Sep 11, 2009

Animal Rights - THEN & NOW - The Snakeoil is Still the Same

From the 1989 Agricultural Law newsletter An overview of the animal rights movement:

And here we are 20 years later with this, this, this, this, this and this. And well, I could go on and on because it's obvious there's constant disagreement now as there was in 1989. The latest debate is each "fringe" claiming the other is "extreme" and ineffectual.
But why must we always see things in such extremes? We are attempting to "normalize" veganism, yet any deviation in theory or strategy has to be labeled either or "good or bad", "right or wrong". I believe everything, every act, every position should be judged to the degree of its effectiveness. Not ALL activities are the SAME. There are differences and degrees. The variations between the two are immense. Not everything is divided neatly down a faultless line of "peaceful" activism vs "pipebombs". And not all "good" activism is "productive" all the time: Cookies are a wonderful way to introduce people to veganism. But if the cookies taste awful - even that excellent "peaceful" activism might do more harm than good. Similarly, one of the most "extreme" and "forceful" efforts, like those carried out by Sea Shepherd, have incredible positive results, and a substantial impact in "mainstream" acceptance as well. So there is something in between the two that does have cultural significance. And to judge what will be effective or not, requires one remain objective - and evaluate each on it's own merit... Not on "party line".

It's a lazy way to member oneself with one side or the other exclusively... Finding the commonality and blending, in all the ways that really matter, seems to be what's required for much needed solidarity. Bickering has gotten out of hand and is entirely counterproductive. It's as meaningful as peta or hsus bashing. BTW not EVERYTHING they focus on is entirely wrong, ALL THE TIME either. This "single approach" reads like a snake oil label: "Educate and change the demand". But the fine print says "only".

If we look at the animal industries as a cancer which has infected the body, would we settle for a limited "magic" prescription as the cure? No, we would aggressively attack in all directions that would have "some" reasonable value and contribute to the remedy... A holistic approach to an illness is what is needed. A person with a common cold might fortify their body with vitamins, drink more fluids, take medication, rest, etc. Likewise, there is no "one plan" for Animal Rights. We need a holistic approach. And for the sake of brevity I'm omitting *my* definition of violence in this "holistic approach", but suffice it to say that I try to distinguish "illegal" acts such as open rescue, to those acts which clearly put life at risk. I do believe there is an important difference that should not be overlooked for the sake of finger-pointing or "othering" one's validity. Not all "illegal" acts should be seen as "terrorism" - Unless you also support the oppressive and arbitrary AETA. (?)

 I'm also not disqualifying "education" as it effects "demand". However, you can't disregard the economic system which holds animal use in it's grip. And it does so not entirely through individual purchases but more so by an enormous institutionalized "welfare" program to the animal and "meat" conglomerates. So just telling people to "go vegan" will make little change unless the financially run political systems are challenged and changed as well. Yes, that means voting honest people in office. That should be an easy one to tackle right? (sarcasm noted).

 And if one were to look at the strategies on polar ends... The pipebomb vs "non-violent" advocacy I could say the most peaceful thing I can do is sit in my yard, in the sunshine meditating on flowers. But that won't change a thing about what other humans think about or do to animals. Nor will blowing things up have any positive change either... So the ideal of being most "peaceful" in the movement has it's limits of effectiveness - As does the other destructive extreme. But does it always have to be viewed in "extremes"? All "sabotage" is not pipebombing... All peacefulness is not passivity. We often dislike the animal abusers because they lump all species into rigid "productive units". Forgetting that these are individual lives - each different than the other... It seems that this movement is determined to also categorize it's advocates into such restrictions as well.

I continually hear that we must change cultural beliefs - It's understood this will never happen overnight. Incremental change is inevitable with society's attitudes. Yet many (including myself) refuse to accept that incremental changes will occur in animal agriculture as well. It doesn't mean one must support "welfarism"; I don't. But are we really doing anything constructive when we invalidate those methods? Spending time disavowing what others do (or don't) is just a waste of energy that is desperately needed elsewhere. The more we banter about how much we all disagree with each other - the more the animals industries win! No wonder why so many are paranoid of "plants" because this infighting is creating a perfect storm for irreconcilable division between us all. And the most important cause, that of the animals is being forsaken in the process. It's a time worn phrase but true nonetheless... If we could all just agree to "disagree" - And move on to our own purpose, and do what we each know works best for us. We all stand a better chance at some future time, to meet in the middle on some common ground that will really reflect a tipping point within the movement. We can win this... But not if we keep fighting with each other.

If we can accept that we all might not be on "same page" but that we are all reading the same book - the story will unfold as we progress into it... And hopefully it will have a happy end.
Taking the Fight to Them
One Track Animal Rights Advocacy - Bus-ted!

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