Achille Mbembe’s call for a reformation of reason as a shared human faculty towards repairing and caring for life.

“Let me put it differently. Nowadays, the project is to render as many people as superfluous as possible. The novelty is the production at a massive scale of discounted bodies, a residual humanity that is akin to waste. With our entry into a new climatic regime, this process will only intensify. As the global conditions for the production and reproduction of life on Earth keeps changing, population politics at a planetary level will increasingly become synonymous with excess and waste management. In terms of the future geopolitics of our world, populations will be more and more treated not only in the Darwinian terms of sexual selection, but also within an utilitarian and bio-physiologico-organic framework.

Take a place such as South Africa where a very high percentage of the total population is unemployed. This is not because there is no “work as such”. This is not because people do not want to work.

In fact, here as elsewhere in Africa and other parts of the global South, almost everything remains to be done. The amount of work needed in order to create a better life for all is incalculable. But the structure of the economy doesn’t really need us all. Nor does it need our time. It doesn’t really need every single body, all of our muscles or energies or even the bulk of our social and collective intelligence. And this will be more and more the case in the future, as we move to a phase of human history in which only that which is computable counts. As we speak, many bodies already fall beyond the scope of calculation. Unless we reinvent the terms of what counts and in the process resignify what value stands for as well as the procedures of assigning value, of measuring value, of exchanging value, things won’t change.”

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