John Sanbonmatsu is an associate professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA.
Roland Vincent is a professional political strategist, animal liberationist, and publisher of Armory of the Revolution.
On May 16, Sanbonmatsu posted the following comment to an article I had written Obama Spins the Trans Pacific Partnership to Wayne Pacelle:
Someone recently brought my attention to one of your more irresponsible web postings, in which you openly advocated “taking out” animal exploiters. To advocate killing people in our political context is beyond irresponsible–it is criminal. Though I share you sense of urgency vis-a-vis human violence against animals, I am appalled that you think that threatening, hurting, or even killing people is a productive way for us to build a radical movement. The fact is that until and unless we can convince at least a sizable minority of our fellow humans to end the speciesist system, there is no prospect that we will be in a position to begin dismantling that system. So encouraging others to commit terrorist acts is a very good way to hurt our movement. It will not going to make people more sympathetic to our movement, but the opposite. We know this from the history of terrorism.
Finally, the fact that you refuse to criticize your avowed “friend” Wayne Pacelle–the greatest traitor to the animal cause in history, a promoter of mass violence against animals who has sold not only his own organization but the animal rights movement down the proverbial river–suggests to me that you are not merely a dangerous and irresponsible thinker, but a confused one as well. On the one hand, you stake out a macho position as a “radical”–which in your thinking seems to mean advocating that others embark on campaigns on reckless violence. On the other hand, you give Pacelle, this enemy of animal liberation, a complete “pass,” and make excuses for his apologia for genocide.
If you genuinely care about our movement, take down this website.
Editor of “Critical Theory and Animal Liberation”
My response to Sanbonmatsu:
Lol! Forgive me for finding this tremendously amusing.
Where shall I start? You surely cannot expect me to silence myself because I have offended your sensibilities?
Let me be perfectly clear. My life’s work is animal liberation, animal rights, and the destruction of capitalism. To the best of my knowledge, this blog is the only one expressing those sentiments.
Let me begin with Wayne Pacelle and HSUS.
You may not remember what HSUS was before Wayne took over the organization. Animal issues beyond dog and cats rescue and spaying and neutering were not addressed. Under Wayne’s helmsmanship the organization has waged campaigns on fur, hunting, sealing, whaling, animals in agriculture, dog fighting, cockfighting, horse slaughter, etc.
The ludicrous suggestion that Pacelle has sold HSUS and the AR movement “down the river,” speaks to your disrespect for those who disagree with you. You have placed both Wayne and me in your crosshairs, as neither of us agree with the present direction, or effectiveness, of the animal movement.
HSUS is not a radical organization. It recruits from the general public, and is perhaps the single most effective organization in the world in attracting people to animal activism. It is from its ranks that most animal activists have come, and it is a presence that could not be sustained if it were a radical, anti-capitalist organization.
Were it to be another mouthpiece for veganism, it could not be more ineffective than are the rest of those voices. Veganism is not slowing the Animal Holocaust.
Unless you are working toward social revolution, you have absolutely no business criticizing Wayne Pacelle or HSUS, as your efforts are likely less effective than are theirs in saving animals or recruiting animal activists.
The modern animals movement can roughly be dated with the publication of Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, in 1975. In the intervening 41 years, animal slaughter has more than tripled from under 20 billion animals murdered each year then to the mind boggling number of 60 billion today.
Nothing we have done has stemmed the sea of blood or the unending screams of innocent creatures. Not recruiting vegans, not educating the public, not demos, leafleting, letter writing, or voting.
All of the animals saved by all animal activists around the world are fewer than the number who will be murdered in the next eight hours. And that excludes all the sea creature victims of humans, which account for two and a half trillion deaths annually, or about a million per second, around the clock.
The Animal Holocaust is driven by capitalists in pursuit of profits. Profit is the leading cause of animal cruelty and exploitation in the world.
Our legal systems allow and provide for the ownership of other creatures. Our capitalist economic system encourages and rewards animal cruelty, enslavement, exploitation, murder, and consumption. Our governments protect the industries and the abusers, and even subsidize them. The control of government by capitalist interests means legislation targeting animal liberationists and criminalizing animal activists.
The only hope for animals is bringing down the economic, legal, and political systems which permit the existence of the Animal Holocaust.
I harbor no illusions that overthrowing capitalism is on the horizon. Indeed, it is considerably below the horizon, decades or centuries away. But the goal of recruiting revolutionaries should be a higher priority for animal activists than recruiting vegans.
For your information, advocating for direct action is not illegal. What is illegal is calling for the imminent commission of a crime. As an attorney, I have carefully crafted my messages to avoid being accused of doing so. That said, I have no respect for human law, except to the degree that I wish to avoid being prosecuted by it.
Revolution requires violent action. It was necessary in the American and French Revolutions, the Mexican Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, etc. All participants in any of them would have been prosecuted had the revolutions failed.
Human depopulation would help both animals and the environment. But only human extinction would eliminate animal cruelty and exploitation. We cannot bank on pandemics and wars to reduce populations, but we can work on instituting socialism in place of capitalism.
Socialist societies murder and consume half the number of animals per capita as do capitalist societies.
Which means that a socialist world would murder and consume 30 billion fewer animals each year than are now murdered and consumed by capitalist societies.
The animal movement worldwide saves some one million animals each year, using generous estimates. Instituting socialist governments would have the effect of 30,000 of our current animal movements!
The equivalent of every animal activist multiplied by 30,000!
We are far too few in number to successfully revolt against the state. To be successful, animal activists must join broad coalitions in opposition to capitalism.
Political revolution was a distant dream of radicals and progressives until Bernie Sanders made the case for overthrowing the political establishment in the US. Bernie’s revolution is still playing itself out, and may well be realized in the next several election cycles as young people take over roles in society and politics.
Social revolution is a much more remote goal, as social revolution would mean bringing an end to capitalism and the current legal system in each country where it succeeded.
Social revolution is not accomplished through incrementalism or gradualism. Ending the rule of the state is a violent endeavor, as the state would use all of its power and resources to put down insurrection. The state’s first line of defense are the local police, backed up by the National Guard (in the US) and ultimately the military. Only widespread revolt, supported by the populace, can withstand the brutal suppression the state would unleash against those challenging its authority and power.
With enough constituencies harboring unrest and antipathy toward the state, an environment of potential success is present, provided there are those willing to ignite revolution and wage war against the government.
Flashpoints are a requirement for revolution. There have been any number or outrages against African Americans by police over the years, many recently. Unarmed men and children shot down in the streets or murdered in police custody. Each of those atrocities warranted armed insurrection, riots, and vigilantism. That non occurred demonstrates that social revolution still a distant possibility.
The very nature of the American political system deflects outrage and diffuses meaningful efforts to challenge or change it. People are mollified by the illusion of impacting the system through voting and petitioning for redress.
For revolution to succeed, a broad coalition of diverse constituencies must assemble in opposition to the status quo.
Recruiting revolutionaries should be the primary goal of all who wish to bring down the capitalist system.
There is probably no more fertile ground for nurturing social revolutionaries than within the animal activist community. Capitalism is the author of the greatest of atrocities ever committed: the Animal Holocaust.
The only possibility of ending, or drastically reducing, the horrors is through direct action against those capitalists who own or direct the slaughter industries, as well as the bankers and politicians who enable the genocide.
Attacking the very heart of capitalist power may be the only way to ignite the revolution.
Our task is to build the coalition that can sustain it.
Note to Readers of the Armory: This exchange may or may not continue. If it does, I will be publishing Sanbonmatsu’s and my responses to one another. If you wish to join the conversation, please comment. All substantive questions and observations will be included in our discussion.
• I am unaware of any other blog with the Armory’s mission of radicalizing the animal movement. I certainly hope I am not alone, and that there are similar sentiments being expressed by comrades unknown to me.
If you know of other blogs dedicated to animal rights and the defeat of capitalism, please comment with a link.
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