chapter  7
29 Pages

Humanity Under Siege

Francis Bacon’s Human Empire and the Capitalocene
WithBenjamin Bertram

"The principal point of greatness in any state," Francis Bacon writes in "Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates," "is to have a race of military men", men bred to be "stout and warlike". Echoing Niccolo Machiavelli and other military writers, he expresses admiration for husbandmen or "manly tillers," whom he regards as potential warriors, and frets that "slothful" peace will make the English "effeminate". Bacon's humanitarian goals are not merely a subterfuge or ideological mystification of his real interests; rather, his objectives for universal humanity bear the indelible stamp of biopolitical "state husbandry" that incorporates the rhetoric of Christian charity or philanthropy. In his dialogue An Advertisement Touching a Holy War, Bacon would appear, through the speeches of the interlocutor Zebedaeus at least, to be hoping for an alternative to religious wars, namely a universal war against the threats to humanity.