Transhumanism, at its most basic level, is about extending human capabilities through technology.
In a sense, it has always been with us since at least the invention of fire. As David Landes notes, the invention of eyepieces in Renaissance Italy de facto doubled the productive life expectancy of artisans that relied upon fine motor skills for their labors. It probably wasn’t particularly critical so far as European ascendancy went – my best guess is that particular honor belongs to mass literacy, another technology that massively extended human capabilities, effectively augmenting the information storage capacity at our fingertips by orders of magnitude – but it certainly didn’t hinder the process.
This illustrates another fundamental aspect about transhumanism. While it is generally good for the individual – you want fire to cook your food, your want vaccines not to croak soon after childbirth, you want eyeglasses (or even better, contact lenses) to see better – it is primarily at the social and national level that it can be said to truly multiply capabilities. While Marxists believe that it was modes of production that constituted the the “base” of human development, in reality it has always been technology. When the stirrups were invented, you wouldn’t have had any particular luck as a peasant arguing its fine philosophical merits or demerits against the mounted nomads that rampaged down from the Eurasian steppes to engage in an orgy of slaughter, rapine, and brigandry. When industrial development went hyperbolic in Great Britain around the turn of the 19th century, it marked what was to become a century of exceptional genetic adaptiveness for the Anglo-Saxon race, which overspread most of the “Stone Age” world. Societies built on lagging technological paradigms, no matter how numerous the levies that manned them (though conscription potential, too, is a factor of development), were hapless in the face of it.
In the 21st century, one possibility is that dysgenics will destroy innovation-producing smart fractions sooner than they can launch a singularity of some sort. I call this scenario the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.
Another possibility is that some entity (an individual, a team, a corporation or political/military organization, a country, the “noosphere” as a whole) will launch a recursively improving AGI (artificial general intelligence). We can only speculate what the goals of this AI will be; there are disparate attempts to solve this so-called “alignment problem”, but my cursory impression of the space is that its prospects aren’t good. Nonetheless, while the question of who precisely invents and “launches” this AI is speculative, and might not necessarily end up benefiting its creators, another possibility is that it will help them achieve some kind of world domination (a “singleton” as it’s called in the literature), the side that possesses such an AI being in a position far superior even to America’s world nuclear monopoly in the late 1940s. Consequently, this is an area of research whose world-historical important is not done justice even by the current elevated hype around “machine intelligence” and the like.
The third possibility is what I call a “biosingularity.” The machine AGI problem is either judged to be too hard, or the hopes of solving the alignment problem too meager, to make it worth pursuing (also assumes that coordination problems constraining such research are also solved). Biosingularity at a basic level suggests massively augmenting base level biological intelligence, e.g. identifying the alleles corresponding to intelligence and figuring out reliable ways of mass editing them. The first country that starts to do this even a few years ahead of the rest of the pack – in my assessment, the most likely candidates are either some post-religious, non-SJW trading entrepots like Singapore, or more exotically, India – will rapidly gain an insurmountable lead relative to the rest of the world analogous to in world history to the Agricultural and the Industrial Revolution. Even today, countries with a notable smart fraction that is ~1 S.D. above the population average (Ashkenazi Jews in Israel; Brahmins in India; Jews and “Puritan descendants” in the US) strongly outperform their national IQs in the global GDP per capita league tables. Now imagine if this smart fraction was to have an S.D. advantage not of 1, but of 5 or more. Probably the resulting conquest will not be military in nature, but the cultural and economic domination will be total.
Now certainly tradcons can play a useful role in society, helping leverage national competitiveness. “Breeder” groups, most famously the Haredim in Israel, but also including more exotic examples such as the Laestadians in Finland, can elevate fertility rates above the “default” level and make sure that their country continues to be replenished with new bodies and human capital until they can be upgraded. They are also a pillar of patriotism and nationalism that insulates against state dissolution.
However, any country that allows the retrogressive and obscurantist worldviews that predominate amongst such insular traditional communities to unduly influence state policy is simply going to be left behind and will fade out of the pages of history. They are free to mutter about how transhumanism is transgenderism and how QR codes represent the number of the Beast to their heart’s content, but this should likewise disqualify them from any input on state technological or scientific policy. Their ideas are a recipe for long-term national helotization and precisely no nationalist would presumably want that that for his or her country. I would even say that nationalism is implicitly transhumanist.
There are nationalists who don’t care for transhumanism. That is fine. But then there are nationalists who strongly signal against transhumanism. These “nationalists” simply prioritize the welfare of their particular ideology (tradconism) over that of their nation, much like “liberal nationalism” usually de facto implies superior loyalty to the Democratic Internationale, “Communist” nationalism usually implies the prioritization of the global proletariat over national interests, and Neo-Nazism implies loyalty to global White Supremacy (or narrow German nationalism, if you’re talking of old-school NSDAPists). While alliances of convenience can in principle be built with these factions, one should always approach “nationalists” who privilege any particular ideological memeplex over the interests of their own people (whether it be Liberalism, Marxism, or nebulous Conservatism) with care.