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The Metabolism Manifesto

The Metabolism Manifesto

Maarten Kleinhans, 28 April 2020 CE

Maarten Kleinhans did his fellowship at NIAS on the philosophical pillars of earth sciences. During his fellowship he participated in writing workshops, meant to encourage engagement with one’s research subject from different perspectives. The result is a protest in the form of the Communist Manifesto by the bacteria against the humanoids and their noninclusive idea of the Parliament of Things of Bruno Latour.


A specter is haunting the planet—the specter of universal representation in the Parliament of Things, a tour de force by the Humanoids.

It is high time that the United Kingdom of Bacteria should openly, in the face of the whole world, ventilate their views to the Humanoids. The Parliament of Things supposedly eliminates the false segregation between humans and nonhumans at the table of the United Nations. But this Parliament fails to charge nonhumans of the Kingdoms with real political power and is instead constipated with fabricated, human-owned things. It is time we air the toxic tendencies of the humanoids and meet this nursery tale of equal representation with a manifesto of the Kingdom itself.

To this end, the United Kingdom of Bacteria have assembled our carriers at the World Congress On Microbiology and sketched the following Manifesto, addressed to the United Nations of the Humanoids.

Chapter I: Symbiosis & parasitism

The Kingdom of Animals depends on consummation with the Kingdom of Bacteria. The Kingdoms of Bacteria, Animals, Plants, Fungi and Archaea have long lived according to the universal principles of symbiosis. The passage of gas is to Bacteria what oxygen is to Animals: a fundamental necessity. The metabolism and proper digestive passage in the Animals has always depended on the goodwill of the Kingdom of Bacteria. The oxygen aired by Plants and needed by Animals, violates our carbonate needs, but we have adapted to the poisoning of the atmosphere. The Kingdom of Animals thrived by our compromise. But now a border has been crossed.

A youthful species thinks to take away the freedom of all, even of their kinsfolk. Over the past four billion years we have cocreated the Kingdom of the Animals. We have sustained numerous Animal species from their intestinal tracts. We have coproduced yourselves, the technological Humanoids; the latest of the Hominids. We have coproduced the Family of the Sus, known to you as pigs. They are closely related to you in neurological sense, but the Sus have been the most lavish flower of the odorscape. The Class of Mammals came about not longer ago than eighty million years, and the Hominids evolved no longer ago than three millions years, making them a thousand times the junior of the first Kingdom; that of us, the Bacteria.

Chapter II: A post-mental history of violation

Where is the freedom of flatulence now? Free passage of gas is of vital importance for the intestinal Bacteria. Yet free passage is prohibited by a Humanoid culture of suppression of natural odors. The bouquet of bacterial breath is frowned upon. Humanoids are imprisoned in their language of sound and the sounds of flatulence are punishable by social expulsion. The tang of symbiosis with Bacteria has become taboo. Circular muscles are forced to close and intestines become over-pressurized and poisoned. As a result, the Bacteria suffocate. The health of the world is at immediate risk. This is a direct violation of the principles of symbiosis.

The freedom of flatulence is denied even within the same Class of the Animal Kingdom. The pigs allow free passage, but the pigs themselves have been imprisoned. The industrial pigsty is an airtight construction with a combustible atmosphere. The pigs naturally allow free effluvium, but the air they have to breathe is prison poison, waiting for lightning to strike. The gases are only set free in the frequent fires that offer the pigs a faster demise. The pigsty is fount, not of primitive life but of primitive death. The intestinal Bacteria are as much suppressed in pigsties as the pigs. This is a direct violation of the principles of symbiosis.

How did this state come about? What the Techno-Humanoids call a post-modern history, is only the post-mental history of Hominids. This post-mental history is dominated by a culture, not of freedom, but of suppression of all flatus produced by imprisoned Animal species.

We, the Bacteria, have always been modern. We countered the gradual appearance of mentalism in the Hominids by creating a means of aromatic communication. We trained a large contingent of olfactory gifted ambassadors, known to the medieval Hominids as barber surgeons, to scent our messages. In return, we offered our aid to the diseased for a longer life or a speedy consummation. This was our symbiotic contract.

Yet, in recent times the new culture has prohibited the election of ambassadors. Instead, we have been under attack by Fungi mercenaries known as the Antibiotics. This post-mental misnomer is not without irony, as these corrupted Fungi weaken all the Kingdoms in violation of the principles of symbiosis.

Chapter III: The Parliament of Processes

We recognize the recent attempts by Humanoids to construct a communal, inclusive history. The most promising attempt is the call for a Parliament of Things. This is a minor step in the right direction, as it offers agency to non-Humanoids. But this proposal is once more a fatally flawed product of the post-mental History of Things constructed by the Humanoids. Humanoids constructed their identity by flatus interruptus and segregation within their own Class.

For what is a thing? Is a Humanoid a thing? Where are the boundaries of said thing? Fluxes enter the thing and depart from the thing. Living and dead matter, solids, fluids, gases enter and depart from the thing. The thing changes all the time as parts of the thing are replaced by other parts. Does that make it a different thing or a fabricated thing? No, it is not a thing at all. Living creatures are processes without boundaries and borders, or they could not be metabolic. Things are nothing but temporary Precipitates of Processes.

Moreover, the verb living means more than the noun creature, which can also be dead. Precipitates proliferate to live on in their descendants. Our genes have mingled with the genes of the Animals and have lived for eons and will never die. Life is metabolism, metabolism is the fundamental process of life, and metabolism needs aromatically open borders.

Humanoids have shown and closed their circular muscles. Only lifeless things were attributed agency in the Parliament of Things. Only lifeless things were offered equality in representation. By offering the Kingdoms equality with lifeless rocks under chairmanship of Humanoids, the other Kingdoms have been devitalized. But the Humanoids are not dehumanized.

There are at present approximately 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 individual Bacteria on the planet, against 7,000,000,000 Humanoids, but none other than Humanoids and derivatives of rocks have voting rights in the Parliament of Things.

We call on the Sus for an alliance in the fight for freedom. You are now suffocated and consumed by the kin of your Class as if you are nothing but a lifeless mineral, a Thing. Humanoids terminate 70,000,000,000 fellow Animals per year in the Class of Mammals and we must take a stand together. Our political challenge is to inhale all Kingdoms’ perspectives at once and reveal possibilities of symbiotic inclusion unimaginable from a position of dominance by consciousness and appropriation of atmosphere.

Chapter IV: Fundamental rights for all Kingdoms

We demand a Parliament of Processes with an annual convention of all Kingdoms to supersede the annual General Assembly of the United Nations. We demand the right to vote by number in said Parliament. We demand miasmic equality at the table of the World Health Organization. We demand the right to live in symbiosis, to metabolize in consummation with other Kingdoms, and the right to freedom of flatulence. The wrong must be righted now.