Homo rapiens be damned: Savagery is not programmed into our DNA, by Jason Miller

by Jason Miller
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
February 3, 2009

“I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.” —Agent Smith from The Matrix

One is expected to know things, to believe things. Knowing and believing are all in your head – there is nothing in your heart. If you cannot feel that the earth is your grandmother, then of course you will find it easy to rape her, to behave as if she is under your dominion. You will find it easy to believe that we humans are the dominant species, and to act as though the earth and everything on it are ours to do with as we please. … if all human beings were taken away, life on earth would flourish.—Russell Means

“Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.”—C.S. Lewis

The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.—William Faulkner

In the last analysis, even the best man is evil: in the last analysis, even the best woman is bad.—Friedrich Nietzsche

Purveyors of pop culture, indigenous movement leaders, renowned academics, literary giants, and powerful philosophers alike have admonished us that we humans need to change our evil ways. So given our amazing cognitive abilities and capacities to adapt our behaviors, why do we continue with our pathological parasitism?

Steve Best, Associate Professor of Philosophy at UTEP, and a leading philosopher in the animal liberation movement, suggested that perhaps humanity is, “A biological experiment with advanced primate intelligence gone horribly wrong, as if all of planet earth is an Island of Dr. Moreau set up by an evil God.”

While hopelessly anthropocentric apologists for humanity’s ongoing rape of the Earth and its inhabitants will probably dismiss Best’s observation as the ravings of a misanthropic animal fanatic, critical thinking people of conscience and humility will consider the possibility that Best may be right.

Certainly there is no dearth of evidence supporting the fact that the human evolutionary path has veered into a deadly and destructive cul-de-sac. Homo rapiens have succeeded Homo sapiens in humanity’s evolutionary development. How long can we sustain, or better yet, how long will the Earth allow us to sustain a “civilization” that is premised on violence, greed, over-consumption, endless growth, “success” and pleasure attained at the expense of the suffering of other sentient beings, narcissism, ego fulfillment, and a host of other nauseating grotesqueries? It doesn’t take much contemplation of the human race to leave one yearning for the companionship of Moreau’s Beast Folk.

Not unlike the Zionists in Palestine, the broader human race clings to an aggressive, violent and defensive way of interfacing with the world as a perverse reaction to having been vulnerable and victimized. We have maximized our frontal lobes, opposable thumbs, and capacities to engage in complex social behaviors in such a way that we are now uber-predators, so firmly astride the top of the food chain even were all non-human animals to somehow join forces and assail us, they’d be overwhelmingly defeated. Early hominids probably perceived their numerous predators as monsters. In collectively equipping ourselves to fight those ‘monsters,’ we have ignored Nietzsche’s cautionary aphorism and become more than monsters; we have morphed into world-destroying abominations.

Western Civilization (read Eurocentric, patriarchal, capitalist, speciesist, imperialist, and Christian), the most powerful perpetrator in the brutal and merciless assault on non-human animals and the Earth, codified its sociopathic license to rape by inventing an anthropomorphic deity that gave it the “divine right” to dominate and exploit. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth,” proclaimed the Christian deity in an ancient tome written by a collection of largely unknown authors. And since many still hold the Bible to be sacrosanct, dominionism remains deeply embedded in our collective psyche.

As the sun set on monarchial rule and the Enlightenment unfolded, we humans entered what appeared to be a golden age of “liberal democracy,” reason, and free markets. Yet ironically, this transition marked the advent of the darkest and most psychopathic phase of Homo rapien existence. Kings were replaced by soulless corporations; Descartes’ mechanistic worldview assured us that non-human animals don’t consciously suffer, thus enabling guilt-free industrialization of their torture and murder; and capitalism spawned runaway growth, unbridled avarice, and a deep obsession with property and profits. Buttressed by new and powerful theoretical underpinnings, we began our relentless attack on the Earth and its inhabitants in a futile effort to slake our seemingly insatiable thirst for control, prosperity and security.

Catalyzed and sustained by the deep-seated terror of an animal sans fang or claw and by our most despicable attributes, such as gluttony, belligerence, self-centeredness, and mean-spiritedness (each of which has been validated in some way by the fundamental theologies and philosophies of our society), we have unleashed an apocalyptic Hell upon the rest of the world. Overpopulation, deforestation, Climate Change, nuclear waste, potential nuclear destruction, the Sixth Extinction, rampant pollution, potable water shortages, factory farming, and endless resource wars are the bitter harvest the world is reaping from the noxious seeds we’ve sown.

While Senator James Inhofe, George Bush 41, and myriad other ardent supporters of Western Civilization, the American Way of Life, corporatism, imperialism, patriarchy, speciesism, and a host of other malevolent social, cultural, political and economic dynamics which comprise the anthropocentric mechanisms by which we dominate and exploit the planet, may have deluded themselves into believing that the rape, pillage and plunder by which we exist is morally palatable (or perhaps they simply don’t care), there are plenty of people who are deeply concerned. These individuals want to find a way to develop that “natural equilibrium” to which Agent Smith referred by breaking down the physical and psychological barriers we’ve erected, rejoining nature, and ceasing to exist as alienated, belligerent, and vampiric entities.

Hence the questions become, are we human animals a lost cause and does Mother Earth need to eradicate us to enable life to perpetuate on this planet?

A widely accepted notion is that peaceful, gentle Homo sapiens began their metamorphosis to barbaric Homo rapiens about 10,000 years ago when hunter-gatherers became sedentary agrarians—working the land meant that ruthless men rose to power by hoarding surpluses, territorial wars were waged, and women and animals were subjugated. However, it is much more likely that our ancestors were brutal war-mongers as far back as 45,000 years ago. Evidence indicates that when early Homo sapiens migrated from Africa into Europe, they waged a 15,000 year genocide that eventually drove the Neanderthals to extinction. Even the Bible, which many Homo rapien apologists utilize as a validation for our savage domination of the planet, provides numerous examples of our cruel propensities. Poignant example number one is Cain murdering Abel.

We know how bad we can be. Now how good can we become?

Our moral evolution is not necessarily limited by our genetic make-up. It has become obvious that the common characterization of nature versus nurture is a false dichotomy. Genetics and learning dialectically shape who we become and how we interact with the world, both individually and collectively. So the lines between humanity’s innate tendencies and those qualities we acquire through parenting, education, and experience are often blurred and indiscernible.

Humanity, past and present, is filled with examples of compassionate, courageous, and decent human beings, clearly indicating that Homo sapiens remain extant, that savagery is not programmed into our DNA and that developing a more “natural equilibrium” with our surrounding environment is within the realm of possibility.

However, those who wish to shape social and human evolution in such a way that Homo rapiens become endangered, and eventually make their way to the species’ graveyard of extinction, need to realize that they are not attending a tea party. This is a war–philosophically, psychologically and physically. If humanity is going to “become good,” those who want to make it happen need to enter the fray.

It is no easy task to simultaneously function within a planet murdering system and to struggle against it. While the opposition is indistinct, difficult to identify, and ever-shifting, Homo sapiens resisting the evolutionary inertia toward sociopathy encounter enemies frequently throughout their day to day existence. Approximately four out of 100 humans are born with no conscience or capacity to empathize. Those individuals, like Cheney, Olmert, Petraeus, Kissinger, Palin, and Condi Rice, are readily identifiable foes. Those who comprise the rest of the Homo rapien population are not as easy to discern. Many are covert in their allegiance to savagery. Some people are akin to the fabled missing link, as they comprise characteristics of both species. At times they are allies, but they can also align with the opposition. Complicating matters still further is the fact that it is possible for an individual to evolve from one species to another. So one day they could be friend and the next foe–or vice versa.

When one considers that the stakes are incalculably high, that Homo rapiens will fight to the death to maintain their hegemony, and that the institutionalized violence perpetrated by the status quo is intense and ubiquitous, those who challenge their dominionism must employ the most holistic, pluralistic, and militant tactics possible, including (but not limited to) education, outreach to minority groups, grass roots social service programs, boycotts, strikes, picketing, letters, petitions, networking, legislative efforts, veganism, monkey wrenching, and direct action.

So, how good can we human animals become? That depends on how hard we are willing to fight and how much we are willing to sacrifice……

Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, straight edge vegan, and animal liberationist. He is also the founder and editor of Thomas Paine’s Corner, blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute and associate editor for the Journal for Critical Animal Studies.

15 thoughts on “Homo rapiens be damned: Savagery is not programmed into our DNA, by Jason Miller

  1. Pingback: Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism By Steve Best & Jason Miller « Dandelion Salad

  2. …there is something happening here and you dont know what it is .. do you mr. jones. thanks for for the Dylan lead off and the health tip .sleep , water , and hot steam seem to be the only cure at this point . and i have to go on the road and perform this weekend . ugh .

    back to great lit — isnt it all supposed to dark , foreboding , existential , etc …. well welcome to the Bible . e.m. cioran , brilliant 20th century rumanian atheist philosopher does comparisons with Macbeth and the book of Job . Shakespeare scholar harold bloom does comparisons with Hamlet and the gospel of Mark — avenging the ghost of the father ( hamlet thru violence , christ thru non violence)

    Art in the visual sense — i will stack up Bosch with Goya anyday as far as horror.i find Giotto’s strenth in being a transitional artist with his frescoes ( the annunciation of st. Anne) is the first piece to include the supernatural with the mundane. …. an angel is announcing the birth of john the baptist and there is someone one the other side of the painting sewing . the seminal shift had begun . .. no doubt. but i digress.

    my point in all of this is that there is real serious pathos going on in the gospel of that is constructed like a 3 part greek tragedy in the Aristotelian definition . but , ah ha — something new comes about ….Mark inverts it into GOOD NEWS. this had never been done before. this nature boy demands attention because this dark foreboding little book is inverted into hope and light and attempts to define the what it means to be human . in a word it reverses all expectation of what a messiah should be . it is about humility , and love , and servanthood . and this is what america is missing in its bastardized christianity .

  3. You are very well read, it’s well known ~

    There is a crucifix in Florence that will have you holding your crotch in horror and sadness, I remember it as a child, probably the one by Giotto, or Fra Angelico…

    May I offer a genuine cure for the common cold via genuine Peruvian Pagans: Extract of Cat’s Claw (Una De Gato). Also, Dr. Jiang’s Allicin (garlic).

    Check it out…

  4. natureboy– Nietzsche changes from book to book and sometimes within one book he changes. walter kaufman , an intellectual jew transcribed his work and mocked those who said he was anti-Semitic. as far as the Bible being inspirational Lit , it has inspired me therefore it is inspirational lit . think not for a moment that Homer’s influence was not destructive upon the rationalization of the Romans . Virgil bases his work on it but puts it in the roman context of conquering . Homer and the Bible have been equally abused as demagoguery .

    Dante’s divine comedy was abused in and out of Florence in the struggle for aristocratic power. Shakespeare ? when he started to cross the line in Richard 111 , he got his hand slapped by the powers that be , knowing full well what it could do to the aristocracy . he backed off , but Oscar Wiled did not . and look where it got him .

    the bottom line is that real literature is always a threat to the established order just like art or music is . you are an artist and i a musician . it is amazing that Bosh got away with what he did . as far as Grunvald’s Christ. look at those paroxysms up close and one can see that this was no jesus hung like a ballet dancer with ever hair in place . though i grant you that Kafka is terrifying , so are the sketches of Durer.

    i dont put much faith in man . i dont buy in the greek axiom that ”man is the measure of all things”. if man is so accomplished and evolved then why cant he find a cure to the common cold that is kicking my butt now ? so much for the greatness of man .

  5. I think it was Gould who pointed out the possibility that serpents were so infused into all mythology resulting from an ancient evolutionary memory of being shrews picked off of trees by ‘behemoths’.

    I’ve heard other theories that certainly fossils must have been found by the ancients, hence various dragons, etc. in many ancient mythologies…

    Certainly I’d prefer religious ideas that bind humanity with the continuum of nature and the environment with which it’s inextricably entwined, rather than seeing people as having dominion over the rest of life on earth.

  6. Indeed. One doesn’t attempt to disprove the existence of God, science certainly hasn’t, as Stephen Hawking would concur. Only those elements of the bible which if literally interpreted would defy morality.

    Science, like philosophy evolves, scriptural literalism is by definition stuck in the irrelevance of the past, poisoning the present with irrational dogmas– but who am I to say?

    I like Jason’s point of view.

  7. The great David Attenborough has a very timely segment on the book of Gnesis and the consequenses believers have wrought upon the earth in his current broadcast about Darwin & the Tree of Life:

    Genesis 1:28 reads, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.'”

    Attenborough insists that Genesis has allowed people to justify destroying the environment and that embracing Darwinist evolution frees people from their biblical excuse.

    “The influence of the Book of Genesis,” says Attenborough, “which says the Lord God said ‘go forth and multiply’ to Adam and Eve and ‘the natural world is there for you to dominate,’ [is that] you have dominion over the animals and plants of the world.

    “That basic notion,” Attenborough continues, “that the world is there for us and if it doesn’t actually serve our purposes, it’s dispensable, that has produced the devastation of vast areas of the land’s surface.”

    Origin and Clip here:

    Of course it’s my opinion that a far worse psychological pathogen is responsible for the far greater destruction of life on earth than the agricultural shock brought about by scriptural literalists, It was another religion, that of industrial capitalism, adherents of which God was apparently the farthest thing, weighing more on the other two legs of the modern troika of terrestrial terror: Greed & Guns.

    But then Jesus was a Carpenter, so capitalism must be good!

  8. The End Times:

    “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV). But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10 NIV)”.

    ~Jesus? Might as well give up now and start repenting, for the end is obviously nigh…

    Definitely not a kind place for forest creatures and trees, better get chopping and hunting, as it’s all bound to be “destroyed by fire”! (Yikes).

    “In the Latin malus (which I place sideby side with m e l a V) the vulgar man can be distinguished as the dark-coloured, and above all as the black-haired (“hic niger est”), as the pre-Aryan inhabitantsof the Italian soil, whose complexion formed the clearest feature of distinction from the dominant blondes, namely, the Aryan conquering race: … good, noble, clean, but originally the blonde-haired man in contrast to the dark black-haired aboriginals..”

    ~Nietszche? (From The Genealogy of Morals, First Essay, Section 5… or did his sister write this part ?) If so, yeah I’ll say he was a ‘complicated’ man indeed!

    Too bad for Fred, we now know that blond hair and pale skin was purely an adaptation of northern climes, likely for vitamin D production. But fact is people really believed this stuff, and ran with it, only a generation or so ago: Dark = sinister, Light = “good, noble, clean…”

    The revenge of the albinos… if only they could all have been as compassionate as Powder~

  9. The problem is that many literalists who follow the bible(s) (and the Quran) apparently apply antiquated scripture literally to modern times (and in the case of Israel, modern real-estate).

    How those people have managed to control so much of politics and militarism is testament to the danger of buying into scriptural doctrine. It’s not just inspirational ‘literature’ like the Iliad yet.

    We are not in danger of Trojan horses or being ripped by sirens from our masts, we see ancient literature for the amazing tales they are.

    But we are in danger of Armageddon by scriptural literalists taking the bible seriously, and we as a global society are plagued by these deviant demagogues and their biblically-excused violence every day. The bible has been the excuse for much horror in modern times, from Jesuit Blackrobes to manifest destiny, to Zionism and Reaganomics via Pat Robertson & Jimmy Swaggart.

    You want to see scripture as literature, fine, but that’s different than scriptural literalism, which is the source of the whole zionist dilemma, both on the amerigoon dispensationalist protestant side, and their slimy jewish counterparts.

    As an art student, I’m happy to see the Sistine Ceiling as great painting, but do we any more think that god has a beard, and brought life to adam through divine touch?

    As a student of architecture, I’m happy to appreciate Chartres and the Taj Mahal as great buildings, or as an appreciator of poetry Rumi’s meditations on god as great love poems.

    But do I think steeples point to heaven and the glory of the afterlife, or that Islamic mosaics denote divinity? Indeed there is the perspective of the times, which scriptural literalists dangerously fail to discern.

    Be careful how much holiness you attach to scripture. Shakespeare obviously had far more quotable phrases, and much humor and wit, unlike the Bible which claims to be truth. Kafka had more relevant and terrifying imagery worth repeating than Grunevald. Yet nobody to my knowledge has been killed or bombed in their names (King Lear notwithstanding).

    Anyone who claims to be uttering the words of god needs to be taken with great bucket-loads of salt (as should anyone who says Nietzsche wasn’t anti-jewish)

    I don’t think the article fails, I think it sees life on earth from a compassionate point of view for the other nations of beings (which the bible generally denies), powered by justifiable outrage at the psychopathology and brutality of ‘humans’, which many christians and scriptural literalists see as biblically ordained.

    That is not to say that Christians and Jews are the only destroyers of Eden, secular Soviets did a pretty good job at laying waste to the world, as do secular Maoists today. But biblical literalists are some of the worst, and these destructive biblists are an evangelical cult of miscreants and need to think before they believe.

  10. first off ..i am not a jew for jesus . i am a gentile .

    second – i dont waste my time on trying to be to literal with the Bible , so i dont get into arguments about it verses science cause i dont think much of science either. lets see , what does that leave us with ? philosophy –love it , but i did not major in it in school . i am 53 years old . my major was music .

    american christianity is a sham . it is a disfigurement of the gospel of Christ. but many people love it cause it gives them an excuse for intellectual laziness for not checking out the N.T. itself .

    Nietzsche is very complicated. he hated christianity and science . and he was not anti-semitic . he is very very complex.
    let us take the real issue here with this post and why it fails — the Bible is literature. it is a masterpiece. it is inspirational lit of the theocratic age. this writer seeks on this post to apply a modern mindset to it .

    many people misunderstand Shakespeare and the aristocratic age of literature too . they miss homer , the greek tragedys . we live in the chaotic age of lit — Beckett , Kafka , etc. that makes it tough to understand other ages of lit.

    as far as the Bible — look at it as a masterpiece of lit and allow it to inspire you . to try and prove or disprove it is a fools game .

  11. Philosophy major perchance?…

    Namedropping aside & back to the point: What about your treasured gnu testament and the earth as a tool to the afterlife for our exploitation.

    Are your sheep a nation of beings or do your bible-belted sheeple see them as slaughterable food for biblical thought?

    Are trees there for you to build your house, or are ancient forests the greatest expression of life on earth? Does life on earth matter if in the professed second-coming all will be incinerated in the end?

    And what of Adam Vs. Evolution? Armageddon Vs. Armistice?

    Let’s hear your jews fer jesus excuse for the horrors done in the name of christianity, and you’re just begging to get started on the topic of Nietzsche tha antisemitic ideologue, ain’tcha?


    (GREAT article Jason! Thanks Lo for publishing it).

  12. you cannot begin to understand or even approach Nietzsche in the context of his time and the decline of authority and the Hegelian dialectic without bringing in Kierkegaard.

    Kierkegaard is one of those rare christian rebels that understood the difference between the sphere of ethics and the sphere of transcendence. in his masterpiece” fear and trembling” he lays out the case the abraham is the spiritual man having to trample ethics as he goes up mount moriah to sacrifice isaac. this is high literary stuff and should not be swept aside as merely Eurocentric babble .

    if you want ethics , morals , mores , social taboos , and approximate almosts , then go to socrates . but if you want .. by virtue of the absurd something higher than mans finite mind , you must face the offense of the paradox of the GOD-MAN Christ crucified , and become in an absolute relationship with the ABSOLUTE. this dialectial duplexity will bring you into a passionate inwardness with the Living GOD that will make all so called reasonable objections mute.

  13. “Western Civilization (read Eurocentric, patriarchal, capitalist, speciesist, imperialist, and Christian), the most powerful perpetrator in the brutal and merciless assault on non-human animals and the Earth, codified its sociopathic license to rape by inventing an anthropomorphic deity that gave it the “divine right” to dominate and exploit. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth,” proclaimed the Christian deity in an ancient tome written by a collection of largely unknown authors. And since many still hold the Bible to be sacrosanct, dominionism remains deeply embedded in our collective psyche”.

    Can I get a Amen? The bible and its fanatical followers may not be the purveyors of all things evil, just apparently most of them!

    Christianity gave men dominion over the earth, since god apparrently put it here for our consumption. As one hillbilly logger put it: “God put trees here so yoo could build yer house”.

    If one is going to subscribe en-masse to some afterlife cult of the apocolypse, why not use it all up now as it’s destined to be incinerated, and life on earth is just some limbo-land for human consumption in our journey to the believer’s orgasmic afterlife beyond the clouds.

    Actually most life-forms would reproduce and dominate to the point of disease, and have done so in the past (apparently oxygen-producing life-forms, i.e. plants, had a hugely devastating effect on the bulk of anaerobic organisms early on). Balance is inevitable.

    But if you believe in the bible, the only balance comes to those who don’t believe, who burn in hell. (But if you ‘believe’, and create hell-on-earth in the evangelical pursuit of that belief, then you are saved– go figger).

    Hey, here’s an idea, let’s pray. That oughta fix it!

Comments are closed.