WHOEVER SAYS SPECIESISM SAYS FASCISM
Adventures in the blogosphere while trying to introduce a discomfitting issue
By Patrice Greanville
recently posted, mostly on impulse, as a result of hearing about yet
another execrable crime committed against helpless animals (by the
usual suspects)...a plea for "progressives" to consider amplifying
their scope of moral consideration to include all sentient beings
subject to tyrannization. As a lifelong leftist and animal
liberationist I am well acquainted with the temperament and
idiosyncrasy prevailing in both tribes, and knew quite well that the
"left"—however we may define it, has been less than helpful in the
struggles to introduce a modicum of compassion in the brutal
interactions between humans and non-humans. I know that it seems inane
to ask people who are already horribly busy and overstretched coping
with the constant tsunami of crime and idiocies produced by this system
by the hour...to take yet another "cause" on their shoulders. I am also
quite clear about the fact that the Left has never weaned itself off of
the 19th century hangover proclaiming "man" (generically speaking) as
the measure of all things and therefore center of the universe. This
victory of secularism and democracy with a very small "d" was in fact
the result of long centuries of struggles against church and king to
give rationality and the "common man" a legitimate place at the table
of societal decision making. This impromptu essay, therefore, reflected
some of these theses.
I posted the blog, as a trial balloon, on SmirkingChimp and DailyKos ,
large sites occupying what we might call the centrist-liberaloid part
of the spectrum. The vast majority of the folks who visit (and
participate in) the site probably see themselves as far more
progressive in their politics than they really are, as their commentary
reveals a preponderance of mainstream Democrats, ABBrs (Anyone But
Bush), a sprinkling of social democrats, and a vociferous contingent of
extreme centrists (who naturally never see themselves as extremists).
Refreshingly, most of the featured writers seem to be well to the left
of the audience (at least at these sites).
mention these features of SmirkingChimp & DailyKos to give you the
context for what happened next. In a nutshell, my post bombed. (It is
reproduced in toto below). The article seemed to touch a raw nerve and
the response was almost uniformly poor. Frankly, because, as I said
earlier, I know the mentality of the traditional left and that of
leftoids so well, I didn't expect a massive conversion...still, the
fierceness of the rejection, the level of intellectual lazines,
ignorance, sarcasm and derision, was not exactly reassuring, in fact it
was downright alarming considering that it is these people who will
sooner or later have to undertake the transformation of America, for
the better one hopes.
disgusted with this exhibition of sheer stupidity, disgraceful for the
standards of progressivism, my own son posted a rebuttal (which I have
the pleasure of reproducing below). I think the sheer quality and
eloquence of his words will dissipate any thought of my having fallen
victim to nepotism. Well, here's the main post:
He who says speciesism says fascism—
(DailyKos diary at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/2/22518/25695)
Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 08:22:40 PM PST
By Patrice Greanville ("Pije")
Forty-eight thousand million animals—yes, 48 billion creatures—are
estimated to die each year as a result of human activities ranging from
factory farming to hunting, the fur garment trades, commercial
exploitation of various kinds, and biomedical research. That's more
than 130 million creatures every single day, including birds, cows, and
hogs, all of them highly sociable animals.
way we go about killing animals, wherever they may be found or kept,
land, sea or air—murdering and torturing are better words—is
astonishing. We do it with abandon and we do it in such
institutionalized, "tradition" approved ways that only a minority ever
realize the extent of the tragedy. Since the era of modern fishing
began 200 years ago we have decimated the oceans, ostensibly infinite
reservoirs of life, converting many maritime regions into what Farley
Mowat has accurately decried as "seas of slaughter." In the USA alone,
every year almost 50 million turkeys are killed just for Thanksgiving
Day, to commemorate a date that is of questionable historical merit,
and which, despite the fact that the sacrificial victims have grown
from a handful to tens of millions, rarely stirs any introspection.
such incidents are but a mere drop in an invisible sea of abuse whose
actual roots date back to our earliest times as a species with
self-righteous "dominionistic" claims over nature. Forty-eight billion
animals is a stunning figure, yet this figure, regarded by many experts
as scandalously conservative, does not include animals mistreated or
dead as a result of habitat destruction, widespread pollution,
apparently "harmless" recreational activities such as sport fishing and
boating, and the collision of animals with "modernity" (up to 250
million animals die annually as roadkill on the American highways
alone). We have become indeed not only the most appalling tyranny over
every other sentient creature on this planet, including many segments
of our own breed, but also a raging, self-righteous cancer extending
itself with impunity to every corner of the earth.
Time to do some rethinking
as a result of a voracious industrialism, ecological deterioration and
other related issues, self-defined progressives can't afford to go on
pretending that suffering on such egregious scale is just a peripheral
issue, or the concern of affluent diettantes with little interest in
other social issues. Due to a deeply embedded and largely unexamined
18th Century heritage of philosophical "superhumanism" ("man is the
measure of all things," and the rest of all that self-celebratory
rubbish, which, we should mention in passing, arose as a response to a
greater form of human stupidity, the one granting God and King total
control over human agency), the Left continues to endorse or acquiesce
in human supremacist attitudes toward animals. This moral blindness is
inexcusable for those who rightly see themselves as the moral vanguard
of humanity. [Check this article, for example: Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left
by STEVEN BEST . It'll probably challenge many of your assumptions.]
The bottom line is that speciesism—an underhanded and primitive form of
fascism applied to animals and nature in general—is by far the oldest
and most pervasive form of brutal tyrannization known on our planet. I
don't use the word "fascism" as hyperbole in this context or for
dramatic effect. I wish it were hyperbole. Fascism is distinguished for
its unilateral proclamations of superiority by a certain race or breed,
with such spurious superiority endowing said race with the "right" to
dominate, exploit, and annihilate at will any group deemed "inferior."
If that pretty much doesn't describe eloquently our despicable behavior
toward non-human animals, I don't know what does.
I realize quite well that to raise this topic is to ask for trouble.
The fight to expand the realm of moral consideration to animals—to make
such inclusion a matter of right—arouses deep animosities, including in
the midst of many people who would otherwise define themselves as
card-carrying progressives or, as our opponents across the political
tracks like to say, "bleeding hearts." Well, I guess the bleeding of
the human heart does not encompass in most cases the suffering of other
sentient beings—especially those already classified by tradition as
"raised for food" (as if such categorization in and of itself erased
all trace of what is by any reckoning a truly nightmarish
mean no offense to anyone on this blog but I've been through this
before, so I know the score, and what I'm saying here is that I am
resigned, I expect to see sarcasm, derision, flippancy, intellectual
laziness, and, why not, even intellectual dishonesty—for such is the
likely response elicited by the deep reservoir of human chauvinism that
afflicts so many in our species. The more creative [of my inevitable
critics] will hide their prejudices by feigning alarm at my conflating
the words "fascism" and "speciesism." Well, I have something to say to
this easily offended crowd: You abuse a language when you turn it on
its head, to accomplish precisely the opposite of what the words
originally denoted, or in furtherance of what would be, by fair
evaluation, an obviously despicable pursuit. Bush and his contemptible camarilla,
as we all know, are a prime example of this: in The First Decider's
lips the words freedom, democracy and justice, not to mention a fair
shake for the disadvantaged, are but tools of manipulation to buttress
the agenda of a deranged and criminal plutocracy driving the world ever
closer to total war. But what am I proposing here? Just think about it
for a moment. Something that all of you should be for, an extension of
compassion, or at least the benefit of the doubt when subjecting
mind-boggling numbers of creatures to the finality of death. In other
words, I'm pleading for a reduction in the colossal amount of violence
that this planet already sustains, the violence that at least our
species is directly responsible for... Where is the inversion of
meaning there? The outrageous betrayal of the language? Or is it that
by saying "fascism" and "speciesism" in one breath I manage to offend
the sensibilities of too many purists who happen to land on this
change, expand, become obsolete, drop and add connotations and
meanings, and sometimes die, like the things and realities they were
initially created for. And besides, just like there are many varieties
of capitalism, socialism and communism, so you also have distinct
varieties of fascism. In some, all the bells and whistles are found
that connote "classical fascism" —the jackboots, the open
corporatization of the state, and so on and so forth, as we have come
to know it. In others, it's more of an all-encompassing worldview, a
system of values, a subterranean ideology that justifies a malignant
treatment code. But here's what we need to remember: The boots, the
marches, the endless wars, the nauseating violence, the paraphernalia
of fascism and the fascination with death—all of that cannot happen in
the absence of an ideology that has its own roots in the oppression of
others by virtue of a self-serving, unilateral declaration of
superiority. Thus, it is undeniable that the core concept fueling
speciesism is also found behind racism, classism, and male chauvinism.
They all feed at the trough of hatred or profound lack of empathy
toward "the other."
Now—as we all have learned—human chauvinism cuts very deep and pervades
every nook and cranny of what we optimistically still call
civilization, and has done so for millennia. No one is immune to its
infection, including many folks who regard themselves as impeccably
"progressive". Indeed, it is from their ranks that you often hear some
of the worst and most derisive epithets. The usual argument is that
progressives, always a thin line against barbarism, have better things
to attend to than the fate of "mere" chickens and cows. Compassion, to
such individuals, has obviously left the building; it is fungible,
divisible, and comfortably apportionable according to inclusion or
exclusion in certain categories of privileged sentience. They obviously
don't see—refuse to see—the parallels with so many other struggles they
may have honored or participated in, nor do they see how the liberation
of animals is an integral part of a serious environmentalist agenda.
No, here they draw the line, and reason, kindness, and the most
elementary fairness fly out the window.
such narrow-minded and intellectually lazy positions will surely be
exposed—sooner rather than later—for the pretentious sham they truly
are. For now, in the age of an utterly deranged industrialism, with a
global system blatantly proclaiming as its organizing principle the
pursuit at any cost of infinite growth in what to any sensible person
is a very finite and fragile planet, the tyranny of humans over nature
has acquired monstruous proportions. The colossal dimensions of animal
exploitation by the industrial method and the death of one species
after another grimly attest to that.
In view of these incontestable facts, no one with a scintilla of
decency should turn his or her back on such knowledge. It is the duty
of all people who haven't yet done so, and especially of progressives,
to re-examine their assumptions about animals, about their everyday
conduct in choosing food and clothing and transportation modes, and to
join the last struggle against the first tyranny. By doing so, they
will re-invigorate the environmental movement, rendering it less
abstract and more passionate, because while fighting for nature is a
noble and urgent call, fighting for nature's oppressed creatures is a
matter of long overdue justice.
GREANVILLE, editor of Cyrano's Journal [ http://www.cjonline.org ] is
an independent leftist and sometime economist who has always supported
animal liberation, and who sees no contradiction whatsoever in such
COMMENT BY PAUL DONOVAN—[WhatsLeft]
The Status Quo Never Knows Best
spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The
latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to
hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his
quote sums up the violent opposition met by narrow-minded thinkers on
this thread. We are destroying this planet at a rapacious rate, and
animals are just as entitled to live in it as we are.
not standing on a moral high horse here, or trying to infringe on your
somewhat lame summertime backyard fantasies of munching on hot dogs,
but to be so knee jerk, and violent to the truth, just to preserve your
own fragile guilty egos, is an insult to moralist philosophy, planetary
citizenship, and basic “human” decency.
are all hypocrites here - but to deny that you aren't one is to be a
coward. I'm a hypocrite, but I am willing to live with the fact that
what Greanville is saying here is the truth. This is a tragic way to
treat our fellow inhabitants...If you don't agree then go kick your
dog, or eat your cat, because at least that's kinder than how we treat
the animals on factory farms, that are brutally raised to be
slaughtered, others displaced from their habitats, and others who
suffer and die in cruel traps. Many of these animals, like elephants,
and pigs are just as intelligent, and sensitive to pain as your dog
Sugar, or cat Fluffy.
can’t live with the truth, and that’s the reason the Democrats will
most likely lose the next election (oh God forbid that thought never
crossed your minds...excuse me for thinking that it's not in the bag).
you all think you can have your cake and eat it too, and go on living
the American nightmare without an ounce of accountability.
am a leftist, way further to the left than most of you, but I almost
hope the Republicans win, just so you will learn your lesson that you
can’t support mediocrity and get real results. The animal struggle is
no different than the struggle against Bush. These problems of
ignorance and mass stupidity are systemic, and the sooner you learn it, the better off we will all be.
To stand against global morality, equality for all (not just a select few as usual), and truth, is to be a reactionary.
in the future, this world won’t be a place guided by a stupid caveman
“free market” economy. The economy of the future needs to be rational,
and promote good will - All the profit system does is encourage people
to kill animals for a profit, with no more morality than Cheney causing
mass death and misery in Iraq, so the energy companies can flip a big
profit. Profit over people, animals, and the environment, is the root
cause of all of that torment we feel in our spirits. If you feel
different then go blow a big hole in the side of an Exxon oil tanker
and kill some more sea life...
If you think I am wrong, then by all means side with the guy proud of his beaver hat* - he's going to take you places.
Centrism is the problem!
WhatsLeft | Jan 31 2007 - 8:53pm |
*Paul is here referring to a guy who taunted me by saying he owned TWO beaver hats and was mighty proud of that.
of PETA we present below a primer on animal exploitation by humans. It
will be hard to watch and read at times, but it is indispensable to
gain a first-hand understanding of why these issues matter and why
action is imperative.
BROADBAND RECOMMENDED. WAIT A FEW MOMENTS FOR THE FILES TO DOWNLOAD.
OF UNIVERSAL INTEREST TO ACTIVISTS
Jason Miller: "Another bacon burger, anyone?" A
passionate discussion of why speciesism is not ony wrong morally, but
unaffordable as well as a paradigm totreat nature and its sentient
dog skinned alive in Chinese fur farm. Despite the initial blows and
savage beatings that preceded his martyrdom, including the flaying
procedure itself, this poor animal remained conscious for several
minutes after this unspeakable ordeal. May whoever put the human
species on earth forgive such appalling lack of compassion. PETA is
currently boycotting J. Crew for its cynical patronage of Chinese fur
[THE HORROR OF FURS]
use of furs in our age of synthetics and more than efficient
alternative thermal products is a matter of discretionary choice often
involving fashion and vanity. This is perhaps what provokes justifiable
revulsion among people already well aware of how furs get to the
market. Watch the video and read the supporting materials. Essential
education for anyone aspiring to moral consistency.
ON THE TEACHINGS OF JUDAISM ON THE TOPIC OF FURS
page is highly didactic for people of all faiths and positions on the
religion question. Well and compassionately argued. (R)
the smell of blood in the air and cows bleeding to death within sight,
a terrified cow waits in the knocking box just prior to being stunned
['MEET YOUR MEAT"] ~ Factory Farming
farming is an attitude that regards animals and the natural world
merely as commodities to be exploited for profit. In animal
agriculture, this attitude has led to institutionalized animal cruelty,
massive environmental destruction and resource depletion, and animal
and human health risks. Watch our intro video to this topic narrated by
[REV. SHARPTON PREACHES COMPASSION FOR CHICKENS
] The Rev. Al Sharpton, well known for his leadership in civil rights
campaigns and issues of concern to all Americans, steps into the ring
to plead the case of perhaps the humblest of factory farming victims.
[DICK GREGORY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST FACTORY FARMING CONDITIONS] Longtime peace and civil rights activist Dick Gregory expresses his views on a topic close to his heart.
Beagle used in vivisection
[ANIMALS USED IN EXPERIMENTATION] This FAQ provides most of the answers to a highly controversial issue. Read also "IS DISSECTION EVER RIGHT?" This page carries special video. And don't miss the moving story of BRITCHES, the young macaque condemned to blindness for a totaly superfluous experiment...but which met with a happy ending.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES ON ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL TESTING.
Animal testing is often presented as a necessary procedure in both
medical and commercial applications. However, there are many who
question 1) whether testing on animals is necessarily applicable to
humans, and 2) that there are alternatives to anmimal testing.This page
illuminates that discussion by offering a number of alternatives
to animal testing, providing an array to resources for those wanting to
pursue this issue.
VIDEOS ON GENERAL TOPICS
>] BILL MAHER ON CRUELTY AS A SIGNPOST OF PSYCHOPATHY
>] DENNIS RODMAN TAKES IT ALL OFF FOR THE ANIMALS
IMPORTANT INTERNET RESOURCES
ANIMAL PEOPLE MAGAZINE —Thousands of articles on all animal issues, plus environmental news and analysis.
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS
(PETA) — Leading animal rights group in the world, representing all
issues. (PETA sponsors many subsidiary websites to facilitate
comprehension of various issues.)
STOP ANIMAL TESTS —Useful resource on animal experimentation issues.
HELPINGWILDLIFE.COM —Main focus is fighting the assault on wildlife by hunters and other ethically-impaired people.
THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. MORE TOPICS TO BE ADDED SOON. PLEASE BOOKMARK THIS GATEWAY PAGE AND COME BACK OFTEN.