If we talked about the destructivity of anthropocentrism, if we talked about speciesism,
veganism would be a logical praxis
that grew from that discussion.
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”)
If you love something, you don’t kill it
[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
If I asked you “What makes up ‘animal life’?” and “What meaning does nonhuman animal life have, when you compare it to human life?”
Would your answer consist mostly of references to:
Biology and natural sciences? Philosophy? Religion? Or, a mixture of all, i.e. the common views held about nonhuman animal life?
How about you’d once just ask just yourself in regards to other-than-human-animals, as free from prejudice as possible, and use your own reason and observation and social experiences with nonhumans to a full extent, and view them on every possible level of friendly and social inter-species encounter.
Renuardine, vegans of color / DE
‘Compassion’ is something you speak of (and ask for on behalf of someone) from a position of privilege.
If we have an intersectional view on nonhuman animal oppression and see how oppressive mechanisms functionally interact, then we might understand that the discussion about nonhumans needs to be brought on the level of justice, liberation, autonomous dignity, etc.
In other words nonhuman animal issues need to be brought onto a political level – in legal and ethical terms – while ‘compassion’ tends to simply stand for an individual sentiment; in this case granted from a privileged human standpoint.
Renuardine, vegans of color / DE
Defining Nonhumans as ‘INSTINCTUAL’ is species-derogative and biologistic …
and even vegans innocently/unreflectedly apply this definition, because veganism only acts on the practical but not so much on the theoretical level: the definitions of nonhumans in culturally anthropocentric terms leave no space for a language that enables us to talk about Nonhumans in otherness-appreciative terms.
This is a quick draft – some questions that I’d like to put, after thinking about why we still encounter a lot of speciesism even within a vegan context. What do you think: Do you feel that veganism has the tools ready for eliminating speciesism in society’s thinking and action?
Is there more anti-speciesist praxis that veganism can contain?
Yes, veganism [ethic] could cover issues such as philosophical, religious, scientific speciesist theories and practices.
How much anti-speciesist praxis does veganism contain?
The omission of all animal products and derivatives. The avoidance of some cultural practices that involve speciesism.
Is veganism automatically anti-speciesist?
Not necessarily, veganism still does tolerate an insensibility toward some overt and a variety of subtle forms of speciesism, it does however exclude “mild speciesism”, such as is pomoted by several authors famed for their animal rights advocacy.
Or even …
How speciesist is veganism?
This question depends on whether ignoring branches of societal factors of speciesism automatically makes you a speciesist yourself – even if you avoid as many animal products as possible.
You can for instance agree with a speciesist perspective while assuming you’d be vegan for ethical reasons, as long as that speciesist perspective is not yet covered by the canon of common vegan ethics. An example would be the question of using animal body parts in art, or philosophical and religious theories that empower the human oppression and exploitation of nonhumans, as precursors to their physical exploitation and humiliation.
How speciesist can veganism be?
A good example of this dilemma is the veganic practice, which so far does exclude nonhuman animals from living in mixed communities within their veganic projects. We only know of one veganic project, namely that of the Animal Place sanctuary, which promotes a shared habitat for humans and former farm animals.
Another problem is political inactivity and an ethical disinterest in questioning consumerism, and in the destruction of habitat driven by our economic systems. Veganism can effectively only operate on an interrelated basis in the end of the day; speciesism and other forms of societal discrimination are sociological problems, veganism very much operates on the level of alternative consumption and living practices – all happens within the same political spaces of society and environment/s.
“Solidarity: all terms of solidarity still purport the first and most basic solidarity between all humanity (i.e. of “the human”) against nature. Such a solidarity of one against everything else is yet never allowed amongst humans themselves. But there is no such thing as a necessity of solidarity. The idea of us all “sitting in one boat” is an example of this wrong idea of an absolute solidarity.
The concept of a group, with its relatedness of the part-and-whole category, stems from the solidarity of the human against nature.”
We asked Filip, guitarist of the czech-swedish vegan anarchist band Avvika, about the ethical frames of vegan intersectionality and how to politically navigate veganism as an activist praxis and tool for liberation. In the lyrics of their song “Eternal Treblinka” Avvika speak about the correlation of totalitarian genocide and the taboo of speciesism as the totalitarian zoocide rooted in the epistemics of human hierarchical “objectivity”.
Filip: Personally, veganism is an important commitment in my life. I am happy every time I see new people turning vegan and honestly a bit sad when people turning back to this way of living. As well, people like to say that “it’s everyone’s choice”, but is it everyone’s choice to have a slave or beat their wife? I will still be on the side of the oppressed rather than fully respect the choice of somebody taking control over someone elses life. Yes, it might sound overexaggerated, but that’s a problem of those who read it, not mine. That’s the whole problem coming from speciesism – to see some beings as “just” animals and peoples choices as a principle with higher value.
Though, I find veganism as a path rather than a solution. It’s a choice how to live in the place and the time I/we live in. For me it’s a way, not a goal at all. It’s the least, the most passive act and basic ground of what each of us can do or choose. It’s just a start within the long run for animal liberation. I consider human beings as animals too, so for me it goes hand in hand with anarchist revolution, whatever that means. Veganism is also an act of solidarity.
Veganism got a bit trendy in some circles, which I can’t say I am a big fan of. I think, that to realize something shall come through (self) education or more sources of information rather than from fashion. Because what happens is that people quickly become vegans without really knowing why and then they conclude that it doesn’t make any sense to them, so they stop. But still I obviously welcome this trend much more than if it was trendy wearing fur, or go hunting, you know.
I think it is a mistake to think that nowadays you can boycott anything by just choosing a different product. Let me show some examples of what I mean: Most known vegan milk companies are owned by the biggest dairy corporations of the world. I heard there is some (anti)social media page called something like “compassion pizza” and there is list of places where you can get pizza with vegan cheese. These sellers never wanted to make a vegan restaurant or even don’t care, they just realized that they can sell a bit more if they include vegan cheese to the menu, so “compassion blog” actually made free advertisement to all the restaurants which mostly profit from selling meat and dairy products. That’s what I find dangerous about this trend.
Many people think that the choice of vegan cheese and soy cappuccino makes some change. All the food industry is a greedy monster (actually not just the food one, any industry is evil to all life). And especially so called green capitalism is a great example of how this system takes whatever comes from people who have some potential to question or critique inequalities and power structures. The system takes it, absorbs it, turns it into some product and sells it back to you. That’s why capitalism is more efficient than any dictatorships. It makes almost everything possible if you can afford it and people believe that that’s the freedom, just to get higher in this competition to be able to pay for it. It’s „democracy“ when you can have nearly everything if you have enough money, and it’s even easier if you are white and “at best” male. Then you have an „equal way“ to power.
That’s not freedom! We live in a „man made hell“!
We created a mantra which is now much bigger than us, than any each of us. The most of people’s values and relationships are capitalist ones; to see something or somebody else valuable according their social status or profit potential. The animal industry with vivisection is just a peak of insanity and ignorance of this society. And it is a big example. I don’t believe in liberty and harmony within capitalism. Capitalism with it’s own stupidity like economical competition, global “free” markets, the prison system, national states, police and more and more … . All of that is not gonna change by buying vegan coffee. That’s why I wouldn’t call veganism (without anticapitalist critique) as ethical.
I see the way to animal liberation through abolishing thedomestication of animals (including us people). Domestication by work, money, industry, church, alcohol, social (gender, sexual) norms, etc. All of it just creates an alienation. Yes, I know that many could oppose these opinions and say that people with these ideas can just move to the forest and shut up. But I am talking about abolishing domestication, not hiding from it. Last, but not least, in a region where I am from, or even country (probably like in the most of Europe) there is not much natural (not man-made) forest which is not considered as private or state property where one could stay and live wildly without further repressions anyway.
We have to strike back, not hide or escape!
No one is free, untill all are free.
GO VEGAN! GO FURTHER!
The beginning of Genesis says that God created man in order to give him dominion over fish and fowl and all the creatures. Of course, Genesis was written by a man, not a horse. There is no certainty, that God actually did grant man dominion over other creatures.
What seems more likely, in fact, is that man invented God to sanctify the dominion that he had usurped for himself over the cow and the horse, over the pig and the bird. Yes, the right to kill an animal is the only thing that all mankind can agree upon, even during the bloodiest of wars.
We have been at war with the other creatures of this earth ever since the first human hunter set forth with spear into the primeval forest. Human imperialism has everywhere enslaved, oppressed, murdered, and mutilated the animal peoples.
All around us lie the slave camps we have built for our fellow creatures, factory farms and laboratories, Dachaus and Buchenwalds for the conquered species.
We slaughter animals for our food, force them to perform silly trics for our entertainment and delectation, gun them down and stick hooks in them in the name of sport. We have torn up the wild places where once they made their homes.
Speciesism is more deeply entrenched within us even than sexism, and that is deep enough.
The most calamitous and fragile of all creatures is man, and yet the most arrogant. Is it possible to imagine anything so ridiculous as that this pitiful, miserable creature, who is not even master of himself, should call itself master and lord of the universe?
The domestication of women followed the initiations of animal keeping, and it was then that men began to control womens reproductive capacity, enforcing chastity and sexual repression.
A greedy monster devouring with a thousand mouths.
The spirit of Capitalism made flesh.
European explorers and colonists, who at home abused, slaughtered, and ate animals to a degree unmatched in human history up to that time, sailed forth to other parts of the world representatives of a religious culture that was as theologically arrogant and violence-justifiying as any the world had ever seen.
In the made-for-TV culture the only addmitted genocide is now part of history. “It’s comforting – it’s over”.
But aren’t the Auschwitzes of today animal farms, transports, laboratories and slaughter houses that are so carefully hidden from view? Where the most defenseless of the world’s victims are merely seen as material.
Nowhere is patriarchy’s iron fist as naked as in the opression of animals, which serves as the model and training ground for all other forms of opression.
Sight, sound and smell. Death on monumental scale.
No one wants to hear it, no one wants to see.
All unseen and unheeded, this horrible crime is
buried out of sight, wiped out of memory.
…thou shalt not be a perpetrator; thou shalt not be a victim; thou shalt not be a bystander. …”If learned throughout society, those three commandments could help people see that choices we make determine the extent to which we are perpetrators, victims, or bystanders in a society that has long been carrying out a holocaust against animals and other beings and ecosystems while declining to recognize it as a holocaust.”
“the point of understanding the Holocaust in Europe is to prevent and halt other ones, not to remain narrowly focused on that particular one, traumatic though it was.”
Credits: from S/T 12″, released26 February 2014