Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 8#4 Adilkno, Bilwet 1 Jan 1996

Concept for a post-human nature

What happens to plants and animals when everyone has gone to Heaven or Hell, I have not been able to find it in the Bible.


Ontwerp voor een posthumane natuur -

John Sasher

The only unclear things about the Humanity Project are the starting and finishing dates. The further the presumed moment of man's advent on earth is pushed back in time, the closer the end is drawing. Going by the Mayan calendar, it should be over in 2012, whereas, for the moment, Singularity thinkers forecast the end in 2343. Only old-fashioned science fiction faithfully projects its dreams until far into the third millennium. Until recently, the species was expected to die out completely as a result of intense radiation, nuclear winters and genetic mutations. More topical thinkers gather that space will soon be turned inside-out, after which the allied world population will log in on a cosmic coordinate and leave for hyperspace at H-hour. For Christians, this would mean the Return, all Buddhists would end up together in nirvana, the Jews would meet their Messiah and the Muslims their secret Imam, while the Hindus would finally see the wheel of time come to a halt. The average nihilist would be relieved to find out that the waste of evolution is collected on schedule, while a few lucid paranoids would still perceive it as a Bilderberg Group Conspiracy.

Only the chronical socialist fails to be impressed, because of the limited reach of the apocalyptic perspective. The thinker of the chronos has plenty of time and places himself in a space of time of hundreds of millennia, if not millions of years. He measures himself in terms of geological and evolutionary categories. Beyond the horizon of events, for him there can be no relapse into nature, nor a second coming of the gods, but rather, the elevation of nature to a higher order. Early socialists had, in their time, become stuck in the mud of culture. They saw nature as a place of convalescence for weary class warriors. Yet even then there were heretical comrades who knew that man was an unnatural entity which in fact had no right to be on this earth. According to the history of Marxism, the observation of the eternal changeability of nature ensures us that man, just like the whole planet and the entire solar system, is doomed to annihilation; but the laws of the movement of matter, which inevitably regenerates higher forms of existence, also ensure us that these higher forms, to which we belong (conscious thought and life in communities), will recur somewhere in the universe, only to be destroyed again. (Kolakowski.) This leaves Star Trek far behind, but is in fact in the thick of Marx's and Engels' 19th-century ideas.

The vital ideas of scientific socialism thus linked the inevitable struggle of the working class for emancipation with a cosmic evolution process. As a transcendent model, historical materialism beat the world religions on the level of eternity. Unfortunately, under the influence of lectern socialism, this meta-historical doctrine soon degenerated into a realpolitik education programme. Vision became dictate and ended up as part of the curriculum of middle-class schools. These representatives of personalism could not cope with their class interests and their existential desperation resulted in inescapable degeneration of the socialist ideal. The student movement eventually heralded in the last stage of communism. Then the triumphant fall of political socialism soon led to an open society full of enemies. The prophesied end of history and death of the subject lost their appeal soon after their announcement, because history carried on relentlessly and, after all, we were still there, despite all the well-argued post-human discourses. This is why the first postmodernity eventually foundered.

With the second postmodernity, history will be reinstated, albeit without subject. Earth devoid of mankind becomes the arena of radical rearrangements in the realm of plants and animals, but it does not take much guessing to know who will get the best of it. The average consumer could not care less what happens after his demise, but the socialist has a Plan. He always had, and this was held against him for a long time. His blueprint includes the concept for an 'artificial nature', which is no longer centred around man - who, after all, will no longer be there - nor around malevolent elements of nature itself. By excluding the possibility of equal opportunities for all animals, those with a future can be prevented from becoming extinct because of external factors such as natural enemies, climatic changes or meteorites falling to earth, or internal factors such as over-specialisation or superfluous organs.

The historical figure of the bee-keeper socialist had already chosen the side of the bee population, although he also took an interest in the nation of termites. What man, bee and termite have in common is that all three of them create their own living environment - city, hive and hill. Therefore, they need not comply with the laws of nature, but are able to determine the organisation of their own society, or at least, to fight for their right to do so. The post-historical bee-keeper socialist perceives nature on a system-theoretical level, whereas his historical counterpart, the shovelling socialist, regarded nature merely as processable material. Shovelling socialism took what it could use for the construction of its artificial culture, only to buzz off after twelve to forty years of actually existing socialism, leaving behind an industrial park full of ruins. Socialism for a life time: we built it, lived it, then we died of it.

The strength of chronical socialism lies in its anticipation of a natural state which the proponents themselves will never live to see. As with the Jews, who have been waiting for thirty-odd centuries and back out every time the Saviour turns up, very long-term socialism, too, is in no hurry at all. For our socialist, it is not a question of whether and how man will disappear, but a question of when. This determines the pace of his project. If only because of the enormous scale of time, just being part of the audience is not very attractive. Relativisation in the way of in a hundred-thousand years, nobody will live to see it anyway is alien to this philosophy. Operating within these time dimensions, you need rock-solid scientific optimism encouraging purposeful action, but without the obsessional neurosis of those who clamour for the instantaneous deed. Unlike the social-socialists, who regarded history as a narrow path which had to be cut through the jungle to the open land and the red sky of dawn, the nature-socialists need no exodus to a great purified beyond, but only a more viable nature. Ice Age never again!

Our alienation from nature, now transformed into an organised admiration for all living things on this earth, need not be abandoned. The eternal life span of mankind is not the space in which this problem can be solved. Nature is no lame duck which has to be protected by preserving it in parks where it would be better equipped to resist its environment. Nor does it need genetic manipulation to provide it with the properties which evolution missed out on. We cannot stay, but we can make sure that the bees are provided with plenty of eco-scope to create their socialist society. Bee-keeping is not enough, we should also guarantee the existence of ultra-long-term fields of heather and flowers for the maximisation of their honey production and the proportionate increase of their free time. Then, without human intervention, the bees will be able to develop the higher social consciousness which man never achieved.

The idea prevails that mankind will eventually have to abandon the field to the Übermensch, who will then rule over the Untermenschen as if he has nothing better to do. But even if there is still time to create an Übermensch, he will not exactly bide his time waiting for the end of humanity, but rather leave as soon as he can. The second-chance evolution of the Übermensch is an attempt at obtaining a second chance on another planet. However, sooner or later, the animals will have to follow mankind and, in their turn, leave the earth. Here we touch upon the secret final goal of the chronical socialists' Plan. In this context, contact between whales and forms of extraterrestrial intelligence is the first step in the right direction. The collective animal species, united under the sign of Noah, need not be squeezed overnight into a ufo. One day they will just hand in all their genes, for example in the form of spores, for transport. The comprehensive genetic code of the realm of animals can also be projected into the universe on an arrow of energy. Because the urge to reproduce is fixed in the genetic material, each animal species will report to the relevant laboratories for genetic transformation and storage as soon as H-Hour draws near. To leave the earth, nature needs no Gaia believers to make reproductive organs in the form of Eco-sphere Two, Three, etc., a well-aimed quantum leap will suffice. Only in that way will socialism reach the cosmic scale for which it was intended.

translation olivier & wylie