A “Movement” of Relentless Narcissism

The “animal movement” attracts many people who are emotionally sensitive. Indeed, it is this very emotional sensitivity that provides the moral impulse for many people to care about the animal issue in the first place.

Unfortunately, there is a machine represented by the large groups that preys on those emotions. So those concerned about animal suffering are drowned in a sea of hideous images, animal torture porn, and “undercover investigations” and told that we must do “something.” And that “something” is to promote welfare reform and “humane” or “compassionate” exploitation. Veganism is never presented as a moral imperative. The fundamental right of animals not to be used as resources–however supposedly “humanely”–is never even discussed.

Everyone is told that it’s all about their “journey.” Indeed, one welfarist group talks about the “post-traumatic stress” and “trauma” suffered by animal advocates who have been exposed to the violence inherent in animal exploitation.

So we focus away from the animals and on to ourselves. That has created a “movement” of relentless narcissism that rejects any sort of clear moral principle as “telling people what to do.” So if Ricky Gervais promotes himself as an animal advocate who criticizes nonvegans but consumes animal products himself, that’s just fine. After all, it’s not about justice for animals; it’s about Ricky’s “journey.”

And all of the welfarist groups are clear: there is to be no critical, principled analysis of the ideology that facilitates and normalizes animal exploitation in the first place: the animal welfare ideology. It is this ideology, which says that any supposed reduction of suffering is good and should be promoted as morally desirable that allows everyone to continue to exploit animals while they are on the “journey” and recovering from all of the “trauma” they have suffered.

The welfarists tell us that the ideology of animal exploitation is “invisible.” Nonsense. The welfarist ideology is anything but “invisible.” It is explicit and it is promoted by all of the welfarist groups. The welfarist ideology, which is itself speciesist, normalizes our speciesism. And the welfarists claim that pursuing welfare reform is just a matter of strategy, not ideology. That is absurd. If animal exploitation is not morally justifiable, promoting supposedly “humane” exploitation is not a matter of “strategy.”

I am always asked about how it is that I don’t “burn out” given that I have been doing this now for more than 30 years.

The world is a horrible place for all but a small fraction of nonhuman animals. And the world is a horrible place for the vast majority of humans, who live in poverty or who are mistreated as a result of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., or who are imprisoned or harmed for their political views, etc. I could understand if all of these real victims “gave up.” Frankly, I think it must be horrible to be a person of color in a racist society or to be a woman in a patriarchal society, which is just about everywhere, or to be animal anywhere. Interestingly, many of the real victims don’t give up. They keep struggling. And think of the animals, who are treated horribly but who still often interact with humans with trust and hope.

In any event, I am not one of these victims. I am honored to be able to what little I can do to contribute to a shifting of the paradigm away from the default position of violence and exploitation of the vulnerable. I am not an animal in a laboratory or in a feedlot or in a slaughterhouse or one of the farms that are praised by welfarists as being “compassionate” or trapped in a snare. I am not a woman who is being subjected to physical or emotional abuse.

Bottom line: Why would I “burn out”? That are a zillion more beings–human and non–who have a much better reason to do that than I do!

So I just avoid ever thinking of myself as the victim here. I am not one. I have met many “animal people” over the years who think a lot about their sensitivity and their suffering. I understand where they are coming from. I just do not participate in that way of thinking.

If we are ever going to make any progress, we must reject the welfarist ideology and focus on what a social justice movement for animals should focus on: the animals.

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option–it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

The Anti-Hunting “Ban” in the UK: A Great Business Opportunity for Animal Welfare Groups

In 2009, I wrote about how the supposed ban on fox hunting was very seriously flawed in a number of ways. After raising a great deal of money, welfarists succeeded in getting a “ban” that prohibited using hounds to hunt foxes but, among other things, allowed hunters to use hounds to follow a scent and to flush out a fox (or other wild animal) and and then shoot the animal or use a falcon to kill the animal. Those who supported fox hunting flouted the law and encouraged exploitation of all loopholes with the result that more foxes were being killed than before the “ban.”

The welfarists declared victory and asked for more donations.

I expressed the view–that I still hold–that to call this “ban” a victory is beyond absurd. And this campaign, which raised millions from the public over the years, was a complete betrayal of the animals, as well as the donors.

But the welfarists have not finished exploiting this useless campaign–not by any means.

The Conservatives regained majority power at the May 7 election and Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will seek a repeal of the hunting “ban” that is not a “ban.”

And already, the animal groups are getting geared up to wage a campaign against repealing the “ban” that was not a “ban” to begin with.

So let’s see what we have here: the welfarist groups solicit donations to get a “ban” that isn’t a “ban” at all. When they get the “ban” that is not a ban, they declare victory and ask for more support. And now, these same groups will solicit donations once again to fight the repeal of a “ban” that is not a ban at all (and, in reality, pivots on a fight between Tories and Labour about a perceived matter of class). Yes, indeed, it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing the appeals with cute pictures of fox cubs and horrific pictures of foxes being ripped apart by hounds, telling people how they can help to stop it all and save the animals if only they donate.

The rallying cry of the welfarist movement:

ScreenHunter_925 May. 16 14.42

And abolitionists who point out the absurdity of the campaign, and the obvious fact that the primary beneficiaries of the campaign are the groups promoting it, will be denounced as “divisive” and told that they are not “activists” because they are not marching to the tune of the corporate welfarist groups who have declared that “activism” is making a donation to a large group and serving as free labor for welfarist and single-issue campaigns that raise lots of money for those corporate groups.

But the reality remains: single-issue campaigns (and welfare reform campaigns generally) are nothing but business opportunities for the large groups. They have nothing to do with helping animals. Indeed, these sorts of campaigns do nothing but promote exploitation by, in this case, characterizing fox hunting with hounds as worse than fox hunting by other means, any other hunting, or the use of animals for entertainment, or any other purpose.

It’s a business plan that works. Think of how many careerists do not have to work a regular job and have the luxury of being full-time “activists,” treated as celebrities by people who serve as free labor for them.

But let’s be clear: it’s got nothing to do with helping animals.

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option–it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

ADDED May 18, 2015:

I see that Ricky Gervais has now picked up the banner for those fighting the repeal of the “ban” that is not a ban. This assures that the large groups won’t be far behind. And it illustrates a central problem with single-issue campaigns. Foxes have no greater value than the animals whom Gervais, a nonvegan, exploits.

ADDED May 20, 2015

And they’re off! In the lead right behind Gervais is Animal Aid, a welfarist group in the U.K., which is sending this message:

ScreenHunter_932 May. 20 12.31

(click to enlarge)

They’re just so very, very predictable.

Animal Exploitation: Brought to You by “Animal Advocates”

I regularly get newsletters from the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), about which I have written before.

The most recent GAP newsletter features an interview with Wayne Langston, VP of Production for Panorama, Grass-fed Meats- a company based in California that sells Organic, 100% Grass-Fed beef, which has a Step 4 happy exploitation designation.

ScreenHunter_897 May. 09 07.14

(click to enlarge)

The picture should be captioned: “Here we are with a victim of speciesism whom we will soon slaughter but it’s all okay because HSUS President Wayne Pacelle and Compassion in world Farming Director Leah Garces sit on the Board of the GAP. And PETA, HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing all publicly expressed “appreciation and support” for the “pioneering” program of happy exploitation that resulted in the 5-Step program. So eat up. The ‘animal people’ have put a big stamp of approval on it!”

GAP is

a non-profit alliance of producers, retailers, animal advocates and scientists dedicated to improving farm animal welfare through the 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Program. We facilitate continuous improvement in animal agriculture across the USA, Canada, and Australia through our 5-Step animal welfare standards and third-party certification. We are committed to informing and empowering consumers and recognizing and rewarding farmers and ranchers for raising their animals in a welfare-friendly way.

ALL of the major “animal advocacy” organizations gave their public blessing to the Whole Foods Animal Compassionate standards that became the GAP 5-Step happy exploitation program.

support1

(click to enlarge)

Although these organizations, will, when talking with vegans, claim to not support happy exploitation, any such claim is clearly, unequivocally, and unquestionably false.

The calf in that picture will be dead soon. And his death will bear the stamp of approval from the “animal movement.”

I am regularly attacked by “animal advocates” who say that I should not criticize other “animal advocates” because we’re all on the “same side” and we need “unity.” To my welfarist friends: I am not on the side of this obscenity. I oppose animal exploitation. You promote it. Please stop.

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option–it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

“Journeys” Into Speciesism

For some reason that eludes me, some animal advocates believe that because it took them a while to go vegan, the position of the animal rights movement should be that individual “journeys” are just fine.

But that is absurd.

Imagine someone saying, “It took me a while to stop being a racist so I think that the civil rights movement should promote the idea that it’s fine for everyone to learn to embrace equality at their own pace. If someone thinks that it’s okay to discriminate against people of color, we cannot make judgments. To say that equality is an unequivocal moral baseline is to take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. We need baby steps. Let’s start with Racist-Joke Free Monday.”

If someone said that, we would think that such a person was seriously confused and did not understand the nature of morality.

Those who say this in the animal context are similarly seriously confused about what morality means. And if they agree that “baby steps” are not acceptable when it comes to racist discrimination but are acceptable in the animal context, they’re just being speciesist.

We should always seek to teach others in a nonviolent manner. But we have an obligation to the animals to be crystal clear that the moral status of nonhumans means that any exploitation–however “humane”–is morally unjustifiable.

We would never say that racism (or sexism or homophobia or any other sort of human discrimination) is acceptable if it is “humane” or if we eliminate “the worst abuses.” We would never say that we should “meet racists (or sexists or heterosexists) where they are” and respect that they are on a “journey.”

Let’s stop being speciesist and saying such things where nonhuman animals are concerned.

Let’s embrace animal rights.

******

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

The Ringling Circus Elephants: Another “Victory” That Isn’t

According to the animal welfare corporations, the decision to remove elephants from the Ringling Circus in three years represents a victory of monumental proportions. In fact, I received this email (my email program thought it was a “scam”!) from Paul Shapiro of HSUS, who, quoting no less a figure than Nelson Mandela, declared it to be a “historic announcement”:

ScreenHunter_818 Mar. 06 12.47

(click to enlarge)

I have been expressing my view that to call this a “victory” is beyond absurd and I have gotten the usual reaction from “animal people” who are so taken in by the fundraising propaganda of the large groups that they can’t see the very serious problems here. They are upset with me that I just won’t get with the welfarist, single-issue program.

Here is one of the many, many messages (at least this one did not contain name calling and vulgarity) I received and my reply:

I am really upset to see that you are criticizing the victory we had about the Ringling elephants being freed. Why are you doing that? Do you want the elephants to suffer?

My reply:

First, no, of course I do not want the elephants to suffer. If that was a serious question, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Second, they’re not “free[ing]” the elephants. In three years, they will be moved from the circus to a “conservation center” where Ringling breeds elephants and where research is done. If that is a “victory,” I’d hate to see what “defeat” looks like.

Third, Ringling is continuing to use other animals and is *adding* new animal acts. They just added camel “stunt” acts. It’s not as if the removal of elephants means a reduction in the numbers of animals used. It just means that different animals will be used. And elephants are not morally more valuable than any of those other animals.

Fourth, the animal welfare corporations have spent *35 years* focused on (and fundraising off of) elephants in the circus. And what is the result? Elephants are moved from one exploitative context to another one and other animals keep getting exploited. Great. Some “victory.”

Fifth, and what about all of the animals who are being tortured and killed so that people who go to the circus can stuff their faces with meat, cheese, ice cream, milk, etc.?

Bottom line: if we focused on unequivocal vegan education for those 35 years, and put all of the millions and millions of dollars and other resources into abolitionist vegan education that have been wasted on the elephant campaign, we’d have far more vegans than we presently have now and these vegans would be vegans for the right reason: that it’s wrong to exploit sentient beings however “humanely” we may treat them.

And vegans don’t go to circuses.

I hope you understand things more clearly now.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

Is Veganism Elitist? No. But Nonveganism Is!

A purported objection to veganism I’ve heard about 12 million times:

“But veganism is elitist.”

What complete nonsense.

Elitism involves promoting a perceived superiority of some sort. It involves the idea of according less moral value to the “inferior.”

As 2 seconds of thinking make clear, veganism is not elitist in any way. On the contrary. Veganism is about rejecting the idea that it’s morally acceptable to exploit sentient nonhumans because they are “inferior.”

Nonvegans believe in the “inferiority” of animals. It is they who embrace elitism.

Should a vegan believe that s/he is “better than” or “superior” to a nonvegan? No, Of course not. It’s not about judging people; it’s about evaluating the morality of conduct.

Is the vegan ethic of egalitarianism better than or superior to the position that it is morally acceptable to exploit the vulnerable? Yes, of course it is. A moral position is always better than an immoral one. A position that protects fundamental rights is always better than one that violates fundamental rights.

To say that veganism is “elitist” is like saying that thinking that all humans are equal morally is “elitist.”

The next time someone tells you that veganism is “elitist,” take that opportunity to educate that person in a creative, nonviolent way that the opposite is true.

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

Chris Hedges: “All Forms of Life Are Sacred”

I had the very great pleasure to meet and share a (vegan) meal with Chris Hedges and his partner, actor Eunice Wong. Hedges is, with Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, one of the leading progressive writers and thinkers of our time. Hedges wrote a column that included some of what was discussed at our meeting.

When people like Hedges and Wong see the common sense of veganism, and recognize its connection to the ethic of nonviolence, you know that a paradigm shift is occurring.

**********

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione