutionaries such as Nikolay Chernyshevsky spread nihilism amongst the peasantry to intertwine the ideas of nihilism and revolutionary socialism. Chernyshevsky believed that Obshchinas, rural peasant communities should serve as a blueprint for a revolutionary Russia. He believed that these communities managed to prosper thanks to policies such as communal ownership and democratic governance. Soon, he would be praised by all sorts of people, from Marx, to Lenin, to (possibly) Ayn Rand. But none of them would be more affected than Sergey Nechayev, the fellow whose picture can be found above.

Nechayev believed that the greatest obstacle preventing a utilitarian society was the inherent wants, conventions, and morals imbued in human nature. By studying the work of Machiavelli, he concluded that ruthless immorality was what allowed for total control of Russia by the church and the state. By that logic, the destruction of the Empire could only be achieved by a revolution led by an even more ruthlessly immoral leader. A revolutionary himself would need to become a truly dedicated man, rejecting mortal pleasures, ties to loved ones, and his old moral code. This was all done their minds would be consumed by one thought, the revolution. So basically, think them of Jedis that really, really hate the government.

Nechayev married the ideas of Blanquism and Chernyshevsky’s writings, believing that a group of highly organized conspirators would be the ones to bring about the revolution. After infiltrating all levels of the government, from the army, to the law, to the bourgeoisie, they would lead the common people towards revolution and overthrow the said government. The revolution would be brought about by any means necessary, including violence and terrorism. After the fall of the old order, a Committee would be chosen to rebuild the nation, oversee workers councils, and abolish private property. Women would be given the freedom of mobility and the Obshchina would become the model of a new Russia. People would live in communal dormitories and feast in communal eating places, except those who refused to support the new government.

Karl Marx wrote a brief essay criticizing Nechayev’s philosophy, calling it “barracks communism” and “purely a form of authoritarianism, overseen by regulating offices and an anonymous dictator in the form of a committee.” However, the students of Marx would soon rehabilitate Nechayev’s image during the Stalin era, praising his unyielding devotion for the revolution. To put it bluntly, a political nihilist wouldn’t be used to describe your Rick and Morty obsessed roommate who believes that all life is meaningless. A true nihilist would be your roommate who believes that the only thing worth living for is being a part of the movement that will see common prejudice, aesthetic morals, and the social order burnt to ashes.

As Collectivist Goodies:

After the revolution, the oppressive aesthetics of the Empire have been replaced by a greater moral order. An order that seeks to reform the government into an apparatus that serves the people and the people into loyal men who serve one another before themselves. Local worker's councils will have their policies and leaders decided by the ballot and the will of the people. The Committee itself will have its goals decided by the commune leaders but often resort to popular referendums. The constitution has been lovingly crafted to ensure that the people will be given as much freedom as possible, without threatening their greater happiness.

From a young age, children are taught to treat their fellow countryman as brothers and sisters. The citizens spend their lives by the side of their fellow countrymen, working for the greater good of their fellow countrymen. Prejudice in sexual and racial forms is frowned upon in the nation where all men are born equal. The nation has converted towards agarian socialism, but industry is accepted as a means to improve the happiness of the people. Private property, a concept which turned society against pursuing maximum happiness has been abolished. The masses live full, content lives, knowing that their deeds have been done so that their nation may prosper long after their deaths.

As Individualist Goodies:

The communes of the post-revolution have become quite a pleasant place. After the overthrow of the Tsar, the communes have begun to drift apart as populist, reformist, and religious ideologies became more and more common. Now, they have become a loose confederation of agarian communes, free from the influence of some autocratic leader. Private property and industry have been abolished in exchange for a nation of democratic rural communities. The communes have become remarkably tolerant of outsiders and other ideologies, welcoming both with open arms. In the event of an ideological split or a disagreement, the commune leaders will solve it through a popular referendum.

In the event of a famine, the other communes will do their best to help their fellow countrymen during these desperate times. Oppressive and authoritarian aesthetics have been eliminated during the revolution, and the people are free to practice their freedom of love and speech. Children are raised to reject the backward notions that allowed for the rise of the bloody Tsar and are instead encouraged to pursue personal freedom and pleasure. In the Land of Do-as-you-please, the people are wholly content, with nothing but full bellies and sunny skies for years to come.

As Collectivist Baddies:

The Tsar has died decades ago, but the revolution continues on. It is the revolution against reactionaries, infiltrators, and aesthetics. It is a revolution that will see a new nation born from the ashes of triumph. The nihilistic state is Orwell's nightmare given life, with a faceless Committee ruling over the masses. The intelligentsia are focused on purging reactionary industrial aesthetics from language, culture, and society with a fervor that would make Pol Pot proud. Ancient aesthetics such as religion, culture, and family have no purpose in a nihilist society, serving as distractions from the revolution. Children are only born to rid the mind of sexual desire and to provide new revolutionaries for the next generation.

The youth are raised in schools, where they will learn from a young age to cast aside personal attachments and private interests in the name of the revolution. They are crowded into gloomy barracks where they will live, work, and die amongst their brothers and sisters. Every so often a few "traitors" and "spies" will be found by the government and are sentenced to die by the hands of the people. Lynch mobs parade the streets as the people release their anger, their loathing, their resentment onto some poor unfortunate souls. In short, it is a nation which sustains itself on hate. Hate has become its lifeblood, its mother's milk, the very essence which gives it life. Because after all, what is a revolution without an enemy?

As Individualist Baddies:

They say that the only thing separating man from beast is law and order. In that case, the country has become a savage jungle. Every so often, a revolution wracks the nation to its core, overthrowing the communes, and building a new government, waiting to be overthrown. If the leader fails to amass enough followers to fight the revolution, then he has lost the support of the people and will be sentenced by the new government. While the first couple of years were quite bloody, the country has stabilized into a series of communal city-states. These communes resemble a series of agarian GULAGs, working its people to death in an attempt to outcompete their rivals.

Meanwhile, the revolutionary committee presides over it all having remained true to the nihilist belief that all people if mistreated, should be free to rise against the social order. Their soldiers remain on the sidelines while militias fight against one another in their own revolutions unless national security is threatened. Famines and starvation is an everyday part of life, with most people dependent on black markets for survival. Radicals, demagogues, and fanatics have begun their own revolutions before facing a guillotine. Hell, even some nutjob claiming to be Genghis Khan took over for a while. Yes, the world may balk at them, but in a savage jungle, the fittest survive and the weak die.

Neutrals:

The neutered committee is constantly divided as the members constantly bicker with one another on policies regarding land distribution, communal living, and direct democracy. For the people, voting is mostly a formality to show loyalty to one's political faction. Hunger strikes and labor movements have broken out across the country as the people wish for an end to this constant deadlock. The attempted ruralization of the country has been met with some resistance from the bourgeoisie, unwilling to hand over their property, and the peasantry, angered by the recent socially liberal policies. The nation has become a bleak place fraught with nothing but stagnation, radicalism, and social upheaval for years to come.
 
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