Jul 28, 2011

World Vegan Radio Interview with Dr. Steve Best

Below is an interview with Dr. Steve Best.  This is an excerpt from WKPFT World Vegan Radio in Houston.  The co-host who conducts this interview is Antenteh Roba, M.D.,  Founder and Executive Director of International Fund for Africa.

While many have differing, and often negative views of Best, I found his messages in this interview worthy of consideration.

I too agree that it is dangerous when free and "progressed" countries ban political thought if it is deemed "radical".  Steve Best has been forbidden entry into the U.K. due to his controversial views and outspoken advocacy regarding social justice and animal rights issues.  Shouldn't speech be protected not just when it suggests mundane ideas - but also "unpopular" ones as well?  But this gagging of contentious ideology is exactly what the U.S. is attempting to do too as explained in Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism by Dara Lovitz.  

I particularly like his insights on Animal Standpoint Theory and how we can learn so much from these most oppressed beings by viewing historical conditions through their lens of relentless human domination and marginalization.

Best also elaborates on his fears of the vegan movement becoming elitist in advocating to white, middle-class Western cultures as the rest of the world is rushing towards our gluttonous consumption habits. To which I provide just a handful of examples that illustrate how globally, our movement to end/reduce "meat" consumption has been pathetically ineffectual:

Rapid growth of pork production in Ukraine
//19 Jul 2011
In the first five months of 2011 the total pork production in Ukraine increased by 45% compared to same period of the last year.

US, Mexico sign trucking agreement - NPPC pleased
//07 Jul 2011
Mexico is the second largest market for the US pork industry, which shipped $986 million of pork south of the border in 2010. Since 1993 – the year before NAFTA was implemented – US pork exports to Mexico have increased by 780 percent.

From the Bangkok Post
Dairy Queen and Burger King speeding up expansion
Two food chains under Minor Food Group Dairy Queen and Burger King aim to expand their businesses faster in the second half of this year to respond to the public's greater spending power.

Beef export sales 38 percent higher led by Japan and Mexico
Beef export sales were 6,493 metric tons higher last week led by shipments to Japan (4,200 MT) and Mexico (4,100 MT). Vietnam, South Korea and Canada also contributed to the United States’ higher export sales.

Audio: Beef exports to Hong Kong booming
U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong are reaching new heights in 2011. Through the first five months of the year, exports have more than doubled in volume to 50.8 million pounds and increased 140 percent in value to just over $100 million.

Dairy Herd Magazine
“The United States has reached a tipping point where dairy exporting is no longer an option but a necessity,”

And here as Dr. Anteneh Roba mentions in the interview with Steve Best are the problems created in Africa due to the expansion of factory farming. Of course the consequences to human and nonhuman alike are incalculable.

I wanted to call attention to these matters to explain my reasoning in not proclaiming "victory" to the proposed larger cages for hens that may (or may not) happen in a decade or so... I wanted to restate my conviction to the abolition of cages, factory farms and slaughterhouses all together.  I wanted to re-align myself with the reality that education and "welfare measures" will not influence the world towards a more compassionate diet in any quantifiable way.  

We must become more outspoken in our personal lives and publicly/politically challenge the notion that everything and everyone on Earth is up for grabs as a "resource". We mustn't become complacent just because we have, "our family" has, "our community" or "our country" has become vegan. If indeed we are ever so fortunate to be ever be able to say these things at all - It will not be enough!   

Acting individually and locally is a necessary start - but we mustn't settle until the world embraces all social justice issues. We, our nonhuman kin and the sake of the planet urgently depend on us to have this uncompromising goal - Or all is lost.

"One cannot change destructive policies without changing the institutions and power systems that cause, benefit from, and sustain them.  An effective struggle for animal liberation, then, means tackling issues such as poverty, class, political corruption, and ultimately the inequalities created by transnational corporations and globalization."
~Steve Best 
Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Volume V, Issue 2, 2007

For those courageous enough now, and to legions more in the future, who dare to expose and topple the underpinnings of the systematized oppression of the forgotten and disenfranchised - I for one, know you do so, because there is no other way.  

Full radio show here at the KPFT archives
International Fund for Africa
Globalization of Factory Farms at Brighter Green


veganelder said...

Jeez, we're so screwed...

Bea Elliott said...

Yep... That's what I'm lead to believe too. I actually had/have many regrets about this post. And if there ever was a time when someone might want to shoot the messenger - It probably would be now. "Bang!" I'm dead! :(

I know this post is filled with dire news. But I don't know... Is avoiding it going to help any? Isn't what Steve Best speaks of, that I only supported with facts, important to recognize?

I just don't know what to do with this information... All sense tells me for every 1 vegan made - There are a thousand new carnists. It's daunting, depressing and discouraging. I'm sorry I brought the whole thing up. :(

Yet what you said on Holding onto Sorrow/Challenge Oppression http://challengeoppression.com/2011/07/25/holding-onto-sorrow/
was also a blunt reality. A wake up call. Oddly it was like a life line to me... Because it showed me that others (you) see it too:
"We put our Dachau and our Chelmno and our Auschwitz-Birkenau and our Sobibor and our Ravensbruck right out in the open and no one storms the fences or kills the guards."

Sadly, it's true - We as a whole culture tolerate the slaughterhouses and the wars on other species quite well... The economics of it have hypnotized us. And if it's not financial gain - It's habit, tradition or some other trite excuse that keeps us blind to what's happening.

And it's not only to nonhumans but the raping of the planet, the mass incarceration of citizens for fabricated misdeeds... The political corruption, and on and on... There's absolutely no institution that hasn't shown itself to be broken. I just don't know that we will work our way "gently" to repair.

veganelder these are very difficult times - Thanks for calling it as you see it. It makes a difference for me to know that others I respect have the courage to look at unpretty reality as well.
Press on I guess... :/

Harry said...

Esteemed Bea and VeganElder,

Yep, screwed. No denying it. But temporarily ... The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Unfortunately, with what I've witnessed in the "third world" countries I've travelled to, the dawn is still some way off. But come it will.

veganelder said...

Ah Bea, somebody somewhere wrote something (could I be more vague and imprecise?) to the effect that the single thing that provides the ultimate motivation to keep on keeping on is the difference you can make in the life of one or more of the other animals. Helping out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue, caring for Nessie Rae (bunny person), Gracie Rae (kitty person) and Bobby Ray (a big kitty person) means I am making a difference...at least in their lives...and if I weren't there...that difference might not get made and I refuse to allow them to not be cared for...likely too there will be others that I haven't met yet that I can make a difference for...all the rest of the stuff, the despair, the horrors...well it sucks and sucks big time...still and all...me, you, Harry and all the others...each of us are making a profound difference in the lives of many of our fellow animals...that is a big big big thing (I know because Nessie Rae told me so :-) )

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Harry... "Darkest before dawn" - Yes. And I cannot wait for the end of this long nightmare/hell that our friends are going through. The light it seems is far overdue.

Thanks for the reminder that it's coming though. I'll never turn away an optimistic chance that keeps us on our goal. We'll do it! ;)

Bea Elliott said...

Hi veganelder... The one that matters - I remember the starfish story!

You've said things that I must keep in mind... As I whisper "goodnight" to the hens - I see each has a safe place and a life with meaning... I open the door to go back inside and there is ever-happy Tucker - I know his life is far better because he found a friend in me. Same goes for Backus, Teco and Touche'... And for those who've been and gone; Those I've yet to meet - I understand about making that difference.

It doesn't stop our hearts from breaking for all those we can't help. But your wise advice have put things in perspective for me... Again, many thanks to you and hugs to Nessie Rae! <3

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are there to fight for the animals with you blog and your heart! More power to you! Doris Potter

Have Gone Vegan said...

Well, I personally think the larger cages are still a good thing, but I agree that we have to do a better job of linking the various connected issues. And that we can still make a huge difference if not in the world at large, then in the worlds of the individual sentient beings who depend on us.

Bea Elliott said...

Thank you Doris! I know you do a great job speaking out for our friends too! They must be seen in their true, glorious being-ness if we are ever to gain respect for their place here. Your beautiful photography certainly makes that happen! Appreciate the visit & your dedication as well!

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Have Gone Vegan! I wanted to address your comments in more detail but got side tracked with all the crisis within animal ag instead...

I will get to a post soon that will clarify even more where I stand on welfare, reform, rights and strategy. I think you'll see I'm in agreement with you more than not.

I intend to link to another interview with Steve Best where he explains the usefulness of (welfare) reform when "articulated through a rights perspective".

If you or anyone else wants to get a head-start on it here's the link:

In the meantime, I can sum up briefly that what little I know, tells me that there is plenty of room at the table-of-ideas to work (and fight) our way towards a more equitable world. And I certainly don't agree that anyone has "The" one solution to making that happen.

I appreciate your honest input that motivates us all to think further on this subject. Thanks ;)

Have Gone Vegan said...

Looking forward to your post! (I have no doubt by the way that we're more in agreement than not.) And will check out the link as well. Thanks Bea! :)

Bea Elliott said...

Hi HGV - Obviously, I'm in catch-up mode... For what it's worth (as "old news") - Yes, I'm sure you've seen by now we aren't that alien to each other's methodology at all! Meet you on the flip side! ;)