6.9.09

The Second On Human-Nonhuman Relations Podcast

In my second podcast, I have used David Nibert's Animal Rights, Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation as main text.  I explain that, sociologically, "speciesism" is an ideology and not just an individually-held prejudice.  As such, this ideology - which is the main thing animal rights advocates must tear down - is transmitted generationally through processes of socialisation.  Most human beings thoroughly internalise the norms and values of this ideology, explaining why they say what they say about human-nonhuman relations, why they act as they do, and why we need to achieve cultural change if we are substantially to help nonhuman animals.

I also present my own "take" on the dispute between Professor Gary Francione and Dr. Steve Best, concluding that I support Francione's position while disagreeing with some aspects of it, and explaining why I feel Best's position is both wrong and tactically naive from the point of view of future social change.

LISTEN | MP3 | 25 minutes | English.


62 comments:

  1. Hi Roger,

    Just heard your podcast. Here are my notes:

    - Although you say you look on the dispute from a position that doesn't fully support any side, your analysis is based on criticizing Best's view.

    - As far as I am concerned, Steve Best has never spoken against vegan education, correct me if I am wrong. To add, contrary to Francione, Best is covering philosophically his suggestions all the time. I.e., Francione says that "we must create a system in which oppression is visible and can be seen". Ok, that sounds great. But how could we ever create such a system without an inevitable conflict with the present hierarchical, oppressive, capitalistic system!?!!?! I am truly open to any suggestions!

    - I totally disagree that Steve Best is like a general who cries out for new victims to be sacrificed, that would be silly. Actually I don't think that Best has ever told someone "go break in to a lab" or "place a bomb, get arrested and be a hero to the rest of us" or something similar, he just fully supports every action on behalf of animals; again, correct me if I am wrong. I see Best as a co-fighter, not as a leader or a general. And I say that as someone who is on the streets fighting with the state in any given opportunity.

    - Your are mentioning that Best will never end up in prison, because "he has another book to write". I totally disagree again, and I am surprised to hear that to be honest. Roger, what happened last year in Austria mate? 10 people, above ground activists, totally legitimate, where imprisoned just because the authorities wanted so. If we consider the fact that Austria in comparison to the states is so forward in the rights issue, then we can say for sure that Best, just because of his writings and lectures, has much more possibilities than any other above or under ground activist to end up in jail. Don't forget that Best is already banned from the UK. Really, which are the possibilities that Francione will get banned from entering a country or being jailed? I am really disappointed because I think that only very few people learned the modern state-oppression aspects from the situation of the Austria 10.

    - Last but not least, when you are talking about the social impact and the growth of the movement, I really believe that you see the whole issue by being British-centered, a country where the possibility of a revolution, or of a real riot doesn't actually exist. But this is not absolute to other countries. The Paris suburbs riots and especially last December riot in Athens, in which the state was in defensive position and the people were dominating the city, at least for a few days, is a great example to examine.

    Kind regards,

    V3G4N

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. Gary Francione may have critiqued capitalism and other structural factors to some degree in the 1990s (I've read the co-written essay with Anna Charlton and Sue Coe you mention) but he rarely does so today. In fact, Francione today seems to downplay capitalism and other structural factors in favor of an individualist position that lays all the blame of continued exploition of other animals on consumers alone.

    2. You say that the "Best camp" is creating an either-or situation, in that someone either does illegal direct action or nothing, but this is not the case at all. They simply support unconventional tactics (such as civil disobedience) in addition to the conventional. Meanwhile, it is clear to me that Francione is certainly creating an either-or situation when he frequently labels tactics besides "creative, nonviolent vegan education" as "violent" or "welfarist." Sure, some tactics could be labeled "violent" or "welfarist" but there are clearly many nonviolent abolitionist tactics available beyond promoting veganism.

    3. I was surprised to see David Nibert endorse Francione's latest book, given [1] Francione's definition of speciesism (which Nibert deconstructs the failings of other advocates' similar definitions in his Animal Rights/Human Rights), [2] Francione's individualist mode of change (which Nibert claims is not adequate to the task of nonhuman animal liberation), and [3] Francione's continued use of speciesist language (which Nibert knows that speciesist terms foster speciesist oppression and consistently avoids them). I'm chalking this endorsement up to the fact that Nibert knows Francione has power and that he needs to stay on Francione's good side to avoid being maligned and repressed like Joan Dunayer over the last 5 years for her critique in Speciesism.

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  3. Roger,
    I am happy to see regular installments of your new podcast. From what you have written and said I imagine actually that my views on vegan education and your own are quite close. It is nice to hear similar perspectives on such matters, when I so rarely do in general.

    Also, I support the idea of promoting more careful and even scholarly discourse as regards the pre-debate polemical Best/Francione debates that have been taking place in the last couple weeks.

    This latter point, though, is actually a call for alarm to me as regards what you have done here in podcast #2. For under the appearance of civility, you actually are sloppy and uncareful as regards articulating Best's views even as you mount a more careful defense of Francione by basing it in the dialectical position of Nibert's book. True, you announce up front that you fall in the Francione camp, while distinguishing your position, but this does not absolve you of making a public critique of Best based, apparently, on his off the cuff remarks on Marr's Animal Voices show or whatever statements the "Best camp" as you call it has released on other blogs. Best's work is certainly not above criticism -- nor is that by anyone else -- but what would be helpful is for you to have begun to model how to anchor that criticism in a careful engagement with Best's books and essays. You fail to do that here in a way that I would expect.

    Further, you lose your cool and show too much emotional relish in attacking Steve Best as a "general" who wants new troops but who will not himself fall on the battlefield for them. Here again is a baseless attack. As I have myself written (and know), Steve Best like many other radical academics on animal and ecological political causes, HAS suffered significantly and seriously. To downplay the costs he has incurred because of his ideas is either disingenuous or sloppy. Further, it creates the impression that he is a naive ivory tower-type who is cavalier in his will to send young activists to prison by getting them hooked on a line of rhetoric (which you intimate that his motive is profit; e.g. "his next book"). Again, this is patently false (and in fact one can read the slander of industry lobbyists like David Martosko for the same kind of critique)...so this is not good company for you to be keeping. While Steve may only have suffered tremendous state and academic repression for his work and not been imprisoned to date, you will find a great many in the militant direct action community who will testify that Steve is true blue in his support and friendship, and is a trusted ally, I'm sure.

    Again, critique is fine and welcome -- though we can wonder (offline) about whether this was the appropriate time to weigh in from a tactical perspective. But you should bring the kind of care that you apparently are willing to bring to the work of people like Nibert, Spiegel, or Francione to Steve Best's own writings. I think that if you do, at least some of your concerns will be shown to be erroneous. You can begin by reading his work and the numerous pieces he edited at the Journal of Critical Animal Studies, of which you are apparently now a board member for, while serving as a Director for the Institute itself -- which Steve has led for many years. I raise this only because I am somewhat shocked that if you have such disagreements with his position, you would chose to get in bed with the organization he co-founded and was President as well as Lead Editor for? If this is the turn that ICAS is taking, then I am glad I left.

    Still, let me say again that beyond all the errors as regards Best's position or demeanor here, you do articulate at least the beginnings of a position on vegan education that seems interesting and mainly in line with my own views. That I suppose I would be characterized in the "Best camp" must mean that there may be less ideological disagreement than you gesture to here, though.

    Apologies in advance for any grammar or other errors here,
    Richard

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  4. Hi V3G4N,

    You say, “Just heard your podcast. Here are my notes:

    ”- Although you say you look on the dispute from a position that doesn't fully support any side, your analysis is based on criticizing Best's view.”


    I did not say I was going to give equal time to both perspectives. Surely it is clear that my suggestion that direct action (the not just the just-being-a-vegan type) can be part and parcel of vegan education goes against Gary’s claims that rescues can be judged to be potentially violent events because a security guard may get involved. I think I’ve said on FB that I am not aware of any incident in which a security guard took on people filming or rescuing animals from, say, a broiler unit. I’m tempted to think matters can be solved were activists to take a few quid for the poorly-paid guards. I also suggested on FB that Gary is on firmer ground with that thought in relation to farmers who may indeed be rash enough to grab a shotgun and confront intruders, perhaps especially in the USA where private property is deemed important. Let’s face, we know that most legal systems protect property more than persons (there is mention, for example, of the 1980s Ronnie Lee case in a Wiki entry about me).



    You say, “- As far as I am concerned, Steve Best has never spoken against vegan education, correct me if I am wrong.”


    I do not think you are wrong and if I said or implied that Steve had done so, it was an error for which I would apologise.


    You say, “To add, contrary to Francione, Best is covering philosophically his suggestions all the time. I.e., Francione says that "we must create a system in which oppression is visible and can be seen". Ok, that sounds great. But how could we ever create such a system without an inevitable conflict with the present hierarchical, oppressive, capitalistic system!?!!?! I am truly open to any suggestions!”


    First, I’m not sure I fully understand the first bit of that, so forgive me if I pass to the thoughts on oppressive systems. You’ll get no argument from me that it is likely that some level of conflict will arise as we proceed. I think you will find that Gary presents critiques of capitalism in his work, although Steve claims them to be too abstract. I think that’s wrong since Gary’s writings have within them an understanding of social class, sexism, patriarchy, and “race” integrated into thoughts about speciesism.

    My understanding of social and cultural change is that it is slow (not always but often). This can lead to frustration, of course, but I think we must accept the truth of it, especially since mainstream society is currently so dazzled by the shallowness of celeb culture, consumerism, and most people are, in Frankfurt School terms, “pacified” by the goodies thrown to them from the top table. Hell, most “advanced nations” have successfully exported huge amounts of their working class work to the “third world.” Capitalism is more flexible than some crude readings of Marx allow. I think, given all this, and as uncomfortable as is it, we are currently in a relatively weak position and we should not expect revolutionary change anytime soon. In my view, even an ecological collapse would lead to an “every-person-for-themselves” battle for resources given prevailing cultural values. I am optimistic about change but pessimistic about rapid change. Of course, if Steve is right that we are working in a 2-3 year time frame, then I am blowing in the wind. [You mention Paris and Athens, below, but in that amount of time?]

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  5. You say, “- I totally disagree that Steve Best is like a general who cries out for new victims to be sacrificed, that would be silly. Actually I don't think that Best has ever told someone "go break in to a lab" or "place a bomb, get arrested and be a hero to the rest of us" or something similar, he just fully supports every action on behalf of animals; again, correct me if I am wrong. I see Best as a co-fighter, not as a leader or a general. And I say that as someone who is on the streets fighting with the state in any given opportunity.”

    When Steve declares, “CEO’s don’t lose much sleep over a student petition campaign, a weekly vegan outreach program downtown, or a Sunday potluck dinner with a vegan speaker, as these efforts barely break past 1% of the US population. But exploiters do suffer nightmares when they themselves come under attack and realize there is a real possibility that their property could catch fire or their bloody businesses could be brought down by a gas can and a match,” do you think activists will miss the meaning of carefully chosen words? You sound like an activist, V3G4N, so you know don’t you?

    I’m sure – in fact I know – that there are a variety of views about Steve’s status in activist circles, if that’s an appropriate term. It seems clear that Steve is pretty keen on instilling fear in those he perceives as the “enemy” – interestingly, in one essay, he describes Gary Francione, Lee Hall and Wayne Pacelle as just that. Just who “the enemy” is seems to shift: I guess you’d point to the state and their operatives. My podcast comments on this stem from an acknowledgement that there seems to be a push to escalate things “into violence” at the moment, regardless of how many activists there are left on the ground, and regardless of the number of years the are getting shoved up their jumpers now-a-days from a state machine which will bail out banks and pharmaceutical companies because there are not enough ethical vegans who can make them pay any type of price for doing so. Political puppets only jump to the demands of their masters when they are able to.

    Do you see signs of revolt ~even as~ governments blatantly force the poor to help out when the “free market” (haha) fails to deliver the profits to those who are lined up for them? The poor will have to console themselves with a few new soap operas and the Beatles on Wii.

    You do mention that Steve fully supports ~every~ action taken on behalf on nonhuman animals. Well, he used not to be keen on violent action and went out of his way to talk about the ALF’s policy of non-violence. Maybe he’s changed his mind? Maybe I missed something?




    You say, “- You are mentioning that Best will never end up in prison, because "he has another book to write". I totally disagree again, and I am surprised to hear that to be honest. Roger, what happened last year in Austria mate? 10 people, above ground activists, totally legitimate, where imprisoned just because the authorities wanted so. If we consider the fact that Austria in comparison to the states is so forward in the rights issue, then we can say for sure that Best, just because of his writings and lectures, has much more possibilities than any other above or under ground activist to end up in jail. Don't forget that Best is already banned from the UK. Really, which are the possibilities that Francione will get banned from entering a country or being jailed? I am really disappointed because I think that only very few people learned the modern state-oppression aspects from the situation of the Austria 10.”

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  6. Yes, I do not think Steve will ever end up in prison – not for years anyway – a few days maybe if he’s unlucky. I am not sure we can generalise much from the Austrian case. I am quite happy, though, to hear your take on this. Maybe Martin is right and the Austrian police are more social than rational and they have been socialised by a particularly draconian state to clamp down on social movement participants who are – or can be seen – to be involved or supportive of “criminal” activity. But… wouldn’t it be great if it were ~just a case~ of jail for 110 days as a routine matter? Ah, takes me back to the early 1980s. You know what inmates say about those prison terms, don’t you, “just enough time for a shit and a shave.”

    I am not sure where Steve getting banned from the “United” “Kingdom” and the fact that Gary is not likely to be so banned fits into your case.


    You say, “- Last but not least, when you are talking about the social impact and the growth of the movement, I really believe that you see the whole issue by being British-centered, a country where the possibility of a revolution, or of a real riot doesn't actually exist. But this is not absolute to other countries. The Paris suburbs riots and especially last December riot in Athens, in which the state was in defensive position and the people were dominating the city, at least for a few days, is a great example to examine.

    Kind regards,

    V3G4N”


    You could be right. We’ll have to wait – maybe the Paris and Athens groupings can come over and radicalise the pissed-up mob that go to Old Trafford and Anfield every week.

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  7. Thank you Roger for your candid opinions regarding Best. I never expected that you would present his views in the favorable light that you did. Your objectivity is refreshing.

    At my core I sincerely align more with Mr. Francione's POV of peaceful advocacy. I've always presented myself as a non-violent advocate, or at worst; a fence sitter. But I do believe that at sometime in the future, things will escalate into significant civil disobedience and this will be met with violence from those in financial/political power. What they can no longer suppress with "law" they will with force. And then it does become a matter of self defense. Not an "extension of self protection" but the real thing. It would be wonderful if this greatest challenge of our species could be achieved without "war" but the skeptic in me is highly doubtful.

    I also don't see open rescue, hunt sabotage or undercover video as an issue of concern. I think they have their place and should be judged on their individual merit.

    But as far as strategic failings that I see with MDA: Breaking into labs is the worst. I personally don't see the benefit of attacking those institutions who are favored with the most widely accepted use of animals; as in "science, medicine & health". I think this will be the last bastion to relinquish their "need" for animals... The most frivolous and defenseless use of animals are those who are enslaved for fur, rodeos and circuses. I'm no general, but it seems that these are the institutions that are the most vunerable and the easiest to discredit. That's just good strategy. Yes?

    Anyway, enough playing army... These scenarios hopefully will never come to pass. And if they do, it will be long after it will matter to any of us here today. I honestly feel the urgency that Best has but I try to weigh it with the practicality that both you and Mr. Francione have imparted. Thank you for your wisdom (and patience) with this learning student.

    Best,
    Bea

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  8. Hi again Roger,
    Thanks for your back-comments.

    |I think you will find that Gary presents critiques of capitalism in his work, although Steve claims them to be too abstract. I think that’s wrong since Gary’s writings have within them an understanding of social class, sexism, patriarchy, and “race” integrated into thoughts about speciesism.|

    I do not doubt, Francione presents critiques of capitalism and he does understand everything you mentioned, but I also believe they are too abstract. The issue is, what are we doing about it when we are realizing all these stuff. Talking about it doesn't solve anything. Neither waiting capitalism to fall on its own is a solution from me. And if we are going to do something about it, what this would be? As Rosa Luxemburg asked, reform or revolution?


    |[…] I think, given all this, and as uncomfortable as is it, we are currently in a relatively weak position and we should not expect revolutionary change anytime soon.|

    This is why I referred to the recent Athens riot, that in fact started in a matter of minute, not even hours. The reason why it did not went further is another thing, but the 5th of December (riots started at 6th) was just another. The same can be said about the Los Angeles riots, more than 15 years now. In any case, That 's why I believe that a revolution may happen any time, just because of a skin-deep reason and not “real” one, and the question is if are ready to manage this situation.


    |When Steve declares, “CEO’s don’t lose much sleep over a student petition campaign, a weekly vegan outreach program downtown, or a Sunday potluck dinner with a vegan speaker, as these efforts barely break past 1% of the US population. But exploiters do suffer nightmares when they themselves come under attack and realize there is a real possibility that their property could catch fire or their bloody businesses could be brought down by a gas can and a match,” do you think activists will miss the meaning of carefully chosen words? You sound like an activist, V3G4N, so you know don’t you?|

    I know that if I say now that I am hungry, I don't necessary imply that I want you to go and cook me a dinner. I quote a desire I have, but how and if this will be fulfilled it's not a business of the ones around me. Best is expressing a political opinion, maybe extreme to someones, but it is still is a political opinion – he is not forcing somebody to go illegal. Probably he is giving him/her a psychological reliance, but this something different.


    |It seems clear that Steve is pretty keen on instilling fear in those he perceives as the “enemy” – interestingly, in one essay, he describes Gary Francione, Lee Hall and Wayne Pacelle as just that.|

    I think that the word “fear” is not appropriate. He stigmatizes them, he makes it clear that their perspective is at least different and in my mind he actually wants all this orbit to just mind their own business, he doesn't “terrorize” them. In addition, when HSUS speaks about ALF activist as criminals and says to FBI “go get them”, or (a recent example) when Francione acts like a baby that someone scared him and he urges people inside(?) the movement to solve their differences with the “help” of the authorities, I am really displeased to say that, but then the brackets from the “enemy” go away. It's not that “anti-systemic”, neither “anti-capitalistic” to play ball with the FBI and every other similar institution. Last but not least, as a low-class grass root activist, when I see Pacelle receiving $300,000 annual salary, this is a great issue for me to see him (or anybody else like him) as someone that actually is by my side and not by the side of the capital/system.

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  9. |You do mention that Steve fully supports ~every~ action taken on behalf on nonhuman animals. Well, he used not to be keen on violent action and went out of his way to talk about the ALF’s policy of non-violence. Maybe he’s changed his mind? Maybe I missed something?|

    Probably you should ask Steve this question, not me; I am not writing to support him as a person, I support his attitude in most parts of which I am coincided. But in anyway, we are all evolving and changing our minds as we discover more of ourselves and the world, aren't we? Staying the same sometimes shows a person with blinders and changing shows the opposite, at least that's my opinion.

    |[…] But… wouldn’t it be great if it were ~just a case~ of jail for 110 days as a routine matter? Ah, takes me back to the early 1980s. You know what inmates say about those prison terms, don’t you, “just enough time for a shit and a shave.”|

    I don't think that imprisonment is “great” in case, neither for just a shit and a shave time. Everyone in the movement is much more useful outside bars.
    Going back to Best again and his interest in his book-writing for personal benefits: Before Best got involved with animal liberation as he is now, his books had earned awards like “Social Theory/Philosophy Book of the Year” and stuff. He was in a great way to become something like Chomski and Foucault, talking endlessly in hotel lobbies around the world, getting rich from his best-seller books and be someone appreciated in a a much wider community than the AR community. But he choose the other way and I doubt that this way is the best for his career. In my point of view, he is using his career to for the movement and not the movement for his career, as others do.


    |I am not sure where Steve getting banned from the “United” “Kingdom” and the fact that Gary is not likely to be so banned fits into your case.|

    Steve got banned because of his radical speeches; he is obviously considered a danger. Gary is not. Not them actually, their approaches.


    |We’ll have to wait – maybe the Paris and Athens groupings can come over and radicalise the pissed-up mob that go to Old Trafford and Anfield every week.|

    I wish this was I could see this option, but the only option I see at the moment is that expansion of the US/UK capitalism allover the world.

    V.

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  10. I'm sorry for my bad English and my mistakes...

    *Neither waiting capitalism to fall on its own is a solution FOR me.

    *The reason why it did not went further is another thing, but the 5th of December (riots started at 6th) was just another DAY.

    *I don't think that imprisonment is “great” in ANY case.

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  11. V - you wrote - "|When Steve declares, “CEO’s don’t lose much sleep over a student petition campaign, a weekly vegan outreach program downtown, or a Sunday potluck dinner with a vegan speaker, as these efforts barely break past 1% of the US population. But exploiters do suffer nightmares when they themselves come under attack and realize there is a real possibility that their property could catch fire or their bloody businesses could be brought down by a gas can and a match,” do you think activists will miss the meaning of carefully chosen words? You sound like an activist, V3G4N, so you know don’t you?|

    "I know that if I say now that I am hungry, I don't necessary imply that I want you to go and cook me a dinner. I quote a desire I have, but how and if this will be fulfilled it's not a business of the ones around me. Best is expressing a political opinion, maybe extreme to someones, but it is still is a political opinion – he is not forcing somebody to go illegal. Probably he is giving him/her a psychological reliance, but this something different.


    "|It seems clear that Steve is pretty keen on instilling fear in those he perceives as the “enemy” – interestingly, in one essay, he describes Gary Francione, Lee Hall and Wayne Pacelle as just that.|

    "I think that the word “fear” is not appropriate. He stigmatizes them, he makes it clear that their perspective is at least different and in my mind he actually wants all this orbit to just mind their own business, he doesn't “terrorize” them. In addition, when HSUS speaks about ALF activist as criminals and says to FBI “go get them”, or (a recent example) when Francione acts like a baby that someone scared him and he urges people inside(?) the movement to solve their differences with the “help” of the authorities, I am really displeased to say that, but then the brackets from the “enemy” go away. It's not that “anti-systemic”, neither “anti-capitalistic” to play ball with the FBI and every other similar institution. Last but not least, as a low-class grass root activist, when I see Pacelle receiving $300,000 annual salary, this is a great issue for me to see him (or anybody else like him) as someone that actually is by my side and not by the side of the capital/system."

    I think Steve is pretty clear about fear and intimidation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD0dz1vvblY&feature=related

    I agree with you about the wages but I do not think you and the HSUS are in the same movement. I was rather taken aback, actually, to hear Steve join with Bob Linden (Go Vegan Radio) over the last weekend to express surprise about the HSUS. Linden has interviewed Gary Francione and Best has written about the HSUS, so why the shock and surprise?

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  12. Roger, being the well-read advocate you are, I'm sure you know Steve Best has been exposing HSUS as the "welfarist"/speciesist corporation it is for at least a few years now.

    For example, in 2005, he published "HSUS Crosses the Line" (http://www.drstevebest.org/Essays/HSUSCrossestheLine.htm) detailing HSUS's collaboration with state repression, while in 2006, he published "The Iron Cage of Movement Bureacracy" (http://www.drstevebest.org/Essays/TheIronCage.htm) taking a similar line of critique of HSUS.

    Best's comment of "incredible" on Go Vegan Radio to Wayne Pacelle's industry partnerships are not one of surprise, but rather of confirmation of Bob Linden's statements indicting HSUS as the collaborationists they are.

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  13. I am (slowly) getting around to the comments I have not replied to as yet. However, on your last point, Brandon, I am aware that Steve has written about the HSUS before but, for me, that makes his response even stranger.

    I believe Steve argues that the HSUS are traitors to the cause of ending animal use: a cause they have never signed up to in the first place. Of course, on the show, it is Bob expressing the greater degree of shock. I thought Steve would ask him what, exactly, had he expected from a traditional animal welfare group, the North American equivalent of the RSPCA - even given the complication of Pacelle being their chief for the last while.

    I am sure Steve is aware of Resource Mobilisation Theory (and I know he is well versed in Weber) and will know how careerists act within established corporations.

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  14. Roger, I am aware of the video you linked. As I mentioned before, Steve's speech may sound extreme to some, but he is just expressing his desires, he is not ordering anyone. In addition, he always uses the word "we" and never "you". That's why I wrote before that I consider him a co-fighter and not a leader.

    You are right, we are not in the some movement with the HSUS. But we are not that far from the movement they are in. And here's another issue I agree with Steve: close-related movements should be merged - the ALM, the animal welfare one, the ecological and the anti-biotechnology one, just to make a few. But organizations like the HSUS, not only keep doors closed (that would be ok) but they are actually against "us", when ostensibly they are akin to "us".

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  15. Brandon,

    You write, "Gary Francione may have critiqued capitalism and other structural factors to some degree in the 1990s (I've read the co-written essay with Anna Charlton and Sue Coe you mention) but he rarely does so today. In fact, Francione today seems to downplay capitalism and other structural factors in favor of an individualist position that lays all the blame of continued exploition of other animals on consumers alone."

    I would say that a critique of capitalism is thoroughly integrated into Gary Francione's position. Yes, it ~could~ be more explicit, it ~could~ be emphasised more - but it is there. We can find it in his books, his speeches and talks (e.g., The Last Ten Years) and his interviews.

    It seems to be an integral part of his general views about the property status and when he discusses "legal welfarism" and the jurisdictional concept of "standing."

    I think an interesting discussion could be had with Gary about whether the emphasis could and should be altered - but that is not saying these institutional elements are ignored. In Rain Without Thunder, for example (1996: 191), Gary makes it clear that structural issues - embedded in "our social institutions" - are important factors.


    You write, "You say that the "Best camp" is creating an either-or situation, in that someone either does illegal direct action or nothing, but this is not the case at all. They simply support unconventional tactics (such as civil disobedience) in addition to the conventional. Meanwhile, it is clear to me that Francione is certainly creating an either-or situation when he frequently labels tactics besides "creative, nonviolent vegan education" as "violent" or "welfarist." Sure, some tactics could be labeled "violent" or "welfarist" but there are clearly many nonviolent abolitionist tactics available beyond promoting veganism."

    I must listen again to the podcast but I do not recall saying anything related to an "either-or" situation. I think it is true to say that Gary supports civil disobedience too.

    I would love to see more nonviolence abolitionist tactics. I believe direct action can be part of vegan education but that means thought needs to be given to its public reception (given that cultural change is required). I no longer believe that the activists can "go it alone" and win, and I prefer it when they see themselves as part of something wider and transformative. A mass of vegan activists are needed if the idea is to bully the way to animal liberation without changing hearts and minds - but I think it is fair to say that a mass of ethical vegans would have enough socioeconomic and political power that they need not bully.

    It seems to me that thoughful direct action would never go a million miles near the lunacy of digging up dead humans in order to influence society that the case for animal rights is a sound one.

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  16. ...

    Brandon writes, "I was surprised to see David Nibert endorse Francione's latest book, given [1] Francione's definition of speciesism (which Nibert deconstructs the failings of other advocates' similar definitions in his Animal Rights/Human Rights), [2] Francione's individualist mode of change (which Nibert claims is not adequate to the task of nonhuman animal liberation), and [3] Francione's continued use of speciesist language (which Nibert knows that speciesist terms foster speciesist oppression and consistently avoids them). I'm chalking this endorsement up to the fact that Nibert knows Francione has power and that he needs to stay on Francione's good side to avoid being maligned and repressed like Joan Dunayer over the last 5 years for her critique in Speciesism."

    Perhaps you should ask Nibert about his take on the structure-agency issue? As for the last remark, I think you exaggerate the power that Gary has to influnce others. We speak much about the value of the internet enabling voices to be heard that others may prefer silenced (Gary's being one). I do not see how Gary could repress Joan. What prevents Joan writing, publishing websites and being featured in the media?

    For my part, I have praised Joan's work, in particular her first book, Animal Equality: Language and Liberation, which is a fine analysis of the power of language in the social construaction of human-nonhuman relations.

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  17. V3G4N: "But organizations like the HSUS, not only keep doors closed (that would be ok) but they are actually against "us", when ostensibly they are akin to "us"."

    Yes, and Gary Francione has argued this since (at least) 1996.

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  18. Know you are busy Roger and so feel free to disregard, but as a sociologist who is versed in social movement theory, I would be interested in your considerations of the plusses/minuses of the recent polemics between MDA and Abolitionist advocates...that is, how would versions of social movement theory attempt to understand the role of these groups within the movement? What strategic aims should they have? What tactics make the most sense based on these movement strategies? To even the casual observer of the comments posted around the web in the last few weeks it looks like a number of gauntlets were thrown down that will not be easily, if ever, recovered from. In other words, we have witnessed a kind of "cell division" (if you'll pardon the biological metaphor) within the more left wings of the animal advocacy movement. How does social movement theory understand such ideological mitosis or meiosis and where would it point to as probable or, better yet, productive next steps?

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  19. Dear Roger:

    I have several comments:

    First, it is clear that a number of the people posting here are completely ignorant of my work. What is troubling is that they purport to characterize my work despite their knowing little or nothing about it.

    Second, I have always been critical of capitalism and anyone who says to the contrary is simply ignorant of my work. Indeed, I published one of the very first (early 1990s as I recall) critiques of capitalism in the context of talking about the animal rights issue. I just reject violence as a means of social change.

    Third, although I have made a number of arguments against violence, there is one that is irrefutable even if some of these tragically confused "militants" think that violence is morally acceptable: as long as demand continues, shutting down suppliers, especially in a world in which capital can cross national boundaries, is less productive than masturbation. You can shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences and 10 other animal suppliers and if the public continues to support vivisection, that supply will be met by others. You can shut down 10 slaughterhouses and if demand for meat continues, the supply will be met by others. No amount of chest pounding and heavy breathing can change that simple fact.

    Fourth, although I am critical of capitalism, it is not necessary for capitalism to fall as a condition of animal use ending. What is required is that people reject the status of nonhumans as chattel property. That could happen within a capitalist framework. I am somewhat bewildered as to why anyone thinks that the collapse of capitalism is a necessary condition for the rejection of domestication and animal use. It is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.

    Fifth, a number--indeed most--of the pro-violence people support welfarist reform and single-issue campaigns. These pro-violent people are nothing more than militant new welfarists. There is nothing more reactionary than supporting reforms that increase production efficiency. Some of the comments here make me think that these folks do not know the difference between Karl Marx and Groucho Marx.

    Actually, I see the Institute for Critical Animal Studies as trying to give a pathetic academic patina to militant new welfarism. That is, ICAS has supported both welfare reform and violence. It's a tragically confused group and I am glad to hear that you are resigning from it.

    Sixth, the matter of open rescue is a diversion. That is not what we are talking about. This most recent flare-up did not start because I expressed some criticism of open rescues. It occurred when I was attacked for not supporting violence against other humans or violence against property that threatens human and nonhuman life.

    In your podcast, you claim that open rescues are necessary to get information about conditions of animal treatment. I am not sure that is empirically accurate.

    But I note that many people support open rescue to "save lives." They could, of course, go to a local shelter and rescue a dog, cat, rabbit, rat, mouse, hamster, etc. that will be killed because no one wants them. But you do not get a pat on the back and become a hero by adopting some little rat that no one will adopt. So much of this has to do with being a hero and the ego gratification of a group of white, middle-class people who want to pretend that they are revolutionaries. So little of it has to do with animals.

    Gary

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  20. Dear Roger:

    I wanted to make a final point in my previous posting but I had exceeded the allowed length so I will make it here.

    There have been a number of ad hominem attacks on me in these comments. I am not going to reply to them because I realize that the primary form of discourse of new welfarists--be they militant or not--is to call people names. I do, however, want to set the record straight on a comment made by Brandon Becker.

    Becker claims that I have "repressed Joan Dunayer for her critique in Speciesism."

    I consider Becker's comment to be deeply troubling and indicative of malicious dishonesty. First of all, I have no ability to "repress" or stop anyone from speaking or publishing.

    But what is more disturbing about Becker's comment is that a month or so ago, he wrote to me to inquire about my views on Dunayer.

    I informed him that Dunayer had sent me the Speciesism manuscript and asked me to write the foreword. I forwarded to Becker Dunayer's original email to me, which was sent on January 11, 2004, requesting that I write the foreword. Becker (and everyone else who has seen that email in light of what Dunayer ultimately published) expressed astonishment.

    I also informed Becker that Dunayer's manuscript, which she sent to me, contained not one single word of criticism of my work. The problem was that I refused to write the foreword that Dunayer wanted because her book contained little that was not lifted straight from my work. I explained this to her and even offered to work with her to try to make her book contain something that was both original and interesting. She became angry and changed her manuscript to mischaracterize my work and to claim that I supported welfare reform, apparently in order to appear to differentiate her work from mine.

    I also informed Becker that Professors Nibert and Fox had asked Dunayer (in writing) to remove their endorsements from the book because they believed that she had misrepresented my views.

    The fact that Becker made the comment about Dunayer that he did indicates malicious dishonesty on his part.

    Finally, David Nibert is a tenured professor and Becker's comments about Nibert's endorsement of my book, Animals as Persons, indicate further that Becker is a deeply troubled individual.

    Gary

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  21. As a member of the Community Party of Canada and an abolitionist, I'm surprised by the misrepresentations of Francione's thought in some of these comments. They misunderstand both Francione's position as well as anti-capitalist political praxis. He's definitely anti-capitalist, and if he weren't I would unreservedly criticize him for it.

    As for the scene drama that folks are trying to start up, I feel that that's very unfortunate. I think it would be best if we all tried to leave off the ad hominems and tried to focus on what we owe nonhuman animals and keep the focus on a meaningful dialogue about what we can do for them rather than trying to turn this into a "he-said/she-said" argument. This kind of rhetorical gaming does nothing to help 'the movement' or nonhuman animals.

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  22. To clarify my comment, I'm a former member of the CP. I quit a couple of years ago to focus on my work on promote an end to the chattel slavery of human and nonhuman animals embodied in the abolitionist movement. Naturally, I feel that anti-capitalism remains important to that work.

    ReplyDelete
  23. [Becker claims that I have "repressed Joan Dunayer for her critique in Speciesism."]

    That's correct, and there is evidence that Gary Francione, Jeff Perz, and others have conspired to malign Joan Dunayer's integrity and honesty in a campaign to discourage others from reading her groundbreaking work.

    [I consider Becker's comment to be deeply troubling and indicative of malicious dishonesty. First of all, I have no ability to "repress" or stop anyone from speaking or publishing.]

    In April, Perz contacted me to try to convince me to stop promoting Dunayer's work in any capacity (and apparently, he has tried to persuade many others, too). He told me about his "review" of Dunayer's book and encouraged me to read his response to Dunayer's rebuttal of his "review" (more an attack piece than anything). I told him I had already read the debates back in January and was not convinced of his claims. Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, I re-read Francione's Rain Without Thunder (skipped re-reading Animals, Property, and the Law) and Introduction to Animal Rights and Dunayer's Animal Equality and Speciesism. Then, I re-read Perz's "Anti-Speciesism", Dunayer's "Advancing Animal Rights", Perz's "Adulterating Animal Rights" and the related discussion on the AR-News group and, for the first time, read the related discussion on the AR-Views group.

    I told Perz that after doing all of this, I was still not convinced of his claims. He didn't have much to say in response other than that he wanted me to respond specifically to some of his claims in "Adulterating Animal Rights" in particular. I did, which Perz then wrote back and said only "I'll reply to your e-mail when I can." It's been nearly two months now and still no response.

    In sum, I don't think Perz's claims of attribution and appropriation have merit- Dunayer attributed credit to Francione where he was due it (including praise), and accurately described Francione's positions throughout Speciesism.

    [But what is more disturbing about Becker's comment is that a month or so ago, he wrote to me to inquire about my views on Dunayer.]

    Actually, back in early July, I wrote Perz regarding the content of Dunayer’s draft manuscript of Speciesism, to which he then CC’d his reply to Francione, getting Francione involved in the situation where I had not intended to do so.

    [I informed him that Dunayer had sent me the Speciesism manuscript and asked me to write the foreword. I forwarded to Becker Dunayer's original email to me, which was sent on January 11, 2004, requesting that I write the foreword. Becker (and everyone else who has seen that email in light of what Dunayer ultimately published) expressed astonishment.]

    Francione told me this, but did not forward Dunayer's email to me (nor did I ask him to), so I could not have expressed astonishment at something I didn't see.

    ...continued in the next post...

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  24. [I also informed Becker that Dunayer's manuscript, which she sent to me, contained not one single word of criticism of my work. The problem was that I refused to write the foreword that Dunayer wanted because her book contained little that was not lifted straight from my work. I explained this to her and even offered to work with her to try to make her book contain something that was both original and interesting. She became angry and changed her manuscript to mischaracterize my work and to claim that I supported welfare reform, apparently in order to appear to differentiate her work from mine.

    I also informed Becker that Professors Nibert and Fox had asked Dunayer (in writing) to remove their endorsements from the book because they believed that she had misrepresented my views.]

    I encourage everyone to read Dunayer’s side of the story here:
    http://groups.google.com/group/ar-news/browse_thread/thread/46ef42d65cb94e03/d246147b6084b668#d246147b6084b668

    Here’s an excerpt:
    -----
    Francione's charges are false.

    After reading my manuscript, Francione objected to the extent to which my expressed views corresponded to his own; he claimed that my work was derivative of his. Partly because of this, I added explicit statements of the ways in which my views differ from his. That was a perfectly legitimate, sensible thing to do. The manuscript read by David Nibert, Michael A. Fox, and others who endorsed the book contained the additions in question. In my opinion, the additions increased the book's clarity, originality, and insightfulness.

    After Francione saw the earlier manuscript, I also reread much of his work and read some additional articles by him, such as "Wildlife and Animal Rights." This further reading somewhat altered my assessment of his views. For example, in the manuscript that Francione read, I wrote, "As Francione has emphasized, as long as nonhumans are property, they will lack legal rights: the legal right not to be property is the 'grounding' for other legal rights." After further reading, I amended that to read, "With regard to humans, Francione calls the right not to be treated as property the 'grounding' for other rights." The revised statement is more accurate.

    In addition, some of Francione's emailed comments to me highlighted and clarified differences between our views. For example, Francione stated that "only sentience" is "required for the right not to be property," but "cognitive and genetic similarities between humans and great apes might justify according equal rights to great apes." In May 2004 I emailed Francione asking his permission to quote that statement in Speciesism. He gave permission. I also emailed, "In the email quote you say that all sentient beings are entitled not to be property, but nonhuman great apes might be entitled to more than that ('equal rights') [emphasis in original]." Francione in no way objected to that restatement. In contrast to Francione, I believe that all sentient beings are entitled to equally strong legal protection. As I state in Speciesism, "I can't think of any human right that applies to nonhuman great apes but doesn't also apply to all other sentient beings."

    In sum, Francione's claim that Speciesism was derivative of his work, my further examination of his work, and some of his emailed comments that underscored differences between our views prompted me to revise. Such revision is standard and desirable. In particular, I addressed contradictions in Francione's arguments. The final, published version of Speciesism doesn't misrepresent his work; it analyzes his work more fully and astutely than the earlier manuscript.
    -----

    ...continued in next post...

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  25. [The fact that Becker made the comment about Dunayer that he did indicates malicious dishonesty on his part.]

    Not at all. In reality, it illustrates my commitment to fairness and truth.

    I also encourage everyone to read Steve Kaufman's thoughts on this situation here:
    http://www.animalsuffering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=40756&sid=f03d50537677d2b6deee92f6b061e305#40756

    [Finally, David Nibert is a tenured professor and Becker's comments about Nibert's endorsement of my book, Animals as Persons, indicate further that Becker is a deeply troubled individual.]

    This was merely my speculation, based upon Nibert's views contrasted with Francione’s along with Francione’s power position in academia. It should not be taken to be the final word.

    I find it disturbing that Francione believes that anyone who disagrees with his work is either a "welfarist," has a mental illness, a liar, or some combination of the three.

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  26. I don't think it's that nice to write accusations about ad hominems in general. If anyone is bothered by another writing he should write specifically about it, or not write at all.

    |I think it would be best if we all tried to leave off the ad hominems and tried to focus on what we owe nonhuman animals and keep the focus on a meaningful dialogue about what we can do for them rather than trying to turn this into a "he-said/she-said" argument.|
    I totally agree Vincent. But how possible is this dialogue when the one side, is here only to lecture and not to hear, and as Brandon mentioned, calls anyone who disagree with their views welfarists, psychos, liars and stuff, or calling "pacifists" to go the authorities against "militants"?

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  27. Brandon Becker:

    First, with respect to your assertion that I did not send you Dunayer's email of January 11, 2004, you are once again in error. But to refresh your recollection, here it is:

    **********
    Hi, Gary.

    I've just completed the manuscript for a second ar book (Speciesism), and I'm wondering if you would consider writing the foreword. (Please say yes!) I'd also be grateful for any ms. feedback that you had time to provide.

    Right after I got Animal Equality to press, I read Introduction to Animal Rights. It's a great book.

    Hope everything's fine with you, Anna, and the canine members of your family.

    Joan
    *****

    If you find this email consistent with the view of someone who a very short time later characterized Introduction to Animal Rights as "speciesist," then I suggest that you are more confused than I had initially thought.

    Second, your "speculation" that I have a "power position in academia" and, therefore, am able to force tenured academics such as David Nibert to endorse my books, reinforces my view that you are a troubled and angry person.

    I do not know why you chose a forum about Roger's podcast to raise Dunayer--other than your uncontrolled desire to attack me when you have nothing substantive to say--but you did so and I responded. I have no intention of discussing the Dunayer situation further. I have no intention of having any further contact with you at all, actually.

    Bye.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  28. I, as an abolitionist, am not a reductive “individualist” wrt social change. I simply realize that we have to get a critical mass of people to agree with the structural critique (e.g. of the property status of animals) before we can bring about the structural changes we are after. And we can only do this via vegan education.

    As to the point that speciesism is an ideology that serves to justify the economic oppression of animals, this is I think just as reductive as the idea that speciesism is merely a prejudice of the individual. For it completely ignores the moral aspect of speciesism.

    I think that people can exploit animals with a clear conscience because they do not take them to be the intelligible objects of sympathies such as pity, compassion, remorse, etc. People do not take animals to be the intelligible objects of those sympathies because they do not take them to have inner lives of any depth – specifically, they do not take them to have an interest in their lives, which is why people generally think that although animals should be spared “unnecessary” suffering, it is, nonetheless, okay to kill them.

    Now I can see no reason for saying that people would magically somehow come to see sense and depth in animal suffering just because capitalism were abolished. (People do however change their moral perception of animals as a result of being educated about them.) Indeed, as Francione points out, since the distinction between persons and property is part of every political system, if people were not opposed to the property status of animals on moral grounds, then animals would be chattel property in noncapitalist systems also.

    Having said that I do not deny that speciesism as an ideology is used to justify the economic oppression of animals, just that speciesism as a prejudice – as a profound defect in people's moral vision or understanding - is prior to that I think.

    Francione rightly makes the point that, even if you think that violence can be morally justified, this is besides the point since targeting producers and suppliers does not make any sense in the context of the animal rights struggle. If the demand for animal products still exists, then it will simply be taken up by other exploiters. Moreover (and this is something that Vincent has spoken about before), the demand will be consolidated behind larger exploiters that not only have more lobbying power, but that can also exploit animals more cost-effectively. See this essay by Vincent: http://weotheranimals.blogspot.com/2009/08/we-can-only-fight-demand-by-fighting.html

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  29. I was hoping someone else would have addressed this, but I see that the topic has gone in other unforseen (and unfortunate)directions. It concerns the desire to name who is most "anti-capitalistic" and about who originated the idea of the immorality of human slavery.

    On the first point, there is no economic system that exists today, or that ever has, that can be called "capitalistic". Meaning a totally free market, with the absence of any "force or fraud". Every country including the US has perverted the intent of "free contractual agreement". It does so by taxes, grants, subsidies, etc. Therefore being "against" it or "anti" capitalistic is just impossible. This system of theft and favors is by far not anything that should be confused with "captialism".

    However, it would seem that in a Libertarian/Ayn Rand "utopian" capitalistic system, (if one should ever come to be) - that nonhumans might stand an even better chance of rights. When a bastardized financial arrangement operates from the onset under the premise of exploitation, dishonesty and corruption to humans... It only stands to reason that "force" will be used against nonhumans too. If our social and political ethics were ever truly committed to the idea of the abolishment of force and fraud amongst ourselves, I think the abolishment of speciesism would stand a much better chance as well.

    And finally a mention of credit is also due to Ayn Rand regarding the idea of the "immorality of human slavery" as it was published in her fiction and nonfiction works since the late 50's. It is sad that followers of Objectivism fail to carry proper ethics through to the rights of nonhumans, but such is the enormous challenge before us.

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  30. Two thoughts:

    1. Given that Ayn Rand regarded human rationality as the highest expression of existence, thought selfishness to be the most important virtue, and had contempt for any emotion of empathy or pity toward another, it is doubtful that animals would do any better in a Randian world than they would do in a non-Randian one.

    2. Any change to a Randian or any other system assumes that humans can act collectively to create a better system. I believe that they can and if they can, a socialist utopia would be about three trillion times better than any system based on the thought of Ayn Rand who, I believe, had a very bleak vision (in addition to being a terrible writer without an ounce of philosophical talent. She also ripped Nietzsche off).

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers Law School
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  31. On the second point: In the last 35years I've found judgements of Ayn Rand's writings fall into two extremes. People either love or hate her work. And as she intended, her radical opinions left no chance for indifference. I like her passion and high regard for critical thinking. But I think her view of a possible "pure" capitalistic system, is beyond the scope of what human nature (and greed) will ever allow.

    But on the point of rationality as man's highest virtue... I don't understand the problem with that? Isn't it rational for man to achieve? To thrive? To be just, fair and kind? To work for a better community and world? In my view none of this is possible without the respect due to others and earth... Or am I missing something?

    Also, I don't know that she was void of empathy - except in the matter of "unearned" pity. As in a person who is self destructive.

    "Selfish" and "ego", like other words, are left to semantics and can be interpreted in various ways... As for me, I see it as "selfish" to choose to be good. And to have a strong "ego" requires one to be benevolent. I suppose it's a matter of a glass half full or half empty.

    Still, I'm very sorry her contemporaries who profess adherence to logic don't give animal rights the due consideration they should.

    As I confessed, I'm just a student here... Into the AR/vegan issue for a little more than a year. Awkward turf, in a fractured
    "movement" makes it that much harder to find an ideal position. So I do sincerely appreciate your patience and reply.

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  32. I think the larger point is this: Steve Best supports violence as a means to end animal exploitation, Gary Francione does not.

    As I understand it, (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) the reason Francione does not is twofold. The first reason is that the philosophy of veganism is not consistent with behavior, or rhetoric, that promotes violence, terror, or destruction. The second reason is that there is no evidence to suggest that any of the past violence-based direct action, against any of the various forms of animal exploitation, has resulted in a lessening of said exploitation to any long-term, appreciable degree.

    To my knowledge, this last point has not been adequately refuted by Steve Best or anyone else. If any proof to the contrary does exist this would be a good time to come forward with it.

    ~ Erin Greer

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  33. To: Bea Elliott

    Rand clearly believed that humans are morally superior to nonhumans and that the rational egoist is morally superior to all humans. There was no place in her philosophy for obligations of kindness, charity, working for a better community, etc. Ayn Rand is about as anti-communitarian as you can get!

    I think her notions of egoism and selfishness are quite clearly set out in her books. If you have not read "The Virtues of Selfishness," do so. I found it to be a pretty scary book.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  34. To: Erin Greer

    I certainly believe that violence cannot be justified morally and that there is empirical evidence to believe that violence does nothing but result in more violence.

    However, there is another important point, which none of the defenders of violence has refuted. The problem is that the point cannot be refuted.

    The militant new welfarists talk about using violence against the "exploiters."

    But who are the "exploiters"?

    The exploiters are all those humans who consume animal products. The militant new welfarists advocate violence against the suppliers of animal products. But what is the point? The suppliers are just capitalists who invest their money. If we stopped demanding the products, they would invest their money in other activities. Suppliers do, of course, encourage us to consume their products. But the ultimate decision is ours.

    You can shut down all of the slaughterhouses, fur shops, vivisector suppliers, etc., and as long as the demand is there and as long as the public does not object to vivisection as a political matter, the demand gets filled by another set of capitalists. The notion that the militants are going to cause so much fear that suppliers will all shut down despite continued demand is, on multiple levels, akin to belief in Santa Claus.

    I hope that this clarifies my position.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  35. It's been decades since I've read Rand. And originally it was her economic theory that interested me. However real world experience has even disenchanted me on that.

    I don't think I will spend the effort to re-read, as I understand there's a very good book on AR coming out in the near future.

    Thanks for your time and all you do.

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  36. What strikes me as a German abolitionist is that the same phenomenon that can be observed on English/American forums and blogs also occurs on Internet platforms in the German speaking world: After having presented the abolitionist arguments in depth and length without having met a substantive counterargument, I am confronted with the question what the abolitionist stance on capitalism is. It seems to function as something people resort to after all unfounded objections have been exhausted. But in the context of animal advocacy, the discussion of capitalism, much as it is an issue in and of itself, is besides the point for the reasons Gary and James have stated.

    In a society of legally protected *consumer freedom*, the nonvegan consumer is every bit as much the culprit as is the producer and supplier of animal products. In fact, as Gary writes on the video page of his website, ''[t]he people who are ultimately responsible are not those who own and operate the slaughterhouses; those who consume meat and animal products, who create the demand, bear the ultimate moral responsibility. ''

    For those who think that using violence is justified or required to stop animal exploitation, why don’t you start off violently stopping your neighbour, co-worker, mother, partner, friend from eating their next hamburger, cheese pizza, or ice-cream? Even if violence against institutional exploiters wasn’t a moral issue, endorsing and promoting it sends the highly problematic message that animal industry is the actual culprit, not the consumer. And as long as this message is being sent, the majority will continue to consume animal products with a clear conscienc or to ease feelings of guilt by consuming *happy* meat /dairy/ eggs.

    One of the points that has been raised against the view that animal exploitation can only be ended by eliminating demand, achievable only through vegan eduction, is that there are examples proving the contrary, such as the perpetuation of bullfighting in Spain which still exists despite the fact that a majority of Spain’s citizens want it banned.

    This example is, however, not suited to prove the contrary of what abolitionists argue; rather, it illustrates what Gary states on page 19 of his book Introduction to Animal Rights. Your Child or the Dog? (2000): ''There is a profound disparity between what we say we believe about animals, and how we actually treat them.''

    It belongs to the most profoundly examined features of the human mind that people are capable of saying one thing, and even believing it, and doing another. This phenomenon accounts for the fact that people can claim to believe that bullfighting [or any other form of animal exploitation] should be banned while continuing to support it by attending bullfights [or participating in other forms of animal exploitation].

    But who knows? Maybe people are merely expressing their ''desire'' for the banning of bullfights, not a normative claim? That would be a glorious answer to the question of the disparity between (professed) belief and action. Well, I guess it takes a sociologist (or psychologist) to decide this.

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  37. I would like to address the assertion that Francione and Perz have "repressed" Joan Dunayer's work. Either the purveyors of this claim are serious, in which case they have so radically failed to master the concept of political repression that they are not in a position to have beliefs about it, true or false, or they are not serious, in which case they are attempting to repress abolitionist thought themselves by deflecting the debate from Francione's ideas to interpersonal movement drama. Either way all this talk of "repression" is a completely trumped up affair.

    Moreover, the idea that Francione and Perz are "repressing" people is essentially no different from the claim, repeated endlessly by new welfarists, that abolitionists are "divisive". It is an attempt to censor movement discourse in general and to render abolitionist arguments inexpressible in particular.

    And the references to Perz in particular are an attempt to discredit Francione's ideas, not by actually addressing them, but by attacking those who are principled agreement with him.

    It belongs to the most profoundly examined features of the human mind that people are capable of saying one thing, and even believing it, and doing another. This phenomenon accounts for the fact that people can claim to believe that bullfighting [or any other form of animal exploitation] should be banned while continuing to support it by attending bullfights [or participating in other forms of animal exploitation].

    But who knows? Maybe people are merely expressing their ''desire'' for the banning of bullfights, not a normative claim? That would be a glorious answer to the question of the disparity between (professed) belief and action. Well, I guess it takes a sociologist (or psychologist) to decide this.


    I would like to say something about the nature of sobriety in discussion. First, I think we should be able to unequivocally stand behind what we morally conclude. Otherwise what we conclude will be mere "play and nonsense" (Plato), at any rate it won't be serious.

    Second, I don't think it is enough that we are sincere. For we could sincerely profess belief in something (e.g. direct action) and yet our profession be, as we say, just talk or mere words. And it would be so because our thinking is not constrained by certain disciplines of thought (logic, evidence, etc.). (This is a common problem in the new welfare movement: welfarists sincerely profess the belief that welfarist regulation can lead to abolition, or that it can reduce suffering, but they seem to know nothing or at least very little about the history of animal welfare or even about the welfarist groups own reports on e.g. CAK showing that welfarism makes exploitation, not less, but more efficient and makes people, not less, but more comfortable with nonhuman slavery.)

    My point is this: how can we take people seriously when they cannot even stand behind what they morally conclude? How can we take people seriously when their professed beliefs do not show themselves their behaviour - in other words in the authority of the way they live their lives? If people are going to encourage others to risk their freedom and perhaps even their lives, then, if they want to be taken seriously as partners in a sober discussion of MDA, then at the very least they'd better be willing to do more than post formulaic and jargon-ridden posts on the internet in defense of it. In any event, if we really are at war with the exploiters, then we cannot dodge the draft by claming that we are needed to promote the war from the sidelines. In fact, I do not see why this rationalization of certain people's nonparticipation should elicit from us anything other than our bemused condecension.

    ReplyDelete
  38. One counterargument seems to be that when MDA supporters advocate violence they do make a normative claim about what ought to be done; rather, they merely express their "desires". But either MDA supporters think that violence ought to be done, in which case they express a normative claim, or they do not, in which case it is impossible to understand why they say anything about violence at all. I mean, if violence is not a "necessity" after all, then why express the "desire" for people to engage it?

    In any event, I just want to make it clear that I am not encouraging anyone to actually engage in MDA. I am categorically opposed to violence. My point is rather that if MDA suppoters abided by this condition of moral seriousness then we would at least be spared the vast majority of the (formulaic and jargon-ridden) internet posts and essays in defense of MDA - something that would allow us to concentrate on serious movement discourse about how best to help nonhuman animals.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Dear Richard:

    I am a bit bewildered as to how you can possibly criticize Roger Yates (or anyone else) for any comments that they make about Best's "demeanor." Frankly, Best's deportment is remarkable. I have never before seen an adult behave in the way that he does.

    For example, Best, through Anthony Marr, requested to have a debate with me. I was engaged in a good-faith exchange of email correspondence with Marr and Best about the debate. Bob Torres, who disagrees with both me and Best, wanted to participate. And I suggested that, given Marr’s obvious bias in favor or Best, that the debate be co-moderated and I suggested Adam Kochanowicz. My emails were copied to Bob and Adam and were not shared with anyone else. Best and Marr provided copies of the correspondence to Camille Marino (and others). Marino proceeded to write an immature and ad hominem attack on me on her “Go Vegan or Die” website. When I asked Best and Marr why they had provided copies of our emails to Marino, they denied—in writing—that they had done so and Marr actually suggested that perhaps Bob Torres or Adam had distributed the emails publicly. But I have now been provided with copies of emails that show that Best and Marr, despite their written denials to the contrary, communicated these emails to Marino, Miller, and others.

    In sum, Best acted in manifest bad faith by sharing the emails and then lied about it.

    As for Best’s own ad hominem rhetoric, Best writes: "I just joined this pathetic Franciombe self-help group for the sufferers of Stockholhm Syndrome and suggest we all do and give them bloody hell”

    He also writes: "I did call him [Gary] a prick, and hope to do it someday to his face." and that "He [Francione] never met real opponents like me, Camille, and some of you, and he better stay in his sanctimonious seminary and fundamentalist fantasyland unless he wants to rumble."

    Best writes: "Nazi-pacifists [i.e. abolitionists]...vilify anyone disturbing their ongoing groupthink party."

    Best writes of me: “If I believed in reincarnation, I would say this is the kinder and gentler incarnation of Hitler, but not by much!”

    And this is just a sample.

    If you think that this is acceptable behavior or discourse, then I disagree.

    If you think that I intend to waste any more time on someone like Steve Best, you are very much mistaken.

    You suggest that Best has suffered “academic repression for his work.” I would respectfully suggest that any consequences that Best has suffered have nothing to with his expression of protected speech but more to do with is inability to act like an adult.

    Gary

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Karin you write [ In a society of legally protected *consumer freedom*, the nonvegan consumer is every bit as much the culprit as is the producer and supplier of animal products. In fact, as Gary writes on the video page of his website, ''[t]he people who are ultimately responsible are not those who own and operate the slaughterhouses; those who consume meat and animal products, who create the demand, bear the ultimate moral responsibility. '' ]
    I reject Francione's position. Yes, the consumers do bear the ultimate moral responsibility, but the economical system bears the practical responsibility. It is very naive for someone to believe that in modern capitalism the demand creation is formed by the consumers. Elisabeth Hammer's essay about the globalization of the social movements is very illuminating about the issue. http://veganideal.org/content/power-corporations-neoliberalization-social-movements. In addition, I doubt if there is a single MDA advocate who has any respect of the “legally protected consumer freedom”. Where exactly is the antisystemic approach on someone who does respect this factor?

    Then you write [ For those who think that using violence is justified or required to stop animal exploitation, why don’t you start off violently stopping your neighbour, co-worker, mother, partner, friend from eating their next hamburger, cheese pizza, or ice-cream? Even if violence against institutional exploiters wasn’t a moral issue, endorsing and promoting it sends the highly problematic message that animal industry is the actual culprit, not the consumer. And as long as this message is being sent, the majority will continue to consume animal products with a clear conscienc or to ease feelings of guilt by consuming *happy* meat /dairy/ eggs. ]
    I strongly believe that everything under the “jurisdiction” of a vegan should be “forced to be vegan”, no matter if this assertiveness has an affect on his/her mother, neighbor or whoever. I also believe that veganism should be a major issue for someone to have in mind when he/she is building his/her social network, so everyone who does that will not be very often in the positions you mentioned above.

    Then you mention the example [ One of the points that has been raised against the view that animal exploitation can only be ended by eliminating demand, achievable only through vegan eduction, is that there are examples proving the contrary, such as the perpetuation of bullfighting in Spain which still exists despite the fact that a majority of Spain’s citizens want it banned.
    This example is, however, not suited to prove the contrary of what abolitionists argue; rather, it illustrates what Gary states on page 19 of his book Introduction to Animal Rights. Your Child or the Dog? (2000): ''There is a profound disparity between what we say we believe about animals, and how we actually treat them.'' ]
    It also illustrates that nowadays the public opinion does mean that much. To add, Gary should better speak on his behalf and behalf of the pacifists, and not behalf of everybody by using the word "we". Maybe in our acts we are all speciesists in a low or high level, but MDA advocates, when they go illegal and violent on behalf of animals and act as they would act on behalf of their species, they are crossing the lines of speciesism.

    ReplyDelete
  41. James you write [ How can we take people seriously when their professed beliefs do not show themselves their behaviour - in other words in the authority of the way they live their lives? If people are going to encourage others to risk their freedom and perhaps even their lives, then, if they want to be taken seriously as partners in a sober discussion of MDA, then at the very least they'd better be willing to do more than post formulaic and jargon-ridden posts on the internet in defense of it ]
    I really don't get that. Firstly, how do you know how exactly all these people you mention act in their private lives? Secondly, what exactly are you expecting? Every MDA advocate to flaunt a CV with their violent actions with every post they make? It is obvious that some things cannot be said. In contrary, many people who have been arrested for MDAs, after their arrest have talked openly to support their actions.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I am referring to the internet warriors and would-be revolutionaries who portray themselves as pure instances of moral seriousness because they, unlike abolitionists, support MDA. Now it is I think clear that these people do not engage in MDA themselves. At least, if they do then in extolling its supposed virtues in interminably long, formulaic, insipidly verbose posts and essays on the internet, they are being indiscreet to a degree and extent that defies rational comprehension. But it is, of course, only because they do not practice what the preach and are not in fact on the “frontline” that they can allow themselves this latitude.

    My point here is that it is, therefore, nonsense for these would-be revolutionaries to portray themselves in the way that they do. For it is a condition of seriousness in discussion that we should only say what we can unequivocally stand behind, a claim that finds support in our ordinary ways of speaking when we say that someone who says one thing and does another, or who encourages others to do something that he or she is not willing to do himself, especially when the thing in question is dangerous, is a hypocrite who is anything but morally and intellectually serious.

    Having said that it does not follow, and neither is it true, that if people actually do engage in MDA then they are pure instances of moral seriousness: and this has to do with the fact that MDA is an inappropriate tactic for the animal rights struggle. First, as has already been mentioned, in a world of free trade agreements where capital can cross national borders (to paraphrase Francione), it does not make any sense to target suppliers and producers as demand is simply taken up by other producers and suppliers, with the result that demand is consolidated behind fewer and fewer producers and suppliers.

    Second, the animal rights struggle is characterized by at least some MDA supporters as a “war” between animal advocates and animal exploiters. But in this supposed “war” the animal advocates are outnumbered 99 to 1 and the distribution of resources is completely unequal. To fight a war on these terms is not brave and courageous: it is naive and foolish. At least, if an army general suggested that his troops fight a war even though they were outnumbered 99 to 1 and even though there were other, more effective ways of realizing their aims, we would not say that this general was a pure instance of moral and intellectual seriousness. We would say rather that he had lost his ability to think seriously and to act morally.

    And, finally, the characterization by MDA advocates of the animal rights struggle as a war simply throws into greater relief the inadequacy of their rationalizations as to why certain people are not on the frontline themselves. For in a war there can be no excuses. Everyone who thinks that we have to fight a war must stand up and be counted, not, of course, by posting rubbish 24 hours a day on the internet (the transparent inadequacy of this should be obvious enough), but by going to frontlines themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  43. To be clear, I am not encouraging anyone actually to engage in MDA. I am simply trying to show that MDA is not a serious moral option and that those who extoll its virtues on the internet should not be taken seriously in any sober discussion on animal rights advocacy. The fact that people can write long, long essays about the supposed necessity of MDA is what sustains the illusion that it is a serious moral option.

    ReplyDelete
  44. James, you still don't support your argument though. I don't see this “clear” anywhere.

    Then you say [ Second, the animal rights struggle is characterized by at least some MDA supporters as a “war” between animal advocates and animal exploiters. But in this supposed “war” the animal advocates are outnumbered 99 to 1 and the distribution of resources is completely unequal. To fight a war on these terms is not brave and courageous: it is naive and foolish. ]
    Yes, there is a huge inequality at the moment and this is the reason why this war is a guerilla one. And of course this is not naive or foolish but the best solution.

    ReplyDelete
  45. V3G4N:

    Why you don't use your name? Perhaps it is because you must stay "underground." Okay, I understand!

    In any event, you list your location as Greece. Now I suspect that you are surrounded by a lot of non-vegans, i.e., animal exploiters. Is it appropriate to wage "guerilla war" against them? Or is this war only to be waged against the supplier exploiters who are responding to the demand created by the demand exploiters?

    As for the bullfighting matter, most polls show that about half of the population opposes bullfighting but there is little organized opposition. The 30% that approve of bullfighting are strongly in favor and vocal; the other 20% are indifferent. In other words, it is simply not accurate to say that there has been a paradigm shift in Spain on the issue of bullfighting.

    This example proves nothing.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. The notion of a war of any kind between animal advocates and industry should be considered to be a reduction to absurdity of any argument that could lead to it, but especially a guerrilla war in which the fighters must rely on the (financial and ideological) support of the public. For 99% of the population supports animal exploitation – that is, they support industry and not the guerrilla fighters.

    And even if we suspend reality for a few seconds and suppose that we do not live in a world in which 99% of people are opposed to a guerrilla war, it still would not follow that we should fight a guerrilla war, for this reason: guerrilla fighters would attack supply rather than demand. Accordingly the notion of a guerrilla (or any) war is the expression of a failure to understand the nature of the problem of animal exploitation on the most fundamental level. For, as I said, animal exploitation can only be meaningfully addressed, not by attacking supply, by eliminating demand for animal products. And we can only do this by educating the public about why they should be vegan.

    And, finally, as for the question whether the internet warriors and would-be revolutionaries actually are on the frontlines themselves, I would like to make two points, one of which can reasonably be said to follow from the other. First, it is not a matter of discussion whether these people actually do post on the internet. Unfortunately, their posts and essays, along with their names (using codenames would not get around this problem), are there for everyone who isn't prohibited from using a computer to see. And, to the best of my knowledge, the police are not prohibited from using computers. From which it follows (it is reasonably to assume) that these people cannot be part of the “guerrilla forces”, who have to hid their identities and act clandestinely in order to evade the authorities. Indeed, if these internet warriors really are part of the underground, then – because of their extreme indiscretion – they would not be an asset to the guerrilla forces.

    But, this really is besides the point. My point is this: No one, but especially those who encourage us to risk our liberty and perhaps even our lives, who cannot unequivocally stand behind what they morally conclude (by being prepared to practice what they preach) should be taken seriously, either as a social movement leader or as a partner in a sober discussion on animal rights advocacy.

    ReplyDelete
  47. James:

    You are, of course, completely correct in your analysis. VG34N does not have the slightest clue of what s/he is talking about. A "guerilla war" against suppliers when almost all of the population provides demand and supports suppliers is not a "guerilla war." It is just plain silly.

    The premise of MDA rests on this misunderstanding. I have never heard an advocate of MDA respond to this point except to say things like, "we must contextualize the ontology of the reification of the universalizable" and similar incoherencies.

    Gary

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. James unfortunately your writings are still not capable to cover your conclusions.
    You write [The notion of a war of any kind between animal advocates and industry should be considered as a reduction to absurdity of any argument that could lead to it, but especially a guerrilla war in which the fighters must rely on the (financial and ideological) support of the public. For 99% of the population supports animal exploitation – that is, they support industry and not the guerrilla fighters.]
    Who says that? And what kind of logic is that anyway? 70+ years ago in Germany Hitler had the support of the majority of the German people and the Nazi party was ruling the Reichstag. The Jew resistance then should be considered a reduction to absurdity, right?

    Then [But, this really is besides the point. My point is this: No one, but especially those who encourage us to risk our liberty and perhaps even our lives, who cannot unequivocally stand behind what they morally conclude (by being prepared to practice what they preach) should be taken seriously, either as a social movement leader or as a partner in a sober discussion on animal rights advocacy.]
    I don't think that anyone from the MDA camp claimed the role of the leader, in contrary to the “abolitionist” camp that actually seems to have a leader. Talking about partnership now, it was all gone when the pathetic mentioning of “going to the authorities” appear, haven't you already noticed that?

    Gary says [ Why you don't use your name? Perhaps it is because you must stay "underground." Okay, I understand!]
    I don't think you do, I think you are just ironic, but this isn't something new for you so I will answer anyway. The only reason I am using my nickname instead of my real name is that I am using it for many years and I am logged online with that, and it links to my personal blogspot. I am not underground and besides this, it's not “very underground” for someone to write online in public, where all the ips are recorded. I am not hiding from anybody, you can find my real name in a recent piece I wrote here (I 'm sure you 've read it).
    http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/everyone-who-is-not-clearly-supporting-violent-direct-action-supports-the-state%E2%80%99s-terrorist-oppression/

    [Now I suspect that you are surrounded by a lot of non-vegans, i.e., animal exploiters. Is it appropriate to wage "guerilla war" against them? Or is this war only to be waged against the supplier exploiters who are responding to the demand created by the demand exploiters?]
    I am not more surrounded than any other vegan. What do you mean "surrounded" anyway? In any case, although I generally support violence, "wars" have levels and they also have their right time to happen.

    [As for the bullfighting matter, most polls show that about half of the population opposes bullfighting but there is little organized opposition. The 30% that approve of bullfighting are strongly in favor and vocal; the other 20% are indifferent. In other words, it is simply not accurate to say that there has been a paradigm shift in Spain on the issue of bullfighting.]
    Even if I would agree, I don't see why you all got obsessed with this specific example; i mentioned 2-3 more and I could mention much more.

    [This example proves nothing.]
    For you maybe. For me it proves that we shouldn't care for the public opinion.

    [You are, of course, completely correct in your analysis. VG34N does not have the slightest clue of what s/he is talking about. A "guerilla war" against suppliers when almost all of the population provides demand and supports suppliers is not a "guerilla war." It is just plain silly.]
    Gary, you are very talkative behind the keyboard (What happens to your non-violent approach when it has to do with writings Gary?) I wonder if you 'd have the guts to be that arrogant and insulting if you were standing face to face with a real u/g fighter like Rod Coronado, just to mention the first one that comes to my mind. I am pretty sure that instead of his eyes you would look at his shoes.

    ReplyDelete
  49. V3G4N wrote: I strongly believe that everything under the “jurisdiction” of a vegan should be “forced to be vegan”, no matter if this assertiveness has an affect on his/her mother, neighbor or whoever. I also believe that veganism should be a major issue for someone to have in mind when he/she is building his/her social network, so everyone who does that will not be very often in the positions you mentioned above.

    Personally, I would not live with a nonvegan, and I don't understand how any vegan who is in the position to choose would do so. I have no nonvegan friends. nor do I wish to have any. But most of us were not born into a vegan family. Very few have the option to live in an exclusively vegan social environment (at work places, for example). We are free to limit our social contacts with nonvegans to a minimum and every vegan should of course do what is within their power to 'veganize' persons.

    But with the exception of the nonhumans in our care and our children, as long as we are in complete control of what they do, we cannot force anyone to be vegan, simply because veganism is a moral and political commitment to the abolition of animal exploitation, a commitment which requires making a decision in favour of it.

    Even if we lived in a vegan community with no social contact to the world around us, this would not answer the question why we should target supplier exploiters rather than demand exploiters, to refer to Gary's latest comment. Targeting the former, but not the latter, doesn't make sense in particular given that consumers exploit animals merely for reasons of pleasure, amusement, or convenience whereas producers and suppliers make a living from it. That doesn't make what they do any more morally acceptable, just that for them, there is a relevant substantial interest at stake. They will fight tooth and nail for their economic existence (which could as well rest on a vegan business) whereas those who ''only'' consume animal products won't lose anything by going vegan. That's why to the extent to which institutional exploiters can be forced out of business, which allows competitors to meet the demand, as Gary and James have pointed out, this absorbs unproportionally more resources than does getting people to go vegan. In addition to being ''the expression of a failure to understand the nature of the problem of animal exploitation on the most fundamental level, '' as James put it, targeting institutional exploiters is a hugely inefficient use of resources.

    It also illustrates that nowadays the public opinion does mean that much.

    It illustrates not more and not less than that there is often an inconsistency between what people say and what they do. Following the sentence I quoted form Introduction to Animal Rights, it reads: ''Two thirds of the Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: 'An animal's right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person's right to live free of suffering'.'' I can't see in what way the fact that two thirds of Americans don't act according to a statement they agree with is related to the importance of public opinion. No government or company is preventing them from going vegan.

    To add, Gary should better speak on his behalf and behalf of the pacifists, and not behalf of everybody by using the word "we".

    It is quite common in public speaking and writing to use ''we'' in a general sense, referring to those to whom a certain statement applies. It never fails to astonish me what kinds of objections are raised in order to dismiss an argument or idea which cannot be countered substantively.

    But this is certainly a minor point in the light of your latest remarks that have reached Best's level which marks the point for me to stop participating in this exchange. Good-bye, V3G4N

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  50. V3G4N,

    I do not think your comments are worth replying to in and of themselves, but only as a representation of a prevalent, but defective, way of thinking in the “AR” movement.

    70+ years ago in Germany Hitler had the support of the majority of the German people and the Nazi party was ruling the Reichstag. The Jew resistance then should be considered a reduction to absurdity, right?

    You claim that it was okay for the Jews to violently resist the Nazis even though they were outnumbered, but although that is of course true (at least in my opinion), it has no bearing whatsoever on my argument. For the radical differences in kind between the Holocaust and animal exploitation deprive the comparison of the power to shed light. The relevant point here is this: animal use is a deeply entrenched and pervasive social phenomenon whereas the Holocaust was a profound aberration. Indeed 99% of people take consuming animal products to be as normal and natural as breathing air (Francione) whereas there are moral norms, codified in international law, against genocide. In fact, even during WW2 most of the world was opposed to genocide, including the Allies which had an army; indeed not even all German citizens supported the Nazis.

    Accordingly, the claim that it makes sense for us to respond violently to industry because it made sense for the Jews to respond violently to the Nazis is, among other things, based on a complete failure to take this radical difference in context into account. Which is an irony, I guess, given that abolitionists are the ones who are accused of being “noncontextualists.”

    Gary, you are very talkative behind the keyboard (What happens to your non-violent approach when it has to do with writings Gary?) I wonder if you 'd have the guts to be that arrogant and insulting if you were standing face to face with a real u/g fighter like Rod Coronado, just to mention the first one that comes to my mind. I am pretty sure that instead of his eyes you would look at his shoes.

    Although this was addressed to Gary, I would like to reply to it. I have no clue what Rod Coronado would say or do, but I can say this: if I had risked my freedom and my life for a political cause and I was being used as a tool by people to silence criticism of their hypocrisy I would, at best, wonder at their foolishness and, at worst, be very offended.

    This shall be my last comment as it is clear that this debate has come to an end.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Kostas Alexiou:

    You write:

    "I am not hiding from anybody, you can find my real name in a recent piece I wrote here (I'm sure you've read it).
    http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/everyone-who-is-not-clearly-supporting-violent-direct-action-supports-the-state%E2%80%99s-terrorist-oppression/"

    Actually, Mr. Alexiou I had not read it. But I did just now. It is good that that the great Greek philosophers are dead. They would be most disappointed to see another Greek so deeply confused.

    I note that you started your essay with a quote from Jack Kerouac. I hope that you do know that Kerouac was a reactionary. He was a conservative who supported the Vietnam war and was friendly with American arch-conservative Willim F. Buckley.

    But as I regard the MDA movement as reactionary, I suppose that you chose this quote intentionally.

    Finally, you state:

    "I wonder if you 'd have the guts to be that arrogant and insulting if you were standing face to face with a real u/g fighter like Rod Coronado, just to mention the first one that comes to my mind. I am pretty sure that instead of his eyes you would look at his shoes."

    That would depend. Are his shoes made of leather? Rod is apparently not a vegan. http://www.laweekly.com/2006-08-10/news/the-caged-lion/

    I agree with James Crump. This debate is at an end.

    Go back to reading your Jack Kerouac.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  52. [You claim that it was okay for the Jews to violently resist the Nazis even though they were outnumbered, but although that is of course true (at least in my opinion), it has no bearing whatsoever on my argument. For the radical differences in kind between the Holocaust and animal exploitation deprive the comparison of the power to shed light.]
    My point wasn't about the holocaust, it was about the majority of the public supporting a wrong situation (nazism), so your comments are off-topic. Neither did the Jew resistance receive any serious help from the Allies.

    [Although this was addressed to Gary, I would like to reply to it. I have no clue what Rod Coronado would say or do, but I can say this: if I had risked my freedom and my life for a political cause and I was being used as a tool by people to silence criticism of their hypocrisy I would, at best, wonder at their foolishness and, at worst, be very offended.]
    That's funny... Now you mention direct action as a political cause, while two posts ago you were mentioning that MDA “is not a moral option”. In contrary to you and other "abolitionists", I consider Rod and every MDA activist to be a HERO (even if ate meat, as your leader mentions) and I won't negotiate that.

    [Actually, Mr. Alexiou I had not read it. But I did just now.]
    It's ok Gary, you can just call me Kostas. I hope it's ok with you to call you just Gary.

    [I note that you started your essay with a quote from Jack Kerouac. I hope that you do know that Kerouac was a reactionary. He was a conservative who supported the Vietnam war and was friendly with American reactionary Willim F. Buckley. But as I regard the MDA movement as reactionary, I suppose that you chose this quote intentionally.]
    I chose this quote just because of it's purport and nothing else. No one is perfect, neither me, you, or Kerouac. Talking about awesome quotes of disgusting people, here's Hitler's quote about vegetarianism: One may regret living at a period when it's impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there's one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian. Come on now... Who does disagree with this prediction just because a tragic man said it?

    [Actually, Mr. Alexiou I had not read it. But I did just now. ]
    I suggest you to read TPC daily. It's the best radical blog ever!

    [That would depend. Are his shoes made of leather?]
    That's an awful way to try to get away from what I mentioned.

    [It is good that that the great Greek philosophers are dead. They would be most disappointed to see another Greek so deeply confused.]
    About your pejorative reference of me as a greek, I only have to say that I am not a citizen of Greece but a citizen of the world (Socrates).
    About your easy-saying downgrating words on me, say something better than silence, or stay in silence (Evripides).

    [I agree with James Crump. This debate is at an end.]
    Sure Gary, whatever you say. Whenever you are coming to a dead end, you run away from debates, this is no news.

    Last but not least, your link on Rod which mentions that he has “midlife crisis” is just disgusting. Go back to reading your capitalistic law books and to pretending the abolitionist preacher to your students. Don't forget to urge them to run to the authorities for whatever happens around them.

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  53. V3G4N (Kostas Alexiou) states:

    "I consider Rod and every MDA activist to be a HERO (even if ate meat, as your leader mentions) and I won't negotiate that."

    That says it all, doesn't it?

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  54. Karin: [Even if we lived in a vegan community with no social contact to the world around us, this would not answer the question why we should target supplier exploiters rather than demand exploiters, to refer to Gary's latest comment. Targeting the former, but not the latter, doesn't make sense in particular given that consumers exploit animals merely for reasons of pleasure, amusement, or convenience whereas producers and suppliers make a living from it. That doesn't make what they do any more morally acceptable, just that for them, there is a relevant substantial interest at stake. They will fight tooth and nail for their economic existence (which could as well rest on a vegan business) whereas those who ''only'' consume animal products won't lose anything by going vegan.]
    That's why the struggle must be not only pro-animal, but anti-systemic also.

    [Good-bye, V3G4N]
    Goodbye to you too, Karin.


    Gary answers: [That says it all, doesn't it?]
    Sure it does. And you should be perturbed by the fact that a "meat-eater" (?!!?) is more respectable than you are] http://www.nocompromise.org/issues/04gosbust.html

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  55. The LAWeekly article about Rod Coronado is from 2006 and states that Coronado:

    "orders a tamale pie made of sweet potatoes, cheese and mushrooms, and he’s drinking coffee — “I’m not a vegan anymore,” he announces.

    The No Compromise article cited by Mr. Alexiou is from 1996 and states:

    "Rod confirmed to NC that during his time on the run while living with his native people (Rod is a Yaqui Indian) he infrequently ate food with lard, dairy, and, at one time, also ate deer meat. We make no excuses for these actions. Eating animals is wrong. Period.

    Thankfully, these outrageous actions are no longer. Rod now adheres to, and advocates, his people's pre-conquest diet, which is vegan."

    Looks like Coronado went back to the post-conquest diet.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  56. One final comment:

    The claim that Gary is backing out of this debate is absurd. For it assumes that a debate is taking place. But when Francione's interlocutor quotes Hitler, Socrates and Euripidies in the same breath; when he claims that we should do everything in our power to create exclusively vegan communities while also claiming that a person can be a hero to the animals even though he eats them; when he uses the Jewish resistance against Hiltler (who he quotes approvingly in another context**) to justify guerilla war against industry (an argument which can only be sustained at the cost of ignoring something that goes by the name of reality), then it is clear that no serious debate is taking place.

    Second, I would like to make one final observation about the pro-violence argument (such as it is), at least as it is propounded by the internet heroes who advocate war from their bedrooms and studies while having no intention of going to the frontlines themselves.

    First, the pro-violence crowd sets the stage. They want a war between animal advocates and animal industry.

    Second, the tactics deployed by the pro-violence crowd are such as this stage requires. Since there can be no lucid justification for the conclusion that we should fight a war against industry, the pro-violence crowd deploy, as their primary if not their only tactic, not arguments and analysis, of course, but instead:

    --(1) opaque academic jargon (designed to give the illusion of a highminded seriousness of thought)

    --(2) irrational and deeply offensive, even disturbing, stereotypical characterizations of those who disagree with violence (designed to appeal, not to people's reason, by instead to their prejudices and irrational fears)

    --(3) totally unconstrained inflammatory rhetoric (designed to appeal to people's emotions)

    --(4) personal attacks (designed to reframe the abolitionist vs. welfare debate as a debate, not between political ideologies, but instead between personalities).

    These tactics are also partly the result of the fact that the internet heroes tilt against Francione's analysis or try to, but without showing any real ability to get to grips, which is, of course, why they want to reposition this debate as one about personalities ("OMG!! Francione's a bad person!") as opposed to political ideology.

    In sum, since it is important to call things by their right names, I will simply say that these tactics – stereotypes, inflammatory rhetoric, personal attacks - are demagogic and those who deploy them are demagogues.

    **the point here is not to deny that one cannot find some good in even the most evil people (although I would question the sense of it: after all, it sounds grotesque to say that Hilter orchestrated the deaths of millions and millions of people, but...). The point is rather that one should not compare MDA advocates to the Jewish resistance one minute and then quote Hilter approvingly the next. While the impiety of this should be obvious enough, it also shows that some people are prepared to instrumentalize everythingy for their own purposes. For some self-identifying "AR" advocates, it's even okay to eat some animals as long as you liberate others.

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  57. [The claim that Gary is backing out of this debate is absurd. For it assumes that a debate is taking place.]
    This is not a debate, it's “online commenting”. However, Francione has an invitation for a debate; anytime, anywhere, anyhow, but he still runs away from it. But you must really love him to answer again on his behalf.

    […then it is clear that no serious debate is taking place.]
    How serious is by your to write 5-6 final comments James? Write all your other final comments you have to write and I'll reply to them all together. (How serious is fundamental hippie pacifism anyway?)

    Also, it's very funny to see accusations about demagogy from a Francione acolyte!

    [The point is rather that one should not compare MDA advocates to the Jewish resistance one minute and then quote Hilter approvingly the next. While the impiety of this should be obvious enough, it also shows that some people are prepared to instrumentalize everythingy for their own purposes.]
    This is demagogy: You are getting conclusions from nothing and you use them for accusations. Maybe we should call you “Cleon”.

    [For some self-identifying "AR" advocates, it's even okay to eat some animals as long as you liberate others.]
    Among others, if you this what you really understood from my writings then I have to say that you are not very smart.

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  58. I think this is the largest amount of comments ever for one of the On Human-Nonhuman Relations blog entries. Thanks to all those who took part, although things got rather heated and personal at times which is regrettable.

    It seems that this discussion has run its course, so please regard comments closed from this time onwards.

    Roger Yates.

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  59. Dear Roger:

    It appears to me that the only participant in this discussion who crossed the line and became abusive was Kostas Alexiou.

    If the comments are being closed because Alexiou misbehaved, then I think that should be stated.

    If you feel that anyone else crossed any line, then I respectfully disagree. This is yet another situation in which abolitionists have engaged ideas and the militant new welfarists have just called people names.

    I would appreciate your clarifying your position on this matter.

    Thank you.

    Gary

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    www.abolitionistapproach.com

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  60. Hi Everyone,

    I tried to make some adjustments to the "comments" section and seem to have disabled it. Luckily I figured out what I'd done, so they are back!

    To answer Gary, yes I believe Kostas crossed the line and moreso with each post.

    RY

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  61. Roger, it's very sad to see that you are overtly supporting Francione and you are not being objective at all. I crossed the line with EVERY post, but your friend didn't when he was offending thousands of people, while he is pretending the economist, by writing beautiful things such as "less productive than masturbation"? I am really disappointed be your stance, I have nothing else to say.

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  62. V3G4N,

    Of course I defend Gary Francione - he is the most important philosopher writing about human-nonhuman relations, far more so than the juvenile and vile shallowness of "Rev. O'Lution."

    I thought we had respectful discourse between ourselves - but you really are losing the plot if you think meat eating "direct action" can be defended.

    RY

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