Speculative Cannibalisms: For an Ecocentric Post-Speciesism

archipel
July 3

This is a translation of Cannibalismes spéculatifs.

Speculative Cannibalisms

For an Ecocentric Post-Speciesism

by Ā

The following lines are a cynical provocation to introspection, to thȧnk*[1] our relationship to the world via the taboo of cannibalism; they are an invitation, not without discomfort, to the reconceptualisation of the categories of human and non-human, subject and object, culture and nature, sacred and profane; and this through the prism of the food consumption of what we consider our fellow human beings: cannibalisms mobilized as a metaphor of the cycles of our world. Let us explore the obscure depths of our ethics to find therein the foundations of our ontologies*.

The subject/object dichotomy, a pillar of contemporary Western anthropocentrism and the keystone of the capitalocene*, has established humans as living beings with a unique interiority, thus enabling them to appropriate, exploit and accumulate non-humans regarded as mere resources.

As a contemporary Western ontology, ‘naturalism’ (DESCOLA, 2005) is one way of defining the boundaries between self and other based on the dualisms of culture/nature and subject/object, which thus determine the differences between humans/non-humans. According to this ontology, humans possess an interiority and a psyche (reflexivity, consciousness, a “soul”, etc.) that are superior to non-humans, which would confer on the latter lesser rights and moral considerations, or even none at all.

In the West, faced with certain drifts of naturalism, a hybrid ontology has emerged: the anti-speciesism* of veganism and animalism. Some non-human animals[2] are considered to have an interiority identical to that of humans, so that the exploitation of the former by the latter becomes immoral. This hybrid ontology, although challenging Western dualisms, remains firmly rooted in the subject/object dichotomy. Non-human animals are considered subjects, but the other non-humans (plants, mountains, rivers, soils, etc.) of our world remain objects, and thus exploitable resources.

Let us then envisage cannibalistic postspeciesism* in which humans are not reified as mere “meat” objects, which would be an erroneous ethnocentric* vision of cannibalism, but in which the food consumption of what we consider our fellow human beings would annihilate the subject/object dualism.
Through cannibalism, let us envisage together a postspeciesism which would not be zoocentric*, focused on the equality between human and non-human animals, but ecocentric*, and therefore focused on the interactions between humans and non-humans, animals and non-animals, living and non-living, visible and invisible.

This disturbing proposal is at odds with the approach of the writer Jonathan Swift, whose pamphlet ‘A Modest Proposal on the Poor Children of Ireland’ (SWIFT, 1729) proposed infants as a source of food to alleviate the misery of eighteenth-century Ireland. This unseemly suggestion is also quite different from the controversial scientist Magnus Söderlund’s approach to human meat consumption as a solution to mitigate global warming. For our conclusions are non-matlhusian**: “Overpopulation” is not the problem! Let us rather eat the rich instead to get out of the capitalocene.

We will not mobilise cannibalism only for its transgressive and provocative aspect, although this virulence is an asset for a thorough questioning of our place in the world. This concept is also a category that is good to thȧnk, exposing our naturalistic dualisms, the basis of our ways of being in the world. It is a total social fact, ‘in some cases setting in motion the whole of society and its institutions’ (MAUSS, 1924), it ‘cannot be isolated, it is part of the whole of the representations that a society makes of itself and of others’ (KILANI, 2006). A perfect subject for speculative narratives*, this paroxysm of otherness, symbol of the inhuman and fantasy of the Other, allows us to reflect on ourselves. Cannibalism is an anthropopoiesis*.

Capitalocene and naturalistic anthropocentrism

“The Rio Doce River, which we Krenak call Watu, our grandfather, is a person, and not a resource, as the economists say. It is not something that someone can claim ownership of; it is a part of our collective” [3].

“Nature” is a social construct, which defines itself in opposition to “culture.” This great sharing* is in iterative interaction with the extraction of modern Western humans from their environment, as a system (ecosystems) and a cycle (trophic*), and then imperialistically disseminates this vision of the world, of the Self and the Other, through colonisation, and then through globalisation and development policies. “How can a founding myth be credible if it is fantastical? The hypothesis is that in order to make this impossible self-extraction from the trophic webs a self-fulfilling myth, at a certain point in history, Western human have elaborated a cosmology and a taboo that postulate a diodic* relationship to the trophic web: we can feed on the sun trapped in living beings, but other living beings do not have the right to feed off the sun trapped within us” (MORIZOT, 2016). To erect our naturalistic ontology as the main cause of the capitalocene would be etiologically* too simplistic, but not without foundation, far from it. The opposition between humans as subjects with an interiority that is considered as so particular, and the rest of the living and non-living, considered as objects without soul, consciousness and reflexivity, is characteristic of this ontology. For non-naturalist peoples such as animists, non-humans can have an interiority similar to ours. As such, they are not seen as resources but as kindred, members of their collectives, thus rendering the concepts of private property and the nature/culture dichotomy non-existent. For ontologically naturalist Westerners, it is therefore possible to claim ownership of these non-humans (living and non-living), thus setting up human-subjects as despots of nature-objects. The private property of “subjects” over “objects” is one of the pillars of capitalism, the main source of change in our world, exceeding geophysical forces. Let us then destroy the socio-technical and cognitive locks around this dichotomy structuring the capitalocene.

Animalist anti-speciesism and zoocentrism

Faced with the drifts of naturalism, certain hybrid ontologies arise, including those of the antispeciesists. In their view, non-human animals are endowed with an interiority similar to ours, and should therefore no longer be treated as resources. Based on ethological advances, this zoocentric ethic is a quest for horizontality and equality among animals, human and non-human. Although antispeciesism is a way for Westerners[4] to build ethically more sensible and empathetic interspecific links, and more or less ecologically efficient, this hybrid ontology cannot be an effective lever vis-à-vis the capitalocene. By confronting utilitarian anthropocentrism*, animalist antispeciesism, in addition to being zoocentric, seeks to combat the “despot” human, by setting itself up as “guardian” humans. “It is a definitive system of interpretation of the world in which man is to be the shepherd of the Earth and indeed must watch over all his animal and human flocks” (CELKA, 2012). The guardian human, protecting their fellow animals from other despotic humans, continues to be a dominant position in the anthropocentric pyramid of the living. Despot, manager, or guardian, are postures of vertical relation with the rest of the world.

Although the position of this text remains critical of antispeciesist ontology, we support antispeciesist activists who denounce the abuses of productivism. Although the agribashing* exerted ( with different degrees of violence) on the agricultural world is detrimental to human farmers, who are themselves victims of the productivist system, and particularly of the CAP* in Europe, we stand against the repressions against antispeciesist movements. FUCK THE DEMETER* CELL! And incidentally, FUCK THE CAP!

Speciesism, anti-speciesism and post-speciesism

Speciesism, in its current strongly zoocentric definition, is an ethic in which “the species to which an animal belongs, for example the human species, is a relevant criterion for establishing the rights to be granted to it. […] By extension, speciesism also relates to the idea that humans would give greater or lesser moral consideration to individuals of other animal species on the basis of that species: for example, companion animals would have their interests taken into account to a greater extent than animals that are farmed, meant for experimentation, or considered to be harmful”[5]

Antispeciesism is a notion constructed in opposition to speciesism. However, framing ourselves in the negative of the enemy can close horizons and exhaust us in the process. “To oppose something is to contribute to its maintenance. […] You have to go somewhere else, with another goal; thus you walk on another road”. (LE GUIN, 2006)

Antispeciesism is a tendency to integrate non-human animals into the “Culture” category, reiterating the great divide. It is then crucial to thȧnk a postspeciesism that reintegrates humans and their “Culture” into “Nature,” effectively annihilating the great divide.

Donna Haraway warns us against the prefix “post-” as a promise of another era, without the thickness of the past, making us unaccountable for the present and its ruins. We do not indeed live in the “post-,” yet this particle with its perilous aspects has the benefit of informing us of what our notion seeks to overcome, of what it is not, without however imposing on us the strict essence of a definition or contradicting an “enemy” notion. Our affix seems to be suited to the making of speculative concepts, congruent with the awareness and desire to create new narratives for new worlds. Post-speciesism is more than just an overcoming of the anthropocentric hierarchisation of the living, it is a proposal to go beyond the notion of species, and this without seeking to lock ourselves into a new -ism. Rather, this concept is open to a multitude of paths, offering new ways of weaving relationships, with no fixed horizon as a solution other than a holistic* vision of the world.

Ecocentric postspeciesism

“‘- She is talking to her sister,’
‘- But it’s a stone,’ said the researcher.
And the comrade said: ‘Indeed, and where is the problem?’
[…] Just like the Hopi woman who was talking with her stone sister, in many parts of the world there are a great number of people who talk with mountains. In the Andes, for example in Ecuador or Colombia, there are places where mountains form couples. There is the mother, the father, the son, a mountain family that shares feelings, and exchanges a whole lot of things. The people living in these valleys make parties for these mountains, give them food, give them gifts and receive gifts from the mountains themselves.” [3:1]

The postspeciesism speculated here is thus a proposal to go beyond zoocentrism, and more broadly biocentrism, via the inclusion of certain non-living things - biotopes such as rivers, deserts, mountains, etc., or the abiotic** factors that make them up, such as climate, air or soil - in our moral considerations, and do so by means of an ecospheric egalitarianism*. Like the Watu River, the grandfather of activist Ailton Krenak, the stone sister of the Hopi woman, or the mountain families of some Andean peoples, these abiotic beings should no longer be considered as resources or mere landscapes, but as kindred that are part of “We,” thus weaving and rethȧnk the complex interactions of our worlds.

Post-speciesism is the result of research into de-individualisation* and ecosystemisation* of the notion of species, through the reconsideration of our visions of living “beings.”

Species: “a population or set of populations whose individuals can actually or potentially reproduce with each other and produce viable and fertile offspring” [6].

Individual[7]: 1. “Being forming a distinct unit (in a classification)”.

2." An organized body with a life of its own which cannot be divided without being destroyed (plant, animal…)".

However, these individuals that constitute populations, themselves forming species, are in no way “a distinct unit” “living with an existence of its own and which cannot be divided without being destroyed”;
For we are not individuals but ecosystems[8] ;

We are not a ‘unit’ but rather an entanglement of symbiotic relationships made up of innumerable micro-organisms[9] ;

We are not ‘separate’, autonomous and impervious in an environment that merely surrounds us; (INGOLD, 2007)

We are the environment;
We are the landscape;
We are the world;
We are all lichen (GILBERT, 2012. HARAWAY, 2020. POTOT, 2014);

We are a set of entanglements made up of constant exchanges between our supposedly “internal” and “external” ecosystems, and of interdependencies between living and non-living.

“For “we” does not refer to an addition of subjects (“I” plus “I” plus “I”…) but to a collective subject, dilated around me who speaks: me and some non-me, partly indefinite, potentially limitless, me and all that to which I can or wish to bind myself. Benveniste said it, and it was a surprise: “we” is not the plural of “I,” a countable plural cut out of the larger whole of “all.” No, that’s not how the pronoun is constructed. “We” is the result of an “I” that has opened up (opened to that which it is not), that has expanded, deposited outside, widened” (MACE, 2019).

For a “we” so broadened, that every fed body becomes cannibal, subsuming itself with a non-human kindred;
For a postspeciesism, focused not on the equality of living beings, but on the constant interactions that make up our world, on the complex weavings of the abiotic and the biotic*;
For a postspeciesism ɴon-ᴀ*[10] ;
For an ecocentric postspeciesism, where humans would not be despots, guardians, or managers, nor even living among the living, but ecosystems among ecosystems. We are part of this Whole, or rather “each thing is connected to something, which is connected to something else […] The specificity and proximity of the connections matter - with whom are we connected and how” (VAN DOOREN, 2016).

“Species” view “Human” role
Speciesism Anthropocentrism (naturalist) Despot
Antispeciesism Zoocentrism Guardian
Postspeciesism Ecocentrism Ecosystem within ecosystems

Action and cognition

The stakes which make up this ecocentric postspeciesism have already been thought through by contemporary anthropologists and philosophers. However, these ideas alone are not enough to trigger paradigms shifts. Cognition without action cannot bring about real changes in our reality, because it would then be enough to deconstruct the concept of ‘Nature’ to defuse the great divide and the capitalocene; conversely, action depends on cognition in an eternal interactive dialogue. We are indeed sitting around this text, not around an anthropophagic feast, but let’s not get bogged down in a Cartesian primacy (of cognition over action), and then propose actions in line with our postspeciesism.

Some of these actions already exist, such as the legal personalities that have been granted to the rivers Whanganui, Gane and Yamuna (DAVID, 2017). These legal acts, despite their names and although accompanied by symbolic actions, may seem to be the domain of cognition, but in our societies are the typical example of performative discourse*, and can therefore be considered as actions. By taking into account indigenous ontologies and spiritualities, these rivers have become subjects of rights. According to Descola, attributing legal personalities to ecosystems ‘can have very interesting consequences in that it is a complete departure from the industrial capitalism model’ (GAMEIRO, 2020). However, like the anti-speciesist desires related to the attribution of legal personalities to non-human animals, this amounts to expanding the modern individualism of capitalism to non-humans. Moreover, this integration of rivers into “culture” through a legal personality has so far had very few concrete positive effects. Pending the adoption of more egalitarian and global ecospherically based treaties[11], let us consider other practices.

Through the great divide, humans have extracted themselves cognitively from their world, but also physically from trophic webs. Western humans spend their lives extracting the energy of the sun accumulated in these webs[12], without ever giving it back. “We can be eaters, but not eaten. Eater not edible” (MORIZOT, 2016). For an ecosystemisation of humans, it is then crucial to reposition them in the food chain. By analyzing their trophic level (index 2.2, close to the anchovy or the pig), researchers have found that humans are not the super-predator we think we are (BONHOMMEAU, 2013). It would then be a matter of reviving the populations of large predators, in order to reaffirm humans’ status as prey[13].

To get out of this univocal trophic relationship, and in the absence of great predators (and great scavengers), human composting seems to be a promising and more achievable practice at the time of the 6th mass extinction. This practice seems most effective for an ecosystemisation of some humans, as “the Western culture of human supremacy is characterized by a very strong effort to deny that we humans are also animals part of the food chain. This denial that we are food for others is apparent in our mortuary and burial practices. The solid coffin that we bury, as per convention, well below the activity level of the soil fauna, and the slab above the grave to prevent anyone from digging us up, prevent the Western human body from becoming food for other species” (MORIZOT, 2016). Com-posthuman.

Meat

“The taboo consists, therefore, in prohibiting and minimizing all the conditions by which we would be biomass at the disposal of others. [Taboo is necessary to make this myth of self-extraction credible: to make real experience coincide with fiction, to make fiction true by not being contradicted by fact. The events in which the human is then ‘lowered’ to the status of meat constitute a founding transgression, which calls for reparation, to re-establish a world order.”[14]

“Nourished bodies knot themselves to the flesh of the world, reflecting in it the virtual centres of their tensions, thus redoubling the perspectives and the scope of the questions raised by the food intake.” [15]

“Meat” is, for both vegan antispeciesism and cannibal practices, linked to our conceptions of Self and Other, of the Object of the Subject.

This Obsubject*, a linchpin of trophic webs, is the death that gives life. “In other cultures, being eaten does not trigger the same psychoses. In the cosmology of Siberian shamanism (…), the order of the world is seen as a circulatory flow of flesh” (MORIZOT, 2016). Wouldn’t becoming ‘meat’ once again be a radically more effective disruptive innovation than breaking out of our Western carnal habits? Wouldn’t becoming ‘meat’ once again enable carnists to switch back from ‘sarcophagy’ to ‘zoophagy’[16] (VIALLES, 1988)? Wouldn’t becoming “meat” once again be the way to move from anthropocentric speciesism or zoocentric antispeciesism to ecocentric postspeciesism? Wouldn’t becoming ‘meat’ once again ‘metaphysically annihilate our extraction above the biotic community’ (MORIZOT, 2016)?

Given the current state of large predator populations, cannibalism seems one of the simplest and most direct solutions for a return of humans to their status of ‘biomass at the disposal of others,’ returning the energy and matter accumulated throughout our lives without taking it to the grave. This cannibalism must necessarily be coupled with a practice of human composting in order not to fall back into a diodic relationship of energy circulation. Com-postspeciesism.

Cannibalism

“Before being an act of ingesting human flesh, cannibalism reflects a social logic.”[17]

triangle

If our ecocentric postspeciesism–resulting from a search for the ecosystemisation of humans in “their condition of biomass that can be shared by others” (MORIZOT, 2020)–is speculatively concretized, not only through human composting, but through cannibalism, it is because the latter is a powerful cognitive foothold for paradigm shifts*.

The cannibal, ‘based on the presupposition of extreme otherness, (…) often takes on the features of the monster or the devil. An integral savage, radically other, the cannibal eschews humanity’ (KILANI, 2006). In the West, cannibalism, by defining the inhuman, enables us to define the human through reflection. Conversely, in societies in which ritual cannibalism is institutionalized, it enables the making of society and the making of humans, through “the absorption of the social body by each individual, or the absorption of each individual by the whole of the social body” (FOUCAULT, 1999).

Food practices (veganism, carnism, endocannibalism, exocannibalism) highlight the existing links between the fact of eating or not eating the Other or the Us, and our ways of identifying and differentiating ourselves.

In the case of endocannibalism, which is the eating of one’s kin, members of one’s group who have usually died a natural death, it is a matter of reaffirming the “kindred” status of the deceased, who is often boiled and mixed with other ingredients, in an elaborate and lengthy cooking process.

Conversely, exocannibalism is the eating of the Other. A close Other, not so different, like a ‘brother-in-law’, to use a Tupi-guarani logic (KILANI, 2006). This enemy, put to death with respect, prepared with little elaborate cooking such as roasting, allows for identification in the difference, through the Other.

These institutionalised cannibalisms never reify human beings as a ‘meat object’. The subject status of the eaten individual is reinforced through these rituals, in societies where non-humans can also be subjects.

Cannibalism is highly ontological. “Cannibalism, before being a way of eating, is a way of thinking about social relations” (KILANI, 2006). We eat non-human living Others, but isn’t eating ourselves the same as reintegrating ourselves into these living Others, and thickening this “We”?

Cannibalism, by putting humans back into “their condition of biomass that can be shared by others,” annihilates the naturalist myth of self-extraction from “Nature,” and re-establishes humans in more fair ecosystem interactions. We are part of a whole, and we are governed by the same principles: we are ecosystems driven by cycles. Of these cycles governing our world, it is the trophic webs that are at stake in our speculative cannibalism.

Ritual, cycle and system

“The rite and rituals make up the cement of human groups; they provide the framework that will enable the important passages of life to be marked in a stable way with their entry and exit. They will express the roots of the group and the belonging of each individual to its roots.”[18]

“What differentiates the pagans from us is that at the origin of all their beliefs there is a terrible effort not to think as men, to keep in touch with the whole creation, that is, with the divinity.” [19]

Our speculative cannibalisms, like all social cannibalism*, must be codified through institutionalized ritual structures. Ritual, in addition to creating egregores*, has ‘the function of giving reference points in space and time, it is a structuring element of life, it sets the pace for the seasons and the periods of life, and it gives depth and importance to the different pivotal moments of our lives’ (DUPIN, 2009). More than landmarks, rituals place us back within cycles and systems;

within the universe, the solar system and ecosystems

within cosmic cycles, seasons, and life journeys.

“Western humanity (…) has invented itself as a diode for cosmic energy: the only species in which the circulatory flow of energy, or sun-flesh in the living cosmos, goes only in one direction.” (MORIZOT, 2016).

Let’s ritualise and put ourselves back into cycles and systems!

βίος θάνατος βίος[20]

“Our task is to interpret this Life/Death/Life cycle, to live it with as much grace as possible, even if it means howling like demented bitches when this is impossible.”[21]

The anthropologist Margaret Mead—‘particularly interested in the importance of rituals in the construction of identity, as providing the cultural context essential to the meaningful existence of man’ (DUPIN, 2009)—emphasized the importance of recreating ‘secular’ rituals to ‘bring the community together and strengthen the sense of belonging’ (ibid.) to a culture or, more generally, to the human species. Speculative rituals for ecocentric postspeciesisms need to bring together a wider community than ‘the human species’ in a radical ecospheric egalitarianism; and they must not be secular, nor sacralized.

The Sacred/Profane dichotomy is a Western categorization. To initiate paradigm shifts, its deconstruction appears as relevant as that of our Nature/Culture. “The sacred is a notion of cultural anthropology allowing a human society to create an axiological separation or opposition between the different elements that compose, define or portray its world, (…) it is essentially opposed to the profane, but also to the utilitarian”[22]. Profane: From the Latin profanus meaning ‘in front of the temple.’

Shouldn’t our whole world be a temple?

Is the ‘utilitarian’ character of the components of our world not characteristic of an anthropocentric vision that has led us to the capitalocene?

Is it not urgent to rethȧnk our ways of ‘axiologically separating or opposing the different elements that compose, define or portray our world’?

If the proposed paths are expressed through ritual, it is because social cannibalism is inseparable from it, but it is also because magic, or more broadly spiritualities[23], appear to be necessary disciplines for paradigms shifts. Since the current sciences are not suited to initiate these changes and to solve the problems of the capitalocene[24], it is then crucial to change our ways of applying leverage. This critical reconsideration of science and magic can be seen in some new activist practices. Magic as an activist act, and expressed through ritual, can serve, among other things,[25] to symbolically and performatively reposition humans in cycles and systems. If the legal act is the performative discourse by excellence in Western societies, the ritual act is so for numerous other societies.

The adoption of exotic ritual practices, or the re-adoption of ancient practices by Westerners, makes little sense. We need to create new rituals for new worlds.

Speculative neo-endocannibal ritual of ecosystemisation

Endocannibalism is a way of introducing the deceased into the cycle of the living.

“Indeed, the treatment reserved to the corpse in endocannibalism indicates the will to deny the process of death and to perpetuate the deceased in the life circuit. Cannibalism affirms a continuity between life and death and between generations. In a sense, it materializes the debt paid to the ancestors” (KILANI, 2006).

The interpretation of endocannibalism by certain anthropologists emphasizes the ‘negation of the death process’, in order to reintroduce the ‘soul’ of the ‘deceased’ into the life circuit. But isn’t this introduction of the dead into the cycle of the living rather an affirmation of the death process? Is this vision of anthropologists not strongly marked by an ethnocentric vision of death[26], as a rupture and not as a moment of a cycle?

As part of a speculative design project on the food of the future at the ESAA de la Martinière Diderot, a scenario for a neo-endocannibal ritual was developed:

“1- The flight of the soul”

In a first ritual phase, the body is placed in a technological device, where low-temperature solutions vibrate under the effect of ultrasound to separate the body, the soul and the proteins of the deceased.

“2- Sharing a meal”

Then, a “funeral meal” between the family members begins with the ingestion of the proteins of the deceased in a liquid infusion, thus “making their soul live through them.”

“3- Garden of souls”

The remains of the deceased are biodegraded in “a green place conducive to meditation” (PARISE, 2019).

This speculative ritual may correspond to a postspeciesism and ecocentric view of cannibalism. The consumption of the body of the deceased by humans during the funeral meal, and then by non-humans in the vegetable garden of souls, fits perfectly with an ecosystemisation of humans. For in the absence of large predators putting humans back in their position of prey, it is crucial to couple ritual cannibalism with a practice of human composting, so that human biomass is not shared only by a community of humans. It is necessary to emphasize that the project of ‘making one’s soul live through them’ should not be limited to a ‘them’ corresponding to the human family of the deceased, but should be expanded to a ‘us’ as thick as possible, in order to ‘make one’s soul live through [the world]’.

The technological device for extracting the proteins of the deceased seems superfluous, and can be replaced by more low-tech recipes, inspired for example by the vegetable and burnt bone soups of the Yanomami (KILANI, 2006). Moreover, these soup recipes require human composting before cannibal meals in order to recover the bones. They thus propose the sharing of human biomass first to the non-human beings of the forest litter, and not the remains of a cannibal meal, which seems to be more diplomatic and ‘cosmo-polite’ (MORIZOT, 2020), in line with a quest for ‘ontological tact’ (DESPRET, 2019).

Paradigms shifts and speculative narratives

“Let’s develop our strengths in always being able to tell one more story, one more narrative. If we can do this, then we delay the end of the world.” [3:2]

Speculative narratives are performative, and can be self-fulfilling prophecies. Offering a narrative about the future influences it, whether it is prospectivist or fictional. The dystopias of science fiction and the eschatological narratives of the collapsologists, the IPCC, or NASA’s super-computers, generate, in response, devices in preparation for this end of our world. These devices are self-fulfilling speculative narratives. Buying a bunker and weapons, or going into exile in a community to practice permaculture, are two very different devices in preparation for the end of our world, and they self-actualise radically opposite futures. The post-capitalist future will obviously not be a utopia based on mutual aid and a return to “nature,” nor a dystopia based on individualism and war for the appropriation of industrial ruins, but may be a mosaic of hybridations of these two narratives, a mosaic of responses vis-à-vis the end of our world. So that our speculative cannibalism is not only inscribed in narratives that are too utopian, let us propose other, slightly more bellicose paths.

Neo-exocannibal ritual: Eating the rich

"Rousseau was also the people, and he said: “When the people will have nothing more left to eat, they will eat the rich.”[27]

Capitalism, this invisible enemy, this powerful spell that hinders our lives, unaffected by the swings of a sword in the wind, is driven by humans, with faces, names, and addresses. These 1% who possess half of the world’s ‘wealth’ are easily identifiable, and it is crucial to confront them with the ‘metaphysical stakes of their own devouring’ (MORIZOT, 2016). These humans have appropriated our non-human partners, without ever sharing and returning the energy and matter they have taken. They practice a form of anti-social, perverse and destructive cannibalism: capitalism. It seems logical then that the 1% are the ideal target for a neo-exocannibalism, a strong symbolic means for them to render common what they have taken; to identify us and constitute an “us,” differentiating us from them, and reminding them of their status as prey integrated within the trophic web. There is no question of endorsing the death penalty or any form of popular lynching; this proposal of sacrificial neo-rituals aimed at the initiators of the lasting misfortunes befalling us remains a cynical elucubration of black humour, albeit of speculative virtue. In consideration of Mondher Kilani’s cannibal culinary triangle, the appropriate recipe for preparing these rich people must be based on the practice of roasting ; cooked over an open fire in insurrectionary braziers, fueled by the documents and furnishings of the freshly ransacked banks and centres of power. This ritual must be done with a masked face, in all-black clothes, without any distinctive sign, so that individual identities merge into a collective identity. As the roast is situated between the cooked and the raw in the culinary triangle, the roasted 1% are eaten blue, raw at the core, because ‘what is cooked resembles us and brings us together, and what is raw is different and separates us’ (KILANI, 2006). It is important to offer more than half of this feast to scavenging and detritivorous beings, by depositing it in the nearest fragment of the Holocene*, so as not to fall back into a diodic relationship of energy circulation.

Radical holism

The holism underlying our ecocentric postspeciesism is strongly and openly criticised by the antispeciesist movements. These movements assume their zoocentrism via an ethical reductionism*. Up to this chapter, the concept ‘ontology’ has been mobilized in its Descolian anthropological version; now for this conclusion, let us semantically slide towards an ‘ontology’ in its epistemological sense, as a grand concept, which enables us to apprehend the world in two opposite ways: Holism and reductionism. According to the anti-speciesist philosopher Yves Bonnardel, through the holistic vision of ecology, non-human animals "do not exist for themselves, in search of their own satisfactions, but are instruments of an end that goes beyond them, be it the proper course of ecosystems or the survival of their species. Ultimately, they are in service of the Whole, of the nature to which they are supposed to belong. They are parts of it and we recognize their value only in relative terms, on the basis of the role they are supposed to play in it’ (BONNARDEL, 2020). Our speculative cannibalism for an ecocentric postspeciesism proposes the abolition of the object/subject dichotomy, and an ecosystemisation of humans alongside their living kindred, animal and non-animal, non-living, visible and invisible. So that this “we,” enlarged to the maximum, may be in a form of extreme ecospheric egalitarianism, “in the service of the Whole,” as “instruments of an end beyond ourselves,” to anchor us in the “role we are supposed to play,” “not existing for ourselves,” being “ourselves” the “Whole,” as ecosystems among ecosystems.

Arne NÆSS, the founder of deep ecology, warns us against the ‘‘mysticism of nature’’ and the fusion into the Great Whole, which would be a religious interpretation and a negation of our individualities. Humanism “has glorified the individual human soul as an object of infinite and transcendent value, has exalted the individual as the sole creator, and has poured upon him some of the divine attributes” (BYRNE, 1987). Humanism as a religion has run its course, so should we engage in a religious ecology[28]. Catherine Larrère (in Genèse par CALLICOTT) replies “And why not?”

This posthumanist* posture is virulent, but necessary for this speculative elucubration with a cognitive crowbar function.

Speculative cannibalistic rituals for an ecocentric postspeciesism;

For a deindividualisation and ecosystemisation of humans;

For an ecospheric egalitarianism;

For a repositioning in the cycles of our world;

For an end to the great divides;

For a holistic vision of our realities;

For a ɴon-ᴀ postspeciesism,

not as an objective description of a “territory,”

but as a “map” for paradigms shifts.

2026666


Digestive lexicon for speculative cannibals

Concepts in italics below are ɴon-ᴀ neologisms.

Abiotic

Relating to the non-living world.

Agribashing

Criticism of the intensive agricultural production mode, making farmers feel guilty, they themselves victims of this system.

Antispeciesism

"Speciesism is the ideology that justifies and enforces the exploitation and use of animals by humans in ways that would not be accepted if the victims were human. (OLIVIER, 1991). Anti-speciesism is the ideology that combats speciesism.

Anthropocentrism

Humans as the centre of the world.

Anthropopoiesis

Symbolic fabrication of the human.

Biocentrism

The living as the centre of the world.

Ecosphere

Relating to all living and non-living things, visible and invisible, interacting together.

Biotic

Relating to the living world.

Social cannibalism

Institutionalized cannibalism that “makes society,” as opposed to survival cannibalism, or criminal cannibalism.

Capitalocene

The totality of geological events and lasting misfortunes, resulting not from human activities, but from capitalist activities. Alternative to anthropocene.

DEMETER cell

"A French national gendarmerie unit created in 2019, which aims to protect farmers from attacks and intrusions on their farms. The device is criticized by both farmers and associations.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellule_Déméter

Conservationism

Nature protected with humans integrated in virtuous circles. Radical: “We are not defending nature, we are nature defending itself” - or fighting back.

Deindividualisation

Moving away from the individualistic view of ‘beings.’

Diodic Network

“A device for the circulation of energy (which we are, in fact, in the metabolic and ecological senses) which allows energy to pass in only one direction - in this case from the world to itself, and not from itself to the rest of the living world” (MORIZOT, 2016)

Performative discourse

A linguistic sign that achieves what it states.

Ecocentrism

Interactions between all living and non-living things as the centre of the world.

Ecosystemisation

Making the vision of “beings” ecosystemic.

Egregore

“A group mentality constituted by the aggregation of the intentions, energies and desires of many individuals united in a well-defined purpose.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egregore

Ethnocentrism

“Seeing the world and its diversity through the privileged and more or less exclusive prism of the ideas, interests and archetypes of our community of origin, without looking critically at it” (TAGUIEFF, 2013). Through the imperialism of Western cultures, this notion is here synonymous with “Eurocentrism.” Westerners as the centre of the world.

Etiology

Study of the causes and factors of a disease.

Great Divide

Dualist and Artistotelian categorizations and oppositions, between ‘Nature’ and ‘Culture’, but also between ‘Sacred’ and ‘Profane’, ‘Subject’ and ‘Object’, ‘Male’ and ‘Female’, ‘Human’ and ‘Non-human’.

Holism

A view of reality, or of a particular phenomenon, as an indivisible whole, which cannot be explained by its different components considered separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Holocene

Pre-Capitalocene geological era.

Holocentrism

Holistic and constructivist approach (BAWDEN, 2006) centered on the diversity of knowledge and action systems.

Malthusianism

Doctrine of Malthus, who considers population growth as a danger, because not proportional to the growth of food substances.

ɴon-ᴀ

For non-Aristotelian. A notion inspired by General Semantics (KORZYBSKI, 1933). In short: “A map is not the territory” (ibid.). The representations mobilized by humans to think the world are not the world.

Obsubject

Neither object nor subject. A ‘thing’ that goes beyond the object/subject dichotomy.

Ontology

In the introduction is development: “the theories that human groups have elaborated in order to define reality, the unfolding of the world as well as the relations and entanglements between the human and the non-human, be it animal, vegetable, mineral, ancestral, divine or other” (POIRIER 2016); see Philippe Descola’s work on the ecology of relations in “Beyond nature and culture” (DESCOLA, 2005)

Common Agricultural Policy

The European Union’s CAP, source of lasting miseries. European farmers engaged in conventional agriculture survive only thanks to the “CAP premiums” that are allocated per hectare. Thus, mutual aid and the rural social web are being replaced by individualism and competition, as farmers adopt expansionist strategies in order to get more and more land and consequently more premiums. On these disproportionately large areas of farmland, industrial agriculture becomes the only possible model.

To thȧnk

Thinking while tending. Combining care with reflection. Inspired by the work of the philosopher Bernard Stiegler (STIEGLER, 2018). Let’s specify that it is crucial to take into account the causes of ills, and not only tend to the consequences.

Paradigm

“A paradigm is a representation of the world, a way of seeing things, a coherent model of the world that rests on a defined basis.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm

Positivism

Science as an objective description of reality.

Preservationism

Protecting nature without humans. Segregation of humans and nature.

Speculative narrative

Type of narrative that allows for the unfolding of new worlds by proposing paths of possibility.

Reductionism

A vision of reality, or of a particular phenomenon, broken down and explained by its different components considered separately.

Trophic web

“A trophic web is a set of interconnected food chains within an ecosystem through which energy and biomass flow.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_web

Posthumanism

Overcoming the ideals inherited from Enlightenment Humanism (technic based “Progress”; objective “Knowledge”; “Man” and naturalistic anthropocentrism) and the universalisation of the figure of the heterosexual European man. Not to be confused with “posthumanism” resulting from “transhumanism.”

Postspeciesism

Perspective that goes beyond the eater-eater (or speciesist) relationship in considering an animal-equality between human and non-human-animal.

Utilitarianism

“Doctrine that makes the useful, what serves life or happiness, the principle of all values in the field of knowledge as in that of action” (CNRTL, 2021b), without consideration of the intrinsic values of things.

Zoocentrism

Animals as the centre of the world.


  1. See the Digestive Lexicon on pages 61 and following for each asterisk. ︎ ↩︎

  2. The feminine plural ‘animales’ is rare in French, but not wanting to use the masculine plural ‘animaux’ as an epicene notion, a version with midpoints was mobilized here. ↩︎

  3. Ailton Krenak, Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, 2019 ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. The issue of anti-speciesism and veganism in non-industrial cultures, especially among nomadic pastoralists, ought not to arise. The majority of these societies cannot do without livestock and/or mixed crop-livestock production to meet their primary needs. ︎ ↩︎

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciesism ↩︎

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species ↩︎

  7. https://dictionnaire.lerobert.com/definition/individu ↩︎

  8. Multi-cellular organisms are ecosystems composed of countless other interacting organisms, sometimes themselves composed of other organisms nested in complex endosymbiotic Russian doll systems. ︎ ↩︎

  9. “Our” body would be composed of as many bacteria as human cells (SENDER, 2016). ︎ ↩︎

  10. A ɴon-ᴀ (non-Aristotelian) postspeciesism emphasizes the need to overcome the positivist* aspect of the ecocentrism of scientific ecology. This holocentric* approach (BAWDEN, 2006) is integrated into the vision of the ‘post-’ open to the multiplicity of possible paths. The holistic approach of the statements made here seems to be posited as an objective reality, but we propose it not as an objective description of a ‘territory’ but as a ‘map’ for paradigm shifts. ︎ ↩︎

  11. See the concept of ‘Florestania’ as ‘forest citizenship’ (KRENAK, 2020) ; Or the original "TRAITÉ " (‘TREATY’) between human and non-human from the wild laboratory Désorceler La Finance (“Unwitch The Finance”) (DLF, 2019). ︎ ↩︎

  12. Using the radiant energy of the sun through photosynthesis, plants synthesize biomolecules by transforming inorganic materials. This solar energy is converted into carbohydrate, and feeds the rest of the trophic planes. ︎ ↩︎

  13. See the work of philosopher and ecofeminist activist Val Plumwood, “Human vulnerability and the experience of being prey” (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Plumwood_Prey.pdf) translated in French as “Dans la peau d’une proie - Renouer avec la vulnérabilité” (PLUMWOOD, 2020). ︎ ↩︎

  14. Baptiste MORIZOT. 2016. Un seul ours debout. In the magazine Ours, 2016. ↩︎

  15. Christine Durif-Bruckert, On devient ce que l’on mange : Les enjeux identitaires de l’incorporation, 2017 ︎ ↩︎

  16. ‘Zoophagy’ is the act of consuming animals, while ‘sarcophagy’ is the act of eating the object ‘meat’ by dissociating it from its living provenance (VIALLES, 1988). Sarcophagy is caused by the increasing distance between the consumer and the breeder. It is a profound reification of meat and non-human animals. ︎ ↩︎

  17. Mondher Kilani, Le cannibalisme. Une catégorie bonne à penser, 2006 ︎(https://www.cairn.info/revue-etudes-sur-la-mort-2006-1-page-33.htm) ↩︎

  18. Claude-Marie Dupin, Les rituels : Enrichissement de la vie, 2009 (https://www.cairn.info/revue-actualites-en-analyse-transactionnelle-2009-2-page-53.htm) ↩︎

  19. Antonin Artaud, Héliogabale ou l’Anarchiste couronné, 1934 (“Heliogabalus or, the Crowned Anarchist”) ↩︎

  20. Life-Death-Life in Greek. From an enigmatic graffiti on a bone plate found in Olbia on the shores of the Black Sea. These words are preceded by “Dionysos Orphikoi” (VERNANT, 1990). ︎ ↩︎

  21. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, 1992. ISBN: 978-0345409874 ↩︎

  22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacredness ↩︎

  23. Spirituality being: ‘Quality of that which is spirit or soul, concerns its life, its manifestations, or which is in the domain of moral values’ (https://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/spiritualité). Magic is mobilized here as an ontology where the quality of what is spirit or soul is not specific to humans, and is therefore considered to be necessarily spiritual. Spiritualities, however, do not necessarily fall under the purview of magic, as they can also be religious and/or philosophical. ↩︎

  24. As shown by the adages attributed to Albert Einstein: “A made-up problem cannot be solved by thinking in the same way as it was made”; “The world we have created is the result of our level of thinking, but the problems it creates cannot be solved at that same level.” ︎ ↩︎

  25. But also: Strengthen the executors and their allies ; Diminish the enemies ; Create egregores ; And create the counter-spells to capitalism. ︎ ↩︎

  26. “One of the reasons death is so dreadful in the Western tradition (…) is that it involves the forbidden mixing of totally separate categories, the dissolution of the human-sacred into the natural-profane” (PLUMWOOD, 2020) ︎ ↩︎

  27. Speech by Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette delivered on 14 October 1793 ︎ ↩︎

  28. A religion that would not be the vector of a sacred/profane dualism, but a “monistic” religion of fusion with “Gaia.” It should be noted that the sacred/profane dichotomy as a defining element of religions is a scientific drift, and that it is absent from certain religions such as Hinduism (COUTURE, 2019). Westerners in the grip of delusions during their visits to India, surrender themselves to just such an “oceanic feeling,” which is a fusion within the Great Whole. ︎ ↩︎