Intersectionality is the study of intersections between different disenfranchised groups or groups of minorities; specifically, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination. This feminist sociological theory was first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Intersectionality is a methodology of studying “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations”. The theory suggests that—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, speciesism, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic injustice and social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and belief-based bigotry including nationalism and speciesism, do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination
Feminists, anti-discrimination activists, and social and economic just advocates, have generally embraced the theory of intersectionality (or intersectionalism) as descriptive of the state of multiple forms societal oppression.
Many view broad coalitions of the oppressed as key to opposing social Injustices, and intersectionality suggests that alliances and cooperation between various affected interests could create such a broad coalition.
While the theory of intersectionality includes acknowledgement of speciesism among the many other forms of discrimination, recognition of the role of speciesism in oppression of animals has been ignored by the vast majority of the left.
Logic would dictate that a coalition of oppressed groups, embracing support for one another’s interests, would be a powerful political engine. And not just in voting, but in legislative agendas, in demos, in cross-posting, in social media, in cross-blogging, in public solidarity.
For much of the left, such an approach may be productive.
But for the animal movement, intersectionalism is a one-way street.
And it leads to a dead end.
Blacks, Hispanics, women, LGBTs, etc, are all oppressed in one way or another. Their basic human rights are frequently denied them. Blacks are shot down in the streets, Hispanics are rounded up and deported, women are still fighting for equal pay and workplace respect, for reproductive freedom and an end to patriarchy, LGBTs have no legal protection against bigotry in the workplace or the marketplace.
Yet most of those people in turn abuse, exploit, and oppress animals.
People who are oppressed by others generally react negatively when their own oppression of animals is discussed.
To the observer, there is a certain justice when one who denies rights to others finds his own rights violated. But most who complain of oppression seem oblivious to the harm they do in turn. Most see the specks in the others eyes but are unaware of the beams in their own.
In a previous article, If You Oppress Animals, Why Should Anyone Care if Someone is Oppressing You?, I asserted that being oppressed does not entitle one to sympathy if they, too, are oppressing others, including animals. This article seeks to enlighten those who are unaware of the oppression for which they are responsible.
To end oppression, cruelty, and the violations of the rights of others requires an understanding of what we do to others, to both people and animals.
As to animals, the horrors visited upon them by even the most benign meateater or dairy consumer makes any oppression suffered by humans to be almost laughable.
What group of oppressed humans is slaughtered at the rate of six million per hour?
What group of oppressed humans is born into slavery? Raped when of age to conceive? Has their newborns torn from them at birth and murdered? Are then slaughtered when unable any longer to produce milk?
What group of oppressed humans has their babies ground up alive?
What group of humans is boiled or dismembered alive?
Even being shot down in the streets by racist police seems humane compared to what animals endure.
Being deported, earning less money, or being fired are relatively harmless affronts, compared with being the victims of institutionalized genocide.
Oppressing others is unforgivable. We are conditioned to consider it understandable. Even acceptable.
What is not understandable or acceptable is the continued oppression of animals when ignorance can no longer be offered as an excuse.
The animals do not care how unjustly you have been treated as you murder them.
Nor do I.
Broad political coalitions might be able to effect minor advances in animal protection, but they cannot do much to diminish the horrors suffered by animals trapped in the food system.
Only ending capitalism presents the possibility of banning animal agriculture, and capitalism cannot be defeated politically.
The value of intersectionality would only accrue to the animals and to animal activists were such a broad coalition of the left united to effect socialist revolution.
Saving animals is not a goal of socialism. Saving animals is a by-product of socialism. Saving animals is not a bit intentional, but is a function of socialist economics.
Capitalism rewards exploiting animals, rewards raising and murdering them. Capitalism bestows profits upon those who increase production and consumption of anything. Including animals.
Socialism removes profits from the equation.
Socialists are no more sensitive to the plights of animals than are other people. But socialism as a system destroys fewer animals than does capitalism. This simple fact should militate for every animal activist, every animal lover, every rescuer, every compassionate human being, every vegan, to become a socialist revolutionary.
As long as there are profits to be made on the enslavement, exploitation, and murder of animals, enslavement, exploitation and murder will continue.
Profits are responsible for almost all the animal cruelty on Earth. Businesses are protected in committing their horrors by governments and the law.
Efforts to promote compassion and veganism cannot change human nature or human behavior.
Only the force of government can protect animals.
And the only governments which might be disposed to protecting animals are socialist governments. Human rights and social justice are basic elements of socialism. Animal Rights are more likely to be embraced by socialist governments than by capitalist ones.
But even socialist governments indifferent to animals would be far more humane than are capitalist governments.
My support of socialism is directly related to the mechanical effect of economics on animal production, exploitation, and consumption. Socialist societies murder and consume half the animals, per capita, as do capitalist societies. The combined effect of removing profit from production, centrally planned and regulated industry, bureaucratic inefficiency, etc, means fewer animals are bred, murdered, and butchered. On a global scale, socialism would mean 30 BILLION fewer animals dying each year on slaughterhouse floors than are murdered now. It would mean one and a quarter TRILLION fewer sea creatures killed each year.
And this would be under socialist societies which did not care a whit about animals.
The effect of socialist economics alone would save more lives than thirty thousand of our current animal movements.
I arrive at that figure because over the last 50 years the animal movement has been responsible for saving the lives of a mere million or so animals per year. To have the same effect on reducing animal murder as socialism would have, we would need to be 30,000 times bigger than we are as a movement. Each and every animal activist, rescuer, adopter, transporter, donor, crossposter, emailer, protester, letter writer, phone caller, voter, would need to be multiplied by 30,000!
Capitalist apologists observe that the left is as indifferent to animal suffering as is the right. That is somehow supposed to militate for capitalism? Capitalism is the most evil force ever unleashed by humans. It institutionalizes the basest of human behaviors and instincts, and suppresses the essence of all that is admirable in our species.
The future of humanity, if there is to be one, must be a socialist future. Not because socialism is a more moral system than is capitalism (which it is), but because capitalism will eventually destroy the environment, extinguishing humans, animals, oceans, rivers, rainforests, and the very air we all breathe.
Advocates for animals must join in broad coalitions with advocates for social and economic justice in working toward social revolution.
We must end the economic and legal systems which fuel and protect the Animal Holocaust.
It may come about by violent revolution or through political action. But the Animal Holocaust will never end through private action or recruiting vegans and activists. Our current course of action is ineffective, counter-productive, and doomed to failure.
Socialism is the only hope for animals, short of human extinction.
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