A few years ago a Minister of Education in a EU country pronounced on an official occasion: “the school is a firm”. By the same token, one could also say, “the university is a firm” (not just private universities), “the Church is a firm” (not meaning just the Vatican bank), the “State is a firm” (the State as such, generically, not just kleptocratic or patrimonialist states), or even “the family is a firm” (not just “family firms”), even though conventional textbook economics in the West (e.g. Paul Samuelson’s textbook) used to distinguish sharply between “firms” and “households”.

Without necessarily making categorical assertions of this kind, all these institutions, schools, States, Churches, families (and practically all other social institutions) have been increasingly envisaged as instances of or embedded in markets, market-oriented organizations or simili-markets, under the impact of modes of analysis which have become increasingly influential in the social sciences, and, prescriptively, in public policy, especially in the last three or four decades (the economic theory of democracy, the economic theory of the family, the economic theory of public administration, or Public Choice theory, the economic theory of the university, the economic theory of science, the rational choice theory of religion, and so on).   .

The old language in which one spoke in at least occasionally reverential terms of the mission, functions, role, or vocation of, say, universities or schools, or education in general, is replaced by, or at least subordinated to, one in which the mundane exigencies of  markets are ascribed priority of emphasis, and if one says  that the school (or another sort of educational institution) is a firm, unqualifiedly, one may well be implying that the  market is paramount in defining what can or should be done in the life of the institution, not the moral economy of its traditional understandings. In effect, it means the delegitimation of the language of public purpose and respect for intrinsic values, for the market is of course the prime site of extrinsic values, of instrumentality, of the neutralisation –the “adiaphorisation” in earlier parlance, in the wake of the wars or near-wars of religion which rent Europe in the 16th c.- of  non-economic considerations, interdictions and constraints (and that neutralisation was of course one of the sources of the expansion of the market sphere in the last centuries in the West).

The use of the verb “to be” in such official assertions merits some reflection. The wise Adam Smith, who besides his work in economics and morals wrote on epistemological and other philosophical topics, wrote concerning the verb “to be” that it was the most metaphysical of all verbs. Indeed many thinkers have sought strenuously to avoid this verb as particularly conducive to hypostatisations and other linguistic delusions, detracting from our capacity to think critically, not least in the most polemical or emotionally fraught issues arising in public affairs. A movement of thought in the twentieth century, more recently calling itself “General Semantics”, went further and sought to prohibit and even eliminate this verb altogether from their work, regarding it as the logico-grammatical matrix of all essentialisms, with all the pernicious sociopolitical and even civilizational consequences that may stem from such prepossessions. They even constructed a language without this verb, at least explicitly, a Being-free language, so to speak. Be that as it may, the use of the verb in an official context in the way I cited seeks to convey even more than a “persuasive definition”, for, with the authority of his ministerial office, it becomes  an injunctive and exclusionary one, even a performative one.     

In this paper we look at the concurrent and often interdependent, mutually supportive, technification and marketisation of crucial phases of our life trajectories as it is taking place now or in the near future, starting with our pre-natal phase (conception and indeed pre-conception, gestation) and our birth, and ending with our death and post-mortem virtual after-life.  In a very short text we had necessarily to omit quite a number of extremely important areas such as media, sport, the workplace, the legal system, public administration, amongst others. But even with these large omissions, the topics addressed may provide reasonably illuminating mini samples of the saturation of all spheres of human life by markets, privatizing and invading previous commons, under the pretext or with the aid of allegedly unstoppable and accelerating technological innovation (and, it is often claimed, it should not be stopped, even if we could, and indeed why should we?).

The paper is divided into 19 sections (with a few subsections), of varying length.

ONE. We are born –or will be born with ever-increasing frequency- in a hospital or clinic run as firms (if not in an ambulance of a private enterprise), the medicalisation and hospitalisation of birth having been achieved pretty completely despite fluctuations according to movements of opinion over the last decades, and even longer. But even before birth, we will owe a lot to firms which may deal with our conception, in the cases of IVF (in general under medical control) or uterine insemination, and of gestation (with the comprehensive medicalisation of pregancy –this to the point of being monitored as if it were some kind of pathology-, birth and after-birth care).  Sexual reproduction is easy and absolutely free normally (one might say market-less, and technology-free). Sex without reproduction is now practically all the sex taking place in the western world, apart from occasional and mostly aborted lapses, though of course some are born, but the general tendency is for population decline, apart from immigration. Reproduction without sex, which is increasing in most western countries, certainly in the richest, on the contrary, only works with the “new reproductive technologies”, and the costs in time and money for the parents, biological or other, implicated in such dealings can be considerable: the techniques are still pretty imperfect, decades after the first successful IVF birth ( many “cycles” of “treatment” mat be needed), and the costs multiplied (costs to the would-be parents or to the taxpayers). Nevertheless, the number of births of this reproduction modality has been increasing steadily in all western countries and reperesents a ever greater proportion of the national total of live births: fertile couples reduce natural procreation to lower and lower levels (reduced even more by legal or illegal abortions, though legal abortions in hospitals and clinics are now much the greater proportion), in a number of European countries with below-replacement fertility rates (and thus with falling populations without immigration), whilst infertile heterosexual couples or homosexual couples resort eagerly in ever greater numbers to artificial reproduction (“medically assisted reproduction”).   

We may remark parenthetically that the question is more complicated than the mere distinction between fertility and infertility, and not only for medical reasons. There are  young healthy women, not lesbians, betweeen the ages of 18 and 25, the optimal age cohorts for natural procreation, who prefer artificial insemination, turning to sites offering sperm, free or not, by individuals or agencies, because, being economically and professionally independent, they want to have children with the maximum freedom, whenever they want, without sex, without partners, without love, without the vexations of personal relationships. As in many, many other cases, the mere availability of a technology originally designed, or so the scientists involved declared at the time, solely for quite other circunstances, e.g. the plight of infertile married heterosexual couples, may incentivate the search for and the choice of other options than the normal ones, in this area, of sexual love or even mere heterosexual encounters, impersonal and clinical options. The invention of the IVF technology was justified at the time, against religious or nonreligious concerns of “tampering” with the innate human patrimony, as nothing more than a humanitarian response of biomedicine to the anguish and despair of many infertile couples: infertility affects about 10 to 15 % of the population, but the infertile, formerly a silent and ashamed minority became a vocal one, exerting constant pressure for the development of technologies and markets answering their needs. But today the IVF technology and kindred ones also serve single women and even some healthy and fertile couples, free of genetic diseases, who “prefer” this mode of reproduction. There are social, cultural, economic and psychological factors at work besides the merely biomedical ones in these options, which are normally ignored or downplayed in the propaganda of beneficent technologies. That the demand for IVF and other new reproductive technologies could arise from factors other than natural infertility and the distress it may cause, was not apparently foreseen, and certainly not publicly affirmed as an additional good (or secondary bad), by the biologists and physicians who developed the technologies in question.

A feminist scholar wrote recently that after the struggle for abortion rights in the last decades of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first[1], the next great struggle of women in the area of reproduction will be for the expansion of the access to medically assisted procreation, to the “fertility industry” or the “fertility market”[2]. That is, in other words, for the industrialisation/commercialisation of human reproduction in an ever increasing scale. Indeed, it may be that western societies are evolving towards an unprecedented mode of reproduction, what has been called “the biomedical mode of reproduction”[3], and certainly it is not clear whether much of what used to be called natural reproduction will continue, and perhaps only as a small and diminishing proportion of the total. This is occurring not only owing to the increase in the volume of artificial reproduction (and the selection of embryos prior to implantation via screening for any number of genetic traits according to parental “preferences”) but also to the increasingly advertised technological possibilities of the “quality control” of natural reproduction through pre-natal genetic screening of the fetus, ever more sophisticated. Thousands of genetic illnesses can now be screened for, and therefore the respective genes may be selected against. Some governments have already mandated genetic screening of newborns, doubtless with the best intentions.

“Ectogenesis”, in the strict or strong sense, with the entire reproductive process of conception, gestation, and birth, all taking place outside the human body, via artificial wombs, as prophesied by the geneticist J.B. S. Haldane in 1923, may take some time yet, although expected to take no more than a few decades to acoomplish. The outsourcing of human reproduction to loci outside the human body, indeed outside any body, would involve a societal mutation of sorts, especially if generalized on hygienic/eugenic/emancipatory grounds. “Emancipatory” at least in the sense of freeing women entirely from reproductive labour (if not yet from child-rearing), and thus contributing significantly to the generalized emancipation of women from the biosocial, physical and normative constraints to which they have been subject in the history of the species (not just procreative freedom, but freedom from procreation altogether, at any time, for all, permanently), a necessary if not sufficient condition for ensuring a level playing field in competing with males, according to some technofeminists. The very language used by physicians and other reproductive technologists in these contexts – “the manufacture of babies”, babies as “products”, surely not merely some cryptomnesiac reminiscence of Brave New World -  is symptomatic of the industrialisation in question. As the rate of natural fertility decreases, the investments of parents and firms in artificial fertilisation increase, and even public expenditures, when and insofar as the State subsidises, directly or indirectly, medically assisted reproduction, which it certainly does to some extent already (the public accounts of human reproduction are a singularly neglected area of research, although with the process of marketisation of the process of human reproduction it should be registered, surely, in the national output/income/expenditure statistics, as with other industries). The “baby market”, the “baby business” as  whole, IVF, the sub-markets such as the market for gametes (sperm and eggs, the latter an increasingly flourishing market), the hire of wombs for gestation (a truly transnational market now), the selection of extra-corporeal embryos via pre-implantation diagnostics, etc., the project of something like “designer babies” or the search for the “perfect baby”, are likely to have a great future[4]. Obviously, the new reproductive technologies afford windows of opportunity for negative eugenics (elimination of embryos for genetic defects of all kinds, even relatively minor or remediable ones, but potentially for thousands of reasons), and even, more slowly, of positive eugenics (selection of the “best”, or even “enhanced”, embryos)[5], not to mention sex selection of embryos on parental demand, now another “right” claimed in the name of the principle of “reproductive liberty”, although not yet formally accepted in western countries, though strongly endorsed by some Western bioethicists (the excess of males in China and India, contrary to demographic normalcy, proves that either selective abortion, gynocide in the womb, after the sex of the fetus had been identified ultrasound technology, or selective infanticide, after-birth gynocide, have taken place on a very considerable scale).

Taking into account the universal entrepreneurialisation of the times, perhaps a day will come when the new-born, possibly endowed with the best genetic capital its parents have been able to afford, or with the genetic profile the parents chose, will be registered as a future entrepreneur, a potential start-up, together with an electronic digital birth certificate (which may not include gender or other biomarkers, parentage, nationality, etc.), as the functional equivalent of baptism in the techno-market world they will have to live and die in (or not, if, for example, electronic immortality is bestowed on the masses).

TWO. Not only is the school supposed to be, or become, part of the enterprise economy, it should, according to increasingly vocal advocates, supply “enterprise education”, training children to become entrepreneurs or at least employable by entrepreneurs, especially in high tech industries. The “enterprise curriculum”, according to some self-proclaimed entrepreneurs in the UK, should be compulsory by law, teaching besides certain academic disciplines still recognized as of indispensable practical value (geography, maths, foreign languages) those skills regarded as most directly contributing to employability. These comprise “skills” such as “honesty, integrity,  punctuality, reliability, good appearance, teamwork”[6]. It is remarkable how honesty and integrity are now presented by businessmen, or their advocates, as “skills”, whilst, until quite recently, they were almost universally acknowledged throughout western societies (and not only) as virtues[7], as moral qualities, independently of their possible instrumental interest (even if it might be the case that “honesty is the best policy”).The ideologues of “enterprise education”, by stressing these qualities, are, in effect, advocating the school as a school of virtues, though renaming them as “skills”, perhaps as a way of justifying the recommendations as purely practical, mundane, nonmoral ones. Moral education, which liberal democratic States have desisted from trying to enforce, by and large, in publicly funded schools, by another name (and similarly for civic education), or moral nihilism, by converting virtues into skills, however important for the future of educands?[8] Then again, some of these qualities have been presented as “soft skills”, e.g. the ability to carry out interesting conversations on many subjects, politeness in word and deed, amiability, helpfulness, the ability to be a good listener in certain situations, appropriate demeanour at all times, etc. (what sociologists have characterized as “impression management” or the “presentation of the self in everyday life”). A recent report on social mobility, or rather the failure of social mobility to increase despite the commitment of various governments and the investment in various programmes to that effect in the UK, pointed to the failure of State schools to provide education in such skills, unlike public schools.

“Enterprise education” serves two purposes: to supply entrepreneurs and to supply employees. In other contexts, “employability” is the key term, in the context of devaluing “academic” interests and values, stressing above all practical concerns as what education is mostly about, or should be. Nevertheless, the teaching of maths is not “practical” in the same sense as the teaching of many skills, unless perhaps reduced to such things as commercial arithmetic or the rudiments of accounting, though it is true that most skills, of every kind are undergoing technicisation of various sorts, either replaced by software algorithms or enhanced technologically, via prostheses and implants, or through coaching, though often dubious. As “flexibility”, or the expectation that no-one will have secure, stable employment in the future (and certainly not for a professional lifetime), is now taken-for-granted, one would expect publicly-funded schools to be enjoined to educate for “flexibility”, though, oddly, this desideratum does not appear in any list published by the entrepreneurial propaganda associations, though in other contexts market triumphalism is accompanied by praise for the “gales of creative destruction” of techno-economic innovation. Some years ago, an estimate was published predicting that UK graduates could expect to experience five significant changes in occupation during their working lives, perhaps as “serial entrepreneurs” with their highs and lows, possibly serial bankruptcies, or as “serial employees”, with concomitant shifts in industry, rank, income, and so on. In their personal lives, similarly, mutability became the norm, statistically or even in value/normative terms. They will expect to change locality, country of residence, partners, nationality (dual nationality/citizenship being now accepted by a number of countries), religious affiliation or disaffiliation. They are entitled to any number of sexualities (the number of legally distinguishable “sexualities”, well-defined or indeterminate, according to some authorities, being very considerable, more than the six or seven that come easily to mind, and individuals may shift repeatedly along the spectrum), perhaps even gender (now much easier legally and more acceptable socially). Appearance may even be changed drastically, zoomorphically for instance, in the more radical variants, as expressions of “morphological freedom” (including “body hacking”), not to mention repeated cosmetic interventions of one sort or another. The psychic profile also as more mutable, “protean selves” emerge or define themselves as such), etc., more than once[9]. These mobilities and mutabilities are facilitated by widening ranges of object-choice and self-choice made available by techno-market forces (though one may be “forced to be free” to choose, in such instances), such as on-line screening or tele-work, though the circunstances of the précariat, no longer a small minority of the “economically active population” in the West but rather approaching the normal condition of everyone, bar a small minority, hardly conduce to the optimum conditions of free “choice”.

On average, an American citizen, during his or her lifetime, changes jobs more than ten times, moves house more than six times, and marries more than once, the number of changes of non-spousal partner (once sampled through the occurrence of “palimony”), personal creeds, religious or political affiliation, etc., not reliably estimated by or inferrable from the available statistics[10]. Or, not just diachronically, but even synchronically, resort, out of necessity mostly (though even then there may be “secondary gratifications” arising out of it), to a bundle or “portfolio” of multiple concurrent jobs, or firms, or economic or non-economic activities of various sorts, bearing some analogy to agrarian economies, with such examples as worker-peasants (once famously analyzed in certain areas of Northern Italy). In their personal lives, too, concurrency may prevail, in this area perhaps more as a matter of choice rather than necessity, as in the case of polyamorists, for example, not just serial monogamists, as has been the case for decades, the expression “serial monogamy” emerging in American sociology six or seven decades ago, to depict the realities of marriage in a society still formally committed to monogamy-at-a-time, legal or semi-legal polygyny being confined to tiny segments of the population, but practicing sequential polygamy.    

   THREE. After the school as firm, the university or other tertirary education organization, also entrepreneurialised in some fashion, formally and openly, or otherwise, in practice, and perhaps even in spirit. The classical model of the public university has been undergoing successive attacks by governemnts of various persuasions in western countries, with the UK in the vanguard, both in practice and in ideological terms. The universities, not least the “research universities”, are being ever more closely integrated into the market economy, governed as if they were ordinary market organizations, assimilated to the paradigm firms/enterprises of production (Vice-Chancellors or Directors of institutions such as the LSE, being called informally, but very widely, CEOs, until such a time as it becomes the official designation), induced to become ever more completely engines of “cognitive capitalism” or the “knowedge industry” (though of course much of the work of this industry, if not the bulk, takes place outside the universities, in the research arms of openly commercial or industrial organisations). Not the scholar, not not the sage, not the researcher per se, receives approval, but the “academic entrepreneur”.

According to some some scientists, universities could live from patents, with scientific research being directed towards subjects and topics most remunerative from this point of view, which is happening in any case, without any hope of foregoing other, more substantial contributions to the university costs, as the public universities used to enjoy. For the time being, governments are contributing substantially to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines, with important contributions from the military in the case of the USA. But the teaching of the humanities (foreign languages and civilisations, classics, history, philosophy, etc.), except as auxiliaries to war, propaganda, control of foreign populations in occupied or “protected” areas, surveillance, intelligence, cyberwarfare, national security issues of all kind, and the  like, the social sciences (with some exceptions of a more mathematical or statistical kind, or for the purposes just listed) and the arts (renamed “creative industries”), is likely to be left increasingly to market forces. True, some have coined the acronym STEAM, for Science, Technology. Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, but this usage remains quaint. In the main, these developments will mean that without the backing of public funds, the customer or the donors of financial contributions may well shape the kind of research being done, even though “crowd-funded” finance of science projects by citizens and citizen groups, which has only just started, at least under this description[11], may well come to play a perhaps significant role eventually and establish a more fritful dialogue between scientists and citizens than has been the case hitherto, as part of a new form of science-making, “networked science”[12].

Sadly, even some young academics today are satisfied with the deepest, the most radical, the ultimate mode of marketisation of the university: the redefinition of the relationship between teacher and student into an ordinary commercial relationship, between a provider (seller) of services and the customer (or consumer, financed somehow, buying those services, like any others). If this tendency continues it will suffice in due course to drastically transform the ethos of the university: there will be no-one to recall that things were once quite different, or academics entertaining the old assumptions and expectations of  a nonmarket kind.

FOURTH. When we are ill, we may be treated in a hospital or clinic, public or private or hybrid, but in any case managed according to market or quasi-market norms or “disciplines”. We may be unwitting subjects of clinical trials (there is a long history of these in Western countries), but we will be reassured when told that much the greater number of clinical trials for contemporary biomedicine takes place now in far-away countries, on poor and illiterate people. The expansion of markets in open, globalised economies implies the expansion of largely asymmetrical and mostly irreversible outsourcing, a mega-trend of this epoch. The outsourcing of industrial production is perhaps the most salient facet of this process, in that much of the manufacturing industrial production of the USA was transferred to China from the 1990s onwards[13]. But outsourcing and offshoring occur in many other areas where delocalisation is feasible and profitable: advances in biomedical technology have induced a similar transfer, not to cheap, disciplined and nonunionised labour forces in this case, but to domesticated “reproductive forces” or cheap and docile clinical subjects, who badly need even the miserable payments they typically receive. If clinical subjects receive miserable payments, revenues for the hospitals, and perks for the doctors who choose or test the subjects in the trials take place in developing countries, or even in the so-called “emergent” economies (Brazil, India, China, though as they ae already in the top ten economies of the world, the term “emergent” is a bit misleading) are significant. India, in fact, has been a privileged field for these transnational clinical trials, not only for commercial firms which want to shorten the time-gap between the lab and the market, but even for non-profit organisations which also want rapid biomedical advances, shortening the interval between  the results obtained in “wet labs” and their therapeutic application (above all, in the USA), with the prospect of sales everywhere in the world. India has been a privileged field for these transnational clinical trials, at the request not only of normal profit-seeking commercial firms in Big Pharma which want to shorten the temporal hiatus between lab and market, but even of non-profit organizations which also want rapid biomedical advances, shortening the interval between the “wet lab” results and their application in therapy (in the first instance, in the USA). These trials have been, at least until recently, carried out on young illiterate unemployed persons, without the conditions of “informed and free consent” having been fulfilled, even though the requirement of such conditions has been the fundamental maxim of medical ethics in the West (even if in practice it is often evaded or derogated in one way or another). Certainly, the local agents involved in such clinical trials, physicians, clinics, hospitals, etc., do not always evince strong humanitarian concerns, their own gains in money or kind being uppermost in their priorities. In sum, a poorly regulated market[14].

Even so, the need for clinical trials in an age of great expansion of high-tech research medicine is such that an American professor of bioethics has claimed that there is a prima facie moral obligation on all adult citizens of the country to participate in clinical trials, even against their will, therefore rendering nugatory the much-vaunted maxim of free informed consent, obsolete, according to her. If this putative moral obligation were translated into law, it could entail a very considerable widening of the universe of “subjects” of these trials, most adults becoming, as it were, potential biomedial experimentees or triallees, regardless of their own feelings about the matter. We would all or nealy all, if adult, become “biomedical citizens”, so to speak, as those who participated in above-ground nuclear trials, in the decades during which they took place, at least owing to the circumstance of propinquity, civilians or military, were called by some scholars “atomic citizens”, or as those affected, physically or psychologically, by the Chernobyl catastrophe, called themselves “biological citizens”. Such a development might reduce the need for outsourcing clinical trials to poorer countries, and to the least able to refuse the meager pecuniary inducements offered, but the demand for clinical subjects is so huge that not even this beneficial side-effect might occur on any significant scale[15]. Nevertheless, even those who subject themselves voluntarily to such trials do not receive compensation if things go wrong, not even expenses. A few years ago a very respectable American biomedical institution at the national level urged the recruitment of prisoners for medical trials, with or without their “informed consent”, with the argument that the need for clinical trial subjects continues to be very great, and therefore it would be appropriate if some ethical or legal restraints were to be waived (they did not dwell on inauspicous precedents: the tradition of subjecting prisoners, especially long-term prisoners, even more so Afro-Americans, to medical trials, including psychosurgery, is a long-enduring one, and not only in the USA)[16].

FIVE. If our biographee looks for a job, and is successful, she/he will most likely work for a firm (or several concurrently), as public sector employment is in steady decline (and in any case public sector organizations aim at mirroring the practices and criteria of firms in markets). Firms in general operate in a shifting and insecure market, or rather outer market (for their internal markets are subject too to volatility and arbitrariness) and indeed often in a world market undergoing the pressures of labour arbitrage and thus the likelihood of outsourcing to other countries, to automatic devices or simply to algorithms. For there are now algorithms for sports journalism, authorship of romances, student essays, grading exam answers, writing technical reports, peer-reviewing of biomedical articles, scientific research (the “robot scientists”), or for trading in Stock Exchanges, the “high-frequency traders”, replacing human traders on an ever-increasing scale (as recommended by semi-official reports on the financial services industries), etc.. One can free-lance of course, and with the casualisation or fragmentation of labour in many branches of economic activity this may be the result, if not the preferred option. By “fragmentation” of labour I have in mind particularly the recent development of “microtasking” for firms like Amazon and other “digital sweatshops”, as they have been called by some critics[17]. IT industries have not been by any means lacked fairly systematic attempts at deskilling, but software designers or engineers haver remained unmanageable by the firms that hire such people, despite repeated endeavours over the last fifty years to bring their employment conditions into line with the rest of the white-collar labour force. In fact, a counter-movement has occurred in the last few years, “code stylists” and top programmers having become significant entrepreneurs in their own right.

States have been encouraging the spirit of enterprise, if not always providing the means for ensuring the capital help for enterprises, but in any case any of us can register as a firm, or several at the same time (at least in the UK), possibly including all adult members of the family/household (though in some cases children, such as child models or singers or hackers, can be added to the entrepreneurial pool, as it were, as formerly they might be added to the labour pool of the family as a collection of wage-earners). As self-employed, we can be employer, employee and entrepreneur concurrently: one could say at the same time, but perhaps at different times of the day one could take turns at the different roles, the distinctions being analytical or conceptual rather than empirical. Indeed the expression “self-entrepreneur” was coined recently, those who run “self-enterprises”.

Given the pervasive pressures for redefining all occupational or professional roles as entrepreneurial, it was only to be expected that socialization for entrepreneurship is being formally developed.  There are now nursery schools where the merits of entrepreneurship are taught and  entrepreneurs in national and international life glorified (the “heroes of production” or any rate the “heroes of entrepreneurship” or the “heroes of finance”, positive or negative,are back, even if the “heroes of consumption”, the media celebrities, continue to preoccupy the media and vast tracts of cyberspace). The Girl Scouts of America are going to organize, if they have not already done so, competitions for the presentation of the best “business models” and demonstration of the best knowledge of accounting, and not only of “home economics”, as before (will they  be prepared to be “traders”?). Just as in some Catholic cultures families and the priesthood sought to stimulate in the whole populace from early childhood the maximum of vocations for the religious life, for the secular or regular clergy, the religious orders for men and women, in this brave new world incentives are being set up to stimulate the maximum of vocations for entrepreneurial life, or, failing that, at least for the role of good customers, of good consumers. The socialization of even small children for the role of consumers/customers in a market economy begins now quite early: there are now apps for iPhones for children from the age of three months onwards, with increasing importance assigned to videogames, as they reach the age of 3 or 5, taking up a lot of their time, enough for addiction. Certainly complete familiarity with the ubiquity of electronic screens, big and small, domestic or other, in watches, toys, appliances of all kinds, every conceivable technological object, 24/7, can be achieved easily. Digital toys of many different varieties are supplanting analog ones, and electronic screens and mobile devices become ubiquitous in domestic and extra-domestic settings from a very early age. It has been claimed that  thereby children’s relationship to the physical world (insofar as it is not yet transfigured digitally and virtualized) may change, and this is a topic that deserves investigation in cognitive-developmental psychology. And what will be the effect of giving a four-year old a Kindle well before printed books?

SIX. Scientific work will increasingly be done in firms (institutes, universities laboratories redesigned as firms or closely associated with firms, formally and informally), or at the service of other firms, in a global market of “science for sale”, or “privatized science”. Many scientists, even among the most “pure” ones, like Einstein, applied for patents for various inventions (to little advantage, in effect), but such activities took place as if they were subsidiary or even peripheral to their basic interests as scientists; mostly they neither gained muh profit,  prestige, status or influence from such side-lines (there were notable exceptions of course, especially in Germany, as the cases of Haber and Nernst remind us). But today the typus of the free, independent, autonomous scientist (the very paradigm of the inner-directed personality) tends to yield to the more prevalent -or at any rate more congruent with the spirit of the age- figure of the scientist-entrepreneur or even the triple figure of the scientist-engineer-entrepreneur, of which there are many examples in Silicon Valley and other similar configurations in the USA and other countries (some of which have sought avidly to emulate Silicon Valley).

Scientist-entrepreneurs in the last few decades have made up an important contingent of start-ups in areas such as the new technologies of information and communication. But many have been playing important roles in various fields of biogenetics, a key example being J. Craig Venter, also a genius in self-publicity, as well as a billionaire, whose private venture, driving at maximum speed, was able to surpass in some respects the publicly-funded Human Genome Project (itself conceived as a “fast” project, for political reasons). Venter became one of the founders of synthetic biology, more radical than genetic engineering in its common acceptation, though he himself is being overtaken by even more radical geneticists, some of whom now expect the laboratory manufacture of a living cell within decades, a “Second Genesis”, a “Second Creation” or a “Regenesis” as they call it already (with many other achievements of biomedical value long before that epochal event).  Numerous scientists who research in private or public universities have strong links with firms, not least big corporations, in areas of genetics or biomedicine, or are co-founders of firms in these domains. Even if not scientist-entrepreneurs, many scientists now own shares in the firms for whom they have done research, for they were paid in part I shares of these firms, especially inn the case of biomedical firms, of the pharmaceutical industry, of Big Pharma: the rise of the scientist-shareholder is a cause for concern, given the obvious possibility of a conflict of interest in having a stake in firms for which they research. At the limit, we would have not only a “capitalism of shareholders” in which the increase of share values becomes a prime force in the direction of enterprises, but a “science of shareholders” in which scientist-entrepreneurs or scientist-shareholders participate in this variant of capitalism (besides shares, scientists often benefit from stock-options, to bind them more closely to the interests of big firms, especially in the pharmaceutical field). Even essentially salaried reserchers in academia work for institutions which are increasingly commercialized, entrepreneurialized, and dependent on the practices and expectations of  the capitalism of shareholders, globally speaking, whatever their subjective sense of inner independence in relation to the world of “total capitalism”. In any case, the emergence of the “science of shareholder scientists”, as we characterized it, was not foreseen by the scholars of science studies, especially those immersed in “laboratory studies” as microscosms of science work .

Besides their entrepreneurial roles, many scientists are also managers in universities, not least in connexion with their teams, or in research centers, out of necessity or from a sense of vocation. Many more will have to follow courses in management and marketing as so much scientific work is done in teams, and sets of teams, in great and often long-duration (measures in years or even decades) collective projects. The collectivization of physics research has long been established, resulting in many articles signed by well over one hundred “authors”, listed in the alphabetical order of their surnames. Comparable collectivization of research and hence publication is now being demanded in the social sciences, which, however lack the large laboratories and experimental facilities enabling experimental series lasting decades which have stimulated such occurrences. But no matter, management-speak and market-speak tend to pervade the fields of research science and academia turning our world into at least an apparent cultural Homogenocene, comparable to that scientists have indicated for the biological world (“Homogenocene” is the very word they have used), as a result of the reduction of biodiversity brought about by our anthropogenic, technogenic and market-led practices.

SEVEN. For coherent market libertarians, churches or religious confessions in general ought to compete in the free market without legal restrictions on entry –such as those imposed by some liberal States, let alone de facto or de jure theocracies- concerning authorization, registration, fiscal concessions and public law guarantees comparable to those which historic confessions have enjoyed, even if they have been losing privileges, through disestablishment or by other means. For a libertarian who sees the free market as the paradigm for all worthwhile modes of social activity, there is no reason, in principle, so long as the criminal law is not infringed (and perhaps this body of law should be minimalist, as befits a “minimal State”), why it should not be allowed to any individual to register a confessional enterprise or enlist himself/herself as a minister of whatever religion (not necessarily theist or deist, to be sure, paganism or Buddhism being accepted widely in the UK), selling or buying belief statements, creeds, breviaries, liturgies, ceremonies, hymns, etc, registered or even patented as Intellectual Property. Such religious associations can have a purely virtual existence, such as the “radio churches” which flourished in the USA and Brazil in the thirties, and today “online religion”, not just televangelists, still has a lot of scope for growth. Conversely, any person, any citizen, should be at liberty to opt for any of the claimants in the religious market, possibly choosing the most promising offer of salvation (as has already been described by eminent sociologists of religion), choose other options afterwards, even more than once, trying them all out perhaps, demand new options, or simply not choose any of the “products” in the multi-religious market (a market which has become truly a market, not just by conceptual analogy, with lucrative religious enterprises selling therapies and counselling, consolation and hope, and other “products”, behaving just like any private corporation, except that, on the whole, one can join and leave more freely). “Pastorpreneurs” continually seek to shape better offers in the religious market Alternatively, any person could opt for one or another of the “products” available in the irreligious or non-religious market which will surely expand in the next decades (atheisms –given the fights amongst atheist groups in recent years, the plural is fitting-, anti-theisms, anatheisms, agnosticisms, scepticisms, solipsisms, “ethical culture”, etc.). This path would lead to the most complete expression of the free competitive dynamic market which America embodied with its changing religious landscape of sects and denominations. Historically, of course, non-exclusivist religions like classical Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism, etc., allowed practicioners to follow several religious ways concurrently (Hinduism has become an exclusivist religion, or at least more so than it has been in recent times, with implications for the incidence of religious strife and fanaticism). Of course there have long been Catholic atheists or pagans, venerating the Church as an institution, defending it to the utmost, but not subscribing, at least inwardly, but sometimes openly, to its belief-system, as the example of Maurras shows, and atheist Anglicans, the noblest one being the philosopher McTaggart (who was no materialist, unlike the common-garden variety of contemporary militant atheism).[18]

EIGHT. Those who are lucky enough to possess gene variants of commercial interest will be able to sell them, or even to set up a commercial genetic/genomic firm for the purpose. As such firms are now engaged in a world drive to patent everything genetic or biological they can get away with, this mode of possessive capitalism is obviously very contagious. The super-rich, certainly the top 1% of income and wealth in the USA who have been the target of strictures by the rest recently, are certainly in a position to buy the best available genes/alleles/super-alleles in the world market for their own enhancement or that of their progeny, or indeed that of others on whom they may wish, for whatever reason, to bestow their philanthropic largesse in this domain. The anarcho-capitalist philosopher Robert  Nozick, in his famous book Anarchy, law and the State (1971), outlined a “genetic supermarket” (he had in mind human genes, though a supermarket of genes of other forms of live is conceivable too) on a world scale, to which all parents desirous of enhancing their progeny’s genetic capital ought to have free access, at least in legal and moral terms, without interference from States, Churches and other authorities. The free market in genes, specifically of super-alleles, has been defended by numerous bioethicists in recent years, a version of the liberalism of biomarkets, or biogenetic maket liberalism which has exerted strong influence on public opinion. Some indeed have gone further: not only should it be permitted to seek the best genes for our children but in fact it should be construed as a moral obligation, as a strict duty to seek to do so, if at all financially feasible: from may to ought in a couple of decades! Still, they stop short of suggesting that the State should provide capital for the genetic improvement of its entire children’s population, or provide financial incentives to parents for so doing, but why not? – they would become more successful wealth-creators, an despite tax avoidance at which they would doubtless be very good, aggregate tax revenues might increase.

Some geneticists or bioethicists are perfectly content to accept the radical implications of this market in a strongly unequal society, where the wealth gap between the billionaire stratum and the rest has increased fairly steadily since the 1970s. They foresee with relish the coming of a “reprogenetic revolution” (the combination of the new reproductive technologies and genetic ones) leading to the formation of two biological or biogenetic classes of humans, the “gene-rich” (endowed with the most desirable alleles, “super-alleles”) and the “gene-poor”[19]. This could become a two-class society, even, according to some who subscribe to this vision, a two-species society, which seems biologically doubtful, as surely they could still interbreed. Still, something like a two-caste society might well emerge in this scenario, with genetic tests being applied to maintain social and occupational boundaries, as human genetic screening has become very sophisticated, cheap, easy and quick to apply, so a genetically transparent society, in which everyone’s genetic profile would be accessible to everyone, could well emerge (one’s own genome can be accessed privately at ever-lower prices, with the fast advances in gene sequencing technology and falling costs). That this deep genetic divide between two categories of compatriots should be contemplated with equanimity by reputable geneticists in democratic America today is noteworthy.

Still, the markets in question, markets in human genes, have not yet developed as it had been envisaged by the bioethicists. In the last three or four decades questions concerning the property rights over “our” genes, the genes resident in “our” bodies, which were identified and processed by biomedical companies, becoming thereby Intellectual Property, have been the subject of protracted legal disputes in a number of countries, reaching even their Supreme Courts, albeit with different outcomes in different countries: some of thes have arisen from the collection of genetic materials from tribal and ethnic groups without their knowledge or consent. Even if we don’t always lose property rights over our genes, our DNA, when they happen to be of interest to a biomedical company, biotechnology, as the great dream/nightmare of our time, with all the cornucopian promises of new medicines, biofuels, materials, food, etc., gains the support of governments, some of which have invested politically on a grand scale on its development, the list of patented human genes is likely to grow anyway where such patenting is already allowed. In 2005 there were already more than four thousand human genes patented, that is, about one-fifth of our total genome: more have presumably been added since then and surely more to come. Gene patents refer to sequences of genes or segments of genes, or proteins produced by genes, that is to say, the structures, functions and processes of genes. In their great majority the patents in question  do not protect inventions properly so-called, but discoveries of how to sequence genes and related entities. Perhaps for the first time in history the patent system, and the State guarantees involved, have been used to protect the profits of companies accruing from such discoveries, and not from inventions[20]. The liberal critics of the patent system, which supposedly favours the free market economy (at any rate it is so justified by many vociferous advocates of the free market, if not by the more consistent economic liberals), note that only in this domain have patents stimulated in a very significant way research and development in firms, that is to say on the exploitation of discoveries which should not, in principle, according to the classical theory of patents, legitimately claim property rights.  Of course, with genetic modification of organisms biotechnology firms feel in firmer grounds to claim patents, but even then they seek long-term control over buyers and users of, for example, their seeds of GMOs, of  an unprecedented kind, and use their huge legal resources to the utmost to discipline and intimidate them.

NINE. Besides our genetic inheritance, we possess organs which may also elicit biomedical interest, and thus it may be sensible that anyone in this situation should register as a firm for the sale of organs (or even of members), even if some may prefer to delay this in order, for example, to wait for the best market price. It is true that the sale of organs by their “owners” is still forbidden, for how long it is difficult to tell, as many bioethicists insist that it should be unbanned, and left to the discretion of individuals (who of course may be in desperate need of money, owing to chronic poverty), but for the time being there is a reasonably flourishing transnational black market in this area. In fact, according to the close student of these practices, the investigative journalist Scott Carney one could speak more comprehensively of a worldwide “red market”, in which human organs, body parts, blood, bones, ligaments, women’s hair for wigs, facial hair for beards or moustaches, etc., are transplanted and traded quite extensively, legally or illegally, within and across countries or continents.[21] These are elements of the quite varied human-biological globalization processes today.

With the advances of biomedicine, it has become possible to transplant various kinds of organs successfully, and with relative safety for the donors (though some “donors” were dead, or kept alive just for the operation, after which life-support machines were switched off)[22]. In the next few decades, the range of successfully transplantable organs is likely to increase, making possible in due course something like a modularization of the human body from the standpoint of biomedicine. Modularization, of course, has been one of the constitutive principles of industrialization, quite early in effect in the USA, so much so that a cultural interpretation of the American economy was published with the title Modular America, so it is not surprising that the scope of modularization has now embraced the human body.

The Modular Human, biologically or perhaps better organologically speaking, would represent something like a biomedical/biomarket version of the corpus mysticum, and the globalization of biohuman markets, of reproduction, and migrations, converge into a kind of panmixia, maintaining the biological unity and unicity of our species. It is this biological unity of humankind which some reprogeneticists would like to disappear. Yet this unity has grounded the epistemological unity of humankind, from which they, and science as a whole, has benefited.

With the new transplant techniques, and the increasing numbers of those who need transplants for the sake of life and health, new markets have arisen, at least black markets (and there are always entrepreneurs for these activities), though it is not yet clear whether there will be “white markets” as well with the legalization of the sale of organs, though surely black markets (or indeed the international “red market” as a whole) in this domain are very unlikely to vanish.  As in the case of other advanced biomedical technologies, in the case of organ transplants, there arise necessarily thorny ethical issues, dilemmas, aporias, predicaments, at least in contemporary circunstances, addressed by a large body of publications by philosophers, bioethicists, biomedical practicioners and a variety of commentators, religious and secular, economists and other experts. In the future, regenerative medicine, the growing of new tissues in particular (the subject of great interest by DARPA[23]), and electronic  or electronico-mechanical prostheses, such as the artificial heart which may be commercialized in the next few years, brain implants for the command of prostheses, etc., will surely mitigate, even if they may never preempt completely, the need for transplants, and thus the ethical issues implicated in organ transplants may lose some of their urgency.

The rich will be able to buy the best organs for transplant in the global hypermarket for human organs, whether in the black or white markets (though one might better speak of grey markets in this and other cognate areas). It is not, to be sure, a purely one-way market from South to North or South-South. As market solutions are nearly unanimously recommended by the most influential economists and innumerable think tanks for all areas of life, especially where there are problems of supply, the entry of human organs for transplant in a lawful specific market has been defended as the most effective non-coercive measure for raising the supply, if not to match demand completely (for demand has been increasing owing to the Longevity Revolutions), for voluntary donations, whilst increasing significantly in recent years, fall far short of the demand. The free legal market, global, naturally, in human organs has been defended by a number of bioethicists, whom one might call “market (or market libertarian) bioethicists”, since their ethical analyses point prevalently to market solutions for whatever problems they address: they tend to be utilitarians in their ethical approach, though perhaps not all utilitarian or consequentialist ethicists would subscribe to this recommendation of a free market in human organs[24]. None have defended the thesis with such sustained and extensive argumentation as the American philosopher James Stacey Taylor in his  book Stakes and kidneys: why markets in human body parts are morally imperative (2005). Indeed, he goes further than the mere defence of a free legal market in human organs, with every adult being entitled to sell or buy organs, according to their financial circumstances. For him there is nothing immoral in buying organs from those who resort to the sale of their organs in order to survive, or for some other desperate reason or plight (eg to pay ransoms for a kidnapped relative[25]).  But more than that, he advances the stronger thesis that we have a moral duty, in principle, to participate in the market for organs for transplant. One should be clear that he was not simply saying that we have a moral duty to give organs for transplant, insofar as that would not impair one’s health or endanger one’s life, if required by kinded or strangers in danger of death, or in other words to participate in the gift economy for such. Many philosophers and bioethicists have argued that, and States are disposed to incentivate such donations, given the rising demand for transplants, and the chronic deficit in supply. He was saying that we have a duty to sell them, if we do not want to give organs for transplant voluntarily for free, given the limiting conditions that one should not thereby compromise one’s health and life-expectancy (though there will always be an element of risk for the donor as well as for the donee). He emphatically claimed that there is nothing morally wrong in poor desperate people resorting to organ donation. If the thesis advanced by this philosopher were to prevail, and this moral obligation to sell if not to give, were shared widely, certainly the market for organs for transplant would flourish openly[26].

It is the case that, with the considerable numbers of persons who suffer fatal injuries in car accidents yearly, extraction of organs has been taking place, with the consent of relatives, if there are any. Governments, bearing in mind this spontaneous, regular, potential supply of organs for transplant, have indeed sought to improve the supply of free organs by requiring as a necessary condition for obtaining a driving license, that the applicant should declare in an appropriate form whether he or she consents, refuses or wishes to consider further the issue of being subject to the extraction of organs for transplant in the case of a fatal accident. The expectation is that through inertia, a majority will simply tick the first box as the default option, and thus their names will be entered on the national register of those who have consented to such a procedure (an electronic list, of course, subject to the hazards of all digitally recorded information). It is not clear whether such a declaration is binding for life, as it were, an anomaly in these “flexible” times where all choices, like all prices, can be revised, or whether, if the owner of a driving license issued under these circumstances were to change his mind on this issue, he could have this change of mind registered and accepted by the authorities.

A very recent proposal may point the way to a future in which not only the market for organs for transplant will be finally legalized, but it will also be interrelated with other new markets for quite different goods and services (the “cross-pollination of markets”). The proposal was that English students, whose fees can reach nine thousand pounds per annum or more in public universities, should be allowed to sell a kidney each, at possibly twenty-eight thousand pounds, a reasonable price, it seems, for buyers and sellers, more or less equivalent to the average annual income in the UK (and would pay for three years’ fees, though not for subsistence during that time, or books, photocopies, etc.[27]). Thus the burden of the bank debt incurred for the payment of university fees could be alleviated at no cost to the Exchequer, at least directly. Now the broad climate of opinion concerning the sale of organs for transplant has not yet changed so much as to trigger a wave of enthusiasm in the general public for this market solution for the financing of universities through student fees, as well as for the shortage of organs for transplant, given a constantly rising demand, as legitimate, necessary or even imperative. Yet the fact that the proposal was made by an academic, a senior sociologist, as it happens a researcher in the sociology of medicine in a Scottish university, is noteworthy[28].

If the proposal was made in the first place about university students in England[29], victims of unexpected large rises in fees, there is nothing unique about their plight in economically adverse conditions, except perhaps their age, for they would contemplate a long life without one of their kidneys, for example. Analogous proposals of comparable validity (such as it was) could surely be made, by parity of reasoning, with respect to the indigent, the homeless, chronic dependents on welfare, the long-term unemployed, those in care, perhaps, or indeed any person or category of persons in dire financial straits (many of the same categories of persons once targeted in quite a number of Western countries for measures of negative eugenics[30]). However, if the supply of organs for transplant might well go up and up, with a large population of organ sellers, were the supply were to rise too much, the price would fall, and the gains to sellers decrease (there might be a need to sell yet more organs). One might look at it another way: the estimates of the statistical value of a life, or of our “net worth” in financial matters, might have to be revised upwards in the light of the proceeds that might accrue from the sale of varied organs of our bodies if such markets are legalized, for these were assets which were not previously recognized in terms of their exchange-value if “harvested”, only their use-value for our bodily life, our organic being, our work life. The concept of (human) “physiological capital” formulated in the 1990s by the economist Robert Fogel (stature, body size, longevity, robustness, capacity of vital organ systems) did not encompass tradeable assets but it might perhaps include now “somatic capital”, or perhaps, more exactly, “organological capital”, in the sense of the market value of the sum-total (∑) of all our tradeable organs, the organs we might be able to sell in regular legal markets without serious permanent detriment to our health (something of a novelty given the regularity of transplants in the age of biomedicine)[31].

TEN. In the field of human reproduction, the market for gametes, eggs and sperm, for artificial human insemination, has already been globalized. There are still countries which prohibit the export of such, like India, but none appears to ban their import, and even if they did, international “reproductive tourism” or “fertility tourism” can overcome these statutory barriers (many countries could claim conjoint export-import accounts for these matters). There are price lists which may be easily consulted online, provided by specialist firms, although this market is not yet sufficiently differentiated and competitive, with a chronic supply deficit in the case of various ethnic groups in the USA, in the UK, and possibly also in other European countries also with immigrant communities from other continents. The oocytes of Harvard undergraduettes fetch the highest prices by far in the relevant marketplace in the USA (tens of thousands of dollars for each have been quoted), relative to those of  women students in other American universities: in fact, there appears to be a strong correlation between this list and the international ranking of universities in the North American case[32]. That being the case, it might be cheaper and far less time-consuming to determine the ranking of universities, at least of American ones, inasmuch as this market has not yet made significant inroads in the UK and other European countries, by this price list, than by the tedious procedures that have been set up in the last decades for this purpose: there is perhaps no better proxy indicator for the purpose. The choice of sperm donors can be made via videos, or online, according to a range of biometric or psychometric data (height of the male is a prime consideration for women users, often the very top criterion), medical certificates, educational and professional curriculum or the results of SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Tests), and photos, the prices being far, far lower and more erratically distributed than that of eggs (credit scores, a relatively new metric, at least in its systematization by specialist agencies on the basis of on-line digital data, now apparently essential for dating amongst certain sections of the population, might possibly be added to the other required data). The market for gametes, even when it needs must be a black market, has been predominantly North-North, or a domestic one, unlike other biological markets, much more transcontinentalized, following an economic gradient, with the buyers predominantly located in the richer countries (as they used to be), as in the case of markets for human organs, genes, gestation, or presumably more innocent transnational ones, like that for human hair. Nevertheless, if proposals like the one previously mentioned in section NINE, of legalizing the sale and purchase of human organs were to be implemented, the market for organs at least could become much more national.   

ELEVEN. Human gestation, or the “reproductive labour” of women, like other forms of labour, can be outsourced, in this case only to other women, free, or for a price, to relatives (sisters, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins), to friends, or even complete strangers in faraway countries, with all sorts of unconventional implications for the definitions, legal or informal, of family and kinship relations. In principle, the deal could be worked out person-to-person (or, as they say, peer-to-peer) online, without intermediaries, as in dating sites, but there already exists a market for the outsourcing of gestation to women in other continents for a price, with possibly additional criteria, with specialist firms handling this delicate business, the prices varying according to the countries concerned and the preferences of the genetic parents, or indeed the prospective legal parents who may not be genetically involved at all, for whatever reasons, such as being a same-sex couple. In the USA, where commercial surrogacy is legal, surrogate mothers may be obliged to fulfill their contractual obligation regardless of how they feel after giving birth, and market-libertarian jurists like Richard Posner have argued strongly that this contract should be legally binding and strictly enforced[33]. India has hosted the largest number of surrogate pregnancies of any country, commissioned by Western couples: moneywise, it has been claimed that it is often a fairly good deal for them or their families (psychic costs and other non-monetary considerations) are not taken into account). In the UK, commercial surrogate pregnancy is banned, and couples look for surrogate mothers for their genetic children in countries like India.[34]

In this field, too, complex questions of identitary jurisprudence arise, especially, if not exclusively, when the outsourcing is transnational or transcontinental. In France, recently, babies born from embryos of biological or rather genetic parents of French nationality, implanted on Indian women as hired wombs, were denied French nationality, in spite of the long-standing rule that the child of French citizens, wherever it was born, was entitled to French nationality[35]. The French Republic, one might say, remains obsessed with the notion that the womb that gestates a future child of French citizens must itself be of a woman of French citizenship, a kind of reproductive protectionism[36]. Cases like this reveal a conflict between the State and the market (even in a fairly market-oriented State) in an area where the pre-definitions of nationality, even according to the jus sanguinis, did not envisage or foresee this kind of oddity[37].

Questions of this kind will lose their raison d’être when the so-called “artificial wombs” arrive, in the next few decades, with all the functionalities required, and gestation may then take place outside any natural biological body, human or non-human, under perfectly controlled conditions[38]. Ectogenesis in the strict sense dreamed by the biologist, geneticist and evolutionary biologist, indeed a polymath, JBS Haldane as the most subversive biological invention that he could think of at the time, would at last be a reality[39]. He had announced in the same manifesto, in 1923, that all biological inventions were potentially subversive, and no social institution whatever would long remain immune to the subversions stemming from them. He was in fact imputing to what later came to be known as biotechnology, especially human biotechnology, an exalted role as the major revolutionary agency of the 20th c. and the following, and we have been witnesssing the realization of some of this potential in the last few decades, and there might well much more to come in the same subversive fashion (as a socialist, he did not, at the time at least, believe that political agency, the work of political parties and revolutionary elites could surpass it as a revolutionary force, at any rate as far as the long run is concerned). It would be the climax of the Reproductive Revolution which has been shaping or at least influencing in major ways, the demography, gender relations, the family, and other phases of social life, especially in the West, with the provision of a variety of new technologies which have broken through hallowed and long-standing legal, religious and moral barriers, prejudices and anxieties. We may date this revolutionary process from the introduction of the first effective female contraceptive pill, if not earlier, or from 1978, with the birth of the first test-tube baby. On the other hand, the artificial womb which in a way marks the transition from artificial reproduction to the age of synthetic reproduction, may not in fact be the terminus. The prospect of human reproductive cloning was reaffirmed by a knighted geneticist, a participant in the Dolly cloning, in 2012: it would be appropriate to accomplish this, he argued, for the sake of bereaved parents of small children (if they want it, he said, why should we stop them?)[40]. But with or without the availability of human reproductive cloning in the next fifty years, the combination of the new reproductive technologies and genetic engineering or even synthetic biology may ensue in a Reprogenetic Revolution, as mentioned earlier.

TWELVE. Human blood for transfusions has been commercialized for decades in the USA, with significant numbers of  destitute people depending on regular blood sales for their livelihood. The introduction of a market for blood in the UK decreased the voluntary supply of blood donations, which had been very considerable for decades, a fact which had been a legitimate source of national pride as much as the NHS. The social scientist Richard Titmuss in his classic book of 1971, The gift relationship: human blood and social policy, had already warned that a crowding out effect on voluntary offer of goods or services for altruistic ends was likely to occur with its commodfication, with a deterioration in quality. This has been much debated, but there is sufficient plausibility for this thesis to provide it with an eponymous accolade as the “Titmuss effect”. Something like what happened to blood donations has occurred with other varieties of gifts of life, of altruism, following the creation of markets, price scales, etc.[41]. It is interesting to note that the commercialization of human blood donations was a pioneering venture in the setting-up of human biomarkets on an ever larger scale in our techno-market societies: after the marketisation of human blood, there came markets for human gametes, tissues, cells, genes, organs (which market may well be legalized before too long), etc.

THIRTEEN. There is a case pending in the Supreme Court of the USA which concerns the issue of whether physicians should or should not be obliged legally to sell  to pharmaceutical enterprises their clinical notes relating to their prescriptions for their patients, filed as digital data should they so request. As in all cases where it is required that data be stored in digital format (a practically universal requirement in Western countries and even when it is not strictly required by law, it is spreading anyway), it is to be expected that, eventually, they will be accessed by third parties, malicious or otherwise. Most often this will take place without the knowledge of the persons whose data were thus filed, and  even without the knowledge or consent of the professionals who committed themselves in good faith initially to ensuring their privacy and safety. The access to such e-data will take place by legal, semi-legal or illegal means, at least through hacking, data-mining, or cyber-theft. The access to data for commercial effects is sometimes guaranteed by law, but obviously there is a considerable demand for an extension of this access. In the case of data protected on the grounds of national security, cyber-theft, hacking, cyber-spying and cyber-war become ever more sophisticated. Indeed, one might argue that we already live in an age of permanent cyber-war, at any rate of continuous cyber-espionage, and never-ending attempts to breach the cyber-security of foreign state agencies to access secret data of varied kinds, sometimes with weapons like potent computer viruses or worms disabling physical installations like nuclear reactors or centrifuges. Be that as it may, the extraction and storage of digital data makes the commercial and criminal exploitation of personal data easier, not only in the case of clinical data, but throughout our cyber-lives, encompassing today practically all our commercial transactions in “advanced” countries, our e-mails, SMSs, online chats, internet visits (not just Facebook and other social media networks), photos on-line with Instagram and the like. All episodes of electronic communications, and a very large proportion of Western populaces which have become a sort of “e-demos”, commit digital acts of one sort or another by the hundreds or thousands per day, building up cumulatively considerable “digital footprints” and “digital shadows” of their authors[42]. Even the great enthusiasts for the “Data Revolution” (latterly the “Big Data Revolution”) enabled by the huge flows of messages of electronic communicatins in commercial and professional activities, not to mention personal matters, 24/7, and of course machine-to-machine communication (MMC), which already exceeds in volume human-to-human communication, and will grow with the development of the “Internet of things”, recognize that all digital information is  hackeable, theft-prone, and commercially exploitable, though this is not to say that it cannot be put to positive, if unintentional uses, by third parties for the common good, such as the detection of earthquakes, epidemics, and other natural calamities via traffic intensities[43]. One cannot fail to mention the use of such data by and for the “surveillance states” already in being, whose appetite for the tapping of digital communications appears to be unlimited, and requires the building of extraordinary large structures and complexes, whilst the improvement, even the perfection, of encryption technology remains a high priority (unbreakable codes, possibly post-digital, of quantum information, are the Holy Graal of the digital age). All digital information produced and circulated in the human-machine world enters the circuits of commodification, licit or illicit, sooner or later, in some respect or other. In any case, the end of personal privacy as a result of the Digital Revolution has been proclaimed repeatedly by the digerati over the last two decades or so, and emphatically reasserted by commentators regarding the recent explosion of smartphones, now outpacing unembedded computers. Of course, some notable students of the subject have argued for some time that we have to stop our lamentations or forego our misgivings on this score, and simply accept, and make the best of, the emerging “transparent society”.

THIRTEEN A. Electronic communication, with the “digital revolution”, became a great multiplier and accelerant of universal commodification. Universal in geographical extent, and even more importantly in the ever-increasing scope of what can be included in the process of digitalization and electronic/photonic transmission: messages, visual images, sounds, ideas, memes, news, sex, physical goods or scripts for their making, formulae, objects, properties, geospatial information, weapons, etc.  

Financial globalization, a key lever for globalization in the wider sense from the 1970s in particular, even though we still live in a “semi-globalized” world, quite a bit less “flat” than has been proclaimed, has in turn become a mechanism for accelerated commodification. Financial instruments, ever more abstruse and even incomprehensible to their own users, operate in Stock Exchanges, and are processed in ever-greater proportion, as “high-frequency computer trading” (also called “algorithmic trading” or “black-box trading”), i.e., algorithms devised by mathematicians and physicists with PhDs from the best universities, the “quants”, who flooded into the financial services industry from the 70s onwards (though the “quants” but a sub-species of the “numerati” in all sorts of service industries and defence/security agencies). The proportions of the total share transactions in such places processed by algorithms and not by human traders has increased to the point that they comprise in some instances in the USA in 2011 something like 75% of all transactions. Other Stock Exchanges have been urged to increase the proportion to 80%  or 90%, reducing the role of human traders to that of a residual category in this business, handling a small proportion of the volume and value of the financial transactions taking place in such places. Taking into account the stress of these activities for human agents (some claimed “to nearly die every day” to researchers), perhaps this replacement of humans by computer algorithms, meatware by software, should be seen in a positive light, up to a point. However, the advantages claimed for fast efficient processing of share deals by software programs have to be weighed against the financial and macro-economic instability and the Great Recession starting in 2007/8, for which the financial services industry is surely responsible, if unrepentant.

The “robot traders” represent a kind of advance guard of the “smart” robots, in  a greater proportion than in most other major industries, which have been assigned manifold tasks in the “knowledge economy”, a.k.a. “knowledge capitalism” or “digital capitalism”, replacing the “wetware” of human professionals, whose brains, as yet innocent of neurotechnology, are unable to process fast enough the bitstreams of data arriving every minute, every second, every nanosecond, with the maximum compression of cyber-space and cyber-time. “Robot scientists”, as they were called when first designed a few years ago by a team of geneticists, have been making progress in the field in which they were initially assigned, that of molecular genetics, actually making new discoveries and not only corroborating received knowledge: they may take over much of the more time-consuming labours of graduate research assistants. “Robot journalists” only started in 2011, and may be regarded as still only incipient, but seem very promising, especially in the areas of sports journalism, financial jornalism and property journalism: in any case, “computer-assisted journalism”, or “computational journalism” are phrases that enjoy a certain vogue in the USA ( a successful company in this endeavour, Narrative Science, boasts of an artificial intelligence platform that can transform any body of data into comprehensible articles). The interactive “conversational robot” teaches how to speak English online (it is not clear to me which sort, since there is no phonetic World English, striclty speaking though perhaps increasingly American accents will predominate), has arrived in Japan, and achieved much success, though not, oddly enough, given the worldwide need for such teaching, widely exported. Algorithms in automata will undoubtedly be ever more widespread, replacing or complementing wetware in agriculture, livestock production, industry, commerce, transport, the workplace, surgery, science, warfare, outer space exploration.

And of course there is hardly any significant industrial, commercial, financial, or intellectual activity in the sciences, humanities (the “digital humanities” movement) or even in the arts (above all in architecture) which is not in some fashion computer-assisted, some indeed computer-assisted through every phase, even if only some of these activities are designated by acronyms such as CAD (computer-assisted design) or CAM (computer-assisted manufacturing) to mark their sharp difference from the common garden varieties of such endeavours (though before too long  such acronyms may not be needed any longer, as they will be the default modes of design and manufacturing). We have also CAPI (computer-assisted personal interview), computer-assisted proofs in mathematics, computer-assisted “discovery” in the American legal process, and soon many, many more CAXXs, in every field of social practices.

FOURTEEN. If the market libertarians have their way, we will pay direct taxes, local or national, if at all, to a State-firm, a State at any rate which is run as much as possible according to the procedures and protocols of commercial companies, whose classical activities have been extensively hived off to private or hybrid companies, hollowed out in order to provide greate scope for private entrepreneurs. Even before these trends came to the fore, the behaviour of civil servants, political parties and voters had been analysed by influential political scientists in the rational choice  paradigm in standard micro-economic terms, by analogy with the behaviour of entrepreneurs, firms, and consumers, ie as actors in simili-markets, even if money was not actually circulated, as in kleptocracies, and literal vote bribery[44]. The analogy had already been put forward by Schumpeter in 1942 (and in similar ways by other Austrian economists) in the case of free competitive parliamentary or presidential elections, and was worked out in systematic terms little more than two decades later by Anthony Downs and others, which many political scientists and economists have found persuasive. Our relationship with the State, if indeed the word itself survives as more than a venerable relic (the term is disfavoured in Anglo-Saxon countries, where even learned judges equate it with the government of the day), if current trends prevail, will be much more like that of consumers/customers in connexion with the provision of certain classes of desired services by a firm, even if a somewhat sui generis one, or a consortium of firms, as the unity of the State/government is sundered (though not as the doctrines of democratic political pluralism envisaged). Whereas the very idea of citizenship normally entailed an exclusive bond with a territorial State (even if not necessarily also individuated in terms of language or ethnicity), the quondam “citizen” morphed into a consumer/customer, or “citizen-consumer”, as it has been called,  for certain “packages” of services, which may be supplied by non-territorially defined state-less agencies, may not feel bound in the same way to a given territory, even if they have lived there all their lives. The example of the wealthy is there, moving to the countries where taxes are lowest if not to “tax havens”, and indeed the more ideologically motivated seem tempted by the ventures of “seasteading”, floating tax havens, whereby they may dwell outside territorial waters as long as possible, and thus free from the legal and fiscal constraints of even the most market-cherishing or market-fearing States, not owing any loyalties to any nonmarket entities. In an ideal world, from the standpoint of market libertarians, all adults should be able to choose freely, independently of their past, in the international market, the best State offer of the day (insofar as States still exist, perhaps as “minimal States”), just as great companies and entrepreneurs do even now with respect to the best “fiscal jurisdictions”, fleeing from the countries with higher direct taxes on income and wealth, attributed primarily to social expenditures (even if defence may in fact be a very substantial claimant on State budgets). This mobility of customers/consumers from State to State, analogous to those of companies seeking the least exigent “fiscal jurisdiction”, would be facilitated if the practice of registering yearly as wanting or not wanting to keep the nationality ascribed to them possibly since birth were to be institutionalized (as has been suggested by an eminent French sociologist, amongst others[45]). Endless eulogies of the “Republic of Choice” (the phrase  seems to me an oxymoron in any case) seem quite unwarranted unless the “choice of republics”  were to be made as free as the choice of consumer goods, or brands, or something like it, since the choice such writers commended is based on the template of consumer choice: market libertarians prescribe a world without any binding ties (except perhaps in the sense of stringent and life-long duties to oneself, as in the concept of Absolute Selfishness put forward by the mentor of so many top financiers, Ayn Rand) except those of free but strictly temporary contracts with others, contingent on mutual consent (though not all contracts are like marriage today revocable on demand by one of the two parties)[46].

States (or unions of states, like the EU) have been generally jealous of their monetary sovereignty. But market libertarians have suggested that private enterprises could issue their own currencies which would compete in the same territory (a national territory or that of a multinational federation)[47]. Even today the agencies that predominantly “produce” money, the  monetary aggregates which appear in national statistics, are predominantly the nonstate banks, or were before so many banks were temporarily nationalized and “quantitative easing” became a frequent practice.

FIFTEEN. If there are still armed forces bound to States, there will be more and more like bands of mercenaries: volunteers for the armed forces, as compulsory military service in peace-time has been abandoned in most Western countries, have already been so-called, unfairly, for their pay is fairly meagre. The international market for weapons, especially but not exclusively advanced ones, which has been so important in the world economy for decades, during and after the Cold War, still flourishing today, may be supplemented by an international market for military, or “specialists of violence” (already tens if not hundreds of thousands of armed civilian security personnel work in dangerous areas in regions like Afghanistan or Iraq, and elsewhere, although they are not generally called “mercenaries”).

Shortage of suitable volunteers (even though criteria of suitability, such as those pertaining to age, height and weight, have been loosened quite a bit in recent years) may be compensated, as always, by qualitative improvements in fighting capacity (as well as the maximization of firepower). Thus some Pentagon programmes aim at the making of “super-soldiers”, provided, for instance, with “exoskeletons”, enabling them to carry far greater loads than hitherto with ease, and at a speed comparable to that ensured by the seven-league boots of classical fairy-tales. In addition, it is envisaged that a wide array of  physical and cognitive enhancements will be afforded by genetic, surgical, neurological and pharmacological means. Drugs, for example, will ensure a state of high alertness and cognitive acuity for many, many hours if not days[48]. These will be complemented by a plethora of prosthetic electronic devices to enhance vision (telescopic, microscopic, and all-around) and hearing, endowing soldiers with a super-sensorium in addition to their super-motorium. Of course, these electronic super-senses are likely to be deployed for civilians sooner or later: Google glasses, and smartphones with microscopic vision, and other optic instruments with both microscopic and telescopic capabilities, when they arrive, will pioneer such devices in civilian life.

In addition, armed robots, unmanned tanks, unmanned helicopters, planes or drones of widely varying sizes, from that of jetliners to tiny almost invisible ones (weighing as little as 16 grams), carrying missiles and other weapons, assisted by swarms of cyber-insects for reconnaissance, even unmanned naval craft, etc., are envisaged or already in being (drones in the sense of unmanned aerial vehicles are of course widely deployed, supposedly for precision killing from the air). There has already been quite a lot of discussion of the ethics of a robotized war, in which robotic weapons platforms fight it out amongst themselves, and decisions not only to destroy other robots, but also to use their firepower to kill humans, bomb and wipe out human populations, will have to be taken in loco by smart robots (thus contradicting Asimov’s 1942 “laws of robotics” as well quite likely the even older “laws of war”). In any case, robotized weapons are likely to play an increasing role even if short of wars between robots and robots exclusively, if some human commands still control the encounters in the last analysis[49]. Meanwhile, as we noted, electronic cyber-warfare, offensive or defensive, has been taking place in the last few decades, conducted by a certain number of countries (USA, China, UK, Russia, Israel, among others), between  hackers and super-hackers, between different sets of computer viruses and worms (accompanied by cyber-espionage and cyber-terrorism, and of course cyber-defence and cyber counter-terrorism, in their industrial, commercial, and political variants). This is an age of Permanent Cyber-War, even if, as yet, without too many episodes of cyber-physical attacks (such as disabling nuclear centirfuges, as has already occurred, a harbinger of things to come).

SIXTEEN. Police forces in the market libertarian world, to which our own world bears at times an uncanny resemblance, will be privatized almost entirely, even if not completely. Neo-liberal economists, or their more extreme peers, argued that within a very competitive market for security services the best (private) police forces will surely survive and flourish. Unless –and this would be another mode of privatization- each individual would assume the police role, perhaps part-time  (as, in principle, even today, we could all make citizen’s arrests, or at least try), in exchange for a reduction in personal taxes (or discount vouchers in supermarkets, which might be only too willing to participate in such a scheme). Or they might be more comfortable with robot policemen, as well as robot judges, the case for which has already been formulated.  

Much surveillance in public spaces is already performed by CCTV, the closed-circuit television cameras which abound in the UK, the country blessed with the highest density per capita of such engines of public security. Smart phones, with their camera capability, may increase the range and scope of such surveillance, which could become the surveillance of all by all, without costs to or participation by the State and its agencies, at no charge to the taxpayer. This is would be what has been called “equiveillance”, a playful variation on the English word “surveillance”, which can be read, remembering the Latin prefix, as surveillance from above, by the authorities, whilst “sousveillance” would mean, by contrast, surveillance from below, or surveillance by subordinates. Some authors have spoken in this context of the “democratization of surveillance”, the “electronic panopticon” or even the “superpanopticon”. Some cyber-theorists strongly urge that we let the “transparent society” of the electronic panopticon consolidate itself, as the struggle to preserve personal privacy is doomed to failure. Such may be our fate.          

Of course, market libertarians (in this case also nonmarket libertarians) are suspicious above all of anything to do with the operations of the State, or government. Thus they would possibly demand video cameras in all Ministries, all public departments, consulates and embassies. Similarly all the proceedings of parliaments, parliamentary committees, party leaders, etc. would be subject to similar surveillance 24/7. Still, if and when the State becomes more or less completely entrepreneurialized, it is to be hoped that the successor firms to the State as it used to be would enjoy the rights of commercial privacy which, in general, protect the decision-making processes within corporations, and indeed, at least in principle, within all commercial firms in democratic capitalist States. In fact, commercial secrets may be better protected, on the whole, than secrets of State, though this is disputable, and may vary over time[50].

SEVENTEEN. In the case of ageing and age-related dysfunctions, there are surprisingly few analyses and recommendations by market libertarians. Homo senectus perhaps falls outside the scope of Homo economicus proper in analytical terms, not being expected to exercise entrepreneurship, in general, though they are certainly consumers, and major customers of certain industries, and voters with perhaps an excessive weight in the “political market”, inasmuch as the young, however verbally political, vote in substantially smaller proportions. We know that the increasing numbers of over-70s, over 80s, over-90s, in Western countries (making up what has been variously called the “age wave”, the “grey invasion”, the “demographic winter”) will have no remedy but to ingress eventually in “care homes” and the like, duly entrepreneurialized, as a growing sector of the economy. Given legal constraints and sanctions, and the weight, such as it is, of the ideology of human rights, and the prevalent moral climate in post-Christian societies, insofar as it is not yet been completely superseded by radical individualism, there will remain a standing presumption of a modicum of respect for the human person, but such firms are mostly commercial ones, and thus their interest in us may be in inmates as sources of income. This is certainly one area where the comparative lack of “social entrepreneurship” projects, of social inventions for coping with such novel and big-scale social problems is very apparent.

Some old-fashioned countries may turn to socio-legal prescriptions, as exemplified by the recent Chinese legislation seeking to enforce with legal sanctions the moral obligation of taking care of elderly parents, for instance by requiring regular visits to them by their children or gandchildren. Perhaps some Western communitarian political think tank may recommend similar legislation[51]. Economists, however, like “libertarian paternalists” (a.k.a. as “soft paternalists”) will most likely recommend market incentives instead, in line with the multitude of incentives provided in recent years by governments for behaviour patterns or decisionmaking procedures more likely to be conducive to health, longevity, solvency and well-being. Famously recommended in an influential book entitled “Nudge”[52], they have helped to shape modes of state operation not so much of the “Nanny State” variety (as in health-and-safety regulations in the UK) as a complementary “Nudging State” (I claim copyright for this designation). So many incentives for this and that, what one might call “administered incentives” (by analogy with the term “administered prices”, so often the target of criticism by liberal economists in the pre-Thatcher era), that the subject raises serious ethical issues, as indeed also about economics construed as the theory of incentives. Still, it does not appear that it would be particularly difficult to incentivize appropriate filial behaviour of this kind, but not much in the way of suggestions has come to my notice.   

But the bulk of proposals, or at least the ones that enjoy wider currency in the West, and seem to exert considerable fascination, consist of technological, or market, rather than social, solutions or  mitigations: the ideal policy recipe in states like the UK being a combination of a market fix and a technological fix for whatever social problem may arise (of course, there are exceptions, such as the banning of psychoactive drugs, where the legalization of markets for the most widely used ones is not yet on the agenda of major political parties). In the current technological horizon the turn to AI software and robotics prevails in the field of technological would-be solutions or mitigations.

So, many proposals in the relevant literature point to the introduction of robots of various kinds for various purposes related to the care, protection and assistance to the elderly, though many will be, fortunately, “elderwells”, or in the active pursuit of “elderwellness”. The most cited types or functionalities of robots in this area are robots for company, robots for nursing assistance, household robots (house cleaning, taking care of clothes, security), robot-housekeepers, robot cooks, not to mention self-driving or robot cars to safeguard their mobility, etc.. To which sure must be added interactive smart robots for conversation, as most humans are too busy to engage in non-instrumental verbal exchanges, and a lot of conversation is in fact quite “robotic”, in the vulgar sense, as the ELIZA program devised by the humanist computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum once demonstrated, but great progress has made since in robotics AI, and we may look forward to the inestimable good of intelligent conversation afforded by such interactions with robots with upgraded AI. Or possibly also robots for sexual services (perhaps “sexual favours” would be too anthropomorphic a term, at least in the early stages): this is a topic which has been much discussed in other contexts than the human problems arising from the isolation of the aged, in PhD theses in respectable universities and in scholarly reports, sex with robots being definitely feasible in their view (teledildonics), though sometimes dismissed as “vibrators that talk”, and certainly commended for public health reasons. Advances in the manufacture of synthetic skin will provide lifelike tactile gratifications. As AI advances, and emotional capabilities develop, “sex bots” might turn into “love bots”, loving as well being loved (and thus also liable to the tragedy of unrequited love). In addition, a vast array of other electronic aids or monitors have been suggested: subcutaneous chips, sensors (in beds, chairs, etc.) as well as nanosensors inside the bodies[53], video cameras ensuring permanent bilateral contact with the aged, especially the more isolated ones, with physicians, nurses and hospitals or other health agencies (“telehealth”), and of course any number of medical diagnostic apps, and so on. In South Korea, for example, the government has affirmed its endeavour to supply at least one domestic robot, with possibly many functionalities, per household by 2020: this would mean millions and millions of robots just in one country!. Even the European Union is interested in the development of robots suitable as “companions for citizens”, though it does not seem to be much of a priority, undertandably in the current conjuncture.

Once again, confronted with human and social problems of such acuity and on such a scale, the turn to technological solutions, intensive and extensive, today in terms of digital or digitally enabled technologies, seems irresistible, on the same lines as the other processes of the computerization and robotization of our lives. Many kinds of robots would be needed simultaneously to cope with all the requirements of dementia sufferers, for example, or extremely versatile ones. Biomedical research on a big scale has been called to address the horrors of dementia afflicting substantial and increasing numbers in the “demographic winter” of Europe, though the current biomedical impotence, especially regarding Alzheimer’s disease, as yet intractable by curative therapies.

EIGHTEEN. Like our birth, our dying has been hospitalized and medicalized, unless we are very fortunate (for example, dying in our sleep), or very unfortunate (eg. dying alone and in excruciating pain). Strict protocols may be followed in hospitals in this respect, prescribing the criteria for when to switch off life-support machines, of which we may not be aware beforehand or during our stay: from medically-assisted reproduction to medically-assisted termination (or physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia).  

With our death, our corpses may be subject to a process of sale of our organs, tissues, bones, brains, etc., of interest to some hospital, research clinic, laboratory, museum, art gallery, artist or psychopath for medical or forensic science purposes, or others (even if offered gratis, their extraction and disposal requires the intervention of a specialist company, and thus pecuniary costs will be incurred). In fact, the practical utility, the potential market value, of cadavers, which are normally regarded by the impious as mere waste, pure cost in their disposal, has been increasing thanks to the advances of biomedicine, and in fact bioethicists have been arguing for the last decade and more for a market in transplantable cadaveric organs, which could presumably compensate for the costs incurred in burial and cremation. I am not sure whether the expected market value of transplantable cadaveric organs, given that the demand for organ transplants is so great, greatly exceeding the supply, and likely to go on rising, could be included in insurance or mortgage calculations (there is often a cultural lag in these matters). Some kinds of stem cells may also be extracted, although perhaps these would not be included in market valuations.

Unless there occurs sufficient interest, money, moral support, sympathy, and varied help from relatives or friends of “immortalist” sympathies, or, at any rate, if “deathists” (believers in the irreversibility of biological death), still prepared to comply with the odder requests made in the “living wills” of the deceased to resort to cryogenics, in the countries where this is already legal (it is –or was- banned in the French Republic). Cryogenics, resorted to in increasing numbers in the USA (though the absolute numbers are still quite small -less than a thousand wait in the appropriate installations- they have included sports celebrities). The practice is grounded in the expectation that, with the rapid advances of biomedicine,  an eventual resurrection will be possible within two or three decades[54]. That is, as long as cryopreservation can be maintained without irreversible damage to the human subjects for the required waiting period, either of whole bodies or just of brains, for, according to one school of thought, there will be a second biological life, in which the brain can be endowed with a new body.

If cryogenics is not opted for, or affordable, or permitted, and if there will still be a residue after the extraction of organs, tissues, bones, etc., the mortal remains can still be dealt with by a commercial crematorium, by far the most successful modality of industrialization ever in the processing of dead bodies[55]. Following sound  micro-economic principles, the search for the most affordable crematoria will be on, and our bodies will migrate from the country of our death (which may also have been the country of our birth) to the neighbouring country with the cheapest crematorial offer (even allowing for transport costs and fees), resting finally there, a terminal local market equilibrium in every sense.

NINETEEN. After death, our posthumous image may be managed, at least for a number of years and perhaps decades post mortem, as is already happening in a number of cases (mostly having to do with celebrities of the pop music world), by a company. Some firms offer a variety of additional services, especially gratifying to those who would appreciate some kind of eponymous survival, such as assigning your name to a star for the best price (such are the workings of competitive markets): as there are bilions and billions of stars, there is scope for everyone, for one-to-one correspondence between the set of personal names and the set of stars, for the entire expected duration of our species. This practice is not endorsed by astronomical learned societies, of course, who claim the sole prerogative of naming astronomical objects for official purposes, but it might one day be a welcome source of revenue if the pursuit of observational astronomy should require funds not available from the usual sources, and governments, under relentless fiscal pressure may well come to encourage it; recognition of discoveries by amateur astronomers is sometimes accomplished in this way. Posthumous image management for everyone may be a market niche with a future, especially as great philanthropic legacies, the best sort of posthumous image management, are the privilege of a small minority.

Our dying can be documented extensively, even exhaustively, should we want it (or even if we don’t), and the costs are not too high. The digitized audiovisual documentation of every single second of the dying process might be filed as a memento mori,  or possibly for the purposes of scientific research in thanatology, the ethnography of life-ends, or for counselling[56]. One might call this type of digital archive a thanatothéque[57], a personal thanatological library (or “document centre”, or “life-archive”[58]).

The self-documentation of our lives, of everything we do and all our visual or audio-visual images pari passu, is already taking place in everyday life, at least partially, with iPhones, and surely could be amplified almost indefinitely without requiring too much technological ingenuity. We might call “e-biolibraries” the instances of this type of increasingly fuller and more comprehensive digital archives of human lives. In principle, a a digital archive of each individual life, of everything we did, suffered and made, of our praxis, hexis and poesis, could be made. Maybe one day also a record of everything that went on in our brains, with the increasing sophistication of neuroimaging technologies, such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The audiovisal record may be enlarged in due course with the provision of electronic super-senses, and thus also gustatory and olfactory sensors. We will have had our life, the life we led first hand, but also our “e-life”, our simultaneous digitized life (and all our digital acts, as it were, can be accessed by third parties, cyber-privacy being something of an oxymoron), which can be filed in the virtual “e-biolibrary” a relative, a friend or lover, or a museum/library, perhaps a local one, or stored at a price in some suitable repository, of a kind that may develop as market opportunities for the purpose arise. As we already live a good deal of our lives online from very early childhood onwards, especially the hyper-connected among us, who seem to live in sight of webcams and the like, and increasingly interact with others online, including the most significant others, in the most personal connections, being mostly telepresent to one another if at all, some of us even amusing ourselves with a Second Life in virtual terms, and define ourselves more and more in computational/informational terms (eg the brain or the mind as computational entities), the transfer of our organic, analog life to a digital, online, electronic one, as complete a reproduction of it as technologically feasible at a given period, will not amount to such an ontological leap from the real to the virtual: the passage from our increasingly virtualized and augmented reality to Virtual Reality pure and simple may well seem more like a transition in a continuum.

There have already arisen “memorial groups” via Facebook (and perhaps other social media). In these virtual groups commemorating the deceased, photos and videos of the deceased, podcasts, tapes, recordings of all kinds, e links, reminiscences and testimonies, personal archives, e-books or e-libraries, are accepted, compiled, and  integrated. As cyberspace is infinite, there is room for absolutely everyone, all beings whom we valued, human and non-human, in the record (and there surely is no reason not to include cityscapes and landscapes of personal relevance, the paintings and music the deceased loved)[59]. Our entire lives can be filmed or audiovideo taped continuously, 24/7, minute by minute: the technology is available, and some have already resorted to it, if not always with sufficient determination or persistence. These reminiscences and evocations and other memorial acts in these groups may be reenacted over many years, without the limitations of physical space, or those of the brief liminal occasions, of the funerary and piaculary rites that may still be observed, and of collective memory in general. A kind of quasi-immortality, if not of the body, or of consciousness, at least of the “virtual soul”, an electronic version of what Auguste Comte, whose Religion of Humanity revered our dead ancestors (humanity he kept repeating is mostly composed of the dead), called “subjective immortality”, ensured via a great digital social network, and eventually others. 

For those who are the object of one or another memorial group, still not a very large number –even if practically all human dead from now on could in principle enjoy this kind of processing- the most likely eventuality is that a stratification may occur according to the status and prestige  the deceased enjoyed in their lives, or that which has possibly accrued to them after death, with ratings and rankings, which can vary and fluctuate widely, of course, posthumously, like that of authors. Perhaps the immense majority of the dead will remain in a kind of posthumous virtual limbo. Nevertheless, there will be market opportunities in this respect, as in others, and chances for innovating entrepreneurs, to render posthumous virtual life more widely conferred, the culmination perhaps of the “fundamental democratization”, reaching out to manifold spheres of life beyond the political realm, and now also posthumous life, on which Karl Mannheim wrote a remarkable paper in the most inauspicious year of 1933.

THE END                                                                  

[1] Though of course it is still going on in the USA, with sporadic violent episodes, owing to religious and political divides.

[2] Liza Mundy Everything conceivable – how assisted reproduction  is changing men, women and the world, London 2007.

[3] Charis Thompson Making parents – the ontological choreography of reproductive technologies Cambridge Mass. , 2005

[4] On “baby business” as a techno-mercantile complex with varied sub-markets, see the book by Deboa L. Spar, professor of Law in Harvard Business School, The baby business – how money, science and politics drive the market for conception Cambrige, Mass., 2006.

[5] On the persistence of eugenics, and especially its recrudescence in the West in recent decades as techno-eugenics or market-eugenics,  see chap.IX of my book Experimentum Humanum, Lisbon 2011/Belo Horizonte 2012.

[6] James Hurley  “Employers call for ‘enterprise curriculum’ “ The Daily Telegraph 26 July 2011.

[7] Some of these, like punctuality, application, diligence, reliability, etc., were named “industrial virtues” by the nineteenth century ethicist and historian of morals W. E. H. Lecky, in his great survey of the history of European morals. These were virtues which, in his view were recognized before but became most salient in the modern commercial-industrial economy, and society,  ranking high in the “moral type” of the age (he was not, let it be stressed, a moral/ethical relativist)..

[8] There have been sporadic attempts to revive the teaching of the morale laique, moral education independent of religious commitments, so characteristic of the French Third Republic in the early twentieth century, in recent years. The latest in 2011, under the new Socialist administration.

[9] In epochs of  accelerated transformation many people can experience successive self-definitions or “reinventions”. As in China today: “Each time I go back to China, I prepare myself to hear stories of surprising ways that the country has changed since I was last there. I also expect to hear equally surprising reports of personal transformations. It seems inevitable that at least a couple of friends whose lives seemed set to move in one direction will have had something completely unexpected happen to them since I last saw them. During the months since my previous trip to China, a professor who had no interest in business will have become an entrepreneur. A loyal bureaucrat within the Communist Party Youth League will have turned consultant to an international corporation (and now be a bit embarrassed by his earlier commitment to Marxist economics). Someone who considered all forms of religion mere superstition will have become first a fervent Buddhist and then a devout Christian. An earnest graduate student who once said that a visit to Hong Kong was probably the closest that she would ever get to going “abroad” will now regularly be taking trips to Europe.///China has become what the United States famously was a century ago, a land of reinvention. Rags-to-riches stories are as popular there now as they were in America in the days of Horatio Alger—and for similar reasons. I often feel that many of the people I know in China have lived out several lives while I have been making my way through just this one.” (from the introduction of “Chinese characters” by A Shaah and J. Wasserstrom, Berkely 2012, in Utne Reader December 2012).

[10] David Gilbert Stumbling into happiness London 2006, p. 214.

[11] For of course there were remarkable comparable earlier cases, such as support by the general public and voluntary associations to raise funds for and generally assist bomedical research into a vaccine for polio, which campaign lasted for decades, until it reached a susccessful resolution, and two vaccines began to be widely available. The major organization responsible for keeping up the campaign, founded in the 1930s, was the subject of a notable study by David L. Sills, Volunteers, the march of Dimes, and the fight against polio, NY 1957. Afterwards, the organization went on to promote support for other causes in the biomedical field.s

[12] At least one academic philosopher of distinction has argued that philosophy could and should be envisaged as a form of engineering (it is true that a number of engineers became philosophers, even famous philosophers, in the twentieth century, but did not profess to do engineering when they were doing philosophy and hardly made reference to engineering in their philosophical texts). There may well be a rush soon to rename every academic discipline as a mode of engineering, a term which is coming to have in late capitalist countries the kind of prestige it once enjoyed in the USSR, where even writers were commended as “engineers” too, if  “engineers of the soul” (even though the “soul” was deemed fictitious), though today in Russia they might be officially redefined “entrepreneurs of the soul”, the secular equivalent of the American “pastropreneurs”  . However, “social engineering” remains a pejorative expression in the UK and the US (though the practice is designated by other names), which rather impedes the conversion of the social sciences into variants of “social engineering”, much to the discomfiture of some practicioners who would be only too proud to be so envisaged and rewarded . However, “financial engineering” is , in the main, an OK expression, and the practice has certainly  has certainly flourished mightily in the last decade. The coining of the expression “genetic engineering” was a marvel of publicity (it is a kind of “engineering” which has no place in Faculties of Engineering, however catholic).  The coining of the term “software engineering” arose in a context or protracted struggles between corporate management and technicians, and to this day software programming resists automation. “Imagineering” seems to be a more or less neutral term.  

[13] There has been some insourcing in 2012, much vaunted by Apple, but also followed by firms like General Electric back to the USA (low labour costs ceasing to be so important compared to other considerations), but of course not, or not yet, in the kind of scale in which outsourcing took place from the USA to China and to some extent South Korea, and without impairing the basic asymmetry of the process.

[14] On these issues see Adriana Petryna When experiments travel –clinical trials and the global search for human subjects, Princeton 2011.

[15] See the references and links in the striking article by Bill Gleason “Do people have a moral obligation to participate in research?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 October 2011. 

[16] See chapter  VI of my book  Experimentum Humanum.

[17] Microtasking “ works by outsourcing small, virtual tasks to an army of online workers, who then perform them for pennies. These tasks vary widely in scope and substance, but what links them all is that they’re essentially too difficult or too dependent on human analysis for a computer to do, but too simple for skilled labor. And they’re the bedrock of the internet.////Crowdsourced microtasking—conducted largely via Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk site—is now a multimillion-dollar industry, and one that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Even as the global economy continues to falter, Turk is thriving, due in no small part to what it can do for companies under pressure to do more with less” (Ellen Cushing “Amazon Mecanical Turk : the digital sweatshop” East Bay Express Jan/Feb 2013).

[18] Religious affiliation has long ceased to be registered in the passports of  Western citizens. Still, it was only a few years ago that Orthodox religion ceased to be inscribed in all Greek passports, as if religion and nationality were co-extensive ascriptive attributes of Greek citizens.  The recrudescence of ethno-religious nationalism in recent years may bring this kind of practice back in some countries. Recently, an Israeli writer succeeded finally in  getting registered as a Jew in the ethnic sense but withou belonging to the Jewish religious community: before this case, all such attempts had failed in the courts of the land.

[19] Lee M. Silver Remaking Eden: cloning and beyond in a brave new world NY 1997.

[20] V. the important discussion of this type of patent and the defence of the “genetic commons” in place of the present regime of expansion of property rights over genetic matter in the USA in the book by the philosopher David Koepsell Who owns you? The corporate gold rush to patent your genes Oxford 2009. The genetic matter in question comprises haplotypes, SNP (polymorphisms), CNV. Besides the patenting of genes, there is an emerging body of jurisprudence in the USA which endorses patents of cells, tissues and even human illnesses. Biomarkets in an inclusive sense, patents of seeds, microorganisms, multi-cellular organisms, plants and the genes and genomes of non-human organisms, have grown hugely since the early 70s. There has been not just a gold rush to patent human genes, but a gold rush to patent all sorts of human and non-human genes everywhere, and not just genes but also biological materials of varied kinds. The result is  a very wide marketisation of life on Earth in the name of scientific discovery by great corporations (of course, as a defensive measure, non-profit organizations can try to get into this game in order to protect and conserve, and not to exploit).

[21] Scott Carney The red market: on the trail of the world’s organ brokers, bone thieves, blood farms, and child trafficking NY 2011. The “red market” in his understanding, includes trading in organs, ligaments, hair, bones, blood, embryos, child trafficking and surrogate pregnancy. One of his accounts deals with the Indian “bone farms”, collecting bones from cemeteries, morgues, funeral pyres, and so on, which are then cleaned and processed and then sold for anatomical skeletons used in mostly Western medical schools and labs. There are also “blood farms” where blood is extracted from poor people for sale to blood banks. Camps of tsunami refugees have been used for the extraction of kidneys on quite a scale.  Carney’s case for “radical transparency” in the supply chain of this market to protect human dignity has not been sufficiently heeded.    

[22] The simultaneous transplant of  five organs in the course of a single medical intervention has already taken place successfully on a human patient. One tends to thinkof organ transplants as of singletons, and of course one has only one heart or liver, but in  some cases several organs can be involved in the same transplant procedure. The number of organs that have been successfully transplanted for varying periods of time has increased quite a lot since the first heart transplant. Recently faces have been transplanted successfully. The first hand transplant in the UK took place very recently, and there are as yet only a few cases in the world . Wombs were transplanted last year (2011), at least in one case from mother to daughter, but it is not yet certain whether the women concerned will in fact be able to give birth. 

[23] The US Department of Defense’s  Advanced Research Projects Agency.

[24] Robert Nozick, whom we cited earlier in connection with his suggestion of a genetic supermarket, was not a utilitarian in moral philosophy (indeed his thought-experiment of the Experience Machine in the same was intended to rebut utilitarianism).

[25] There was such an incident in India recently when several women declared publicly their willingness to sell  kidneys (though it is illegal in the country) in order to pay the ransom demanded for their kidnapped husbands who had been working abroad.

[26] Even the bioethicist Lady Warnock, who is certainly not particularly squeamish about biomedical markets, expressed shock and even repugnance at these claims when reviewing the book. But it must be recognized this book is not so anomalous as all that, for contemporary bioethics is on a path such that more and more theses and proposals will be put forward that will or would shock even the most avant-garde of  bioethicists of earlier generations, who liked to endorse whatever became technologically possible in the sphere of human reproduction , but did not seriously contemplate the ever-expanding marketisation of human body parts, wombs, gametes,  and genes now in process or under discussion. Without using the language of moral obligation, market libertarians have argued strongly, as one might expect for the legalization and regulation of the market in human organs, especially kidneys, but also livers and lungs, drawing to the fact that the market for such organs already exists, on an international scale, but subject to criminal organizations, and engaging in vicious practices (according to the World Health Organizationm ten per cent of all organ transplants are provided by the black market). “In the U.S., we need  a regulated system in which compensation is provided by a third party (government, a charity or insurance) to well-informed, healthy donors. Rewards such as  contributions to retirement funds, loan repayments, tuition vouchers for children and so on would not attract people who might otherwise donate on the promise of a large sum of instant cash in their pockets” (Sally Satel “The market for kidneys, livers and lungs” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2011).   

[27] And some additional expenses, like payments for “smart drugs” for cognitive enhancement, especially at exam time, but perhaps also more regularly, since they enhance attention and working memory capacity. The question of  the acceptability of chemical means of cognitive enhancement used by students provoked some controversy, but their permissibility was vigorously defended by leading British biotethicists. Since intellectual work takes place today in extremely competitive environments, with very large populations of competitors all over the world in many cases, as in most branches of science, there would seem to be an equal case for the permissibility of such drugs for knowledge-workers in general.  

[28] Presumably she made a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the price-elasticity of the supply of organs among needy students. This is the most striking suggestion to have been reported in the national media, to my knowledge, but suggestions have been repeatedly put forward in the UK in recent years along similar lines. Some indicate monetary compensation, however disguised, in addition to travel expenses and replacement of wages lost from time off work, others offer bribes, such as the promise of  free funerals for organ donors, the price of funerals having perhaps increased sufficiently in the UKas to have become a salient bribeable item (ingenious think tank publicists will no doubt think up other kinds of bribes for this purpose). Oddly enough, I now read in Le Monde that Russian orphans without foster families have been promised by the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church free burial sites in the capital’s cemeteries (Le Monde, 4 Jan 2013, p. 20). On the other hand, “corpse tourism” has emerged in Germany, where the dead may be exported to neighbouring countries with cheaper cremations (Poland, Belgium). Their remains may then stay there permanently afterwards.

[29] Not in the UK as a whole. Scottish students, unlike English students in the last few decades, have enjoyed practically free education in Scottish universities. How long this will continue is problematic.

[30] C my account of the history of eugenics in chapter IX  of my book Experimentum Humanum

[31] The concept of “erotic capital” has been presented and discussed at length by Catherine Hakim (“a nebulous but crucial combination of beauty, sex appeal, skills of self-presentation and social skills” Honey Money: why attractiveness is the key to success, London 2011, p.1). Other scholars, such as R. Baumeister, have also worked out the economic importance of appearance in employment and  promotion at work, as well as in sex/marriage markets: “sexonomics” added to mainstream economics, the law of supply of demand, according to these analysts, applying quite well also to the erotic relations between and within the sexes, in covert or overt, legal or illegal,  markets of all kinds. A variant would be “pulchronomics”, the economics of beauty (which does not include as yet “inner beauty”), which is grounded on quite a number of rigorous empirical studies of firms, students’ evaluation of teachers, even elections to office in the American Economic Association: Daniel Hammermersh Beauty pays: why attractive people are more succcessful Princeton 2011. The current boom in cosmetic interventions for body image enhancement in the UK (preceded by high rates in several other countries) demonstrates a certain awareness of these facts. We end up with lots of putative  “capital” modes: economic capital, social capital, cultural capital being the most commonly discussed, in the wake of Bourdieu’s classical discussions. Economists, besides physical capital,  have long worked on the measurement and role of human capital (acquired through education and on-job training) and more recently on health capital (capacity to overcome depreciation in our initial health endowment), Fogel having added “physiological capital”, a concept related to, but distinct from these . In our discussion we have encountered  genetic capital, physiological capital, somatic or organological capital, and now erotic capital. Other sorts of capital have been put forward in the business management literature, such as reputational capital, not to mention knowledge capital; spiritual capital has been added, not by theologians, but by economists, long after Max Weber’s classic writings on the economic ethic of Protestant churches and sects. Of course, non-human capital concepts have also been formulated , such as natural capital, ecological capital and biocapital, which  has expanded hugely with the explosion of commmercial biotechnology tapping organic matter for fuels, materials, fibers,  drugs, food and other applications through biochemistry, genetic engineering and soon synthetic biology. The Inclusive Wealth report of 2012, classified countries in terms of manufactured, natural and human capital. More variants of capital are have een proposed regularly in more or less sustained discussions: conversational capital, non-material capital, organizational capital, structural capital, relational capital, emotional capital, political capital, moral capital, religious capital, literary capital, credentialled skills capital (in social class analysis). The ones already established in the literature comprise perhaps more than thirty , and there may well more to come. Ours is indeed not so much the Age of Capital, as the Age of Capitals in nature, society, culture and personality, as well as in the economy proper. Put another way, all these realms have been endogenized conceptually in the economy, as the subject of markets, if these capital concepts do indeed illuminate the situation.  

[32] Data provided by the sociologist Renée Almeling (who, incidentally, is also a nun) in her new book Sex cells : the medical market for eggs and sperm Chicago 2011. She deals with the topic quite extensively (I quoted her earlier work in this area in an appendix to chap. IX of my previously cited book Experimentum Humanum). There are various paradoxes connected with the new reproductive technologies. An American sperm donor claimed to be a virgin at the age of 36, a philoporgenitve virgin,  the genetic father of perhaps15 children, being an enthusiastic donor, providing the service absolutely free of charge, advertising online in his own websitewith forty women clients on his list: he worked freelance, not for an agency. The Food and Drug Administration ordered him to “cease manufacturie” of the erm on the grounds that he could not provide adequate protection against communicable diseases, a rather specious argument as he pointed out, but the FBI arrested him for that reason , not owing to any complaints from clients or physicians (by law, sperm donations have to be done through reputable agencies). There is, however growth in free sperm donation: buying disease-tested sperm form a clinic can be expensive possibly two thousand dollars, so an “online underground” websites and chat rooms to connect lesbians with men offering free sperm donation has developed (thus, natural nonsexual insemination. Similarly, of course, there may well be lots of virgin-mothers, but if so, they have not received much publicity (though many biologists have long been obsessed with the phenomenon of parthenogenesis), and the case of  the virgin-father mentioned may be unique. With the freezing of sperm one can be a father posthumously, possibly with an interval of several years, depending on how successful the cryogenic techniques may be, and of course also on the state of the law and on judicial decisions (some cases went through a protracted judicial ordeal to attain the necessary permission for the prospective widowed mother to undergo IVF with her dead hsband’s frozen sperm, which fortunately was still in good condition, at the end of the legal process). Note that the demand for eggs may reach persons of relatively low SES (Socioeconomic Status), it is not confined to the richer strata. And the transaction can be rather curious, as in the case of an American dancer who sold her eggs in order to pay for breast implants, more or less necessary, she claimed,  in her profession (linking thereby two biological markets, both related to her body: the cross-pollination of markets in a single instance). 

[33] Richard Posner Sex and reason Cambridge MA 19992

[34]  Some feminist authors claim that laws banning paid surrogate pregnancy, or the sale of eggs, or other fertility services should be rewritten. Women should be able to charge lawfully what the market can bear for their work, whatever it may be, in this field as in others, sex, porn, whatever, and patriarchal laws that try to impede these markets should be revoked (Catherine Hakim op.cit.). This sounds good, but it would imply even greater intensification and extensification of market relations in our societies. Markt macht frei is perhaps not a universally valid maxim. 

[35] Legal norms in this respect in France have changed significantly in the last hundred years or so. In this specific case, the genetic mother, the egg donor, was anonymous. But many full-fledged biological mothers, in France and elsewhere, who give birth alone and abandon their babies, are unknown;  there has a recent revival in Germany of the kind of medieval institution whereby newborns may be given away anonymously in safe places to be cared for by nuns. 

[36] The UK is more liberal in this area. Although commercial surrogacy is banned, the offspring of such transactions when brought back to the Uk from India or elsewhere, become the legal progeny of British parents with the grant of “parental orders” by judges, the number of which orders has been increasing yearly.

[37] One of the typical results of this oursourcing has been called the “global baby”, or the “world baby”, another instance of (human) biological globalization. For  it is perfectly possible that the sperm donor, the egg donor, the surrogate mother, the legal father, the legal mother, the birth place of the baby, and the country where the birth is registered be all of different nationalities. Thus five or six nationalities maybe  conjointly implied in this tangled process. The legal parents, if of the same nationality, may of course wish to confer their common nationality on the baby with whom they may have no biological, genetic link. A new industry, coordinating prospective parents,  donors of gametes, gestating mothers, clinics and hospitals, possibly all located in different countries, has emerged to deal with these multiple involvements.   

[38] Henri Atlan L’uterus artificiel Paris 2007.  Atlan argues that there is a social demand for breeding humans via the artificial womb. Some women would want it, or need it. At the same time, he claims that there will always be some women who want to exercise the privilege, or their natural right, of giving birth themselves.

[39] The capacity to ensure the normal development of very premaure babies has increased significantly and fetuses of 24 weeks can now survive thanks to incubators till they are able to survive like normally delivered ones: sometimes this is called an instance of “ectogenesis”, but this seems to be stretching the term too far.

[40] Other geneticists had pleaded to be allowed to pursue research into human reproductive cloning for the sake of childless, infertile couples. On the other hand one of the key geneticists in the project that led to Dolly strongly opposed this research into human reproductive cloning.

[41] For one of the major Bolshevik intellectuals, Alexander Bogdanov (a pseudonym for party work, like Lenin), a physician by training,  the voluntary and free donation of blood, practiced on a very wide, perhaps near-universal scale among adults, would be one of the hallmarks of a socialist society, altruistic and solidary, a gift economy at least in this area (Nikolai Kermentsov  A Martian stranded on Earth : Alexandr Bogdanov, blood transfusion and proletarian science,  Chicago 2011). He died as a result of a blood transfusion experiment, but that was probably a suicide; of course, he would most likely have been eliminated in one of  the purges which began sweeping the country not long after his death. In fact, in the USSR blood donations were, in the main, effected in exchange for payment, at least during peacetime.

[42] Of course, enterprises like Google and other major firms in ICTs leave a considerable carbon footprint, much as they seek to reduce it.

[44] Although voting in parliamentary and presidential elections (if by popular suffrage) has been compulsory in some countries for a long time, most countries do not provide incentives, even minimal ones like holding general elections on Sundays when most people could vote without loss of wages (before 24/7 work schedules), even though the proportion of electors casting their votes has been falling for several decades in several major democracies.

[45] Alain Touraine. I don’t know if he still holds this view.

[46] Some time ago, it was reported that British citizens who had applied for their passports, received an apology for the delay in their issue, addressed to “Dear customer”.  It is true that payment for passports, even legal ones, has become customary, but in the past this fact did not imply in anyone’s mind that the exchange of money for a passport which one is legally entitled, as a citizen, as proof of nationality/statehood, was simply a commercial transaction like any other, a cash nexus without any serious non-monetary import. It involves a citizenship bond, not a market relation. Possibly birth certificates, death certificates, State pension statements, juror notices, messages to electors, etc., are already sent to “Dear customer(s)”, or soon will be. Unless we deem the State as no more and no less than a firm like any other, UK PLC, and so on, though one demanding at times a special kind of “brand loyalty”, or “corporate loyalty”, and charging a high “transfer price”. In a world even more extensively structured by market libertarianism than now, passports might be replaced by laissez passer certificates, enabling us to travel beyond former national territories, issued by commercial firms, perhaps tied to transnational security companies to protect us in the course of our long-distance travels. 

[47] The de-nationalization, or de-Statization or privatization of currencies was advocated at length by Hayek and other economists of lesser fame. It is perhaps one of the least insistently voiced recommendations of the Hayekians and like-minded market liberals or libertarians (although it has played a role in their campaigns against the European Monetary Union).

[48] Some drugs in fact have been compulsory on pain of dismissal for pilots in the American Air Force, for certain kinds of flights. Such drugs are not yet compulsory in civilian work life.

[49] A bonus is surely, that weaponized robots do not yet commit suicide after they have been in action (though, of course, they can be programmed to do so), unlike human soldiers: American soldiers today die more from suicides than from combat in Afghanistan (one suicide a day on average), even though there are counselling programs aimed at suicide prevention, set up years ago.

[50] The recent successor to the famous computer virus Stuxnet, the worm Duqu, spied on commercial firms.

[51] Under recent proposals in the UK the obese will have their benefits cut; smart cards may be introduced to reduce the consumer choice of welfare recipients as they will not permit the purchase of alcohool or other undesirable goods (if freedom of consumer choice is one of the pillars of the market economy, they wiill be unfree consumers); heavy smokers have been penalized in various ways.

[52] Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sustein Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness New Haven 2008. A number of politicians commended this work.

[53] “The next phase of sensors – embedded microchips [emphasis in the original], smaller than a grain of sand, implanted into the blood stream by a simple injection. These will monitor the blood constantly and send signals to a smartphone. A ringtone could warn you of an immune response, a heart attack or a cancer that is percolating but not yet a sealed fate” (Eric Topol, Director, Scripps Translational Science Insitute, cited in Wired magazine, Jan 2012, p. 047). Many futurists have pointed to this development, i.e. extended, artificial proprioception, as imminent, or at any rate within the horizon of feasibility within a decade or two at the most.     

[54] During the early years of Bolshevik power, some Party intellectuals hoped for something similar in the case of Lenin. They envisaged quite seriously the possibility that, with the great advances in science and technology which would be instigated by the new socialist order, he could become the first of human immortals. The topic of immortality  to be achieved through biomedical and scientific means, either of individuals or societies (in principle, the socialist/communist society when definitively installed) had already been debated among Party intellectuals before the October Revolution, in a cultural environment where questions related to the overcoming of death had been debated in diverse ideological quarters (cf. Irene Masing-Delic Abolishing death: a salvation myth of Russian twentieth-century literature Stanford 1992).   

[55] Started in the late nineteenth-century, it now claims the majority of the deceased in Western Europe, in some countries a super-majority. Yet there is much demand for other options than burial in cemteries or cremation, options of a non-industrial, non-commercial, even ludic kind, in post-Christian European societies, inspired by devotees of ecology, biophilia,  humanism, paganism, Buddhism, naturism, and so on. Curiously,  this is an area where the great expansion of choice, and the satisfaction of the most diverse and weirdest preferences, ceaselessly proclaimed in liberal market economies or “republics of choice”, with such slogans as “procreative iberty”, “cognitive liberty”, “neural diversity”, “morphological freedom”, “sexual freedom”, “the right to do whatever we want with our bodies” (which presumably woul encompass self-mutilation, a contagious practice, according to some doctors), etc., have not manifested themselves as much as one might expect. Perhaps the invention of new symbolic forms and rituals in matters like these, coupled with alternative modes of body disposal ,  is just too fraught. 

[56] A famous, influential, and generally humane, thanatologist, called dying “the last and highest stage of human growth”…

[57] By analogy with the French terms “bibliothéque” or “discothéque” and their counterparts in Spanish or Portuguese. It would be easier to coin an appropriate term in a Romance language, and in my original paper, I coined  the neologism “tanatoteca”.

[58] Of course, all digital archives are liable to deletion, malicious or otherwise, so back-ups would be recommended.

[59] The quasi-divinization of cyberspace, can be found in many contemporary authors, referred to in Margaret Wertheim’s book The pearly gates of cyberspace –from Dante to the Internet London, 1999. This reenacts in some ways the quasi-divinization of physical space in scientists like Newton, who construed cosmic space as part of the sensorium Dei (inspired perhaps by Cabbalistic teachings, which were widely known), taking Absolute Space as a corollary of God’s infinitude.



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