by Marcia Mueller
Animal rights will not be won by incremental changes within capitalism. Working around the margins is not enough in a system so powerful, one that derives enormous profits from the exploitation of animals.
If justice for nonhumans depends upon revolution and the destruction of capitalism, then the revolution lies in the future. In the meantime, animal advocates need to keep motivated to work for a victory they will not likely see in their lifetimes.
Helping bring about a revolution by joining forces with other groups seeking justice may help since there is strength in numbers. Animal rights activists also need methods that allow them to be active individually and to stay motivated by attacking the source of harm.
I have a favorite method: Undermining/withholding.
One way to destroy a structure or a system is by damaging its foundation, and a way to weaken the foundation of capitalism is to attack consumerism by refusing to participate, by ignoring the temptations of Madison Avenue, and by directing money to charitable organizations instead.
For example, activists can undermine by not replacing cars unless necessary. That saves hundreds of dollars of monthly expenses in loans and the more costly insurance for new vehicles. There are many other items we may consider as needs but are actually wants and could be avoided.
Of course General Motors, Nordstrom’s, and WalMart would not feel much pain even if every vegan in the country did not buy new cars, new clothes, and assorted stuff—even lots of stuff—on regular shopping sprees. But if people donated the money to shelters and sanctuaries, the animals would definitely note a difference.
Charitable contributions can be deducted from income tax, and the refund can be recycled to more shelters and sanctuaries. In the meantime, we can have the satisfaction of knowing that we not helping maintain an economic system that destroys the beings we care about and that we are actively doing our part to help.
Cutting back on consumption and saving money could also allow people to reduce work hours and devote time to organizations, shelters, and sanctuaries. Most of them desperately need volunteers so that their funds can go to animal care rather than to paid help.
There are multiple groups whose philosophy is against capitalism and consumerism. Adopting some of their tactics could be useful.
For example, the Freegans’ goal is to stop waste and reduce consumption. Animal advocates don’t have to engage in dumpster diving, as some of the Freegans do, but the group has other suggestions in how to withdraw support from corporate America.
Roland Vincent notes the following: “Efforts to promote compassion and veganism cannot change human nature or human behavior.” However he notes later that “evolving standards of decency, senses of compassion and perception of justice all drive society to embrace and expand the circle of concern about oppression, inequities, intolerance, and exploitation.”
As advocates, we can advance those changes toward a more humane society. We can continue to write letters to the editor of local newspapers to raise awareness of issues and to our legislators to promote laws. We can disseminate literature for organizations and sign petitions demanding severe punishment for abusers. We can work to ensure a loss at the next election for judges and authorities who will not act for animals.
If the standards of decency in this culture are to change, we must let it be known more widely that there is a constituency driving and demanding that change. One way is through comments sections in animal-related news.
For example, egregious examples of abuse that get national and international attention, such as the deaths of Cecil and Harambe, present an opportunity to speak up. Personally, I go to the liberal media such as the New York Times and Huffington Post to add to the comments sections and, in these instances, condemn trophy hunting, zoos, and human carelessness and cruelty.
But I also target the conservative/religious news organizations to let them know that some of us in this society take animal suffering and deaths seriously. I assert that animals are not here for our exploitation and that speciesism should no longer be tolerated any more than the other “isms” we have outlawed. (Be ready for outraged replies in comments sections from the religious/conservative groups when challenging dominionism and God-given human supremacy.)
In a world so full of animal suffering, advocates cannot give up.
The revolution may be in the future, but the time to prepare is now.
NOTE: There is actually a book now on undermining: Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change by Keith Farnish. You can get a free download from https://archive.org
• 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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• Feel free to comment. I encourage open discussion and welcome other opinions. I moderate comments because this blog has been attacked by hunters and right wing trolls. I approve comments that are critical as well as those which agree with me. Comments that I will not tolerate are those that are spam, threatening, disrespectful, or which promote animal abuse and cruelty