From Transhuman To Ahuman. Proposals For A World Without Us

Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.

Genesis 6:9

A.D. 2020: A Biblical Tale

A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia. Credit: Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

The year 2020 has been inaugurated by bushfires ravaging the forests of Australia, which caused the death of over one billion animals and the release in the air of over 306 million tonnes of CO21.
Losses in biodiversity, which have plummeted to >20% extinction of known species between 1900 and today2, are also the root cause for the spreading of new diseases. Poaching and deforestation have eliminated the natural barriers that shelter mankind from viruses of animal origin3, allowing pathogens like Coronavirus to spread freely.

A farmer scaring locusts away in Samburu County, Kenya, on May 21. Credits: Fredrik Lerneryd, Getty Images

Later in spring, the lingering effects of cyclones that deposited moist into dry regions such as East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South- and South-West Asia and South America have aroused plaguing swarms of locusts to their gregarious phase4. These ravenous eaters have devastated an incalculable number of crops, pushing entire countries on the edge of starvation, even more so in conjunction with a pandemic that has made the arduous recovery plans nearly impossible. The FAO has forecasted an expense of 138 USD millions, for a containment of the infestation, that would infuse extraordinary quantities of chemical pesticides into the environment.

Kai Ayden, 7, during a demonstration in Atlanta on May 31. Credits: Elijah Nouvelage, Getty Images

In May, the international movement for civil rights Black Lives Matter gained momentum, after videos and testimonies of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the hands of the police exposed once more the harsh evidence of social and racial inequalities in Capitalist societies.
The feeble condemnation of power abuse, together with the lenient sentences that the culprits got from the trial courts5, have shed a light on the muddiest roots of our justice systems, that are intoxicated by the dogma of protecting the oppressor at any cost.

US 45th president Donald Trump poses with a Bible in front of St. John’s church in Washington, DC, after having ordered the police to tear-gas the crowd protesting the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020. Credits: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

The material scarcity of resources for the survival of the species has translated into scarcity-based political models.
A worldwide rise in authoritarianism and disbelief towards public institutions has thrusted Brexit6, until the final opt-out of Europe on January 31st, 2020.
Current country leaders are bolstering their military apparatus to express power in the form of force, while silencing forms of non-violent democracy.
Towering examples are Trump’s crusade against mail voting7, together with his management of the #BLM protests. The president of the USA appealed to Reagan’s and Nixon’s adage, Law and Order, to justify the excessive use of force to dismantle civilians’ protests.
On another side of the world, Lukašenko’s iron grip on thousands of Belarus citizens that disavowed the results of 2020 presidential elections has led to arrests en masse and physical attacks onto the protesters. The legitimacy of the results has been acknowledged by governments with authoritarian traits, such as Putin’s Russia8.
In Hong Kong, the protests spurred in 2019 by the opposition to a newly proposed extradition bill are ongoing, after their first success resulted later into an exacerbation of national security laws, that drew even more power into the hands of the authoritarian government of mainland China and opened gates to police brutality9.

A Desire Called Apocalypse

We are witnessing a radical polarization of the existing tensions in human societies, relentlessly shattered under the drives of individualism, climate change, wealth distribution and social injustice.
Regardless of opposed and concerted efforts to preserve our species, the entropy that many humans are experiencing for the first time in the post-World-War era has brought suggestions of the Apocalypse into vernacular speech, as a desperate attempt to fix a predictable deadline for the unpredictable.

As we helplessly observe our world coming to pieces under the influx of human action, by definition parasitic and opportunistic, it wouldn’t be after all too radical to ask ourselves: what would a world without us look like?

Is it possible to offer an optimistic interpretation of the end of the Anthropocene, in order to grant the Earth a chance to recover from millennia of human-led exploitation?

Malthusianism and Neo-Malthusianism (named after the economist Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who first proposed his economic theory in 1798) advocate human birth control, in compliance with a model that represents population growth as potentially exponential and resources growth as linear. Malthus himself judged that, when humans failed in adopting self-imposed preventive measures such as sex abstinence, external factors such as wars, famines and pandemics would positively intervene and equalize the access to resources, by wiping away full chunks of contenders.

Despite offering a non-anthropocentric perspective on the usefulness of natural catastrophes, Malthusianism and Neo-Malthusianism cannot go as far as to rejoice for the eventuality of human disappearance. The restraints to population growth are seen as an inhibiting mechanism that still has, as its fundamental scope, a balanced preservation of the human species.

In order to explore scenarios of possible worlds without us, we have to interrogate philosophy, literature and art.
It takes a level of imagination uninterested in profit, to create universes in which we no longer matter.

The history of our future can be traced along an axis of progressive radicalism, which goes from transhuman, to posthuman and, finally, ahuman.

Transhumanism: Becoming Demiurges

The human body is obsolete.

Stelarc

Werde, der du bist.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, 1888

Upon acknowledging the ontological wickedness of the human species, some try to alter its destiny by changing the gnosiological definition of humanhood.

By employing body modification, artificial intelligence and other technologies, Transhumanists try to proactively resist the Apocalypse and, potentially, grant themselves immortality.
As in the paradox of the ship of Theseus, Transhumanists aim to twitch bodily, societal and economic crookedness, so that humanity is preserved even when all the single parts that compose it have been modified.

Accepting that Nature is not static, but instead shaped by perpetual change, Transhumanists reckon evolution to be perfectible and directed.
If anything, as Patricia MacCormack points out in her Ahuman Manifesto (p. 12), Transhumanism envisions Nature as a commodity, or a stage10, where to carry on a mission that has a Nietzschean flavor, which is that of perpetuating a (trans)human species capable of overcoming all the physical and mental limitations inherited at birth -death included.

Because of its purpose, Transhumanism is heavily focused on body, mind and their enhancement. It is no coincidence that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is held as a forerunner of transhumanist philosophy.

Interests of Transhumanism include body modification, bionics, cryonics, super- and artificial intelligence, mind uploading, augmented and virtual reality, rationalism.
Its putative parents can be retraced in Enlightenment, Positivism, Futurism and Cosmism.

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk presenting Neuralink. Courtesy of Synced, Image Source

Both our “real”, digital present and products of fiction are teeming with transhumanist fetishes.
One above all, Elon Musk, who does not identify as a Transhumanist, has introduced man-machine collaboration in our imagery, by launching research projects for the brain-implanted device called Neuralink, which would amplify the processing capacity of a human brain concocting the trajectory of a rocket, by providing results and numbers at the speed of thought.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) wakes up and finds himself plugged to the machine that lets humans experience a reality simulation, in Matrix, The Wachowskis, 1999

Among movies, Matrix is an outspoken, in stops and starts dark, manifesto of Transhumanism.
In its screenplay, humans decide to fight against the enslavement by the hand of machines by appropriating the machines themselves. They can opt out the collective illusion chiseled by the Matrix, by unplugging themselves; they can learn survival skills by uploading teachings in the central unit of their brain; finally, the whole movie stands as an allegory of transness13, which is a (trans)human claim on one’s gender.

ORLAN during her 4th surgery of the cycle The Reincarnation of Sainte ORLAN, in which she aims to integrate in her body archetypical features of female beauty, 1991. Courtesy of the artist.

The transhumanist appropriation of one’s body is also at the center of ORLAN’s Carnal Manifesto.
The techniques of plastic surgery become the artist’s tools for an act that “swings between defiguration and refiguration”. Through several surgical operations, not only does ORLAN shuffle the data expressed by her given DNA, but she also transforms surgery into a feminist act, thanks to which a woman has agency over her appearance instead of having to adjust it for the male gaze.

Stelarc, Third Hand, 1980. Courtesy of the artist.

Body -and identity- modification are also a concern of Australian-Cypriot artist Stelarc, who likewise adopted a new, chosen name in 1972. His art embraces the vision of the human body as a machine, flawed by the absence of modularity in its components. When upgraded with robotic prosthesis, additional organs (see his Third Ear), suspended through hooks inserted in the flesh to overcome the dullness of one’s physics, human bodies meet the minimal requirements for evolution.

Vitalism, kneaded with scientific optimism, makes the transhuman ground a mostly infertile terrain for religion. Nonetheless, drawing inspiration from sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler’s Earthseed religion11, transcults such as Terasem have been founded, in order to root devotees in their neophilia and to remind them that “life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological and love is essential”12.
Other transhumanist creeds are a syncretism of traditional monotheistic religions and exoteric narrations, such as Raëlism, which reads the presence of extraterrestrial creators into the literal translation of the Old Testament term Ĕlōhīm (Hebrew: אֱלוֹהִים ,אלהים): “those who came from the sky”.

Nonetheless, Transhumanists still put (trans)humans at the center of the Universe. In cooperation with artificial and superintelligence, humans remain the shapers of the cosmos.
Even the non-anthropocentric groups of the transhumanist movement rely on humans to offer eschatological perspectives for all sentient beings.
As supporters of Perfectism, they foster radical reproduction freedom, at the border with eugenics. If it is in fact possible to hack biology and program the birth of healthy, hyper resistant, aesthetically pleasing bodies, wouldn’t denying access to such tools represent a violation of one’s freedom?

The stress falls on safeguarding individual choices, therefore several Transhumanists orbit around libertarian and anarchic politics. Even those who strive for a democratization of access to transhumanist technologies aspire to simultaneously tear down socio-economical classes: equal access to technology would result into equal rights to self-determination.
The anarchic fringe is strongly hostile to Capitalism, which is believed to lead to dystopian inequalities between humans and transhumans, in case different levels of wealth prevent the poorest humans to enter a transhuman phase.
On the contrary, libertarian Transhumanists confide into the free market being the main engine of human acceleration, and that ethical egoism, which initially favors well-to-do citizens, eventually advantages and advances the living condition of all humans.

Longevity is a fundamental prerequisite for Perfectism, and it is at the center of a struggle that shapes the history of human destiny. George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch) (1922) draws an epic parable of one of transhumanist core beliefs, that longevity is a parallel process of Darwinian evolution, in which generations of humans succeed each other and try to gain wisdom in progressively longer arches of lifetime.

In conclusion, Transhumanism shapes up to be an assertive philosophy, that exerts humans to be authors of their own destiny. To Transhumanists, the Apocalypse is a rite of passage to their own designed afterlife.

Posthumanism: Populating the Universe with New Chimeras

In short, the certainty of what counts as nature — a source of insight and promise of innocence — is undermined, probably fatally.

Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto, 1991

Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet,
nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam.

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, book I, vv. 149-150

The aftermath of trespassing the boundaries of biological determinism is for humans to evolve into other species.

Once we will have fused our bodies with machines, hacked genetic limitations, developed mutating bodies that encompass characteristics both from human and non-human, physical and non-physical, subjected to socio-economical superstructures and anarchic, we will no longer be humans, but posthumans and, possibly, new species.

Posthumanism passes by definition through queer theories. Posthumans proceed via negationis, trying to define themselves through denying what they no longer are, therefore they must get rid of rigid compartments that, as of now, lock humans in a fragile dualism.
Posthumans refuse binary genders, especially when they can no longer be defended as the only means to guarantee the continuity of the species.
Sexual intercourse is only one among many techniques to generate offspring; hence, the nuclear cisgendered heterosexual family is a relic of the Anthropocene, that Posthumans don’t despise but also don’t strenuously defend against new fluid forms of relationships.
In Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), sexual intercourse and abstinence are equally valid as simple behavioral traits of the ambisexual Gethenians:

Being so strictly defined and limited by nature, the sexual urge of Gethenians is really not much interfered with by society: there is less coding, channeling, and repressing of sex than in any bisexual society I know of. Abstinence is entirely voluntary; indulgence is entirely acceptable. Sexual fear and sexual frustration are both equally rare.

Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969
Prototaxites Stellaviatori, the fictional fungal network featured in Star Trek: Discovery. Credits: Memory-Alpha Fandom

As a matter of fact, the concept of otherness is no longer central to posthuman identitarian issues.
Posthumanism advocates the “elimination of the degrees of being, because there is no hierarchy in the ecosystem”14, and the equality in rights not only among any gender, race and class, but also among species. It offers a utopian attempt to go beyond Intersectionalism to reach harmony in the interregnum. It wishes to recuperate primordial images of Super-Organisms, webs that entangle collaborative exchanges among beings, such as the mycelial network that enveloped our planet during the prehistoric Devonian period15 -and that served as an inspiration for Star Trek: Discovery.

Occasionally, posthuman forecasts take a spinozian-lucretian turn, and dive deep into materialism, configuring human annihilation as a mere stage in the continuity of being. Posthuman imagery is a constellation of hybrid bodies that exasperate animality, often enveloped in scenarios that remind biological processes of decomposition and phagocytosis.

A frame of Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), cult movie that brought on screen the special effects of H.R. Giger

Such is the case of Hans Ruedi Giger’s works for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), loosely inspired to A. E. van Vogt’s short novel Discord in Scarlet (1939). A superior, extraterrestrial species enters the host human bodies to feed on their flesh and lay their eggs within. The starship computer, MOTHER, which carries its crew asleep in a state of hibernation, is a posthuman metaphor of that Schopenhauerian, stepmotherly Nature that perpetually mutates, careless of human happiness.

As a movement that embraces fluxes of being, posthumanist aesthetics refuse the capitalistic myth of eternal youth, as well as that of individuality and of gendered language.
In some sense, conventional canons of beauty are rejected altogether, because they are mental categories that aim to encapsulate polymorphic matter into monolithic structures. Paradoxically, perverting the boundaries between man and machine, man and animal, is seen as an approach more natural than the Manichean distinctions between human and beastly, male and female, old and young, which are just microscopic points in the continuum of existence.

Posthuman aesthetics are nowadays rather popular both in visual arts. Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle (1994-1992) is a cinematic epic of the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, that, before its apex of total cellular dichotomy, is home to sphinxes, fauns and other chimeric creatures.

In fashion, the drag queen Hungry creates make-up illusions that make her human facial features impossible to recognize as such. They are more easily assimilated to those of a human-fish or human-insect hybrid.
Rick Owens dilates and rips up the anatomical shapes of his garments, to adapt them to the looks of specimens that will have survived, thanks to technology and self-adaptation, the end of Anthropocene.
The British stylist Alexander McQueen used to incorporate alien and animal shapes in his creations, that were rarely thought to enhance the lines of human bodies, but rather to transform them into other species.

On such premises, Posthumanists like Rosi Braidotti see in technology (SMS, emojis, machine sounds) and animals a possibility to hybridize our languages and rescue them from their phallologocentric, neo-liberal fossilization.

Moreover, they see in technology a resource to establish more harmonious covenants with other sentient beings.
The possibility to produce meat in a lab would put an end to the systemic slaughter of animals from which only humans can benefit; the employ of endemic stem cells would heal wounded bodies whilst cutting on the waste of toxic chemicals intended to produce the same result.

As a consequence, Posthumanists enter in conflict with monotheistic religions, which dread their effort to (post)produce and engineer life, accusing them of “playing God”.

On the other hand, Posthumanists privilege pragmatic ethics over moral: empathy and creativity are the driving forces of their purposes.
Sharing this trait with Ahumanists, posthuman spirituality embeds solicitations to care for the res publica, as well as to be involved in ecosophy, from diverse sources.

Posthuman philosophy is tightly connected to political activism, that is an inclusive, pragmatic act of community building opposed to the dogmatic rigidity of religion. Political activism navigates change, it does not react to it; it fosters pluralism and the defense of human and nonhuman rights, over individualism and anthropocentrism; it interrupts the circularity of rituals to deal with the unpredictable immediacy of the hic et nunc.

The posthuman future, deeply rooted in the Jainist concept of ahiṃsā (Sanskrit: अहिंसा, “not harm”), entices humans to a notion of the self that is past itself and reunited with the cosmos, a cosmos finally in harmony even when surrounded by the darkness of incipient Apocalypse.

Ahumanism: Embracing Extinction

Present-day life is polluted at the roots. Man has put himself in the place of trees and animals and has polluted the air, has blocked free space. […] Perhaps, through an unheard-of catastrophe produced by
devices, we will return to health. […] There will be an enormous explosion that no one will hear, and the earth, once again a nebula, will wander through the heavens, freed of parasites and sickness.

Italo Svevo, Zeno’s Conscience, 1923

But who then writes history and selects the figures worthy to enter into it? The great slaughters interest us, the way to put an end to them much less so. Since I’ve suffered many wars, I have sought, noiselessly, peace. 

Michel Serres, Biogea, 2012

Beyond the eschatological attempts of Transhumanism and Posthumanism, that try to medicate the illness of humanhood by transforming it into something never seen before, Ahumanism proposes the salvation of Earth through the extinction of its most parasitic guest: humans.

In philosophy, Ahumanism has been recently theorized in The Ahuman Manifesto (Bloomsbury, 2020) by Patricia MacCormack, Professor of Continental Philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University, UK.
Her work moves from the disarming observation that humans have eroded the resources of Earth and benefited from other organic life more than they have been able to give something back. As a consequence, the extinction of humans as a species might open scenarios in which flora and fauna thrive, no longer being threatened by parasites that dry their lifeblood out at an unsustainable speed.

MacCormack’s Ahumanism sprouts from a neo-spinozian ground. If we agree with Spinoza that

The foundation of acting ethically begins with will and understanding

Baruch Spinoza, The Road to Inner Freedom, in Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata, 1677

then we must admit that humans acted for too long unethically.

In their inability to identify what makes them similar to other sentient beings, they have failed to feel empathy. Leaning on their mastery of techniques -which is the one that marks the mental model of ζωή zōē versus  βίος bios-, humans have replaced will and understanding with power and knowledge.

The use of reason is a century old argument that has put humans in the position of claiming their alleged superiority over nonhumans, and justified imprisonment, exploitation, murder, theft of food, meat consumption and rape (namely, the planned breeding of livestock for the food industry).
And the presumption that we perpetuate these violences because we “know better”, or because, unlike us, other animals do not have the skill to “know”, in the end reduces scientia to potestas.

A supreme lack of empathy is visible in the rituals of lamentations that humans consecrate to humans’ death, not only through the mourning, but also through the piling of postmortem debris in cemeteries, which stands in appalling contrast to the indifference we reserve for animal slaughters.

Ahumanism challenges the careless treatment of nonhumans, by advocating radical abolitionism, which demands to creatively un-know the definition we give of “animals”. And on this purpose, Rosi Braidotti’s argument on the study of nonhuman languages is recuperated, to underline how it is necessary for us not to colonize the frontier of communications and hybridize ourselves with animals, but instead to recognize substantial differences with them and practice activism as a lack of action altogether.

Celebrating the differences between human and nonhuman is at the center of MacCormack’s ethics. For this reason, despite identifying as queer, anti-racist and feminist, MacCormack considers it worthwhile to move beyond identity politics.

The historicity of the oppression that made queer, anti-racist and feminist movements necessary is not denied; however, she notices that the resurgence of such movements is cyclical, because (at least Western) societies are kept into perpetual, antagonistic movements by Capitalism, that, as Marcuse correctly appoints, is in a dialectical relationship with oppressed minorities and needs them to thrive.

Oswald de Andrade, Manifesto Antropófago, in Revista de Antropofagia, São Paulo, Brasil, May 1928

The cultural revolution that comes with Ahumanism is cannibalistic, like that of de Andrade’s Manifesto Antropófago, that is ready to eat to the last shred of skin the humankind who caused injustices in the first place.

The only identity politics that are acceptable for Ahumanism are those that refuse human exceptionalism, and that individuate humans only as components of a universal process of becoming. Ahumanism warns that the end of anthropocentrism (which helplessly puts life in a capitalistic hierarchy of value and worth) must be accompanied by a wholehearted spiritual commitment, and not become yet another victim of Capitalism, that already appropriated i.e. veganism to control (especially women’s) bodies and marketed it as a purchasable personality trait.

Ahumanism also refuses the technotheism of Transhumanism, that promises to end the exploitation of sentient beings by inaugurating an era of men-machines, but lacks accountability when it comes to clean up the Earth from obsolescent, abandoned products.
Moreover, Ahumanism is against activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, that do a noble work in promoting environmental consciousness, but are still spoiled by the egoistic scope of doing so to preserve human life above all.

What is, then, a way to coherently prove one’s sincere interest in ending anthropocentrism? For MacCormack, the tools lie in non-representational art, passive activism and godless religions.

To end anthropocentrism requires, in fact, a proactive engagement in ego death. We have to concede space to Nature to express itself through its asemiotic language, and renounce to the urge of re-ordering it. We must learn empathetic listening towards experiences of being that are other than human and, if anything, be present to assist nonhumans in their attempt to communicate. We ought to avoid the comfortable mediation of representational art, that anthropomorphizes nonhuman narrations for our own relief. MacCormack, through Serres, designs a powerful equation that illustrates how humans have made use of art, intended as τέχνη tékhnē, to achieve immortality. Satellites have stretched speed; the atomic bomb has made energy explode; Internet has dilated space; nuclear energy has subverted the course of time. Yet, all these useful inventions have caused death.

To stop causing death, art has to become useless -at least, useless for us.
It needs to stop leaving its detritus behind, since countless waste will already be left at the moment of our disappearance.

Shen Shaomin, Sagittarius, 2005. Courtesy of Arthur Digital Museum

Solely for artistic speculation, it might be of interest to mention here the work of the Chinese ahumanist sculptor Shen Shaomin, who anticipates the discoveries of post-Anthropocene archaeology, in which seekers will be horrified upon exhuming the abominations caused by human desire and artificiality.

But if we adopt MacCormack’s aesthetics, the preferred type of art is one that does not try to constrict chaos, the eternal becoming, into an ossified form. The artist is a vessel possessed by demons, a sounding board for the occult, transformative forces of Nature.

Through this passage, art enters the realm of spirituality, and it opens the gates to DIY religions. Or more accurately, in an act of joyful and liberated poiesis, it opens the gates of Inferno.

The illustrations of Brian Ward for Peter Carroll’s Liber Null And Psychonaut, Weiser, York Beach, Maine, USA, 1987 are inspired to Lovecraft’s creatures.

MacCormack adopts a syncretism where Witchcraft is blended with Luciferianism, Chaos Magick, Thelema, Theosophy, Golden Dawn, Paganism, Celtic and Norse cults -but resolutely distanced from the racially poisoned manipulations by the hand of Nazis.
Figures of angels and vampires couple with Lovecraftian monsters, to generate a chaotic offspring that is the expression of absolute potentia, of a godless and jolly materialism that rejoices in becoming.

Limitless imagination causes unpredictability of results; unforeseeable creations make it impossible for humans to exert knowledge, thus power; caring for the world through a spirituality that contemplates the full spectrum of possibility forces humans to stay in an attitude of will and understanding -to act ethically.

With such a religion, that is queer, compassionate, abolitionist and decisively anti-dogmatic, it becomes impossible to perpetrate violences “in the name of God”.
Within a creed where all experiences of being are accepted, there are no bodies that misbehave. The negative connotations given by patriarchal religions to witches, infidels, unholy animals, are claimed back as the vocabulary of a radically inclusive spirituality.

Submission, surrendering and the loss of self are valued over individuality, asceticism and elevation through penitence.
What MacCormack refers to as cunt chaos replaces the images of male prescriptive gods. The new gods unite in the monstrous image of a vulvic Leviathan, feminine and queer, that refuses to have its value defined by production (i.e. reproducing the structure of the family), chastity (i.e. reproducing the structure of the church) and acceptance of subjugation (i.e. reproducing the structure of the state).

Numerous Ahumanists bring this imagery further and organize their religiosity around dadaist approaches, that intentionally rip apart the foundations of society, and promote themselves not only as ahumans, but also anti-human.
Such is, for example, the Church of Euthanasia, that is built on the four pillars of suicide (i.e. riddance of the already generated), abortion (i.e. elimination of the wrongfully procreated), cannibalism (i.e. clearance from human waste) and sodomy (i.e. abstinence from procreative sex).
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has a hedonistic approach, that recites “May we live long and die out”: they do not necessarily engage in abolitionist activism, nor come with an articulate plan to minimize the impact of humans on Earth before they depart. They are content with making proselytism around the abstinence from breeding.
Efilism, that takes its name from the backwards writing of “life”, preaches anti-natalism on the base of a profound conviction that, for humans, it would have been better to never have been born. It is a movement completely originated on the web, from a pastiche of European Existentialism, Buddhism and memes culture. Their manifesto bears the words: “Life is Consumption, Reproduction, Addiction & Parasitism. It’s C.R.A.P.“, and to stop human reproduction it is, for Efilists, to stop suffering.

MacCormack does not stand by these declinations of Ahumanism, that are in the end lamentative visions of life. She proposes an affirmative celebration of life, that simply does not put humans as alpha and omega of the Universe.

I love him who seeketh to create beyond himself, and thus succumbeth

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1885

Other nonhumans have faced extinction before us, in too many cases as a consequence of human greed.
Shall our own Apocalypse come, we are not in the place to grieve that “Nature is fighting back”: we can, and we ought to, take responsibility for the destruction we caused.

We have an opportunity to save our planet before having to witness its crushing under our own weight.
The Earth will not cease without us. As much as it hasn’t ceased to exist despite the innocent disappearance of other nonhumans before us, and as much as it existed and prospered for millennia before us. All we can do to live a meaningful existence is to take care of the present world until we are gone. We have to love the Earth enough to be able to imagine that happiness, life, health, purpose will be possible for other species, when we are no longer there.

MacCormack concludes her manifesto with a deeply human, vulnerable and actionable statement that frames The Ahuman Manifesto a viable -if not desirable- way of living as long as we are here: “What are we afraid of? We are afraid that we won’t have lived enough, ‘got’ enough, consumed enough, been free to experience the fleeting life we have. […] With tears and love and joy. Be afraid. But we still can act”.

And if The Ahuman Manifesto will feel to some readers as coming out from perverted science-fiction, so be it. There is some truth, and some solace, to be found in Jameson’s definition of science fiction:

We must therefore now return to the relationship of SF and future history and reverse the stereotypical description of this genre: what is indeed authentic about it, as a mode of narrative and a form of knowledge, is not at all its capacity to keep the future alive, even in imagination. On the contrary, its deepest vocation is over and over again to demonstrate and to dramatize our incapacity to imagine the future […].

Frederic Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future, 2005


Notes

1. Heesu Lee, Bushfires Release Over Half Australia’s Annual Carbon Emissions, Bloomberg, Sydney, Australia, December 24, 2019
2. UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, Paris, France, May 6, 2019
3. Great apes, loss of biodiversity and COVID-19 – A throwback on the race for knowledge, UNESCO, Paris, France, September 22, 2020
4. David Njagi, The Biblical locust plagues of 2020, BBC Future Planet, August 7, 2020
5. See i.e. Richard Oppel, Derrick Bryson-Taylor, Nicolas Bogel-Burroughs, What We Know About Breonna Taylor’s Case and Death, New York Times, New York, USA, September 24, 2020
6. Jon Henley, Jennifer Rankin, Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit explained: how it happened and what comes next, The Guardian, January 27, 2020
7. Barton Gellman, The Election That Could Break America, The Atlantic, Washington, USA, September 23, 2020
8. Paul Dallison, ‘A friend is in trouble’: Lukashenko gets $1.5B loan from Putin, Politico, September 14, 2020
9. Frank Suyak, Will China’s new national security law for Hong Kong be the end of autonomy in the territory?, Deutsche Welle, June 10, 2020
10. It is however fair to point out that some currents of Transhumanism, such as Humanity+ in their Transhumanist Declaration, “advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise.”
11. Earthseed is the religion founded by the fictional character Lauren Oya Olamina in Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998) by Octavia E. Butler
12. Jessica Roy, Melbourne Beach, The Rapture of the Nerds, Time, USA, April 17, 2014
13. Emily Manning, lilly wachowski encourages viewers to reconsider ‘the matrix’ through the lens of transness, i-D, April 4, 2016
14. Viola, F. Umano e post-umano: la questione dell’identità, in: Russo, F. (ed.) Natura cultura libertà, Armando, Rome, Italy, 2010, p. 90.
15. See Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life, Penguin Random House, New York, USA, 2020

Bibliography

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Special credits go to pentaglam.it, for their expertise and guidance on the topic of pagan cults

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