The Animal That I am

Inhumanity is part of human nature. There is something uncontrollable, wild, and brutal that determines us from within. But instead of adopting this strangeness in us as our inherent part, we tend to repress it. Comforting ourselves with the idea that the true source of inhumanity is somewhere else, we constantly project it outwards. We consider inhumanity to be something external to the human, something that is merely attached to us from the outside and that we can get rid of through the progress of culture. The fact that we call this inhumanity 'animality' is merely a symptom of this externalization: it is not us but the animal in us, which is 'vile, cruel and inhuman'.

Yet, throughout the history of humanism, there are two main orders of objects delegated to the external place of 'animality': the first is animals, in general, and the second is people corresponding to the taboo figure of a barbarian, seen as uncivilized, half-animal, and half-human.

In our humanist minds, these two orders of objects merge in a series of prejudices and phantasmal equations. As the bearers of externalized inhumanity, both animals and 'barbarians' are represented in public discourse in two opposing ways: either we consider them victims or enemies. As externalized inhumanity, however, these two representations are but two faces of the same thing: one cannot pull them apart because this double role determines their very status in discourse. This is clearly visible in the discourse on migrants, which has spread in the West since the Syrian civil war and is, with the recent outbreak of the war in Ukraine, acquiring new contours.