Thomas Ligotti has said in the past that he wishes people were more concerned with questions of justice. I’m not sure what justice means. It’s one of those abstract crumbling dreams of senile white men. Pessimists don’t generally speak about politics, and in sense that might be what makes the development of post-nihilist praxis especially bizarre. Beginning from the basic axioms of pessimism we move towards some kind of collective strategy for maximizing our capacities of coping with existence. Here is Ligotti on his own vision .
Recent movements such as transhumanism and abolitionism project a future in which suffering will be transcended with drugs and technology. There’s a guy named David Pearce who runs a Web site called The Hedonistic Imperative, and he very articulately insists that the only worthy goal in human life is that of feeling good all the time. Of course, this is the goal that everyone is concerned with in their lives, but Pearce argues that this could be more effectively and speedily attained by entirely artificial means. The fact that these people are obsessed with making a serious attempt to abolish human suffering, and to establish this aim as the central project of their lives, is nice to see. Thus far in human history, people have put their effort into curing diseases that make us dysfunctional and unproductive or that are obstacles to increasing our longevity. There hasn’t been much interest in confronting human suffering as such. Paradoxically, should the efforts of those who want to annihilate suffering succeed, it could be the end of us as a species. We would be returned to paradise. And reproduction would be irrelevant in a paradisal landscape where all dreams have been satisfied and all fears quashed. [Full]
Would a Ligotti appreciate leftism? It’s doubtful. The left probably constitutes something of a distraction and a denial of the horror of the world. We try to transform our present sufferings into the raw material of a better tomorrow. As he mockingly puts it in Conspiracy, the optimist believe that everyday in everyway things are getting better and better. But what if leftism was understood as this same project to abolish human suffering? Hyperstitional ideas of progress are precisely impossible fictions and for that reason they are the perfect example of humans beings choosing their own hallucinations. This has been the point of post-nihilist pragmatics since the beginning.
Here are his view on justice:
Besides euthanasia, I think it would be great if human beings were more concerned with justice than they have been. I remember seeing a documentary in which several people were asked if the Beatles were right in singing “All You Need Is Love.” When the sixties radical Abbie Hoffman was interviewed on this matter, he said, with apologies to the Beatles, that all you need is justice, not love. This reply profoundly resonated with me. Not long ago, I watched a lecture on the Internet in which Chris Hedges, author of The Death of the Liberal Class, proposed a spectrum in which justice was positioned at one end and freedom at the other. His claim was that liberals tended toward the justice end of the spectrum and conservatives at the freedom end. Anyone with a brain can see the truth of Hedges’ assertion. Of course, the implementation of justice far and wide would be impossible, while freedom reigns all over the place, especially the freedom to deny other people justice. If this statement sounds like it was made by a contestant for the Miss America crown, so be it.
Post-nihilistic praxis is predicated on two realities: First, that we have not outright killed ourselves. Second, that it is structurally impossible for us to step outside of our illusions. Everything is killing time. Everything is coping. And there are better and worse ways of passing the time. In Ligotti’s terms there are more just ways of passing the time together.
In the end if Ligotti’s pessimism forces him into the position of demanding the end of all suffering then his position is more expansive and more demanding than any historical leftism. The question is simply that of the route taken: extinction or transhumanism, or extinction through the transhuman passage into the posthuman future.