An Anarchist Prometheanism against the Gods
THE OPENING SHOT BY PIPER TOMPKINS
WHAT IS ANARCHO-PROMETHEANISM?
OUR ANARCHISM DOESN’T END
If you’re reading this on the day it comes out, or years, possibly even centuries later, then know that the dreams of complete and endless liberation for all of life will live on from the past as they reach into the present and push on to the future. The unheard voice of those before us, with us, yet to be, and/or may never exist, can still find an advocate for their liberty here. Any “pragmatism” that limits the scope and reach of freedom has lost the fight for today, tomorrow, and forever.
THE ESCAPE POD FROM PREDATION
Anti-Predation is the opposition to predation and the position that it should be abolished. Let’s quickly describe what predation is: the biological interaction, ecological dynamic, and set of relations in which one organism known as the predator kills and consumes another organism known as the prey for food.
This cruelty deprives lifeforms of freedom from domination and the ability to have a choice in their development, it is also a matter of questioning why humans hold this monopoly on the ability to escape it and why others don’t. Anti-Predationists seek to find ways to expand this ability and the autonomy it provides outward to lessen the grip humans have over it so that other lifeforms can also participate in free association.
The matter of predation’s importance to our current ecological system is not a reason in itself as to why this is morally justified or should even continue without objection and skepticism. Even as we understand that predation presently serves a fundamental role within earth ecologies as a transference of energy distribution between species as well as a type of population control, we also see the locks it places on these creatures’ development through the enforcement of playing out these roles to survive. This robs them of the potential for something more than a life in search of a kill to survive or in constant fear of becoming another’s meal.
Cruelty, pain, and suffering are natural processes, but this doesn’t mean we should allow them to continue unopposed. Nature must not be kept in the prison of framing it as immutable or as an excuse to limit our options. If we allow this, then we will find ourselves sliding into dogmas that keep us and others from moving forward with and even possibly beyond nature itself. As the famous anarcho-transhumanist slogan goes: “If Nature is unjust, change nature.” To give a similar example of an injustice that was perceived as natural and seemingly inescapable we look to infant mortality.
The dying breath of infants unable to survive disease or harsh winters was thought to be unavoidable. It was viewed as a simple fact of life that most babies would not make it past a few years of age. For a time, this was the harsh reality of nature that had no escape. Until the inventions and developments of heaters and medicines, that is. In the face of these new possibilities, this once nearly unavoidable and natural part of child-rearing became less of the reality of the entire experience.
Just because something can be a natural part of life doesn’t mean it is unchangeable, unpreventable, or unstoppable. Rather, it’s only one way within one moment of one outcome in which life can transpire. Not how it is, can be, and ought to be in its entirety. If evolution is to teach us something, it is that nothing is permanent except impermanence.
Humanity has a tendency to perceive its situation and status as THE EXCEPTION and work from there. Excusing themselves from the rest and saying that’s how things are. Everything not human is seen as natural, while everything human isn’t. This is how humanity justifies their privilege over the rest of the world, and establishes a precedent in the minds of future generations. Forming a sense of dual realism from this perception, where they give themselves either more importance or a lack of importance. Creating a dichotomy of thinking where you are either a human supremacist or a human extinctionist.
Human supremacists view their privilege and height in the food chain as inherently good and evidence of their superiority. Proclaiming ownership over all of humanity’s creation with pride and detouring any possibility that other species could even attain or do better than them, even if they too had similar mental capability and capacity. The other half, human extinctionists, give humanity a lack of importance through viewing their own development as precedential evidence that higher cognitions and even consciousness itself is inherently bad and that spreading this must therefore only lead to negative outcomes. They presume that if the other species had a sense of morality, art, technical wonder, or simply the ability to divert the tyranny of predation, they too would be doomed to the similar failures of humanity.
Both of these presume that humans, humanity, and merely “human-likeness” are both wholly unique and mono-simplistic. Neuro and bodily divergence tell us otherwise. It’s imperative that we look at both these perspectives with both disdain and a form of acceptance. Not that the narratives are correct, but understanding that certain things within them are. The fragment of truth within human extinctionism is in identifying humanity’s negative impact on the environment. It was indeed humans that led us to the existential disaster of climate change we now face, but it is also humans that are desperately trying to divert it. The same can be said of genocide, which was caused by humans but also stopped by them. The point is our diversity and not focusing on a single path that some will or could take and proclaiming that it is the only way.
The fragment of truth within human supremacism is seeing the wonders, inventions, and playful activities humanity has created and viewing them with pride, but the issue is taking this to the exclusive end it does in proclaiming superiority over them. Imagine what wonders and creations could have been or still could be when we set the manifestations of imagination and their workings free from the barriers of the Linnaean classification. So then who is humanity to say that diverting predation isn’t a natural process? And so what if it were somehow an exception to nature?
Not that it’s necessarily important if it were either way. Choice in itself presents us with diverting relations, often contradictory too. The more there is the more that can exist and once it does it’s forever seen as always been. Perhaps, no, indeed, the transspecies peoples will find it odd that humans once thought that the escape pods from predation were only reserved for them. Thinking in retrospect how naïve it was for one species to assume that it had ownership over the concept and ability to divert predation.
The prejudice of certain members within that species to tell the rest that tools, written language, abstract ideas, devices, behaviors, remedies, and habits were theirs only. Even telling anyone that suggests otherwise or even attempts to think about expanding these to the other species that they’re “imposing humanity onto them.” As if giving the means to escape human domination was somehow its perpetuator. The tyranny of speciesism is assuming that choice was a human concept and not something that belonged to all.
Our Anarchism seeks to break this down through finding new ways for life to interact, cooperate and individuate with themselves, others, and ecologies. Be it their homeworld, another, or none at all. Enriching themselves and those around them through dismantling any fixed notions of what you, others, nature, life, and the universe is and can be. The phrase “an injury to one is an injury to all” should have no limits on whether one is human or not. Predation is an injury that some have found a way out from while the rest haven’t. As long as it continues to exist, invoking fear and manifesting trauma into the lives it takes and affects no one is truly free.
We should ask ourselves the same question again and then some: why should some species have the ability to understand consent, freedom, and ways to avoid tyranny, and why shouldn’t others? Why must we maintain this hierarchy of ignorance? Our knowledge directly correlates to our ability to understand options and ways to act on them. If these other species do understand this, then we should find ways to facilitate communication with them so they can be heard. If they don’t understand, then they should still be allowed the opportunity to understand or simply live a life free from domination through increasing their individual agency. Putting into focus the ways in which we can expand our view of what freedom is and can be. Seeking out and dismantling the limits of social and species stratification, which blurs our vision of discovering a more liberatory tomorrow.
Anti-predation is an anarchist, transhumanist, promethean, life-affirming, life-expanding, and life-uplifting position that seeks to ignite the potentials within the ever expanding cosmic oceans we reside in.
The observation that nature, or even simply natural law does not suffice for freedom is not new, or even contemporary within anarchism. Errico Malatesta once uttered a similar line of argumentation when addressing the appeals to a harmony by natural law that some individualist anarchists would use to justify their own positions.
“The so-called harmony that is to be found in nature signifies only this: the very existence of something means that the conditions necessary and sufficient for it to exist have been in place. But nature has no purpose, or at any rate, none of men’s purposes; she cares nothing for the deaths, hurts, and sufferings of human beings and these may very well serve as components of her ‘harmony.’ The cat eating the mouse is a natural phenomenon and thus perfectly in harmony with the cosmic order; but if we could ask the mice, we might well find that such harmony is much too jarring for their liking. It is a law of nature that living beings must eat and therefore the numbers and strength of the living are limited by the quantum of foods suited to each species; but nature indifferently enforces her limits by means of disasters, deaths by starvation, and degeneracy. And an infinite number of examples could be cited.” — Errico Malatesta (Individualism in Anarchism)
THE OPENING SHOT BY PIPER TOMPKINS
Humans differentiated themselves from the other apes by resisting the physical dominance hierarchies that nature imbued in the apes. They did this by inventing weapons such as spears, which could level the playing field against the physically stronger oppressors. This was the opening shot in the struggle for freedom that has come to define the human experience.
The evidence for this period of human history is sparse, but it suggests that at the dawn of human history we had the same hierarchies of physical dominance that we today observe in our ape cousins. With two innovations, we differentiated ourselves from our close relatives. One was cooperation. By organizing into groups, the less strong among our ancestors were able to compensate for their lack of physical strength against the stronger in their societies. The other was technology. We invented projectile weapons like spears in order to avoid having to engage in close combat with our physically stronger oppressors. Thus, the practice of freedom was born within human societies. By differentiating ourselves from the apes through the struggle to achieve freedom, we made this struggle our nature, our species-being in Marxian terms. While humanity has not remained free since, our struggle for freedom continues. Humans have continued to revolt against their oppressors, most of the time spontaneously or by fleeing to areas where the elite could not reach them.
From 1848 (the year of the first world-revolution of the capitalist world-system and its failure, which led to the creation of the organized left) on, we have organized ourselves into movements that have included political parties and unions, for the specific purpose of achieving a free society. In the last 500 years, groups marginalized by the state and ethnic conventions have struggled against the state for civil rights, and workers have driven up labor costs by organizing against the bosses. Humans became human by discovering the struggle for freedom. There is no reason why the struggle for freedom should stop here. A truly universalist humanism means the transformation of nature by humanity in service of the goal of freedom. This requires meaningful interaction with nature.
The structures of alienation in unfree human societies have separated humans from nature, setting them apart as something else entirely, with the right to dominate nature. This is the reality of anthropocentrism. By finally abolishing unfreedom in human societies, humans can see themselves as moving parts of nature and thereby dispense with the notion that humanity has the right to dominate that which allows them to exist. Instead, humanity can now interact with nature in a meaningful way. It no longer transforms nature by exploiting its resources and other species, but instead transforms nature so that the struggle for freedom is no longer monopolized by homo-sapiens and all living creatures can be brought into the same revolutionary humanist process of transformation that humans have undergone.
WHAT IS ANARCHO-PROMETHEANISM?
Prometheus betrayed the gods to give humanity the tools to escape the hierarchies of the pantheon. In that spirit, so too must humanity betray the hierarchies of their kind through stealing the flame once again.
An Anarchist Prometheanism is based on spreading the flames of invention, innovation, creativity, and the autonomy these provide through the dismantlement of domination, coercion, and hierarchy. This allows the fires to be free to burn as bright as a trillion suns as they’re fueled by endless complexities. This makes the heat source boundless as it melts away all barriers as the torch is passed onwards to the rest of life on earth and the universe. So all can experience comfort, choice, prosperity, self-determination and defense. An anarchist promethean betrays the rigidities imposed by deities, humans, and any force that limits new possibilities for free association.
Abolishing anthropocentrism by destroying its monopoly on agency. Igniting the world into multiplicity, wherein anyone can switch from domestic to feral in an instant. Our futurism is endless and participatory in its acceleration of this plurality, creating many futures for people to choose from. Not a return or neo-return to some omnipresent wild or maintenance of the all-pervasive roads of today, but instead becoming Nomadic Homebodies exploring techno-forests in recliners.
We incorporate total liberation’s commitment to animal and earth liberation, but instead of the usual green anarchist lens, we synthesize transhumanism into it as well. This expands the humanism part of transhumanism to all life forms and advocates for the advancement of their freedoms as well. Instead of simply trans-human, we are also trans-species and, most of all, trans-beings. Trans-Beingism advocates for the advancement of all beings through the expansion of options in transforming their essence, making us not only posthuman, but also post-being as well.
FEED THE FLAME
The term “Promethean” has bounced around long before these words were written. Its origin is in the famous myth. The oldest date that we know of reaches back to the 8th century BC. Many variations of the fable permeate, but the essence of the story is what’s important here. The act of thievery to counter authority so those who were subordinated by it can attain the means to overthrow and abolish that subordination.
The act of stealing materials from tyrants and their foot soldiers and handing them over to the oppressed can level the playing field or even turn the tides completely. Stealing bread and water to give to the starving can replenish not only stomachs but minds as well. When this act is extended to stealing seeds, plows, and other farming equipment, it can mean multiplying that replenishment.
What is this replenishment? It’s energy and potential. The energy to go on, which is an extension of movement and thought, otherwise would’ve been lost if not for that food, water, and other materials. The potential to use that extension of movement and thought to provide others with the means to go on, so they can find their own potential to help others go on too. This introduces a set of relations, motivations, co-operations, and individuations that, when harnessed and unleashed, produce new paths that put stress on concentrated power.
This transfer of materials is building an alternate route under, over, and around the usual relations that the tyrants want you to go through. Even if just temporary, you’ve still facilitated and created an exchange of relations that brought a hint of something extra into the world. For a millisecond, maybe a full second, or even possibly a minute, the actions available to someone were outside the grasp of domination. This is how we feed the flame of liberation.
In this way, Prometheus gave rise to the Robin Hoods, Pirates, and Hackers of the world. Those who were desperate but courageous, the aimless but curious, the social outcasts but community heroes, and the futurists but ever present fighters. Build and spread something a little extra that teaches the world that the limits of what is and isn’t are lies, and that our world is boundless when we extend ourselves and our freedoms with us to the furthest reaches of space and time. We are utopians because settling for less means giving up on everything.
AGAINST NON-ANARCHIST FORMS OF PROMETHEANISM
The incoherence and unsurvivability of non-anarchist transhumanism extends here to forms of speciesism, statism, nationalism, capitalism, “stateless nationalism” and “stateless capitalism” that proclaim themselves to act in a promethean manner. They do not. The simple fact of their exclusionary bodies of states, nations, classes, biological ranks, and so on imposes a type of stratification onto those who can and can’t attain the flame. This acts in opposition to betraying the tyrannical pantheon through its creation of new ones.
The Phoenix of Ultranational Rebirth (Fascism) will frame their system as unleashing the flames of the “collective essence” within the “organic people” through mass mobilization to “uplift their health and rebirth (new birth) the nation from contamination into a new rooted era.” The genocides of those deemed “pollutants” are no different than the gods picking favorites while the rest struggle beneath them. The stateless phoenix will portray themselves as different and unrelated to their genocidal kin by proclaiming their regenerative ultra-nationalism as a type of ethnic pluralism. Where slices of territory are divided among the so-called “races of humanity.” These abominable configurations only serve to impose a limitation on physical and mental movement. Constraining the flame into clusters of inflexible relations that continuously suffocate and eventually snuff out the heat of ingenuity.
The Griffin of Mono-Relations (Conservatism/Reactionism) frame their system as protecting the institutions and authorities of the old gods. They themselves turn the flame into a sacred obscurantism that no one is allowed to possess but must obey those who speak for its owners. This protection of this exclusive ownership and its religion condemn Prometheans to an eternal damnation for even questioning the legitimacy and ethics of such a relationship. These are the reactionaries and their more adaptive cousin the enlightened conservatives of our times.
When the Griffins found the flames that Prometheus had provided for all of humanity they did all they could to capture as much of it as possible. Building prisons around the captured flame that became religions and monarchies. Teaching that this act of theft was criminal but at the same time committing a great injustice, as they proclaimed “we can keep the flame because we’re speakers for the gods, and the rest of you aren’t.” These great hypocrites teach a type of “puritanical prometheanism” as only their most loyal followers may share in the light of the flame and possibly even get to have some of it. However, as Prometheus stole from the gods, so did humanity from the kings and preachers. As a spring of revolutions ensued to resist them but unfortunately, a new crop of tyrants arose.
Liberalism frames itself as “enlightenment” and yet seeks to subvert any attempt to actually enlighten all of humanity. The irony of the liberal revolution was its call for liberty but its enactment of new borders to imprison it. Citizenship in itself is an exclusionary practice that excuses a limitation on movement and so-called “inalienable rights.” So that anyone born outside arbitrary lines is cut off and their development is segmented into the divided spaces of nation-states.
Our opposition to statism and nationalism also applies to those forms of “socialism” that create a “transitional state” that somehow acts to oppose its own centralism by at some conveniently undisclosed time wasting away into the stateless, classless, and moneyless society of communism. As the early anarchists were quick to understand the failures of such a strategy. The regimes of “existing socialism” proved themselves to be no different in authoritarian capacity than the others of their and earlier times.
This “transitional prometheanism” is more a transition in filtering out and narrowing the flames to a handful of party members. Building cults of personalities around the heads of their chairmen. Yet again we see the tyrannical pantheon rear its ugly faces. Divinity based on party membership and worship dressed as a democratic process. It’s no wonder that it was called a Cold War, when you have a binary of pseudo-revolutionaries, existing socialism, and liberalism, holding hands to prop up the world economy and fending off the heat of progress.
The opposition to party politics and state supremacy extends the other way as “market prometheans” cry out “what about the free market? Surely it can provide for the flame unlike the dead weight of state regulations.” Commoditization, even if it were somehow made “stateless” has only created barriers to entry and reinforced a pantheon of merchant tyrants known as capitalists. Not that markets have ever existed without some form of state protection, funding, and direction.
Spending one’s life forced into working long hours in an office, factory floor, and fast-food kitchen is not as productive as the bosses might tell you. Even if this tiresome and flameless labor was somehow under a stateless corporation it wouldn’t be any less meaningless or harsh. Actual productivity, progress, and endless growth only comes when people are free to explore their passions without the worries of starving to death.
Capitalism’s “productivity” is to produce profits that accumulate to a minority while the rest are left in squalor. Continuing to sabotage industry while increasing bureaucratization. The mindset of innovation under capitalism is as follows: No research is worth doing if it’s too risky to profits, if it was done before but failed then why even try it yourself? If it hasn’t been done before then it’s still too risky, because trying the unknown sounds expensive. If it has been done before but succeeded then it’s off-limits because it’s under a patent. Thus, any technological, social, mental, and physical progress must be submitted for review and put on hold while the board oversees its potential for profit. While that’s going on the growing waste of nonrenewable resources reaches its end as it kills all life on earth. Making this “endless growth” have a finite result.
Lastly, the “Homocentric Prometheans”, those that proclaim a type of prometheanism that views the earth’s utility and resources as primarily determined, exclusively owned, and serving only human needs, interests, and innovations. This places humanity’s importance over the earth’s ecosystem and other species that reside within it. Reinforcing a hierarchical position around them as it is accompanied by an essentialist and fixed humanism that views humanness as wholly unique, exclusive, and pure.
If not addressed these will be the conservatives of tomorrow who proclaim themselves as guardians of this purity and ownership of human experience and higher cognition. Seeking to maintain the current division and monopolies homo-sapiens have over decision making and its effect in the development of the rest of the environment. Shutting out the possibility of furthering the flames of innovation beyond these mammals makes them the new tyrannical pantheon.
This is why anti-predation is the first essay in this manifesto, so as to immediately clarify and vanquish any notions of anarchist prometheanism sharing any kinship with this group. One must not make the mistake of assuming that the flame is only for humanity because it was given to them before everyone else, or they will fall prey to human supremacism.
Anarcho-Prometheans act in opposition to such behaviors and wage an endless war against any who try to impose limitations on who can be uplifted through knowledge and craft. Either we all become gods of our own destinies through the creation of an open ended futurism or we will all die under the boot of a tyrannical pantheon.
Closing details: The sections not explicitly written by Piper Tompkins were nonetheless aided by her support as an incredible thinker and a dear friend.