There are some who claim that the ideology that supports animal exploitation is “invisible.” The basic idea is that animal exploitation is something that we are conditioned or caused to engage in because of some hidden or “invisible” ideology or psychological process that needs to be exposed.
Variations of this position have been around for years now. The most recent version of the position is labeled as “carnism.”
I suggest that this position is in error and seriously so.
The ideology that supports animal exploitation is the ideology of animal welfare.
And this ideology is not invisible or hidden in any way: on the contrary, the animal welfare position is an explicit part of our culture. We know about it, think about it, and talk about it. Most people–members of the general public and many “animal advocates” alike–accept some version of it.
Moreover, the “invisibility” position is, in reality, nothing more than an attempt to make invisible what the real problem is. That is, to say that the animal welfare ideology is “invisible” is to encourage us to avoid a hard examination of animal welfare in favor of embracing some fantasy that we exploit animals as the result of some “invisible” conditioning.
That can only have the effect of keeping the welfarist ideology firmly in place. Indeed, an explicit goal of the “invisibility” position is precisely to stifle dissent and debate about the welfarist position. As such, the “invisibility” position is itself nothing more than a version of welfarist ideology.
Further, the “invisibility” position purports to relieve us from moral responsibility for our conduct, claiming that if we participate in animal exploitation, it’s because we are being “victimized” by the “invisible” ideology. So if you eat animal products, that’s not because you are making the wrong moral decisions and victimizing animals; it’s because some “invisible” conditioning is victimizing you.