The same freedom.
Reflections about animal liberation and anarchy.
This fanzine was written in Spain in 2010 with the idea of explaining the relation and inclusion of animal liberation in the libertarian politic context. We have translated this text into English because we wanted to share our vision with the rest of English-speaking fellows . Maybe some of the ideas that are exposed here don’t fit into the geographic/politic context of another places, even though, we invite you to reflect and to adapt this ideas in order to the animal liberation fight would be understood as a global fight for freedom.
0.- WHO ARE WE? Before we start, we would like to explain why we have decided to publish this booklet as well as introducing the collective that has carried out the task. This text was first thought of as a talk that was held at the Otoño Libertario by the CNT under the title Animal Liberation from an anarchist perspective. After the talk we proposed to publish it in order to make it available to a wider public. We are a collective united by a shared feeling of injustice that is produced by the non human animals’ situation . We gather regularly in a horizontal manner to carry out activites we believe fight this injustice. Although we don’t define ourselves as anarchists, the way we function holds essentially true to anarchist values and although we don’t all agree about everything, which we believe isn’t even neccessary, there is common ground related to core values, mainly that all animals, human and non human have their own interests which should be taken into account and respected. With this booklet we do not wish to impose our views, we simply wish to express our own views in the most humble way we can. Our intention is to invite you to consider the present situation of non-human animals. What we want is to share with the readers the problem of animal exploitation and to share the way we see it as well as the way we fight against it. As the text unfolds (Which is a revised transcription of the talk) we will repeatedly refer to the propnoun “we” and when we do so we will be referring to the people that belong to the collective. The talk has the following structure: First we will start by defining the terms that will be used that maybe not everyone is familar with. 3
We will continue briefly explaining the history of animal liberation and its relation to anarchism. Also we will talk about how we see the problem of animal exploitation, why we want it and how we try to take the steps neccessary to one day abolish it. We will conclude by talking about our own limitations and problems in this struggle. 1.- DEFINITIONS Anthropocentrism is a filosofical concepts which states that human beings are the center and the ultimate goal in nature. There’s a variety of arguments on which this belief is based: metaphysical criteria, the possession of distinct qualities such as those of an intelectual nature or the aquisition of language , etc. All these reasons lack any consistency once they are analized in detail. If we take into consideration the intelectual or linguisitc and creative capabilities we would find that not all human animals possess them and that they still deserve our respect and consideration. Anthropocentrism has been a dominant idea since the formation of the first civilizations. It is an idea that rises during the Renaissance and evolves from monotheism, inherited from the christian religion: “God created the earth for the human being”. Starting from the renaissance epoch, humans become the measure of all things and all living creatures are therefore only objects to be used in our own interest such as scientific experiments. Since then anthropocentrism has been the perfect excuse to justify the barbaric practices of progress and capitalism. An inevitable consequence of the anthropocentric belief is speciesism. This term was first used by the psycologist Richar Ryder in 1970 and is used to describe the belief that the discrimination of all non human animals is acceptable since they don’t belong to the human species. Speciesism just as racism or sexism is a discrimination based on differences or determined by any other arbitrary measure. Both speciesism and and anthroponcentrism believe in the supremacy of humans and therefore call for the domination of the rest of species by humans. 4
Animal Liberation is the name given to the movement that defends nonhuman animal freedom and/or rights. Sometimes the movement for animal liberation includes all the different philosophies without distinction between supporters of animal welfare, the animals rights movement and the abolitionists. The supporters of animal welfare push for legal reforms that will ameliorate the conditions in which the death and exploitation are carried out with the least possible suffering. The supporters of animal rights although their main goal is the abolition of animal exploitation they use the welfarist strategy in order to advance in their objective since they belive that legal reforms will get hem there. We, on the other hand understand animal liberation from an abolitionist perspective which aims to achieve the end of animal slavery without any concessions. For us animal liberation includes all animals that is, human and non-human, and what we want is freedom for all individuals. Our struggle is to abolish slavery mainly through information and creating an awareness about the subject. In 1944, Donald Watson and Elsie Shrigley adopted the term veganism, not withstanding the fact that many abolitionists had already assumed these practices in their day to day life eventhough they had not been defined. Veganism went on to form an intrinsic aspect of animal liberation theory and practice. Our way of understanding veganism is as an attitude aimed to respect all animals and therefore we refuse to carry out certain practices or to consume animal based products or that involve their exploitation. Veganism includes not eating meat, not dressing with animal fabrics nor utilizing products that carry animal ingredients or products that have been tested on animals or that include any form of animal exploitation such as shows with animals. Furthermore, as we will later explain we also worry about the exploitation of human animals and therefore try to consume in the most respectful way to 5
human dignity which is even harder since everything that is produced in this society implieshuman exploitation. 2.- ANARCHISM AND ANIMAL LIBERATION: HISTORY OF AN APPROACH -The presence of animal liberation inside anarchism is very recent as it doesnâ€™t really originiate from the anarchist tradition which makes it unattractive to many inside the anarchist movement. Luckily, anarchism has never been known for upholding traditions just for the sake of tradition itself. Some authours such as Kropotkin and Reclus developed an understanding of other animals different from the usual but in any case they werenâ€™t a relevant basis of what was to come. In the libertarian circles sometimes the libertarian naturists from the beggining of the 20th century are brought up as an example of animal libertation views. As far as we know the vegetarianism that the naturists practiced and their discourse in general were more focused on a new harmonic vision of humans with nature looking to enhance personal growth at all levels which is where the importance given to health issues such as exercise, higiene or a vegetarian diest came into play. But, eventhough its true that they explitcly refused the killing of animals for food and they considered it as a crime, under no circumstance can it be stated that they were looking to reconsider the position of animals towards a new concept of what animals were and even less so to consider them as indicviduals with their own interests and rights. Which is what interests us here. - There has always been individuals that have adopted a vegetarian diet and that have felt empathy towards other animals, but it is not until the 70s with the rise of the animal liberation movement that a theory and practice are constructed in a significant way. Without getting into details, we can say that animal liberation movement was born in England in the late 60s and early 70s. Before this there was already a long organizational tradition in England around the concept of animal welfare which is based on the idea that animals should not suffer more than neccesary (with all which that entails). 6
There strategies were political, looking for reforms and to pass legislation such as better conditions in animal farms, restrictions on hunting, etc. In the late 60s many activists felt disillusioned with the inefficacy of these strategies and decided to change the legal approach for direct action, not on ideological grounds but mainly for reasons of efficacy. Results in this sense are more than clear and we encourage everyone to get to know the story of this movement since it is full of examples of how certain actions carried out with common sense and strategic thinking have helped achieve these objectives. Briefly and in order to give credit were credit is due we can name the Hunt Saboteurs Association founded in 1964 with the objective of sabotaging hunting activities with legal direct actions. Instead of campainging for the governement to ban or reform conditions of animal exploitation, they gathered at the hunting sites to make it impossible for the hunting to go on normally: warning the foxes, making lound sounds to confuse the dogs, etc. Some activists thought these actions were not enough since the hunting was only made more difficutl but still went on and many animals were still murdered or had to go through panic or anxiety during the hunting. Also the public focused on the confrontational aspects of these actions between hunters and saboteurs and not on the animal explotation which should have been the point. And so the Band of Mercy was founded in 1972, this group focused on the moments previous to the hunting itself in order to abort it by, for example, attacking the huntersâ€™ cars. The Band of Mercy was therefore the beggining of illegal direct action in the animal liberation movement. Little after they started acting on other issues and in 1973 they set fire to vivisection laboratories under construction, this was the first time that arson was used as a weapon, tactic that was later assumed by a big part of the movement with success. In that same year fire was once again used this time against ships dedicated to the murder of seals, by these means they managed to cause serious economic damage to the companies which ended up in bankruptcy. That year seal hunting did not happen in the Wash Bay nor did it ever again. A couple of years later the band is dissolved and the Animal Liberation Front takes its place, which is not an organization but a name associated to a set of principles and tactics which anyone who acts by them can use. Thereâ€™s a lot of information regarding the ALF so we wonâ€™t talk much more about it we would just like to add that to this day the ALF is still active all over the world and 7
it doesn’t seem like that will change despite the incarceration of some of its activists. We would also like to mention the Animal Liberation Leagues, which had as there main objective to break into laboratories where experiments with animals were carried out in order to gain information and spread it. Their work was essential to let the English society, and therefore the world, know about what happens inside these laboratories. For anyone who wishe to know more about this there’s alot of information in the web and books published about the subject (Books: “Against all odds”, “R-209: The animal liberation Front Speaks”, “Lighting the fire of Revolutionary Environmentalism” Magazine Sombras y Cizallas. All these resources are available online at www.accionvegana.org.)Encendiendo la llama del ecologismo revolucionario”. -Anarchism by its own essence is a set of ideas in constant evolution and being continually debated, never closed (or at least that should be the case). Some decades ago anarchists saw homosexuality as a deviation and masturbation as a perverted practice and unnatural. (See Anararchism and Homosexualit” by Richard Cleminson). In the end we all live in a specific moment in history with its own set of values which mark the way we understand life. And that is what gives us hope, we believe that the rejection our ideas produce in many is not so much because of the ideas or that they are nor sufficiently reasoned but because of the cultural conditions in which we operate. Therefore we see no reason to feel demoralized and continue to struggle, it has happened in other moments in history and will eventually happen again, ideas and culture evolve and change and anarchism is therefore subject to these changes and evolution as is any other aspect of life. Anarchism can also acquire ideas that maybe were not born inside the movement but fit in perfectly with the principle of anarchism which, to our understanding, happens with animal liberation. -We consider that a debate about whether anarchism can exist without animal liberation or viceversa has no interest. We have our position and hope that it is clear enough but we believe that if certain debates are not carried out with delicacy and humility they end up being arrogance contests, trying to prove that my struggle is better than yours. For us Animal Liberation fits in perfectly in anarchist discourse, shared values and tactics plus many common enemies (prisons, authority, repression, domination, slavery) and also share a common objective: Freedom and autonomy for all individuals. Also we see that anar8
chism enriches animal liberation theory and helps widen our perspective on the issues at hand plus helps us to relate and therefore its theory and practice combine very well with animal liberation ideas. -It is not our intention to decide wether anarchism should declare itself as antispeciesist or if it is possible to be anarchist and support and finance animal exploitation. Most people in our collectve donâ€™t have a thorough knowledge of anarchism as to debate historical or theoritcial issues. We understand though that anarchist ideas are not apart from society and that any idea or position can be included as an anarchist principle whenever anarchists have assumed it as their own and carrry out the struggle. Anarchism therefore evolves and adopts new struglles, ideas or tactics (always in accordance with what is essential to anarchism) once the people involved in the anarchist movement have debated and thought of it enough to adopt that idea as their own and never that people should assume ideas only because it is declared that they ara anarchist as if it were some bible everyone must adhere to. 3.- OUR POSITION To continue we will define what our collective is. We believe it neccessary to talk about our perspective on the problem, and the motivation which pushes us to act on it with different actions as well as the methodology we developed, after we will talk about the difficulties and problems we face to do so. We will also go through our own limitations in this struggle. How do we see the issue of animal exploitation? It is a very serious issue around the globe although it doesnâ€™t seem to be seen in that way. Animal exploitation is a very normalized aspect of life, despite the enormous suffering caused by it. We use animals like us, only from a different species, for everything: food, clothes, problems which have nothing to do with them (security dogs, to experiment)etc. It all starts when we are children, through education we learn that the cow lives in the farm and gives milk, chickens are there to give eggs and the pig ham. The typical children books on the subject require us to join with an arrow the food we get fromt the exploitation and murder and the animal. From there our vision is reduced to considering them as lesser beings who are here to serve us 9
and provide for our needs. Of course, they will never show how chickens actually live in these farms or how they cut a pig’s neck while he’s hanging from a rope. This is covered by nice images such as a laughing cow which is delighted to give us her milk, cows grazing happily in the countryside are shown in milk bottles. Pigs with glasses and hats smiling at you on a sticker placed on their amputated leg. The reality of this is far away from these images and is therefore carried out away from the big cities where nobody can see or hear it. For people, it would be harder to live they way they do if they had to see and understand the consequences of how their food is produced. Capitalism has eliminated the consumer from the productive processes. The result is that no one feels responsible when they pay to kill a pig or a cow since from the moment we are born the education and cultural systems manipulate us to continue with this slavery without ever having to assume any responsability nor question our actions or to see it as something bad or strange. We are programmed not to take any responsibility for animal slavery. These circumstances are present as well when it comes to human slavery. Throughout history domination and slavery have been everpresent as it is today: slavery based on differences such as race, gender or age has always been there. In the same way these forms of slavery were embedded into society and where ultimately left behind, at least as to what is socially acceptable, we can also start to take the first steps to end animal slavery. This problem though has the specificity that it cannot be fought against by its victims. Non human animals have no voice, cannot organize and fight back nor can they communicate with the humans that enslave them, however it’s more than enoucgh to look at a pig in the eye when he is about to be murdered to understand the fear that his look conveys and listen to the pain stricken animals scream, to understand what’s really going on. We believe that it is crucial to start fighting for the other animals since they depend entirely on our struggle for them. A problem such as this one with 3,000 animals murdered by the second just for food (according to statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO) this not inlcuding fishes, is the biggest holocaust ever to happen in our planet, and as those involved, we have to fight against it in order to change it. 10
In our normal day to day we exercise all that oppresion and domination towards animals, the same oppression we hate and fight. As people who stand for liberty and despise domination, we have to rethink our relationship with other animals. In the same way we are critical of many other things about the way we live, we have to start doing the same with this issue. We see other animals as objects to be consumed and valued according to their capacity to generate profit.. Capitalism values everything according to this principle. To buy and sell animals and humans as if they were books or chairs, as if that were normal. We are valuable because we can generate profit as we submit to authority, our bosses and later as consumers returning to the system whatever we have acquired for our slave work and therefore producing profits for others and so on. Animal exploitation exists because it is profitable. All other animals are subject to domination, more cruel and explicit. They can’t buy nor can they deposit money in the bank or buy a car but the biggest difference probably is the fact that they can’t rebel against the system so there’s no need to make it seem any better as they do with humans so they accept it peacefully. They are born in cages, prisons where their mothers have already been in for some time subject to the cruelty and indifference and they are left there waiting till they get fat enough or stop laying eggs or producing enough milk to be profitable, or till they are too broken up to be able to jump through the ring of fire or maybe’s their fur is good enough to skin him to make coats. After they’re simply murdered either because they are no longer profitable or because the only profit they produce is after death. In other words human animals and non human animals all go through the same process: we are born slaves, produce for the system for as long as we’re useful and then some of us die the rest are murdered. Liberatarian struggle, against all this oppression, seeks the elimination of any kind of authority, domination or oppression over individuals with their own interests, based on arbitrary arguments such as belonging to a different species. Other arbitrary criteria on which discrimination is based could be their intelectual or physical capacity, age, wealth, etc. 11
In conclusion we propose a struggle to abolsih all forms of slavery and to attain complete human and animal liberation as well as the earth’s, creating a global struggle against domination (although this seems very maximalist it can be put to action in concrete steps). Why do we want animal liberation? As we have said before, the whole system and practices of animal exploitation has been normalized in our society and culture, and therefore it is extremely complicated to escape from these ideas and values. So, after defining our vision on animal exploitation we want to do the same with animal liberation: - All animals are individuals with the same moral rights and the same interest in life. There is no superior interest to survive belonging to humans and therefore we shouldn’t impose through our authority our interests on the rest of animals. - We all have a wide array of both physical and psycological sensibilities which give us a set of basic interests which must be considered. These include the interest in life, and to live in liberty and without suffering (obviously suffering is a part of life and plays a big role in learning however if we could choose bewtween suffering or pleasure we will, most of the times choose not to suffer). Considering that every animal is an individual same as the rest, there’s no reason why any animal should be exploited for other’s interests and benefit. -We put ourselves in the shoes of the other animals that are used, enslaved and/or murdered by humans, and we can not remain still faced to this injustce. We feel the need to organize and fight for their liberation. Here and now, we consider giving a response urgent. One of the main characteristics of human beings is being able to feel empathy, this is, to be able to understand and share other individuals’ feelings in given situations. That is how the fight for animal liberation starts. Throughout human history, empathy has made the exploitative systems tremble as solidarity rises from it. Once again it’s time to organize ourselves and fight. -We do not believe that human beings are above the other animals nor do we consider any human being to be superior to any other. For us the problem of animal exploitation is a problem of authority, where the interests of some pre12
vail over the interest of many. -Every animal should be able to decide over their lives, to live with independence and in liberty without being oppressed or controlled by any other living being. We understand domination as an unequal relationship where one individual denies another. Understanding that all animals are equal in moral rights, to fight against human oppression is fighting against animal exploitation. -Nowadays , in our movement, a lifestyle that fights against animal exploitation becomes possible. There are alternatives and options that do not include the consumption of animal products or derivatives such as food, clothes and as a means to entertainment without none of these aspects of our lives being any worse fot it. All these alternatives could be even more developed had there been a real social interest in doing so. How do we propose to approach animal liberation? -As a collective we focus on spreading the reality of how animal exploitation works and the ideas of antispecieism, with the goal of creating change in the perceptions of this problem, promoting more consciousness on this issue. Information on the relation between authority and power over the rest of animals, information on nutrition, on health and other alternatives and some ideas regaridng how to fight against it, information from an antispecieist perspective such as talks or debates as well as other means of propaganda. We feel that information is very important in this struggle since the individual factor is of great relevance, since animal explitation is so normalized in our lives. Individual choices have more weight here that in other fields since they are more directly related to the problem. Basically, if you donâ€™t want to eat meat no one can force you to, if you donâ€™t want to go horse back riding no one will force you to do so and that is already taking a position against the relations that uphold those practices. -Veganism is a good way to put into practice antispecieist ideas and to stop collaborating with animal exploitation. Having said this, we would like to point out that veganism is not an end in itself but a logical consequence of the antispecieist ideas but it is not a struggle in itself but a way of life that fits and gives more strength to the struggle for animal liberation. 13
-How we work. a. Assemby: we don’t feel there’s much to explain about this, we don’t like to be directed or to direct others what to do or say, so we organize oursleves in the most horizontal way we know, for principle as well as for the fact that organizing vertically can seem more functional but creates problems and inner dynamics that are greatly dysfunctional. b. Direct action: understood as acting wihtout delegations. We do not wish to convince the elites to legislate “in favor of animals”, we believe that trsuting politcians or laws is counterproductive (as is repugnant) Change happens when consciousness rises to a point, examples such as dog fights or drug traffiking prove this and demostrate that laws don’t guarantee anything. So far as specieism continues to exist there will be demand for animal products and entertainment based on their exploitation. The movement for animal liberation has been covering two main fields: supply, pressuring those who profit from animal exploitation so they stop; on demand by attempting to spread an antispecieist consciousness that aims to make people stop demanding these products or services obatined by the exploitation of animals. 4.- INCOHERENCES, MYTHS, STATEMENTS,LIMITATIONS AND OBSTACLES OF ANIMAL LIBERATION As we end this exposition, we would like to briefly give our views on the incoherences, limitations and obstacles of animal liberation. What we propose to do with this last point is to discuss these issues in a constructive way. Understanding our incoherences will allow us to work on reducing them and to not feel purer or superior to others. On the other hand to know our limitations will help us to deal with frustation and to not generate frustration on those we have spoken to, to have our feet on the ground and to know where we stand. Also, to see our obstacles is essentialto decide the most effective strategies and which paths are possible and which are not. To start discussing these issues we have to start from the understanding that being 100% coherent in everything is impossible and therefore what interests us should be the possibilities we have in real life, here and now, in the year 2010 in Madrid. 14
Incoherences The incoherences of animal liberation that are usually mentioned are generally related more to veganism than with animal liberation itself. As part of that struggle we accept that there are incoherences, but not more than in other struggles. In the same way that being anarchist and 100% coherent is impossible, being a vegan and 100% coherent with it is also impossible, but in both cases leading a life as true to your ideas as possible is worth more that all that we can’t reach. It is not our intention to make a list of the incoherences, as we don’t see it useful and because everyone will have a diferent opinion, but we would like to give a couple of examples that will make, whoever wishes to do so, think about them and honestly asses their own coherence. We know for example that it is impossible to be completely vegan since the quantity and diversity of products containing animal ingredients and or tested with them is infinite and unknown; furthermore if we are to include in the definition of non vegan products those in which humans have been exploited that amounts to essentially every product existing. However having said this and accepted it, we see that the way to focus on it is not “well, since varnish might have the collagen of a cow’s hoof it makes no sense to stop eating meat” but to ask ourselves “what products can I avoid?”. The easiest and most effective way to reduce our role in animal exploitation is to avoid products that directly relate to it (meat, furs, milk, cosmetics, eggs, zoos, circuses...) and to research and decide over the other products. But to the question of which products can we avoid, we believe that all those that can be avoided (without going crazy about it) should be avoided and not only those derived from animal exploitation; meaning that if you like shoes for example and your a vegan and you like to change shoes every season, as much as they are plastic or rubber or any other such material your Nike shoes manufactured in China are produced through the exploitation of human animals and other animals as well as environmetal exploitation. And there is where we see an incoherence, in the everything goes if it doesn’t come from an animal or has the name of a laboraty famous for their cruelty. We believe it is important to transmit a message of reducing consumption as much as possible, DIY and locally produced products as well as the main message of avoiding animal based products. 15
This is closely related to another incoherence: the disregard of environmental issues coming from the animal liberation movement and viceversa, although we will focus in the first aspect. A big part of these disagreements are due to the fact that the anthropocentric eco-movement that dominates it has positioned itself many times against animal liberation like for example with the liberation of ferrets and the control of exotic species. However, a more radical eco-movement and animal liberation can have many joint struggles against human domination if they can work together. In fact, in some countries such as the USA, this has already been happening for some time. Sometimes vegans forget the exploitation ecosystems or wild animals suffer, ending up travellin every week on a plane and only worry about the food being vegan and not the damage done by that level of consumption. Myths/Statements We believe that many statements are made with little thought both from the animal liberation movement as from those who oppose these ideas. Simpleminded statements are delivered and when these sometimes false statements come from our movement it makes us lose legitimacy and dissapoint our people; we’re going to give a couple of examples of these statements that are given for the animal liberation cause: 1. “Save the planet, become a vegan”. Objectively speaking animal exploitation plays a big role in global warming, in the pollution, destroying our earth and soil and water and in the reduction of biodiversity. Obviously the reduction of meat consumption on a global scale would have a tremendously positive impact on our planet. However to come to the conclusion that by becoming a vegan you’re going to save the planet seems a bit optimistic at least. Forgetting about car, planes, garbage, roads and highways, modern agriculture with its poisonous products is simplye forgetting about things as essential as anything else in order to save the planet. In any case, the following website: : http://www. fao.org/agriculture/lead/themes0/es/ is an interesting resource and the essay “The long shadow of cattle” from the same institution, that can be downloaded from the internet. Although interesting since it doesn’t come from vegans and therefore cannot be considered “vegan propaganda” it should be read with a critical perspective, after all it does come from an official organization. 16
2. “If everyone was vegan world hunger would end” It is true that currently, most of the cereal produced throughout the world is given to cattle (e.g. 80% of soy is produced for animal consumption) and that because of a basic issue of energy conversion 90% of the energy produced is lost at every level of the food chain. However it is also true that there is more than enough food to feed the world, hunger is not cuased because of meat consumption but because of the unequal distribution of wealth. A capitalist vegan world would also have rich and poor. It is true that excessive consumption of meat in the western wold plays and imporanat role in how cereal is distribitued in the world but it is not the root of the problem. If the USA would stop consuming meat, that 75%-85% of cereal would not be sent to Africa, the price fo some foods would go down, yes, but the moment that cereal is no longer a profitable business it would cease to be produced or would be used for other thing such as bio fuels. 3. “Being a vegan is easy”. In our country, being a vegan is fairly simple but the possibilities a healthy and varied vegan diet are not the same for everyone. An office worker surrounded by vegans will have it much easier than a trucker driving form spain to Germany and stopping on highways diners to eat. It might sound silly but we mention this because we believe the effort to become coherent with vegan ideas and practices should be valued in itself and not only the visible effects of that effort. Every person is different and lives under different conditions, that doesn’t justify animal exploitation it is simply something to keep in mind and value if we truly wish to understand the reality we live in. Animal liberation limits 1. The first limit we see is that animal exploitation is unlimited and that therefore the struggle seems endless. This kind of unaprehensible struggles that seem to be infinite in time and space give a sense of uselessness and defeat to the activists. On the other hand, the uncertainty of how to deal with the problem of animal exploitation always raises the question of whether we’re simply engaged in a more theoretical and philosophical battle and therefore we could get lost in these abstract battles instead of carrying out concrete steps and actions focused on a specific field of animal exploitation and the fight against it but, again the doubt arises... which aspect should be the priority? 2. Except a few species that can theoritically survive in the wild by themsleves, most liberated animals need a space dedicated to them as well as money for 17
food, medicines and people to take care after them plus a space for them to live the rest of their lives (sometimes 15-20 years). This is a very limitating factor in the liberation of animals from exploitation sites and makes it difficult to extend this practice to all species enslaved. This problem is due to the way and scale to which animals are exploited: only in Spain two million chicks are born each day. (official data from the Department of Agriculture) 3. Veganism also has its own limits: a. It is impossible to know all the ingredients/experiments of all the products that surround us. Like we said at the beggining, being 100%vegan is impossible. We are unaware of the animal origin of many components, most potentially toxic ingredients are tested on animals, from the oil of the car or paint of our rooms, to the pesticides on our groceries. The task of investigating every single substance that has either an animal origin or has been tested on animals is enormous and sterile, as well as incredibly time consuming which makes it rather doubtful how useful that task really is. b. That most vegan products we consume imply the death of many animals indirectly. All plastic wrapped products brought from far away with any means of transport or in which pesticides have been used or that have been extracted from and destroyed natural ecosystems, the manufacturing process all these products require cause the death of countless animals. c It is not viable on a global scale. In barren or dry areas, whether they be too hot or too cold veganism is not possible. An esquimo or a tuareg cannot be vegan; that doensâ€™t mean veganism is not valid, but it is a limit (In Greenland for example with a population density of 1 person per 40 km2 it is impossible to establish a horizontal form of government and that doensâ€™t mean assemblies arenâ€™t a valid way to organize ourselves). Obstacles of Animal Liberation 1. Non-human animals cannot participate in their own liberation, which generates a movement of humans which are not suffering that exploitation to decide upon which are the priorities, strategies or approaches to fight against that exploitation; we are left with the intelligence, the ability to understand the situations of exploitation and the ability to establish priorities of the activists involved. The good side of this (bad for animals and good for activistits) it is 18
such a new struggle and there is so much to do that wherever you decide to act on, if you do it well, it is probable to see results of some kind. 2. It requires a profound mentality change and a change in the lifestyle of people that is hard to accept. It is not something you can do once a week or whenever you feel like it, what you are telling people is that they should reorganize their most basic habits such as dressing or eating. Really it’s not that complicated but it is an idea that can cause certain skepticism at first. The positive aspect of animal exploitation forming a part of our lives is that the day to day decisions we make have a clear effect on the lives of many animals and that whatever change in these habits we propose have short term effects which give us a strong and protagonist role more so than in other struggles (for example the fight against the CIEs(spanish acronym for Immigrant Detention Center) 3.Some of the companies and organizations involved in the exploitation are very strong (pharmaceuticals, meat industry, etc.) and the struggle is one of David against Goliath. However there have been small victories that prove that with imagination and perseverance David can defeat Goliath . 4. It is a young movement born only a few decades ago and even newly born in some countries, which means that people generally ignore the ideas and principles that it posesses and that progress in the matter has to be slow and from the bottom. The positive side of this is that we can build it ourselves and that it hasn’t yet been distorted by past mistakes 5. Inside the movement, as happens in all struggles, there’s criticisms to the different approaches and heroes and myths are created. As far as divisions and criticisms go it’s logical and even desirable that a certain level of critical perspective be established however rigourous corporativism or the blind adherence to any organization can create a distance inside the movement that would probably not be that big if it weren’t for that kind of attitude. Organizations are often critized for this and even acronyms which don’t belong to an organization such as the ALF. This acronym was created as a form of represantation of people who individually or collectively in small groups decide to disobey the rules in their struggle for animal liberation; the ALF is not really anything, it’s people, it’s anonymous people who carry out actions; the ALF are actions. And sometimes the childish priority of spreading the acronym is put 19
before the struggle itself. Acronyms are simply a tool that if not used wisely can separate us from the rest of the mjovement to whom ideas and actions should join us. As to the mystification of specific people or groups some problems arise: a. To feel that one is not capable of doing certain things, when in reality they are mostly in reach of anyone. b. to feel that one should do certain things to feel useful in the struggle, without noticing that we are all valuable in one way or another and that we all need each other. c. To feel smalll or insignificant next to these people and instead of using them as assets we indulge in self pity. d. To focus on people instead of on the actions and ideas that are behind people which is what is important in the end. 6. And lastly we find obstacles in the rest of movements that look down or criticize animal liberation as a whim of elitist misanthropists that have their lives already resolved and can dedicate themselves to non human animals. In these movements sometimes it is argued that animal liberation is a personal option of those who worry about animals, but that it is a partial and secondary struggle that should be limited to the personal sphere so not to weaken the revolutionary effort.â€? Animal liberation is not a personal option because it wants and needs to spread to as many people as possible (in fact information is one of the most important fronts we have, one in which a big part of the militant effort is focused on) to be viable. A personal option is one which has no effects on the rest but animal liberation is a struggle with clear effects on the rest and those who donâ€™t be belive so could ask a liberated animal or an elephant imprisoned in a zoo. What is a partial and seconday struggle? That which is not imporant, urgent or neccessary in relation to more imperative struggles. Which are they? The anticapitalist struggle? And what exactly is that and how do you do it? Is it not a combination of minor struggles? How do you fight against capitalism all at once in its many fronts? The notion of a more imperative struggle invalidates almost all of the other struggles. For example, if we take a look at slavery, 20
hunger, wars and displaced population in Africa we will think it is simply ridiculous to ask for a 35 hour workweek, equality between men and women. If we give more importance to urgency, global climate change seems to be the most pressing problem we have. Is any struggle except the environmental one a waste of time? No. It has to be understood that everyone is affected differently by that which surrounds them and the circumstances they live in and that based on them he decides his priorities; not always what’s most important but also taking into account the efficacy, or how close you are to the issue. The important thing is that each one does what he can for what they believe knowing that it is just a little part that we play but, but fighting to continue being a part of that struggle. On the other hand, the quantity of exploited individuals and the level of exploitation of the non human animals is incredibly severe; the urgency can be measured in millions of lives on a daily basis, in continuous suffering, that is simply unattainable by the human mind. We can’t see it as secondary, non human animals need us and they need us now. Even if considered a secondary struggle compared to others focused on human issues, more time isn’t wasted being vegan than eating meat, trying to reduce your role in animal exploitation and in your daily struggle focusing on human issues is not contradictory. As to not wasting time on the revolutionay struggle it is worth asking what is the anticapitalist struggle; we on’t attempt to define a revolutionary struggle, because we think it almost impossible to have everyone agree on a definition; nonethelss, it can be briefly explained as a major and radical transformation inr elation to the immediate past, that can happen simultaneously in different areas (social, economic, cultural, religious, etc.). However, despite being a dramatic change of the situation to this moment, a revolutionary event is, always, a consequence of a longer process, both individual and collective. Individually revolutaionaries have had to question mainstream values and practices with which they have grown and are surrounded by. They have had to fight internally to know and defeat or at least try, the cop inside their heads. An uprising is carried out in the day to day and in daily actions; obviously, to produce 21
a social change, those people must join and build new relations in the struggle, but if no inner change occurs there will never be a social revolution. We must transform our world and the way we relate to the the world around us as far as possible into a miniature of the world we strive for. A critical approach (withour going crazy about it), not only of the world around us but also of our own ideas and attitudes and the serach of what we really want is projected on our lifestyle. We have to dismantle the present and arm the future and it has to be done simultaneuosly, bringing down the walls of oppression and creating new forms of relations amongst ourselves, with animals and the planet; if we do not show that there are alternatives and that they are possible people will remain unconvinved and the best way to prove it is with our own attitude and behaviour. This is why we do not believe that changes in our lifestyle should remain in the backstage until the social change arrives. However, and once having explained why we consider important the lifestyles of people, it must be mentioned that we don’t belive a personal change will bring the revolution the day it is adopted on a mass scale without having to do anything else. That is why a struggle and activism are neceesary and being an activist is more than taking up an ideology specially if done so in silence. It remains to be said that all that daily effort we talk about must be in reach of our possibilities; when we ask too much of ourselves we burnout and when we ask too much of others they can take a distance from us so they don’t have to do that tiring effort or they can end up feeling useless and insecure if they can’t do what’s asked of them. With this last reflection we would like to encourage those who worry about the rest of animals to fight with confidence, specially to those with whom we share other struggles; to fight hard and to feel proud, because animals deserve our best effort. Asamblea Antiespecista, Madrid, Autumn 2010.
Written in 2010 and translated in 2013.
Traducción del libreto "La misma libertad". Escrito en 2010 y traducido en 2013. 24 pp. Disponible en: http://www.acabemosconelespecismo....
Published on Aug 12, 2014
Traducción del libreto "La misma libertad". Escrito en 2010 y traducido en 2013. 24 pp. Disponible en: http://www.acabemosconelespecismo....