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in support of total liberation

March 15, 2011

We are a movement being pacified with veganism and potlucks. Yes, it is important to embrace a lifestyle that rejects death for sustenance and encourages camaraderie. We do need at least that, but we also need more. We need total liberation.

Animal liberation will only come with total liberation. Until there is total liberation we will live in a world of inequality, in which those in power will seek out ways to confine and control the masses. Sexism and racism and ageism and disablism and heterosexism and nationalism, or any other form of disadvantage or abuse targeted at populations because they are different from those in power, must always be rejected. We must keep our eyes on animal liberation, running toward it full force, using our fists to push back any other inequality that rears its head. For any inequality is a roadblock if we are to have a world of liberation. We must make community organizers, feminists, anti-racists, anarchists, and anyone working for social justice our comrade. We must hold their hands, and not grasp their oppressions as a tool to forward out own goals. We must acknowledge that total liberation will only come if we absolutely believe in liberation for everyone; even when that means relinquishing some of our own advantage and comfort.

We must not be satisfied with constructed truths or half measures. Bigger cages save no one and lengthen the route to change; they institutionalize our claims within the very systems of exploitation that generate and justify the abuses, inequalities, injustices, mass genocide, and torture to which we are opposed. Liberation, once institutionalized and embraced by these systems, is nothing more than welfare at its best and rhetoric at its worst. We must not concede to accept less for other animals than what we would want for ourselves. When we turn our attention to bigger cages rather than empty cages, we are gluing shut the locks of the oppressed, not of the oppressors, and we keep the concept of animal imprisonment and ownership intact.

When we persist in the struggle for liberation there is nothing to fear and everything to hope for. Yes, it is true, authorities repress us and will continue to do so. Their repression is a sign of their fear. Their fear is a token of hope. It means we are effective and now is the time to push forward not to shirk in fear. Do not hide, or cower, or silence yourself on their behalf. Do not stay locked inside your home because you fear they will lock you behind their bars if you step out and speak up. Do not cage yourself like they have caged the animals. Be free, and in your moments of freedom, lend your voice to the dogs and cats and bunnies being killed in shelters, the cows and pigs and sheep and goats and chickens and turkeys living the most painful lives and meeting the most violent deaths so that their bodies can be rendered into “food,” the elephants and tigers and bears who are beat until they perform tricks, the monkeys and cats and dogs and mice and rats and bunnies and guinea pigs and fish and alligators tormented daily in Frankensteinish experiments that help no one and solve nothing.

We have an obligation. As those who recognize the insanity inherent in the way that billions of animals are tortured and murdered, we must do something about it. The thing we must do is to fight for total liberation. We must never compromise ourselves or our goals. Our potlucks and our veganism should not be all that defines us. We should define ourselves by the work we do to free others. Veganism should be the foundation upon which we build our work for total liberation. Potlucks should be where we rejuvenate, take in love from our community to strengthen ourselves, and build unity in our fight against oppression. Each of us must cultivate the talents we have and the skills we’ve learned so that we can better fight for animals. We must be honest about our own capacities and aptitudes to decide how best we can help. We must also acknowledge that different people can help in different ways, allowing us to stand in awe and support, not in judgment, of those who fight this battle from a different vantage point.

The world is a tragic place these days. Environmental devastation, human atrocities, and individual acts of hatred and violence abound. We can give up all hope in this context or we can fight for change.  Yes, we will make mistakes and yes, sometimes, we will fail. But we need to try. When we give up the fight for total liberation, when we are pacified with lifestyle choices and potlucks, our silence casts a vote in support of oppression.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2011 6:06 pm

    out of curiosity, what are you defining as total liberation? when you say, “we must not accept less for the animals than for ourselves,” to what in particular are you referring? I assume you are referring to the right of animals to pursue their own interests. I want that same right too. However, some of my rights are checked when they infringe upon the rights of others. I am held accountable when others suffer at my hands. Are we to hold animals to that same accountability? how are we to do this? and to what end? animals commit atrocities against humans and other animals by their very nature. How are they to be checked? I know these questions may make me seem like I am just being argumentative, but actually I am being very seriously inquisitive. I have given serious consideration to the aims of the animal rights cause, and was quite disappointed when I found no answers to some obvious problems that would arise if animals were all spontaneously freed tomorrow. It is all well and good to save animals one at a time and as we do so we place them in sanctuaries until they can find permanent residence. However, if ALL the animals were to be freed tomorrow, they would inevitably have to be let out into the wild to fend for them selves would they not? or would there have to be some sort of wild life repatriation system set up to home all these animals. How much would that cost? Who would pay? how would these animals be re-homed?

    Also, what would happen to the displaced workers in the related industries. It is not feasible to assume that they would all simply be absorbed into parallel industries which would increase to pick up the slack. The reason for this is a fact that has been pointed out to me by many AR activists. That fact is that it takes a lot of energy to sustain an animal. that animal has many needs that have to be catered to by many people. vegetables and synthetic products that wold be produced to fill the gap are much easier to sustain and therefore don’t require the same amount of manpower to cultivate. Thus there would have to be a certain amount of surplus labor in the remaining industries.

    Understand that I am not trying to defend animal abuse. I am simply trying to point out the disappointing fact that while the goal of AR activists seems clear, I have not been able to discern any type of practical road map to get us from A to B. Not to mention that legislation alone will not do the trick. For example, how far has the war on drugs gotten us? There has been much legislation passed and forces assembled to curb america’s appetite for drugs. However this legislation has proved largely ineffective and has only served to embolden and empower killers, thieves and murders such as the mexican drug cartels. In my opinion any legislation which serves to oppress the will of the people, no matter how noble or evil that will may be, can only ever accomplish tyranny, and will inevitably lead people to suffer at the hands black market forces which answer to no one but their own greedy self interests. So legislation is not the answer. Changing the will of the people must be the sole purpose of any activism. However, most activists I have met are less interested in bringing people into the fold than they are interested in forcing their will upon others.

    You also speak of ending inequality, but how can that ever be accomplished? Everybody I know, naturally wants to be rewarded for their successes. However, one person’s success is the failure of another person whom the first person beat to get there. Some people are naturally stronger in certain areas than others and they should be rewarded, not penalized, for success resulting from their strength. I used to have a job moving pool tables. this job required two very strong people and I was one of them. If the person on the other end of the pool table could not carry the weight, I would have been at risk of being seriously injured or killed. I would hate to think that you argue for a society in which a weaker person would be put at the other end of that pool table just to make things fair. The world is naturally unfair and that’s the way it is supposed to be. It is that unfairness that pushes a person or a species to grow, adapt and change to suit their environment and better overcome hardship. the human race has a marvelous ability to adapt and change, and is also one of the only species on this planet that cares so extensively for its sick, weak and elderly. I don’t think that is a fault, but rather a fact for which many people give humans little or no credit.

    You also speak of all these “-isms” which I find very ironic. How do you plan to end discrimination against all of these various groups by keeping all of these people in the containers you seek to free them from? Does attaching “-ism” to each container somehow make you less discriminating? Is it not ironic that you tell people every one is equal so they must be sure to give “special attention” to all of these special groups which aren’t being treated as equally as everybody else? it is as ironic as capital punishment or fighting for peace. I see programs such as affirmative action and all I can think about is the slogan, “fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.” how can you say that affirmative action is going to end race discrimination by discriminating against race? racism is racism whether you discriminate against the race in power or not. There is no such thing as reverse racism. If I am refused a job because I am white how is that any different than refusing to hire me because I am black?

    I realize all I have done here is to pose a length of questions, and I have offered no solution to these problems. My goal here’s is only to play Devil’s advocate. As they say, “the devil is in the details,” and I feel that if any of the aims of the AR movement or the like are to be achieved or taken seriously by the majority, these details must be addressed. Because it is not until the majority is swayed to the cause of AR that anything substantial will be accomplished. How could it be otherwise?

  2. March 15, 2011 9:32 pm

    OK, Ben (this is my brother giving me shit, btw, folks 😉 one paragraph at a time. Paragraph 1. Classical animal rights theory from a rationalist perspective will provide answers to all those questions. Start with animal liberation by peter singer and a case for animal rights by tom regan. i have extra copies of the former if you want one.

    Paragrpah 2. The ag industry will not change over night. Workers won’t be displaced. if all the conscientious people out there fight for liberation change will slowly happen and industries will shift. no one will be displaced

    Paragraph 3. Ok then, stop murdering and eating animals, join our cause and teach us how to be better activists. and if you haven’t noticed, there is no legislation or force used on our side. But animals are forced to be murdered by the billions. I don’t think I need a “solution” for any other way to act than to say, animal abuse, ownership of animals, and eating animals is wrong.

  3. March 15, 2011 9:35 pm

    Paragraph 4. You are confusing difference and inequality.

  4. March 15, 2011 9:39 pm

    Paragraph 5. I never claimed we need affirmative action (which is not ONE thing, it is a huge bundle of policies that has changed over time–some are good and some are bad). But bottom line, you cannot change a problem that you cannot name. That is why those in power remain unnamed. As a white male you are a man. a MAN. If you were gay you would be a GAY man. Black, a BLACK man. Remaining unnamed in this manner is a privileged position, what Micheal Kimmel calls the absent referent. Having no name means it goes unaddressed. While unnamed privileged allows the powerful to maintain power, unnamed inequality allows disadvantage to continue, becasue it too will go undressed. You have to name it to talk about it. You have to talk about it to change it.

  5. March 15, 2011 9:44 pm

    ps- i told on you to mom for giving me crap on my blog 😉 she didnt really want to hear it. i think she likes your blog better.

  6. Ian permalink
    March 16, 2011 5:58 am

    This is excellent. Animal liberaton cannot possibly be achieved while leaving everything else in place…such a path is neither possible nor desirable; to think otherwise is to seriously underestimate the challenge we face.

  7. March 17, 2011 1:45 am

    “Bigger cages save no one and lengthen the route to change; they institutionalize our claims within the very systems of exploitation that generate and justify the abuses, inequalities, injustices, mass genocide, and torture to which we are opposed. ”

    Not only is the above quote beautifully written…it’s also a fact. The evidence for it as truth is everywhere.

    Thank you for writing this.
    Is your brother writing above…. really making the claim against animal liberation by saying that ….animals commit atrocities toward other animals therefore the whole idea of humans treating non human animals as living beings with lives and interests to be taken seriously and giving non human animals the right not to be enslaved or treated as property? Or is he kidding.
    I hope it’s the latter or I find it hard to believe that the two of you could/would actually be related.

  8. rabbit permalink
    March 23, 2011 1:54 pm

    “However, if ALL the animals were to be freed tomorrow, they would inevitably have to be let out into the wild to fend for them selves would they not?”

    I hear this from meat-eaters all the time. The fact is that would never happen. ALL the animals would not suddenly and magically be freed at the exact same time. It’s silly how these people actually think that this could be a feasible argument. The reality is that change will come slowly and gradually as people shift their diets to one that excludes animal products. As demand diminishes, so will supply. Because the meat industry is greedy to its core – it IS a BUSINESS – they will simply move on to making money off of something else that the population demands more.

    ” However, most activists I have met are less interested in bringing people into the fold than they are interested in forcing their will upon others.”

    I’m pretty sure that whenever I attempt to “bring people into the fold” they perceive it as “forcing my will upon others” simply because they don’t want to hear it. That’s fine and dandy, but when people are having a discussion about ending starvation in the world, or ending pollution and then I put my two cents in about how realizing that animals have rights would change all of that it’s like they just dismiss it as if there is no factual evidence behind it. They are so tired of people ignoring them, and yet they inflict the same on others.

    Vegina, I love everything you write. Keep going strong – As long as you’re writing it, I’ll be reading it!!!

    • April 4, 2011 8:59 pm

      The fruit & vegetable industries are just as greedy and opportunistic as the meat industry.

    • July 13, 2011 6:15 pm

      Yes, but how are you going to stop the animals from eating EACH OTHER?!

      • July 21, 2011 12:56 am

        what you don’t understand, Gabrielle, is it is not our job to interfere with other animals’ lives. that is the foundation of animal liberation.

  9. Tanya permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:37 am

    Do you think that you could put “share buttons” on your site, so I could share it on Facebook for example?

    • rabbit permalink
      March 29, 2011 8:08 am

      You could attatch it as a link – that’s how I do it.

    • March 30, 2011 10:57 am

      Tanya, I am not sure if I can, but I will look into it. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  10. March 30, 2011 6:03 am

    It became a lot easier to deal with animal rights activists when I stopped wondering whether they are malicious or just ignorant. The fact is that they are malicious AND ignorant.

    People perceive it as having animal rights views forced on them because animal rights activists are violent and destructive. Also, like Vegina does here, they threaten to silence opposition and when they can, they do.

    • rabbit permalink
      March 30, 2011 10:22 am

      First of all, calling someone “ignorant” means that you are calling them uninformed. Animal rights activists are some of the most informed people on this subject. In fact we work to INFORM OTHERS of the things that THEY are ignorant to. Second, please explain how animal rights activists are in any way malicious. If anything we are trying to put an end to malicious behavior. I think you should look up some of the words you are using because they are not helping your point.

      Violent and destructive? What is more violent and destructive than the assembly line murders of billions of animals every year? I don’t know if you have any pets, but let’s say for example you had a pet dog. Let’s say that one day you discovered that your beloved pet was taken and was being held to be killed in a factory farm or was being used in a lab for lethal dose testing. Would you sit down and admit defeat and just say “oh well, people have to eat” or would you DO something to save him? You see, to animal rights activists, we don’t draw the line at animals that we know personally. To us, if it is wrong to kill animals that we know personally, then it is wrong to kill ALL animals.

      I believe you need to do some more research before you attempt to criticize animal rights activists again. It seems that the only truly ignorant person on this discussion is YOU.

      • March 30, 2011 11:01 am

        thanks for the great reply rabbit!

    • March 30, 2011 11:04 am

      tom, as always, i think your comments are not addressing anything i have actually said but are in response to the “animal rights boogieman” you have in your head. you have an entire blog where you obsess about justifying your own animal abuse. you are not my audience. i am writing to intelligent will informed individuals who recognize that true nature of oppression.

      • July 13, 2011 6:20 pm

        Here’s your boogieman http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/21/daniel-andreas-fbis-newes_n_189423.html
        He’s on the FBI’s terrorist list.

        And just writing for people who agree with you is a great way to get nowhere and keep your views narrow and biased. Try looking at things from all angles and question your own beliefs often.

      • July 21, 2011 1:03 am

        Gabrielle, it is a problem that Daniel Andrea s is on the the FBI’s most wanted list. That is a failure of our system. Describing a man who has never physically harmed anyone as being a terrorist and placing him on the most wanted list is a complete perversion.

        I did look at things from all angles. I was born and raised in a society that accepts violence and oppression as a status quo. I bothered to look at all angles and decided not to accept what is “normal” in favor of what is compassionate.

        And I intentionally write to people who agree with me. If you haven’t noticed, my blog is not about changing minds, its about speaking to other animal liberationists so that we can debate within and work on our community. Short-sighted necrovores like you are not who I am speaking to.

  11. January 24, 2012 6:42 am

    “what you don’t understand, Gabrielle, is it is not our job to interfere with other animals’ lives. that is the foundation of animal liberation.”

    No life on this planet, not animals, not plants, not bacteria, no living thing lives completely isolated or separate from all other life. In fact, there are live bacteria living inside of you right now. To propose that we shouldn’t “interfere with animals’ lives” is not only not possible, but terribly ridiculous and “unnatural.” To refer to someone as a “necrovore” is also silly. Weren’t all the plants you eat once living also? Do you favor some lives over other because they are cute and furry?

    Short-sighted is a terrible description for me. I spent 10 years of my life as a vegetarian and own a copy of Pete Singer’s Animal Liberation. I assure you, I have done a TON of research on both sides of the issue.

    Vilifying eating meat will get you no where in the animal rights movement because you are using irrational logic, and manipulating people’s emotions to get them to agree with you. (“Meat is murder!” but only when humans do it?)

    Pure and simple, the issue is about eliminating cruelty and providing every living creature the right to the highest quality of life. Vegans love to obsess over the “death” part of it – but death is inevitable, and we can’t avoid it no matter how many burgers we pass on. Quality of life is something we have complete and utter control over though.

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