I believed in Man. I don't believe in him any more.
I had faith in mankind - but no longer.
I thought, said and wrote that my species had a future. I tried
hard to believe it, but now I'm certain that the opposite is true:
humanity has no future.
Humanity is deaf
to people like myself. All I hear is Be Positive.
I keep on fighting for the planet and for mankind without the
slightest hope of success. Out of habit. Out of moral necessity.
I feel like the musicians on the Titanic who played Nearer,
my God to Thee as the water reached their knees.
I feel that I have
been failed by humanity as others have been failed by socialism
Like many pessimists, I learned to ape the optimists. For more
than thirty years I talked or wrote Positive. I never harboured
'positive' illusions, but I pretended to. At certain times I even
committed myself to the possibility of positive virtue in our
species - for example in 1972 when the Stockholm Conference launched
the U.N. Programme for the Environment, which I thought would
be a "foundation" for a harmonious new world. I delivered
a cortège of books, articles and interviews praising our
sagacity, or, rather, our common sense.
I never believed
in this Common Sense. for thirty years I faked my belief in it
like a frustrated but loving sexual partner.
The Kyoto Convention,
the toothless compromise of 1997, has been stifled by the selfishness
of the rich nations - just as the planet is suffocating under
an excess of their carbon dioxide emissions.
What is Man ?
According to Plato he is a featherless biped. A chicken with bits
of hair. I would add that he is an inveterate destroyer, a ravager,
a sacker of the planet with only the craving for short-term gain
in his overdeveloped brain - a danger to all living creatures
According to Aristotle
he is a political animal with the gift of speech.
Rabelais defined Man as the laughing species.
For Hobbes, "man is wolf to man".
Kant described him as the judging species. Marx declared him to
be the labouring species. Bergson complimented him as the creative
species. Freud claimed that he was veiled in an Unconscious and
plethora of ridiculous complexes.
For the sociologist,
Man is a gregarious species like the ant or the rat. For the monotheisms,
he is the only creature which God endowed with an immortal soul,
the only creature made in His own image. In which case, in grim
paradox, God initiated his own suicide - a death heralded by Nietzsche.
They have made a
desert - and called it Peace.
- Tacitus, Life of Agricola
the last of the wildernesses. Full of marvellous plants and strange,
exotic, 'primitive' people.
I went to the Sepik Valley with Jacques Cousteau, but found no
prelapsarian idyll. The indigenous people painted themselves -
but only for festivals. Normally they wore old tee-shirts in the
colours of Manchester United, and tattered shorts advertising
the Chicago Bulls. On their feet were old Nike or Adidas trainers
thrown out by Europeans or North Americans.
communities have been destroyed by four disasters combined: ethnic
cleansing, European diseases, the Market Economy, and the destruction
of the environment. We, 'civilised' and 'enlightened' people,
destroyed them with these weapons as well as by outright murder.
The head-hunters now languish in shanty-towns and drink themselves
to oblivion. If only we had been head-hunters, they would have
had a respectable demise!
Borneo: Here orang-utans could travel at speed along the forest
canopy for hundreds of miles. Now they are isolated into little
refuges. Forty percent of the forest has already been laid waste
by fire and power-saw, empty and smouldering. The mangrove swamps
have been uprooted to make way for shrimp fisheries - which fail
because the shrimp-food was removed with the mangroves.
the Papuans have been removed, because oil has been discovered.
It powers our vehicles and provides our plastic bags. The summit
of Mount Jaya - more than 5,000 metres high - has one of the few
glaciers in the tropics. It is melting. The whole side of the
mountain has been gouged out for its gold and copper. A few Papuans
work in the mines for 10 hours a day. They have no right to the
land they once occupied for at least 60,000 years. We, the 'civilised',
the 'people of progress', invented land-rights and dispossessed
them. In doing so we have dispossessed ourselves of this beautiful
"Property is theft", wrote Proudhon, one of our few
men of truth. And capitalim is rape, murder, genocide and unbelievable
in twenty years time the rampant economy and population of China
(if that country has not split up like the Soviet Union) will
be consuming more water than the entire rainfall and diminishing
glaciers of Asia can provide, more petroleum than currently is
known to exist in the world, and more paper than all the forests
and recycled stuff of the world can produce.
The North Sea: fishless, scraped to marine desert by our trawlers
so that we can eat ocean fish whenever we like, even in Switzerland
Aral Sea: need I go on ?
The impending Water Wars...
All humans are born equal - except most of them.
ever-growing number of us are deprived of fresh water, food, and
what we would call the most basic necessities. This is "progress"
let our fellow-creatures in Haiti and Malawi, Mali and Somalia
rot from starvation and disease. AIDS, cholera, malaria, TB, sleeping-sickness,
trichosomiasis, elephantiasis and so on. We refuse them our treatments
because of the watertight reason that they can't pay for them.
What they labour hard for in a month wouldn't pay for a day's
drugs. Meanwhile fill the Swiss bank-accounts of their rulers
so that we can continue to raid and rape their countries for wood,
minerals, oil - and the crops (cotton, coffee, cocoa, etc.) that
they grow entirely for our benefit.
of us is composed of sixty billion molecules and an astounding
quantity of selfishness.
Man is the cancer of the world, evolution turned tumour. We proceed
crabwise towards our destruction, which we call 'progress'.
is not stupid (after all, he is the only animal capable of symbolic
and analytical thought) but he is self-stupefying. Civilisation
is a powerful tool for our stupefaction. So is war.
stupefiers are not opiates, or alcohol, or even sugar - but sex,
territory and self-advancement.
The degree of encouragement for sex depends entirely upon social
and religious mores. Sexual experimentation is generally restricted,
and Western pseudo-science has nicely divided the erotic into
hetero- and homo-sexual, to make it easier for the repressive-obsessives
to limit it.
On the other hand,
territory-grabbing and status-achieving are encouraged with medals,
rolls of honour, biographies and legends. Those who have no interest
in self-advancement, territory or expansion of territory are derided,
abused as Gypsies, Primitives and Indigents, Layabouts and Leeches.
...talking of religion,
the only Biblical injunction obeyed by man is the terrible one
delivered by God after he had Created the world and then made
the mistake of creating us smugly, allegedly in his own image:
"Go forth and multiply upon the Earth!"
Beaumarchais was right when he declared that drinking when not thirsty
and having sex whenever possible is what distinguishes us from other
animals (apart, of course, from the peaceable, vegetarian Bonobos).
We are obsessed with sex, and so the world is full of us, and getting
ever fuller. The crowded places most of all.
notorious Modest Proposal suggested cannibalism as a solution
to overpopulation in Ireland. Of course, capitalism is a particularly
nasty cannibulimia, an Ourobolos which will keep going until the
very last swindle. The whole world is now Ireland, from Ireland
to New Ireland. We - Homo proliferens - breed like flies.
Unlike flies we kill each other by the million - and don't even
eat unwanted babies, let alone those we slaughter in countries
where famines rage, and precious oil, ores and trees are there
for the taking amongst the rotting corpses.
I alas! deposited
four on a planet which did not need them. Rather quickly, too,
since two of them were twins. To inseminate my wife was the stupidest
thing I did in a life which has not lacked stupidity.
I look forward to my death. Age has released me from the sex-addiction.
Death will release me from a far greater burden, and will, I hope,
nourish the worms that survive whatever holocaust we unleash,
fast or slow. If I am cremated - or incinerated - I want my ashes
to be cast into the stream where I played and had so much joy.
Some molecules will pass, perhaps, into mud-worms, which will
be eaten by trout. Some will nourish water-lilies and turn into
nectar for the bees. Some will end up in the ocean, and I will
be everything that Mankind is not.