If you say that you are an “abolitionist” but support welfare reform as a means to abolition, you are using “abolition” in a fundamentally different way from the way in which I use that term. I use that term to identify a position that excludes regulation/welfare reform.
Think about it this way:
X and Y both claim to be peace advocates. X wants to achieve world peace as a goal and advocates nonviolent conflict resolution as a means to that end.
Y says s/he, too, wants to achieve world peace as a goal and advocates war as a means to end of peace. (This second position pretty much describes American foreign policy, actually.)
Both X and Y claim to be peace advocates but Y advocates a means–violence–that is directly contrary to the claimed end of peace. Y argues that non-peace (war) is an acceptable means to the end of peace.
Animal advocates who support welfare reform often claim that they seek abolition as a goal; they claim to want to eliminate all animal use. But they advocate “happy” use as a means to the end of no use. This is similar to using war as an means to the end of nonviolence and peace. The welfarist who claims to be an abolitionist argues that “gentle” or “compassionate” or “happy” use is a morally acceptable means to the end of no use.
See the problem?
I maintain that “abolitionist” is properly used only if the means are consistent with the end and the means I advocate are veganism on the individual level and creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy on the social level. The end is no use and the means chosen to get to the end are no use on the individual level and advocacy of no use on the social level.
Abolition, as I use that term, rules out welfare regulation. Abolition, as I use that term, rules out the position that “happy” use is an acceptable way to get to no use just as I regard war as a morally unacceptable way to achieve peace.
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.
And never, ever buy into the nonsensical notion that we need to promote “happy exploitation” in order to get people to go vegan. It’s the opposite: the entire “happy exploitation” industry has one goal: to make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation.
Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University
©2013 Gary L. Francione