Undermining the System

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



Editor’s Notes:

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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14 thoughts on “Undermining the System

  1. Last year I was looking to potentially buy an apartment. The real estate lady took me to a neighborhood that had been built by clear cutting some dense woods and turning them into cheap tiny apartment buildings. She was all gushing and telling me about the brand new wal-mart that had just opened just a few blocks from the apartment complex. Of course, they had outdone themselves, this store was two or three city blocks big with a giant ass parking lot. Acres of hot asphalt sending back the heat of the sun in waves, where just a few months earlier there was woods giving home to animals that were dispersed and killed. If there is one thing the epitomizes human greed, destructiveness and cruelty it is Wal-mart. I despise this chain of destruction.


  2. I flipped out when I saw the graphic. I used to have to drive a long lonely desert road with a revolver in the glove compartment to fend off highway hoodlums all the way into Las Vegas just to buy socks. Most of the time I was scared sick on these roads. This went on for years. When Wal Mart came to town it saved us all.
    Town motto –
    No one stands between us and Wal- Mart and lives to tell.


  3. Actually I never saw a boycott WalMart sign I didn’t like. I just don’t want the reputation of being anti-underwear.


  4. Good advice.

    I posted a pro-animal comment re: “Earth Has Entered Its Sixth Mass Extinction Event, Report Asserts”

    Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/earth-enters-sixth-mass-extinction_us_5964f79fe4b03f144e2e0c0f

    Karoline Amezqua ·
    Bishop Reilly
    Planet Earth would be better off without human civilization. The sad irony is that the collapse would take down innocent nonhuman lives. Unchecked human overpopulation, animal-based agriculture and diets, capitalist systems of domination and control, and the irrational, immoral, irresponsible ideology of human supremacy (anthropofascism, speciesism): more lethal to nonhuman life on Earth and the planet than all nuclear weapons of mass destruction combined.

    Our humanity is so pathologically ego-centric that if “human activity” endangers the lives and welfare of other animals and plant species at risk for extinction, humanity can only think of it in terms of how all this affects themselves!

    EVEN NOW, THE NOTION THAT ANIMALS [and plants] “EXIST FOR OUR SAKE” has strong resonances throughout popular Christianity. It is only right that theologians should now mock “the folly” of this notion, but such belated protests would carry more weight if they were offered in a spirit of some penitence. Folly it must be that sees the whole world as our plaything, but it has also been a grievous folly for those who have had to suffer it. We suffer least the folly inflicted on others when it affects us not at all. No wonder that…Voltaire could claim against Christians that “those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.” — Andrew Linzey, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, 1989

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent! Religion consistently upholds speciesism and human supremacy. It refuses to admit the ugliness of human abuse of powerless animals. It’s discouraging to see the churches, those bastions of moral authority, pandering to human beings, no matter how barbaric their treatment of animals, to maintain church membership. After all, those matadors and bullfighting fans put money in the collection plate.


      • I will continue to love the beauty humans put into the world. I am a vegan who goes to church. I talk to myself everyday with my eyes closed and pray to God. I wish no hate on anyone.That gets you all het up and frothing at the mouth. What would you suggest as the cure -all for us terrible humans? Mayhem and murder, of course. But you are possessed. Poor, pathetic Dear.


  5. I am not boycotting Wal- Mart. It’s the only place that sells underwear in this town. Also, I buy my vegan shoes at Wal- Mart. For God’s sake leave us alone!


    • My intention was not a call to boycott WalMart. It was to recommend cutting back consumption of wants (as opposed to needs) to free up resources for helping animals. I merely mentioned three well-known corporate retailers. Underwear and vegans shoes would obviously not fall under the category of excess wants.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I recycle and buy most of my dresses at vintage thrift. Great bargains and beautiful clothes. Most of these very nice clothes come from the closets of people who have passed away in Las Vegas. A good deal all in all.
        Being the girly girl that I am it is difficult to keep my hands out of the dress racks and the shoe aisle.


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