“For the cyber-liberal left there is no equality without recourse to biotechnology”
Alexis Escudero is a contemporary anti-industrial writer whose 2014 book on artificial reproduction was significant perhaps less for its contents than for the reaction it provoked.
The controversy in France around his work neatly exposed the way that the liberal left has largely swallowed the lie that social progress is dependent on technological progress.
This fake left lashes out against anyone who dares to challenge “progressive” technologies, using the same strength of language and moral outrage that it would deploy against the far right.
Thus a supposedly left-wing current – which has deeply compromised itself by embracing elements of industrial capitalism – attacks enemies of the capitalist system from what appears to be a more radical position but which, of course, is really nothing of the sort.
From an organic radical perspective, a particular concern is the way that these transhumanist-influenced pseudo-leftists dismiss any talk of nature and the human species as obsolete or even dangerous.
Escudero’s book, La reproduction artificielle de l’humain, was an anti-capitalist attack on the bio-technological engineering industry.
It described how this branch of big business is building a Brave New World in which the rich can buy designer babies and ensure that their children are superior in every way to those of the exploited majority.
Escudero revealed, for instance, that the Fertility Institute in Los Angeles produces 800 test tube babies a year, of which 700 have parents with no fertility problems – these wealthy Americans like to be able to pick the embryo with the “best” genetic characteristics, and also to choose the sex of their child. (1)
This is a profitable business with all the usual trappings – the first Fertility Show in London in 2009 attracted 80 exhibiting companies, ranging from specialist clinics to sperm banks, and drew in 3,000 visitors. (2)
A report issued in 2015 estimated that the US fertility market was worth between $3 and $4 billion a year, (3) while in the UK it has been estimated as being worth £600 million. (4)
In his book, Escudero described how the aim of the new eugenics would inevitably develop from merely screening out hereditary defects towards making people more attractive, bigger, more athletic, more intelligent.
They would, in short be “better than humans – who are imperfect by nature”. Leaving behind the out-dated human model, these new products of industrial capitalism would be superhumans, “posthumans”. (5)
Escudero criticised the way that the left had failed to respond to the growth of this sinister eugenics business, which has its origins in Nazi Germany.
He complained in his book: “Debate on the subject: nothing. Zilch. Nada. As if being on the left and supporting artificial reproduction of humans necessarily went hand in hand”. (6)
The problem was that Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) in France was being vociferously opposed by religious right-wingers, who particularly objected to the idea of babies being produced for gay and lesbian couples.
Escudero made it plain that this was not his motivation at all. He was countering the liberal-left slogan “MAP for everyone!” with the anti-industrial slogan “MAP for no-one!”. It was the business he opposed, not the sexual orientation of its customers.
He also stressed that he had nothing at all against the DIY insemination technique often used by lesbians and that this did not in any case come under the MAP label.
Left-wingers who championed the MAP industry because they felt it was socially “progressive” were falling into a terrible trap, he warned.
He drew attention to a slogan used by French gay rights group inter-LGBT which had declared: “There is no equality without MAP!”. Commented Escudero: “For the cyber-liberal left there is no equality without recourse to biotechnology”. (7)
Escudero warned that this fascination for technology was drawing left-wingers far away from the positions they claimed to defend and into de facto support for the industrial capitalist system.
He wrote: “This cyber-liberal left is misusing the fight for individual freedom as a vindication of market freedom. It is confusing political equality with the biological uniformisation of individuals.
“Its dream is of liberal eugenics, of abolishing the body and using artificial wombs. Its fantasy is of a posthumanity via the technological re-creation of the human species. Behind the mask of transgression and rebellion lies an enthusiastic identification with technocapitalism”. (8)
This criticism of an influential and vociferous section of the left prompted a hostile response. On October 28, 2014, there was a picket of a talk that Escudero gave at le Monte-en-l’air bookshop in Paris, in which placards accused him of lesbophobia, homophobia and transphobia. (9)
Then on Saturday November 22 a group of opponents mobilised against a workshop he was due to give at the Lyons anarchist bookfair. A leaflet claimed that Escudero was joining José Bové and Pierre Rahbi in an “environmentalist drift towards essentialism, in the name of the ‘defence of the living’”.
It declared: “No to LGBTphobia! Yes to the extension of the right to MAP! No to essentialism and naturalism!” (10)
An eye-witness account published afterwards by Annie Gouilleux describes how the “fascistic” pro-technology contingent blocked the entrance to the room hosting Escudero’s workshop, insulting people who were trying to get in. In the end, the organisers felt they had no choice but to cancel the meeting.
Gouilleux commented: “It’s obvious that from the moment people consider that ‘human’ and ‘nature’ are either taboo words or that they don’t exist, then the discussion will descend into absurdity. Or fisticuffs”. (11)
As Escudero identified in his book, the problem is that these fake leftists are essentially ideological outriders of the industrial capitalist system and, as such, they necessarily share its obsession with artificiality, regarding anything natural or organic as their enemy.
He remarked: “While pretending to support freedom and emancipation, post-feminists and transhumanists nurse a boundless hatred of nature; hatred of the innate, of that which is given to the human being at birth; of everything that isn’t produced, manufactured, standardised, regulated, rationalised; hatred of everything that doesn’t quite fit, that doesn’t work, that falls ill, of everything that isn’t efficient and productive 24/7; hatred of everything which gets away and can’t be controlled”. (12)
Video link: La reproduction artificielle de l’humain (6 mins)
1. Alexis Escudero, La reproduction artificielle de l’humain (Grenoble: Le monde à l’envers, 2014), p. 62.
2. Escudero, pp. 69-70.
3. ‘Fertility Market Overview, May 2015’, http://www.harriswilliams.com.
4. Maxine Frith, ‘You’re big business now, baby’, The Daily Telegraph, October 19, 2014.
5. Escudero, p. 118.
6. Escudero, p. 10.
7. Escudero, p. 174.
8. Escudero, p. 12.
12. Escudero, p. 186.