Is the utilization of ‘animal bodies’ the source speciesism? Where does animal degradation start?

How will human societies depelop a understanding of animal degradation and speciesism? An example of animal degradation in context with normalized species-degogative views on horses specifically can be seen in this photophaph for instance:

speciesism
Unknown photographer, found on FB in someones timeline. Showing this image only serves the purpose of documentation and sensitization in terms of leading an anti-speciesist discourse. (Using this image does not imply that we see such photographic arts / aesthetics as ethically tolerable or as supportive of serving nonhuman interests in any possoble way.)

The degradation of nonhuman animals: does the consumption come first, the utilization, or the speciesist ideologies and beliefs?

A short critique of anti-carnism-centered approaches such as in the movie ‘the end of meat’.

The degradation of nonhuman animals and how that goes together with the consumption of nonhumans is something I really wonder about. Movies like “the end of meat” very much assume an anti-carnism position, seeing the main problem in the biggest scale of speciesist industries, namely the meat, milk, egg industry.

But what we really have, what is taking place, is stretching out over virtually every aspect of human domination of ‘nature’. And this is why I personally put the killing and degradation of nohuman animals in a context of zoocide taking place, alongside the dimensions of genocides and ecocide in human history.

I wonder if human societies will automatically stop degrading nonhuman animal cultures and their natural ecosystems when they stop torturing and murdering them on this unimaginably large scale in the meat and food industries. I wonder if the acceptance for otherness of nonhuman animal cultures and individuals will grow in societies in the moment a society would stop killing them, eating them, and utilizing them primarily for reasons of their own human survival – and only partly for reaching a fully functioning future of nonhuman animal and animal-ecosystems rights and liberty?

In other words will we stop seeing the world flat in regards to nonhuman animals and their natural habitats because we stop commiting a large part of zoocide and ecocide? I hope that will be so, but I have doubts.

Looking back at the history of speciesism shows that the causes for human hubris over nonhumans and nature are very deeply installed in the history of human civilisations (Aph Ko discusses the question: ‘what are the roots of animal oppression?‘ in this interview).

I believe that working against all forms of speciesism (see also: aspects of speciesism), and against forms of animal degradation has to take place, on all levels where nonhumans are othered in destructive, degrading and harmful ways. Only so we will ensure that society develops an enlightened and reconciling view on nohuman animals, and only so the spaces will be protected and the rights granted where animal individuals and groups live (animal cultures).

Also the language in regards of ‘nature’ seems insufficient to me in approaches such as in the movie ‘the end of meat’. The meaning of nature is not contextualized with the question of animal habitat but rather with protecting resources for human survival. Animals as friends, as envisioned in this movie, needs the contextualization of animal liberation/animal right with ecopolitics on a very tight level.

This comment is however not meat to be a negative critique, it is only a trial to point out problems that seem untouched by that type of mainstream approaches in veganism. And that is also why I chose to name this specific movie, since it typically represents the mainstream thinking of how the problems of animal oppression can supposedly be stopped and addressed by ending the animal farming industries, instead of dismantling the working variables of systematic and individual animal oppression as they occur on any given level.

Note:

The difference between mainstream veganism and our individual group’s approach has much to do with:

  • whether or not to appreciate animal cultures and individuals in a non-biologistic frame,
  • and whether or not humancentric ideals are questioned or not in terms of affirmatively assigning nonhumans own ways/contexts of moral agency, own fully fledged ways/contexts of ethical values, of own fully fledged complex language-systems (and that thus also a lingua franca between humanity and animality is not just something fictional but rather something possible and something basically valid)

We need new and different sets of terms than the ones we have in our societies so far when we discuss nonhuman interests. A difference is clearly if someone is willing to take the discussion into wider fields than what we have so far even and in particular in human animal and critical animal studies – given that these are the very studies that deal with animality in the supposedly most progressive ways.

To our point of view the entire mainstream approach and consensus that we have – practically in ethical veganism and in direct or indirect animal liberation activities and theoretically in academic animal liberation approaches – all don’t manage to coherently jump the crucial lines … and thus they lack credibility in our point of view:

We still have too much unnamed speciesism in the anti-speciesist movement, and we still have too much omission of aspects of nonhuman autonomy in the animal-nature-continuums and nonhuman culture/s in an oppressive world. We finally don’t even speak about a zoocide taking place on all levels that oppression, violence, destruction, annihilation and negation can politically take place.

Outside looks on cultures of nonhuman animality

being_an_animal_1a

Confining animality
(the actual ‘being-an-animal’)
into biology-centered frameworks
still poses an unsolved problem
within AR.

Gruppe Messel / Tierautonomie /Animal Autonomy

How does someone view other animals:

Changing the images society and people have constructed in their thinking and in their outlooks about animality takes more than our vegan lifestyle, more than campaigning for final goals. It needs that we straightforwardly postulate (emancipation!) different viewpoints, different angles of viewing the world’s animal individuals, their socio-ecological contexts, and their cultures in the given oppressive contexts.

From a biology-centered viewpoint people/society want to assume that nonhuman animals don’t decide, don’t think, don’t reason, don’t experience oppression in contexts of their evolutionary cultures. A biology-centered viewpoint compares animality with humanity and pinpoints certain physical functions as markers for the ability to ‘reason/think’. Philosophy again constructs a notion of borders within reasoning around the human self or certain human selves.

It takes more than animal liberation on the physical level to change and widen the perspectives on human-nonhuman conflicts, quite obviously. Saying this, nonhuman animality isn’t solely a recipient of oppression exerted by human beings in their cultures; in contrast I believe that the human forms of oppressing nonhuman animality has a lot to do with the agency of animality on levels our society typically ignores, levels our society might not have tried, been able or willing to name, but these levels are parts of the animal-nature-continuum and the big scope of its cultural wisdom, richness, smartness, cultivatedness, decisiveness … .

Just try it, you might very well know how cultures aren’t restricted to humanity – that we all need to build new perspectives on animality, animal individuals and on the entire social codes built between humanity towards animals. Try and ask your vegan friend what she/she makes of establishing an emancipated view (in regards to language, philosophy, and common sense) on the human-animal conflict and human-animal interaction. I assume she/he still thinks that it’s perfectly fine to keep the cornerstones of speciesism in the “active-mode” (i.e. religious speciesism, philosophical speciesism, speciesism in the natural sciences, sociological speciesism, legal speciesism, cultural speciesism, aesthetical speciesism, speciesism in all segments of how we define the scope, meaning, content, value, sense of life) and that she/he will try to not seek for new ways of ending the ‘massmurder taking place on the biological argument’, the individual degradation on the level of cultural difference between speciesists and nonhumans. They will however not be able to accuse you of anthropocentrism, because they can’t rule the aspect of animal-cultures-on-more-than-the-biological-level out.

Religion and Science both have created oppressive constructs about Nature

alternatives

Alternatives in the oppression of nature-as-a-context-of-living-beings:

a.) “dominium terrae” [bible, says humans should rule and subjugate the world]

b.) “nature-as-a-resource” [the endeavours in the natural sciences have always been going along with generating economic benefits for any oppressive human castes]

Both spiritually in most religions, and philosophically in most sciences: Nature is seen as a means, a tool, a “material” that can be reduced in its autonomous sense and value.

Gruppe Messel / Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy

 

 

 

Five neovegan perspectives

Five neo-vegan perspectives by Farangis G. Yegane and Gita Yegane Arani, revised version as of 1st July 2017.

This text as a PDF; the older version of these fagments.

1133_2b_650

Neo-vegan perspectives – 1

Why Animal Rights can’t be treated as secondary to Human Rights

Let’s assume we can’t overcome human conflicts, and let’s assume we do not want to consider animal rights (as an equivalent to human rights) and environmental issues as ways in which we could also find fundamentally better approaches to conflict solution, because there doesn’t really exist an openness in the viewpoints of the majority to allow new or different perspectives on what is to be considered as relevant and ‘sense-possessing’.

Animal rights, even if not considered as touching a sphere of meaningful phenomena, is objectively not a secondary concern.

This is so, since the fact that human persons relegate animal individuals into “irrelevance”, as
a sector created for the nature-animal complex, doesn’t hold any factual account for the leakage we can call an obvious one if we look at:

a) the grade of destruction aggravated by any forms of speciesism (and humancentrism
respectively)

and

b) the essential bond of the human notion of an ideal justice in the moral practice lived by societies (idealism) with the natural and the animal world; and the unknown factors reciprocal
of nature and animals overall as they display themselves back to human society (the other
intelligence – designed by life basically).

***

Neo-vegan perspectives – 2

Animal Rights and Human Rights, your rights, as interconnected

How can animal rights and human rights be interlocked politically in a constructive way, instead of using human rights against animal rights?

We often tend to think that animal- and human rights would exclude each other, and the stereotypical „AR vs. HR” question, about whom you would save first if you had to: your dog or your child, is being asked as if one had to pass a witch-test which is going to decide your fate as a proper human- or animal rights advocate. A more reasonable view would let us come to the conclusion that narrowing things down to the extremes isn’t really a useful approach upon which a rights debate can be lead.

The focus in such a question that seeks to radically separate two instances (two situative phenomena occurring in a wider context) from each other, is almost suggestive if not ignorant in its view towards the facets of reality that make up the complexity of life as living beings experience it.

Put in a situation where we had to decide between rescuing one living being and another, it is
likely that we would not want to decide for one and against the other. We should consider the
perspectival option that we’d want to save every being that’s in despair. We could think for instance: in any situation where a being needs help, a being needs a helper!

As animal rights advocates we clearly want both: a full consideration of (reasonable) human interests and rights and a full consideration of what we can understand to be the rights of other animals as natural holders of such – by virtue of their self-autonomous existence in this world. And to take this a step further: we probably want to interlock animal- and human rights, so that both reaffirm and solidify each other. How can this be reached? And how can this, even more so, be reached in our current human societies, where the notion of animal rights is not regarded as positively relevant for the “’own’ – collective human concern”.

One aspect that builds an (euphemistically said) “automatic” way to bind animal- and human
Rights together, is, as simple as it may sound the natural environment. Whereby ‘the (natural) environment’ can be a term for what the German poet-thinker Goethe more comprisingly called “das AllLeben”, the all-live – a term that hints at the interconnectedness of all life forms on earth and beyond.

The environment, nature, is the habitat of nonhuman animals and humans alike. It’s the sphere of living existence where both humans and nonhuman animals meet in their natural state of being, and it’s the very political ground (that is: a sphere of life and thus of interests) that needs to be re-captured for the ethical side that is to it in regards to animal liberation and animal rights.

There are three core aspects that bind humans and animals together in their enviromentalistic
and nature-bound context:

a.) existentially we got the shared ‘outer world’ on which life depends in its individual and
collective existential value
b.) the conflict between the (major) life forms is produced by ‘the culture’ in which life finds
its contextualization, ranging from predominantly destructive in current humancentric human societies and, environmentally seen, constructive in animal cultures and their form of relating to the natural
c.) the solution, the bridge, lays in the will for re-establishing a natural balance, that encompasses its participants, the living beings, as co-creatant, co-existential “agents of an self-created contextualizing existence” – that can be understood as something that we emotionally would induce with “dignity”.
Dignity is the felt and the realizable foundation of rights. Being co-existent in this world and
acknowledging the agency of nonhuman animals in the environmental context, is a basis that
should tie human- and animal rights constructively in a potentially fundamental way.

***

Neo-vegan perspectives – 3

Neoveganism as a way forward in our current day Western and other emerging democracies

It seems the more you realize the political scope of human action and human thought, the less
you think of the absurd idea that there would be one single power (the establishment, the fiscal world, a people, a god) that runs everything in a totalitarian style: the big complexes of “might” stifle the individuals power to impact things, but individual action can’t be substituted in democracies.

What can I, as a seemingly powerless individual, do when I see an unfathomable disaster such
as the BP oil spill, a disaster caused by the ‘ruling’ part of our civilization? Our civilization bases (in its majority) upon humancentrist ideals today, it doesn’t need to take the natural environment and its “wild” inhabitants into account. To deal responsibly as an individual means I have to be willing to see the bigger contexts of phenomena, and widen my view over the limits of any anthropocentric limit.

On the opposite side of the big context of things it’s the individual that has an impact on the
situation she lives in: by action (political action, in a basic sense) and by thought (any form of it). It’s an ethical impact living beings ‘live’.

When I make the sensible claim that ethics should be the factor upon which to decide what’s
wrong and what’s right, I should also acknowledge that ethics means to behave respectfully towards life. What is respectful? And what type of life matters and can be treated with which forms of respect?

Every living being on this earth has its own place in the universe – practically. The world should not be seen anthropocentrically simply because we can’t fathom the meaningfulness of other life in regards to those dimensions which we don’t know much or even anything about. Other “dimensions” of meaning aren’t restricted to physics and mathematical abstraction: ethics, and its substance (life!) too has dimensions beyond a narrow anthropocentric reach.

If I take the ethical vastness and comprehensiveness into account, I am able to see that every
action I can do, and every wrong I don’t do, wherever I am, has an impact on the life around
me. Taking the interest of all life into a wide ethical (in a sense of setting oneself in a creative relation) consideration makes the action of the individual meaningful.

When I see that human progress is built mostly on a destructive relationship towards life – that we use and degrade to “resources” – I should be able to realize that the step I have to do, is to take up a plant-based ethical (radical antispeciesist and vegan) lifestyle and go further from that point on.

***

Neo-vegan perspectives – 4

Neoveganism, pluralism and antispeciesism

It should be normal for animal rights advocates (with that I mean people primarily or partially
interested or active in the global animal lights and liberation, etc. movement) to accept different positions, without assuming that divergence would harm the cause. No need to say that exempt from such a form of mutual tolerance would be people who claim to be AR but practically advocate theories and practices harmful to nonhuman animals (euthanasia of “stray” feral animals, “humane” slaughter, hidden forms of speciesism, mild speciesism … ).

I often notice that there exists a self-prescribed narrowness in parts of the AR/AL movement
which hinders the necessary plurality of expressed opinions for the cause. Naturally people hold different opinions about issues, especially when it comes to the details of something that could be described as a newly established consciousness as we have and develop it in the human-nonhuman animal relation today.

Why should animal rights be exempt from a highly diversified discussion such as we normally expect and have practically on every other big ethical, political and rights issue? Finding the truth (the acceptable truths of many insights) upon which to build a reasonable common grounds that reflects the needs of reality, finding a suitable and fruitful political and
also legal language, and a language of liberation needs a full discourse made up of all our individual opinions. When we take our individuality away from our political agency (speech, thought and action) in our daily lives, we lose exactly that which enables us to make progress. Progress is plurality – the exchange of many powers and how they can synergize.

It’s understandable when you take a look at the animal rights movement at its single place in history – possessing a newly understood form of an extended “beyond-social” interspecies context – that people are likely to assume that they would need to follow a school of thought or political opinion. In reality though animal rights is a phenomenon as fundamental as human
rights, so basic and immediate to the individual existence that every person can become clear about her own understanding of basic rights terms in a valid way and that every person can figure out herself how she weighs out what’s right and what’s wrong in her own “common sense” rights-terms.

The relation towards nonhuman animals is ultimately an immediate one, it’s a social connection in a new, antispeciesist way. And I think we should take it as such, if we truly are for human and animal liberation.

On a basis of accepting the presupposition that

a.) we can relate to nonhuman animals in a reasonable way obviously, and
b.) that the relation to nonhuman animals can thus be handled from the individual human in a
similar way in which an individual human can assess human rights issues by applying her
own common sense,

we can take our position of defence when we are addressing the “speciesist lobby”, which usually argues that there exist decisive barriers between the “values” of human and nonhuman animal life, a notion established on the premise that humans have the right to simply give the nonhuman animal world their definitions – in all detail (the result of which is mass murder on the biological argument).

We as animal rights/liberation/autonomy activists can constructively and positively relate to nonhuman animals, and we side with their interests from our position as fellow (human) animal beings. Practiced anti-speciesism to its best level is an ongoing learning process which makes us mature and responsible as human beings or better as basic individuals. Our engagement and fight for the legal and earth-political rights to live, to possess habitat, to be a rights holder under nonhumancentric terms, will re-establish the integrity of an ongoing existential relationship we have with nonhuman animals. And this amounts to an entire paradigm-shift.

***

Neo-vegan perspectives – 5

The face of an animal rights revolution, call it total liberation … it is about making these paradigm shifts

The uncountable deaths each day, every second, are the factual individual nonhuman animal victims that a human humancentrically driven full destructive force are directed against. We have to phrase clearly that speciesism is not just an accidental heritage of our human past which supposedly took place as “hunters and gatherers”, though the question remains open if in fact all human cultures have been hunters at some stage. Speciesism means, in the past inasmuch as in the present, a war by means of denial of rights, namely the right to live and exist freely, that is being waged against nonhuman animals and their world.

The majority of the ‘human group’ determines how this world is to be explained and understood. We, as humans (in a collective sense), don’t accept that concepts which are not born out of a human logic (again, in a collective sense) and which are not shaped by our human perceptions and rationalizations can in fact exist. The revolution for animal rights, animal liberation or a acknowledgement of animal autonomy means to set forth that nonhuman animals have their very ways in which they shape this world. Their ways – their integrity in the natural sphere – need to be protected by rights that we as humans will have to enforce within the scope exclusively of human destructivity. That would at least take the burden of human oppression from the nonhuman animal ‘realm’.

On the ethical side we can state that: in whichever context nonhuman animals are forced to live and to die in right now, their integrity can’t be stripped away from them – since in a fundamental and important sense nothing can negate their independent meaning.

What happens when our speciesist societies confine, torture and kill nonhuman animals is that
Humans collectively claim a total might over the physical life of nonhuman animals, in the final consequence.

Animal rights means to continuously work on the paths towards an anti-humancentrist human society in which the integrity of all animal life and the integrity of the entire natural world are being protected against so called “human interests”; which are in reality profane collective enmities towards “everything” and everyone who is not a human but a nonhuman animal and their natural living contexts.

And finally animal liberation should also mean the deconstruction of speciesist theories: Before the final consequence of physical harm and destruction we need to address the reasons and causes of the collective humancentric enmities and desires to subject animal-others and ‘nature’.

Natural sciences and speciesism

couloured_dogs_21a

Natural sciences and speciesism

an abstract perspective on the world
from a human standpoint,
that locates “thinking” and
“the capacity of experiencing freedom”
in certain body parts (as complex or primitive) and their functions.

(a stance counterpointed by a basso continuo
of purposeful evolutionary “natural selection” – the survival of the “fittest”)

From: http://www.farangis.de/dogs/my_dog/my_dog.htmmy_dog_farangis_yegane

 

Jim Sinclair: If you love something, you don’t kill it

If you love something, you don’t kill it

Jim Sinclair

[This is a response to Temple Grandin’s writing about her work in the slaughter industry, especially as described in Thinking in Pictures.]

If you love something, you don’t kill it. I didn’t need to spend time in a squeeze box to learn that. Love is not killing.

If you know what another being feels–not just how you feel when you touch it–then you know that living things want to remain alive. It doesn’t matter if they’re not afraid of death before they know what’s going to happen to them. In the moment when the killing happens, they know, and they want to stay alive. I have seen this, and I have felt death happen. I haven’t seen as much of death as someone who is obsessively drawn to slaughter factories, but I’ve seen enough to know. Life does not consent to be killed. I don’t need a Ph.D. in animal science to recognize that.

Dying as a natural process is not the same as killing a healthy living creature. I have witnessed sudden death from injury, and gradual death from aging or disease. They’re not the same. (I have not witnessed deliberately inflicted death, because I will not stand by and allow killing to happen in my presence.) It’s irrelevant if a middle-aged scientist can say that she doesn’t fear death, that she understands it as a natural part of life. Almost all the beings whose lives she helps end are immature or just barely mature. Almost none of them are close to natural death. They’re not ready to die. If someone were to shoot or stab or electrocute the middle-aged scientist today, she might find that she’s not ready to die either.

If you understand life, you know that it wants to continue. If you feel life throbbing under your touch, you know it’s desecration to set your hand to stop that living pulse. If you love something, you don’t kill it.

There’s a special technique involved in tying a hangman’s noose so the victim is killed instantly by a broken neck, rather than slowly by strangulation. I suppose it’s part of a hangman’s professional expertise to learn to tie this knot properly. That expertise doesn’t make the hangman a caring or compassionate person.

The hangman’s knot, the guillotine, the electric chair, the gas chamber, and the lethal injection were all designed to make deliberately inflicted death less painful to the victim. But I’ve never heard the inventors or the users of these technologies hailed as great humanitarians. I’ve never heard them praised for their great empathy toward the lives they’ve ended.

Certainly it takes some ingenuity to invent new equipment. I’m a pretty smart person, but my expertise with knots is limited to being able to tie my shoes, to make a slip knot and a square knot. I tie these knots the way others taught me to tie them; I’ve never invented a new kind of knot by myself. If I were to try to design a knot that could quickly and painlessly kill someone, I’d never be able to figure it out. Whoever invented that knot had a type of mechanical creativity and skill that I don’t have.

But if I did have it, I’d use it for other purposes. I wouldn’t need to invent a way to kill with a knot, because I would never be willing to participate in any way in killing a bound and defenseless person. Skill and ingenuity are not the same as empathy and caring.
And love is not the same thing as killing. If you love something, you don’t kill it. It’s as simple as that.

Copyright (c) 1998 Jim Sinclair