First things first. This is not a book review, as I’ve not read The Ahuman Manifesto by Patricia MacCormack, only read about it, and its author. And that, not extensively.
What I’ve read about it indicates: it’s very much in tune with the transition Western culture has experienced from a Third Stage mindset, which saw science, technology, commerce, and progress as givens, in a world that was getting better and better, to a Fourth Stage mindset, which rejects truths (except “convenient” ones), optimism, and in which hope is lost. (For more information on Stages of civilization, go here.)
From what I can gather, Professor MacCormack (who teaches philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, U.K.) believes the solution to the so-called problem of man-made climate change is for human beings to stop reproducing, to stop having kids. This idea now has a name: antinatalism. Professor MacCormack cites a study concluding that every kid adds twenty times more greenhouse gases to our human “carbon legacy” than can ever be taken away by recycling, driving electric cars, etc.
She envisions a future world of depopulation as older generations die off and are not replaced, leading to the eventual self-extinction of the human species.
For this, and not unsurprisingly, Professor MacCormack has taken some heat on social media, which she shuns. She complains, moreover, of having received hate mail of the go-kill-yourself sort. An Italian publication (not named in my primary source for this note) called her “delusional.”
In fairness, she’s not calling for children to be killed. She stated, “I simply propose people not reproduce, and it automatically translated into acts of violence…. Somehow, I’m proposing eugenics or some kind of ethnic population control … and I think that what that shows is there is an anthropocentric — or a human — impulse to read acts of grace as, automatically, acts of violence….”
Yet one has to admit … this is all somewhat bizarre. At least by the academic standards of an admittedly long-gone era.
I probably wouldn’t be as curious if MacCormack wasn’t teaching philosophy — or, at least, what are listed on her university profile as philosophy courses. Her profile does not say whether or not she has tenure. It does state that she has written on Deleuze, Lyotard, Iragaray, and a number of other folks I never heard of. Fellow Fourth Stage postmodern gender feminist types, no doubt. She has written on queer theory, body modification, cinesexuality, and more. That’s quite a list, very much in tune with the dominant academic preoccupations in the strange century we now inhabit.
Wouldn’t it be far more useful, though, to investigate whether the problem to which she claims to have the solution is even real?
Now I am more than aware, people wandering in here and reading this might claim I’m “delusional” because, over the years, I’ve developed doubts about climate change being “man-made.”
I can already hear the shrieks of “Denialist! denialist! denialist!”
Burn the heretic!
This mindset, more interested in intellectual uniformity than a careful sifting of actual evidence and coming to a rational conclusion, is also a sign of our present Fourth Stage condition.
If you have an open mind, I can direct you to this.
I do regret that the main body of Dmitry Orlov’s latest piece is behind a Patreon paywall. What I recommend that you go to his Patreon page and sign up paying your $2.50 per month and read the whole 8,000 word essay.
I believe you’ll find what a genuinely free mind has to say on the subject to be most enlightening.
While his view of the near future of the human race is hardly optimistic, he does not advise a course of self-extinction.
But getting back to Professor MacCormack: for whatever it’s worth, she’s “old school Goth.” Has done a little DJ-ing on top of her other activities. Nothing against that. It may surprise you, but I’ve occasionally, in the past, enjoyed the company of such folks. Nearly all were kind and peaceful people, not devil worshipers or anything. But maybe Professor MacCormack should have stuck to that.
Steven Yates is a professional writer, editor, ex-academic escapee, and independent scholar in philosophy presently living in Santiago, Chile. His latest book What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory has been accepted for publication by Wipf and Stock and will appear in late 2020 or early 2021.
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