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Russian Cosmists planning to resurrect the dead

Russian Cosmists planning to resurrect the dead

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Nikolai Fedorov, a nineteenth-century librarian and Russian Orthodoxy philosopher believed that the process to organize human society begins with a simple goal: let’s resurrect everyone who has ever lived.

He went on to name this project “the common task” of humanity, calling for the living to be rejuvenated, the dead to be resurrected, and space to be colonized specifically to house them. After his death, Federov’s ideas were compiled into a single text, A Philosophy of the Common Task, and created Cosmism. He left the technical details to those who would someday create the prerequisite technology, but this did not stop his disciples: Alexander Bogdanov was an early pioneer of blood transfusions in hopes of rejuvenating humanity; Konstantin Tsiolkvosky sought to colonize space to house the resurrected dead; and Alexander Chizhevsky, a biophysicist who sought to map out the effects of solar activity on Earth life and behavior, thought Federov’s research might help design the ideal society for the dead to return to.

But this all sounds like historical gibberish

Its not. Maybe it is. But you can be the judge of that. The most sane question to ask these Cosmists is how will they mange to ‘resurrect the dead and build a society?’ Surprisingly, they have an answer for that.

How is this possible?

First step

As this is an idea originating from communism, it comes as no surprise when Cosmists say that for the ideal society where -resources are pooled together for this project, where humans cannot hurt one another, and where immortality is free, is only possible when the current system of exploitation, the cosmists and communists call it capitalism, needs to come to an end. Cosmists say that universal immortality, already an optimistic vision, simply cannot happen in a system that relies on perpetual commodification.

The common way, blood transfusions

Blood transfusions are essential for this project though they’ve proven nothing in the past but the cosmists have not lost hope. In the 1920s, Bogdanov focused on experimenting with blood transfusions to create a rejuvenation process for humans (there’s little evidence they do this). He tried and failed to set up blood banks across the Soviet Union for the universal rejuvenation of the public, dying from complications of a transfusion himself. Today, young blood is offered for transfusion by industrious start-ups, largely to wealthy and eccentric clients.

Cosmists clear on ideas but not on technical details

Cosmists were clear in explaining what resurrection would look like in their idealized version of society, even though they were thin on what the technological details would be. Some argue we must not only restructure our civilization, but our bodies so that we can acquire regenerative abilities, alter our metabolic activity so food or shelter are optional, and thus “overcome the natural, social, sexual, and other limitations of the species.”

Where will the resurrected live?

Let’s suppose that the cosmists are successful in ‘resurrecting the dead,’ the next question is where will these people live because everyone knows Earth doesn’t has the capacity to accommodate them. The answer is: space. In the cosmist vision, space colonization must happen so that we can properly honor our ethical responsibility to take care of the resurrected by housing them on museum planets. 

Now, how is this different from Elon Musks plan of landing on Mars?

For Musk, Mars and other future worlds will become colonies that require space mortgages, are used for resource extraction, or, in some cases, be used as landing spots for the rich once we have completely destroyed the Earth. Bezos, the world’s richest man, says we will have “gigantic chip factories in space” where heavy industry is kept off-planet. Beyond Earth, Bezos anticipates humanity will be contained to O’Neill cylinder space colonies. One might stop and consider the fact that while the cosmist vision calls for improving human civilization on Earth before resurrecting the dead and colonizing space, the capitalist vision sees space as the next frontier to colonize and extract stupendous returns from—trillions of dollars of resource extraction is the goal.

Vice

Why resurrect the dead?

Everyone has their beliefs and for cosmists it’s resurrecting the dead. But for everyone else who think more about life after death than resurrection, it is confusing as to why the cosmists won’t just let the dead stay dead!

Ostensibly, the “why” behind cosmism is a belief that we have an ethical responsibility to resurrect the dead, much like we have one to care for the sick or infirm. At a deeper level, however, cosmists not only see noncapitalist abundance as a virtue in of itself, but believe the process of realizing it would offer chances to challenge deep-seated assumptions about humanity that might aid political and cultural forms hostile to the better future cosmists seek.

Vice

Originally published in Vice

Also read: Study suggests China coronavirus cases may have been four times official figure

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