25.1.09

Neo-Welfare Animal Liberationists.

You know how academics like to come up with new concepts or, more often, build on existing ideas of others. So, what do you think of the notion of neo-welfare animal liberationists (N-WALs)? I offer it speculatively in the hope of generating feedback on the name and the reasons why I suggest it.

Here are a couple of examples of how I have tried to use the notion in recent forum posts [I have altered the texts a little for the sake of clarity]:-

I think I might try the notion of ‘neo-welfare animal liberationists’ (N-WALs) to differentiate such people from rights-based animal rights advocates for a while.

My chief concern is misrepresentation. As we know the KFC campaign is led by PeTA who insist on (1) calling themselves the 'biggest animal rights organisation in the world' while adopting Peter Singer's utilitarianism for their philosophy on human-nonhuman relations and (2) deliberately calling Singer's position a rights-based one consisting of animal rights philosophy.

The latter is a blatant lie but they care not about that. For his part, Singer tells me to stop wasting my time trying to persuade PeTA to alter their claims. Since I realise that Singer regards moral rights as 'nonsense', following Bentham, I cannot expect him to care much about the aspirations of rights-based animal advocates. It seems that PeTA are in the same boat.

In recent debates involving two leading reps of PeTA they both said that they use the term 'rights' as a convenience (Singer uses rights as 'political shorthand').

What this means is that the 'largest animal rights organisation in the world', following their non-rights philosopher, cares not two figs about animal rights as a philosophical base of a position on human-nonhuman relations.

When academics look at the 'animal rights movement' they see a theoretical muddle - the kinder ones characterise it as 'philosophically nuanced'. All in all, though, this is a kick in the face of rights theorists like Francione and Regan who want to present a rights-based argument as their main claims about human-nonhuman relations. And yet neo-welfare animal liberationists claim it is the rightists who are 'divisive' in the animal protection movement. The reason for this claim is that the rightists have learned over time that the MO of the N-WALs is seriously flawed if any fundamental change is the aim - and they say so.

It is a tactical argument to be sure. Neo-welfare animal liberationists believe that their reforms can lead to animal rights - they would seriously claim that 'pushing' KFC to gas chickens is a step toward that goal. So, in this sense, in the internal logic of the argument, they are entitled to regard themselves as abolitionists - what they cannot do is characterise themselves as animal rights advocates without doing violence to animal rights theory.

and:-

One major problem with it is that we have the major organisations within the animal protection movement moving AWAY from veganism and presenting veganism as just another option. Neo-welfare animal liberationists use terms like 'veg*n' and use the terms 'vegan' and vegetarian' interchangeably as those they are in the same ethical region.

They certify meats as 'humane' and suggest that one can be a 'conscientious omnivore'. Francione points out that Singer has begun to talk about veganism as a 'fanatical' position and suggests that advocates can have the 'luxury' of not being vegan sometimes - but he always did have such views in terms of the logic of his utilitarian position which is not opposed to killing nonhumans painlessly and replacing them with others and has said consistently since Animal Liberation that he cannot see a major ethical problem with free range farming. Essentially his position is firm on factory farming from the cruelty angle but then it gets all wobbly on less intensive use systems.

Now all this is fair enough, and Singer has been consistent throughout in this (it is only his followers who are suddenly shocked to learn that he could not rule out all vivisection) but one thing is clear, his position is not consistent with animal rights theory. For some, it is 'near enough' and 'who cares anyway'; there is so much animal use at present that it is hardly worth niggling over this. However, the basic reality about social movements is that they are claims-makers in civil society. They present a vision for change (or for not changing) and they ground their vision in their philosophical position.

The 'animal rights movement' currently grounds most of its claims-making within the tenets of animal welfare, be they SHAC or ALF activists, PeTA, and even Animal Aid. Can people not see that this situation is a deliberate kick in the teeth and constraint on those animal advocates who wish to present rights-based arguments as their MAIN claims-making? I think the problem at heart is that nonrightists realise that the rights position contains an explicit critique of the value of animal welfarism, so they keep the name 'animal rights' for themselves, claim rights-based advocates are 'divisive', all in order to silence valid criticism.

Now, obviously, the advocates I am referring to as N-WALs are Gary Francione's new welfarists. Despite its accuracy, this is a label animal advocates resist. In fact I think many of them hate it so much that they turn away from the substantive arguments that generated it without really engaging them. On a psychological level this is not particularly surprising. Many animal advocates self-identify as radical or cutting edge, so the idea that their position is a form of animal welfare just will not do. In Britain, for example, the idea of animal welfarism conjures up in the minds of animal advocates the RSPCA as its organisational representative - for North Americans, they are likely to think of the HSUS or other 'humane societies'.

So, what's the point?

I think that the term N-WALs will be less objectionable than new welfarists. More to the point, as you see in the block quotes above, I am arguing that the internal logic of N-WALs suggests to them that they are abolitionists. An organisation such as Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) are likely to regard themselves as abolitionists: they want to abolish factory farming but not all animal use - they promote 'rose veal'.

I am less concerned that such groups regard themselves as abolitionists than the fact that they may be characterised as animal rights mobilisations. Consequently, I feel it is problematic for animal rights advocates to call themselves abolitionists if that means they are giving up the AR label.

Any thoughts?

34 comments:

  1. The confusion seems to stem from separating goals from methods. Some animal rights activists see welfare reforms as a pragmatic method to realize the goal of animal liberation. For example, it may be impossible, given the current cultural view of animals, to ban animal based circuses in Chicago. Too many people still think it is okay to use elephants for entertainment and will not vote to ban animal based circuses. A reasonable solution to this problem would be to educate people with animal rights based arguments as to why elephants should not be used for entertainment.

    One problem with that methodology is that it takes time. So much time, in fact, that many of the animals currently in the circus will have no hope of liberation during their lifetimes. So, in addition to arguing animal rights based philosophies, some people also push for welfare reforms aimed at crippling the circus. Despite the fact that too many people think it is okay to use elephants for entertainment, most people in Chicago will agree it is not okay to beat them with bullhooks. Therefore, it may be relatively easy to pass legislation to ban bullhooks in Chicago. A ban of bullhooks would effectively ban circues that use elephants from Chicago. So, in effect, animal rights activists may be able to use welfare reforms as a means to achieve an animal liberation goal.

    When gestation crate were banned in Florida it effectively shut down the pork industry in that state. Banning gestation crates could be seen as a welfarist agenda, but it had the effect of accomplishing an animal rights based goal.

    I am not sure exactly when the terms “animal welfare” and “animal rights” started, but for decades they have been used in common language to mean very different things.

    From Wikipedia: “Animal welfare refers to the viewpoint that it is morally acceptable for humans to use nonhuman animals for food, in animal research, as clothing, and in entertainment, so long as unnecessary suffering is avoided. The position is contrasted with the animal rights position, which holds that other animals should not be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans.”

    Francione deliberately used the term “new welfarist” to refer to abolitionists who take the incremental, welfare reform, approach to animal liberation because it is inflammatory and insulting. It is insulting to call an animal rights activist a welfarist and Francione means to be insulting when he uses such rhetoric.

    Regardless of your position in the debate between the incremental vs the purist abolitionist positions, the term welfarist is misleading, slanderously inaccurate, insulting, and devisive.

    Instead of fairly arguing the merits of either abolitionist position, Gary Francione and many others, use inflammatory rhetoric like this to imply that people who work for incremental change “support” or “promote” welfarist ideals. Basically, instead of arguing their position that incremental changes may empower animal exploitation, they are saying that animal rights activists who believe incremental changes will lead to animal liberation believe it is okay to use animals for food, research, slavery etc. Of course, that is not true, but for Francione, the truth doesn’t seem to matter.

    This isn’t about which side of the abolitionist debate you are on. This is about being fair and honest.

    One of the main reasons I lean toward the incrementalist approach is because of the slanderous rhetoric that Francione and others use to advance their purist position. Their position must be rather weak if they have to resort to slander and misleading rhetoric. It is a lot easier to gain support for the purist abolitionist position if you can paint the incrementalists as welfarists. No abolitionist would support a welfarist organization, but many abolitionists do support the incrementalist approach to abolition.

    In general, I think both the incrementalist and the purist approaches have merit. I think that we certainly should advocate veganism to the general public. Everyone can change his or her own diet and lifestyle. But, in the meantime, while we work on getting people to go vegan, billions of animals are still suffering on factory farms and agribusiness is profiting.

    While we may be able to convince an individual to go vegan today, we are not going to be able to convince KFC to stop selling chicken flesh today, tomorrow or anytime soon. Since the demand for vegan food is not as big as the demand for chicken flesh, asking KFC to stop selling chicken would be the same as asking it to go out of business. No company is going to willingly go out of business and no CEO can legally make a decision to intentionally hurt the profits of the company’s shareholders.

    So, it doesn’t make sense to ask KFC to go vegan until there is sufficient demand for vegan food. But, in the meantime, KFC’s suppliers abuse a billion (A BILLION) chickens a year in ways that are almost unimagineable. I am not going to say anything negative about an individual or an organization that thinks it can convince KFC to require its suppliers to at least provide some minimal protection to the billion of suffering animals it has killed each year. And just because someone asks KFC to make some welfarist reforms, does not mean that that person is saying it is okay to eat chickens.

    Another example, and then I’m done. Imagine that your neighbor keeps his dog on a 3 foot chain in his backyard and regularly fails to provide the dog with food and water. The dog is miserable, suffering from thirst, hunger, cold, etc. You ask you neighbor if you can take the dog and provide him with a loving home, but your neighbor refuses to hand the dog over and threatens to shoot you if you try to come on his property to rescue the dog from his miserable condition (just like the police would do if you tried to break into a factory farm to rescue animals). Let’s say that there are no laws to protect dogs from this type of abuse (just as there are no laws protecting farm animals from abuses on factory farms) What are you going to do? What can you do?

    You can tell all your neighbors to not buy dogs. You can work to pass legislation to protect dogs from this type of abuse. But that takes time. Winter is fast approaching and your neighbors dog has been without food for 3 days. What are you going to do?

    Now, let’s say that you are able to convince your neighbor to let you build a doghouse for his dog and to give the dog food and water everyday. So you do that. Now the dog at least has enough to eat and drink and has some shelter from the cold and the rain and the snow. Of course, the dog is still chained up and miserable, but his life is a little better. You still work to get people to stop buying dogs and you still work to pass laws to protect dogs.

    Now, let’s say that someone like James Crump sees what you did for that dog and calls you a welfarist. He tells people that you think it is okay to keep dogs on 3 foot chains in your backyard as long as they have food, water and shelter. How would that make you feel? Would you think that James was being fair and accurate or would you be insulted and say that that type of slander was inappropriate?

    I know how I would feel about it.

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  2. I'm sorry, Roger, but I fail to see what's wrong with the term new welfarist/ new welfarism. As you said, those to whom the term applies resist it despite its accuracy. That they find it objectionable is indeed not surprising on a psychological level, given that it contains a critique and rejection of new welfarist ideology and activism, but this does not provide a reason – not a good one at least – to give up the term, does it?

    "I'm arguing that the internal logic of N-WALs suggests to them that they are abolitionists.''

    What does ''the internal logic'' of a view tell us about its validity? According to the internal logic of speciesism, it's OK to use nonhumans for food. And most of those who do it find it objectionable to find what they do characterized as rights violations. Should we better refrain from calling it so, because they ''hate it so much that they turn away from the substantive arguments that generated it without really engaging them''?

    New welfarism is not merely a label, it is the accurate term for a phenomenon analysed by Gary Francione, and this analysis is substantial part of abolitionist theory which is animal rights theory. Why do you regard those who do violence to animal rights theory as being entitled to call themselves abolitionists?

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  3. Hi Matt,

    You speak of confusion, although I am not sure there is any. You say that, “some animal rights activists see welfare reforms as a pragmatic method to realize the goal of animal liberation.” This may be true but unlikely. It is certainly true that some animal advocates ‘see’ this but whether they adhere to rights-based philosophy is doubtful since the one is problematic in terms of the other.

    However, I do know that some advocates say one can successfully use animal welfarism ‘tactically’ to end some animal use. You say the Chicago example is such a case. Eliminate the use of bullhooks, you say, and bingo!, end of elephant circuses. Why? Elephants cannot be controlled without them? There is no substitute for a bullhook? Let us say you are right and the advocates are ‘tactically’ calling for the end of bullhook use because it is cruel and harms the welfare of the elephants and the public might agree. The circus people say they must use bullhooks but accept there are cruel and non-cruel ways of using them. Since we are in the purview of animal welfarism, those who decide this matter are likely to apply the welfarist ‘cornerstone’ concept of not causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ and ask, ‘how do circuses usually control elephants.’

    It is pretty likely that the result will be a tightening of the regulation of elephant use by the means of bullhooks – the complaint is articulated around the cruelty, not the use or control, right? So, already we get embroiled in the messy business of regulating atrocities. In the meantime, energy, money and time will have been diverted away from vegan education: the very best thing we can engage in for animal rights.

    Too often this false choice is presented: do vegan education that gets virtually nowhere and takes hundreds of years –v- bringing about meaningful welfare reforms which really help nonhuman animals and can be achieved quickly.

    You talk about the gestation crate ban in Florida. This is an animal rights goal, is it, to get these crates banned in Florida? Do people in Florida eat less pig flesh as a result or does it get shipped in? For vegans in Florida, of course, it matters not where the bits of pigs come from because they do not eat pigs. What’s the score in Florida now, animal welfare-wise? Do you have any way of telling? Do you know, for example, if you can be sure – is there any way of measuring - that more pig flesh from places with worse welfare standards than originally pertained in Florida is not being sold there now? Overall, welfare-wise, is it not possible that the situation is worse now? I am far from sure that these welfare measures do all that is claimed for them. After all, most often the nonhumans concerned are left in the hands of the same speciesists who were exploiting them before.

    I am familiar with campaigns to ban an activity before there has been much cultural change in society about human-nonhuman relations. In recent years, Scotland, Wales and England have ‘banned’ hunting (hunting with dogs that is). This campaign which enjoyed public support (for lots of different reasons) took decades and was accompanied by little in the way of animal rights advocacy. In the absence of cultural change, more foxes than ever are being hunted in Britain, the hunters have exploited every loophole in the law they could find, and the Conservative Party say they will repeal the legislation.

    Francione’s concept of new welfarism was designed to differentiate some welfarists from traditional welfarists who, in Britain, for example, would be associated with the RSPCA. It is a little like the notion of neo-Marxism. The concept may not be particularly diplomatic but it is not inaccurate. The real problem seems to be that some advocates who use welfare language, welfare concepts, and welfare claims-making, nevertheless reject that label. You seem to be saying that there are animal rightists who use animal welfarism ‘tactically’ and these are apart from the ‘real’ animal welfarists who do not seek to end animal use. However, we have still not established whether we are talking about advocates who adhere to animal rights philosophy or those who use the label rhetorically. You are saying they are insulted and slandered despite the fact that walk the walk and talk the talk of animal welfare advocates. Moreover, the way of differentiating these advocates from traditional welfarists provided by Francione is rejected because, although they use welfare tactics, and use the tenets of animal welfarism as their main claims-making, they don’t like to be called welfarists.

    Now, I think the fundamental flaw in your response is the notion of incrementalists –v- purists. You say you ‘lean toward the incrementalist approach’. However, are there any non-incrementalists? In 1996, Francione wrote an entire chapter in Rain Without Thunder entitled ‘Animal Rights: An incremental approach’, which was an appeal for discourse about what incremental moves can be regarded as consistent with animal rights theory, and in 2008 he wrote in Animals As Persons, “A central tenet of my theory is that the rights position offers clear normative guidance for incremental change.” In his work, Francione explains the merits of the abolitionist position, which you say he does not do fairly.

    However, I suspect you mean by this that the rights-based position contains within it a critique of animal welfarism, be it traditional or new. This critique is not simply pie-in-the-sky theorising but developed during and since Francione was acting as PeTA’s lawyer and after he began to see how the animal protection movement was busy watering down the notion of veganism as a baseline position and relying more and more on welfare reforms for their ‘victories’.

    I agree with you that this is “about being fair and honest.”

    You write, “Everyone can change his or her own diet and lifestyle. But, in the meantime, while we work on getting people to go vegan, billions of animals are still suffering on factory farms and agribusiness is profiting.” Is it not the case that, while we work on anything, billions of animals will suffer on factory farms? The issue is what we work on, why, and what our claims-making is based on. Or, are we back to the notion that welfare comes easy and quickly and with meaningful change while abolition or rights will never come?

    There is nothing more important in terms of animal rights campaigning than growing the numbers of ethical vegans. You seem to talk about people going vegan in the singular. That is, indeed, the incremental AR message – one vegan at a time. However, you seemingly imply that very few people will ever go vegan. KFC certainly will stop selling chicken flesh when there is no market for it. Perhaps you think a vegan population is an impossible thing? Even so, do you think there are as many ethical vegans as possible at present?

    As you say, we do not need to ask KFC to go vegan until there are many more vegans. All the more reason to prioritise that, then, it seems. Until we get those vegans those chickens you speak of will continue to be bred, debeaked, fattened, transported and slaughtered. Moreover, your comments about KFC adopting welfare reforms raise issues about the whole KFC/PeTA partnership. PeTA have ‘pushed’ KFC into adopting the CAK stunning/killing system. It took a 5-year campaign and the CAK system does not come online for another 7 years or so. The ‘welfare benefits’ of CAK over neck cutting are loudly asserted and hoped for rather than established. At the moment, we simply do not know what effects on welfare this will have. Have you seen a CAK system in operation? Is there one running in commercial rather than experimental conditions? The only thing we DO know for certain about CAK is that it represents another system of rights violations.

    When I looked at the statements about CAK, it was clear that PeTA’s exaggerated claims were unwarranted and premature to say the least. I imagine, in a decade or two, we will be watching video exposes of the CAK system just as we now see them in relation to RSPCA ‘Freedom Foods’ and other ‘humane’ systems of use.

    Matt, I’m not sure how far we can go with your ‘James Crump scenario’ as you apparently need me to imagine no welfare laws where there are welfare laws. I do hope you understand that I would not prioritise a campaign to repeal existing animal welfare legislation. I’m tempted to say I’d like to arrange for the dog to be ‘disappeared’ in this circumstances and I personally am not opposed to ‘farmed’ chickens or any other rights bearers being ‘stolen’ either. A media-friendly expose of the situation – accompanied with rights-based claims-making about all animal use – could be considered.

    I always assume that animal welfarism will continue in its organisational sense, so your hypothetical dog may not be short of champions. The best champions for the factory farmed chickens would be vegans because a chicken ‘farmer’ is not in the position of a person spitefully holding one dog for some bizarre need. I am also not necessarily engaged in trying to convince traditional welfarists to abandon what they do; I am much more concerned that people do not think what they do is animal rights advocacy.
    Finally, perhaps I can ask a question back. In no part of your contribution did I get the impression that you were committed to the principles of animal rights philosophy and yet you used the term ‘animal rights’ now and then and rather as merely a label. Is that right?

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  4. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Roger. It is entirely likely that some animal rights activists view welfare reforms as a pragmatic method for realizing animal rights goals. I happen to know many animal rights activists who feel this way and I am one of them. You can dismiss this as a philosophically problematic position if you want, but in my experience the people in the trenches often view things more pragmatically than the theorists. I think Martin Balluch wrote a great analysis of this pragmatic approach to animal liberation here: http://www.vgt.at/publikationen/texte/artikel/20080325Abolitionism/index_en.php

    He answers your question about how the pragmatic tactic of abolishing animal based circuses based on welfare concerns can move society as a whole along a continuum toward an animal rights philosophy. In his example, this isn’t just theory, it has actually happened and he cites empirical evidence to support his position.

    In my own experience, I have noticed similar changes in people’s view of animals because of welfare concerns. I used to think that vegan advocacy was the most important thing to do because more animals are suffering in the “food animal” industries than any other industry and because if someone goes vegan they are likely to also reject fur, animal testing and animal based circuses. But then I started to meet a lot of people who were outraged by the abuse of elephants in the circus who started to get more involved in animal rights and eventually decided to go vegan. Many of these people said they would have never considered veganism before because they thought it was too radical. But after becoming more exposed to the concept of veganism and animal rights through a moderate animal welfare reform campaign such as banning bullhooks in Chicago, the concepts of veganism and animal rights started to seem less daunting to them.

    In the same way, Prop 2 in California was clearly an animal welfare campaign with no obvious animal rights agenda. However, millions of people were exposed to the atrocities of factory farming because of Prop 2. Many of these people never considered animal rights or veganism because they thought it was too radical. But after being exposed to the issue via a more moderate campaign they started to think about the issues differently and eventually went vegan and became ardent animal rights supporters.

    In my experience, pure vegan education is meaningful and we should all be doing that. But when we fail to recognize that welfare reforms can also play a significant role in moving society’s attitudes about animals along the continuum toward animal rights then we are missing something very important. Relatively few people are prepared to make a radical change in their lives. We are social animals and going against the norm is so extremely uncomfortable that many of us would rather die than be considered radical or worse, an outcast from society.

    If we are to succeed as animal rights activists, we have to move away from this “all or nothing” mentality and start to work within the framework of human psychology and sociology. Welfare reforms play a very important role in moving society as a whole toward considering the rights of animals more seriously. As more people start to consider animal rights, the pure vegan education methodology will become more effective. Ideally, we will reach the critical mass needed to overturn the pervading dogma that humans can treat other animals however they please.

    But again, my problem with Francione and others is the intentionally divisive and slanderous rhetoric they use against people and organization that are on his side. He can disagree with the methods of PETA and others all he wants and in some cases I may even agree with him. But when he falsely labels animal rights activists who see the importance of welfare reforms for the realization of animal rights as people who think it is okay to use animals (or welfarists) than I take issue with his position. One can argue the merits of the purist abolitionist approach and argue against the incrementalist or welfare reform approach without using intentionally false and inflammatory rhetoric. We are all on the same side, but as long as there are those who will slander the positions of those with whom they disagree, we are not going to get anywhere.

    I don't see how you could have mistaken my position on animal rights. I clearly stated that I lean toward the an incrementalist approach to animal rights. I do not think it is okay to use animals for any reason. However, I also realize that the majority of society is at the opposite end of the continuum from me and I think that welfare reforms can be used as a sort of bridge to bring people over to my way of thinking. Very few people are willing to leap across a vast ideological chasm, but many will take a bridge across if you make one available to them.

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  5. Matt,

    Even if I were to accept your position on advocacy (and I do not at all), the facts are that the majority of the money and effort of the corporate welfare organizations that Francione criticizes goes toward welfare reform and goes toward welfare reform as a matter of Singer-style utilitarian *principle*.

    PETA and HSUS are the abolitionist movements biggest obstacles. Yes, they are bigger obstacles than agribusiness itself because the public looks to them as the "authority" on "animal rights". That is pathetic and disturbing, but true.

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  6. In addition to Singer-style utilitarian principle, there's a lot of money to be made by PETA and HSUS in eternal welfare reforms, which, just like low-hanging fruit on a tree, grow back the next season.

    PETA and HSUS are a money scam. Period.

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  7. Sorry about the triple post, Roger, but I’m just as concerned or more if any welfarist group (like CIWF, PETA, or HSUS) think of themselves as abolitionists as animal rightists. They’ve already co-opted and rendered meaningless “animal rights”, let’s not let them do that to “abolitionist”. Instead, let’s insist on taking back animal rights and holding onto abolition. I also want to continue calling them new welfarists (or merely 'welfarists'). F*** compromise.

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  8. Dan, it is difficult for me to address your comment if you don't tell me why you disagree with my position. Based on your next two posts I am not sure you even understand my position.

    I think the ultimate goal of an animal rights advocate should be the abolition of the human use of animals for any reason. Right? It doesn't so much matter to me if that goal is realized through welfare reforms that lead to eventual animal liberation or the purist abolitionist approach if that can lead to animal liberation. All I am interested in is getting to animal liberation.

    If you call someone a welfarist you are saying that they think it is okay to use animals if it done so “humanely.” If you call someone who believes in total animal liberation as a goal and the welfare reform approach as a method a welfarist then you are not only being inaccurate, but you are being insulting and divisive. If your goal is to convince people that the welfare reform method of attaining animal liberation is wrong, you are not going to succeed by insulting people or misrepresenting their positions.

    PETA clearly states that it believes animals are not ours to use for food, for clothing, for entertainment, for research or for any other reason. PETA thinks that the way to realize its goals of attaining 100% animal liberation may be to work for welfare reforms that serve to educate the public and cripple or weaken the industries involved in exploiting animals. You may disagree with PETA’s approach, but you would be disingenuous to call it a welfarist organization. What I am saying is, if you disagree with the welfare reform approach, then argue your case. Don’t resort to misrepresentation and divisive, inaccurate and insulting rhetoric.

    The FBI uses the term “terrorist” to marginalize animal rights activists who believe that direct action, personal intimidation and property destruction can help lead to animal liberation. With some clever semantic wrangling they can make the case that the word “terrorist” is an accurate term, but the real reason they use the word is because it conjures up images of violent thugs who go around killing people. Of course, this is not what is happening, but the other side is more interested in using misrepresentation and inaccurate rhetoric to divide the animal rights movement.

    When people like Francione use the word “welfarist” to describe people and organizations that clearly support the abolitionist goal but have a different opinion when it comes to methodology, he is using the same bullshit tactic as the FBI uses when it calls animal rights activists terrorists. Sure, you can make some semantic arguments to prove your point, but at the end of the day PETA and many other groups and individuals that use some welfare reform methods are still animal rights activists.

    Divide and conquer has long been an effective tactic to immobilize and defeat ones opponents. If you can divide your enemy by making them quibble amongst themselves, they are much easier to defeat. As long as purist abolitionists continue to divide the animal rights movement by painting those who disagree with their methods as welfarists (something they are not) then the movement will become further divided and much more easily “conquered.” In my humble opinion, it is people like you who may be the biggest obstacle to animal liberation.

    Argue your points, not your divisive rhetoric. If you have the stronger case, then people will side with you. But if you continue to insist on misrepresenting your opposition, then the only unthinking people will support you. The rest will see through the slanderous rhetoric and decide that the rest of your ideas must be bunk too.

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  9. Matt,

    First, is the pot not calling the kettle black with your speciesist rhetoric “purist abolitionist”? Am I “fanatical” and “purist” and “unreasonable” and “divisive” because I advocate directly for what I what to accomplish and because my means are aligned with my ends? If so, then I do believe you’re contorting meaning one hell of a lot more than I am, not to mention being “divisive” yourself.

    I have no interest in joining in with welfarism of any kind. I will always criticize the exploitation of animals, including welfare efforts which merely serve to make humans feel better about exploiting, torturing, and killing animals.

    Second, PETA and HSUS have a ton of money, yet PETA uses most of it for welfarism. HSUS doesn’t even have the word “vegan” on their website (unless they’ve recently added it, which I seriously doubt). These groups could finance major public vegan education campaigns, teach people how and why to go vegan, but it’s more lucrative to buddy up to corporate agribusiness in an industry- welfarist partnership, so that’s what they do.

    Third, if welfarism is so offensive to you, then why do you engage in it? For me, I have no problem being called an abolitionist, and if I thought welfarism would eventually lead to abolitionism, the term welfarist wouldn’t bother me at all either. In fact, if you want to call me anti-welfarist, please go ahead!

    Fourth, the way I see it, there are two movements: 1) the abolitionist movement, which promotes veganism as the only way to respect the important interests of sentient nonhumans and rejects and criticizes any and all forms of welfare reform, whether the reform is thought to be an end in itself or a means to an end; and 2) the welfarist movement, which consists of everyone who wants to reform animal exploitation and murder, some as an end in itself and others as a means or “tool” to “reduce suffering”, sometimes even to “dismantle factory farming” and wants to get along and go along with animal exploiters of all stripes, as long as they reform or “take a step in the right direction” (which is welfarese for “VICTORY! Send us your donations!). So, we don’t need to worry about a “divide and conquer” because we already have at least two movements. Besides, if you really what to see the blueprint of industry for “divide and conquer”, then read the Humane Myth link I provided below.

    For more information on why I think like I do and for many more arguments, read Gary Francione’s Rain Without Thunder (have you bothered to read that book?); read all of Francione’s blog, and read the following links:
    http://www.humanemyth.org/mediabase/1014.htm

    http://unpopularveganessays.blogspot.com/2007/08/proven-beyond-reasonable-doubt.html

    http://unpopularveganessays.blogspot.com/2008/10/picking-low-hanging-fruit-what-is-wrong.html

    http://abolitionistanimalrights.blogspot.com/index.html

    After you read all of this, if you think welfarism leads to abolition, then I can’t help you. But as long as you continue to promote welfarism, I will call you a welfarist. If you don't like it, spend your time on only on vegan education and the promotion of vegan education.

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  10. By the way, Matt, the number of sentient nonhumans murdered for food annually, *excluding* fish and sea life is approximately 50 billion worldwide and 10 billion in the US.

    If a strong vegan education movement does not materialize very soon (and we’re not even remotely close yet), the worldwide number is expected to at least double as Asian markets start demanding traditional US-European animal products at similar levels of per capita consumption.

    Given the welfarist focus of most of the money and effort poured into so-called “animal protection”, I am certain the number of animals murdered will at least double worldwide, and continue to increase in the US.

    We’re shooting at a moving target, and we’re still aiming where everyone was aiming in the 1970s. The “animal protection” movement is the most meaningless, regressive, and ineffective social movement that history has ever seen.

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  11. Incidentally, Matt, regarding your chained dog scenario above, I would call the authorities and let the existing welfare laws handle that situation and spend my time on vegan education in the community. If the authorities refused to handle the situation properly, I would continue to spend my time on vegan education and use that example, among many others, as examples of speciesism and cruelty in my vegan education.

    Taking the law into your own hands and taking up specific issues of cruelty (like the dog) is like picking low-hanging fruit off of a tree: it may taste sweet to improve the dog’s conditions, but as soon as you move on, that dog or another will be right in the same damn boat as he was before. In the long run, your actions were for nothing.

    On the other hand, shifting societal attitudes by direct vegan education is attacking the root of the tree of cruelty and exploitation. Making veganism more acceptable and persuading individuals to go vegan not only saves animals, but it also adds numbers to our vegan education army. It does not taste as sweet as the fruit, but the goal is to kill the speciesist tree that generates the fruit. Vegan education kills the speciesist tree. It is big picture and long-term effectiveness. If all vegans engage in vegan education (attacking the root), we might actually accomplish something.

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  12. Dan, this will be long winded, but it’s the only way I can adequately respond to your triple posts. Haha!

    You ask: “is the pot not calling the kettle black with your speciesist rhetoric “purist abolitionist”?”

    I wasn’t trying to use divisive rhetoric when I referred to your position as “purist abolitionist.” I was merely trying to differentiate it from the “incrementalist abolitionist” position. I think you and I both agree there is a difference in opinion between people who advocate for only vegan education to achieve animal liberation and people who advocate for a coordinated approach involving multiple methods to achieve animal liberation. Both of the positions I mention above agree that the goal should be total animal liberation. The reason the term “welfare” as applied to “incrementalist abolitionists” is divisive and misleading is because the term “welfarist” has traditionally been defined as someone who does not want to achieve total animal liberation, but instead desires to continue to exploit animals. That term does not accurately apply to groups like PETA or to people like myself.

    I do not wholly disagree with your position. I simply disagree with the use of the word “welfarist” to describe anyone who wants to achieve total animal liberation. I think you would do better to use language that encourages people like me to join your cause instead of insulting, inaccurate and divisive language that makes people like me feel like you don’t even understand my position. How can I take your arguments seriously when you won’t even attempt to understand my position?

    You ask: “Am I “fanatical” and “purist” and “unreasonable” and “divisive” because I advocate directly for what I what to accomplish and because my means are aligned with my ends?”

    I didn’t say you are fanatical or unreasonable. I said you are a purist abolitionist. I apologize if you found that offensive. It was not meant to be. What would be a more accurate term for your position that makes it distinct from the “incrementalist abolitionists”?

    I don’t think you are being divisive because you advocate for only vegan education. That’s fine. I said you are being divisive because you label anyone who disagrees with you a “welfarist.” I don’t think that the term “welfarist” accurately applies to anyone who wants to achieve total animal liberation. Just because someone thinks that methods other than only vegan education may be used to achieve total animal liberation does not mean they are welfarists.

    You say: “I have no interest in joining in with welfarism of any kind. I will always criticize the exploitation of animals, including welfare efforts which merely serve to make humans feel better about exploiting, torturing, and killing animals.”

    Good. Me too. I would only support welfare reforms that were strategically designed to educate the public about veganism and to cripple the ability of animal exploiting industries to exploit animals. Welfarist ideology has no place in the animal rights movement. Welfarist tactics can sometimes be used to achieve animal rights goals.

    You say: “PETA and HSUS have a ton of money, yet PETA uses most of it for welfarism. HSUS doesn’t even have the word “vegan” on their website (unless they’ve recently added it, which I seriously doubt). These groups could finance major public vegan education campaigns, teach people how and why to go vegan, but it’s more lucrative to buddy up to corporate agribusiness in an industry- welfarist partnership, so that’s what they do.”

    PETA’s annual budget is about $30 million. HSUS’s annual budget is about “$120 million. KFC’s annual advertising budget is about $200 million. $30 million dollars may sound like a lot to you and me, but when you consider that PETA’s entire budget is only a small fraction of just one fast food companies advertising budget, you start to see that PETA isn’t really that rich after all. PETA could spend its entire budget on vegan advertising and still not come close to the advertising capabilities of just one fast food company.

    In addition to promoting some welfare reforms in the industry, PETA does a lot of vegan education. It’s website GoVeg.com is an award winning website that surely has convinced hundreds of thousands of people to go vegan: http://www.goveg.com/. GoVeg.com has lots of tips for activists to promote veganism and PETA will even give activists free materials and lots of personal advice to promote veganism. I have gotten thousands of dollars worth of free vegan promotional literature from PETA over the years. It’s http://www.vegcooking.com/ is designed to help the restaurant industry add vegan options to menus and provides restaurants and chefs with the resources they need to offer vegan items to customers. It also has lots of advice and resources for activists to use to promote veganism to the restaurants in their areas. Nowhere, on any PETA website do they promote anything that isn’t vegan. They don’t promote “humane” meat, dairy, eggs, honey, silk or anything else. It’s all 100% vegan. All of their literature promotes 100% veganism. At the same time PETA promotes veganism, it also uses other methods (some I agree with, others I don’t) in an effort to promote kindness to animals and ultimately achieve animal liberation. It’s a multi-pronged approach.

    When a vastly weaker army is confronted with a vastly superior army, the weaker army has to make compromises. It has to sacrifice some of its soldiers. It has to use guerilla tactics, espionage, and many other methods all together in a concerted effort to even stand a chance of victory. When faced with such a vastly superior force, any army that says that full frontal attack is the only way to go and that anything else makes you a pussy, is going to lose. If abolitionists say that the only way to achieve animal liberation is to fight the vastly greater force of the animal exploiting industries head on, we are going to lose. A multiplicity of methods is in order. That doesn’t mean that every tactic that someone comes up with is right, it just means that we need to be open to any and all ideas if we are going to win this war. Saying you have the one and only right answer is just not going to cut it.

    The term welfarist bothers me because it does not accurately describe me. In fact, it implies that I think it is okay to exploit animals. Since I don’t think it is okay to exploit animals, I feel the term welfarist is slanderous. I am an abolitionist. I think that vegan education is an important part of multi-pronged strategy for animal liberation.

    If we can bring people who are way on the other side of the fence a little closer to our position with welfarist reforms then I support that. Once those people start agreeing that animals deserve some consideration that may make it easier to use vegan education to bring them 100% in line with our ideology. I think that if we don’t offer some way for people who think that veganism and animal rights is too far removed from their current worldview to even consider some way to come closer to understanding our position, we are never going to win those people over – and sadly, those people make up the majority of the population.

    I’ve read almost all of the links you have provided already. I have been engaged in this debate for some time. I agree 100% with the animal rights ideology. I don’t disagree with the method of vegan education. I just don’t think that Francione and others who advocate for only vegan education and nothing else have convinced me of their position. I don’t think they will convince me of their position as long as they continue to intentionally misrepresent my position.

    I realize the urgency of our mission. That’s even more reason for me to believe we need to work together, instead of against each other, to achieve victory. If PETA needs to promote some rather minor welfarist “victories” to keep the moral of its activist base up, to raise money to continue the fight, to get activists motivated and optimistic enough to keep working for animal liberation, then I say good for them. Promote every little victory that you can. Keep the conversations going. Keep the industry backpeddling. Push, push, push with everything you’ve got. But don’t get so cocky as to believe that you have the only right answer and that anyone who disagrees with you is the enemy. That will diminish your number of supporters, weaken your position, and ultimately fail. We can’t afford to fail in this mission. All life hangs in the balance.

    You say: “Taking the law into your own hands and taking up specific issues of cruelty (like the dog) is like picking low-hanging fruit off of a tree: it may taste sweet to improve the dog’s conditions, but as soon as you move on, that dog or another will be right in the same damn boat as he was before. In the long run, your actions were for nothing.”

    That sounds an awful lot like a Peter Singer type, Utilitarian world view to me. I think that for that dog, your efforts mean the world. If we are talking rights, as Francione describes them, than an individual’s rights cannot be forsaken for the greater benefit of the majority. Am I correct?

    I agree that vegan education strikes at the roots of the problem. But when the tree you are chopping at can grow back twice as many roots as you can chop away, then you might want to consider another approach. Or maybe multiple approaches. Poison the offending tree, set it on fire, and chop at its roots. The human population is growing faster than we are able to “convert” people to veganism. Maybe we ought to use more than just vegan education to increase our effectiveness. Maybe getting people who wouldn’t even consider veganism a chance to shift their perspective a little via welfare reforms will make it easier to convince them to go vegan in the future.

    Don’t just scream louder. Communicate more effectively.

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  13. Matt,

    I'm busy at work today, but I'll post a reply tomorrow.

    I have a hunch that we'll never quite understand each other and that all the rationality and discussion in the world will not change that, but I'll give an explanation one or two more tries - tomorrow.

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  14. Matt,

    This is very long-winded, but I think worth the read.

    *On Names and Words*

    I don’t see any common ground in this never-ending battle of names and words. You call me a “purist abolitionist”, which I now understand to be abolitionism untainted by welfarism. You call yourself an “incremental abolitionist”, which I now understand to be abolitionism tainted by welfarism or the support of welfarism or the notion that welfarism can eventually lead to abolition.

    The problem is, I think of what you call “purist abolitionists” as “incremental abolitionists”, since there is no other way to get to abolition except incrementally – that is, one vegan at a time. Welfare has nothing to do with abolition and especially cannot cause abolition, or veganism.

    Also, like you don’t intend to be using divisive rhetoric while using “purist abolitionist”, I don’t intend to be using divisive rhetoric when I say “new welfarist”. I simply see engaging in or supporting welfare reform efforts as “welfarist”. New welfarism is to be distinguished from traditional welfarism in that new welfarists want to abolish animal exploitation, whereas traditional welfarists don’t.

    *Welfare Reform versus Vegan Education*

    Welfare reform is always a non-vegan’s issue. Why? Because vegans have no need for welfare since we observe animals’ rights by leaving them alone. Welfare reform is always about bogus notions of ‘humane’ animal products for non-vegans. As you’ll see below, welfarism is a utilitarian-based concern.

    Vegan education is a vegan’s issue, because it causes people to go vegan and, incrementally, will eventually lead to abolition. Not only that, but vegan education is the *only* thing that can possibly lead to more vegans and eventual abolition.

    *Vegan Education Paradoxically Helps Encourage Welfare Reform*

    Vegan education – because of its inherent nature of educating about animal agriculture (among several other things) – paradoxically encourages welfare reform. One of three broad reactions arise when people are faced with vegan education as it relates to animal ag education: 1) indifference or sadistic enjoyment; 2) aversion, but not enough aversion to go vegan, and 3) aversion sufficient to go vegan. The group in category 2 are the ones who get interested in happy meat and welfare reform. They are a large, wealthy, and growing part of the population in industrialized nations. They are the ones buying happy meat, maybe going l-o veg, supporting HSUS and often PETA (they make up the vast majority of PETAs membership). Vegan education helps their ranks grow and does not hinder their progress except for a few of them eventual get exposed to enough vegan education to go vegan.

    *Welfare Reform Hinders Vegan Education*

    Welfare reform, on the other hand, not only has no causal nexus to veganism, but actually hinders efforts at vegan education by reinforcing the status quo that there’s no real need for veganism, especially when groups like HSUS and PETA are endorsing it. Sadly, the general public looks to HSUS and PETA as the authority on what “animal rights” people think. The general public is not aware of the differences between Gary Francione and PETA/Singer, and the differences are enormous. When PETA strikes a deal with KFC Canada, the public looks at it as an endorsement of KFC, and it is an endorsement!

    *Welfarist Abolitionism: An Inherent Contradiction*

    Which brings me to another point: the inherent contradiction of combining welfare reform efforts with efforts at vegan education and abolition. Lately, I’ve seen some new welfarists (what you call “incremental abolitionists”) criticize ‘humane’ animal products. Now these are folks who are vegan and should criticize ‘humane’ animal products – that’s not the problem at all. The problem is that these people see criticizing support for welfare reforms as “divisive”, thereby lending support to ‘humane’ animal products. So on one hand, they are supporting welfare reform, but on the other hand, they are criticizing ‘humane’ animal products. This is contradictory. The lunacy must stop.

    *A Philosophical Difference: The Primary Reason We’ll Never Agree at the Superficial Level Unless We Agree Philosophically*

    Abolitionists are concerned to abolish the use or exploitation of animals. The use or exploitation is the core issue for abolitionists. We think of less cruel treatment as better than more cruel treatment, but treatment is not the core issue. The abolitionist view is essentially a deontological view (I say “essentially” because there are nuances within the broader deontological view and in meta-ethics on which abolitionists may disagree).

    Welfarists and new welfarists (what you call “incremental abolitionists” [which, remember, is what I call us]) are concerned primarily about the treatment of animals. It would be fine and good with PETA, et al, if we all went vegan. That is, new welfarists think of abolition as better than no abolition, but the core issue for new welfarists is treatment. The new welfarist view is essentially utilitarian (again, “essentially” because there are also nuances here).

    *Back to the Dog: Case and Point*

    On the rights view, even if I provided the dog more comfort, his right not to be owned and/or used for someone else’s ends would be violated. His discomfort itself is actually more of a utilitarian or consequentialist problem. In fact, his present discomfort happens to be a consequence of the owner’s and society’s failure to observe his right not to be property or to be used or exploited. If I were to relieve his discomfort, it would be primarily to “maximize preference or hedonistic utility”. Not that I’m opposed to relieving his comfort, but if I did, his rights would still be violated because he is still owned and under complete subjugation from his owner, and I would be doing so out of utilitarian and empathic motivation.

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  15. I still don't have a problem with "new welfarist", but "neo-welfare animal liberationists" is accurate and fine also. I'll use them interchangeably.

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  16. One more point:

    Abolitionists know as well as anyone that welfarism isn’t going away any sooner than animal exploitation is going away. Our criticism of welfarism in all forms is literally a criticism of animal exploitation itself. We will continue to state our case, and as Roger says, make our claims.

    If people are receptive to welfare reform but not to veganism, it is because welfare reform requires either nothing or almost nothing from them, while veganism requires them to actually respect animals and the rights of animals (which REALLY is NOT that difficult!, welfarist claims notwithstanding).

    Philosophical differences aside, I would rather advocate for something I participate in and believe in (veganism) than for something I oppose (animal exploitation). I would rather advocate for something that might make a difference in people’s behavior and attitudes (veganism) than something that will make little or no difference in people’s behavior and attitudes.

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  17. Thanks Dan, I think we are beginning to make some progress here – both of us.

    I have a few counter-points and comments:

    You say: “Welfare reform is always about bogus notions of ‘humane’ animal products for non-vegans.”

    Not true. Welfare reforms are about taking positive steps in the right direction toward alleviate unnecessary suffering for animals. They are about educating the public and making it more difficult for animal exploiters to do business. Abolitionists like myself do not see welfare reforms as an end point, but rather as a necessary rung in the ladder. Once battery cages are banned we don’t sit on our laurels, we start working on the next step toward abolishing the use of chickens altogether.

    You say: “vegan education is the *only* thing that can possibly lead to more vegans”

    That contradicts my own experience. In fact, I have witnessed many more people come to veganism through welfare reform activism than through direct vegan education. Like it or not, veganism and animal rights are considered “radical” and “scary” concepts. They exist outside the social norm and few people are willing to step outside of social norms and make changes to their lifestyle that could turn them into outcasts from society. However, many people care about animals and will get involved in a fight to alleviate their suffering. Many of the people who get involved in welfare reform campaigns do eventually lose their fear of social ostracism and take the plunge into veganism. I’ve witnessed it many times first hand.

    You say: “Vegan Education Paradoxically Helps Encourage Welfare Reform”

    Yes, that’s true.

    You say that “welfare reform, on the other hand, not only has no causal nexus to veganism, but actually hinders efforts at vegan education by reinforcing the status quo that there’s no real need for veganism”

    Not true. Welfare reform campaigns have a wider reach than vegan education alone because welfare reforms are easier (less radical) for the mainstream media. Since a greater number of people are reached via a welfare campaign, and many people choose to go vegan and adopt an animal rights philosophy after becoming involved in a welfare campaign, these welfare reform actions actually are great tools for introducing people to veganism. Compared to the number of these animal welfare reform advocates who go vegan after getting involved in a welfare campaign that is coupled with vegan education, I believe there are relatively few animal welfare reform advocates who decide to go the “humane” animal products route.

    As for the general public, yes, welfare campaigns do encourage members of the general public to purchase “humane” animal products. But vegan education alone doesn’t convince the general public to do anything at all because veganism is so far outside the social norms.

    So yes, when PETA strikes a deal with KFC to improve its welfare standards and offer vegan meal options, it is an endorsement of KFC. The general public will now think that KFC is better than other chicken joints. Now, those other chicken joints will have to make similar welfare reforms in order to compete with KFC. The chicken industry will now have to put a lot of time, money and energy into changing its business practices. That means less time and money that can be spent on advertising. The animals, though still killed and exploited, may have slightly better lives. Now the general public knows they can eat something vegan even at places like KFC, so veganism doesn’t seem so hard or outside of the social norms anymore. Now PETA’s vegan education efforts will be more successful. Many animal welfare advocates who were involved in the KFC campaign have become vegan after learning so much about the industry and by becoming more at ease with the vegan lifestyle through regular exposure to it. Sure, the general public takes PETA’s deal with KFC as an endorsement. So what? It wasn’t a final victory for the animals, but it was a major step in the right direction.

    You say: “The problem is that these people see criticizing support for welfare reforms as “divisive”, thereby lending support to ‘humane’ animal products. So on one hand, they are supporting welfare reform, but on the other hand, they are criticizing ‘humane’ animal products. This is contradictory.”

    I don’t think there is a contradiction at all. I am saying very clearly that it is not okay to use animals, even if it is done “humanely.” I can still support a campaign that educates people about animal rights and makes it harder for those who exploit animals to do business. You can believe in animal rights and still support campaigns aimed at eliminating the worst abuses of animals. If that makes some people think it is okay to eat “humane” meat, I can’t help that. Most of those people were eating meat anyway. But I can tell you from my own experiences that many people who eat meat and get involved in a welfare reform campaign end up going vegan.

    You say: “Abolitionists are concerned to abolish the use or exploitation of animals.”

    Yes, I agree. So the term abolitionist can be applied to myself and to groups like PETA.

    You say: “Welfarists and new welfarists… are concerned primarily about the treatment of animals.”

    That’s not entirely true. Welfarists are concerned primarily about the treatment of animals. “New welfarists” are concerned with to abolish the use or exploitation of animals and think that welfare reforms may help achieve that goal. Since so called “new welfarists” are primarily concerned to abolish the use or exploitation of animals, then they are abolitionists, not welfarists. The term welfarist is viewed as insulting and inaccurate to people who fall into this category because their primary concern is to abolish the exploitation of animals. The term welfarist implies otherwise and so I take issue with that word. I believe that Francione and others who use this word understand this point, but use the term welfarist anyway because it is so divisive.

    From the rhetoric I have read and heard from Francione it seems like he is much more interested in criticizing PETA and other organizations than he is concerned with actual vegan education. He seems more concerned with trying to redefine the movement by alienating everyone who disagrees with him as the enemy of animal rights. It’s as if he is trying to stage a coup of the movement rather than add constructive advice for how we should move forward. I would much prefer to hear your opinions about the best way to help achieve animal liberation than I would like to hear you inaccurately refer to me as the enemy of animal rights.

    In American politics you see a lot of Francione’s tactics coming from the neo-conservative, Republican party. Sarah Palin tried to paint anyone who disagreed with her politics as anti-American or unpatriotic. She tried to say that rural America is the “real” America and that everyone living in the city, or people who are liberal, communist, atheist, or otherwise didn’t agree with her, is not really American. In the same way, Francione is trying to say that anyone who doesn’t agree with his view of the best way to achieve animal liberation is not a real abolitionist. Instead, they are welfarists. Well, it didn’t work for Palin, and I don’t think it is going to work for Francione either.

    You say: “On the rights view, even if I provided the dog more comfort, his right not to be owned and/or used for someone else’s ends would be violated. His discomfort itself is actually more of a utilitarian or consequentialist problem. In fact, his present discomfort happens to be a consequence of the owner’s and society’s failure to observe his right not to be property or to be used or exploited. If I were to relieve his discomfort, it would be primarily to “maximize preference or hedonistic utility”. Not that I’m opposed to relieving his comfort, but if I did, his rights would still be violated because he is still owned and under complete subjugation from his owner, and I would be doing so out of utilitarian and empathic motivation.”

    Yes, that’s true. There is nothing wrong with acting our of empathetic motivation. If we lose our ability to empathize with others and to help them in best way we can, even if we can’t possibly provide all of the help they need, then we might as well give up now. It is our ability to empathize with others, to care about the individual lives of others, that makes us care about the bigger picture.

    “Neo-welfare animal liberationists” is certainly a better term because it at least includes these people in with the animal liberationists. Use whatever term you like. If you want people like me to agree with your position, then best to use a less offensive term. I hope you are less interested in being “right” then you are interested in changing people’s minds.

    You say: “Abolitionists know as well as anyone that welfarism isn’t going away any sooner than animal exploitation is going away. Our criticism of welfarism in all forms is literally a criticism of animal exploitation itself. We will continue to state our case, and as Roger says, make our claims.”

    Great! And I support you in that as long as you don’t label fellow abolitionists who disagree with you as the enemy. We are not.

    You say: “If people are receptive to welfare reform but not to veganism, it is because welfare reform requires either nothing or almost nothing from them, while veganism requires them to actually respect animals and the rights of animals.”

    Very true. Veganism also requires that people become social outcasts (in many circumstances). I’m not saying it isn’t possible or necessary (I went vegan overnight without a second thought) but going vegan in a non-vegan world does make life a lot more complicated. Some people simply do not have the will or the drive to stick with it for long. That’s why I think we need to strike at the roots – or chip away at the animal exploiter’s ability to do business. If it is more expensive, less convenient and less socially acceptable to eat factory farmed meat, then people will eat less of it and/or go vegan. If it then becomes more expensive, less convenient and less socially acceptable to eat “humane” meat, then people will eat less of it and more people will go vegan.

    Basically, the harder is for people to go vegan (the less KFC’s with vegan options) the fewer people will go vegan. The easier it is for people to go vegan (the more socially acceptable it is to care about animals and to find vegan food in places like KFC) the more people will go vegan.

    You say: “Philosophical differences aside, I would rather advocate for something I participate in and believe in (veganism) than for something I oppose (animal exploitation).”

    Me too. I would never advocate “cage free” eggs. But I would advocate the banning of battery cages. If you keep an open mind, you’ll probably notice that groups like PETA do the same thing. PETA has never promoted “cage-free” eggs and in fact has quite a bit of educational materials available saying why “cage-free” eggs are bad. But PETA does support the banning of battery cages.

    It’s as if you think that being against battery cages means I support cage-free eggs. I don’t. I’m against both. Saying I am pro-animal exploitation because I support the banning of battery cages is ridiculous. It would be less ridiculous if I were to say that you are pro-battery cages because you won’t support a campaign to ban them. But I know that you don’t support battery cages, just like you know that I don’t support cage-free eggs.

    You say: “I would rather advocate for something that might make a difference in people’s behavior and attitudes (veganism) than something that will make little or no difference in people’s behavior and attitudes.”

    Me too. Now let’s talk a little bit about why I think that vegan only advocacy will change fewer people’s minds than an integrated approach of vegan advocacy coupled with strategic animal welfare reform campaigns.

    Combining vegan education with welfare reforms gives you the best of both worlds. You can slowly chip away at the social view of animals, make it more difficult for animal exploiters to do business and, in my opinion, convince more people to go vegan that with vegan education alone.

    I’d like to present you with my idea of how vegan only education vs. a combined effort of vegan education and welfare reforms might play out. The flow chart goes something like this:

    FIRST GENERATION:

    A. Vegan education only leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Some people go vegan, but many don’t.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, and comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan world.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable.

    5. Animal exploiting industries unaffected.

    B. Welfare reform (e.g. banning battery cages) leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Few people go vegan, many don’t.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Many of these people begin choosing so called “humane” products.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable, but social view of animals moves from complete apathy to modest consideration, often encoded in laws to protect some rights of animals.

    5. More costly and difficult for animal exploiting industries to do business.

    C. Vegan education combined with welfare reform leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. More people go vegan than with either option 1 or 2 because the welfare reform actions are more widely publicized by mainstream media outlets and because these efforts are coupled with vegan education.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Many of these people begin choosing so called “humane” products.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable, but social view of animals moves from complete apathy to modest consideration, often encoded in laws to protect some rights of animals.

    5. More costly and difficult for animal exploiting industries to do business.

    SECOND GENERATION (look for changes):

    A. Vegan education only leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Some people go vegan, but many don’t.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, and comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan world.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable.

    5. Animal exploiting industries unaffected.

    B. Welfare reform (e.g. now chickens are required to have access to outdoors, places for roosting, nesting, etc.) leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. More people go vegan, some don’t.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Many of these people begin choosing so called “humane” products.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable, but social view of animals moves from modest consideration to increased consideration, often encoded in laws to protect even more rights of animals.

    5. More costly and difficult for animal exploiting industries to do business.

    C. Vegan education combined with welfare reform leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. More people go vegan, fewer don’t.

    3. Fewer people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because the worldview of veganism and consideration of animals has improved, making it easier to maintain a vegan lifestyle.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation may be attainable since the social view of animals has moved from modest consideration to increased consideration, often encoded in laws to protect even more rights of animals.

    5. More costly and difficult for animal exploiting industries to do business. Animal exploiting businesses have fewer customers and the power to use fewer animals.

    THIRD GENERATION (look for changes):

    A. Vegan education only leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Some people go vegan, but many don’t.

    3. Some people who go vegan “backslide” to non-vegan because of the perceived social, economic, and comfort problems associated with maintaining a vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan world.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is still unattainable.

    5. Animal exploiting industries unaffected.

    B. Welfare reform (e.g. all chickens liberated, only hunting and scavenging permitted by law) leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Many people go vegan, few don’t.

    3. Few vegans backslide. Some people take up hunting.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation may now be attainable since the social view of animals has shifted, often encoded in laws to protect even more rights of animals.

    5. Animal exploiting industries nearly extinct.

    C. Vegan education combined with welfare reform leads to:

    1. People better educated.

    2. Most people go vegan. Hunters are a fringe group.

    3. Few vegans backslide. Few people take up hunting.

    4. Critical mass necessary for animal liberation is now attainable since the social view of animals has shifted, often encoded in laws to protect even more rights of animals.

    5. Animal exploiting industries all but extinct.

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  18. A more concise way to make my above point would be:

    Without doing something to chip away at the power of animal exploiting industries and the public perception of animals as things to be used, vegan only education will not convince enough people to go vegan because the social pressure against veganism is too great.

    Advocating for welfare reforms only may lead to the continued exploitation of animals and the increased social perception that animals are things to be used.

    But if we use welfare reforms to chip away at the power of animal exploiting industries while at the same time we use vegan education to chip away at the public perception of animals as things to be used, then I believe we stand a chance at achieving animal liberation.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Matt,

    I don’t think we’re making much progress, and I probably won’t be commenting much more after this because it is getting repetitive.

    You claim that welfare reforms make it more difficult for animal exploiters to do business. I disagree. I think welfare reforms are a strategic opportunity for animal exploiters to make people feel better about exploiting animals. I think welfare reforms are a “win-win” for corporate welfare organizations (like PETA) and industry. PETA gets victories and more donations. Industry gets moral public support from the welfare organizations.

    It may be true that, as you say, many people who started out in welfare campaigns went vegan, but if you think that correlation is causal, I disagree. I think it is because they were exposed to vegan education and had contact with vegans. It is vegan education and the contact with vegans that *caused* these people to go vegan, not the welfare campaigns themselves. The only legitimate point you might have here is that welfare campaigns may attract the kind of non-vegans who are more likely to be influenced by vegan education, but to claim a causal connection is mistaken. Further, there are probably less expensive ways of attracting the kind of non-vegans who would be receptive to veganism than welfare reform campaigns.

    You say that compared to the number of people who go vegan after getting involved in a welfare campaign coupled with vegan education, the number of people who decide to go the ‘humane’ animal products route are relatively few. That is hard to believe. However, I could believe it if the vegan education component is very strong among those involved, and perhaps it is. But that would only reinforce my claim that it is vegan education that is the cause of veganism, not welfare reform campaigns. In my experience, people who really believe in ‘humane’ animal products DON’T go vegan. In my experience, it takes serious vegan education to break people of the belief that ‘humane’ animal products are okay. If you deny that, we must live in vastly different universes.

    I think you wildly overestimate the economic burden of KFC, et al, changing its business practices. Here’s a question for you, Matt: Why do PETA and HSUS present welfare reforms in terms of their profitability to animal exploiters? The fact is, industry has been seriously looking into gassing chickens CAK (or CAS) for a few years now because of *profitability*. Yes, CAK requires less personnel costs, results in less damage to chicken carcasses, and over time, the capital investment is supposed to pay off huge. Not to mention the profitability that comes from better PR. Further, it is questionable how much less chickens will suffer since they will still be handled cruelly in transportation, including all of the sadistic torture that bored workers put them through. For more information on the profitability of CAK, see the following link:
    http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/?p=144#more-144

    Francione and others (including myself) use “new welfarist” because it is accurate as defined and we are frustrated with the overwhelming focus of time and effort of the likes of PETA and Farm Sanctuary, including many vegans, on welfare reform efforts. We are also frustrated with the idea of veganism as merely “a(n) (optional) tool to reduce suffering” and merely “a boycott of cruelty” rather than as a moral baseline, or minimum standard, of a movement that seeks to abolish animal exploitation. When people see veganism as a “tool” or a “boycott”, it is no wonder that they go back to eating ‘humane’ animal products after they find animal products that they consider ‘humane’.

    PETA promotes Peter Singer as the “Father of the Animal Rights Movement”, but Singer sees nothing wrong with consuming so-called ‘humane’ animal products. As long as PETA, et al, promote welfare reform, don’t see veganism as a moral baseline or minimum acceptable standard, and promote Singer as “our father”, we will call PETA, et al, new welfarists.

    Your analogy of Francione to Palin is ridiculous. Why should we call PETA, et al, “abolitionists” when they spend most of their time and money on welfare reform, flat out reject abolitionist theory (i.e. Francione’s property rights theory and veganism as a moral baseline), and promote a philosopher (Singer) who flat out rejects rights (except rhetorically) and abolitionism? PETA has an antiquated tagline from when they really believed that “animals are not ours. . .” That tagline bears no resemblance to the majority of their current activities. Yes, they promote veganism in their newsletter and ‘vegetarianism’ on their website. But their overall message, with all the welfarism, is at best confusing.

    One thing we agree on: there’s nothing wrong (and everything right) with empathic motivation. My point is that morality goes beyond mere empathy to include justice. It is when we see animals as not only deserving empathy, but deserving and requiring justice, that we have the right view of our relations with them.

    You talk about being right versus changing minds. Matt, I’m sure I won’t change your mind, regardless of what I say or whether I’m right. And calling you an “incremental abolitionist” definitely won’t change your mind. In fact, in your mind, it will validate your position. The way I see it, being right is always vindicated in the long run. I may not always be right, but on the occasions that I am right, I don’t need to worry about “changing minds”. I’m always concerned about getting things right, since I have control over my own mind, opinions, and knowledge; but not so much concerned about changing minds, since that’s not even remotely in my control.

    I disagree with you 100% that veganism “requires that people become social outcasts (in many circumstances)”. Wow. I’m almost speechless. While it is true that veganism can be extremely difficult for children due to parents, even up through high school, for normal adults veganism most certainly does NOT require one to “become [a] social outcast.” Matt, I live in the middle of ranch and rodeo country. I’m a partner in a CPA firm. Most of my clients (which are mostly local governments), many of them in very rural, animal exploiting ranch and rodeo areas, know I’m vegan and they also know why. They get along with me fine. In fact, most of them love working with me. I even go to lunch with them occasionally and if there is any avoidance of lunch, it’s on my end, not theirs. I have non-vegan friends, most of whom I’ve had since before I went vegan. I’m anything but a social outcast. Granted, if I started bringing up veganism all the time, I probably would be shunned to the extent that I did. But with people I deal with on a regular basis, I think living by example is the best advocacy. They will come to respect “radical abolitionist animal rights activists” by knowing and getting along with me for years. They may even go vegan themselves someday. People don’t refuse veganism because they’re afraid of being social outcasts (with a few exceptions); rather, they refuse it because they are not sufficiently educated about veganism (the how and why and how good vegan food actually is) and because it is socially acceptable to be non-vegan. We really have to get away from this notion that “veganism is difficult” if we are to move forward at all.

    You talk about making it easier to go vegan. The more vegan education that happens, the easier it will be to go vegan.

    You say you support the banning of battery cages, but oppose “cage-free eggs”. Public support of banning cages, especially heavy public support (e.g. PETA), is an implicit support of cage-free eggs, whether you like it or not. We can use battery cage information, slaughtering method information, and other information in our vegan education, but we should always criticize all exploitation of all forms. Because of our use of cage information in our vegan education materials, industry might try to eliminate them as a strategy move, but we should not be their advisers on how to exploit animals “better”. This speaks to the point I made earlier that you ignored: new welfarists are concerned primarily with *treatment* or *how* animals are exploited, and eventually want abolition, but now is not the time for that. Abolitionists are concerned primarily with abolishing exploitation eventually and incrementally via vegan education and see welfare reform as a strategic goal of animal exploiters.

    Matt, I didn’t realize how far apart we are until I read your “first, second, and third generation” guesses as to how things would end up under vegan-only, welfare-only, and vegan-welfare-combined. That you really believe that welfare reform efforts, and especially welfare efforts alone, will seriously harm industry, much less cripple industry, is astounding to me. Further, you contradicted yourself as follows: In the “third generation” of “welfare-only” you say under point 5, “Animal exploiting industries nearly extinct”. Then, in your next post you say, “advocating for welfare reforms[-]only may lead to the continued exploitation of animals and the increased social perception that animals are things to be used.” Which is it? I’m certain it’s the latter, but you seem to state rather firmly that welfare reforms will lead to industry extinction.

    Up to recently, I took some of your points seriously; that is, I thought it was worth my time to reply. Since I read your generational predictions under the different strategies, I cannot even take you seriously anymore. I could analyze your generational list, but it is so absurd that I don’t think I need to, even if I had the time and inclination. Additionally, I’d be repeating myself over for at least the second time, if not the third or fourth times.

    I’m finished replying to you. We are being repetitive and the more we discuss this, the further I find myself from agreeing with you. I think you have good intentions, and you seem like a good person, but I think your theories, predictions, and observations are plainly wrong, and some even plainly absurd (especially your generational predictions).

    The only thing I’ll ask, since you think there is a place in new welfarism for vegan education, is that you focus more of your personal efforts on vegan education. Vegan education, even in the living hell of a welfare campaign, is always a good thing to do. You can’t go wrong if your only intention in participating in welfare campaigns is to educate non-vegans who are also participating – even I might do that if I could avoid accidentally engaging new welfarists in a discussion like this one.

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  20. Dan, I agree this is becoming repetitive. I don’t believe you are making an attempt to understand what I am saying. Instead you are more focused on nit-picking my arguments. We are, very much, on the same side. I made an unfortunate typo in my last post. I meant to say that welfare reforms alone will lead to continued animal exploitation. Vegan education is a must, but I don’t think that vegan education alone is enough because veganism is perceived as too radical by the majority of the public. I think that vegan education combined with welfare reforms is the way to go. We can agree to disagree about that.

    The main point of my comments has been to answer the question of the original post which was “So, what do you think of the notion of neo-welfare animal liberationists (N-WALs)?”

    My answer to that question is that I don’t think the term “welfarist” is an accurate description of people who believe in animal liberation and that using that term will not be effective at convincing people like me that you have a clear enough understanding of my position to even argue against it. Hence, if you use the term “welfarist” to describe people like me, your argument will likely be dismissed out of hand.

    I admit that it is vegan education that “causes” people to go vegan in the scenario I presented, but it is the welfare reform campaign that attracted their interest to begin with. Without the welfare campaign, many people who view veganism as too radical will not even consider going vegan. That is why I say you sometimes need both the welfare reform campaign and the vegan education working together – like PETA does.

    If I say that hitting children with baseball bats is wrong, does that mean it is implied that I think it is okay to hit them with your fist? If I say that battery cages are wrong, does that mean I think cage-free eggs are okay? No. I can think two forms of abuse are wrong at the same time. I don’t understand how you think that if I simultaneously work to educate people about veganism and to ban battery cages that I am somehow implying the cage-free eggs are okay. That doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t make sense when you accuse Farm Sanctuary or PETA of supporting cage-free eggs, or humane meat or anything else like that.

    You are right that PETA supports CAK and that they promote it to the industry as something that will save the industry money. In that example, PETA is engaged in a welfare campaign. I don’t know that I support that specific effort because I don’t fully understand the theory behind it. However, I am not about to write off an organization that has done so much to help bring people around to the idea of animal rights based on that one thing. In fact, I think if they can help reduce the amount of suffering animals are forced to endure while at the same time advocate for veganism among the masses, more power to them.

    Not to restate my case, but the reason I disagree with Francione is because of his misleading rhetoric. He comes off as a liar prepared to confuse the issue in order to make his own points seem more relevant. Supporting a ban on batter cages does not make one a welfarist. Neither PETA nor Farm Sanctuary have ever (to my knowledge) claimed that veganism is “optional” or “merely a boycott of cruelty.” Both organization are clear that veganism is a moral necessity. They offer helpful encouragement to people who want to transition to veganism by reducing and then eliminating animal products – which is not the same as endorsing non-veganism. It is simply recognizing that for some people going vegan takes some time.

    PETA promotes Singer as the “father of the animal rights movement” because he is historically viewed as such. His book Animal Liberation may have inspired PETA, but he isn’t on PETA’s board nor does he have any direct influence on the organization. Equating PETA with Peter Singer is another one of the misleading tactics that Francione uses that I find unpalatable. PETA cannot be held responsible for everything that every animal rights or animal welfare advocate ever says. PETA only has control over its own messaging.

    Can you support your claim that PETA rejects abolitionist theory? Or do you just mean that PETA rejects vegan only education. As long as PETA’s goal is animal liberation and the organization offers some reasonable justifications for its welfare reform efforts as a means to achieve animal liberation, one can justifiably call PETA an abolitionist organization. I’m sorry if you are confused by the concept of promoting veganism and animal liberation while at the same time working on welfare reforms aimed at chipping away at the foundation of animal exploitation. But again, as I’ve explained, I think vegan education and welfare reforms can work together to gain more ground than either tactic can do alone.

    I can see that you have become frustrated with me and for that I apologize. You could easily change my mind if you could present some actual empirical evidence to support your claim that vegan only education is more effective than a combined tactic of vegan education with welfare reforms. Martin Balluch’s analysis of this combined approach has empirical support behind it. http://www.vgt.at/publikationen/texte/artikel/20080325Abolitionism

    So far, all I’ve seen from your side is misleading rhetoric and anecdotal claims. Show me some numbers that indicate vegan only education works better or “converts” more people to veganism than a combined effort and I’ll gladly change my mind.
    For me, veganism isn’t about believing I’m right, it is about helping as many animals as possible. We lose sight of the fact that veganism is not an end in and of itself but rather a means of ending animal exploitation. Being vegan is not about being perfect, it’s about eliminating animal exploitation as effectively as possible. In other words, being vegan isn’t about our own personal purity or being 100% right or pure in everything we do, it’s about helping animals.
    Animals don’t need your purity. What the animals need is your advocacy—and they need for it to be as effective and influential as possible. So the issue of personal purity becomes one of basic math: Adopting a vegan diet means you’re not supporting the torment and slaughter of dozens of animals every single year. Helping just one more person to go vegan will save twice as many animals. But the reverse is also true: If you do something that prevents another person from adopting a vegan diet, if your example puts up a barrier where you might have built a bridge, that hurts animals—so then it becomes anti-vegan, if vegan means helping animals.
    The number one reason why people don’t go vegan is that they don’t think it’s convenient enough, and we all know people whose reason for not going vegan is that they “can’t” give up cheese or ice cream. But instead of making it easier for them to help animals, we often make it more difficult. Instead of encouraging them to stop eating all other animal products besides cheese or ice cream, we preach to them about the oppression of dairy cows. Then we go on about how we don’t eat sugar or a veggie burger because of the bun, even though a tiny bit of butter flavor in a bun contributes to significantly less suffering than any non-organic fruit or vegetable does or a plastic bottle or about 100 other things that most of us use. Our fanatical obsession with ingredients, or being 100% pure, not only obscures the animals’ suffering—which was virtually non-existent for that tiny modicum of ingredient—but also nearly guarantees that those around us are not going to make any change at all. So, we’ve preserved our personal purity, but we’ve hurt animals—and that’s anti-vegan.
    The same is true of activism. If we strive to be 100% pure in our vegan activism efforts, we sometimes run the risk of turning people off, or making it less likely they will become vegan. If we make it less likely that other people will go vegan, then we are hurting animals and hurting our chances of achieving animal liberation. So, if a welfare reform campaign can serve to open people up to the idea of veganism, then I support that welfare campaign. Veganism and animal rights is not a list of ingredients or a set of rules. Being vegan is about doing our best to help animals. So it requires thought, not a checklist.
    I’m more interested in getting as many people as possible to go vegan and to stay vegan than I am with the how that goal is achieved. If vegan only education is the best way to get people to go vegan, I support that. If a combined tactic is the best way, I support that. But I am less likely to support someone who can’t even be bothered to understand my position or who intentionally misrepresents my position by calling me a welfarist.

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  21. Matt,

    I have attempted very much to understand what you are saying, Matt, but I must admit that I do not at all understand you or what you are saying. This is mainly because I fine your position to be self-contradictory and nonsensical. I also give up. I’m sure I’ll never understand you or what you are saying unless you start saying something coherent.

    I don’t care if you or anyone else dismisses me out of hand. I don’t need your approval any more than I need some slaughterhouse worker’s approval. I will continue to use the term “new welfarist” because I think it is perfectly accurate. I will also use Roger’s N-WAL, because that also accurately describes new welfarists.

    In my opinion, PETA started out in the 1980s as a good, genuine animal rights organization. They have since, in an appeal for far more members, allowed mission creep to the point that they are now the worst thing that ever happened to animal rights. Historical reasons are no reason for perpetuating bullshit, Matt. PETA should stop promoting Singer as the “father of the AR movement”. But PETA doesn’t care, because they are a welfarist organization. Wake up.

    Francione is the clearest, most correct, and most honest thinker in the entire animal movement. If more people read and understood (or even attempted to understand) Francione, especially if they did so a decade ago, we’d be much further along than we are now.

    Matt, I could not change your mind no matter how much empirical evidence I provided. The empirical and rational evidence is screaming at us and you still can’t see it. Read Rain Without Thunder, Matt. Read the links I’ve provided. Have you even bothered to read Rain Without Thunder? Or are you so dogmatically opposed to and angry with Francione that you would not even consider giving it a hearing?

    Matt, animals don’t need your pathetic welfarist compromise. They need veganism as a moral baseline, not happy meat as a moral baseline. Veganism and abolition is not “purity”. It is far from it. Veganism and abolition is a minimum standard – the least we can do. Anything else is *extreme* speciesism (as opposed to the moderate and subtle speciesism of most vegans). But you make veganism out to be an impossible nightmare for most people. You seem to me like the industry’s dream, Matt. You and all of your welfarist friends – strategic advisers to Big Food. Which side are you on, anyway?

    Not only do I think we’re not even close to agreeing, Matt, I don’t at all see us on the same side. I see you and people who think like you as a much bigger obstacle to our progress than industry itself. You’re posts are self-contradictory. Quite honestly, I’d rather try to talk sense to Rick Berman of CCF or to a wall than take this discussion further. At least Rick Berman is on only one side of the fence. At least I know where he stands. Keep doing and promoting your vegan-welfarist fence-sitting bullcrap and have a good life, Matt. I don’t care. I’ll be doing vegan education, which will include trashing welfarism under whatever guise it displays its ugly head.

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  22. Matt,

    Maybe this will help you see how you come across to me:

    Let’s say someone told you that they were a ‘vegan’, but they sometimes also consumed animal products from animals who were ‘humanely’ treated. They asked you to stop calling them ‘omnivores’ because they thought it was ‘divisive’. They further told you that if you called them ‘vegan’ (even though they consumed animal products), they would have a much better chance of being persuaded of your view that vegans don’t consume animal products. But as long as you keep using divisive rhetoric like ‘omnivore’, they will dismiss you out of hand.

    In the above, if you substitute 1) “abolitionist” for “vegan”; 2) “supported welfare reform” for “consumed animal products” and 3) “new welfarist” for “omnivore”, you will see yourself as you are to me. Let’s see what it looks like:

    Let’s say someone told you that they were an ‘abolitionist’, but they sometimes also supported welfare reform so animals are ‘humanely’ treated. They asked you to stop calling them ‘new welfarist’ because they thought it was ‘divisive’. They further told you that if you called them ‘abolitionist’ (even though they supported welfare reform), they would have a much better chance of being persuaded of your view that abolitionists don’t support welfare reform. But as long as you keep using divisive rhetoric like ‘new welfarist’, they will dismiss you out of hand.

    Do you see how ridiculous and annoying you sound to me? Other than re-wording one single phrase to make it fit grammatically, I made only those substitutes mentioned.

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  23. Dear Everyone:

    What Matt and others like him do not seem to understand is that we are not "on the same side," as Matt seems to think. I see groups such as PETA doing nothing more than making animal exploitation more acceptable and further enmeshing animals in the property paradigm. In many ways, PETA has developed into the most significant impediment to meaningful social change for nonhuman animals.

    Moreover, Matt's rhetoric reflects the unfortunately cult-like atmosphere that characterizes the new welfarist movement. Discussion is not permitted. Anyone who disagrees is "divisive." Matt does not address the substantive arguments that I make. He just says that I should not make them because they are "divisive." Such an approach does nothing to facilitate the progress of ideas. And discourse can only be "divisive" if there is a unity to divide. There isn't.

    I continue to believe that those who endorse the abolitionist approach spend their time and resources educating the general public about veganism in creative and nonviolent ways. Let the new welfarists, animal protectionists, animal liberationists, or whatever you call them, go naked rather than wear fur, promote the gassing of chickens, or give awards to Temple Grandin. We are really involved in fundamentally different enterprises.

    Gary L. Francione
    Rutgers University

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  24. Gary, what are you talking about "discussion not permitted?" What is this blog if not a discussion? I am all for discussion. I'm against slander and diversionary tactics. Stick to the issue. Tell us why you are right, not why everyone else is wrong. Tell us what you stand for, don't misrepresent what others stand for. Let's have an honest discussion, not a war of inflammatory rhetoric (i.e. calling anyone who disagrees with you a "cultist" or a "welfarist." I've really tried to see your side of things, but your ridiculous insulting rhetoric gets in the way.

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  25. Furthermore, you could take the time to read my posts before making the claim that I haven't addressed your substative arguments. Yes I have addressed your arguments and I've stated why I think a multi-pronged approach is better than the "my way or the highway" approach. But the main thrust of my argument was designed to answer the original question in this blog - "why do some animal liberationists get upset when you call them welfarists." The reason is because the term is slanderous when applied to anyone who believes in animal liberation.

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  26. Sorry, last comment for today.

    Gary, when I said we are on the same side, I meant that we both wish to achieve animal liberation.

    When you say we are not on the same side, I assume you mean that we disagree about the best way to achieve that. I understand you think that PETA's methods are counterproductive. In some cases I agree with you. In some cases I think your methods are counterproductive.

    But as long as we both genuinely wish to achieve animal liberation then we are on the same side.

    I'd like to get to a place where people who agree with your methodology can discuss the issue with people who agree with my methodology without all of the slanderous rhetoric.

    You can disagree with PETA and I may take your side. You can say that PETA is being counterproductive, and I may take your side. You can say that vegan only education is better than welfare reforms, and I may take your side. But if you call people who believe in animal liberation welfarists simply because they disagree with your methodology, then I will continue to see you the same way I see American politicians when they stray from the issue in favor of mudslinging. I have no patience for mudslingers.

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  27. Calm down, Matt.

    If X promotes welfare reform and Y characterizes X as a welfarist, then that is an empirically accurate description. The fact that X believes that welfare reform will lead to abolition someday (despite the complete absence of any empirical evidence supporting that belief) does not mean that X is not a welfarist. I characterize such people as "new welfarists" because they differ (in certain respects) from most of the classical welfarists. But the bottom line remains the same: if X promotes welfare reform, X is a welfarist. Whether X hopes to achieve abolition, or hopes to secure more and more welfare, is really irrelevant. X is a welfarist. No "slander." No "mudslinging." Just a plain old empirical fact.

    I note that you keep using the expression "animal liberation." You should know that this expression is usually applied to those who subscribe to the views of Peter Singer. And Peter Singer certainly does not advocate abolition as the ultimate goal. He maintains that animal use can be morally acceptable if our treatment of nonhumans gives greater weight to animal interests.

    If you think you have addressed my substantive arguments, then I respectfully disagree. It does not appear that you know or understand those arguments. But you certainly have not addressed them.

    Gary L. Francione
    Rutgers University

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  28. Gary, let’s take this one step at a time. I will attempt to explain to you why I disagree with your rhetorical tactics.

    You continuously claim that the “animal protection” movement should stop wasting time with welfare reform efforts and instead only focus on vegan education. At the same time, instead of promoting veganism, you seem to spend the majority of your time criticizing the “animal protection” movement. Reading your latest posts at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

    I find:

    1. "Happy Meat and Sexism" where you criticize PETA for using sex to sell veganism instead of promoting veganism yourself.

    2. "I Will Emerge Soon!" where you tell people you are “at work trying to finish a new book on animal rights vs. animal welfare” instead of promoting veganism.

    3. "Spanish and Portuguese Versions of Blog Essays Available" where you say your blog essays are now in Spanish and Portugese. I don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese so it is hard for me to know if your blog essays promote veganism or just bash the “animal protection” movement. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    4. "Another Vegan Pamphlet" where you promote the vegan outreach efforts of someone else. I’ll give you this one too.

    5. "It Makes the Mind Boggle" where you criticize a statement made by Wayne Pacelle of HSUS.

    6. "Another Terrible California Proposition" where you promote gay marriage.

    7. “These animals are our dear friends” where you blame PETA for some random people who believe in “humane” meat.

    8. "What to Do on Proposition 2?" where you urge people not to vote for a measure that would ban some forms of cruelty against animals.

    9. "Proposition 2" where you urge people not to vote for a measure that would ban some forms of cruelty against animals.

    10. "A Debate on “Pet” Ownership where you debate pet ownership." I’ll give you this one too.

    So, you have promoted veganism and animal rights in 3 of your last 10 posts. Is that "vegan only" education?

    In your blog: "A “Very New Approach” or Just More New Welfarism?" you say “I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe that if the movement had decided to invest the hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of dollars that it has spent over the past decades in the U.S. alone in promoting veganism in a clear and unequivocal fashion, rather than in campaigning for welfare reform, that there would not be hundreds of thousands more vegans than there are today.”

    Well, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe that if you had decided to invest more of your time promoting veganism and less of your time criticizing the efforts of the “animal protection” movement, that there might be more vegans than there are today. I mean, that does follow your reasoning, right?

    Here's a little joke to further my point.

    I was walking diown the street the other day when I passed Colonel Sanders. The Colonol said to me "Hi, I'm Colonel Sanders. I think it is okay to torture, kill and eat chickens as long as they taste good, and I made more than a billion dollars last year promoting that idea. We are a profit driven business!"

    Next, I passed Ingrid Newkirk from PETA. She said to me, I don't think animals are ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or any other purpose. But, as long as people are going to use animals despite what I say, then at least they can stop some forms of cruelty. It's a tough job going up against KFC because we only make $30 million a year here at PETA."

    Then I passed Gary Francione and he said, "I don't think people should use animals, but I hate PETA because it is a rich organization that says it is okay to use animals."

    Hmmmm... Whose side should I choose? Not KFC, it is obvioulsy a rich company that actively promotes torturing animals. Not Gary Francione because he seems to think an organization with the annual budget of a small record store chain is rich. Hmmm... comnpared to the billions that just one fast food giant makes in a year, calling PETA rich just seems a bit wrong to me. And even though PETA says it is not okay to use animals in its mission statement, somehow this Gary guy thinks that PETA believes it is okay to use animals. Yeah, that guy is a bit nuts. I think I'll give my money to PETA. That Ingrid lady seems to have her head on straight compared to these other two guys.

    Okay, so I'm sure that joke didn't make you laugh and you'll find lots of ways to dissect it, but please don't miss the point I am trying to make. Instead of spending so much time attacking PETA, maybe you could go after the actual rich animal exploiters, like KFC, for a little while.

    Perhaps the reason I have failed to address your substantive arguments is because such arguments seem to be lacking in your incessant rhetoric.

    Let’s remove the terminology from your arguments for a moment and allow me to address what I feel is unsubstantiated absurd, or just plain mudslinging.

    You say that people who seek animal liberation usually subscribe to the views of Peter Singer. Really? Animal liberationists have to subscribe to all of Peter Singer’s views? Everything he has ever said? I mean, sure the guy wrote a book called Animal Liberation, but does that mean I have to subscribe to everything he has ever said? Hmmm… I don’t think that is fair.

    According to Wikipedia: “Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. Animal rights advocates approach the issue from different philosophical positions, but they agree that animals should no longer be regarded as property, or used as food, clothing, research subjects, or entertainment, but should instead be viewed as legal persons and members of the moral community.”

    It sounds to me that one could easily argue that the animal rights position is synonymous with the animal liberation position and even the abolitionist position.

    Also, according to Wikipedia: “Animal welfare refers to the viewpoint that it is morally acceptable for humans to use nonhuman animals for food, in animal research, as clothing, and in entertainment, so long as unnecessary suffering is avoided. The position is contrasted with the animal rights position, which holds that other animals should not be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans.”

    So, animal liberationists think it is not okay to use animals and animal welfarists believe it is okay to use animals. Right?

    Therefore, I believe it is misleading to say that someone who believes that animals should not be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans is a welfarist even if that person also believes that some welfare reform tactics can be effectively used to achieve animal liberation.

    I believe that most animal rights activists, or animal liberationists, or whatever you want to call them, would feel misrepresented if characterized as a welfarist since they do not believe that animals should be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans.

    I get the impression that you know that, but you choose to characterize some animal liberationists as welfarists because it helps marginalize your opposition without you having to seriously address their substantive arguments.

    In fact, you seem to fling such marginalizing rhetoric around a lot instead of addressing the issue directly. For example, instead of responding to my points in this discussion, you say “Matt's rhetoric reflects the unfortunately cult-like atmosphere that characterizes the new welfarist movement.” Really? Instead of addressing my points, you compare me to a cultist? Come on! Then you tell me to “calm down”? I am having a really difficult time taking you seriously.

    You say that your inflammatory rhetorical discourse “can only be "divisive" if there is a unity to divide. There isn't.”

    Since many in the “animal protection” movement agree with you that animals are not property, there is some unity here. When you call people who agree with you that animals are not property “welfarists” or even “neo-welfarists” you are dividing that unity. You are affectively saying that these people think that animals are property, which is a false and slanderous claim.

    But again, getting away from the terminology, you seem very good at mischaracterizing the positions of those who disagree with you. For example, in this post: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/?p=165 you say that if California’s Proposition 2 (which bans battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates) passed, it would mean that torturing animals carries “the stamp of approval from the stamp of approval from the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and the other animal welfare corporations that are promoting Proposition 2.”

    You are actually saying that if someone wants to ban battery cages that they must think that other systems of animal exploitation are acceptable. That is blatantly false. If I am against murder and actively campaign against it, does that mean that I support rape? No! Absolutely not! If I am against battery cages and actively campaign against them, does that mean I support cage-free eggs? No, absolutely not. But you continue to make that equation and I find that slanderous.

    In some cases, I agree with you that welfare reform campaigns reinforce the property status of animals. And I would never support a campaign that endorses any form of animal exploitation. I do, however, support campaigns aimed at banning forms of animal exploitation, even if those campaigns are only an incremental step in a larger process. But if you mischaracterize me as a welfarist because I support the banning of battery cages, then I am going to have a much more difficult time taking what you say seriously. I may agree with you one many points, but your slanderous rhetoric has destroyed any unity between us.

    On this page: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/?p=140#more-140, you say that animal advocates who support the use of tactical welfare reforms to advance the goals of animal liberation and abolition are campaigning for more “humane” forms of exploitation.” I understand that you think all welfare reform campaigns are counter-productive, but that still does not mean that people who disagree with you on that point are in favor of “humane” forms of exploitation.

    You say that “to the extent that the public believes that animals are being treated more “humanely,” that tends to encourage continued exploitation.” I agree with you on this point. I think it is important for animal protection groups to be very clear that while they would like to see an end to things like battery cages, that does not mean that cage-free eggs are cruelty free or even that eating eggs is acceptable in any way.

    Some of the groups you criticize as promoting “humane” forms of animal exploitation, actually have strong positions against such things. For example, Farm Sanctuary was the first organization I know of to publish a leaflet saying that there is no such thing as “humane” meat, dairy and eggs. The leaflet is still available. The group actively and unabashedly promotes veganism – while still recognizing that some people may be more successful at achieving a vegan diet by transitioning through vegetarianism.

    Looking over Farm Sanctuary’s website at http://www.farmsanctuary.org/about/position/ I see that the group is adamantly opposed to “the slaughter, consumption and commodification of farm animals.” Further, Farm Sanctuary clearly says “Those who are sincere in their concern for animals and for the environment make a knotty compromise if they choose to eat ostensibly crate-free or free-range meat instead of a vegan diet. The degree to which so-called humane meat is more sustainable than factory-farmed meat is negligible; plant-based agriculture is far more environmentally sound than animal agriculture-whether "humane" or factory farmed. And, while some farmers may treat animals better than others, we achieve a much deeper compassion when we do not eat animals at all. Farm Sanctuary has never and will never support so-called "humane" meat. We maintain that the words "humane" and "slaughter" are mutually exclusive.”

    Yet, you continuously and explicitly state that Farm Sanctuary supports “humane” forms of animal exploitation because the group supported a ban of battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates. Although Farm Sanctuary explicitly states that veganism is the moral baseline and that it opposes all forms of animal exploitation, you continue to call the organization a welfarist organization – effectively slandering it. You do the same thing to PETA, but your arguments are not very persuasive to people who are able to look past your inflammatory and slanderous rhetoric.

    In conclusion, I and many other animal liberationists like me, agree with you on several points. But you will continue to lose my support as long as you spend most of your time mischaracterizing PETA and other organizations instead of following your own advice and spending your time doing nothing but vegan education.

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  29. Dan,

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your post. You analogy above fails because the term “welfarist” refers to someone’s ideology. Welfare reform refers to a tactic. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to be opposed to welfarism as an ideology and still support some welfare reforms as a tactic to achieve an animal rights ideological goal.

    Just as calling someone who eats meat a vegan is inaccurate, calling someone who believes that animals are not property a welfarist is inaccurate – because being a welfarist means you think it okay to use animals.

    Gary cleverly redefined the term as “neo-welfarist” to describe people who have an animal rights ideology but who also support welfare reform as a tactic to achieve animal rights. But I believe he did so to be intentionally misleading.

    I could do the same thing to Gary by writing a book in which I invent a term like “neo-animal exploiter.” In that book I could make an argument that anyone who opposes the Proposition 2 and banning of battery cages is effectively supporting battery cages and is therefore a “neo-animal exploiter.” Then I could go around and label you, Robert and Gary as “neo-animal exploiters” and tell people that you support keeping chickens in battery cages. Of course, you and I know that isn’t true, but that isn’t really the point.

    I could use this new term to marginalize your position and paint you as someone who believes in animal exploitation because you oppose Proposition 2. Now, other animal rights activists who don’t look too deeply into my claims may start to believe that you and Gary actually do support animal exploitation.

    Now tell me, since you are against Proposition 2 and the banning of battery cages, do you think it is fair to call you a “neo-animal exploiter” as I have defined it?

    Do you think that since PETA was in favor of Prop 2 and wants to ban battery cages, do you think it is fair to say that the organization thinks animals should be considered the property of humans?

    Well, that is the effect of Gary’s misleading rhetoric and the reason I disagree with using terms like neo-welfarism to describe people who oppose the property status of animals.

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  31. Gary,

    You say that supporting welfare reform means you are a welfarist. This is not true because the word welfarist refers to an ideology that views animals as property and welfare reform refers to a tactic to improve the lives of animals. One can be in favor of improving the lives of animals and not view animals as property. Right?

    I don’t, but I could, say that if you oppose the banning of battery cages, that means you support battery cages and are thus an animal exploiter. Of course, this is a ridiculous position, but no more ridiculous than the position you take when saying anyone who wants to improve the lives of animals believes animals are property.

    To further make my point, I’ve taken your mathematical equation above and switched out the term “welfare reform” for “opposes the banning of battery cages” and the word “welfarist” for “battery cage supporter” or “animal exploiter.”

    I hope you see how your twisting of the position of others via misleading rhetoric could be used against you.

    Here goes:

    If X “opposes the banning of battery cages” and Y characterizes X as a “battery cage supporter”, then that is an empirically accurate description. The fact that X believes that “banning battery cages” will lead to continued animal exploitation (despite the complete absence of any empirical evidence supporting that belief) does not mean that X is not a “battery cage supporter.” I characterize such people as "new animal exploiters" because they differ (in certain respects) from most of the classical "animal exploiters." But the bottom line remains the same: if X “opposes the banning of battery cages”, X is a “battery cage supporter.” Whether X hopes to achieve abolition, or hopes to make the point that “banning battery cages may empower the industry and make other forms of animal exploitation more acceptable,” is really irrelevant. X is an “animal exploiter.” No "slander." No "mudslinging." Just a plain old empirical fact.

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  32. Matt,

    First, about Gary’s blog, criticizing welfare reform is vegan education. Also, if it is simple, direct animal rights and vegan education (i.e. no new welfarist criticism) you’re looking for, Gary’s blog has a ton of it, not only in the previous dozens of blog entries, but in the site’s content itself. Uncharitably quoting the titles of the last 10 entries is nothing more than the same rhetoric you falsely accuse Gary of. For example, Gary brings up gay marriage because it’s the same kind of prejudice as speciesism, only in a difference form.

    Now, to my analogy and other things:

    My analogy succeeds because “new welfarist” is a specifically-defined term that means precisely: animal liberationists who achieve attempt to their means at least partly by promoting welfare reform. It is specifically in contrast to “abolitionists” who categorically reject any and all promotion of welfare reforms or ‘humane’ animal products for any reason whatsoever, including as a means to an end of animal exploitation. We can squabble over the meaning of “new welfarist” all day long. If you want, go ahead and reject our definition. We’ll keep using it because it makes perfect sense to us. Also, it doesn’t really matter what our nominal preferences are since, like Gary said, we’re involved in fundamentally different enterprises.

    If you want to call me a “neo-animal exploiter” because I reject Prop 2, please go ahead. In fact, I would get non-stop fun and entertainment out of a big international PETA campaign that called abolitionists “neo-animal exploiters” because we reject Prop 2 and/or welfare reform. Oh, please get PETA to do that if you can! Please! Can you imagine how fun and fruitful that would be for us? (Actually it really is a good idea for genuine animal rights. It would contrast us and PETA beautifully and allow us to get some much-needed attention on genuine animal rights instead of the pseudo-‘rights’ welfarism that the new welfarists are known for.)

    *On Animal Rights Versus Animal Liberation*

    The way I see it, these two terms can mainly be distinguished by the term “rights”. “Liberationists” (properly speaking) don’t accept “rights” because they are utilitarians, anarchists, or accept some other rights-rejecting philosophy. Utilitarians don’t accept rights because rights can get in the way of maximizing utility (generally speaking). Anarchists don’t accept rights because rights are concepts or rules enforced by a(n oppressive) state.

    Both rightists and liberationists usually want to see an end of animal exploitation (with some exceptions, like Peter Singer), but “animal rights supporters” accept rights as a way to strongly protect the important interests of others, generally regardless of consequences.

    Peter Singer is a “liberationist” because he is a utilitarian and rejects rights on principle.

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  33. Dan,

    You and I are talking about completely different things. You keep defending your view of abolitionism as if that is what I am criticizing. But the topic of this blog has been on terminology and why some animal liberationists take offense to being called “neo-welfarists.” This isn’t about whether or not you are right or wrong philosophically. This is about whether or not it is appropriate, and effective, to label some animal liberationists as welfarists, or even neo-welfarists.

    Until Gary wrote his book, the term “welfarist” was used to describe people who view animals as property. The terms “animal rights” and “animal liberationist” were used to describe people who reject the view of animals as property. The term “welfare reform” has been used to describe any effort that improves the lives of animals, even if some other people view animals as property.

    Using these definitions, it is perfectly reasonable to say that someone can be in favor of animal rights and welfare reform and still not be a welfarist. One can reject the view of animals as property and still work to impose restrictions on those who, at this time, still view animals as property. Welfare reform does not equal welfarism. Certainly they sound similar, but they are not the same.

    I realize that you and Gary see welfare reform as counter-productive and that you think welfare reform legitimizes the property status of animals. However, you must realize that there are some people who agree with you that animals are not property but who disagree with you that welfare reforms are counter-productive. But labeling such people as “welfarists” or as people who think animals are property is not a fair characterization of their point of view.

    I think that your goal should be to encourage the people who agree with you that animals are not property to also agree with you that welfare reforms are counter productive. If you have the stronger argument, then people who truly want to achieve animal liberation and abolish the property status of animals will take you side.

    I understand that Gary wrote a book and redefined the term “neo-welfarist.” I believe that Gary chose the word “neo-welfarist” not because it is accurate (it is not), but because it would effectively turn many anti-welfarist animal rights activists against anyone who believes that welfare reforms can help achieve animal rights goals. He effectively “wins” the debate because many animal rights activists simply want to avoid being labeled as people who view animals as property.

    Labels are a very powerful thing. The Republican party in America has been very effective at silencing debate by accusing its opponents of being “socialists.” Whether or not the term “socialist” is accurate or if some lawyers can figure out a way to play with words enough to legitimize such a claim is beside the point. Most Americans view socialism as the same as Fascism and will immediately reject anyone who is labeled a socialist, even if they happen to agree with the so-called “socialist” agenda.

    In the same way, most animal rights activists view welfarist to mean someone who believes animals are property. Many animal rights activists will immediately reject anyone who is labeled a welfarist, even if they happen to agree that banning battery cages is a legitimate animal rights goal. Gary’s attack on “neo-welfarists” seems to be more about confusing the issue and using mischaracterization tactics than it is about fair and honest debate. I understand that Gary wrote a book that defined the term “new welfarist” to mean something other than what most people in the movement would think “welfarist” actually means. I think that type of word play is dishonest.

    Of course, PETA and many of the other groups that Gary calls “neo-welfarist” do not view animals as property and are, in fact, actively working to abolish the property status of animals. The fact that you and Gary think their methods are counter-productive is beside the point. That still does not make it fair to call these groups “welfarist” or even “neo-welfarist” because those terms imply that PETA and these other groups do not want to abolish the property status of animals.

    Now, in response to your latest comment: Criticizing groups that work to help animals is not vegan education. I seriously doubt anybody is convinced to go vegan because they read yet another criticism of PETA. In fact, I imagine the opposite is true. Many anti-animal people are more than eager to point out any flaw in the animal rights movement as reason to discount it entirely. By offering further criticism of PETA, you are adding fuel to the anti-animal agenda. In contrast, pure vegan education would ignore PETA and focus solely on why and how people should go vegan.

    The reason I “uncharitably quoted the titles of [Gary’s] last 10 entries” was to point out that anyone could use his rhetorical tactics against him. For example, Gary selectively chooses to emphasize the “welfare reform” work that PETA does and conveniently ignore the tons of vegan education that PETA does. To give Gary a taste of his own medicine, I emphasized the non-vegan education efforts that seem to occupy a lot of his own time.

    I think Gary spends a lot of his time criticizing PETA instead of advancing veganism because that gets him a lot of attention and perhaps helps fill his coffers. Of course, some of Gary’s criticisms of PETA is that instead of advancing veganism the organization uses welfare reform “victories” to fill its coffers. Again, I don’t think Gary has any room to talk.

    I have to admit I don’t really understand your strange idea that I can, or should, get PETA to mischaracterize your ideas. Perhaps it has something to do with filling your coffers? In any case, I don’t work for PETA and even if I did I doubt that I could convince them to waste their time doing anything that doesn’t help animals.

    I understand that you seem to think that PETA is a rich, money making scheme. I find that somewhat funny considering I used to work at a small independent record store chain that had a bigger annual budget than PETA. I mean, seriously, Ingrid Newkirk, who makes $30,000 a year, could have easily found a much more lucrative career than founding a relatively small non-profit organization.

    I don’t fully understand your hatred for PETA other than PETA is one of those organizations that people love to hate simply because they are the most vocal and well-known animal rights group out there. But I think that speaks to the effectiveness of PETA’s tactics and its appeal to a wide audience. In contrast, Gary appeals to a very small audience. While he incrementally advances veganism, PETA will incrementally advance veganism and chip away at the property status of animals at the same time.

    And welfare reforms can be used to incrementally chip away at the property status of animals. As I mentioned before, there are many animal rights activists in Chicago who are working to ban the use of bullhooks in the circus. By its own admission, Ringling Brothers Circus cannot control elephants without bullhooks and, as the company says, Ringling Brothers is its elephants and the company will not go to Chicago anymore if it can’t use bullhooks. So, logically, one could conclude that it is possible to shut Ringling Brothers out of Chicago by simply banning bullhooks.

    Animal rights activists have been working for decades to ban circus that use animals from coming to Chicago. Despite trying to convince people that animals should not used in circuses, the majority of the public in Chicago still supports Ringling Brothers. However, in recent years, these same animal rights activists have gained a lot of support for a law that would ban the use of bullhooks in Chicago. If they succeed in banning bullhooks in Chicago, then they will have effectively banned Ringling Brothers from Chicago.

    Obviously, their plans to ban bullhooks may fail, but the intent is there – use a welfare reform campaign to achieve an animal rights goal. Now, if the bullhook ban passes, you may argue that since Ringling Brothers can still go to other cities that the abolition of animal based circuses was not achieved. But abolishing animal based circuses in Chicago via a welfare campaign is just one step in the process. Now it could be used as a precedent to ban bullhooks, and thus animal based circuses, from other cities. In the same way, convincing one person to go vegan will not abolish the use of animals for food, but it is a step in the bigger process.

    This is why I think it is fair to say that there are people who believe 100% in animal rights and want to abolish the property status of animals but who still think that welfare reforms can be used to effectively achieve their goals. I have read and understand your criticism of such tactics, and in some cases I agree with you, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are legitimate animal rights activist who reject the property status of animals who you and Gary are unfairly labeling as people who support “humane” animal exploitation.

    I think you are focusing way to much on labels and generalizations. Not all “liberationists” are utilitarians or anarchists, nor do all liberationists reject rights-based philosophies. Just read the Wikipedia entry for animal liberation and you will see both the utilitarian and the rights philosophies discussed.

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  34. Wow, talk about a lot of words to wade through! But Matt made the more convincing argument in my opinion, and I was left with the impression that Dan is so attached to his ideology that anything that doesn't completely fit his framework immediately gets filtered out.

    What I also found interesting was his reaction to the dog scenario, which makes me wonder if abolitionists of his ilk don't care as much about individual animals who are suffering now, as they do about collective animals that they're hoping to save in some distant utopian future. In a sense, it seems that they're willing to sacrifice current living beings in favour of protecting their ideological stance.

    Finally, why this insistence that only vegan education be allowed? Hello? Aren't we more than capable of being vegan, providing vegan education AND working on welfare reforms along the way? Why this either/or mentality?

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