I came across this on Twitter today and at first suspected it was satire but so far as I can tell it’s not. An Australian academic named Patricia MacCormack has a new book out titled, “The Ahuman Manifesto: Activism for the End of the Anthropocene.” The idea is that the earth would be better off without us and, therefore, it’s time to start an activism whose goal is our own extinction.
“The basic premise of the book is that we’re in the age of the Anthropocene, humanity has caused mass problems and one of them is creating this hierarchal world where white, male, heterosexual and able-bodied people are succeeding, and people of different races, genders, sexualities and those with disabilities are struggling to get that.”
“This is where the idea of dismantling identity politics comes in – they deserve rights not because of what they are, but because they are.
“The book also argues that we need to dismantle religion, and other overriding powers like the church of capitalism or the cult of self, as it makes people act upon enforced rules rather than respond thoughtfully to the situations in front of them.”
The central argument in The Ahuman Manifesto can be boiled down to this: mankind is already enslaved to the point of “zombiedom” by capitalism, and because of the damage this has caused, phasing out reproduction is the only way to repair the damage done to the world.
Here’s a further description of the book:
We are in the midst of a growing ecological crisis. Developing technologies and cultural interventions are throwing the status of “human” into question.
It is against this context that Patricia McCormack delivers her expert justification for the “ahuman”. An alternative to “posthuman” thought, the term paves the way for thinking that doesn’t dissolve into nihilism and despair, but actively embraces issues like human extinction, vegan abolition, atheist occultism, death studies, a refusal of identity politics, deep ecology, and the apocalypse as an optimistic beginning.
Some of this seems familiar. AOC has discussed whether it’s best that people stop having children in light of climate change and her view of capitalism probably isn’t all that different from MacCormack’s. But I do find it interesting that MacCormack seems interested in doing away with identity politics. From what I can tell, she sees this kind of hierarchy as inherently destructive because hierarchies of humans also extend to other living things. Her goal seems to be to flatten those hierarchies among humans and then between humans and animals.
That’s pretty extreme, obviously, but extreme is interesting in small doses. I do wonder what kind of mischief adherents to this new view of humanity might get up to at some point. The combination of human extinction as an end goal and a push toward real-world activism seems like a potentially combustible mix when it trickles down from academia to the streets.
We saw some pretty extreme behavior (blocking traffic and climbing on top of commuter trains) from the “Extinction Rebellion” crowd last fall. But MacCormack apparently sees the group as too tame because their activism is basically focused on saving the plant for people while she wants to save the planet from people. MacCormack told Cambridge News, “Everyone’s okay with the ideas in the book until they’re told they’d have to act on it. There is a lot of agreement that these changes might work for the world, but when it imposes on people, it becomes proactive.” I’d call that a hint, but what do I know.
MacCormack seems like a bit of a character. Her previous work has to do with sex, cinema, and occultism and she dresses like someone who’d fit in at a Cure concert more than an academic. To each his own. As I said, I find it interesting in small doses, but fringe academic ideas have a long history of spreading and having an impact on culture at large. Part of me does worry about what becomes of ideas like this if they start to catch on.