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Mar 26, 2007

He who says speciesism says fascism—

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/5137

BY PATRICE GREANVILLE

Forty-eight thousand million animals—yes, 48 billion creatures—are estimated to die each year as a result of human activities ranging from factory farming to hunting, the fur garment trades, commercial exploitation of various kinds, and biomedical research. That's more than 130 million creatures every single day, including birds, cows, and hogs, all of them highly sociable animals.

The way we go about killing animals, wherever they may be found or kept, land, sea or air—murdering and torturing are better words—is astonishing. We do it with abandon and we do it in such institutionalized, "tradition" approved ways that only a minority ever realize the extent of the tragedy. Since the era of modern fishing began 200 years ago we have decimated the oceans, ostensibly infinite reservoirs of life, converting many maritime regions into what Farley Mowat accurately decried as "seas of slaughter." In the USA alone, every year almost 50 million turkeys are killed just for Thanksgiving Day, to commemorate a date that is of questionable historical merit, and which, despite the fact that the sacrificial victims have grown from a handful to tens of millions, rarely stirs any introspection. Sadly, such incidents are but a mere drop in an invisible sea of abuse whose actual roots date back to our earliest times as a species with self-righteous "dominionistic" claims over nature.

Forty-eight billion animals is a stunning figure, yet this figure, regarded by many experts as scandalously conservative, does not include animals mistreated or dead as a result of habitat destruction, widespread pollution, apparently "harmless" recreational activities such as sport fishing and boating, and the collision of animals with "modernity" (up to 250 million animals die annually as roadkill on the American highways alone). We have become indeed not only the most appalling tyranny over every other sentient creature on this planet, including many segments of our own breed, but also a raging, self-righteous cancer extending itself with impunity to every corner of the earth.

PROGRESSIVES OF ALL STRIPES, IT'S TIME TO DO SOME RETHINKING

Today, as a result of industrialism, ecological deterioration and other related issues, self-defined progressives can't afford to go on pretending that suffering on such egregious scale is just a peripheral issue, or the concern of affluent diettantes with little interest in other social issues.

Due to a deeply embedded and largely unexamined 18th Century heritage of philosophical "superhumanism" ("man is the measure of all things," and the rest of all that self-celebratory rubbish which, we should mention in passing, arose as a response to a greater form of human stupidity, the one granting God and King total control over human agency), the Left continues to endorse or acquiesce in human supremacist attitudes toward animals. This moral blindness is inexcusable for those who rightly see themselves as the moral vanguard of humanity. [Check this article, for example: Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left By STEVEN BEST . It'll probably challenge many of your assumptions.]

The bottom line is that speciesism—an underhanded and primitive form of fascism applied to animals and nature in general—is by far the oldest and most pervasive form of brutal tyrannization known on our planet. I don't use the word "fascism" as hyperbole in this context or for dramatic effect. I wish it were hyperbole. But the fact is that fascism is distinguished for its unilateral proclamations of superiority by a certain race or breed, with such spurious superiority endowing said race with the "right" to dominate, exploit, and annihilate at will any group deemed "inferior." If that pretty much doesn't describe eloquently our despicable behavior toward non-human animals, I don't know what does.

And for those who pretend to be stuck on the word "fascism" thinking that its use in this context is an abuse of language, you better think again. You abuse a language when you turn it on its head, to accomplish precisely the opposite of what the words originally denoted. Bush and his contemptible camarilla, as we all know, is a prime example of this: in his lips the words freedom, democracy and justice, not to mention a fair shake for the disadvantaged, are but tools of manipulation to further the agenda of a deranged and criminal plutocracy. But what am I proposing here? Something that all of you should be for, an extension of compassion, or at least the benefit of the doubt when subjecting mind-boggling numbers of creatures to the finality of death. Where is the inversion of meaning there? The outrageous betrayal of the language? Or is it that I just managed to offend the sensibilities of too many purists who happened to land on this forsaken blog?

But wait, I ain't through yet. Just like there are many varieties of capitalism, socialism and communism, so you also have distinct varieties of fascism. In some, all the bells and whistles are found that connote "classical fascism" —the jackboots, the open corporatization of the state, and so on and so forth, as we have come to know it. In others, it's more an all-encompassing worldview, a system of values, an ideology that justifies a treatment code. But here's the crux of the question, as some might say. The boots, the marches, the endless wars, the nauseating violence, the paraphernalia of fascism and the fascination with death—all of that cannot happen in the absence of an ideology that starts by justifying the oppression of others by virtue of a self-serving, unilateral declaration of superiority. You think you heard that before? Yeah, I said it earlier.

Regrettably, human chauvinism cuts very deep and pervades every nook and cranny of what we optimistically still call civilization, and has done so for millennia. No one is immune to its infection, including many folks who regard themselves as impeccably "progressive". Indeed, it is from their ranks that you often hear some of the worst and most derisive epithets. The usual argument is that progressives, always a thin line against barbarism, have better things to attend to than the fate of "mere" chickens and cows. Compassion, to such individuals, has obviously left the building; it is fungible, divisible, and comfortably apportionable according to inclusion or exclusion in certain categories of privileged sentience. They obviously don't see—refuse to see—the parallels with so many other struggles they may have honored or participated in, nor do they see how the liberation of animals is an integral part of a serious environmentalist agenda. No, here they draw the line, and reason, kindness, and the most elementary fairness fly out the window.

But such narrow-minded and intellectually lazy positions will surely be exposed—sooner rather than later—for the pretentious sham they truly are. For now, in the age of an utterly deranged industrialism, with a global system blatantly proclaiming as its organizing principle the pursuit at any cost of infinite growth in what to any sensible person is a very finite and fragile planet, the tyranny of humans over nature has acquired monstruous proportions. The colossal dimensions of animal exploitation by the industrial method and the death of one species after another grimly attest to that.

In view of these incontestable facts, no one with a scintilla of decency should turn his or her back on such knowledge. It is the duty of all people who haven't yet done so, and especially of progressives, to re-examine their assumptions about animals, about their everyday conduct in choosing food and clothing and transportation modes, and to join the last struggle against the first tyranny. By doing so, they will re-invigorate the environmental movement, rendering it less abstract and more passionate, because while fighting for nature is a noble and urgent call, fighting for nature's oppressed creatures is a matter of long overdue justice.

--
PATRICE GREANVILLE, editor of Cyrano's Journal [ http://www.cjonline.org ] is an independent leftist and sometime economist who has always supported animal liberation, and who sees no contradiction whatsoever in such praxis. Having suffered, as a result of his opposition to corporate values, from unemployment and underemployment for most of his adult life, he is not cavalier in his opinions on job loss.

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Posted: Mar 26, 2007 7:51am

 

 
 
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