Micah M. White | January 17, 2008
Possibility is a curious occurrence. At the moment that a possibility arises, such as the possibility of atomic weapons, so too does a corresponding reality. For example, the possibility of terrorism brings a hyper-secure militarized state. And the possibility of global instantaneous communication brings the reality of global military domination. Unlike most beings we’re familiar with, a possibility need not be realized in order to change the course of planetary history. In fact, the possibilities most often feared are those that are rarely manifested; hence, the tremendous upheaval that the possibility of terrorism elicits. Once a possibility becomes planetary, there is nowhere to hide. As history progresses it is clear that the possibility of planetary catastrophe has become the supreme danger facing humankind.
Recently, the possibility of human-animal hybrids arose thereby completing the leap out of the atomic age into the cybernetic age. In a move that portends our new reality, the United Kingdom has decided to license genetic hybrids. Reversing the original rejection of the possibility of creatures composed of multiple species, the deal will make possible all four types of human-animal hybrids: "cytoplasmic" embryos, which are 99.9% human, "true hybrids" carrying both human and animal genes, "chimeras made of a mosaic-like mix of cells from different species”, and "human transgenic embryos" - human embryos modified with animal DNA. No, this is not some distant fantastical possibility. The Guardian reports that at least two scientists are already waiting to create human-cows and pig-humans.
And who knows, there may well be a scientist dreaming of the lucrative military contracts he can secure once he imagines the possibility of tiger-gorilla-human-soldiers whose animality and only partial humanity would make them the perfect ethically and legally immune warrior. Are a “mosaic of species” morally responsible for their actions? To even consider this question is to demonstrate our new era: one in which all ethical, legal, and political frameworks can have nothing to say to the hybrid.
When the Nazi’s inhumanely murdered millions of innocent civilians, they did so out of a humanity that we still are. This will no longer be the case the moment an individual with .1% of genetic animality commits an inhuman crime. An abyss separates humans from animals – an abyss of absolute difference that exempts animals from prosecution in our courts, by our police or military. When an animal has violated human laws they are killed without remorse. Will the same be true for the snake-human who experiences an inexplicable urge to kill? But if we can simply kill the inhuman without remorse what is protect us when we are all inhuman. Imagine in a world where genetic manipulation is as routine as listening to an iPod. A world in which our children are routinely “genetically medicated” to cure attention deficit disorder or when soldiers are required to undergo “genetic juicing” to enter the Special Forces.
Nietzsche once wrote that every first nature was once a second nature. In a world where creatures are technologically manufactured, we must wonder what second nature, what animal instinct or inhuman drive, has become our primary nature; because, the possibility of the inhuman has already made us inhuman.