Alex from moralcompassion.org: The Ethics of Eating Lives

Alex from the new site http://www.moralcompassion.wordpress.com/ shared this informative and important info touching on the foundations of ethical veganism (in its pure sense) with us: Meat consumption from a moral point of view: Is eating lives ethical? An essay that examines the problems with eating meat.

This text as a PDF

THE ETHICS OF EATING LIVES

A slaughterhouse worker “processing” cattle for human meat consumption.[1]

Human society has a long history of invented distinctions which have artificially been drawn between race, gender, class, sexual orientation and other perceived boundaries. Over the years, these perceptions and hierarchical structures have proven to be unjust, exploitative, and most of all, arbitrary. Granted, all of these segregations have been built within human species, yet they all show the same characteristics. Whether the system is called racism, separation of the classes, separation of the sexes or homophobia, they all state that the concerned target is less worthy because of its membership of another group than our own and that therefore its oppression is justified. Foreign races, women, lower classes, religious people, the LGBT people[2] and many more have all been oppressed solely because of their otherness in comparison to the oppressors. At some point, all of them have been seen as non-feeling, mere objects and there were almost no restrictions as how to treat or make use of them. It is astonishing how long it took humanity to acknowledge that once oppressed groups are sentient – able to feel pain and pleasure – in the exact same way as we are. Though no man for example can ever fully prove that women have the ability to feel pain and happiness just like they do, we have fortunately come to a point in history where we no longer seek to prove this; it has become common sense. Similarly, although white people can never scientifically show evidence that black people have the same emotions like they do, human society dedicatedly believes that they do have the same emotional life along with other races. Even though the experience of pain and other feelings are subjective, we just know that black people, women or homosexuals are every bit as sentient as we are, regardless of skin colour, gender or the difference in sexuality.

Slavery has been enabled by racism, the belief system that ones own race is superior to others and that those others can therefore be mistreated and systematically abused. Slaveholders and their defenders argued that slavery had existed throughout history and that it was the natural state of mankind. Our ancestors in many different civilizations, even long before its heyday, had practiced slavery, a fact that the defenders often used to support their actions. The argument that slaves were better treated than elsewhere and that they were taken care of, even after they had reached the end of their working lives, was often heard in the southern parts of the U.S., for example. Slave breeding was a common act which aimed at improving the skills and quality of slaves. Forced pregnancies lead to slave children, which meant an increase in supply and could thus replace old, useless or worn out slaves inexpensively. Women who tended to give birth to more than one child per pregnancy and consequently produced more than others were favored. Through breeding, the slaveholders could avoid buying new slaves or fill labor shortages. Religious arguments were also widespread, so too the belief that Africans must be animals on two feet. This assumption is based on the biblical belief that all humans on our earth stem from the eight white persons who were on Noah’s ark, yet black people are here with us today. Consequently, the deduction seemed to be that “the black has no soul to be saved”[3]. The author Millard Erickson comments: “Here we have the ultimate justification for […] discrimination and even slavery: blacks are not humans; consequently, they do not have the rights which humans have.”[4]

The debate of women’s suffrage involved many supporters who went to great lengths to justify their beliefs. A particularly peculiar justification was that once women were given the right to vote and became involved in politics, they would stop marrying, stop having children and that as a result, the human race would die out. Another argument often used was that women and men simply have separate spheres; men were naturally seen as superior to women.

In Ancient Greece, education was withheld from women and they were married to adult men as soon as they were sexually mature, as though they were mere property. Women did not have the right to buy, own or sell land and could not leave the house without a supervising person.[5]

Not too long ago and in many parts of the world even today, LGBT people are being oppressed, simply because their sexuality differs from heterosexual’s. Not only do they face psychological dejection when born into a society that condemns their naturally felt sexuality, but often physical assault too, which can in some cases lead to murder. At work they might have to bear the constant threat of victimization and discrimination. All too often, lesbian mothers are systematically denied the custody of their children and in schools, young people who open up about their sexual orientations, are bullied and socially excluded.

All the above-mentioned justifications surely seem ludicrous and silly to us nowadays, but they were taken very seriously by a wide section of society.

However, most countries have abolished slavery and many have made enormous progress concerning the women’s rights-issue and the LGBT’s-rights issue. Black people that were once subject to oppression are now accepted as citizens with the same rights as everybody else. Women that were once refused the right to vote, are now politically equal to men and are in some cases heads of state. With time, more and more states enable marriage-equality and thus create a society where LGBT people are accepted and can live free of prejudice.

All of these simplified examples show that we, as a species, seem to have finally understood that sentience, respect and ultimately compassion do not depend on external characteristics and that they do not need to be proven in order to exist. And what’s more important: we live by the realizations of the consequences of these awakenings, we have put them into practice.

Why is it then, that we still do not properly put those moral realizations into practice for all beings concerned? Why should the arguments, based on the facts of sentience and emotion be less valid when someone has fur instead of skin? Or if someone has feathers instead of hair? How is the line between nonhuman animals and human animals any less arbitrary than the one we drew between blacks and whites? “To mark this boundary [the boundary of concern for the interests of others] by some other characteristic like intelligence or rationality would be to mark it in an arbitrary manner. Why not choose some other characteristic, like skin color?”[6]

“Virtually every atrocity in the history of human kind was enabled by a populace that turned away from a reality that seemed too painful to face, while virtually every revolution for peace and justice has been made possible by a group of people who chose to bear witness and demanded that other bear witness as well. The goal of all justice movements is to activate collective witnessing so that social practices reflect social values.”[7]

Animals, especially the ones we abuse for consumption, are all sentient beings. There are many scientific proofs that shatter the perception that animals are mere meat-machines, soulless, numb objects, as they are often portrayed by meat-proponents. The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness states that “[…] neural circuits supporting behavioral / electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus)”[8] and finally concludes that “the absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”[9]

The pretext ‘Human kind has always eaten meat’ very much follows the same logic that allegedly justified racism, as shown above. This idea, however, cannot count as a justification for the continuation of meat consumption, because – needless to say – actions that have always been done, are therefore not automatically rendered just. We have a long history of rape and murder, yet we oppose to those actions today. Again following the paths of racists and slaveholders, we might hear that some animals are better treated than others, that they have been given a little more space so that they actually could turn around or have had the possibility to go to a space to move about in. Regardless of the number of illusory, conscience-reassuring but false arguments we might come across, they can never change the facts. Meat always stems from an animal that once was alive and has then been killed for the consumers eating preferences only. When it comes to meat, the right of these sentient beings is being harmed as soon as we inflict pain on them solely for our purpose. When meat is no longer a necessity, it has become a choice. Anybody who eats meat is actively placing his appetite above the interest of the animals and above their very lives.

Just like slaveholders did, we breed animals, we shape their bodies to facilitate our exploitation of them. We impregnate them and steal their offspring, which we then eat. Psychologically, we have to degrade them to senseless machines in order to still function as humans next to this limitless horror. We reduce them to less than they are, the word “animal” itself is perceived as an insult. We do not have the decency to correctly name what we eat, we have to talk around it by using terms such as “pork” or “beef”. Slaughterhouse workers tend even more towards these euphemisms, as they refer to chickens as “broilers”, to pigs as “rashers” and to cows as “udders”.

Just as the membership of a race, gender, class or sexual orientation is of no importance when it comes to basic rights, neither does the membership of a particular species matter. The term speciesism has been established following the terms racism or sexism. Speciesism describes the discrimination based on species, just like racism describes the discrimination based on race. In other words, it is the belief that another species can be oppressed, abused and exploited solely because of their species. In virtually all cases, animal species are the victims of human speciesists, never vice versa. Generally, speciesists attach more value to humans than to animals not because of different qualities or capabilities but because of biased prejudices.

Speciesists often cynically ask whether – according to animal rights activist’s views – animals should be seen as equals to human beings. But animals do not need all the same rights that we humans do. The right to vote would be useless to them, because they do not have the desire to vote. The concept of preference utilitarianism, mostly coined by Peter Singer, suggests that animals deserve the same rights as humans where they have the same preferences or the same interests. Virtually all sentient beings have the strong desire to live, they avoid pain and do not want to be hurt. Furthermore, they feel emotions such as happiness, sadness, they grieve and are aware of their environment and their companion animals.[10] This results, or rather should result, in them having the same rights for exactly these aspects: the right not to be hurt, the right to live freely and the right not to be held as property. In his own words, Singer argues that “the extension of the basic principle of equality from one group to another does not imply that we must treat both groups in exactly the same way, or grant exactly the same rights to both groups. Whether we should do so will depend on the nature of the members of the two groups. The basic principle of equality does not require equal or identicaltreatment, it requires equal consideration.”[11]

If we take this system into consideration it is quickly shown that animal’s needs are not met at all. In fact, they are by far the most oppressed and mistreated group of all time on our planet. The Jewish writer Isaac Bashewis Singer is quite famous for his statement that for the animals “all people are Nazis” and thus for them, life “is an eternal Treblinka” [12] . All animals used for food are oppressed, mistreated and ultimately killed. We use their lives, we take their lives and we eat their lives only because we believe ourselves to be superior. But the superiority is an illusion when it comes to basic needs and emotions. They can and do suffer when harm is being inflicted on them.

__________________________________________________________

The discussion of all these issues on a philosophical level can be summed up by the word ethics. Animal ethics focus on the relationship between human animals and nonhuman animals and how one interacts with the other. However, there are some major problems when it comes to animal ethics.

Too often, animal ethics only discuss aspects of a practice without actually questioning essential basic conditions. They push fundamental questions aside and accept the legitimacy of purpose as appropriate standard. Unethical practices are often correctly recognized as such, but ethics fail to bring out the practice’s abolition. Instead, they seek to improve or rather adjust the system in which they place animals in a way that requires minimal improvement in real welfare and gives the impression of meeting consumer’s demands for ethically produced meat. This is where meaningless labels like “cruelty-free” come from. Animal welfare is a real barrier to profit, from a business point of view. It is cheaper to produce animals in masses and let some die before slaughter age than to care for them adequately.

Violent ideologies depend upon promoting fiction as fact and discouraging or even prohibiting any critical thinking or action that threatens to dismantle this system. A good example might be the defamation trial in Amarillo, Texas in 1996. A group of beef producers sued Oprah Winfrey for over $10 million for slandering beef in one of her shows. The program discussed mad cow disease and featured warnings which showed that American cattle are likely to find ground-up members of their own species in their feed – those who had died from BSE. Clearly, the disease could thus be found in the meat Americans eat, which prompted Winfrey to declare “It has stopped me cold from eating another burger! I’m stopped!”[13]

Her mistake was not that she had brought into light the more than dubious procedures of cattle business. Anyone can easily access those details if desired. What the group of beef producers did not like was her influence, the sheer number of people following her broadcasts. In other words, she simply reached too many people.

It is in this context that the so called “Ag-gag” laws have been put in place in the U.S., which forbid undercover filming or photography of agricultural activities. While supporters might claim they serve to protect agricultural industries from negative images, they are mainly used to keep activists from exposing the abusive and horrific truths that take place in today’s agricultural businesses. They make it almost impossible to prove mistreatment of animals used in agriculture, since they prohibit and outlaw the pieces of evidence themselves.

These precautions strongly suggest that there is something worth hiding. In fact, it is well hidden. It is striking, how easily one can spend a lifetime of meat consumption without once entering a place where it is processed.

“Because mass witnessing is the single greatest threat to carnism [the belief system that conditions us to eat some animals and not others], the entire system is organized around preventing this process. Indeed, the sole purpose of carnistic defenses is to block witnessing.”[14]

Chances are that we have been fed meat products during our childhood, based on our parent’s habits. The decision has often been made and the meat-based diet habit has been accepted even before a child is on its way. One could ask: “Is it really ever a decision? Do carnists even consider raising their children without meat and then decide that they prefer feeding them corpses?” In fact, it is a pattern that continues until it is thoroughly questioned. Most of us are born into a system that we become accustomed to without knowing it. It is the reason why we see the consumption of the few animal-species our ancestors have consumed as normal, the way it has always been and consequently we never ask ourselves, why we do so. Obviously, this does not justify our actions in any way. In contrast, it should push us to act according to our own values and should lead us away from passiveness towards activeness. In that sense, rethinking the grounds for our actions is a necessary liberation. Arriving at this level of consciousness, we have the possibility to make new choices and to adjust or alter old habits that we falsely think of as beliefs.

“Most people who eat meat have no idea that they’re behaving in accordance with the tenets of a system that has defined many of their values, preferences, and behaviours. […] And by carving out the path of least resistance, norms obscure alternative paths and make it seem as if there is no other way to be; […] meat eating is considered a given, not a choice.”[15]

I have recently been involved in a discussion about animal rights and the goal of activists to shift towards a world where animals are respected and not killed for any human purpose. We were talking about nations and the many different opinions that exist within them. My interlocutor explained to me that a state needs to be seen as a whole. Though many groups of people with many different views on life that they want to realize all coexist in the nation’s philosophy, the country is not capable to take them all into account. There may be a group whose goal it is to abolish all freeways and who demands a speed limit of 20 miles per hour in the whole country. There may be another group whose idea it is to ask the state for subsidies in order to build more parks and thus make cities greener. And there may be animal rights activists, who demand the closure of slaughterhouses, the ending of livestock breeding and finally the abolition of meat-consumption. Now, my friend asks me, what would happen to a state if it took all demands into consideration and helped with realizing every single one of them? If every idea of every group could ultimately sell itself and be put into action, the state would be torn apart quite quickly.

In that sense, my interlocutor wanted to demonstrate that certain ideas can neither be absorbed nor realized, even if they may be justified and beneficial. I logically agreed, because I recognized the problem that would occur if every inhabitant of a country could freely change the law according to his values. The big difference between animal rights activist’s demands and all the demands of other opinions however is, that there is a third party involved. This fact makes animal rights activist’s demands by far more important in comparison to other demands that one might have. Animal oppression is the cause for our demands and animal’s inability to ask for them themselves is the reason why it is us human beings who must fight for them. Animal right’s advocates do not have the opinion that animal abuse must end, but they are the ones that have acknowledged this truth.

This example might help understand why animal right’s demands cannot be shrugged off as if it were a phase that some people go through. Consequentially follows the promotion of a meat-free diet, as meat consumption represents the main contribution to the injustices that animals face.

Animal ethics are not only theoretical thought processes, but applied practices. The things we learn from them must have consequences in our daily lives. Meat consumption is not possible without taking lives and whether we have the right to do so does not solely depend on our perceptions. All sentient beings involved have rights, most importantly the basic right to live. Humans thus have rights too, but their rights end where those of the others begin.

Meat consumption strongly violates those rights as it always takes lives.

We have seen the numerous similarities of previous historical oppressions on the one hand and today’s topical oppression of animals on the other hand. It is of extreme importance to understand that animals are just as sentient as human beings and thus as every previously repressed group, an ethical fact which indisputably prohibits their slaughter for consumption. Meat products are no longer a necessity for the great majority of our planet’s population and thus have become a choice. We have this choice every time we act, especially as consumers and costumers. Our actions are powerful, given the fact that demand determines availability. Since we have that opportunity, it is our duty to choose the most ethical, rightful and compassionate way there is, which clearly is not to eat meat.

moralcompassion, 2015.

www.moralcompassion.wordpress.com

[1] Quartz, http://qz.com/178787/forget-hot-pockets-how-did-the-us-government-miss-8-7-million-pounds-of-diseased-and-unsound-beef-in-the-first-place/, last access on 20.05.2015.

[2] Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

[3] Millard J. Erickson – Christian Theology, Baker Book House Company, Seventh Printing, 1990, page 543.

[4] Same as footnote no° three.

[5] Unfortunately, women are still systematically oppressed in many parts of the world. The example above, however, should illustrate a situation that has since changed dramatically.

[6] Peter Singer – Animal Liberation, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 1975, p. 9.

[7] Melanie Joy – Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows, Conari Press, 2010, p. 139.

[8] The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, written by Philip Low, published on 7.7.2012, available onhttp://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf.

[9] Same as footnote no°eight.

[10] Again, see The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, written by Philip Low, published on 7.7.2012.

[11] Peter Singer – Animal Liberation, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 1975, p. 2.

[12] http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/14444.Isaac_Bashevis_Singer, last access on 20.05.2015.

[13] http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/press/oprah_15apr96.html, last access on 20.05.2015.

[14] Melanie Joy – Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows, Conari Press, 2010, p. 139.

[15] Melanie Joy – Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows, Conari Press, 2010, p. 106.

Kristofer Aberg: The radical notion that (vegan) Israelis are people

This is a response by Swedish animal rights activist Kristofer Aberg to an article by the Peace and Conflict Studies scholar Shawndeez Davari Jadali: ‘Vegan Killers: Israeli Vegan-Washing and the Manipulation of Morality.

The comment had initially been published on ‘Turkey Agenda’ as a response, but was removed again by the editors one day after publishing.

We asked Kristofer if we could share a copy of his comment on our blog, since this critique is important to be voiced, in support of our fellow Israeli activists and also because of the plurality that we need in the discussion of Animal Rights and vegan politics.

The radical notion that (vegan) Israelis are people

This text as a PDF

Shawndeez Davari Jadali wrote a couple of days ago about Israeli “vegan washing” in Turkey Agenda. Israel, Jews and Zionists have been subjected to a lot of lies and conspiracy theories during the years. Do we really need another one?

First of all: Is it really that hard to understand that you shouldn’t use collective punishments on Israelis just as you shouldn’t do it on Americans? How would Shawndeez Davari Jadali feel if she was to be blamed for the war inIraq, just because she lives in theUS? And that her attempt at peace and conflict studies is just a “peace washing” to make theUSimage better for the world?

The slogan “feminism is the radical notion that women are people” has shown to misogynous men what feminism is really about. It seems like people like Jadali need to be taught the radical notion that also Israelis are people! They are not propaganda machines for their government just as Jadali probably wasn’t a propaganda machine for the Bush administration. Israelis can have a life not connected to the conflict with the Palestinians. Jadali’s single minded attitude sounds like someone who has never met a gay person, and then stereotype that person totally. A Swedish comedian therefor said something like “I’m not just gay, I’m also a carpenter”, to point out that you are more than your sexuality. And you are also more than your citizenship. Israelis can be interested in veganism and queer politics just as Jadali or I can.

So where is Jadali’s evidence that it’s the Israeli state that is behind the vegan boom inIsrael? I have been active in the vegan and animal rights movement inSwedensince the 1990’ies, working with low budget grass roots campaigns. I would love to hear about the secrets on how to get your state to support these causes and make a vegan boom such as the one inIsrael! Also, inSweden, and probably in other places, most of the animal rights movement comes from the left/liberal/green side of the political spectra. InIsraelthere is a right wing government, so the conspiracy theory of them being behind the vegan boom seems even harder to believe.

What Javali is doing is to be categorised as the master suppression technique known as double bind – “damn you if you do, damn you if you don’t”. The same thing goes for the people using the “pink washing” theory to blame the Israelis for their liberal attitudes toward the LGBTQ community. IfIsraelwould have a lousy policy on veganism and LGBTQ issues, people like Jadali would have used that to blame them. Now when they are progressive, Jadali comes up with another way to be able to blame them. The same goes for Jadali’s criticism of the Israeli army providing non leather shoes for a minority (vegetarians and vegans). If they would refuse, Jadali would have just had the chance to blameIsraelfor discrimination against minorities. Some more peace and conflict studying of Norwegian social psychologist Berit As is recommended for her.

Also, why criticizeIsraelfor having a population that are progressive on vegan or LGBTQ issues in the first place? Why not take a moment and make the Palestinian side better? In many Arab countries, there is no such thing as a law against discrimination against non straight people, instead there are laws and even death penalty against homosexuality.

Jadali also blamed the Israeli animal rights activists for caring about animals. So why does she target progressive vegans around the world in the first place with her new “vegan washing” conspiracy theory? Vegans are blamed for this inSwedenas well – “how can you care about animals when the children inAfricaare starving” is a common argument from meat eaters. So in what way does eating meat help starving children? Quite the opposite, meat eating is really bad for the environment and for a global solidarity. And why are compassionate activists to be blamed for what they do with their spare time? Why not blame people who use their spare time to just watch soccer, driving cars or partying? Even though Jadali seems to want to label herself as progressive, what she is doing is being really normative, only seeing veganism as a political choice. Some more peace and conflict studying of another social psychologist is recommended for Jadali, this time Melanie Joy and her theories on carnism.

Jadali writes about solidarity with the oppressed and boycotting the occupation. Doesn’t she know that most Palestinians support Hamas, a gay and jew hating islamist terrorist group? They don’t just call the post 1967 settlements in theWest Bankoccupation, they call the whole ofIsraelan occupation.Israelwas founded as a safe haven for the Jewish people after persecution inEuropeandRussia, especially during the second world war. So why not take a moment to study the antisemitism of the world, and especially antisemitism from the Arabs and Palestinians? There is for surely a social psychologist for that as well, otherwise just check out Memri or Palestinian Media Watch.

Myself, I visitedIsraelfor the first time in September this year. The vegan food in Tel Aviv andJerusalemwas wonderful. Unfortunately I missed the vegan festival in October. But I wrote about it in a Swedish vegan magazine. And by doing so, apparently I became part of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy! As an ex student in journalism, I don’t understand how making the news valuation that the world’s largest vegan festival would be a correct event to cover, is an evalutation to blame. Rather, I think it would have been a huge mistake not to cover it. Many people want to hear about vegan news, especially from countries they didn’t think was big in these issues. Even a vegan movement in dictatorships likeSaudi Arabiawould be interesting to hear about. But for some strange reason,Israelapparently should be demonized and treated in a totally different way? Jadali, can we write about theUSvegan and animal rights movement? “Your” war inIraqcaused much more death and destruction during a couple of years than the conflict inIsraelandPalestinehas done for 100 years. And don’t get me started about the war inVietnam…

Jews or Israelis and especially not Israeli vegans should be demonized in the way that Jadali is doing. The progressive people all over the world should get our support. The largest problem as I see it in the conflict are the extreme right wing groups on both sides – not that less animals gets slaughtered or that the sale of tofu is sky rocketing in Israeli supermarkets. Jadali seems to have forgotten what her earlier studies was all about – hopefully creating peace. So to Jadali and all other readers of Turkey Agenda: Shalom and give peas a chance!

Kristofer Aberg, Swedish animal rights activist since 1995

(Links accessed 25. Dec. 2014).

Caring for others with the goal of justice

Caring for others with the goal of justice

If systemic oppression lead to you having to live a life under constant fear, if you were being tortured and eventually murdered, and your life and death was accompanied by ridicule and despise, and it was said that you’d only act upon instincts, no one would believe you, no one would in fact even understand you and your language and your ways, and they’d look upon your behaviour and dissect your brain, to explain to the rest of the world who and what you were – as if they knew. And the same that happened to you, was the same that millions and billions of those who were like you would have to endure like you, with you.

Which reaction of others, who weren’t in the place of your group, and who’d even belong to the oppressors group, and, who’d even have a say to some extent in that group, would you think was the most appropriate:

Empathy???
Compassion???
Mercy???
Justice???

Empathy
Google says it is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’
Merriam Webster says it is: ‘ the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it’, ‘the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.’

Compassion
Google says is the
‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’
Merriam webster says is
‘a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.’

Mercy
Google: ‘compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’
MW: ‘kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.’

Justice
Google: ‘just behavior or treatment.’
MW: ‘the quality of being just, impartial, or fair’, ‘conformity to truth, fact, or reason.’

The vegan habit of relativizing one form of speciesist praxis with the other one

The vegan habit of relativizing one form of speciesist praxis with the other one, seems to assume that a juxtaposition of two problems is in itself already a functioning argument against speciesism. Why do we have to compare one speciesist action with another one, when both occur in a different context and when both occur as specific variables on the horrid map of human speciesism?

It seems to be assumed that the roots and causes of speciesism are the same as what the arguments against it already convey, …

so that the equation would be: speciesism is speciesism is speciesism, and since speciesism is ethically wrong we’d thus have a magic exit from that complex problem.

Yet fellow vegans, think about this:

a religious reason to kill a nonhuman, is another one then a more ideologically driven one – in the one case you do it for God and your spirituality, in the other case you might do it in order to stay part of a more modern type system or community that believes that the size of the brain and it’s functions are all that matters …  you just idealize the human species sui generis. Equally a philosophical argumentation for speciesist biopolitics differs for example from an economical calculation of bodies as chattel, … and so on …

Realistically seen there are many forms of speciesism, and conflating everything only causes an unhelpful mishmash of unjust and tragic human errors that we might help prolonging by not digging deep enough and not differentiating enough within the contexts

Objectifying nonhuman animals takes various forms:

– in legal terms nonhumans are classified as property
– in religious terms the separation is being made spiritually, man is preferred and given the right to dominate all that is on earth
– philosophical schools may give an array of different reasons for why whichever form of speciesism might be ethically sound or a right view to maintain
– the natural sciences differentiate between beings driven by instinct, the lower forms of life, the higher forms and man with the supposedly most complex make up of mind and brain.
– carnism could be said to be a term for one form of speciesism that classifies domesticated farm animals only (or finally, as in the case of horses and some exotic animals that are eaten such as ostriches) as “meat” or suppliers of food.
– pets on the other side are. in spite of being loved by our society, also affected by speciesist views on them.
– wild animals are forced to make up the object for hunters and hunting culture’s needs to re-exercise continuously the idea of a primeval and supposedly ideal condition of man as the hunter and gatherer.
– but also wild animals are affected by argumentations that target them in terms of whether they are intrusive species or should be seen as protectable.

For every animal species we seem to get one or more forms of speciesist views, classifications, argumentations. In every aspect that defines the human view on his or her environment we seem to come across a derogative stance on nonhumans.

When we discuss speciesism we should bear in mind how complex and difficult to analyze the subjugative view on animal life is in our cultures and societies.

Liberation from “Total”

Dear fellow AR activist,

​I personally don’t know where even any total liberation activists stand in detail. Of course it’s decisively crucial that the interest in nonhuman-related-ethical-issues is continuously gaining momentum, and every event (or activity, or even thought) that is taking place to grow this momentum is an active expression of an overall ethical development evoluting in our societies. I believe in such developments, and I believe they are driven by many different forces and factors.

I am however generally suspicious of the internal structures of movements, for as long as an idea hasn’t taken ground and formed solidly enough in a society for it to be expressed pluralistically enough, so that you can argue with a full spectra of positions.

The canon of Animal Liberation or AR has strong tendencies to be unisono, and I blame that on the movements inner dynamics. And it is this narrowness within the movement why  I always try to double check what exactly is being practised and promoted beyond the bigger messages of any strongly idealistic event.

With total liberation events so far nothing seems transparent to me, structurally more than from the given goals and intentions.

I for myself prefer solutions to be less “total” and more sticking to the realities of the details.

Yours,
Just another fellow AR activist

Steve from the The Drag Hook about the urgency of ethical veganism to make the U-turn against global destruction

Steve, vocalist of the vegan hardcoreband The Drag Hook from Cleveland, told us about ethical veganism:

Veganism is an important step on the road to acknowledging and ending suffering worldwide. The fact that the human body has evolved to run most efficiently on a completely vegan diet is a side benefit of living as close to a cruelty free life as is humanly possible in the world today.

Once we stop ignoring the fact that creatures with the capacity to love and enjoy their lives are being tortured and murdered every day in the name of gluttony and greed, we can start addressing this problem and every other form of needless destruction we inflict on this planet and all those we share it with.

We as human beings have a long history of doing terrible things to each other and to all of our fellow earthlings. We must right these wrongs or go extinct trying.

-Steve Osborne XVX
The Drag Hook

Ignorance Is Complicity

they live in the space you ignore
they die on the killing room floor
because they’re born for you to waste
they give their lives for the way they taste
this is real monstrosity
ignorance is complicity
Breed them in new mutated forms
so fat they cant lift themselves off the floor
dying in numbers too large to record
sold to your plate before they are born
this is real monstrosity
ignorance is complicity
everyone knows the difference
between chained and free
there will be a war
until every cage is empty

Not In My Name

let them suffer no more for me
let the walls that cage them topple over, let them be free
let the hand that grips the whip be severed clean
let eyes that witness and do nothing, no longer see
carry their cries out to every ear
let no one enjoy their pain without having to hear
Bread to be tortured and killed
raped into existence then fed to the world
this will not be my legacy
i wont go down with the rest of my species.

Both these tracks are from their January 2014 release: Lethal Dose.

Connect via
Bandcamp: https://thedraghook.bandcamp.com

Band of Mercy, Texans, Veganocrats


Band of Mercy, courtesy toomanyweapons.com

Band of Mercy, Texans, Veganocrats

Singer, guitarist Daniel from theHoustonTXbased vegan hardcore Animal Liberation Band of Mercy told us about vegan effectiveness, possibilities of leading by example and basic intersectional veganism:

My main concern, at this point in my life (after being vegan for 8 years, and being an animal rights activist for more than 5 of those years), is the issue of promoting vegan culture. Of course, the basis of why someone stays vegan throughout their life usually comes from maintaining veganism as a philosophy based on ethics, as opposed to being a  lifestyle that affords them the most personal pleasure (let’s face it, most dietary vegans will make exceptions to what they feel is a restrictive lifestyle). Unfortunately, the ethics of veganism aren’t the most appealing aspect of veganism to most people. So what is our best approach to help the most animals and reduce the greatest amount of cruelty to them?

As activists, we must consciously remind ourselves that most people DO care about animals to some degree, and that most people do not wish harm upon them. Most people accept animal cruelty as an obscured part of our food system, fashion industry, clinical fields, and so on, simply because they think things have always been that way, and that they are powerless to change things. It’s not that they wish cruelty onto animals–rather, they feel their personal sacrifices to help animals would likely not be worth the effort.

What I have found has worked best for me, in my personal life with friends and family, as well as in my activist life, is to be an educated example of personal empowerment. I have taught myself how to thrive as a vegan, and I have made it a point that all those around me see how I am thriving as a vegan. After all, everyone wants to thrive in their lives. We must aim to show people that veganism requires more discipline than sacrifice– and more importantly, that the discipline we teach ourselves to live by will enhance and benefit our lives, not wear us down or limit our potential to have fun and be happy.

I have become stronger and healthier on a vegan diet. It requires some education to learn how to eat optimally as a vegan, and it does require some planning and discipline, but my physical and mental gains from eating optimally make my life more enjoyable, as I am able to do more activities that I enjoy for greater lengths of time, even as I get older. I eat a wider variety of foods, and I enjoy the rituals of eating more now than I did as an omnivore. Food is now a celebration in my life, not just something I must consume as a matter of hunger and convenience. Not only this, but many variations of vegan food and clothing are in fact cheaper than animal-based alternatives. Through veganism we all stand to gain physically, mentally, financially, as well as knowing the peace of mind that comes with thriving while causing the least amount of harm to others.

We must empower ourselves with the knowledge of how to live vegan in an optimal way, and then we must share that knowledge with those who are curious about veganism so that we may build vegan culture. For those who are not yet curious, we must live so boldly that we invoke their interest. We can not tear down the ways of old without offering the population newer, better ways to live. They will join us when they see us laughing, when they see us succeed and lead in the workplace, when they see us staying lean and healthy into old age, when they can see that our intellect is not just one dimensional–that we read books and make creative contributions to the world outside of the concepts of animal rights. We must show that we are well-rounded, well-developed individuals who have educated views.

While the ethical arguments are always abound in the world where people want to question us or be skeptical of us for not eating animals, and in this world of cruelty as the norm where protest is so often necessary, we must be able to shift our focus beyond the ongoing debates when necessary. We must become leaders who shed the light on a better, healthier, more positive way to live. In the end, that is how we will save the most animals.

Band of Mercy – Eat to Win

There is a war, and me must fight
But we won’t win if we don’t eat right
Billions are suffering, so we must prevail
You want Vegan Power?
You better eat KALE!!

Tofu, rice, and beans – BEANS!
And dark leafy greens – GREENS!
Fruits and nuts and seeds – SEEDS!
Partake of these to smash enemies

War is upon us, like it or not
No hippies or weaklings, we need juggernauts
‘Cause change never comes from asking nicely
You want Liberation?
You better eat broccoli!!

Tofu, rice, and beans – BEANS!
And dark leafy greens – GREENS!
Fruits and nuts and seeds – SEEDS!
Partake of these to smash enemies

Born to lose, eat to win!
Toughened by tempeh, strengthened by seitan
Born to lose, eat to win!
We scoff at the phrase “protein deficient” (HA!)

(“Where do I get my protein? What, are you a fuckin’ idiot??”)

Show them a vegan like they’ve never seen
Primed to deliver one million ass beatings!

Tofu, rice, and beans – BEANS!
And dark leafy greens – GREENS!
Fruits and nuts and seeds – SEEDS!
Partake of these to smash enemies

Connect via:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Band-of-Mercy-the-band/130053330369316
Bandcamp: http://bandofmercy.bandcamp.com

Davey xSABOTEURx on vegan AR intersectionality!

xSABOTEURx at the Asylum 2 – Birmingham, 8.04.2013

We asked Davey, the bassist of the former UK vegan band xSABOTEURx, about his view on ethical veganism and animal rights intersectionality:

Basically for me veganism has always been for the animals and that’s how I would imagine it would stay. The band tackled issues of homophobia and sexism too with our vocalist at the time being gay.

We also come from a background where there’s a lot of privilege and consumerism in hardcore and honestly that’s just never been what it’s about for us.

Our politics have always been about liberation, both human and animal, and that’s something that should always continue on for us.

xSABOTEURx – Reaction

“In a world that’s fueled by the suffering of others,
ignorance is no longer an option. I would rather see
the world for what it really is than blind myself with
excuses. No longer will I stand by and watch as the
innocent fall victim to selfish desires. No more.”
Abstinence from a culture guilty of atrocity,
industries that profit off other beings misery,
mind altering substances that keep thought distracted,
pay heed to our crimes,
this is my reaction.
How many more have to suffer?
I can no longer stand by and do nothing,
as life is destroyed by human consumption,
slaves to convenience,
faith in a bottle,
this is my reaction in a world so hollow.
VEGAN STRAIGHT EDGE
Rape,
Vivisection,
Murder,
Exploitation,
Suffering,
Misery,
This is my reaction,
I won’t stand still.
Won’t stand still.
Won’t stand still.

xSABOTEURx – Unjustified

Compassion for those you once called friends,
lost among false notions of survival,
tradition is delusion in a modern age,
where substitute can take deaths place.
Slaughter, unjustified.
Slaughter, unjustified.
Animals aren’t commodity
or ours to control
industry to industry,
all will fall.
The hunters hunted,
the demons exposed,
no compromise for those who oppose.
Mass liberation from the hands of moral corruption,
those who’d brand a currency on sentient life.
Now is the time!
Mass liberation
from the hands of moral corruption.
Righteous vengeance on those who oppress.
It’s time for us to recognize,
retribution of nature’s calling.
Every second that’s spent waiting,
leads to another demise.

Both track are from xSABOTEURx – Demonstration, released in May 2013.

Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/saboteurxvx

Wolf x Down on vegan Animal Liberation and intersectionality


Wolf Down at Ieperfest 2013

We asked Wolf Down about their position on ethical veganism and intersectionality

This text as a PDF (link opens in a new window)

Wolf X Down guitarist Tobi stated it for us:

Veganism to us is not just a diet, as declared by lifestyle vegans that see it merely as a way to stay healthy. It’s a conscious ethical decision of causing the least suffering and harm done to the planet and its inhabitants. Thus, we don’t feel that veganism is “giving up your favorite products and food”, as meat-eaters like to put it into question: “Don’t you miss xy?”. No and no. No, because there’s just about every delicious meal in a tasty cruelty-free vegan version and no, because there’s just no other way. It’s not a choice that is open to anyone. You’re not free to choose if you wanna hold yourself a slave or not, are you? So why do we think it’s everyone’s personal decision to exploit, torture and murder animals?

Despite all this, veganism is a means, not an end. We don’t think real change is to come from simply boycotting products and sharing your favorite raw food recipes. Be honest to yourself, veganism alone is not even saving animal lives. Thus, veganism is to be used as a stepping stone only. The consensus of our society about animal exploitation will not be broken without further action. If we want to achieve animal liberation, the animal rights movement needs to become a political and social movement just like the abolitionist one. The abolition of slavery and struggle for Black people was not won by boycotting cotton. To be successful, a movement needs a broad bandwidth of actions. And the direct actions of sabotage, property destruction and animal liberation carried out by underground ALF activists are just as vital as the clean-cut vegan on the TV talk show. So let’s raise our voices to be heard, and never forget, thousands of individuals are being tortured, mutilated and killed right this second: “I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.” – William Lloyd Garrison, American abolitionist

In a wider context, veganism to us is part of a struggle for total liberation, including not only non-humyn, but also humyn animals. Just as humiliated womyn and people of color or of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds striving for true equality, the gay couple or queer- and trans-people striving for acceptance, people with disabilities for support, refugees for shelter and animals for a right to live without suffering and exploitation, we all aspire to be free and healthy. Not the same, but equal. Only by exposing the commonalities in the different forms of oppression and understanding the nature of the hierarchies and the mentality of the oppressing forces towards their subjects, we can find a way to mutually improve, amend and progress in fighting back, united and strong: “Unity of oppression”. When fighting our own separate fights, we may dismantle and maybe break out the one or two specific spokes that represent our pain in the wheel that is oppression, but it won’t stop the wheel from turning, it will still continue to roll over our comrades. Thus, to achieve our goal of true and lasting liberation, we need to reach hands and make it one common struggle for liberation, to build a unity of the oppressed and break all the spokes in this seemingly everturning wheel:  “So you can stay cool behind your window and choose the view you want to see. But as long as there are others held captive, do not consider yourself free.”

Wolf Down – No Silent Approval

while the blood drips off the blade the cries still resonate
estranged, cut into pieces – rediscovered on your plate
you stop at nothing for the privileg of taste
like a panel of judges you’re deciding their fate

born in misery, abused – got nothing to lose
exploited for profit therefore you breed by humyn greed
this machine that turnes lives to products is called tradition
your silent approval – what an imposition!
individuals – facing perversion by superior forces
social, sentient beings degraded to resources
you stop at nothing for the privileg of taste
like a panel of judges you’re deciding their fate

this is about freedom, this is about compassion,
abolish exploitation – animal liberation!
The time has come – to break this culture of death

From Wolf x Down’s 2013 album release STRAY FROM THE PATH.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/WOLFxDOWN
Bandcamp: http://wolfxdown.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/WOLFxDOWN
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WOLFxDOWN

stray from the path — escape prescribed conformity

We asked Per Aspera about ethics, veganism and its intersectional grounds

We asked Per Aspera from Chicago, IL, about their stance on veganism, and their thoughts on the “how to” of veganism’s intersectional condition

Per Aspera’s guitarist Nicholas Schmidt told us:

For starters, we strongly believe that it is gravely immoral to support and/or engage in the practice of murder, imprisonment, rape, and torture of living creatures. This applies not just to our fellow Homo sapiens sisters and brothers, but to all feeling beings.

The fundamental logic underpinning our decision to abstain from supporting the animal exploitation industry explicitly requires us to be opposed to all forms of systemic oppression that serve only the interest of the ruling elite. Hence our communal opposition to capitalism, fascism, patriarchy, racism, and environmental destruction are necessary components of responsible, honest, and consistent animal welfare activism.

With that said, engaging in any sort of radical political thought or action guarantees an intense amount of social baggage to encourage a placid and largely benign movement. When organizing in opposition to such mainstream and widespread power dynamics, it can be incredibly tempting to siphon off oneself or one’s small social clique from the rest of society. The antisocial message so common in punk and radical left circles serves to remove the possibility of organizing mass popular movements necessary to confront oppressive institutions across the whole of society. Furthermore, these tendencies offer no substantive vision and strategy for a society we are indeed capable of creating on this planet, as activism may be reduced to personal lifestyle decisions. Admittedly a somewhat ironic argument to hear from a DIY punk/metal band, we feel that the persistent drive to alienate left-wing struggles from working class culture resembles the same counter-productive prejudices that have plagued social justice movements for so long in regards to women, people of color, the natural world, and now with ever more increasing awareness, our fellow non-human companions.

The liberation of Mother Earth from the systemic diseases we have brought upon her is completely dependent on our ability to reach out, connect, and organize with all people who are experiencing the same oppressions, in whatever form, from our own backyards and neighborhoods, to the world at large. Ya dig?

Per Aspera – Shikata Ga Nai

We live with the lie that everything dies,
It’s only the spectres we perceive alive.
We personify existence in the natural world,
So we can mourn the proof of our own remorse.

I reject the notion that a desert of pain is the only universe that we have to explain.
As the memories of our families evaporate into space.

The hollow woman kicking blood,
Reminds us what waits in our blood.
As she cries for her slaughtered friends,
The vacuum of space hears no dead ends.

So I will cry when my friends die, and I won’t forget to live,
With passion, vigor, love, and fear of losing all that I hold dear.

Bandcamp: http://perasperapunk.bandcamp.com
Tumblr: http://perasperapunk.tumblr.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/PerAsperaPunk
Contact: perasperapunk [at] gmail [dot] com