A new, hideous, idiotic, and morally bankrupt philosophy has sprouted in the bosom of Western civilization, and the hydra-headed viper goes by the hideous, idiotic, ugly and awkward name ‘longtermism.’
Longtermism’s adherents rely on mathematical projections and sci-fi futurist imaginings, glommed onto old-fashioned utilitarianism (“the greatest good for the greatest number”), to argue that since projected future population numbers will be so much greater than the present-day population of earth, we should accept, even welcome, present human suffering for the sake of the happiness and flourishing of a much, much greater number of beings in the future beyond our own life spans. In this triumphal march of bean-counters (who calculate as if they know the future), wealthy trashers of the planet are elevated to the status of Utopian visionaries, seen to be hastening the glorious future, as I will get to in a moment.
But first it gets worse.
Those “huge” numbers of future populations? They might not, probably won’t, even be human. They might be – they are imagined to be by longtermists – “transhumans,” or “posthumans,” even digital simulations. Imagine being asked to give up your place in a lifeboat, not for another human being, but for a digital simulation. To sacrifice your grandchildren’s happiness for such “beings.” Do you find this scenario appealing?
Traditional Native American reverence for the earth (a reverence those who insist on a sharp division between the Creator and the creation may consider “unchristian,” but let’s not pursue that now) has at its forefront the Seventh Generation Principle, which holds that we should live today so that our descendants seven generations into the future will still have access to earth and water and air and other natural resources equal to what we enjoy. Or better. (We have a lot of remediation to do!) The word ‘longtermism’ may suggest such a principle to your ear, but you would be deceived. Longtermism is diametrically and absolutely opposed to the Seventh Generation Principle. Longtermism advocates burning through earth’s resources as fast as we can in order to motivate space travel -- emigration from Mother Earth – and colonization of outer space. In the longtermist point of view, there is no obligation at all to care for our earthly environment: it is nothing but a launching pad to an extraplanetary future.
Longtermists are generally very wealthy or, if not wealthy themselves, sycophants of the wealthy, and you can readily see why. Longtermism involves no obligation to conservation of earth’s resources, no obligation to relieve human suffering, certainly no call to “live in the moment” and give thanks. Is it any wonder that American longtermists are flocking eagerly to today’s Republican Party? Longtermists and Republicans see eye to eye on quite a bit. They are natural bedfellows in their beliefs that greed is good, more is better, and environmentalism is contraindicated -- for countless reasons.
If you have ever read Ayn Rand’s We the Living, you’ll recognize a political party ready and willing to sacrifice today’s lives for those of the future, but did you in your wildest dreams imagine that the threat would come not from the Left but from the Right? I got over my youthful infatuation with Ayn Rand decades ago, but I’ll refer to her once again to remind you that in her tale of the post-Revolutionary Russian nightmare, Party loyalty was everything. At times the Party demanded the sacrifice of its principles for the sake of its principles – yes, a belief in contradictions was required – and those who questioned were shunned and purged. (Often, in her novel, they were driven to suicide, their idealism shattered.) Any recent examples (hint: RINOs) come to mind?
It is deeply ironic that the sacrifice of the living for the future and the placing of party loyalty above all other principles, Rand’s twin nemeses, should be joined today by what she saw as the solution to the nightmare. She saw selfishness as the answer, but today selfishness marches hand in hand with unquestioning party loyalty and disdain for present life.
Maybe you’ve feared Communism for decades, watched anxiously for Communists coming at you from the Left (“creeping socialism”), but take a good look around. While your attention was elsewhere, the danger was massing on the Right, behind your back. Today it’s the radical, hard-core, far-right Republicans and longtermists who most resemble the Communist Party of 20th-century Bolshevism after the Russian Revolution.