While it might seem counterproductive, the extension of ‘rights’ to non-humans, including landscape elements, in an effort to bring them into the circle of human ethico-legal protection, will also not be in the spirit of the sumbios and the Symbiocene. This is because ‘rights’ have their origin in exploitative and manipulative modes of human decision-making arising from the need for secular wealth and property to be protected from the privilege and power of the Church and the Crown (MacIntyre 1984, Albrecht 1994).
The possession of rights depends on the idea of the autonomous individual as the bearer of rights in a contestable social context. Moreover, a hierarchy of rights emerges where, for example, males and their power structures preference masculinist rights over all others (see Salleh 1984). Rights are wrongs and we do not need them in a non-hierarchical world of permeable and porous intersections of interest. Sumbioethics is the application of Symbiocene principles to the pursuit of a good life. Within ethics and law there will need to be a new concept for ‘rights’, one that takes into account symbiotic interconnectedness within the Symbiocene and the human sumbios.
Perhaps ‘ghehds’? A replacement term for ‘rights’ where instead of a hierarchy of competing rights, assuming autonomous individuals or entities in a contested domain, ‘ghehds,’ are the entitlements of passage, movement and flow within organically and symbiotically unified wholes. The good of the whole is guaranteed by the protection of the ‘ghehds’ that connect and hold things together. Rights assume division, ghehds assume unity.
[‘Ghehd’ is an old root word in Indo-European languages and has meanings linked to Old English and Germanic words such as ‘together’, ‘to gather’ and ‘good’.]