Revolution Online, September 23, 2008
Reform, Revolution, and Debate in the Animal Rights Movement
The following is an online comment we received from a reader off of the article “Reform or Revolution: Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality” by Bob Avakian that appeared in Revolution #141. Reprinting of reader comments does not imply that we agree, or disagree, with them.
I agree with Bob Avakian’s orientation. The issues presented here are actually similar to those debated in the animal rights movement. On the one hand, we have the “welfarists” (comparable to the reformists). They want to ameliorate the conditions of the animals by, for example, demanding larger cages. The “liberationists,” (similar to revolutionaries) on the other hand, want to totally liberate the animals and end ALL exploitation.
Liberationists would put forth that animals are sentient beings who feel pain and are not here to be exploited for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment. Therefore, in the example above, welfarists would argue for BIGGER cages and liberationists...for EMPTY cages.
It may help to make this contrast more clear, if we focus for a moment on the concentration camps. Few of us would have argued that we should have expended our energies trying to make the conditions for the inmates more palatable before being sent to the gas chambers. We would have argued for total liberation and an end to the whole operation. The understanding of many of us in the animal rights movement is that exploitation of working people and the SUPER exploitation of Women, African Americans, Immigrants, the Poor AND...Animals, taking the external forms of Sexism, Racism (etc) AND Species-ism, these attitudes and practices are pillars that prop up and propel this whole system forward.
Encouraged by and incorporated into this system (for super profits and to divide our ranks), these practices mirror the dominant ideology that “it is right for the strong to dominate the weak, might makes right, and by demeaning and objectifying the ‘other,’ we can do anything we want to her/him/them for our pleasure and/or profit.” These are interlocking “isms” in that they augment and reinforce one another. (See “The Pornography of Meat.”)
We ourselves do not want to participate in exploitation or oppression in any way and on the contrary, work to end a class divided society. To be consistent in this vision and with these values; to live them in our daily lives; to take a stand against species-ism (and ALL inter-locking oppressions); to NOT support this system in any way; we, animal rights activists have become vegan and urge other revolutionaries, communists and progressive minded people to likewise do the same.
This will also make us all stronger, healthier and more fit (see “The China Study”) for the protracted battles ahead, battles to address the ROOT problems (private ownership/social production etc) and not just the symptoms. Thank you for bringing forth ideas to empower people and to help bring about an egalitarian, classless, vegan, communally shared world for the benefit of all!
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