Articles - Security Science Journal
Future Wars and Their Morale in Post- and Transhumanist Discourse – Theoretical Framework
(Vol. 4 No. 2, 2023. Security Science Journal)
29 Dec 2023 11:02:00 AM

dr Jowita Brudnicka-Żółtaniecka
Uczelnia Nauk Społecznych, Łódź, Poland


Research Paper 
Received: October 5, 2023 
Accepted: November 11, 2023


Abstract: Post- and transhumanism postulate the end of anthropocene, and advocate the necessity of reflecting on the role of technology, status of non-human animals or machines in human life. In the forecasts of post- and transhumanists, one can identify possible future participants, the character, and the way of conducting modern wars. It was hypothesized that there is probably no consensus in the minds of post- and transhumanists about the definitional considerations of the concepts of "posthumanism" and "transhumanism," as is the vast majority about the nature of future wars and the "morale" of their participants. 

Key words: modern wars, posthumanism, transhumanism, conflict, the art of war, soldier morale


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It would seem that posthumanism, which accepts the end of human anthropocentrism, is rid of ignorance of other non-human entities, and the lack of arrogance is sufficient for the non-existence of the phenomenon of war. Armed action is a drama of mankind, which could not cope with taming the existence of will and deciding on destructive actions for a particular group, animate and inanimate matter. Humanists and social scientists have long sought answers as to what war is and what its causes are. In the meantime, new forms of armed action called conflicts other than war, asymmetric wars, and finally hybrid wars have emerged. The demand for transdisciplinary research, which sought to discover the truth as the main goal of science, seems to be still relevant. However, the multiplicity of bureaucratically established scientific disciplines can limit the exchange of expertise. This is evident in security sciences, which focus either on cybersecurity and new technologies, or on state security sectors, i.e. health, crisis management or culture. As a result, the evolution of new techniques of the art of war remains detached from a deeper reflection on the future nature of the phenomenon of war. Therefore there is a danger of continuing Clausewitz's thesis that "war is an extension of politics, by military means." Nevertheless, politicians do not fight in war, and militarists do not make the decision to start a war – at least in mature democracies.
The establishment of decision-making dualism for the strategic and tactical levels, respectively, removes responsibility for the dramatic consequences of future military conflicts. Currently, the military and scientists are collaborating on directions for the technologization of war – robotization, precision, creation of the super-soldier. However, they are not bound by the knowledge of the needs and characteristics of future society, and thus philosophy (philos – knowledge, sophia – wisdom). Power, in turn, should promote the directions of social development in accordance with its needs. But the reality seems much more complex, and the "new wars" can affect even the most ignorant and unprepared society. It is likely that many citizens of Europe, the governments of which are returning to the ideas of conservative governments, perceive ecological problems or lack of humanity towards flora and fauna as grotesque, and robotization as since-fiction wars. Only that ignorance will not prevent them from participating in a war, which nature may remain unrecognized today.

Michael Foucault stated that if there were no resistance to authority, everything would remain a matter of obedience . Obedience and its enforcement affects morale. "Morale," or rather the skillful recognition of battlefield psychology, is one of the elements of achieving the goal of war. Armed operations of the early 21st century, especially those where asymmetrical warfare was used, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, prove that not the opponent's death, but discouraging him from further fighting is the goal in any conflicts. Therefore, is there a place for "war" in a future post- or transhumanist society? Or does it remain a fundamental difference which direction (post- or trans-) of development the most innovative technological societies will choose?

Human beings, even those in the most closed and hierarchical profession, such as that of soldiers, are a part of information flows and participants in communication networks. They have easy access to education, and self-education influences their individual interpretation of reality, and this is a manifestation of social individualization. In March 2022, David Malpass president of the World Bank reported that 23 countries are facing conflicts of medium and high intensity . The problem of posthumanism may be that it will remain misunderstood and rejected by populist governments, in order to reinforce the most cruel traits of human nature unmitigated by selfish humanism.

The aim is to:

  • indicate what the morale of the art of war in classical terms is and how it may be shaped in the post- and transhumanist future;
  • through the assumptions of trans- and posthumanism, attempt to characterize the factors affecting future wars and their morale;
  • present the results of a survey on what post- and transhumanism and future war think about post- and transhumanists associated with the Polish Transhumanist Association.

It was hypothesized that there is probably no consensus in the minds of post- and transhumanists about the definitional considerations of the concepts of "posthumanism" and "transhumanism," as is the vast majority about the nature of future wars and the "morale" of their participants.

The evolution of the art of war and the very understanding of the concept of "war" have evolved over time. While there is a debate in the security sciences about the technologization of war, there is a lack of consideration as to the very essence of perceptions regarding aggression and combat in a society with the characteristics inherent in post- and transhumanism.

It is assumed that post- and transhumanism jointly view technology as the main factor influencing the evolution of the human future. Both trends thus seek to create: a post-human. Despite stating that human development is rooted in technological progress, they do not put "human" as a reference point for what is human and ethical. In the same way that the term "human" originally meaning male  has been subjected to evolution, posthumanists base the claim that "humanity" is not just people, but a whole collection of entities, and therefore it is required to treat them humanely. Thus, they oppose species chauvinism. There then follows an assemblage of people and things, by which is meant an ad hoc grouping of elements, none of which, through its existence and action, determines others completely, but interacts and coexists . Posthumanism ultimately sees the posthuman as an embodied organism with an identity that must be in a process of continuous construction, but the human is not merely an information arrangement .

Posthumanist community projects seek a place for the human being understood not as a role (political, economic, social), substance or figure of humanism, but as a processual project, an effect of community relations. Being aware of the multiplicity of versions of post- and transhumanism, the analysis is not limited to a particular approach.

It is not as if we have any choice regarding the coming of the post-human era. The globalization processes though heterogeneous in every part of the world have made "somatic human individuality open to choice, consideration and responsibility, experimentation and contestation " as a result of many changes affecting every sphere of life. Posthumanism is a need that arises from the shortcomings of humanism in the face of future challenges. The "end of human" it proclaims is not the end of species, but represents a change in perception of the human position in an environment of coexistence of living beings, machines, artificial intelligence and artificial life. Man has always been a post-human, because the exit from the natural world and entry into the realm of culture has never fully happened. It is perfectly understandable that the human form fitted with an inner world – instincts and emotions, and its external representations are subject to change, and self-perception is subject to revision. Posthumanism accentuates the role of ecological threats much more strongly than transhumanism, and places them, in a way, at the top of the hierarchy of threats to humanity. After all, if the ecological crisis in the era of the Anthropocene remains relevant then all social problems will disappear with the end of humanity.

Contemporary posthumanists list among the problems that need urgent attention: logocentrism and mind/body dualism; subjectivity, anthropocentrism, speciesism and our relationship with other beings who cohabit the planet, such as animals and plants; representation in art and the undervaluing of art and artistic creation; the place of body in human life and the denial of authentic bodily needs and their expression; matter/spirit dualism; immortality and the afterlife; alienation in production and exchange, and inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth and related chronic poverty in many parts of the world; conscious/unconscious relations of psychic life and repression; the constitution of the family and the life of the family and the structural problems of monogamy; gender roles and relations, and the oppression of women under patriarchal regimes; organized religions and their contemporary manifestations, as well as various forms of extremism and fundamentalism; nation-states, nationalist ideologies, racism and immigration; and finally, the problem of technology .

Transhumanism is in a sense an anthropocentric view, arising from technophilia , which has its ideological backbone in modern humanism. Therefore, its goal is to bring humans into the next development stage, in which biological problems will be eliminated and positive qualities will be enhanced. However, it is quite difficult not to agree with Nick Bostrom that transhumanism is in fact an extension of the traditional utilitarian vision of medicine on improving the human condition through the development of biotechnology . The goal of posthumanism is to abandon the binarity of understanding the concepts of stranger-self, human-animal, male-female. Dignity and even more so "justice" or, more precisely, "justification" are the matters of war considerations, while the greatest achievement seems to be the existence of their limited character, but they occur everywhere and always. According to Bronisław Malinowski, "wherever technology provides weapons – there are wars."

Morale in the Art of War

“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and Sun Pin's “Methods of Warfare” are a must-have for anyone interested in political-military affairs, and the universality of their thought is confirmed by the keen interest of proliferating scholarly and journalistic studies.

Sun Tzu's Treatise The Art of War equates morale with the life energy "chi." In the dictionary definition, "morale" is the readiness to do carry out duties, endure hardships and dangers, and a sense of responsibility and belief in success . Maintaining sufficiently high morale involves maintaining soldiers' willingness to make sacrifices. I assume that "war" is a socio-political phenomenon that has been an integral part of the history of mankind since the beginning of social organization, with its scope increasing with the development of technology . The concept of "morale" inherent in "war" is considered by some experts on armed conflict to be vague and abstract . Based on modern psychology, "morale" can be equated with the concept of "motivation" – it is the disposition to activate and sustain a given form of behavior, and the process of undertaken activity aimed at fulfilling certain goals.

There are numerous theories on the sources of motivation, but if to find their common denominator they focus on intrinsic (hidden), and extrinsic (overt, manifest) motives. Intrinsic, i.e., those that are located in the subject and can be oriented towards the realization of specific own needs. Intrinsic motives, according to Hermans, are dual and divided into those aimed at self-enhencement ("S" – self), and those aimed at sustaining the bond with others ("O" – other). Manifest (overt, extrinsic) motivations are changeable, involve the experiences of the individual, so they are individualized, but located in a specific time-space . Motivation coming from the environment is conditioned by general social values and those customarily assigned to specific social roles, and concretized through the organizational culture of the workplace. Also, the types of "rewards" can be categorized as internal and external. Internal ones are related to the perceived effects of own actions, but are controlled by extrinsic motivation, as these can affect perception, so they can strengthen or weaken intrinsic motivation .

Sun Tzu believed that soldiers should obey and follow their commanders in harmony without fear, both in victory and death. He remains a proponent of mass armies in which elite units would function. The method of control is a system of punishments and rewards. He stresses the importance of psychological factors in the application of punishment – only when a soldier is fully committed, then he can be subject to punishment from the commander. "If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless” (Sun Tzu, 2011, 43-44) . Sun Pin stresses that an excess of material goods in society undermines the effectiveness of rewards, punishments enable orders to be enforced and induce obedience. The decline in motivation would be influenced by rumors and bad omens, thus warriors should be protected from them.

Achilles – the ancient hero of Greek mythology may be an example of the qualities of an exemplary warrior, but only partially. While admiring his above-average skills, it must be admitted that his character traits, i.e. volatility of moods, explosiveness, cruelty, but also sentimentality would hardly find a place in actual military service – from the time of Sun Tzu to the present day. Perhaps at this point there should be a question about the issues of how much individual military positions can give leeway for the realization of charismatic leadership, but due to the vagueness of the concept of "charisma," as well as the need for a longer argument, this thread will be left. Lack of justification, i.e. rational knowledge of the reasons for war is a factor that significantly reduces the willingness to sacrifice lives in battle. Nor does any soldier have certain knowledge of how many shots he must fire to force the enemy to retreat, whether it is worthwhile to change types of fire, and whether carrying out a two-pronged strike will do any good. Murray Leo notes that participation in actual war is about six times less effective than training exercises, the reason for which is the activation of subconscious mechanisms of avoiding the threat of life. He considers "battlefield psychology" a much more definable concept than "morale," which can consist of everything from national culture to the quality of equipment. Leo asks the questions: "Who fights? Everyone when conditions are favorable to them. Everyone stops fighting when conditions change. " The unmeasurable element is to determine the scale of fear – this is one of the primary emotions. It is impossible to determine when fear completely paralyzes and forces flight or surrender. Would technological research allow control of brain areas enough to eliminate emotions and their processing? Perhaps no such interference with the human body will be needed, but robots will fight on the battlefield – but this too will likely force a debate over the moral use of machines.

There are also grounds to believe that the future posthuman may not be the result of a combination of animate and inanimate matter at all, as transhumanists would see it. There are projects to create chimeric and hybrid figures, which would mean that the human species will survive, but in an altered form . "Chimera" contains cells, tissues, genes or even organs and body parts of another organism, while a "Hybrid" is the result of impregnating the egg of one species with sperm from another species ." However, this research can hardly be attributed to post- or transhumanist assumptions, and it is even reasonable to argue that it contradicts them. For transhumanists, it would be a kind of "return to nature" that would make humans dependent on biological material. Posthumanists, on the other hand, would raise the question of the legitimacy of collecting material from the body of an animal, which, after all, did not consent to it itself .

What is significant about post and transhumanism vs. the issue of soldiers and their morale is the statement that both philosophical currents proclaim the end of humanism and human beings, to be replaced by "post-humans." Thus, the role of soldiers will be filled by "post-humans." Both post-  and transhumanism acknowledge that technological progress is inherent in human development. This is borne out in the study of military technology, which has gone beyond the circle of combat tools in the hands of humans, and has entered the modification of soldiers' bodies. Advances in neuroscience, bioelectronics, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) allow to improve perceptual capabilities, reconfigure sensory functions. What's more, the sensory refinement function will not have to originate in military research at all, and can arise in civilian laboratories, but such a transfer when funding dual-use research is currently not a novelty . The CyborgNest company in 2017 declares to increase the catalog of senses, by implanting smart technology coupled with products outside the human body, thanks to which the individual will have richer sensations . The Cyborg Soldier 2050 document allows for the possibility of 3d printing of bionic organs. On the one hand, they would enhance operational capabilities on the battlefield, on the other hand, reconstruct the damage to the health of those who have suffered wounds in battle.

After such an introduction to the issue of "morale," it is possible to notice two issues around which both Sun Tzu , as well as modern research on the abilities of soldiers, focused: emotions and information, and what relations can occur between them in the body of a person on the battlefield to maximize his combat capabilities. Paul Virilio points out that "yesterday" was dominated by the atomic bomb, "tomorrow" by the genetic bomb, but we will not understand the operation of either of them without referring to the third, which is called "information bomb" . The formation of an information society, which, as a result of the spread of technology especially the availability of the Internet, has gained access to knowledge and has been challenged to unify behavioral patterns. The next step would be the formation of a post- and/or transhumanist society, but globalization processes are diverse. Not all countries can equally participate in high-tech research, and not all will be able to benefit from its achievements. Research on military technology involving subjects and people is focused most generally in the areas of pharmacology, genetic engineering, cyborgization, robotization, with the goal of: enhancement (of possessed capabilities); reconfiguration (of possessed body resources with the addition of new technical functions from outside the body); healing (of health impairments) . Analyzing the development of technical capabilities in weapons and human-weapons (human-cyborg), it is possible to get an impression that a certain transition period is underway between the complete technologization of the battlefield and the classical form of military action. At present, these two processes are going on simultaneously, and it can be assumed with high probability that this state of affairs will continue for years to come. This prognosis is supported firstly by the heterogeneity of globalization processes, and secondly by the ongoing war in Ukraine, which reminds Europe of civilian deaths, the nuclear threat, or the actuality of elements of the art of war, i.e. surprise – even with the capabilities of today's technological reconnaissance .

The information society is strongly related to emotions, which is confirmed in various areas. In view of the subject addressed in this paper, the issue of information warfare, in which societies and soldiers are involved, is relevant. Soldiers participate in a particular form of information warfare, as they also remain a civilian recipient in a specific social role, such as a parent, participant in online forums, etc., as well as a direct participant, i.e., a creator of disinformation – Norman Schwartzkopf admitted that in order to avoid a bad reception of the actions of the US army as was the case in Vietnam, information about the war in Kuwait was heavily rationed .

Morale of "new wars"

If it has been identified that emotions and information represent factors constantly accompanying the modern form of war, then the post- and transhumanist perspective requires an attempt to answer a question: what kind of actor will have to have morale against whom and what kind of threat? While there are quite a few studies focusing on the "soldiers of the future" and the characteristics of the technological direction of warfare, there is a lack of, or a heavily fragmented, unambiguous study of proper Security Studies that explains what is the role of post-human in leveling the future threats and what they will be in total.

Post and transhumanism agree that the set of humanistic ideas has been exhausted and that post-humans have begun. They acknowledge that technologization is inherent in the further evolution of humans, who are coming to terms with the decline of anthropocentrism and must accept the equality of the "Other"  – plants, animals (non-human animals), objects. However, there seems to be no consensus on the values held by post/transhuman. Below I will present some issues necessary to consider in constructing the profile of the future subject of a "new war":

Relationships with non-humans. If the posthumanizm sees the need to redefine interspecies relations in relation to plants, nonhuman animals and objects (e.g., robots), then the transhumanist would need to define the limit to which he can (and whether he can at all) use nonhumans for development research. It is quite difficult to find a clear relationship between transhumanism and bioethics – on the one hand, thanks to technological advances, it is possible to map and categorize the vocalizations of animal languages, e.g. translating the language of dolphins ; but on the other hand, animals are used for scientific research on development and cyborgization, e.g. organ-on-chip , or transgenic animals . An example of the dispute between post and transhumanism can be found in the ethics of sending Laika into space, Wojtek the soldier bear of the Second World War, or the victims of inhumane four-animal campaigns of Mao Zedong's time . The fundamental question, then, is: whether and to what extent can nonhuman animals and plants be used to technologize military operations?

Cyborgization. This question is related to the previous point, but is so important that it requires some distinction. In addressing the issue of equality between humans and cyborgs, who are marked by exclusion, it is necessary to mention the cyberfeminist movement. Probably the most complete feminist approach opting for natural corporeality was opposed by Donna Haraway in "The Cyborg Manifesto," proclaiming the disappearance of any binarity, because thanks to cyborgization any kind of identity is open . However, at the same time, it should be noted that Sadie Plank proclaimed a "covenant of women with machines" against patriarchal oppression . Disregarding social issues, and returning to the battlefield – does interspecies equality allow, in the posthumanizm trend, the use of robots in the theater of military operations?

Biopolitics. Would new wars be an extension of biopolitics? Biopolitics is the administrative and legal regulatory processes that define the limits and bases of biotechnological interference . Following Foucault, this means that the interest of power shifts from territory to population. Here Thomas Lemke's categorization of two approaches  to biopolitics seems to accurately reflect the present dispute and potential future scenarios. Firstly, (the most historical-contemporary dispute) – biopolitics is racist social theory or social Darwinism . Secondly, the emergence of new policies that were a consequence of advances in science especially medical and technological.

Biopolitics' penetration into the free market. A consequence of which could be the development of the so-called "red market" . The products of red market would be, for example, organs, prostheses, blood, etc. However, due to demand and supply, bioethical issues would have to cover the normative sphere. It would be necessary to address the subject of threat to social control by medicalization, as characterized by theorists, i.e. Peter Conrad or Thomas Szasz .

State paradigm. Certainly, the post-human recognizes that his "human nature" is in a constant process of emergence, and over time, thanks to technology and education, the boundaries between natural and artificial objects will blur. "Communitarianism" and "security" are present in post and transhumanist concepts and are characterized by a "lack of a clear center." Visions of the future community include, among others. 

  • liberation of human beings from dependence, which corresponds to voluntarism; 
  • international security cooperation – militarism based on pacifism, i.e., advanced technology could address early detection of illegal weapons programs;
  • emphasis on knowledge: improving understanding and increasing wisdom by promoting research and public debates on the future, information exchanges, community filtering of information, individual critical thinking, open-mindedness, scientific inquisitiveness, developing machine intelligence, learning techniques, information technology, research on drugs to improve memory and attention or other cognitive technological improvements;
  • skepticism regarding the infallibility of human reason;
  • pragmatism as a vision of being guided in life by what is practical and useful;
  • affirmation of diversity: species, race, national identification, etc.
  • duty to save life, understood as preventive action against involuntary death .

By addressing the above issues, it will be possible to at least generally characterize the subject of post/transhuman and his community, and only then will it be possible to determine the formation of morale of both society and a particular social group such as soldiers and those responsible for the collective security in general. Quite a pressing issue for those involved in Security Studies seems to be the pinpointing of problems, i.e.: the real power of the state, internationalization level of security institutions, control over the information space, etc. Even if it is assumed that a post/transhumanist society will function in "micro-communities," it is somehow necessary to consider the boundary between the acceptance of diversity and the catalog of potential threats generated by the Other – and here by Other I mean the entity that, in reference to the acerbic words of Nick Bostrom, works on an illegal weapons program. 


Post and transhumanism, in spite of the multiplicity of currents, agree to a significant role in technologization, which contributes to the emergence of post-humanity. As stated, "emotion" and "information" are elements the form of which has changed as a result of the evolution of the art of war, but they remain ever-present because "old" and "new wars" are now co-occurring. Political battles began to be fought over the human species – its position and boundaries .

Based on the literature that covers the post and transhumanist spectrum, I would venture to create two scenarios for future wars for each discourse. My prognosis would be subjective, and therefore non-exhaustive, but will be a logical consequence of the content presented above.

For the post-human (post-humanism), the biggest enemy will be negative climate change – "environmental catastrophes." They meet all the criteria that a post/transhumanist enemy should have: they unite humanity, as social and national divisions, etc. disappear, and the fight against them is possible thanks to advanced technology. However, in order to achieve high morale in the fight against such an enemy, it would be necessary to move from an "invisible" ecological crisis – which humanity is de facto currently in – to a "visible" catastrophe. Just like everything that happens in real space, disasters will also happen in cyberspace, which can be compared to the Vietnam War, the warfare of which took place in the theater of battle and on the television screens. Once again, new wars in which the opponent will be unidentified, because who to prosecute for the environmental catastrophe that has been compounded by centuries of activity by all of humanity, will take place in an accompanying information warfare. Algorithms of cooperating platforms will "learn" what content activates their audiences by proposing similar content, which can help solidify the audience's beliefs.

The article is the first part of the considerations regarding new ideas influencing security and focuses on the theoretical aspect. In the second part, the theoretical aspects will be juxtaposed with the level of awareness and knowledge regarding current and future wars among individuals identifying themselves as transhumanists - supporters of the Polish Transhumanist Association.



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