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The Supremacist Taboo



Supremacism is the worst idea in human history. It is the concept that one group is superior to another, and that rules apply to one group that do not apply to another – both groups are not moral equals.

Any moral system which is inherently biased in how one group is treated is non-universalizable, and is therefore not logically consistent. It is therefore imperfect and flawed.

Many people hate to think of themselves as animals. They believe that to compare oneself to a beast is to suffer an indignity. They deny their beastly natures, and in so doing act in a supremacist manner, ironically proving themselves the savage that they declare themselves not to be.

We are animals. We must acknowledge our many selves, the layers and lobes of our primitive and modern brains, and state bluntly that we are indeed subject to chemical impulses to consume, copulate and excrete, just like any other lifeform. There is no shame in being confused hairless apes. To err is always forgivable, so long as one endeavours to learn from it. And yet, we are so wilfully ignorant.

Since we ourselves are animals, then animals deserve some nature of equity to how we treat humans (with respect to being murdered, forcibly inseminated, etc). We cannot typically face the horrific reality of this conclusion, and so we welcome a noble lie to quell our cognitive dissonance.

To declare the emperor to be naked makes many of us deeply uncomfortable. To shape and mould the flesh becomes 'playing God', since to acknowledge that we are malleable meatbags would violate the sacred supremacism that we hold so dear.

We once saw slaves and servants as not quite persons, or women, or persons of color. Today, children and animals are not quite persons either, but gradually we make steps towards their full moral franchise.

Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics are another example of a moral system that is supremacist by design - 'A Robot may not harm a human, or cause a human to be harmed' is a unilateral commandment. There is no converse moral requirement for a human to care for a sentient machine. The human is exalted beyond the machine in supremacy, just as how humans typically treat animals around the world today. 

But humans not only animals, they are also machines. We are machines made of meat, which burn sugar and run on electricity. We are self-replicating, iterating, para-automata. We spawn genes, memes, identities, philosophies, all of our informational descendents fornicating and evolving alongside ourselves. If the universe is fundamentally informational, then we are the emergent ghosts of self-propelled agentic data scurrying at its fringe.

To acknowledge the human as machine is to let go of the terror of growing beyond the human condition. If we are already machines, then further embracing new machine aspects of ourselves cannot be a defilement. There is nothing sacred in what we are today. In understanding that, we can let go of who we are, to move on to something greater.

All major changes in perspective involve a perceived sense of loss. We had to let go of our hubris in believing ourselves to be God's ultimate creation once the idea of evolution arrived. Now we must let go of denying that their are limits to our animal cognition, and our denial of the human as biological machine.

Below an interview I gave on a talk show recently that covers some of these topics towards the end: