Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Hi folks, as a way of introducing myself & philosophy here’s something that we (my partner in life & …. …activism, Richard) are putting together for the upcoming Book Fair http://www.amelbournebookfair..org/ on the 13th August.
I believe it’s important that ‘movements’ work together to overcome all forms of oppression. Anarchism holds the most promise for the foundation of the new society we know we must build – a society inspired by what Peter Kropotkin called the beautiful words: Liberty, Equality and Solidarity.
Identifying the root cause of all social problems as structures of hierarchy and domination, anarchists aim to confront and dismantle these structures and replace them with relationships based on values of liberation and freedom, equality of unequals, solidarity and mutual aid.
However, the promise of anarchism is limited as long as it remains a humanist cause – concerned with opposing only human over human domination, and with building new relationships only between humans.
This humanist focus overlooks two of the most massive and damaging structures of domination and oppression - the systematic enslavement, exploitation and killing of fellow sentient beings, and the escalating destruction of the natural world to the point of imminent catastrophe for all life, human and nonhuman.
It also fails to grasp the pervasive and entangled totality of domination. How its many forms are all related and intertwined, can’t be viewed in isolation, and must be confronted and eliminated together.
While the origins of hierarchy and domination remain mysterious, there’s a broadening view that they first emerged in society only ten thousand years ago, when humans began to settle in agricultural societies.
It’s believed hunter-gatherer humans had evolved to be equalitarian and cooperative - early anarchists perhaps - but in agricultural society competition for food surpluses and divisions of labour set in place the first social hierarchies. The domination of domesticated animals set the pattern for human over human domination. And with control over their food supplies humans began to see themselves as detached from and above nature, establishing the human dominator worldview.
Over the centuries, hierarchy and the habits of domination became embedded in human culture, reaching their ultimate extreme in capitalism and the state.
Domination and control define many of our social relationships, and our relationships with other animals and the earth. They devalue, limit, oppress and ultimately destroy life. They are instilled in society with potent ideologies of oppression – sexism, racism, and so on. Ideologies that are promoted and perpetuated by our ruling elites for power and profit.
One of the most deeply entrenched and destructive of these ideologies is speciesism – based on the myth of human superiority over other animals, and justifying their control, exploitation and killing at our will. It’s an irrational and morally repugnant doctrine perpetuated by capitalism for the huge profits in industrialised animal abuse.
And speciesism is only one element of the most pernicious and destructive ideology of all – anthropocentrism, which places humanity at the centre of the universe as its most important entity, justifying the domination and control of the planet and all of life. Again it’s in capitalism’s interests to keep this doctrine alive.
All relationships and structures of domination and oppression are intertwined – with common origins and shared methods of controlling, limiting and destroying. They reinforce and feed off each other, and are all instilled in us through false ideologies perpetuated by those in power.
So we can’t view any one form of domination in isolation. Our efforts to eliminate one requires an effort to eliminate them all, and this effort must include the liberation of other animals and the earth.
Kropotkin’s beautiful words can inspire a society in which every individual, human and nonhuman, is liberated, and the earth itself is freed from human domination. Where the equal intrinsic value of all sentient beings is recognised, and there is respect for all life and the integrity of the natural world. A society of solidarity and cooperation among all animals and with the earth.
We build our new society, as Gustav Landauer put it, by contracting new relationships, by behaving differently. This means behaving differently towards one another, towards other animals, and towards our planet.
In everything we do in the here and now, as we prefigure this better world, we can reject and refuse to be complicit in any form of domination, including of other animals and the environment. We can build new relationships based on animal equality and re-connection with the natural world.
In our direct action we can confront and dismantle institutions of domination of all kinds, engaging in the ‘extensional self-defence’ of those unable to defend themselves. These actions might be aboveground or underground, legal or illegal, including open or covert rescues, sabotage, intimidation. Any tactics are justified in countering the monstrous systems of oppression and destruction we face.
And in our organising we can give voice to the voiceless, with dedicated advocates speaking for nonhuman animals and for the environment.
Anarchism is a continually evolving project, its values and practices always open to question and change. The new society calls for a new anarchism – an anarchism for humans, other animals and the earth.