May 17, 2023•1,140 words
In the ephemeral flux of our postmodern world, the question of body sovereignty reverberates across our cultural and political landscapes. We stand on the precipice of a transitional moment, moving from classical liberal autonomy to a concept entirely new. I posit that this pivotal shift was heralded by the introduction of the contraceptive pill, a point in history that future generations may regard as the initial breakthrough for Promethean aspirations to conquer the perceived baseness of humanity.
Before the advent of the contraceptive pill, fertility was regarded as a realm beyond human design, save for the deliberate expression of will through abstinence. There was an inherent sense of bestowed nature, a blessedness from a higher power that shielded it from modular and micro-manipulations.
However, due to the widespread adoption of the pill, I believe we were propelled into a new era, one characterized by early transhumanist technology. The historical record reveals a unique moment when the pill was introduced across the political spectrum in the so-called developed world. From the liberal right to the progressive left, there was a consensus around the core proto-transhumanist idea that it was legitimate to utilize medical technology not to rectify an error, aberrance, or ailment, but to control organismic function at the individual level in the name of personal freedom. Without the pill there would be no feminism as we know it today.
From an Islamic perspective, there has always been a culture that encouraged innovation and scientific endeavour. However, these pursuits were typically aimed at restoring balance and correcting deviations from the accepted physiological norm. Once the mission was accomplished, the technology and scientific discourse would be set aside, allowing the physiological norm to proceed without interruption or interference. In contrast, our current era of technological innovation eliminates such boundaries, incentivizing absolute self-mastery.
I contend that this mastery cannot be constrained by any conventional materialist political ideology, especially those operating on an outdated understanding of technological potential as a ''neutral tool''. Technology has intrinsic ethical properties that express worldviews of their own and it is up to the individual to decide whether by using it on a habitual basis they will distort their own values to "accommodate" the new tool. With the advent of the pill, we find ourselves in an era of pharmaceutical liberalism. Liberal political aspirations are gaining momentum through ostensibly therapeutic interventions. However, there will come an inflection point when the available biotechnology outpaces liberal ethos sentiments. At this juncture, we will be crafting an entirely novel ideology of what constitutes a human being. This will usher in a new set of ethics - posthuman ethics that initially as we are seeing now will alienate Western conservatives, however with time like with everything else they too will capitulate to it. I believe we are currently in the midst of a transition to this inflection point, as evidenced by the ongoing transgender controversy.
So, it is not a stretch to say that the 20th century saw the evolution of a new form of liberalism - pharmaceutical liberalism. I firmly believe that many social developments we've seen within liberal societies are indirect consequences of pharmaceutical innovation underpinned by a specific ethic. I argue that the social liberalism we see today is fundamentally a pharmaceutical intervention into the realm of human physiology. It is this radical ability for individuals to manipulate their own physiology and anatomy that allowed for the widespread proliferation of liberal ethics. Without these pharmaceutical technologies, and more importantly, the heavily funded industries that accompany them, such as Big Pharma, the current manifestation of liberalism would not have been possible. I contend that it would have remained a theoretical exploration of potential human society. It was the tangible advancements in pharmaceutical technology that allowed this theoretical vision to materialize in the real world.
However, the naivety of pharmaceutical liberalism lies in its assumption that a consensus could be reached within a liberal democratic society, composed of disparate, atomized individuals who share little in common. This consensus was expected to determine the boundaries for innovation and enhancement, a notion that is increasingly proving to be flawed.
The naïve belief that biotechnology would merely serve to manipulate existing physiological norms, standards agreed upon collectively as defining human function, is rapidly being exposed. This assumption rested on the idea that our conception of humanness would remain unaffected by the growing aspirations towards enhancement, control, and self-mastery.
This false assurance is starkly reflected in the rise of an industry of cosmetic technologies paralleling the development of the contraceptive pill. These advancements are dedicated to enhancing physical appearance, signaling a departure from the mere modification of existing human traits. Furthermore, the significant financial investments towards augmenting athletic and physical abilities have given birth to a booming industry that, within mere decades, has irreversibly tainted the realm of human sport. The pace of technological progress is so swift that the focus has shifted from enhancing the existing to re-engineering what could potentially exist.
One glaring example of this shift is the re-engineering of biological notions about sex. However, it's not just about redefining gender norms. The ultimate aim, as I believe will be the focus of global elites in the coming decades, is the pharmaceutical conquest of death itself.
Currently, vast sums of money are being invested in so-called "immortality technologies." For instance, Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, has dedicated a sizable fortune towards finding ways to effectively cheat death. Initially, this pursuit will be justified on the universally accepted premise that biotechnology should be able to cure diseases. However, the end goal isn't merely about eradicating disease but overcoming death itself. What is perverse is that whilst the global techno-elites chase immortality they will offer the rest of us through the illusion of choice horrific and obscene technologies, self-murder or euthanasia as it is colloquially known.
Thus far, we've witnessed pharmacological manipulation of fertility, interventions in human athletic ability, and even alterations in people's mental health through neurochemical adjustments. These alterations are frequently marketed under the benign justification of correcting chemical imbalances that induce certain undesirable emotions. However, this is merely the beginning. The push for control will continue to evolve beyond the current transgender debate until every facet of our humanity, previously taken for granted as unchangeable, becomes subject to complete reengineering from the ground up.
At this juncture, predicting the future trajectory of this trend is challenging, as the technologies delivering these radical changes have yet to be fully realized. I pray that unlike previous generations the Islamic Secular and Muslim scholars of the Law do not in their haste to appear "reasonable" capitulate entirely to new technological developments like they did in the last century. I hope we moved past this incessant need to appear ''rational'' to a fundamentally barbaric and debased atheistic civilization.
And God Knows Best