The scorpion is an insect that differs little from its ancestral species, which were among the first animals to walk on land hundreds of millions of years ago. It has been observed that individuals of this species, when trapped among the flames with no visible escape route, do a remarkable thing: they turn their sting on themselves and commit suicide! A behavior that offers no evolutionary advantage, as on the slim chance that the fire would go out, the surviving animals could continue to reproduce. A behavior that contradicts the theory that insects are biological robots because they exhibit standardized behaviors.

The simplest way I can explain this behaviour is that the evolution of life does not build robots, but instead creates neural systems for information processing and decision-making. Repetitive patterns of behaviour emerge from the complex operation of self-organised neural circuits, which in most cases do indeed favour maximum reproductive potentiality. So these tiny nervous systems, with several orders of magnitude fewer neural synapses than our brains, produce behaviour that betrays evidence of their internal functioning:

  1. These animals experience pain, meaning pain as a stimulus, which the animal tries to eliminate.
  2. These animals experience fear, meaning fear as an internal mental projection of a future situation.
  3. They are aware that they have a deadly tool with which to kill their prey and defend themselves from their predators: the stinger.
  4. They associate the feeling of pain with their body, as they turn the sting on themselves.
  5. The association of pain with self-perception, since pain is an elementary form of mental state, and consciousness is thought upon thought, constitutes a primitive form of consciousness. So pain is in a sense conscious.

Since the majority of our anthropocentric society attributes the above mental characteristics exclusively to humans, I will probably be accused of anthropomorphism (you will say, of all the things you have been accused of, did that bother you?). However, I do not attribute to scorpions characteristics that do not arise from their behaviour, such as rational thought. Encouragingly, newer neuroscientific research suggests that the architecture of neural circuits associated with the function of consciousness in humans and other mammals can even be traced in insect brains.

How does the above relate to the current situation? A few hundred million years after the appearance of scorpions, a being walked the earth that built permanent imprisonment structures for other living beings, including its own kind: cages and cells.

Many intelligent animals in captivity stop eating and are driven to death (for example, of the dolphins that are captured, very few survive). Countless people in captivity, (since so long ago that the beginnings have been erased) have gone on hunger strikes in prisons to gain their freedom or their dignity. It is the equivalent of self-stinging by beings intelligent enough to try to give a way out of the impasse. This is why the hunger strike is now an internationally recognized, historically powerful means of struggle, especially for prisoners.

In Greek conditions (where even the dictators backed down on hunger strikes) modern judges and prosecutors are governed by a different perspective. The majority hold ultra-conservative views and, having caused untold pain to tens of thousands of prisoners who have been deprived of their long-term freedom, they work for a torture industry that hides behind obvious lies such as penitentiary. Like slaughterhouse workers, or like fighter pilots bombing the enemy’s cities, they have killed any trace of empathy in themselves and can eat their lunch by convincing themselves that they are doing something useful. That is why they see the hunger strike as a means of challenging their all-powerful and show zero tolerance.

How else to interpret what judges and prosecutors write, up to the 46th day of my hunger strike, where the prosecutor’s proposal for my release from prison was issued?

I was preceded by two councils where I was tried for what the judges believe I will do and I was held on remand as a «risk of committing further offences». In the second one they didn’t even ask me a single question, not even the formalities, and simply issued a decision that had already been made after 40 days (30 of which I am already on hunger strike). Without even thinking, it took them 40 days to write «in accordance with the prosecutor’s proposal, to avoid unnecessary repetition». I was treated with defiant indifference.

Meanwhile, in the midst of my strike, Alexander’s killer, one of Zack’s killers (who stayed in prison as long as I am on hunger strike) and the rapist Filippidis have been released early on the improbable grounds that the potential victims are not at risk because he is now known for his actions and will avoid him. And I who completed 3/5 of my sentence 7 months ago «i have not yet been reformed as sufficient time has not passed» according to the prosecutors. Unrepentant killers are enjoying what I have been fighting to earn for 50 days risking my life, what I have been entitled to for 7 months, freedom.

Seemingly unrelated, the killing of the chimpanzee that escaped from Jean-Jacques Lesueur wildlife prison, and yet relevant. I wonder if Greek «justice» will deal with a serial killer and torturer of wildlife? Too much money..

Anyway, at this moment, my stinger has already pierced my body and is spreading poison and destroying its vital organs, probably irreversibly. However, it will inevitably pierce, even if only temporarily, the murderous order that sustains this system of generalized enslavement and exploitation of nature (human and otherwise)…




Giannis Michailidis