Pacifying nature is ending nature. Marcuse pictures a utopia where all happiness is derived from a world without aggression. He sees the ultimate goal of technology to be the complete and utter “pacification of existence”. He pictures the end of the predator-prey relationship. He envisions humanity’s control of every aspect of nature. Marcuse is blind, pacification can only be accomplished by ending nature completely, there is no middle ground. The complete pacification of nature can only happen after it is destroyed completely, there cannot be any harmonious infusion of reason and nature as Marcuse pictures.
In Marcuse’s world humans no longer hunt animals; in fact animals do not hunt animals. Everything is programmed to be peaceful and pacified. There is no aggression because there is no need for aggression, in his world. Marcuse bases his argument around the idea that technology’s end goal is the complete control of nature, fair enough. It can be said with some certainty that technology has always existed to help conquer nature. All tech is derived from the need to surmount some physical, natural, need. Fire was used to counter the cold, bows and arrows to hunt prey, agriculture developed to feed the people when the hunters failed, and houses where built to shelter them when they were not farming. After all the basic needs were met, tech has been building for the absolute control of the natural world, but no technology exists or can exist that completely end all strife in nature. What Marcuse is getting at is a technological breakthrough that would change the entire planet, Homo sapiens included. The only thing that would be conceivable at present day would be a complete genetic overhaul, changing nature at its most basic level. Changing every living thing to put an end to aggression would require leaps and bounds in the physical possibilities of genetic engineering.
Assuming this somehow becomes possible, as pointed out by Joy, Murphy’s Law will take over. Something will go wrong while engineering this pacified world. The genome is as complex a system as can exist in nature or otherwise, and given the nature of complex systems something will get messed up. Planning the entire behavioral/digestive changeover to end predation in nature would be almost unimaginable; it would be playing God in a very real meaning of the phrase. A parallel can be drawn to Victor Frankenstein, where as he “simply” created one new life form; the type of changes Marcuse wants would create thousands. If Victor was tortured so badly for assuming the powers of God, is it not conceivable that whoever would have to engineer these creatures would not be tortured 1000 times as badly?
If Victor’s creature was unruly, these genetic anomalies would be as well. There behavior would be unpredictable, maybe they would eat only vegetables, but kill each other for fun, there is no way to tell for sure. Controlling behavior would be impossible, conditioning and domestication is possible, but not for every species on Earth. The only way to truly pacify everything in nature oddly would be to destroy everything.
Assuming then that there where amazing breakthroughs in genetic engineering that could lead to control of behavior as well as biological development. The predator-prey relationship could be put to a halt, for a short period of time at least. Sure if the tech is there for it, one can rewrite every single element of natures DNA, change every one of the billions of base-pairs that codes for a behavior that causes an animal to hunt another, but how long would it last. In a world of genetically designed herbivores and limited resourses, one will be better then another, and at that point Darwin takes over.
The better herbivore would survive to reproduce, while others would die out completely or be forced to adapt. One adaptation would likely be the taste for meat, and slowly but surely the cycle of predator and prey would happen all over again. The world Marcuse envisions is reminiscent of the opening of Clarke’s 2001 a Space Odyssey. All the pre-humans are huddled around, starving, out competed for food and in the evolutionary sense on their way out. Suddenly a big shiny black obelisk lands in there midst, and one of them is brilliant enough to club a pig. Tada all the food they can eat. Here technology causes the aggression. The predator-prey relationship developed because it works, it may take another few million years but eventually all the changes in genetics would account for nothing. Animals would be hunting animals once again.
Assuming even that this future technology is also capable of halting mutation by ensuring every single base pair is correct every time DNA is replicated (3 Billion base pairs for a mouse times billions of replications). If this were possible it, would effectively end evolution. Without heritable mutations species cannot change and would not adapt or change. Ending evolution would mean that the one species that was lucky enough to be engineered at the top of its game would be one of the only herbivores in town, but at least no one would be murdering each other right?
In “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” effectively there are no natural predators. Mercerism keeps all people empathetically connected. Humans and animals get along peacefully and all life is precious, except the artificial life. Humans create androids; sentient beings, and still even in a world so enthralled with Mercerism, there are people to hunt them. The androids become the prey, and the bounty hunters are predators. There is no escaping aggression, even if there is nothing to hunt, humanity creates prey, and as long as Homo sapiens are part of nature that is how it will remain.
There is no way to control nature, without destroying it. Destruction of every living thing would pacify it in a way, there would be nothing left to fight. Attempting to pacify nature as Marcuse pictured it would only succeed if nature was destroyed. Removing everything natural would be the only way to render the world serene.