The use of the term ‘the capitalist animal’ here is to suggest that the homo-sapient is an animal. This is not to suggest that we are not human, rather, we are, in the basic sense, decedents from animals and subsequently the earth, therefore human life is no more important than the natural world, even though we are the ones making the ‘decisions’.
The fact that we believe we are, the order, which makes the decisions about how to use our environment, as a tool to cater for the capitalist system, is the crucial point. The notion that “Ultimately, all things being equal, an animal has as much interest in living as a human” is closer to the truth, of human’s interaction between each other and towards the ‘natural world’, than the notion that, we are ‘above’ nature.
Nature having its own order such as earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and so on, assumes nature has a dense impenetrability. Whichever way we alter natures order will shift the course of nature. The natural world is the best example to demonstrate that humans are not alone, we are responsible for, and at the mercy of, the natural world.
It is all too familiar today to cross someone who speaks demeaningly about an Other. Here the Other is those who define you, those who you place your reality in opposition to, as a defining characteristic. To speak demeaningly about someone is merely an act of reinforcing ones identity, relative to whom they are demeaning. Of course we all do this to some degree or another; here I am no ‘multi-culturalist’ or ‘cultural relativist’ such terms suggests we should tolerate each other. Imagine if Martin Luther King would have said, he wanted people to tolerate the black population of America, or if Emily Pankhurst was calling for the toleration of women’s rights!
On the other hand, I will not tolerate capitalist endorsement, the intricate involvement in capitalism, or the current dominating constructs of capitalist system. There is a Roman law which epitomises the interaction between the capitalist system and its treatment of those whom it demeans, that is, the Homo Sacer, a life that is worth living but not sacrificing.
All things we deem to be outside of our ‘reality proper’- the survival of an individual, their concerns for desire, does not account for how we are to cope with the disastrous failings constituted in the socio-political, economic- ecological myriads we face. Our capacity to think is, believed to be, within capitalist culture, of a higher purpose by those whom have hereditarily received wealth, or due to a high level of intelligence are somehow ‘naturally gifted’ as if it’s a genetic gift.
We are using the natural world as an object to provide for our object petite a’ or objects of desire. Our desires for material to fulfil our being, induced, and enhanced, through the political economy of our cultural capitalist mediums are created to be representations and reflections of the ‘human glory’. Here one should assume that such a notion suggests that, the world constructed under capitalism, the world we live in, is a reflection of the way capitalist culture desires.
A capitalist is of the belief, that ‘it’ (‘It’, is a ‘Capitalist Human’) is somehow above our commons, or more worthy of living than those whom they exploit or that it pertains the knowledge to do as it pleases to peruse an environment which caters for the wish to accumulate capital on a scale which would jeopardise the already oppressed true victims of the manoeuvrings of capitalism. Take the people of the Congo as an epitome of what is to be understood as the worst victims of the capitalist systems political-economy.
The Congolese commons have been subjected to the worst traumas of the 21st century “In many corners of the country, law, order, electricity and medicine are virtually nonexistent” (NYT, 2010). The violence which takes place in the Congo is devastating. Torture, rape, and murder are daily occurrences. To put into context the unimaginable suffering of the people in the DRC I would like to use the symptom, we in the West call, ‘post’-traumatic stress syndrome. The women, children and men of the Congo, do not have ‘post’-traumatic stress; they live in a constant trauma. This current human catastrophe in the Congo is a result of the fallout from the Rwanda genocide but let’s not forget we have been exploiting the Congo, one of the most natural resource rich territories in the world, for centuries, exploiting its; diamonds, gold, copper and cobalt.
The fact that very little attention is brought to the tragic consequences of capitalist exploitation of the Congo alongside the fact that the West has done little to appease the worst contemporary human catastrophe, is testament to the way neo-liberal capitalism interacts with the natural world and the people who inhabit areas of vast natural resources. The people of the Congo, unfortunately, epitomes today’s Homo Sacer.
We can do better than this...
Thus...to claim we have reached the peak of our civility embodied by the ‘democratic’ western capitalism, is an abhorrent misnomer. Democracy has only been around for 150 odd years. Just look at the Middle East and North Africa, we are being shown how what was once an impossibility is no longer true. If the West truly believes the current ‘democratic’ capitalist construct is the best and only way to engage with its inhabitancies and those outside the Western model state, and the best way to deal with our natural environment, the way we currently approach the exploitation of the earth, then they are truly mistaken.
Yet I would like to think that people do not really believe that.
Here there are two options left ; is it that capitalists know that what we are doing has catastrophic consequences but will continue to in such a manner regardless – in other words through, fetish disavowal, or, is it that they care but see no way of radically altering the current models in favour of truly emancipatory; economic, ecological, socio-political mechanisms? For the later all we need to do is look towards Egypt, if the former is true we should be wary of the perfidious capitalist.
There is no big Other telling you what your duty is... it is up to you to come up with what your duty is.