Planetary Crisis: Animal Liberation: The Uneducated Opinion of an Imperial Citizen
Planetary Crisis: Animal Liberation: The Uneducated Opinion of an Imperial Citizen
6 January - 1 May 2012
As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought. In their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991)
Enemies, A Love Story
As articulated in the documentary film Earthlings, whether we are warm or cold blooded, mammal, vertebra or invertebrate, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, human, we are all earthlings.
One finds it difficult to speculate on current realities, and current illusions of realities without the conscious weighing heavily. There is so much information readily available, through the internet and print media that disinformation has become layered, perhaps like the hierarchies of virtually all psychologies. Perhaps the digital age offers an unprecedented ability for the average human to become enlightened and make the distinction between truth and corporate manufactured lies. Though it is evident in Western dominant culture, that inculcated human desires are generally more welcomed and pursued than any enlightened state. The standardization of everything has increasingly made life dire for all species of life on earth. The fate of nonhuman species, and that of humans, worldwide, is implicitly linked. If the methane trapped in the polar ice sheets is released into the atmosphere, human life, as well as most other life will end. There is considerable reason to be alarmed, considering the continued melting of the polar ice.
If one is essentially incorporated directly after birth, a created legal fiction as it were, principally signed over to the corporate state by one’s own parents whom themselves were signed over in like manner by their parents before them, and one realizes that every aspect of society is virtually a corporation, or multiple corporations, be they seemingly socialistic by virtue or not––the school, the police, the library, the hospital, the post office, the bank, the president, congress, the republican party, the democratic party, the federal reserve, and on and on and on––how might one hold one’s life forth in all seriousness of, and about, morality, including but not limited to, animal welfare, or more importantly animal rights, or more important still, animal, and thus earth, liberation? Our homeland, which is to say all of earth, is being destroyed, set to waste, irreversibly altered because of this imperial way of life. Because of civilization and the technology it is predicated upon. That is perhaps the worse terrorism this world has ever seen. Technology does not imply neutrality. Climate chaos is undoubtedly occurring, more rapidly than is widely presumed. The meaning of the following uneducated, nonlinear, static, and incomplete musings, however evolved, is driven by a marrow-deep dissidence, which is to say a solidarity, among billions in the global proletariat, with those defenders of the earth, of resistance to imperialism, which of course includes racism, chauvinism, and so on, and the awareness of a moral crisis which is nearly absolute.
It would seem, since birth, one has been deceived, and one has been regimentally inculcated into an inherently immoral systemic culture of exploitation, control and murder. One’s perceptions are managed to a highly sophisticated degree. “From the minute a child is born, s/he is deluged with never-ending television and social suffocation. Normal human activity is filtered through a blizzard of corporate ideology and consumerism, leading to the intellectual torpor and vapidity that passes for social life.”
One did not choose to be raised to eat meat as it were; it was a normalized family, thus societal, tradition, which was not questioned, like much of everything else. Nor for that matter did one think anything of attending the zoo, whether with family, or school mates on a chaperoned fieldtrip. One did not choose to be registered into such a cruel and inhuman system of enslavement; nonetheless, one can no longer deny, without great effort, that one is, relatively speaking, a slave, albeit with relative comforts and freedoms, the latter which are seemingly being diminished and ripped away before our eyes in blatant and less obvious ways. Furthermore, with this awareness, comes the awareness that over 1 billion human beings all across the world, are gravely suffering––far greater calamities than those of us imperial citizens with relative comforts––because of the imperial way of life which one has been born into and benefits from. Indeed, some 50% of the global population of 7 billion lives an impoverished existence. “More than a fifth of the world’s people still live in abject poverty (under a $1 a day), and about half live below the barely more generous standard of $2 a day; at least half the world cannot meet basic expenditures for food, clothing, shelter, health, and education…[A]t the heart of worldwide inequality today is the continued economic domination of the underdeveloped world by the developed world––with US trade, foreign, and military policy square in the center of that system of domination. It is that system which allows us to consume as we do, and it is that system which keeps the poor of the world poor.”
To say nothing of the suffering and death of nonhuman life; billions of animals die annually for the sole purpose of feeding millions of humans and their “companion animals”, to say nothing of those animals tortured and murdered during experimentation. Some twenty percent of the world’s population causes some 80% of global pollution; much of the human induced environmental pollution stems from the factory rearing and slaughter of animals for meat. And on and on.
With knowledge, comes awareness, with awareness responsibility. Upon inheriting a basic level of knowledge, thus awareness through modest efforts of critical thought, how might one then act responsibly? It would seem that often times actions indeed speak louder than words. The most violent people, and institutions for that matter, on the planet may be a testament to this. Perhaps words are often times quieter, and consequently unheeded, though the more powerful? Is it more powerful to express a kind word to someone than it is to physically harm them? And what of literal silence, perhaps therein is a retention of power greater than words? The supposition would depend on the intention, of either the word, or the action, and also on the capacity to be concerned about, or with, the consequences of the word or action, should they be anticipated. The world is not so black and white, it is quite often gray. It is clear however, that globalization and the institutionalization thereof, and civilization generally, is indiscriminately destroying life on this planet. Notwithstanding the many opportunities and conveniences, modernity, even post-modernity, so-called, is not something to be championed or proud of. Direct action, in this age of mass poverty, destruction, and death, retains an immeasurable importance. Acting in ways that are right, does not necessarily imply actions that are legal. A grave problem, it would seem, is power itself. The powerful do not consign their authority to the approval of the governed. The powerless, most certainly including nonhuman animals, are fated to the whims and ascribed necessities of those that would dominate them.
The Republic is in decline, socialistic institutions, such as healthcare and education, imperfect as they are, are being de-funded, terminated, or privatized, while Empire and its military hegemony continues to expand, enveloping the entire world. According to the National Priorities Project, $653.11 billion, or 56.94% of the total discretionary spending for fiscal year 2013 is reserved for military. The actual figure, including secret appropriated “black budgets”, and many other military industrial complex expenses not held to accounting, may be over a trillion dollars. Comparatively, $36.66 billion, or 3.2% of total discretionary spending for FY 2013 is reserved for energy and environment. One wonders how much of that figure will be incentives to oil and gas corporations, and what trifle will actually be spent on protecting and preserving the environment, which is antithesis to corporate capitalism. The unprecedented concentration of power is perhaps peaking, or will peak at some point; conceivably there is a minority, perhaps a few hundred thousand, or few million, people or so, among the minority opulent classes, who desire to carry out insidious designs of neo-nihilism, or neo-Platonism––or any other identifying term that would be accurate or perhaps more accurate––going back many years. This is ostensibly what has been deemed an imperial brave “New World Order”. What is the intention? Global genocide? Global ecocide? A global technologic slave-system? A dystopia described in so many science fiction novels; perhaps a hybrid, one part 1984, one part A Brave New World, one part some other literary work; or one often described in the headlines of the corporate media perhaps? What is the oligarchic aim, to reduce the some 7 billion human inhabitants to 1-3 billion, or less? The horror of such a notion, which has widely been deemed conspiratorial lunacy, which has, like virtually everything else, with a capitalistic niche, been branded, marketed, and sold in one form or another, should not dissuade us into falsely believing that it is not entirely conceivable.
We are able to drive to the mall, and shop for a whole variety of things, most if not all of which we do not need, because the oligarchs of empire we live under, have ensured, with our mass manufactured consent, global neo-feudalism. One would not need to make strides to detail, that such a horror, which of course is an unacceptable proposition, trending toward the aforementioned magnitude, indeed far worse, namely because of the destruction of the natural world, the loss of biodiversity, and climate chaos, is occurring, and has been occurring for some time. Some 6 million children die every year because of starvation. At least 2-3 million human beings die every year because of limited or no access to clean, healthy water, and because of water borne diseases. And on and on. David Pimentel, Cornell professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, and a team of Cornell graduate students concluded in a 2007 study that some “40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air, and soil pollution…Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases, which the World Health Organization has…reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people”. As of 2007, 57 percent of the world population of 6.5 billion was malnourished, “compared with 20 percent of a world population of 2.5 billion in 1950”. Incidentally, in the UK, 50,000 people may be dying prematurely because of air pollution, annually. Air pollution saturating “areas of central London and other cities” is potentially “cutting vulnerable people’s lives short by as much as nine years.”
The argument that anarcho-primitivism, so-called, is akin to calling for mass genocide is perhaps oversimplified if not disingenuous, considering reality, and the possibility, albeit unimaginable, that humanity, if it were to survive anthropogenic climate chaos, would be reset essentially to the stone age. The unwavering belief that less technologically dependent cultures and ways of living are inherently better than more technologically dependent ones is proven on a daily basis, if we accept premises that, while not “mainstream”, are more insightful. Virtually all the earth’s old growth forests have been obliterated. To offer but one illustration, it is estimated that 98% of the region now designated as Maryland was covered in forests, such as white pine and hemlock, at the time of John Smiths 1608 expedition along the Chesapeake. By 1920, an estimated 17% forest cover remained. The oceans, which scientists have recently declared as being more acidified than at any time in the past 300 million years or so, contain more plastic, some ten times more, than phytoplankton. And on and on. That biotechnology is, and has been, rapidly replacing biodiversity is but one of many, extremely dangerous indicators of the direction we are perpetually heading, the consequences of which we have yet to, though will surely, severely suffer.
As the late comedian George Carlin observed: “But nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.” There are of course many meaningful exceptions; many of us do notice, do care, and are acting accordingly in varied ways. It is quite obvious why many of us do not notice. Within corporate media culture, the number one DVD rental for 33 consecutive days as of January 8 2012 was The Hangover Part II (2011), according to IMDb. According to TV Guide the number one popular TV show is the X Factor, which is basically a spin-off of American Idol. TV damages us in severe ways; we become hypnotized and thus inattentive to reality––reality is in fact replaced with mass illusions. It is remarkable how are minds are turned on when we turn the TV off.
Idolatry is one main reason many of us do not care. Maybe we do not care because we are not alive, which is to say we are not profoundly sensitive to, or aware of, what is truly happening; rather, we are going through the motions of confined and highly structured consumerism, existing in experiences of pseudo realities within pseudo realities. We think, talk, dress, and act like the corporate owners of TV confide us to. We are machines. We are not human beings. Real human beings are the many lives set to ruin so that a few of us may benefit, and some 1% might lavishly overindulge, perhaps paying homage to the ideologies of Ayn Rand, among others with a hedonistic or relational worldview. Beyond the point of adequate and decent food, water, shelter, and so on, and perhaps even before this point is reached, if it is ever reached, we are mass, public, consumers, customers, shoppers, clientele, patrons, clients, regulars, conformists, traders, traded, businesses, brands, fans, viewers, spectators, audiences, crowds, following, and so on. We are working, or consuming beings in an economy of global consequences, with some 50% of the 7 billion people impoverished, predicated on the division of labor. We are fearful and struggling because we have been made, and allow ourselves, to, by the very systems of power we worship, tolerate, and ignore. All the while, we are complicit in the ongoing holocaust and eco and biocide. Will there be a post-consumerist human world? A post cybernetic world? A post “civilized” world? Will humanity reset itself to the stone age if the present course is continued? Will humanity survive present course? Many of us dare not pose such questions, let alone reason what answers to them might be and make serious considerations accordingly. Like so many method actors, we live in the moment, of the superficial machine-man world, relying on sensorial intellect, not imaginative intellect––more Stanislavski than Meisner––usually altogether dismissing what little intuition is left. The consequences of this imperial way of life will reverberate for many generations. Can we even imagine what life will be like for our successors a generation from now? Seven generations from now? Beyond that? Perhaps the human race will be fortunate if they make it out of this century, or another generation for that matter. This economic system was perhaps designed to fail, for most of us, yet it seems flawless, at least for the elite, whom control the “free” market. There cannot be infinite growth of “natural resources” based on a finite planet. Tipping points will be reached before the earth’s climate will be irreversibly altered to the point where it will not sustain human, as well as most other life. That is a serious enough risk to imply that the precautionary principle should at least be considered.
The healthcare system is designed to keep people sick, for it is like so many other examples, and empire itself, a profitable industry, for the elites at the top of the pyramidal hierarchy. It’s too profitable for corporations to stop polluting, to stop logging, to stop destroying the natural environment, which is to say the real world, not some abstract “other” place, over there, and so forth. We live in a car culture, there is no way we will stop driving on gasoline voluntarily. Unless, until, the dominant culture collapses. Most of us get our food at monopoly box stores; what would we do if transportation of food stopped? To give but one example, after hurricane Katrina and the horrors of New Orleans, horrors, attributable to institutional racism, which resonant to this day, do we really expect that the corporate-government has a plan, and even if it did, that that plan prioritizes the average person? The federal, and state governments neglected an entire population, mostly black people. What is essentially doctrinal policy, namely the neo-colonialism which places people of color on the lowest rungs of caste society, was clearly distinguished in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
The following, is perhaps merely a feeble attempt to make some kind of sense out of all this madness, namely by questioning the credence of the way humans, whom have arguably reached an apex which has fundamentally altered the natural processes of evolution, treat nonhuman animals, which is indicative of how humans fundamentally treat the earth generally, namely, as an object to exploit. Indeed, humans have fundamentally tampered with our own evolution. The damaging results we are witnessing and experiencing, silently and deafeningly, and increasingly so. The next 15-30 years just may be the apex of the imperial digital consumer age. The imminent dreadful kismet and gloom is perhaps rain on the imperial consumers parade; nonetheless, not only are anticipatory preparations not being made on a mass scale, but dominant culture is running at full speed toward certain dreadful kismet and gloom, as if denial is a suitable replacement for facts, especially the actual anticipated course of events.
Initial thoughts and possible premises or questions?
The factory slaughter industry creates more greenhouses gases than the automobile industry. If there were any seriousness to addressing climate chaos, both industries, and industry in general, would be, in the most humane way, abolished, or at the least, instead of the doctrine of infinite growth, a doctrine of proportional, or quasi-sustainable, or diminished growth would at least be considered. Ultimately, a “soft landing”, the softest possible, should take precedence. This would mean the end of our modern way of life, over the course of say a generation. At present, technological “fixes” are being touted, though the environmental catastrophe increasingly worsens; it would seem the future fallout from the end of dominant culture is poised for maximum die-off. Wind energy and electric cars, which might have been seriously innovative and helpful about 60 years ago, are not going to save us.
What matters is more than animal rights, or animal liberation; what matters is real conservationism, environmentalism, or anything else which is a true effort, or more of a true effort, to protect biodiversity, and human diversity for that matter, however defined or pursued; for example, local economies, communal landholdings, non-GMO organically, and locally grown food, horticulture, the abolishment of animal testing and so forth. It is about the survival of the nonhuman life of the planet, and our own survival, for we are the deadliest species to exist on this world, we are the enemyand our own worst enemy as well, as the exhausted cliché goes. We have for too long put ourselves before the earth, at our own peril at that, the time is long overdue that we put the earth first!
Is it possible that an acceptable degree of nonhuman animal rights, or more importantly, animal liberation, insofar as there is an acceptable degree, is contingent upon the abolishment of imperial civilization, and civilization generally, and any global apparatus akin, which innately requires human aggressiveness, which results in the exploitation and destruction of interdependence, biodiversity, and finite natural “resources”? What of the survival of the human species? Is Man so confident in his intelligence, in his superiority over nature and life, in his lustful power that survival is not even a question? Who are We, to condemn a generation unborn to the adverse consequences of Our actions, or several generations at that? Are We that audaciously egotistical and pathological?
Is it only possible to be an orthodox animal rights activist, or environmentalist for that matter, in the strictest sense, if one is vegetarian or vegan, or is that merely a hardliner approach undeserving of further contemplation, and are all approaches needed and welcomed? Such a question is perhaps unhelpful, and misses the point altogether, not to mention ascribes the overwhelming tendency to label, which is problematic for a variety of reasons, divisiveness being but one. We all could take shorter showers as we all could eat less meat, and more of us could consume no meat altogether, though arguably there would be no implication that climate chaos would abate. It would seem, if it is understood that varied approaches are needed, some, if not many, which are not “mainstream”, should not all approaches be welcomed for the situation is so critical?
What is meant by Animal Rights? Essentially, the phrase insofar as it informs this discussion, is taken to mean either universal or particular “moral rights”, or “legal rights”, or one in conjunction with the other, for nonhuman animals of any and all species, or of a particular qualifying category of animals, such as a particular species living in the wild, those reared for food, and those serving as human companions. It should be noted that this is contrary to the commonly held view that moral rights, or protections as concerns animals, typically does not necessarily imply legal rights, or protections, as well, and vice versa. Far more important, is the awareness that humanity, more precisely, civilization, has created, and is thus in, moral crisis in totality. The dominant culture is at extremist odds against the natural harmony of the planet. This overall moral crisis, and the particular moral crises therein, cannot be solved by consumption or “consumer choice”, marginal doctrinal shifts in ideology, institutions, laws, compromised reformation, or perhaps any reformation, or technology, and so on. Perhaps it cannot be solved at all, though that seems a fatalistic attitude, one which makes one far too wary to embrace.
In the interest of effecting some concision and clarity, the term animal, shall mean any living being other than humans, and the terminology animal rights, shall mean moral, and legal (which is to say protections which are law based), rights of any living beings other than humans. Distinctions of particular species and particular rights will be made, if at all, accordingly. It should be mentioned that the definition of animal employed herein is the non-scientific definition, for the scientific definition would include all living beings including humans. Though it should also be mentioned, that science is no exception to bias, to say the least. Nor for that matter does science imply beneficence. Without science for example, the atomic bomb would not have been possible; to argue that nuclear weapons are anything but an outgrowth of man’s macro psychopathic tendencies, is a bias favorable, or at least apologetic for such inclinations. The same might be said of nuclear energy generally for that matter, or many other serious problems and the many consequential injustices that result. While it might be argued that science itself is neutral, similar to the claim that technology is neutral, an argument not without certain bias in and of itself, certainly the consequences of science are biased, notwithstanding that science, insofar as it is proficient, is the vessel through which such consequences are identified and measured. Arguably, science may, in many major ways, be the cause for more harm than good, if it is not inherently harmful, when considering both humans and animals, and the natural world generally. Furthermore, the reasoning for utilizing the non-scientific definition of animal is that nonhuman animals of the natural world, arguably, do not in any way have an interest or regard for science, insofar as human scientific ventures and disciplines are concerned; or would not have an interest––the interest now of course being survival, without advocacy of said interest even approaching adequacy or even seriousness––were it not for the injurious progress of civilization. Arguably, animals would have no more interest in science than they would, say for instance, in Christianity. Though perhaps they may have more of in interest, if an interest at all, in Hinduism. In fact, one might argue that certain species of animals such as mice, or primates such as chimpanzees, would have a vested interest in the abolishment of endeavors undertaken in the name of scientific inquiry, namely that of invasive and torturous laboratory experimentation. Of course, this might very well imply, or at least flirt with the notion of, the abolishment of civilization, as we understand, and know it to be. Certainly many, if not most, humans have an interest in keeping such practices ongoing, though whatever moral authority proponents and apologists of nonhuman animal laboratory experimentation, and civilization generally, presume, nowhere is the implication that indeed their actions are righteous, their ideology morally impeccable and acceptable, to be found, notwithstanding arbitrary laws designed and enacted by, and largely for, the elite class. The same might be said of science, or religion for that matter. The fact is, “human nature” is not singular, and is quite often mistaken for natural phenomena.
Obviously, while there is certainly an ideal, there is not a universality of moral, or even legal, applicability as concerns animal rights, incidentally including human rights. If there were, innocent men would not be condemned and murdered by the state, to give a clear example, as concerns humans; let alone perhaps, would those convicted and guilty of violent crimes. Capital punishment is state sanctioned murder, and the capital punishment system at present, as well as the prison industrial complex generally, is arguably a form of institutional racism and enslavement. One injustice, namely that of the state, does not right another injustice, namely that of the individual violent offender, or even nonviolent offender. Not to mention the problem of race, specifically that of institutional racism, namely that a disproportionate number of people of color are on death row and subsequently sentenced to death than white people. Furthermore, the injustices of corporations are heralded as an acceptable cost; even when criminally exposed, normally a slap on the corporate risk in the form of monetary compensation is the “justice” meted out.
Most people might be opposed to the torture and ultimate deaths of tens of thousands of nonhuman laboratory animals in attempts to develop a chewing gum with a perpetually lasting flavor. Though such a notion might seem absurd, there are many examples of animal testing which might possibly be classified in the same realm of absurdity, and certainly immorality, take say for instant the animal testing involved with artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda. Needless to mention, many of us, unwittingly, or uncaringly, purchase products catered for cosmetics and hygiene which were developed using animal testing, which is to say torture and murder, and contain animal ingredients, which is to say elements of what was once a living, sentient being. Is it rational, let alone moral, that animal testing occurs, for instance, in an attempt to develop a product which supposedly deters facial wrinkles? That there is an entire industry, and plenty of marketable products which many consumers regularly buy––all encompassing so-called “anti-aging”––is perhaps one testament to civilized immorality and irrationality. That we are consumers more so than citizens, or more to the point, human beings, is perhaps another; that citizenship is requisite in contractively dictating social conduct is perhaps yet another. We afford to prevent aging, the hitherto natural process of growing old, or evolving naturally toward death, from occurring; we pathetically believe there is a want or desire to diminish the results. This is but a minor example of our desire, conscious or otherwise, to ensure total dominance over the natural world and natural processes, in a perverse attempt to assign ourselves to sublimities which are not real––indeed these particular fantasies stem from the very ugliness of the implicit imperial destruction and alterations of natural processes and the natural world. Arguably, nonhuman animals should not suffer and ultimately be killed, to and for, this end, or most others for that matter. Incidentally, quite probably, anthropogenic behaviors may, to some extent, advance aging which naturally would not occur otherwise, not to mention the many prevalent diseases, onset by macro anthropogenic activities; rather ironic given the increase in life expectancy, which is highest among the rich, contributing to strides in science and medicine, exceptional of the deprived and poor peoples of the world, namely People of Color, whom gravely suffer so that imperial citizens might be relatively comfortable, at least for a time being. Yet to argue that absolutely no laboratory animal experimentation should occur would imply a universality of moral applicability and a moral authority in totality. Is such a universality of moral applicability and authority possible? Perhaps if the evolutionary clock were turned back, strictly in a gesturer sense of humanity pertaining to post-advanced primitive society, namely civilization, the laboratory would not have existed for there would not have been an invented need for it. Or perhaps, if there was an arbitrary need, the moral doctrines associated with that need, would be balanced, thus in harmony, as much as possible, with the natural processes of all of life; this reciprocity would imply, among there being a legal parallel to morality, a prohibition on any animal experimentation that would cause pain, suffering, and death. Thus the laboratory would serve, and function with, if at all, a profoundly different purpose, one perhaps unimaginable by the standards of our era.
Before delving further into animal rights and liberation, and some of the complexities thereof, it would be prudent to qualify––venturing towards a basic premise of dietary choice, which will serve a guiding line of thought, among certainly many others, pertaining to the overall discussion––with a quote from the preface of Tony Milligan’s Beyond Animal Rights: food, pets, and ethics. Milligan offers that he is a vegan (abstains from eating meat, eggs, and dairy produce), though he acknowledges that people have different reasons for living as a vegan. I suppose I should preface by stating that I am vegan, after years of vegetarianism. To further elaborate my self-ascribed minority status, the toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and so forth I use, are not equated with animal testing or animal ingredients, though it should be made clear, I take little if any interest in the diet of others, and do not presume to be morally heightened because of my dietary choice. A major concern is for those millions, or billions of people who are deprived of sustenance, whom do not have the fortune of a choice. Perhaps, adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet might constitute the spirit of conservationist commitment, namely because the human being who chooses not to eat animals in so doing, denies the claim of legitimacy of at least some of the imperial institutions which control the food supply, and other institutions responsible for the enslavement, torture, and mass murder of animals.
“One of the attractions of pluralism about ethics is that it allows our actions to be constrained by a variety of reasons rather than reducing our deliberations down to a simple binary matter of deciding that everyone should do one thing or else that they (we) should all do the opposite.” Firstly, taken out of context, there is a slight problem with this logic; perhaps one of the repulsions of “pluralism about ethics” is that if it is applied to certain profoundly immoral acts, such as rape, the act is excused, the blame is placed on the victim and not the victimizer and society at large. In the context of Milligan’s usage of the “pluralism about ethics”, in the simplest terms: there are often multiple reasons for many of our actions, even if they are, and ought to be deemed, immoral, or vice versa for that matter––true enough. Indeed, it would be naïve to postulate and expect, that everyone should abstain from eating meat, or that everyone should eat meat. This “all or nothing approach”, while it may intent to champion that animals have “a right not to be eaten”, a right bestowed by humans, or that humans must eat meat to be “fully human”, is not plausible, adequately defined, nor is either extreme argument perceptive to particular cultural realities and other proclivities. In short, this approach to animal rights, or more specifically, dietary choice, is not substantiated by reality. However, clearly, industrial factory farming, which is, like virtually every other industry, operant and aggregated within the imperial system of globalization, arguably cannot be viewed through the lenses of a pluralism of ethics; for it is, arguably, inherently morally wrong. Perhaps that’s a contradictory statement; for it seems the sole purpose of factory farming is to feed the most people, in the monetarily cheapest possible way, which incidentally, is the most expensive for the Natural World. If we accept the premise that the destruction of the natural world is not inherently morally wrong, let alone fundamentally foolish and dangerous considering our interdependence, perhaps we show an utter disregard, for life itself, namely soil, water, air, which is contradictory if we proclaim that factory farming is necessary to feed more and more people. Globalization is a terror to humans, animals, all of life on earth generally. The same case might be made of industrial factory farming, a sect of globalization; indeed one might take a singular ethical approach, namely proposing for the abolishment thereof; in place of this destructive system, will be localized, and infinitesimally smaller scale organic and morally advanced practices of small-holder farming which are not owned nor controlled by corporations, but rather collectives, cooperatives, and sustainable communities. Horticulture is certainly exemplary in this regard. In other words, the abolishment of the imperial system which prevents animal liberation, humans from self-determination and subsistence, and so on, is necessary if there is to be a future free of wars, poverty, and so forth––perhaps if there is even to be a future for the human race at all, let alone a decent present.
It is a myth that leaders are needed because people cannot govern themselves. Are there not many examples of children growing into adulthood and making decisions for themselves? More importantly, and more to the point, there are plenty of examples of self-governing and self-deterministic communities. Free societies are not some fanciful notion of utopia, they have and do exist, many tree sits for example revolve around such small societies, and such societies are not utopia, though they might be a lot closer to that ideal than is acknowledged. Perhaps it is also a myth that human, or animal rights are inalienable (the rights of nature, minus humans, are the natural evolutionary processes of life)––in the strict sense that animals cannot defend themselves or survive against humans beyond a small scale and at a certain level of human “progression”, and humans give up their freedom to corporate-government authority for the status of imperial citizenship, and the benefits of genocide and ecocide that are implicated with such citizenship––or, for that matter, that rights, generally speaking, were, and are not, devised out of grave human repression, for example the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Is repression not an artifice of advanced societies and especially civilization to constitute and mitigate control? Why is food not a human right? How is one endowed with inalienable rights yet one must somehow provide themselves and their families with water, food, and shelter, the basic necessities of life within the very totalitarian system which dominants all of life? Arguably food should be a right, though it would be wishful and counter-intuitive to think that nearly a billion people across the world would then not go hungry, for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a fine and elegant document, though the reality is an unwritten document which speaks libraries more and decibels louder than those words. Surely I do not insinuate that universal human, and nonhuman rights, are not needed, should not be demanded, fought for, defended, and so on. Quite the contrary. I am merely making the observation that rights, hard fought and won, and defended by mass popular struggles, and people of conscious everywhere, are noticeably weighted in a highly organized, institutionalized, and centralized society; perhaps akin to how Faith is momentous to relatively comfortable “believers” in the doctrines of Religion, while the poor, who have been made poor by the rich, suffer and struggle endlessly. Certain Faith might be prescribed by Religion, but the ultimate Faith, or infidelity of Faith, is constituted in the believer and often has little if any bearing on reality, nor necessarily on what the Church does or does not do, so long as the institution retains its flock.
All that said, personally, there is no rationale in dictating, perhaps most anything to anyone, though namely what others can, should, cannot, or should not eat, let alone everyone universally––though ironically, however not surprisingly, that is what corporations and their government(s) have been doing for quite some time now, with remarkable results. One need only consider how few varieties of corn are grown in the United States today, compared to just 50 or 100 years ago; the dominant one being genetically modified and essentially owned by the infamous Monsanto, which also produces the toxic “weed killer” Roundup Ready. In his book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, Paul Greenberg writes that “Out of all of the many mammals that roamed the earth before the last ice age, our forbears selected four––cows, pigs, sheep, and goats––to be their principle meat. Out of all the many birds that darkened the primeval skies, humans chose four––chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese––to be their poultry.” And the four fish? Salmon, Sea bass, Cod, and Tuna. “But today, as we evaluate and parse fish in this next great selection and try to figure out which ones will be our principles, we find ourselves with a more complex set of decisions before us. Early [civilized] man put very little thought into preserving his wild food. He was in the minority in nature, and the creatures he chose to domesticate for his table were a subset of a much greater, wild whole. He had no idea of his destructive potential or of his abilities to remake the world.”
Being slightly aware of the current trajectory down which civilization is careening, one is responsible, at the least, to propose that industrial factory farming––which is part of the overall imperial system which, aside from the cataclysmic destruction of the environment, is responsible for mortgaging the future of humanity, as well as countless other animal species of life, so that presently nearly one billion humans might starve or go underfed, and so that most of the other 6 billion people might eat relatively cheaply and inexpensively, which seriously implies unhealthily––should be abolished. Poverty is an inherent result of present imperial civilization; to attempt to “solve the problem” of impoverishment, might be analogous to one being diagnosed with cancer, treated for cancer, all the while continuing to smoke cigarettes––perhaps all the while petitioning the tobacco companies not to produce cigarettes––and, or, drink the water, eat the food, breathe the air which contains carcinogens. Treatment, even of the symptoms of social and cultural pathogens in this imperial system is an afterthought, if a thought at all; prevention is anemic and is often as disguised as prevention when it causes, and contributes to, the very problems it was intended to resolve. A main underlying ethical issue is not on dietary choice, rather it is on the industrial food system itself. If we are to seriously consider animal rights, or animal liberation, among plenty of grave problems which threaten to inhibit a viable and sustainable future, we cannot take a pluralistic approach to factory farming, nor of neo-corporate agriculture for that matter. The people must take back their own lives by creating their own food supply. Collectively, we must go back to our grass roots. We might be lead to believe there is little attraction, let alone traction, for such a position. Nevertheless, this is precisely what seems to be occurring all over the world.
In his book, Animal Rights: What Everyone Needs to Know, Paul Waldau points out that “since humans clearly have rights (however we end up defining this term), in one minor sense it is true that everyone already acknowledges that at least some animals (namely, humans) have and deserve rights.” [Emphasis original]. A question is not if animals need or deserve rights, and what those rights are, but, if not all, what other animals, or living beings, daresay such as redwoods, other than humans need or deserve rights, and what are those rights? Quite problematically, Man is bestowing upon the earth, which he controls, and in so doing, destroys, arbitrary “rights”. Humanizing, in the form of the neo-human, the institutional dehumanization of all of life, is an ally to the death kneel of countless species, perhaps including humans. It is rather crucial to mention, that for many, if not most, prehistoric, primitive, and advanced primitive communities there was no conceptualization of rights. Since their lives were, and are, predicated on being, not having, there was, and is, no need for qualifying moral goodness, however we might define it––let alone established laws to dictate what is culturally acceptable or unacceptable, for they were at one with the earth, as it should be. In other words, many cultures did not, and do not, transcend the earth and all nonhuman life. Short of the plague of colonialism, genocide, empire, and so forth, this is seemingly true. If our psychology is predicated on perceiving the world as being filled with objects, inherent, which is to say natural, morality of sameness, sameness which is the heart under the skin of differences, is replaced with a poisonous mimic of morality of objectification. The perceptions, experiences, and beliefs of those in prehistoric, primitive, and advanced primitive communities, were, and are not grounded in entropy, or the measure of disorder, namely because they lived, and live, in harmony and thus sustainability within accordance to natural laws, or the processes of natural phenomena, of life. Human civilization coincided with the unwritten, then written contract of indefinite progress––which serious scientific inquiry originally did not unavoidably demand, though was ultimately demanded thereof––however progress was defined and pursued. With the advent of the industrial age, the future was quite fated to the domination of nature. The U.S. economy, indeed the global economy, is based on the premise, aside from the division of labor and indebtedness, of infinite growth which is predicated on the extraction and over-exploitation of finite “resources”. The minerals mined took billions of years to form, the fossil “fuels” extracted from the earth took hundreds of millions of years to manifest, many if not most species of animals evolved long before us, and so on. A little over two centuries ago, “a new phase in the ecological history of humanity began…A conspicuous and unprecedentedly large acceleration of human population increase got under way as Homo sapiens began to supersede agrarian living…[T]he human carrying capacity of the planet was being supplemented by digging up energy that had been stored underground millions of years ago, captured from sunlight which fell upon the earth’s green plants long before this world had supported any mammals, let alone humans, or even pre-human primates.”
This “resource based” monetary system is by design doomed to collapse, and eventually, for good. When will the largest “bubble” burst? In effect, the monetary system is anti-economy for it is so destructive, inefficient, and wasteful. This is true insofar as the definition of economy is: effectiveness: efficiency and conservation of effort in the operation or achievement of something. If what we witness and what we experience, in the destruction of the environment, in the extinction of countless nonhuman species, in the grave inequality and injustices of imperialism, and so forth, is truly the desired or intended result, it would appear that Hitler and his cohorts were merely a footnote in the grave of human history. Incidentally, Hitler took a page from the U.S. federal government in their genocide of the Native Peoples of Turtle Island.
“It was, I think, clearly acceptable for our ancestors to eat meat and for hunter gathers to go on doing so. It is an integral part of their life, a part of what makes them who they are. They have reasons for meat-eating that we do not have. Similarly, it is non-controversial that people in less prosperous parts of the world should eat whatever they need in order to give them their best chance of survival.” I would further qualify, to be clear, that traditional First Peoples, or Native Americans, or American Indians if you prefer, for instance, such as the Diné, or Navaho as they are otherwise known, whom are heavily reliant on sheep for sustenance, and consider sheep sacred, are perhaps morally and otherwise right in the rearing and slaughter of sheep, and consumption of mutton. Similarly, to give another example, the Inuit and the Yupik, or Eskimo peoples of the northern polar region as they are called, are perhaps morally and otherwise right to continue their cultural tradition of subsisting on marine life should they choose to, though their ability to choose to remains increasingly less unadulterated and unfettered. Though tragically, because of malicious conducts of imperial civilization, their sources of food have become increasingly depleted, and contaminated with high levels of mercury for instance. Needless to mention, the aforementioned examples of “meat eating”, are well outside of industrial factory farming or fishing. To argue that primitive and traditional Native Peoples, all across the world, including the many tribes of Africa, and so on, should cease eating the flesh of nonhuman animals––insofar as they are still able to do so, meaning, insofar as they are still able to maintain a mutual and meaningful relationship with nature––would at the least, perhaps seemingly be slightly both rationally and morally absurd. Though reality is gray, not black and white. The Makah Nation and their tradition of whaling off the Pacific coast is a confounded example of the rights of a Native community, when confronted with the reality that whales have a certain commonality with them; namely the exploitation and destructiveness of the dominant culture of civilization which has evolved to be entirely corporate-based. Maybe there is no question of the morality of any Native Peoples, and any others who are self-sovereign, self-reliant and self-deterministic in procuring their own food sources, and other needs for their families and communities, and cultures. The point, insofar as there is one, is that the choice should be that of the people, not of a corporation, a government, the imperial world order, and so on.
The culture of dominant civilization which creates and perpetuates Joneses’ lifestyles, which is to say the ravenously all-consuming craving and desire to own more and more, to have things, material possessions, is a serious moral calamity in and of itself for it is microcosmic of the macrocosmic imperial way of life which dictates the basis of private gain and consumption, which is inherently harmful for it is intrinsic of universal exploitation and destruction.
One paradox is that it appears there are too many people on the planet presently, with some 7 billion, for everyone to adopt, or be acculturated to adopt, an imperial lifestyle. Certainly everyone should be entitled to adequate and decent basic necessities and utilities, and to continue their cultural and traditional way of life. Who are imperial citizens, and their empire to deny or deprive populations (including Native peoples and other peoples, self-sovereign, including contingents within empire itself) of so-called third world nations, which are really second-world, from developing to achieve a Western standard of living, or of carrying on their traditional ways of life to the extent that they still exist, and to the extent they are able to? The United States has some 5% percent of the world’s population and is responsible for a conservatively estimated 25% of the world’s pollution. There are ample examples of U.S. imperialism destroying developing countries, and of course communities within, in one form or another, that have made significant strides toward achieving a Western lifestyle, or, rather, more importantly, are resolved to maintain self-determination and their traditional ways of life. This entire dominant consumer-wasteful way of life, comes at the great expense of virtually the entire rest of humanity, nonhuman animals, and the Natural Word.
It may be more plausible to say that animals have a right not to be eaten by relatively affluent humans in Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. But I think that this still misses something important. [Small farmers] in more prosperous countries, who have built a good and environmentally friendly way of life for themselves and for their families, clearly have reasons for meat-eating that I do not have…We may then adopt a reformulated claim and say that animals have a right not to be eaten without a good reason, and this may be closer to the mark, but it dilutes the idea of a right to the point where a claim of right looses much of its force.
Indeed, the claim of right as Milligan has outlined, presumes that nonhuman animals have a right not to be eaten, or destroyed to extinction for that matter, merely insofar as relatively affluent humans introspectively choose to imply such a right, or presume to be authorities on the matter; such authorization of eating animals only for a “good reason” is of course subjective, and at any rate, imperially institutionalized. To give one instance, if one chooses to eat “farmed fish”, such as salmon, which are fed a diet of small fish, keeping in mind that perhaps 50 wild fish are caught in the oceans for every one “farmed” salmon–– “fish farming” being an industry, presumably, paradoxically though in continuity with domestication of the wild, that has been employed because of the grave effects of commercial fishing, which continues the destruction of the oceans apace, or perhaps as yet another ligament of control––does one have a “good reason” to eat such fish, or any fish for that matter? Not to mention anything of factory slaughter. I shall however, digress on this point. What Milligan terms a “scale of reasons” is instructive.
At one end of the scale, I would place hunter-gatherers; those whose nutritional requirements might not otherwise be met if they did not eat meat; those with medical conditions that make dietary change a dangerous risk (e.g. patients undergoing or recovering from chemotherapy); individuals with a history of anorexia who might unwittingly use a vegetarian or vegan diet to mask a recurrence of their condition; and those in a stage of later life whose habits are fixed, whose dietary range is limited, and whose health is precarious. A little further along the scale I would place ethically minded [small farmers], and a little further still those who belong to communities that contain significant numbers of such [small farmers]. At the other end of the scale, I would place most of the rest of us, and, in particular, healthy and reasonably well-off urbanites who lack any obvious and sufficient reasons for meat-eating.
I would certainly submit to emphasize, that the conservatively estimated 45 million impoverished people in the United States alone, are to be considered in the first category, if we accept the “scale of reasons”; though egregiously the industrial food supply is indicative of the doctrine which, aside from the cataclysmic destruction of the environment, murder of billions of animals a year, is systemically encouraging of, and causes, ill health, such as obesity, diabetes, and so forth, through its relatively inexpensive and unhealthy food, such as fast food, and other foods that contain genetically modified organisms, high fructose corn syrup, and so on. Milligan’s broader view, is that most of us in dominant civilization, fall in the latter category. “The fact that we tolerate such systems [of cruel industrial farming for instance] may also lead us to question whether we have lost moral authority in other areas, in particular with regard to animal experimentation for serious purposes.” Milligan submits that indeed we have lost such moral authority. It’s questionable whether we had claim to such moral authority in the first place. Furthermore, its uncertain whether we have a moral authority to bestow upon, or deprive, nonhuman animals of, for instance, the right not to be slaughtered and eaten.
It is of grave concern, that with some 5% of the world’s population, empire deprives, hundreds of millions, if not perhaps billions of people, from self-sovereignty. I have been told by several different people, all living relatively comfortable lives, a common sentiment which is worth noting, namely: “I could never be vegetarian, I like meat too much.” The accepted moral standard of this general feeling seems to be that one’s preference in eating meat is superior not only to the practices of factory farming operations, but to the fact that billions of animals are murdered every year; their only purpose being to provide one with preference, their suffering is not even a consideration. Many might think nothing of throwing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water, they might even laugh at the notion that the lobster would feel extreme pain while it is boiled to death. I do not know for sure, but I do not think my uncle would have scoffed at the real possibility that not only would the lobster experience the agony of being boiled alive, but that the lobster should not be boiled alive. Perhaps that is why I vividly remember him ensuring on one occasion in preparing a lobster dinner, that he quickly killed each lobster by snapping off the head, and all major ligaments of the body before putting them in a pot of boiling water.
Waldau brings up important distinctions of proponents of animal rights. “[P]eople who seek to change some contemporary practices involving nonhuman animals are often called ‘animal rights advocates,’ even though these advocates often do not seek legal rights or even legal changes.” [Emphasis original]. Waldau asserts that people in this category of advocacy might plead with general and political culture in a manner expressing thusly: “Please consider the harms we are doing to this particular group of animals, and if you do consider these harms, you will stop this practice and seek alternatives.” Moreover, perhaps these advocates as defined, are more similar to animal welfare advocates than not, of whom it is implied would generally hold the feeling along the lines: “We might not like what you’re doing, but we understand it is necessary, so please kill these animals in a humane way.” One major flaw in this way of thinking is that the scale of factory farming operations is so “market” driven, thus, massive, that there is no humane way to kill animals. Arguably, nor is there a humane way to conduct torturous experimentation on animals. It would seem that the approach loosely defined by Waldau, and the latter as I have briefly noted, might often times lend itself to inadequacy and certain ambiguity, and perhaps even undermine the overall effort of animal rights, and animal liberation activism generally. For example, if one is inclined to petition against say, the killing of a particular species which has been decimated over the years and is on the verge of extinction, say, the blue-fin tuna, general and political culture might eventually be inclined to move on to another less exploited, or more abundant species, (though it should be noted that simply because a marine species may have a higher population, does not imply they are less exploited than a species in precipitous decline). For instance, restaurants might refuse to sell blue-fin tuna as a dinner entrée, replacing the option for another fish which does not enjoin a similar societal guilt––which might be particularly fashionable at any given time. Yet it remains to be seen that the killing would cease, or even be lessened by passive or compromising advocacy, for it is understood that a single blue-fin tuna, a very rare species indeed, might sell for $100,000 on the “market”.
Mitsubishi, the corporation that has a monopoly on Japanese fisheries, is responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of blue-fin tuna over the legally allotted amount, and over the fisheries’ own set quota. In a few years, the blue-fin tuna is likely to go extinct. Though, for perhaps the next 10 or 20 years, blue-fin tuna will be sold at exorbitant prices, because of the accumulative frozen stockpiles. Another example might be that of the “Dolphin Safe” tuna which is sold. Certainly the labeling came about due to consistent and successful activism. Though in absentmindedly purchasing “Dolphin Safe” tuna, one cannot be assured that Dolphins’ safety is secure, nor tuna, or any other marine species for that matter.
There are clearly many other examples of the decimation of marine life by industrial fishing––which is responsible for destroying 90% of the large marine life of the oceans––indicative of the institutionalized approach of advocacy which often does little next to nothing aside from perhaps shifting exploitation from one species to another, so that the formers’ population might allegedly rebound, for further exploitation. Its quite obvious how such methodology is inherently flawed, to say nothing of its harmfulness; and so it stands to reason the passive advocacy Waldau describes, which was mentioned above, is often not particularly fruitful, if it is at all.
In contrast, “conscientious citizens who seek only to have existing legal protections [to the extent that there are any] for nonhuman animals enforced are called ‘animal rights activists.’ An example of this form of ‘animal rights’ involves laws against cruelty.” [Emphasis original]. Certainly many of the laws against cruelty, insofar as they exist, while important if not crucial, are routinely ignored and not enforced. Of course there is also a variety of animal rights activists who labor for “specific, entirely new protections for some groups of animals”.
Though Waldau makes no mention, we might also consider that some animal rights activists, or more accurately, animal liberators, albeit perhaps a marginalized minority, aim to abolish, or at least take direct action against, the institutions which enslave, test, torture, and slaughter animals, using a variety of methods. It should be mentioned, that while the more, so called, “militant” approach to animal liberation and planetary defense has resulted in some serious property destruction, and “property” liberation, to this authors very limited knowledge, not a single person has been reported to have been hurt during such a tactic by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), or for that matter, has a single person been hurt by any environmentalist in any of the many and varied actions over 30 years of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) movement’s existence. Notwithstanding if a human being has been hurt during the tactics of such movements, incidentally, many environmentalists, or planet defenders if you will, have been murdered: David Chain, Dian Fossey, Chico Mendes, Joy Adamson, and George Adamson, to name only several.
Many activists have served and are serving considerable time in the federal prison system for animal liberation and property destruction, a form of violence which is criminalized, while the violence inflicted on many animals is deemed justified and necessary. Indeed, Milligan explains that “[w]hile we might not think that meat is murder (a slogan from the 1970s that few vegetarians now seem happy to adopt), it does nonetheless originate in an act of violence, of deliberately inflicted physical trauma of a sort that we would not use to end the life of a pet or the life of a fellow human even if they were in extreme pain. Violence of this sort does not just end a life, it strips away a sense of dignity and helps turn animals into something more easily regarded as raw material.” Slaughterhouses, Milligan observes, “are, for most of us, akin to non-places that we do not go. We might be happy to feed animals to our offspring, but we would be reluctant to take infants for an educational tour through the local abattoir. We might, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, have enough difficulty steadying our own nerves for such an undertaking.” By the same token, we might dangerously think next to nothing if activists who destroy property in order to liberate animals from laboratories are labeled fanatics or “eco-terrorists” by the corporate-state or our fellow imperial consumers; we may foolishly and unashamedly think of such agitators as “terrorists” ourselves. Following this stream of thought, we might justify our abhorrence for these animal liberators, perhaps considering the audacity these “criminals” or “radicals” have to interrupt the corporate workings of vivisection laboratories or fur farms for instance; the scientists, doctors, professors, etc., whom have the full faith and credit of the corporate-state, and of course society at large, to carry out their important, and profitable, work, are esteemed and regarded as the harmed party. What would we think, I wonder, if we were at a vivisection lab, and could see and experience what regularly takes place there. Might seeing an operation on a live animal, with no anesthetic, get enough neurons in our brains firing at once, that we would at least begin to understand why a few of us would, at great personal risk, want to liberate animals from their enslavement and ultimate death? Perhaps more extremely, we might secretly desire to have the courage and integrity of principle to do so ourselves? But then again, why should we bother, the TV beckons to be watched. The point is, it is arguable, that the real fanaticism, extremism, etc., aside from the torture and destruction carried out in the name of science and consumer culture, is that of the ideological nature of inculcated imperial citizens whom literally tote the corporate lines in their unoriginal criticisms of animal and earth liberation actions. Why is it tolerated that those convicted of certain crimes, which do not hurt people, are sentenced to longer terms than people who commit the same, or far more egregious crimes that do hurt people, merely because the former were motivated by political reasons?
ALF, or ELF for that matter, “these so-called ‘terrorists’ [don’t] fit the mold of evil-doers. They [act] selflessly on someone else’s behalf despite the possible consequences to their own well-being.” There is no intention to idealize activists, even if one caved into to the dogma of simplicity of generalizing all activists for one reason or another, even those who risk long-prison terms, and being labeled a terrorist, ironically enough, by, perhaps the leading terrorist organization in the world, namely, the United States. I suppose one might articulate the similarity of selfless service with regard to U.S. military members, of course a major difference being the someone else’s behalf they act upon, namely the elites’, sic, corporations, sic, private oligarchic power––though they are often, in a dogmatically generalized manner, idealized, at least on the surface of the façade. “Thank you for your service” is a common sentiment. Criticizing the military, namely the military industrial complex, is akin, in some regards, to blasphemy. A lack of education and perpetual propaganda with extremely high-production values certainly enforce, and reinforce a dogma of worship for anything and all things military, at least superficially. Backstage of the spectacle, suicide rates for military personnel soar, rape, mostly unreported, is epidemic, veterans are denied assistance and medical treatment, and so forth and so on.
The SHAC7 is one example of the arbitrary system of imperial justice. A corporation, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and six activists were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 to 6 years for exercising freedom of speech in a nonviolent campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a major corporation that tortures and murders an estimated 182,500 animals a year, 500 a day, or one every three minutes according to SHAC; nearly 70,000 animals are on site including rabbits, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. The SHAC7 were essentially charged as terrorists, though they committed no acts of violence against people or property, nor advocated acts of violence against people or property. HLS is the largest contract testing laboratory in Europe according to SHAC. They will test anything for anyone. The experiments they carry out involve poisoning animals with general household products, pesticides, herbicides, drugs, food colorings, additives, sweeteners, and GMOs. According to the HLS website, animals “benefit man in many ways - clothing, food, science, medicine and entertainment.” In defense of their animal “research”, HLS, which operates a facility in Princeton New Jersey, states that “each year in the United States 5 billion animals are used in the food industry compared to the 18 million used in research - a ratio of 294:1.” This staggering, though comparatively disproportionate number of animals being nothing but objects to be “used”. Also according to HLS, the U.S. average for destroying unwanted or sick animals every month is 1.2 million, or 14.4 million a year. “Therefore, while still large, the number of animals used in research is not excessive by comparison with the food industry or the numbers of destroyed pets.” HLS also claims its okay to torture and murder animals for the benefit of man, because most of the animals are rats, 71.05%, mice, 19.25%, fish, 3.45%, birds, 0.92%, and “other animals”, 5.31% as of 2010 disclosed numbers. The some “other mammals” that are tortured and killed, include dogs, monkeys, and so forth.
The criminalization of animal and earth liberation, rights, and welfare activism, be it “monkey wrenching”, sabotage, undercover investigative journalism, and so forth is well documented in Will Potter’s Green is the New Red, which is recommended for further, more extensive, elaboration. Potter outlines the SHAC7 and many other cases of the corporate-government crackdown on activism in the name of the perpetual “war on terror”––an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one. Potter also details the seriousness of this era of the erosion of civil liberties with the “Green Scare” in that even nonviolent civil disobedience might very well be construed as terrorism.
The allegation that animal testing is conducive to the benefit of man through modern medicine is rather contradictory to reality. For instance, many people die from the use or consumption of products after they have been tested on animals. Even if it were argued that some animal testing served a utilitarian purpose, in say, saving human lives, most, if not all, animal testing is unnecessary and erroneous, or is necessary, only insofar as the adverse effects of dominant civilization has led to an arbitrarily assigned necessity. Furthermore, does the healthcare system truly aspire to prevent illness and heal people’s many diseases, injuries, and ailments? It would seem that the healthcare system, is out to amass profits and wealth; the more people that are sick and injured, the more profitable the system is. The same might be said of the psychiatric, or mental health industry, the pharmaceutical industrial, the prison industry, factory farming and so on. Why should we be led to believe that animal testing is any different, after all, it’s a lucrative industry which depends on perpetually breeding, testing––meaning torturing––and murdering animals for continued profit.
The War Inc. on the Earth and all living beings, by the machine of dominant, or industrial civilization, is for profit; as such, a sound tactic, and logical response, of resistance, is “to ensure that money [is] being lost by corporations and the government every day the war” continues.
Animal rights and liberation activism that is not so-called “militant” or “radical” such as the undercover video capture of practices that regularly occur in factory farms, or animal testing laboratories, have become criminalized to the point where this type of activism, or perhaps more appropriately, investigative journalism, is essentially considered terrorism by the imperial corporate-state. Project Censored reports:
Animal rights activists constitute [one of many groups] at risk of unjust incarceration and prejudicial treatment when they are imprisoned. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, reported that Iowa and Florida have proposed new laws intended to make illegal the undercover recording of animal abuses in industrial agricultural factories. Lawmakers in both states have introduced bills to establish criminal penalties for going undercover at agricultural facilities and simply taking pictures. As Pacelle noted, corporate management of factory farms ‘want to prevent their very own customers, America’s consuming public, from learning about the production practices that bring food to their tables and plates.’ Will Potter reported that Minnesota is following Iowa and Florida’s lead, with even stronger proposed legislation cracking down on activists who attempt to document animal suffering. Potter linked the current spate of antiactivist legislation to previous ‘ecoterrorism’ bills and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and he documented how the legislators championing the Minnesota Bill include the past president of the Minnesota Pork Producers.”
Aboveground, effective and tangible approaches to animal protection and liberation would certainly include that of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, helmed by Captain Paul Watson for over three decades. The organization, which was not created as an animal, or even environmental rights group per se, has an active fleet of sea faring vessels that directly opposes the exploitation of many species of marine life by literally interfering with commercial, pirate or otherwise, operations which might be unlawful in theory, though in practice, pertaining laws are not enforceable or enforced. In other words, the organization upholds international conservation laws.
An example is the ongoing campaign against the decimation of whales which has become popularized by the TV show, Whale Wars. “In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) enacted a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Since then, three nations - Iceland, Norway, and Japan - have brutally slaughtered over 25,000 whales under the guise of scientific research and for commercial purposes. The IWC does not have the capacity to enforce the moratorium. Sea Shepherd, guided by the United Nations World Charter for Nature, is the only organization whose mission is to enforce these international conservation regulations of the high seas.” Essentially, the crew volunteers and members of Sea Shepherd are not petitioning governments or other institutional bodies to change laws, or enact new ones, they are upholding and enforcing existing laws––risking their lives in doing so. One might say, these courageous defenders of the planet are not protesting anything, they are acting to literally prevent the destruction of the life of the oceans, and physically defending the oceans with their lives.
In Captain Paul Watson’s words:
The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life and some fifty percent of fish caught from the oceans is fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also takes about fifty fish caught from the sea to raise one farm raised salmon. We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator on the planet. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the world’s sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world’s seals.
It would appear that the corruption and perversion of the Natural World by the “greatest show on earth”, namely empire, which augments the ongoing destruction and irreversible alterations to the Natural World, which for the most part humanity has dangerously divorced and estranged her/him self from, is not particularly important nor worrisome to the mass imperial citizen. “The extreme division of labor, which dissociates man from himself, the reduction of persons to limited functions situated in classes, and the splitting of the cultural universe into antagonistic economic, social and ideological sectors, are, first of all, real events, and only then do they become analytic categories.” While the various categories, all interconnected, are analyzed by academia, the real events, continue as such, for instance, people of color are murdered by cops whom are never charged, women are raped, by and large without recourse for justice, let alone are their grievances of trauma addressed, and so on and on.
Erich Fromm offers much insight to this overall nonlinear discussion.
Many people show a definite aversion to killing and eating an animal with which they are familiar or one they have kept as a pet, like a rabbit or goat. There are a large number of people who would not kill such an animal and to whom the idea of eating it is plainly repulsive. The same people usually have no hesitation in eating a similar animal where this element of empathy is lacking. But there is not only an inhibition against killing with regard to animals that are individually known, but also inasmuch as a sense of identity is felt with the animal as another living being. This seems to be indicated in our language. We use different words for flesh: if the animal is alive, we speak of its flesh; if the flesh is to be eaten, we call it meat. Quite clearly this differentiation is meant to remove the association between the animal one eats and the living animal.
This observation may also be applied to laboratory animals, which may not be given a name, yet merely a number to distinguish them from their multitude in–, or lab–mates. Assigning a number effectively removes the association between the animal scientists test, torture, and kill, and the living animal which might be identified with, at least somewhat sensitively. Incidentally, the same numerical dissociation was forced upon the Jewish prisoners of Nazi concentration camps.
When we speak of the live animal, we speak of cows and bulls; when we eat them, we talk of beef. Pigs to be eaten we call pork, deer we call venison, calf we call veal. While this is not true for all animals, these examples suffice to show the tendency to separate in our minds the categories of living animals from those we eat.
Such an aversion, which may have developed in the 13th century, is certainly made all the easier in our era when most of us might simply go to a store, of which we are dependent upon, and pick out packages of meat without thinking at all of the supply chain, namely the rearing, slaughter, processing, of the animals, health and environmental conditions of the factory, and so on. It is understood that when one dines at a fast food chain, and eats a hamburger, the meal is comprised of bits of meat derived from perhaps hundreds if not thousands of individual cows fed an unnatural diet of unhealthy grain feed, exposed to microorganisms, injected with hormones, and so forth. Such is part of the madness, unhealthiness, and environmental destructiveness of the factory farming industrial complex. Most of us would probably starve if we needed to source our own animal flesh, so our dependence on the box store is virtually absolute; though there is much emphasis of importance into a form of dignity considered financial independence. Also worth mentioning is that it seems that by and large, imperial citizens of dominant civilization consume the parts of the animal, named in a dissociated way, which are least nutritious for human consumption. For instance, we do not typically consume the heart, liver and so forth, as did, and do, prehistoric, primitive, and advanced primitive cultures.
If we share a sense of identity with all living beings, which arguably we do, we either recognize that common identity or deny it, or perhaps to mask our guilt, we arbitrarily decide when and if, and on what terms it applies. “The sense of identity with all living beings that share with man the quality of life has been made explicit as an important moral tenet in Indian thinking and has led to the prohibition against killing any animal in Hinduism.” [Emphasis original]. Parenthetically, “inhibitions against killing also exist with regard to other humans, provided there is a sense of identity and empathy.” Contemporary examples would include the indiscriminate slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by the United States during the Vietnam War. The usage of derogatory terms by U.S. soldiers to dehumanize the Vietnamese is well known. More recent examples include the indiscriminate killing, or murder, of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq during these imperial transgressions, or any number of examples of current imperial conquest, torture, and assassination. If a significant proportion of the U.S. population was inculcated to not share a sense of identity with the victims of imperial aggression and terrorism, which arguably was and is so, it would seem there was, and is, a markedly higher threshold of tolerance for imperial corporate-state murder than would be, and has been, otherwise. Had U.S. civilians realized their common sense of identity with all living beings, including those humans living in Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of sickly and with nationalistic fervor––which may have made Hitler envious––identifying with the corporate-state, it would seem that tolerance for hundreds of thousands, if not well over a million deaths would have been unconscionable. The imperial death and destruction continues apace on many fronts.
Turning back to animal rights, or rather, animal liberation. Protections of animals, are perhaps as ancient as protections of humans, animals ourselves. That human animals may and do exercise certain rights, and nonhuman animals may not (in the strict sense of the human perception of morality and legality, for arguably wild animals, as they are, do behave in ways in accordance with Natural Law, or the evolutionary processes of natural phenomena, minus humans, which might include a particular, if not generally embedded, moral, or at least communal, code as it were) while an obvious reality, is important to remember when considering nonhuman animal rights or animal liberation.
There appears an acute risk of polarization when one seriously considers animal rights, or animal liberation. While a certain level of division of opinion would be expected from those that are not in the least bit interested in animal rights or liberation (perhaps some of whom are also tenants of indifference to human rights and human liberation), polarization within earth and animal liberation movements is rather counterintuitive, for these social movements, in varied forms all of which are needed––including tactics utilized by some which are deemed too assertive by others––will not achieve measurable and lasting success if there are self-imposed limits of the creativity of its proponents, liberators, and revolutionaries. Arguably, the “militant” tactics of some whom were, and are, completely opposed to the wearing of animal skins and furs as fashionable, had quite a lot to do with the overall downward trajectory of popularity in the wearing of fur coats, and overall that particular industry as well, similar to animal experimentation; though the multi-billion dollar fur, and animal testing for that matter, industry has rebounded significantly and does not appear to be anything but successful. In a world of concentrated feeding lot operations, or factory farming, injected growth hormones and antibiotics, immense suffering and slaughter which is largely unnecessary and precarious, and so forth, perhaps refusing to eat the flesh of nonhuman animals becomes a revolutionary act in and of itself, notwithstanding the ethical intent behind such a dedicated decision. However, such an effort, even direct actions, in isolation, or minority, is, are not necessarily significant on a wider scale in and of themselves. To challenge deeply cherished dominant social and cultural values and short or long-standing ideologies and practices has never been an easy quest for the inquisitive, the aware, and the caring. Such a pursuit of course requires real education, organization, community, courage, and so forth.
It should be made clear, that advocating animal rights, or animal liberation, is not necessarily a repudiation of humans per se, after all, humans ourselves are animals. Actually, to truly respect the sovereignty of all of life, which would mean to respect our co-earthlings and the earth itself, is to be with significance as a being of a higher imperative, a being that is with common sense, compassion, and enlightened reason, all virtues which we purport. Though certainly, when it comes to factory farming and laboratory practices, humans and the institutions in which they reside and steely prize, rebuking becomes somewhat reflexive, for self-criticism is to be with a sense of shame, and having a sense of shame might bring one closer to justness. The advocacy of animal rights and animal liberation is rather an encouragement to aim for a much higher ethical maturity that has seemingly not been achieved hitherto, at least in advanced civilization, going back some several thousand years upon the intentions of the domestication of humans, the founding of agriculture and animal husbandry. Ironically, many, if not most, prehistoric, primitive, and advanced primitive societies, did, and still do, achieve, or aspire to achieve, the ethical maturity of all of life, which implies highly egalitarian and sustainable existence generally. Arguably because civilization inherently represses innate human tendencies such as honesty and compassion, in favor of the most destructive tendencies such as dishonesty and callousness––human tendencies which lend themselves more to the progression of civilization than to natural evolutionary legacy––we fail to grasp, an overview morality beyond the narrow scope of dominant culture. It would not hurt to remind ourselves, that dominant civilization is inherently destructive, and so animal rights, animal liberation, is but one front of interrelated resistance to the totalitarian systems of power. In another sense, animal rights, animal liberation, infers to our awareness that nonhuman animals, relational to human animals, live with purpose, experience a wide array of emotions, and are capable of suffering. Some of the highest human ethical aspirations, namely, kindness and tolerance, which to be clear, humans are innately inclined towards yet have been programmed to a grave extent by dominant civilization to forgo, are bound in animal rights and liberation. If there was basic morality, one would not stand idle while an imposed witness to the suffering of a human child, just as one could not ignore the suffering of a nonhuman sentient being, without at the least, feeling pained. However, needless to convey, often enough, some humans tolerate the suffering and abuse of children, and in fact some, if not many, cause such suffering, namely, are the abusers themselves; so it is less likely that these unethical or immoral human animals, would affirm convictions of tolerance and kindness of nonhuman animals. Incidentally, it is understood that often serial murderers tortured and murdered animals as children. This pathology is connected to dominant culture. Perhaps those that fall into the domain of toleration for, and complicity in, animal torture and murder might be deemed specieists (namely believing that humans are supreme beings and should be considered first and foremost, perhaps the only species considered at all) as well as sadists. The prevalence of sadism seems so severe, one is wary they are to be found quite literally everywhere. Yet to be sure, there are plenty more humans whom are not sadists, yet surely believe the human species to be superior to that of all other animals species, and perhaps may discipline their children in such ways as to penalize them for some real or imagined disobedience, perhaps masked in the notion that the punitive measures are not acted upon out of anger or malice, but out of helpfulness and love. Some very decent people may think nothing of swatting and killing a fly trapped in their dining room for that matter, thus articulating species dominance, and destroying a being that is a member of a species that is millions of years senior to that of homo sapiens. But a fly is but a pest to us; so what that it is a living creature part of the web of life? We go to a box store to buy a harmful chemical agent to remedy the pest.
Perhaps more importantly, animal rights and animal liberation has correlations with nature, or the natural environment, and ecology as a whole. The meaning of life, be it nonhuman or human, insofar as there is a difference or are differences, is not some abstract concept, nor is it esoteric, at least on a basic level. Without water for example, we would of course not survive. The connections to the meaning of life in terms of interconnectedness, abound all around us. Yet ironically we might spend a great amount of time trying to determine and convince ourselves what the meaning of our existence is, mostly by mode of manufactured illusions. Who are the producers of the meaning of our existence? Or, satisfied that our myths, be they scientific or nonscientific, are sound, and we should be obedient to the conformities of material and of course imperial culture, we might exhibit behavior quite competently against the grain of existence, which indeed is at the core of civilization. A real challenge is disconnecting, at least to a nominal extent, from the dominant human system of developed, or overdeveloped, technics and “capital” which dually destroys our ability for experiential endeavors and severs our connections to the natural world, so that we might at the very least, in some, several, or many ways, connect with or regain our, or some, connection to the meaning of life. Is this possible, and if so how? Arguably, perhaps the meaning of life might be described as our relationship, the content and mutuality thereof, (or lack thereof as it seems at present), to nonhuman animals and the natural world, as well as to each other. It would seem that, with the human destruction of virtually all nonhuman species and the entire ecology of the planet, and in human insolence and insistence to create a superficial world of mass illusions (a superficial world within the real world, such as a city), humans have chosen the path of most resistance to life itself, and in so doing, have shown a high acuity of selfish ambition––we fetish ourselves enormously, in order that we praise our contrived praiseworthiness. If say, heaven existed, and God existed, according to Western monotheistic religion, why would God want to let any one of us into heaven, knowing how destructive, polluting, and uncaring we have been on Earth? Is “our” God destructive, polluting, and uncaring as well?
In the interest of this discussion, I am perhaps more concerned with animals to be found in the wild, rather than “companion” animals, so-called. It is rather disturbing and disgusting how millions of dogs and cats, each year, are put to death, for a variety of reasons stemming from, or reactive to, human actions and influence, while millions of dogs and cats are domestically “bred” for favorable genetics, so that “owners” might have “companion” animals. It seems that it is not an exaggeration to state that a moratorium of sorts for the breeding of dogs and cats might be in order. Why is so much effort put into bringing more life into this world, when millions of orphans that could be adopted suffer a marginalized existence of suffering, many ultimately condemned to die? Incidentally, the same question might be posed of humans. Another reason I shall lean more towards animal rights, or animal liberation of those living beings in the wild, is that our modern concept of human to nonhuman being relations is riddled with contradictions. For instance, we seem to show much care for our companion animals, and are quite feckless as concerns wild animals in proximity which are endangered, caring nary an iota of those many that have gone, and will go, extinct. Never mind the animals whose skins we wear. Our consternation, to the extent we have any, is reserved for our “companion” animals which we treat as members, albeit the lowest members, of our family; the dozens, or hundreds of species of wildlife which are on the verge of extinction are not relevant to our inculcated worldview. We may go to the zoo and see the artificially created “wild” and buy a nice hotdog for lunch, thinking nothing save for what’s next own our personal agenda. These contradictions, as well as many others, also include plant life. Many plant species in proximity to where we reside are endangered, yet we think nothing of going to one of the monopolistic box stores and buying a potted plant to lift up our spirits, to spruce up the home, all the while oblivious to the grave realties of our backyards and local land base––furthermore we take no action to protect our land base, and make no concessions when the utility company informs us that the some 50+ year old pines are in the way of the power lines and must be cut down. Of course these problems, if they are even considered as such at all, are local, and international. “In the late 1990s, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that roughly 34,000 plants, or 12.5 percent of all the known plants in the world, were threatened with extinction. Nine out of ten of those at risk were endemics, meaning they grew in a single locale…The United States ranked fourth among the world’s worst-off countries in the IUCN report. More than 4600 plant species, or 29 percent of all those known to exist in the United States, were in danger of becoming extinct…The forests are falling to make way for agricultural enterprises––usually cash crops and monocultural food-plant commodities.”
Interestingly, and ironically enough, those who falsely claim that animal rights activists and liberators are radical, or quite insidiously label them “terrorists”, think that the radical industrialized forms of rearing and slaughtering “food” animals for consumption, which has just come about in the last couple generations or so, namely factory farming, is necessary, perfectly normal and acceptable. Zoos are necessary, perfectly normal and acceptable. The circus is necessary, perfectly normal and acceptable. Animal testing is necessary, perfectly normal and acceptable. And so forth. Or, for that matter, many elite power players who are paid thousands of dollars to openly speak at MEK––a U.S. designated terrorist organization––events, is equated to what amounts to perfectly normal and acceptable, while the continued imperial aggression against Iran, for instance, goes on, eliciting little comment of the serious implications, or of a grave history of death, terror and destruction. Incidentally, as reported by Seymour Hersh, beginning in 2005, “the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training…for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq…” at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site. As if all of history was a film to be merely watched, praising, or critiquing––within the confines of the permissible parameters of corporate doctrinal discussion––the filmmakers arbitrarily on the whims of intellectual avarice.
Turning back to the discussion of animals, part of the problem is our perception of animals which is rather bipolar. Interestingly, we tend not to eat other carnivores. Moreover, humans tend to indiscriminately and without moral reason, kill true carnivores. Arguably, at least in contemporary times, humans are neither true carnivores nor predator in the strict sense of nature; for if we were, to the former we would eat the flesh of animals without cooking it, which would happen quickly thereafter the hunters kill.
“Unless there are specific stimuli (external or internal), aggression is in a state of fluid equilibrium, because activating and inhibiting areas [of the brain] keep each other in a relatively stable balance...Starting with the classic experiment by Heinrich Kluver and P.C. Bucy (1934), it has been demonstrated, for instance, that destruction of the amygdala transformed animals (rhesus monkeys, wolverines, wildcats, rats, and others) in such a way that they lost––at least temporarily––their capacity for aggressive, violent reactions, even under strong provocation. On the other hand, the destruction of aggression-inhibiting areas, such as small areas of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus [the part of the brain that controls functions such as temperature, and releases hormones], produces permanently aggressive cats and rats.”
Fromm maintained that “aggressive behavior of animals is a response to any kind of threat to the survival or…to the vital interests of the animal–whether as an individual or as a member of its species”; or perhaps more specifically I would add, its immediate pack, herd, or other grouping. [Emphasis original]. An example of a direct threat to animal would be that to the requirement for food, and a more complex situation which would necessitate a reactionary aggressive response would be “crowding”. The two defensive reactions to threats of the animals existence is “either rage and attack or…fear and flight. In fact, flight seems to be the more frequent form of reaction, except when the animal has no chance to flee and therefore fights”.
“Zoologically, predatory animals are clearly defined. They are families of cats, hyenas, dogs, and bears, and they are characterized as having toes with claws, and sharp canines. The predatory animal finds his food by attacking and killing other animals. This behavior is genetically programmed, with only a marginal element of learning, and furthermore…predatory aggression has a neurologically different basis from aggression as a defense reaction. One cannot even call the predatory animal a particularly aggressive animal, for in its relations with its co specifics it is sociable and even amiable, as is shown, for instance, by the behavior of wolves. Predatory animals (with the exception of bears that are mainly vegetable feeders and quite unfitted for the chase) are exclusively meat eaters. But not all meat-eating animals are predatory. The omnivorous animals that eat vegetables and meat do not for this reason belong to the order of the Carnivora.” [Emphasis original].
“The picture of the mode of production and social organization of hunters and Neolithic agriculturalists is quite suggestive in regard to certain psychical traits that are generally supposed to be an intrinsic part of human nature. Prehistoric hunters and agriculturalists had no opportunity to develop a passionate striving for property or envy of the “haves,” because there was no private property to hold on to and no important economic differences to cause envy. On the contrary, their way of life was conducive to the development of cooperation and peaceful living. There was no basis for the formation of the desire to exploit other human beings. The idea of exploiting another person’s physical or psychical energy for one’s own purposes is absurd in a society where economically and socially there is no basis for exploitation.” Needless to mention, in imperial society, the exploitation of another persons physical and psychical energy has a basis both economically and socially, for the entire culture is predicated upon it.
“The impulse to control others also had little chance to develop. The primitive band society and probably prehistoric hunters since about fifty thousand years ago were fundamentally different from civilized society precisely because human relations were not governed by the principles of control and power; their functioning depended on mutuality. An individual endowed with the passion for control would have been a social failure and without influence. Finally, there was little incentive for the development of greed, since production and consumption were stabilized at a certain level.” In contrast, in this culture and era, an individual endowed with the passion for control is a huge social success.
“The detailed description of the life of primitive hunters and food gatherers has shown that man––at least since he fully emerged fifty thousand years ago––was most likely not the brutal, destructive, cruel being and hence not the prototype of ‘man the killer’ that we find in more-developed stages of his evolution.”
“From the emergence of man, approximately half a million years ago to about 9000 B.C., man did not change in one respect: he lived from what he gathered or hunted, but did not produce anything new. He was completely dependent on nature and did not himself influence or transform it. This relationship to nature changed radically with the invention of agriculture (and animal husbandry) which occurred roughly with the beginning of the Neolithic period, more precisely, the ‘Protoneolithic’ period as archeologists call it today––from 9000 to 7000 B.C.––in an area stretching over one thousand miles from western Iran to Greece, including parts of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Anatolian Plateau in Turkey…For the first time man made himself, within certain limits, independent of nature by using his inventiveness and skill to produce something beyond that which nature had thus far yielded to him. It was now possible to plant more seed, to till more land, and to breed more animals, as the population increased. Surplus food could be slowly accumulated to support craftsman who devoted most of their time to the manufacture of tools, pottery, and clothing.”
The nonhuman world, and nonhuman species of life, are in a constant manner of being, which implies adaptation, from the Latin word adaptare meaning to "fit to", or aptus, meaning attached; arguably contrary to humans, whom have shifted progressively into a state of having, which implies great efforts of destruction to the natural world, and nonhuman species of life. Humans have increasingly reacted with diminishing sensory perceptions, for we are regimentally enslaved in civilization (which is perhaps heading towards the ultimate elitist’s goal of a so-called “New World Order”, with a global government, monetary system, military, and so forth, or perhaps, i.e. current U.S. imperial hegemony), and by inventions and technology intended and used for rigid stratification, keeping us all in a constant cycle of superficial stimuli. Nonhuman life on the other hand, continues to adapt, in observable ways, effecting to maintain the order of evolutionary sensory responses and diversity in the face of anthropogenic chaos, even confronted with imminent extinction.
It is necessary to clearly separate humans from other living beings, just as it is necessary to clearly separate, for instance, companion animals such as dogs and cats, from animals in their respective wildlife’s when considering, among other considerations, animal rights and liberation. To propose that there can be a universality of animal rights or liberation is confounded––just as universal human rights are––by virtue that humans, whom have intentionally “progressed” to absolutely destroy and control nature, do not treat all animals equal, and by and large treat all nonhuman animals as inferior often on a scale of stratification or value, many as nothing more than objects for their utilitarian purposefulness, real or contrived, and for human consumption. We may hold more meaning over our miniature schnauzer companion for instance, than say, perhaps the hundreds of cows that were slaughtered and ground up to source our one McDonalds hamburger. Personally, I’m hating it. We “have” or “own” our companion dog, while we merely “have”, or “consume” a hamburger. Surely, when one wishes to distinguish the animal rights of a dog for instance, take say the right to not experience cruelty by the “owner”, a right which is at the behest of the “owner”, and their interpretation thereof, or other interested party, including institutions, to the extent that they are concerned with the dog’s wellbeing and welfare and to the extent that they can and will do anything about it to ensure adequate protection; one must differentiate between that kind of cruelty and that of say, shooting and exploding prairie dogs for the sadistic fun of it. One moral crisis is that society as a whole, seems more inclined to care, or at least purport to care, about the cruelty inflicted on domesticated companion dogs, while the fate of the prairie dogs, to say nothing of the fate of the actual prairies themselves which have been vastly decimated, is unimportant. For the protection of wild elephants in Africa, to give another example, whom are poached merely for the ivory of their tusks, requires certain particularities, many, if not all, distinct from the protection of the domesticated dog, notwithstanding moral or legal rights whatsoever. For instance, arguably, there might be the need, for armed patrols of wildlife refuges, to, at the least, deter poachers from illegally killing elephants, if not directly prevent poaching from occurring. This author has learned of at least one instance of a poacher actually being killed for trying to kill an elephant. The condemnation of the saving of the elephant’s life, is an obvious case of speciesism. That we might consider that there need be a law to make the killing of elephants illegal, furthermore that perhaps the most effective means of ensuring that elephants are not killed, notwithstanding the law if it is itself even effective at all, if any such law exists, against such a practice, is rather telling to the psychology of humanity and animal rights generally.
In either case, it is certain that not the dog, nor the elephant would be able to protect themselves from human cruelty and murder; real-life human intervention might be the only possibility of protection and liberation. While very much uniquely social creatures in each their own right, like their human oppressors, each the domesticated dog and the wild sub-Saharan elephant, operate by a different sociality which is similar however distinct, one which in the case of the latter, most humans it would appear, have hitherto been disinterested in understanding, appreciating, let alone protecting. We leave it to someone else, the few who are willing and able to defend and liberate the animals, and the earth; we consign it over to “fate“, convinced that it is not our problem. In an April 3, 2012 letter to Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief of the US Forest Service, Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity wrote that an investigation is in order, as to “whether the trapping and treatment of the wolf…by Nez Perce National Forest employee Josh Branford constitutes employee misconduct, and further,” that the termination of Branford’s employment be considered. A photograph shows Branford in the foreground to the right, kneeling and smiling, the wolf in the background to the left, a metal trap clearly choked around its back leg. Branford apparently laid his wolf traps out on March 16th. The wolf was also apparently shot, several times, after being caught in the trap, by several people from a crowd. Whether there is a law for it or not, perhaps Title 25, Chapter 35 of the Idaho Code as the Center for Biological Diversity stipulates in the letter, Branford, and his non US Forest Service employee accomplices are guilty of animal cruelty.
As a sort of aside, it is worth noting, that while the Clean Water Act is a federal law, which to an extent is enforceable and enforced, humans are routinely exposed to levels of toxins, including known carcinogens, far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandates. Few of us question the law, or corporate attempts to obstruct or dismantle it, including within the EPA itself; we simply, and blindly trust in the illegitimate authority of corporate governance, or any governance for that matter. To insinuate that a law on the corporate books is sufficient, is dangerously naïve. To assume that such a law, provides enough protection, will be adequately enforced if enforced at all, is a dangerous assumption with detrimental consequences. To acknowledge that more vibrant and effective alternative protections exist, albeit unconventional, that perhaps literally have nothing to do with the laws, lack of laws, enforcement or lack of enforcement, corporate-government, or neo-fascism––which is to say the contemporary dictatorial movement imposing the will of the elites in power on others, meaning, in some fashion telling others what to do or of using power or authority, including force, to make them do it––is required if any serious discussion and addressing of animal rights and liberation is to take place; this is true of many, most, if not all of the other severe problems we face as well, and unborn successors will be faced with.
Insofar as we know, which––despite the magnitude of knowledge, “discovered” as it were, and brought together as a whole, embodied in academia––seems awfully little given humanity’s collective and particular egocentric behaviors, humans are not distinct from animals, in that we all have collective and particular senses and emotions, in that underneath all the differences, we are interconnected with a sameness. Charles Darwin seemed to have articulated as much. However, modern humans, dating back some 40,000 years, are guided by intellect, we are not guided by our instincts, which is a crucial difference between humans and animals. Since this is so, arguably, animals, in the wild, or what is left of what we call the wild, live in harmony, and humans in civilization in discord, animals are at one with themselves, with each other, and with the planet, we are at inharmoniousness with ourselves, each other, and the earth; suffice to articulate, no example should need be mentioned for further elaboration. In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, the work quoted at length above, Erich Fromm explained: “One must look for the concept of man’s nature in the process of human evolution rather than in isolated aspects like tool making, which bears so clearly the stamp of the contemporary obsession with production. We have to arrive at an understanding of man’s nature on the basis of the blend of the two fundamental biological conditions that mark the emergence of man. One was the ever-decreasing determination of behavior by instincts.” [Emphasis original]. Fromm carefully details that contextually the term “instincts” is not used in the “dated sense of ‘instinct’ as excluding learning, but in the sense of ‘organic drives.’”
Erich Fromm’s work is so important I shall quote some more passages at length, in an effort to add gravity to the purpose of this nonlinear discussion.
“[I]t is generally accepted that the higher an animal has risen in the stages of evolution, the less is the weight of stereotyped behavior patterns that are strictly determined and [phylogenic] in the brain.” Fromm explains that the animals whose behavior is determined by the highest degree of instincts, are those with the lowest form of evolution, while those animals whose behavior is determined by the lowest degree of instincts are those with the highest form of evolution. The diminishment of behavior determined by instincts “reaches a certain level with the mammals…going up to the primates, and even here we find a great gulf between monkeys and apes…In the species Homo instinctive determination has reached its maximum decrease.”
“When man emerged, his behavior was little guided by his instinctive equipment. Aside from some elementary reactions, such as those to danger or to sexual stimuli, there is no inherited program that tells him how to decide in most instances in which his life may depend on a correct decision. It would thus seem that, biologically, man is the most helpless and frail of all animals.” In terms of intellect, humans are the most threatening and destructive of all animals; our failure to understand our biological weakness, has meant the extinction of countless nonhuman species of life, and might very likely mean the extinction of the species, as well as countless others in the interim, unless we acknowledge our utter instinctive weakness, thus adapting to and following natural law, instead of championing our intellectual supremacy whilst destroying the planet. Perhaps this is an impossibility, for it would seem to imply encouraging and creating diversity, cooperation, and tribalism.
“Man is guided by his intellect to make right choices. But we know also how weak and unreliable this instrument is. It is easily influenced by man’s desires and passions and surrenders to their influence. Man’s brain is insufficient not only as a substitute for the weakened instincts, but it complicates the task of living tremendously. By this I do not refer to instrumental intelligence, the use of thought as an instrument for the manipulation of objects in order to satisfy one’s needs; after all, man shares this with animals, especially with the primates. I refer to that aspect in which man’s thinking has acquired an entirely new quality, that of self-awareness.” [Emphasis original].
By self-awareness Fromm means: “Man is the only animal who not only knows objects but who knows he knows. Man is the only animal who has not only instrumental intelligence [the use of thought to manipulate objects to the satisfaction of needs], but reason, the capacity to use his thinking to understand objectively––i.e., to know the nature of things as they are in themselves, and not only as means for his satisfaction. Gifted with self-awareness and reason, man is aware of himself as a being separate from nature and from others; he is aware of his powerlessness, of his ignorance; he is aware of his end: death.” [Emphasis original].
Self-awareness, reason, and imagination have disrupted the ‘harmony’ that characterizes animal existence. Their emergence has made man into an anomaly, the freak of the universe. He is part of nature, subject to her physical laws and unable to change them, yet he transcends nature. He is set apart while being a part; he is homeless, yet chained to the home he shares with all creatures. Cast into this world at an accidental place and time he is forced out of it accidentally and against his will. Being aware of himself, he realizes his powerlessness and the limitations of existence. He is never free from the dichotomy of his existence: he cannot rid himself of his mind, even if he would want to; he cannot rid himself of his body as long as he is alive––and his body makes him want to be alive.
Man is the only animal who does not feel at home in nature, who can feel evicted from paradise, the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem that he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. He cannot go back to the prehuman state of harmony with nature, and he does not know where he will arrive if he goes forward. Man’s existential contradiction results in a state of constant disequilibrium. This disequilibrium distinguishes him from the animal, which lives, as it were, in harmony with nature. This does not mean, of course, that the animal necessarily lives a peaceful and happy life, but that it has its specific ecological niche to which its physical and mental qualities have been adapted by the process of evolution. Man’s existential, and hence unavoidable disequilibrium can be relatively stable when he has found, with the support of his culture, a more or less adequate way of coping with his existential problems. But this relative stability does not imply that the dichotomy has disappeared; it is merely dormant and becomes manifest as soon as the conditions for this relative stability change.
In When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals Jeffrey M. Masson and Susan McCarthy articulate: “There is no reason to suppose that zoo life is not a source of sadness to most animals imprisoned there, like displaced persons in wartime. It would be comforting to believe that they are happy there, delighted to receive medical care and grateful to be sure of their next meal. Unfortunately, in the main, there is no evidence to suppose they are. Most take every possible opportunity to escape. Most will not breed. Probably they want to go home. Some captive animals die of grief when taken from the wild. Sometimes these deaths appear to be from disease, perhaps because an animal under great stress becomes vulnerable to illness. Others are quite obviously deaths from despair––near-suicides. Wild animals may refuse to eat, killing themselves in the only way open to them. We do not know if they are aware that they will die if they do not eat, but it is clear that they are extremely unhappy.” [Emphasis added].
It seems that while there is a degree of unpredictability, there may be a universality of animal behavior in captivity. Pain thresholds most likely vary. “Captivity is undoubtedly more painful to some animals than others. Lions seem to have less difficulty with the notion of lying in the sun all day than do tigers, for example. Yet even lions can be seen in many zoos pacing restlessly back and forth in the stereotyped motions seen in so many captive animals. The concept of funktionslust, the enjoyment of one‘s abilities, also suggests its opposite, the feeling of frustration and misery that overtakes an animal when its capacities cannot be expressed. If an animal enjoys its natural abilities, it is also possible that the animal misses using them. Although a gradual trend in zoo construction and design is to make the cages better resemble the natural habitat, most zoo animals, particularly the large ones, have little or no opportunity to use their abilities. Eagles have no room to fly, cheetahs have no room to run, goats have but a single boulder to climb.” [Emphasis original]. Furthermore, “[w]hich animals suffer the most in captivity can be unpredictable. Harbor seals often thrive in craniums and zoos. Hawaiian monk seals almost invariably die––sometimes they refuse to eat, sometimes they succumb to illness. One way or another, one observer noted, they have generally ‘just moped to death.”’ Masson and McCarthy further explain that the problem “of the effects of captivity is most painful when one considers animals that can live nowhere but in captivity because their habitat is gone––as is the case for an increasing number of species––or because they are physically incapacitated”, for example, the population of a particular species left in the wild might imply extinction, as in the case of the California condor, when fewer than a dozen were left in the wild. “[A]rguments raged about whether to capture the remaining birds for captive breeding or to let the species perish freely. The condor is a soaring bird that can easily fly fifty miles in a day, a life that can hardly be simulated in a cage.”
Erich Fromm explained in To Have or To Be?, “With industrial progress, from the substitution of mechanical and then nuclear energy for animal and human energy to the substitution of the computer for the human mind, we could feel that we were on our way to unlimited production and, hence, unlimited consumption; that technique made us omnipotent; that science made us omniscient. We were on our way to becoming gods, supreme beings who could create a second world, using the natural world only as building blocks for our new creation.” We have since, with complicity, willingness, grave apprehension, and after great resistance, submitted our self-determination to the artificial authority of the church, the state, the corporation. The minority of the opulent undoubtedly prescribes through various methods and channels to the masses, that their enslavement to religion, to civilization, to the corporation, technology, and so forth, in the most cyclically consumerist and perpetually wasteful system––to effectively distract us from imagining any, more rationally meaningful, and vastly morally improved, alternatives let alone demanding, and creating such alternatives for ourselves. There is certainly notable exceptions to this, namely because many of us are resisting modern imperialism in many ways, small and large; we find examples proximate to where we reside, and all across the world.
It used to be, that humans had an intimate, meaningful, working knowledge of the land and the nonhuman animals which humans shared the land with. There are of course pockets of communities around the world of which this is still the case. Though, by and large, now most people, namely the imperial citizens of civilization, have a casual, meaningless, superfluous and easily replaceable “knowledge” of dominant civilization, in other words, of the superficial world humans have created in their conquest of nature. That I am perhaps more knowledgeable about the life of some celebrity or other, than of the life of my grandmother, than of the lives of those living next door, than of the nonhuman lives, animal and non, which comprise the real environment of which I reside, is one symptom, among many, of a debilitating illness. A combination of determination and self-discipline, insofar as resolve is real and tangible, might be the most effective remedy, though it may only be a temporal and incomplete cure. We have all but forgotten ancient knowledge of how to live and be one with nature, with others, with ourselves. We have replaced meaningfulness with a “knowledge” which dictates how we might control nature, others, and ourselves. Like our pets, namely our dogs and cats, we occasionally exhibit behaviors residual of our uncelebrated past of primitiveness; yet we more than likely fail to make the phylogenic connection. Among plenty of considerations, one might consider that today some 40% of the total land of the earth’s surface is reserved for domesticated food production, or agriculture. Before industrial agriculture, everything was organic. Now, with gross amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms, contaminating the land, air, and water, organic food has become somewhat a novelty, and perhaps too expensive for most people. Nevertheless, organic foods have become a neo-commodity, and there is certainly a “market” for the sale thereof; indeed, there is a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself. Indeed it is questionable whether there can be any food that is truly organic considering the harmful containments that, not by chance or fate, befall us in rain alone. Though certainly, a variety of Non GMO, local, organic food is imperative. A renascence of food, among virtually every aspect of our lives, which is perhaps occurring at present, is needed, for these imperial times demand revolutionary actions and insurgencies.
This predicament of organic food is perhaps analogous, at least in a metaphysical sense, to the electric car, which was invented (Siemens) for production in 1875, and was all but overpowered by the internal combustion engine by 1920, becoming “a thing of the past”, as the exhausted saying goes, by the second World War. Incidentally, initially, fuel for some internal combustion engines was alcohol, which farmers, of which many citizens were, distilled themselves. Prohibition was not meant to merely prevent people from drinking alcohol, it was to prevent any use of alcohol, including as a fuel. Today ethanol, has been touted as somewhat of a novelty, and part of a hybridized prescription to ostensibly solve the problem of human induced climate chaos. Unleaded gasoline may contain 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline––which is essentially the refuse of oil––but the novelty is a facade. With the exception of a minor resurgence, which the documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car chronicled somewhat, to this day, what few electric cars are available, are expensive and have limited practical applications by design. Not so long ago, one might have imagined a world, where there were no gasoline cars with their harmful emissions, yet one of vehicles with zero toxic emissions, running on alcohol, electric cars driving tens of thousands of miles with self-charging batteries, powered by the sun, or better still, free energy. What world did Nicola Tesla imagine? One wonders. Of course, such an imaginative world might presume that industrial and imperial civilization is good, desirable, and the highest achievement of humanity. Perhaps, had there been a different radical paradigm shift over 100 years ago, perhaps even going back 6,000-9,000 years ago, civilization may have been on an egalitarian trajectory, which would have been mutual with nature, insofar as such mutuality is possible; yet it seems, we would not have civilization, as we have narrowly come to understand and accept it to be, albeit a highly developed society, nor would there be so many humans inhabiting the earth.
In his 1996 The Demon-Haunted World Carl Sagan wrote: “Congress is dissolving its own Office of Technology Assessment––the only organization specifically tasked to provide advice to the House and Senate on science and technology. It’s competence and integrity over the years have been exemplary. Of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress, rarely in the twentieth century have as many as one percent had any significant background in science. The last scientifically literate President may have been Thomas Jefferson.” Perhaps the politicians job is to get elected, the lobbyists job to write the laws the congress passes. Perhaps if it wasn’t to begin with, science, like religion, has to an extremely large degree, been abused and corrupted.
It does seem of course far too late for such an alternative nondestructive, or profoundly less destructive reality to cross the threshold dividing idea and fruition. A fear is that whatever incremental steps towards a radically different constitution of society, the diversification of societies, that are made, is far too little, far too late. The government, the oil and automobile companies, and many other suspects made it so, and to a grave extent the people were pacified, went along unquestioningly, as too many of us tragically seem to usually do, with of course, many significant and entirely meaningful exceptions.
When it rains, or snows, many of us are perhaps annoyed, or similarly dismayed, if not explicitly so, internally, for certainly this social phenomenon has become an invert modality of civilization, albeit slight and insignificant. Instead of perceiving rain, or snow, as a characteristic of the climate of the earth, or of a particular region, and a given rain as having a personality all its own, we perceive a rainfall as an inconvenience, a snowfall as an obstacle, however temporary and harmless, to be waited out or overcome for instance with an umbrella or snowplow. Needless to say, there is no such thing as bad weather. Weather is a neutral phenomenon; at least it absolutely used to be, until civilization advanced to such a grave extent as to alter, and even modify, the weather, and the global systems of weather patterns. Ironically, in a way, humans have essentially, invented real adverse weather, namely what are known as “extreme weather events”. It is understood, for instance, that the process of extracting natural gas from the earth, termed fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has caused multitudes of earthquakes in regions where earthquakes were virtually nonexistent. This dangerous reality has seemingly forced some people in power at the state level to their senses; and so a moratorium on the destructive industrial extractive practice has been called in Ohio. Will it last, or will big business monster on as usual? Certainly local farmers know the importance of, and thus appreciate, rainfall, though one wouldn‘t know it listening to the “experts” on weather, the meteorologists. It used to be that small farmers knew all they needed to about weather, indeed by observing particular behavior of their cattle they could, and to a much smaller extent still do, with remarkable accuracy, predict an approaching storm and in which direction the storm would be coming from. Advances in technology have enabled humans themselves to cause it to rain; perhaps a human encroachment that is rather trivial in comparison to how advances in technology, and the civilized way of life generally, both individual and institutional, insofar as there is any difference (of course there is a difference in proportion and thus responsibility, I mean to say a difference in ideology) has progressively and quite radically destroyed, altered, and subjugated the earth, the processes of the earth, and all nonhuman living beings. This all of course continues apace. Severe droughts induced by industrial human activity have increased in scope and intensity in the past 30 years and are predicated to similarly continue, and worsen into the near future.
There is much more to be said. Though to now close this nonlinear discussion which has strayed into tangency due to my inadequate abilities. Slaughtering animals to indulge in “fashionable”, or “high class” overpriced clothing is disgusting for it is greedy. Man’s capacity for evil knows no bounds, and whatever boundaries are set seem to be arbitrarily set. The sheer disregard for the sanctity of life, and for its nature, comes in many shades, be it the spectacles of bull fights––the bulls not even offered the decency to face off with the bullfighter, their antagonist, on equal ground, for if it were so, the human would stand a lesser chance of survival––be it the circuses and zoos, the infliction of pain upon those too weak to defend themselves, and so on. Simply because of his self-awareness, which sets him apart from other animals, among other differences, man thinks he has the right to brutally torture and kill beings immeasurably more innocent, peaceful, and basic than he is, or would ever imagine to be, and in so doing, reject a universal sameness with all living beings. If we purport that we are with common sense, compassion, and an enlightened reason, we are frauds unless we respect animals, our co-earthlings, unless we respect the earth herself.
 Paul Greenberg, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, (New York, NY: The Penguin Press, 2010), 11.
 William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 28.
 Will Potter, Green is the New Red: An Insider‘s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, (San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 2011).
 Josh Harper, Et. Al., Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth, (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2006), 233.
 Suckling, Kieran. Center for Biological Diversity, "Forest Service Wolf Mistreatment Letter." Last modified April 3, 2012. Accessed April 18, 2012. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/northern_Rocky_Mountains_gray_wolf/pdfs/Forest_Service_wolf_mistreatment_letter_4_2012.pdf.