Does Eating Meat Make you a Bad Person?


Are meat-eating people bad? Furthermore, are those who abstain from the flesh of an animal good? Well, let’s look at this logically.

If we consider animal oppression–that is, the needless exercise of authority–as something intrinsically bad, then we have something that looks a bit like a premise to the argument.

The Beginning of Oppression

Consider equating the value of work over the value of life. A person works and earns more than the value of their life, or rather, they create less than they are paid accordingly for. Bankers and Executives come to mind with this idea. Opposite are those who produce more than the value of their lives: like migrant workers and slave labourers. They produce more than they receive for an income or their life-value is significantly less than their work-value.

“The day when the labourer may till the ground without paying away half of what he produces…–that day will see the workers clothed and fed, and there will be no more Rothschilds or other exploiters.” writes Kropotkin, author of The Conquest for Bread  “No one will then have to sell his [sic] working power for a wage that only represents a fraction of what he produces.”

Oppression is a normalcy in today’s capitalist society. We work our 40 hours per week and are paid for a fraction of the amount that is usually paid to the executives of the company. This, is seemingly, a tolerable amount of oppression–the devil we know, so to speak.

Animal Oppression

However, intolerable amount of oppression exist. Slave-labour is not tolerated (here in Canada, at least), we have a minimum wage standard that protects against extreme oppression. Although, the oppression that is most tolerated and seemingly unregulated, is the oppression of our animals.

Animals are property. This is a designation that helps farmers and other manufacturers usurp any animal rights laws that may affect their bottom line. The interests of humans are considered (wrongly) to be above the interests of the animal. This is certainly true given the current state of factory farming.

If we were to consider animals as labourers–namely as workers who produce a product–than the oppression levels rise beyond any humanity has ever experienced. Animals work their entire, shortened lives with zero benefit. Even slaves get their own quarters.

So if we consider the life-value to work-value of animals, the latter is certainly larger than the former. If the former has any degree what-so-ever. Any other forms of humanistic oppression are quickly and resolutely, overshadowed by the oppression bestowed on animal labourers.

Does Eating Meat Make you a Bad Person?

Consider what the average person knows about the meat they eat. Today, more and more people are less ignorant about their meals (this may account for the rise of vegetarian and veganism), but still we see people eating the flesh of animals.

Ignorance becomes less of an excuse every day. Even still, animals are consumed at a planetary rate.

Aristotle said to be a virtuous person all you need to do is do virtuous things. The opposite is also true, to be a bad person, all you need to do are bad things. To vehemently say meat-eaters are bad people is too much of a stretch. However, to eat the flesh of animals is certainly not a mark in the good category.

The opposite is also true. Just because someone does not partake in animal flesh, does not absolve them of there trespasses either. The merits of not eating meat are only an ephemeral part of the complexity of human good-ness.

Still, it is hard to argue that eating meat is a “good” action, considering the willful negligence of oppression the consumer is willfully taking part in.

The argument:

P1: Oppression is bad.

P2: Eating meat is allowing oppression to thrive.

P3: A good person would not willingly allow oppression.

Therefore: Eating meat is not what a good person does.

In summation, eating meat does not make you a bad person. Being a bad person makes you a bad person. It is possible that a meat-eater’s other efforts against evil might outweigh their evil diets, and vice versa.

The statement still stands: Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person, however eating meat is not what a good person does.

The Ethical Reach of Animal Testing


How do we deal with animal testing?

On one side we have an array animals strapped to batteries, on the other, we have financially unstable interns bleeding from the eyes for $20.

How does the ethical, animal-conscious person deal with the fact that the products they use–the products that may be keeping them alive–sits atop an unfathomable pile of dead rabbits, rats and apes?

Of course we like to think that we can avoid these things. Their are myriad companies proud to show that none of their products have blood in them. Canadian company Lush is vehemently against animal testing, the PETA website has a “Beauty without Bunnies” search engine that will give you a list of ethically-responsible make-ups.

The structures are in place to satisfy the ethical consumer. However, is this merely a veiled satisfaction, without any real teeth behind it?

The fact is, animal testing has brought civilization to a new era of health.

“There is not a person alive today who has not benefited from humane medical research involving animals. Were it not for this type of research, both the length and the quality of human life would be greatly reduced.” — The American Academy of Neurology

The effects from epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have all been diminished because of the lives of animals sacrificed for the good of mankind. With many more other benefits to mankind, how can we ethically, stand against animal testing?

It’s simple, because we have an innate interest in keeping ourselves alive.

“Animal testing helps humans, and we are humans, so let’s help humans.” the justification declares. This is not an easy thing to let go. If you tell a mother her child’s life is worth the same as the family cat, she may try to smother you with her yoga mat.

The question, then, comes down to what life is worth–the obvious answer for those not sensitive to the plight of animals is that, “Yes, animal lives are worth less than human lives.”

My myopic view of worth only serves to pile more furry, hoofed bodies on the problem. And with the advances in modern medicine, it is impossible to escape the benefits, making even the most staunch animal advocate a hypocrite.

“It’s for the greater good,” an animal-testing advocate (and disciple of John Stuart Mills) may say. This is the utilitarian approach to the problem: if more people are saved because of animal testing, then a few animal lives snuffed out is justifiable. This may hold true to some degree when we consider the medical, (human) life-saving advances animal testing has allotted us.

But what about cosmetics?

Does this still hold true when the lives of countless animals are cut short so your eyes can look smokier, your lips plumper and your cheeks pinker? Seems dubious. What about animal testing for the sake of cosmetic surgery? Is our vanity an equal trade off to put to death a being that can feel pain like any other human?

The depths of greater good seem murky when we consider the cultural phenomenon of butt implants.

The problem with the “greater good” is that it is simply just too great. How can an individual be expected to understand the complicated intricacies of good-ness for all of humanity? They cannot. Remember, human beings are biased and myopic, so to claim that one may act in accordance with the “greater good” is either lying or a god.

For an answer, we turn to Emmanuel Kant and his ethical scheme. He says that we cannot be held responsible for the ramifications of our actions, but only the actions directly related to us.

What does this mean for animal testing?

Maybe it means that we take responsibility for the things we have within our reach. Maybe, we don’t need mascara. Maybe your vanity and self-righteous ideals aren’t worth the lives of animals. Maybe you’re just a pretty, bad person.

And it is only in this macro view of ethics can we be held responsible. Our choices–the ones we can see and understand–are the only ones we can take responsibility for. All you can do is reach as far as you can and save as many as possible.

It’s true that the lives of animals have gotten us this far. But maybe we should be more concerned on how far we are willing to go. Does that mean unending suffering? Does it mean the lives of vain, egotistical, shallow human beings are worth more than the lives of innocent animals?

Sadly, it seems so. But the only permanence here is the lives lost for a dubious cause. It can get better, so buy better and be responsible. It’s all you can do.

This graphic should help:

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The Revolution will be a Podcast, not a Cage Fight: A Problem with Animal Rights Groups


You look to your neighbour, you see a killer. Your family, our friends, those hungry masses, all blood-thirsty and cold-hearted. With jokes they make light of the plight you stand against, ignorant to the torture they lovingly embrace. You grow to hate them, for the way they live. If they only knew…

Many animal rights campaigns will show you animal slaughter house and abattoirs. Films like Meet your Meat and Earthlings and to shock their unsympathetic viewers into a new cruelty-free diet. But what about the converted? What changes in ethical vegans and vegetarians every time we see the same thing? Our sympathies begin to blunt as we look to the guilty, our view of our fellow carnivorous humans begin to change.

J.M. Coetzee’s book, The Lives of Animals tackles this subject in a kind of pseudo-fictional work. Coetzee, through the fictitious character, Elizabeth Costello, feels a deep disdain for meat-eating people. Costello can, “no longer look another person in the eye,” since they idly abide the worst travesty in all of human history. Costello (Coetzee, really) lectures as an author tired of the acts of meat-eaters and takes a lot of imagery from the holocaust in order to fully illustrate her (his) concerns.

Certainly the images are abound. Any livestock truck is reminiscent of the train cars carting living beings to their deaths. The language used to describe the flesh of animals is also reminiscent of the way the Jewish people, before WWII, were treated as “lesser” or somehow beneath the likes of non-jewish peoples.

It is difficult to breach this subject with many people; perhaps the mass-consumption of animals is equal–if not worse–than the heinous acts carried out by the Nazis on Jewish people. The argument is generally met with furled brows and that, ‘whoa-easy-there’ mentality that always tails touchy subjects.

Consider, however, that anyone who is sympathetic to the plight of consumed animals, finds it fairly easy to rationalize a deep hatred for meat-eating people. Just like Nazis have been justifiably vilified for their acts, so too are the meat industries who peddle their wares.

But what about the modest consumer of animal? Where does their culpability lie? How much can the average vegan hate a meat-eater for partaking in the slaughter? To use Coetzee’s analogy, the same blame can be allotted the average meat-eater as the average German citizen during WWII. Rather, and more specifically, any socially conscious citizen.

The argument opens: how responsible are people who either don’t care, or can’t care about the horrible acts of an authority they can’t directly control? This, I fear, is a subject for a whole new article. What concerns me more is: how vegans (and ethical vegetarians) are expected to see fellow meat-eating humans, when the carnivore’s choice to eat meat stands in direct conflict with a vegan’s defendable ethics?

Put simply: If I think it is ethically wrong to consume an animal, how am I supposed to feel about the person sitting across from me who orders a steak for their meal?

It’s reasonable to see how a vegan, given their stance, can begin to vilify any meat-eating person. It is easy to understand how Costello, at the end of her wit, can no longer respect her fellow human because she sees them as uncaring, murderous wretches.

Animal rights groups do not make this sentiment easier to deny. As any vegan will tell you, to follow one of these groups on any social platform, is to be bombarded with the worst-of-the-worst of animal abuse. Every day I open my computer to a new, fresh hell of animal abuse, savage husbandry and awful consumption and I can do little more than donate my daily coffee-money to stop it.

What is a vegan expected to? These images are meant to cultivate anger in order to stir the masses to help. They are meant to inspire the protest, but instead they inspire compatriotic hatred. This kind of absurdity is only compounded by the fact, it is usually sympathizers that are the ones following these feeds. These images never make it to their intended audience–an audience of ignorant consumers–as they should be. Instead, they act to securely and absolutely sow the seeds of hatred for our neighbours, family and friends.

Costello was defeated by this. In the book, she no longer sees how philosophy can stand to teach, but is just a social brain-wrinkling between pretentious like-minders–which stymies philosophy’s very purpose.

One escape from this mental trap for vegans may simply to be aware of this fact. To realize that such hatred, while defensible, is only a further echelon of fruitless activity. It adds nothing to the debate except unbridled emotion. It is then a choice to hate the perpetrators, instead of helping them understand the dilemma.

The problem is not solely the ignorance of consumers, but the intended purpose of advocacy. Many organizations aim to crate revenue for their cause, over and above, the actual point of the campaign. The angry, emotional vegan is more liberal with their wallet than a rational, calm one.

Next time you sit down at the table and eat with the “enemy”, break bread with discussion, not enmity. The revolution will be a podcast, not a cage fight; something too many animal right groups need to keep in mind when orchestrating their campaigns.

The Truth About Vegan Propaganda

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Propaganda comes before the siege. Before any massive attack, travesty or victory, the language of the people becomes part of the conflict of change. Along with any form of conflict comes a new pedigree of “-isms” to call the enemy. Rather, this new lexicon is constructed by the perpetrators of the cause in order to get the population on the “correct” side of the cause.

Before the Holocaust, antisemitic language and signage was used to not only disparage the hated, but also to convert the outside bystander into an active perpetrator, or more often, to cultivate apathy so the oppressing body may act unhindered. Same with the “Slap a Jap” campaign that circulated the United States during WWII, the willful misunderstanding of Muslim faith perpetrated by right-leaning news organizations is constructed in order to lull the general populous into a luke-warm insensitivity. 

The question every vegan should ask themselves is: How much of vegan information is merely propaganda?

It’s possible. It could be that, we vegans, in an attempt to save animals from suffering–that we know to be ethically indefensible–could smudge the facts a bit. In the name of animal rights, some of us wouldn’t mind lying about the facts a little to turn our carnivorous compatriots into compassionate comrades. 

Recently, I stumbled across one such group that advocates meat in order to trample the vegan propaganda that is keeping the animal flesh from their plates. “A page dedicated to promoting logical sustainability and debunking vegan propaganda,” this “Don’t Go Vegan” Facebook community boasts on its ‘about’ page. 

It’s worth a little self-checking. In order to help suffering animals, do we vegans fudge the facts a bit in order to save even a single pig from becoming tomorrow’s breakfast? It would be easy enough to do. Especially considering one of the more convincing branches of advocating a plant-based diet boasts the health benefits, it’s all too simple to say it’s better for you. This is the aforementioned Facebook page’s main beef with vegans.

However, what I did notice, while perusing the memes frequented on the page was a sincere lack of ethical concern. While I am woefully undereducated in the realm of nutrition, certainly the logical merits of an ethical diet is not lost on these advocates. Instead, “not going vegan” is a choice, for them, to stay healthier, rather than to have a morally defendable diet.

Vegan propaganda does exist. Certainly, in our zealous pursuit of true animal rights, we can do whatever is necessary to keep just one more chicken, pig or cow off the plate of these flesh-mongers. It is simply too tempting when considering the greater good of animal lives.

However, the continuing ingestion of animal flesh and the epicycles of flawed reasoning behind them, are merely attempts to continue the fetish that is eating meat, for such groups. 

Besides, the meat industry and its advocates have already cornered the market of mass, dietary propaganda–far more staggeringly so than any vegan could hope to achieve. Consider how many people do not consciously equate “pork” and “pig flesh” or “beef” to “ground-up cow”. Propaganda on this scale is certainly more rampant than any vegan grassroots program could ever hope to achieve. The meat industry has done such a good job with their language cultivation that generations of people have never considered that maybe their food didn’t want to be eaten. 

To call the advocation for animal rights through a vegan diet propaganda is merely propaganda in itself. It is also the worse kind because through its absorption into societal norms, millions of animals suffer without ever being mourned or even considered as a sentient, pain-feeling being. 

Vegan propaganda certainly exists, but it’s aim is to stop suffering, while meat-eaters’ propaganda is simply asinine, mass psychopathy. One kills, one saves.

Is Human Kind the Better Kind?

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Are humans better than animals?

In order to establish a baseline for what better is, we must first agree on a definition. A definition that would be fair to both human and animal kind alike. For example, a definition with involved advanced math in its criteria is necessarily slanted toward the human mind.

However, this is seemingly, a good place to start.

“The human mind, makes humans better,” pro-human advocators may argue. And in the realm of human needs, this is a fair argument. It is our ability to discern right from wrong in myriad situations that give us command over those who cannot.

This is why human adults take care of human infants. However, this idea is limited, since that only advocates for welfare and says little-to-nothing about why we treat animals the way we do. Certainly, under the stipulations that as thinking-beings, we have a responsibility to take care of those who cannot—after all we can rationalize that they’d probably prefer to be taken care of, rather than slaughtered.

However, what our superior intellect negates is a definition for cruelty as self-interest in the face of the oppressed. Our intellect tells us that it is rational to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves—even if that rationality is: it makes me feel better when I am compassionate, so I should be.

Or, it is irrational to engage in animal suffering for the sole purpose of a better-tasting meal. This is generally the claim of ethical-vegans and animal right advocates collectively. “To eat animals is not ethically defensible,” is my go-to response for my dietary inquiries.

However, what is generally forgotten when advocating for the lives of animals, is their merit, outside the realm of human influence. Moreover, animal rights necessarily includes: the needs of human beings and how we can better learn to treat them, given those needs.

What is also important to discuss is: what is important to animal-kind without the phenomenon of human interference.

Here we enter the dangerous realm of what-ifs. And these types of inferences do little to help to the cause at hand, usually. However, by understanding the wishes of animals, without the bias of human-centric pursuits, a better animal-right theory can be cultivated.

We cannot escape the travesties committed to animals for human self-interest. And furthermore, this is not what I would be advocating for this thought experiment. However, welfarist animal schemes do very little to consider the wishes of animals, and instead formulate theories based on what is best for, “animals in a human world,” rather than, “animals in an animal world.”

What if instead of considering animals at odds with humans–subjected all-too easily to commodification based on the inferiority–but instead, as equal-animals. When we start to consider humans as merely over-educated animals, instead of better beings, a respect can grow for our neighbours, not just pity for our slaves.

This is the ultimate oppression of animal kind: public identity. In this identity, cultivated after thousands of years of servitude to humans, commodification of animal flesh and ultimately the consumption of animal lives, is inherent.

To see animals as, “less” is not a place to start a theory of animal rights. Instead, an equal relationship with animals, outside the concerns of humans (thus absolving animals from the ignorant “right to vote” arguments carnivores so often smirk about), is the only way to define ourselves; as neighbours, rather than lords.

Our superior intellect is defined by human stipulations, so it does not—and further, cannot—be a common grounds from which the hierarchy of natural order can be understood.

However, our clever minds do not readily seem to grasp this.

Veganarchism and Emma Goldman.

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Anarchy has a bad rap. Too many people conflate the ideas illustrated in anarchism with chaos. So much so, current hollywood blockbusters and deodorants use the name to sell more consumer goods. Like Che’s face on a t-shirt, a look into these ideals show a glaring dissonance between the cause and the product.

“Anarchism, then, really stand for the liberation of the human mind from the domination of religion; the liberation of the human body from the domination of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.” –Emma Goldman.

Goldman, prominent anarchist writer and publisher, seems to say very little about misinformed movie producers and pheromone-inducing antiperspirant. Anarchism, is rather about cooperation against oppressive authority, and not about every-man-for-himself mentalities, like such propaganda would have you believe.

Goldman spoke very little about animals. In the quote above she specifically writes, “the human mind” rather, than the “sentient mind” like a veganarchist might prefer. If we can agree that the animal mind should warrant the same protections as that of a human child, we can then agree that the tenets of anti-oppression–as illustrated in anarchism–also extend to the lives of animals.

If she were alive today, I think Goldman would agree that a proper definition of anarchism would necessarily extend to the lives of animals. Goldman, a product of late 1800s never saw the strife of animal life to the extent it is today. She saw lower-class labourers exploited like cattle, and not, cattle exploited like lower-class labourers. The sentient mind of animals killed for their flesh would certainly fall within the parameters of the scope of anarchism, as the tyranny of the industry not only oppresses the free labour of these animals, but also their entire, living bodies.

The case for veganarchism seems to flow in a single direction. Anarchists, by the definition of the cause, must also understand and accept the strife of animal labour, however the opposite may not be true. Animal rights advocates do not necessarily accept the ideals of anarchism. However, I would argue, the commodification of animal flesh necessarily demands attention be given to the problem at large; namely, the problem that has millions and millions of animals killed for their meat is capitalism, and not, simple attitudes toward animal husbandry.

The problems, solved by the ideas in anarchism, are also the problems solved by the elimination of capitalism. Oppression, in all its forms–misogyny, racism, speciesism–seem to stem from the pursuit of happiness, the american dream and a misguided idea of consumer culture cultivating happiness.

Veganarchism aims to resolve the issues of commodification, as a whole, including the oppression of animal and human labour alike. Only the abolition of all forms of oppression will free humans and animals. This is something, certainly, Goldman would have agreed with, if she had the misfortune of observing the factory farms of today.

“Anarchism is the liberator of man from the phantoms the have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces of individual and social harmony.”–Goldman.

The sentient minds of animals, given their ability to suffer and seek out comfort, extends to the ideas illustrated in anarchist theory. They are the ultimate proletariat, giving away more than just their labour, but their entire species as well. Social and individual harmony can only be achieved and cultivated once this ultimate form of oppression is abolished, something Goldman would have certainly stood for.


Private Property is Theft (or) Animal Labour Woes


Private property is thievery.

This idea, when brought to the attention of pro-capitalists, seems to bring with it confused frowns and furled brows. Those firmly attached to the ideas of private property–something they may have spent their entire lives striving toward–do not enjoy this sentiment.

Private property, here, must first be divorced from possession. The capitalist breathes a sigh of relief. Alternatively, it is the idea of private property–and its lack of controlled corporate gathering–that will ultimately result in the thievery of human (and animal) worth.

“The day when the labourer may till the ground without paying away half of what he [sic] produces, the day when machines necessary to prepare the soil for rich harvests are at the free disposal of the community, the day when the worker in the factory produces for the community and not the monopolist–that day will see the workers clothed and fed, and there will be no more Rothchilds or other exploiters.” –Peter Kropotkin.

Kropotkin mirrors this sentiment when he writes about the worth of a human being’s labour being less than the worth of the product the human being is essential in creating. The advent of private property compounds this oppression because human beings need to work in order to simply exist, or create. Therefore, industrial power lies in private property as a source of oppression.

“No one will then have to sell his working power for a wage that only represents a fraction of what he [sic] produces.”–Kropotkin

Now consider this idea extended to the lives of animals. They suffer the brunt of this oppression without the possible positives (although wholly ill-conceived wavering on completely untrue) that capitalism can actually produce. Private property is used in order to rear, raise, slaughter and produce millions of pounds of animal flesh every day. Without this private property owned by these corporations, this landscape would be necessarily different–even, abolished.

Furthermore, considering human oppression again, their labour being exploited, is not entirely at par with the case of animals; animals give up their entire existence. Workers get to leave their jobs, still own possessions and have the choice to relocate. Animals, under the laws that make animals a commodity, owned by their captors, have no such “freedoms” (if they may even be called that in the human sense.)

Like private property, animals too are considered as commodities. Property in every respect is always subservient to the property owner. Otherwise, a better definition of possessions would need to be cultivated. However, as Bob Torres argues in his book, Making a Killing, this definition of animals will always result in more oppression as their sentience is considered, ever-increasingly as a commodity.

Private property is thievery because it takes the lives of animals in order to benefit bourgeoisie oppressors. Those who contribute to this kind of oppression are only giving popular consent to the acts of these corporations. In essence, absolving the thieves in this scenario by paying them. Thievery at such a grand level stops being a crime since it is so inundated within our society, and becomes all but invisible to the inattentive mind.

To be put simply: to take that which is not yours is theft. The lives of animals are not yours.

Does your Dog Believe in God?

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The subject of animal belief is a vast and implicative notion. The question of whether or not an animal has thoughts about certain objects, people, subjects outside their instinctual nature, would have direct implications to animal and human relationships.

So what is your dog thinking right now? Does your cat have a certain stance on labour equality? How did the world cup finals affect your parakeet’s maligned paradigm?

Chances are the breadth of sports-affiliated patriotism is outside the wheelhouse of our aviary companions, but that isn’t to say animals are devoid of beliefs. We humans have beliefs about certain things, i.e. politics, philosophy, religion, so why do we deny these notions to animals?

One philosopher, R.G. Frey, says since animals lack the ability to use language, they cannot formulate a belief structure. Frey says that although animals have needs, they lack desires and thusly, lacking any viable means of communicating their needs, they lack the beliefs that might fulfill those desires.

Frey’s flawed argument is:

1. Only those individuals who can have beliefs can have desires.

2. Animals cannot have beliefs.

3. Therefore, animals cannot have desires.

To Frey, animals cannot build premises from their observations in order to understand phenomenon outside their direct influences of their senses in the moment. Therefore, animals cannot have desires in any meaningful sense because having belief hinges on the ability to build a knowledge base; this knowledge base would then facilitate and create desires.

Tom Reagan agrees that Frey’s reasoning is flawed since, by his rationale, and by utilizing the example of children, nothing could ever be learned. Simple minds, like that of children and animals would indeed need to start their knowledge base someplace, even in the most rudimentary of observations and understandings. For example: the ball is round. This is a simple sentence, however it necessarily demands the child understands ball-ness and round-ness in order to grasp this concept. If a child (or animal) could never understand ball-ness, or round-ness, no knowledge base could ever be cultivated.

So certainly your dog has beliefs. Your dog (or cat or pig or platypus) has certain truisms that surround them every day. Although they cannot articulate these beliefs through language, the physical result of their beliefs are proof enough to reasonably ascertain that your dog believes certain things.

Without these beliefs, my dog, Bartleby, would never know what to do with his bowl of food. He wouldn’t know what to do when I throw his ball. He wouldn’t know to wait to go outside to relieve himself. In short, without animals having beliefs about the physical world around them, they could not survive. And they have survived, so they must have beliefs.

Even the simplest creatures have beliefs. For example, the mosquito believes that under human skin is nourishing blood. They cannot experience this through their sense mid-flight, the belief has been built from experience. Just like the child’s belief about the round-ness of the aforementioned ball, animal belief is a cumulative endeavour, utilizing the experience and knowledge base that animals have developed over their lifetimes, just like human beings.

But does Bartleby believe in God? I would have to say no, since my notion of God would not seemingly fit into his realm of needs or desires. However, this is not to say that he does not have beliefs beyond my scope of needs and desires. This coin has two sides. The God of the dogs is one fit for them, not human beings and is totally unreachable to human understanding, perhaps. This is something that we can never know–or perhaps, never need to know.


Explaining Water to a Fish (or) The Animal Oppressive Bourgeois

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In Bob Torres’ book, Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rightsthe argument is put forward that the ongoing oppression of animals is a deeper fight than protesting and educating, but rather, is intrinsic of our capitalist society.

It’s a mouth full. But put simply, oppression runs deeper than most people know. This would account for the rampant speciesism that dominates our society.

It isn’t enough, Torres points out, to simply advocate for a better treatment of animals. And as I pointed out in my entry on capitalism and cruelty, our society depends on lesser beings to dominate. He calls this kind of domination a “fetish”, satisfying humanity’s need to oppress; their need to be considered winners, atop the dominated losers.

The entire system hinges on this oppression, but more succinctly, explaining this idea to the oppressor–which too many animal right campaigns do–is like “explaining water to a fish,” Torres says.

People who consume animals and wear their skins as clothing are, in essence, the oppressive upper class; the animal-oppressive bourgeois, profiting from the suffering of “others”.

Explaining the mistreatment of animals to those who profit from it, is kind of like explaining how horrible racism is to a racist; misogyny to a sexist; homicide to a serial killer. They might know already, but they’re life-style is already in the throes of their oppression. Thusly, reluctance to abstain for these people, is not really an option.

To Torres, the only option is to re-evaluate the system that caters to the bourgeois and treat speciesism just like any other injustice. These injustices all stem from capitalism, he argues, something that should be done away with.

However, we cannot just end capitalism. It is too engrained in us. Even fellow vegans and vegetarians fall into the same trap as our carnivorous compatriots, by advocating animal suffering through their (although good-at-heart) purchases.

Now, more than ever, many people are advocating buying ethically. Even meat-eaters are advocating for better treatment of animals before they are killed–“ethically slaughtered” is the oxymoron of a greased-up generation of carnivores.

However, as Torres points out, this is not enough.

Whole Foods, the “ethically-centric” grocers still sell meat products. According to them, to not do so, would garner defeated revenue. Put simply, they need to sell meat to stay afloat in the market.

But this tarnishes every other food product sold at that location. Every cube of tofu sold under the roof of Whole Foods, by extension, is going to the slaughter of animals. Torres calls for vegans to be more ethically aware and not fall for “green” marketing that only exist, not to help animals, but to make money.

Once again, capitalism is to blame for animal cruelty.

But what is the alternative? The alternative is the de-commodification of animals. Although Torres doesn’t use these words, he seems to call for a grass-roots campaign that would cease the ownership of animals as objects. He says in his book, that his dog, lawfully, is owned by him. This gives him the right to put it to sleep, if only for his own sick convenience.

The only way, then, to escape the capitalist gyre of animal abuse is to redefine animal-and-human relationships. Instead of master-and-slave mentalities that dominate all animal relationships to, we adopt an equal, welfarist relationship with animals. This would stop us considering them as commodities, but instead, as feeling entities with rights intrinsic to their beings.

This isn’t to say cows should have the right to vote. However, they would demand the same rights as any other human under the legal age. A cow would have the same rights as an infant child, per se. This is a welfarist approach to animal rights: they should be taken care of, not used for human ends.

This is the only way the animal-oppressing bourgeois can be taken down from their literal ivory towers.

Capitalism Causes Animal Cruelty.

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We compete. It’s the core initiative our society thrives on. Capitalism is competition on the global scale. I sell a product better than my neighbours, therefore, I make more money. In theory, it creates a stronger workforce full of people who deserve the capital they’ve gained and status they’ve carved.

However, this is simply one side of the scheme. It seems that many people focus on this side of the coin when they think about capitalism; gaining ground over your neighbour, even the unknown ones. But what about the one left with the inferior product? The so-called neighbour you’ve thwarted out of their pursuit of happiness, what does capitalism do to them?

Well, it makes them poor. Moreover, the social adoption of the capitalistic ideal creates heroes of the rich–as they are the victors–and villains of the poor. Poor people are poor because they are poor at being people. Those with minimal incomes are thought as “deserving” their status, as if they had a choice on being that way.

The kicker is, is that the system of capitalism–a competitive system–necessarily demands the poor. Furthermore, the capitalist system, demands we scrutinize the “losers” in this scenario to further bolster the system that put them their. Otherwise, we might start to think that maybe the system doesn’t really work; cracks in a dam that support too many interested parties.

While we certainly do oppress human kind because of this, the poor of our society still have a voice and the right to vote. This oppressive system doesn’t end there. It also extends these tendencies to animals as well.

How? Well, in capitalism lies a motive for perpetuating the idea that eating animal flesh is fine. While their is certainly a lot of literature that argues against eating animals (this website is proof of such), still people continue to eat meat. Furthermore, there are countless citizens, under a capitalist system, who voluntarily work in the meat industry. If these same people did not swallow the social prejudice that creates a safe environment to eat animal flesh, the system–complete with those who collect money from the factory farming system–would go belly up.

Therefore, oppression is built into the system to further perpetuate it.

Bob Torres, in his book, Making a Killing, draws a parallel to slavery that agrees:

“Providing a justification for those who work in the least desirable sectors of the economy and who get paid the least, racism provides the ideological glue that holds part of our economic order together.” (2007)

Speciesism functions in the exact same manner. If the jig was up, and more people accepted the obvious truth that eating the flesh of sentient animals, with distinct mental lives, was considered cruel (as it certainly is), capitalism will lose a large facet of its economic framework.

While this parallel may be hard for some to consider, the similarities between the oppression of animals and the oppressions of–once-considered less–human beings are staggering. Due to the traits of the capitalist system and the current state of animal husbandry in North America, the two presuppose inherent animal cruelty in order to further garner an oppressive infrastructure. And this oppression is the pulse of that system, certainly.

But what’s the alternative? Revolution, perhaps. Reform, more likely.