Subhumanism is like a swamp where plants of a thousand species grow - and you can't predict what exactly will emerge.
Subhumanism is not a coherent worldview with clear assertions that we can subject to the strict test of logic, much less to double-blind testing in the laboratory. It’s not a single ideology, which we could picture as a cypress tree with roots, a trunk and branches—and imagine hacking down. It is much more like the swamp where plants of a thousand species grow. It is the mother of ideologies. But we can test the toxic chemicals in the soil, and figure out why the trees that grow there all look so ghostly.
One of us attempted to sum up subhumanism in a previous book, though he didn’t yet have the name for it. Subhumanism asserts, simultaneously:
Try holding both these thoughts in your head at the same time, and you’ll have to keep them in tightly sealed containers, so they don’t spill together and annihilate themselves, like matter and anti-matter in a particle accelerator. To ease the strain and give the world a little glimmer of numinous “meaning,” you’ll meditate sometimes, or read mystical literature exclusively (and this is key) of religions about whose doctrines you are blissfully ignorant (hence Rumi, the Kabbala, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead). You’ll wince when Evangelicals say that Jesus got them their mobile homes, and nod benignly when Oprah says that the “universe” wanted her to write her latest book. You’ll give money to Planned Parenthood, and dog shelters. You’ll think like Darwin, but emote like Rousseau. Of course, when the chips are down, what you really think life means will win out in the end. When Annie Hall is over, and Mia Farrow is shouting at you, “You’re not supposed to BLEEP the kids,” you’ll shrug and say, “Why not? We’re consenting adults.”
Subhumanism asserts at the same time a noble, high-minded view of human dignity which calls for a deep respect for human rights—which in fact, exaggerates them and even makes up some extra rights—and a deeply cynical, disillusioned view of man as just another animal. Now, you really can’t believe both things at once about yourself or the whole human race. Such a perfect example of what George Orwell called “doublethink” isn’t possible for the sane.
But you can pick and choose, as if from a Chinese menu, items from Column A (Western liberal humanism) and Column B (post-Darwinian scientific pessimism). Or—and this happens much more commonly—you can pick certain groups of people (starting with yourself) to whom you’ll serve up the respect and esteem from Column A, and other groups who have to make do with the slop from Column B. Sure, such a choice is arbitrary, but life is “complex” and you have to pick your battles—and so you can get through life without thinking very hard, and in fact while esteeming yourself as a highly moral person, cherry-picking which human beings deserve to be treated with respect, and which ones you can kick to the curb. If you are a right-wing subhumanist, you’ll probably offer treats from Column A to people based on race, religion, nationality or economic productiveness. If your subhumanism leans over to the left, you’re more likely to pick winners based on age, good health, or their capacity for creativity and enjoyment. Either way, you’ll be picking people, finally, based on how closely they conform to the image of God—that is, how much they remind you of… you.
Jason Jones is a producer in Hollywood. His films include Bella, Eyes to See, and Crescendo. Learn more about his human rights initiatives at www.iamwholelife.com.
John Zmirak is the author of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived at The Bad Catholic’s Bingo Hall. This column is from Jones’ and Zmirak’s upcoming book, The Race to Save Our Century (Crossroad, 2014).