‘I seek to absent my species’, says Ahuman Manifesto author at ARU launch
The launch of ‘The Ahuman Manifesto’ at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) last week gave voice to radical notions of repurposing - and ending - humanity around a philosophy best summarised as “go vegan, don’t have children”.
Author Patricia MacCormack’s antinatalist approach is, she argues, the appropriate way to bring about the end of human exceptionalism, which has seen humanity’s dominance and oppression causing grief to its own and other species, plus additional crimes against nature.
“You can’t underestimate how many animals are living in a post-apocalyptic world because of human activity and human will,” said Dr MacCormack at the launch.
Calling the current, accepted version of reality “a tradition of violence without reflection”, she added: “The cessation of humans involves all human-on-human oppression. Ahuman activism refuses all hierarchy.”
All narratives of “belonging and unbelonging” related to offspring are redundant, says author, an Australian who has described her work as bring about “getting rid of human exceptionalism”.
“‘Does it look like me?’, parents ask – these are all fantasies, human mythologies born of hubris, not any kind of virtuous desire. There’s no logic to having children except some weird selfishness.”
A mini-symposium at the launch addressed the issues involved in winding down humanity to the point of self-extinction. The panel consisted of Professor Lisa Blackman of Goldsmiths University, Dr Jessica Ruth Austin, associate lecturer with ARU’s Cambridge School of the Creative Industries and the author, a professor of continental philosophy in English and media at ARU.
Dr Austin described a subculture of ahuman activity composed of those who identify as an animal for part of their personality. The subculture was described in Dr Austin’s doctorate – titled ‘Identity Construction in the Furry Fandom’ , for which the primary supervisor was Dr MacCormack.
“With furry fandom – generally men under the age of 25 – participants have a ‘fursona’, an amalgamation of their human identity with an animal,” Dr Austin told guests. “It’s a collaboration between those two identities.
“We’re privileged being human. We looked at things in a slightly different way. We don’t ignore ‘unpalatable’ research areas.”
Prof Blackman, who is currently writing a book “about Cambridge Analytica and the times of targeted warfare we’re in” – spoke of the origins of ahumanism. Synecology, a sub-field of ecology concerned with the relations between groups of organisms or coexisting biological communities, was originally explored by Prussian zoologist Professor Karl Mobius in the 19th century. This combines with more recent scientific advances in our understanding of bio-synthesis - in particular photosynthesis - in which it become possible to do what Prof Blackman has done, to “think of mind as a shared repository” which has no hierarchy - not just between people, but between species and even plant life.
A Q&A session then ensued, in which Dr MacCormack noted: “Ahumanism seeks to transcend anthropocentrism on a visceral level.”
Asked about winding down humanity, Dr Austin replied: “It’s not genocide, it’s taking steps that could possibly mean we’re not going to have children. For me personally, I’m not sure yet. I might have children but I’m very, very aware of the ethics of that decision. It’s about utilitarianism – you need to look at the greater good here, your biggest carbon footprint is caused by breeding.”
Prof Blackman concluded: “Today the counter-factual is the arena we’re operating in – the lies, the fake news, the untruths. So the idea of a manifesto like Patricia’s is to ask: what is the nature of the counter-factual time in which we’re living?”
‘The Ahuman Manifesto’ (Bloomsbury, £21.99) is a radical polemic that elevates what has hitherto been a niche form of activism centre-stage. In it, the “queer feminist activist” confronts, tears down and repurposes accepted opinion on death, sexuality, power and human nature, all encapsulated in a style resembling Germaine Greer on steroids. At its core, Dr MacCormack says her ideology is “a logic of compassion I think many of us have as children that access to and love of power drains out of us”.
But although self-extinction could be interpreted as the most radical solution of all, Dr MacCormack may have a secondary agenda: “Maybe I am trying to queer my species, but ultimately I am seeking to absent my species, both in reality and conceptually”.
More by this authorMike Scialom