Abolitionist Intersectionality

Principle Five of the Six Principles of the Abolitionist Approach states that the rights of humans and nonhumans are inextricably intertwined. Treating any sentient being as a thing is morally unjustifiable. All forms of exclusion and discrimination are interrelated. All forms of exclusion and discrimination constitute violence. Abolitionists reject them all.

AAPrincipleFive

Some who talk about “intersectionality” apply different and more protective standards when fundamental human interests are involved than they apply when the fundamental interests of nonhumans are at stake. They reject consequentialism and moral subjectivity where humans are concerned, but not where nonhumans are concerned.

They do not recognize veganism as a generally applicable moral principle–a moral baseline–that morally requires a recognition that we cannot justify participating in the direct exploitation of nonhumans. They characterize promoting veganism as a moral baseline as “preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism.”

That is deeply speciesist.

Some who talk about “intersectionality” claim that only certain people can talk about issues of human discrimination and the relationship between human exploitation and nonhuman exploitation.

Abolitionist intersectionality rejects speciesism. All sentient beings have the moral right not to be used as resources. Veganism is a moral baseline. If animals have moral value, then veganism is not an option. It is a moral obligation that is no different from the moral obligations that concern the fundamental interests of humans.

Abolitionist intersectionality rejects all limits on who can be an abolitionist vegan advocate. Anyone can engage in creative, nonviolent, unequivocal abolitionist vegan education and advocacy regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age, or physical or cognitive abilities.

Abolitionist intersectionality is egalitarian in all respects.

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

Anna Charlton
Adjunct Professor of Law, 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.

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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

©2015 Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton

Sexism and Racism in the “Animal Movement”: A Reply to Ruby Hamad

December 20, 2015

Ruby Hamad
Daily Life
www.DailyLife.com.au

Dear Ms. Hamad:

I read your essay about racism and sexism in the “animal movement.” You state:

This is the core of what is wrong with the mainstream vegan community today. So many of its adherents refuse to make the connection between human oppression and the exploitation of animals.

I am in complete agreement with that statement.

I would not agree that the statements about domestic violence from Durian Rider (whose name I had never heard until the domestic violence issue appeared), or the statements in support of violence and misogyny by Gary Yourofsky, represent the “mainstream vegan community.” Any vegan in my acquaintance would find them as reprehensible as I do.

But I agree completely that the modern animal movement as a general matter has failed to see the inextricable connection between human rights and animal rights. It has failed to see that the “otherization” of nonhumans is no different from the “otherization” of humans based on race, sex, class, etc. That has been a core concern of my academic work for decades and, with my colleague, Anna Charlton, I have regularly taught a course at Rutgers University called, “Human Rights and Animal Rights,” for many years.

I think that a good part of the explanation here is that the “animal movement” has, at least until recently, been dominated by corporate charities. These are businesses that seek a large donor pool, so they don’t take human rights positions. Indeed, they have an economic incentive to promote discriminatory positions to bring in donations. One only has to look at the virulently sexist and misogynistic campaigns of PETA that started back around 1989 and that seem to get worse every year. PETA would not be doing that if it did not bring in lots of money. Unfortunately, many animal advocates, including by your own admission, you, have made excuses for PETA. That has had most unfortunate consequences.

But let me say again: I am in complete agreement with you that the “movement” (if that is what you want to call a collection of corporate charities) has missed the mark here. And that is why I have, for about 25 years now, been arguing that animal advocates need to embrace a progressive vision of human rights and need to stop using discrimination as a fundraising tool. I publicly criticized PETA’s sexist campaigns as early as 1991 and haven’t stopped since.

Interestingly, when I sought to get Feminists for Animal Rights involved in protesting PETA’s sexism, I was told that FAR did not want to make any public statements about the matter because Ingrid Newkirk, who headed (and still heads) PETA, was a woman. Indeed, it was not until late 1994—when PETA’s sexist campaigns had fully taken root—that FAR issued a public statement about the matter. I have consistently criticized PETA and other groups for the use of sexist imagery or ideas in their campaigns. I long ago stopped paying attention to all the hate mail I get from people who claimed that I was “betraying the animals” because I criticized PETA’s sexism.

Over the years, I have cautioned animal advocates to be careful in how they expressed the comparison between animal exploitation and race-based slavery given the historical comparisons of Africans to nonhuman animals that were, in fact, made. I publicly criticized a cover of the now-defunct magazine, Animals’ Agenda, which combined a picture of a child of color with a picture of an animal (a cat as I recall) that evoked a critical response from many people of color who argued that the image portrayed people of color as nonhuman.

In my own work on animals as chattel property, I have made clear that the comparison is useful for one and only one reason: to show that the legal regulation of the treatment of sentient beings who are characterized as chattels cannot work and that property owners will almost always prevail irrespective of whether the property is human or nonhuman. I have always taken the position that posters showing lynched slaves juxtaposed with animals hanging in slaughterhouses are offensive because they can too easily be interpreted as crudely analogizing slaves to animals. I have received a fair amount of criticism for these views from animal advocates who think that what I am saying is that animals are not as “important” as humans, which, of course, is not what I am saying in that a central point of my work is that all sentient beings are equal for the purpose of having a right not to be treated exclusively as resources.

In recent years, I have been speaking out against the Islamophobia that is increasingly common among animal advocates. For example, I spoke out against the campaign against halal slaughter that Viva!, a new welfarist group in the UK, launched, and in which Viva! encouraged the public to boycott restaurants that served halal meat. See, e.g., here and here. I wrote, in part:

I find it terribly sad that Viva! chose to characterize this as an issue of a Muslim practice concerning how animals are slaughtered rather than that they are slaughtered at all. Unfortunately, Muslims do not have a monopoly on mistreating animals and Viva!’s comments encourage Islamophobia, which is already rampant in the U.K. and U.S.

I got quite a bit of criticism from that as recently as this past October when, while participating at an event in London, I discussed the problem of Islamophobia in animal campaigns and had a number of angry animal advocates accuse me of supporting halal slaughter. I tried to explain to them that I had done no such thing and that I was, in fact, trying to show them how Islamophobic campaigns harmed both nonhumans and humans by encouraging people to think that Muslims were morally inferior to those who ate meat from animals who had been stunned. But, as is often the case with people who are angry, I am not sure they heard me.

When reactionary “New Atheist” Sam Harris, who is very popular among many animal advocates, promoted the profiling of anyone who looks like a Muslim, I spoke out against it. My general position on the New Atheists—i.e., that I agree with Noam Chomsky that the New Atheists are “religious fanatics” who believe in the “religion of the state”—has drawn a great deal of criticism from animal advocates, some of whom have actually accused me of “discriminating against atheists” when, in fact, I just reject those who call for an almost fascistic obeisance to the state, as the New Atheists do.

I spoke out against the live export campaign of Animals Australia on several grounds, including that it encouraged Islamophobia.

I do not allow Yourofsky to be promoted on my Facebook page because of his statements promoting violence and his racist and otherwise hateful statements about Palestinians.

I have repeatedly spoken out against racist, ethnocentric, and xenophobic aspects of single-issue campaigns focused on the Taiji dolphin slaughter, whaling, and the consumption of dogs and cats in Asia, as well as the racism that attends just about any high-profile cruelty case when the defendant is a person of color.

I could go on and on with examples but I want to say, yet again, that I agree with you completely that the “animal movement” has missed the mark in terms of human rights. And I have been encouraging animal advocates ever since the mid-1990s to form a grassroots movement that promotes abolishing (rather than regulating) animal exploitation, embraces a progressive vision of human rights that rejects all discrimination, and rejects violence.

I was, however, astonished to see you say the following:

I am disenchanted that a movement that is comprised mostly of women nonetheless elevates white men to most leadership positions. Men such as Professor Gary Francione who thinks it is his place to lecture women on whether or not they can call themselves feminists. And I’m dismayed that critiques of prominent vegans are routinely shut down because these men are “doing so much for the animals”.

I have several observations I would like to share with you.

First, I think it is sad—and completely unfair—that, as a general matter, you appear to lump all vegan men in with people who treat domestic violence as some sort of joke, advocate that women who wear fur should be raped, or make racist statements about Palestinians. I recognize that such a characterization helps to get attention for your article in the same way that tabloid headlines do. And I recognize that the media are, as a general matter, hostile to veganism and always on the lookout for reasons to dismiss vegans. But your lumping all men in the same group was irresponsible on your part.

Second, my “lectu[ring]” statement (to which you linked) that you apparently find objectionable is:

If you are a feminist and are not a vegan, you are ignoring the exploitation of female nonhumans and the commodification of their reproductive processes, as well as the destruction of their relationship with their babies.

Do you disagree with the substance of that statement?

Do you not see veganism as a moral obligation, as a basic requirement of fundamental justice, as what we owe to animals? Do you agree that feminists who are not vegans are drawing an arbitrary and indefensible line between human females and nonhuman females? If you don’t agree with the substance of the statement, then we have a fundamental disagreement. But our disagreement would not be about feminism. It would be about what justice for nonhuman animals requires.

If you do agree with the statement but you object to the fact that I, a male, made the statement, then you are expressing essentialism which, in this context, means that only women can take a position on feminism.

Essentialism leads to the view that reactionary people like Margaret Thatcher or Carly Fiorina have more to say about feminism than any male does—however progressive he is. Do you not see that as absurd?

I agree that white people must always be mindful of the privilege they have in a racist society. I also agree that men must be mindful of the privilege that they have in a patriarchal society. I think it is imperative to listen to the lived experiences of women and people of color, which are all too often ignored or reinterpreted—and thereby misinterpreted—by conventional standards of meaning.

But that is very different from saying that only people of color can speak about racism or that only women can speak about feminism and that it is morally acceptable to label as “racist” or “sexist” anyone who does speak out about these issues—irrespective of what they say—just because they are not from the particular group involved. We need to look at the substance of what is being said and evaluate it on its merits, and not dismiss it simply because of the sex or gender or race of the speaker. What is morally right and wrong is not a matter of relativism, at least as far as I am concerned. (And that may well be what is at stake here, as I will discuss further below.)

Essentialism, far from being a progressive doctrine, is a most regressive and reactionary one. It is the enemy of progressive social change, which seeks to build a movement of people who subscribe to ideals about justice—a movement that does not exclude people or take the position that they cannot speak because of who they are. I reiterate: everyone who enjoys any privilege should, of course, be careful to make sure that it is not causing them to promote a position that is unjust rather than just. But progressives should reject the idea that it is the identity of the speaker—and not what the speaker is saying—that is the focus of the debate.

Third, you say that the “movement” has “elevate[d]” me to a “leadership position.”

What is the “movement” to which you refer? It certainly isn’t the “movement” represented by all of the corporate charities. It would be a hyperbolic understatement to say that they don’t like me much at all. Not at all.

Moreover, I do not have my own organization. I am not supported by any organization. I have no “donate” button. I am an academic. I write and I teach. My writing and teaching are certainly informed by the years I spent doing pro bono legal work for the large groups and others, but I am just an academic. I have absolutely no position within the “movement.” In fact, I deliberately emphasize in my work that abolitionist vegan advocacy must be a grassroots movement that does not look to any “leader” and looks only to ideas that reflect sound moral theory.

There are many people, including many women, who read my work and who agree that my positions are sound. For the most part, these women are not involved with the “movement” either in that they aren’t supporters of the large corporate charities. They are part of a grassroots effort. So the people who have, in your words, “elevate[d]” me to the “leadership position” are simply the people who find my arguments to be sound and my approach to address the broad range of ethical concerns that they have. I don’t “lecture” women. I make arguments and many people, including women, find them persuasive. My work provides a theoretical framework on which advocates can base their educational efforts in order to bring about social change effectively. Abolitionist vegan advocates are not only engaging in creative, nonviolent vegan education all over the world, but they are promoting veganism as part of a broad vision of human rights that rejects all discrimination and calls it out whenever it is seen in various animal campaigns.

But these people—these women—apparently don’t count in your view. And why is that?

Do you think they are merely automatons who can’t think critically?

If that is what you are saying, your position is completely dismissive and disrespectful of all of those women, including women of color, who embrace the idea that veganism is a moral baseline and a moral imperative, and who agree with the other aspects of my work, including the human rights-animal rights connection that is far more encompassing and inclusive than are many other supposedly progressive approaches. The Abolitionist Approach focuses on all discrimination.

Interestingly, essentialism does not appear to stop white cisgendered females from making all sorts of pronouncements about racism, transgendered people, etc. But then, I do understand that those who endorse essentialism can’t be bothered with acting in a principled manner.

In any event, the position you appear to be articulating is tantamount to saying that the only women whose opinions count are the ones who agree with you. Such a position is no more acceptable when the person positing it is a woman than it is when the person positing it is a man.

Fourth, I think that what may really be at stake here is that you don’t agree with my view that veganism is a moral imperative. That is, I suspect that you may actually want to promote a position that allows for animal exploitation and then claim that the problem with those who disagree is that they are white males or women who are automatons.

Who are the voices you claim need to be heard over those of the white males who exercise Svengali-like power over the hapless, feeble-minded women who agree with the Abolitionist Approach? You mention Breeze Harper (“Sistah Vegan”) and “ecofeminist pioneer” Carol Adams.

As for Harper, listen to this video starting at about 1 hour, 3 minutes:

Harper says, among other things:

1. “I don’t think any diet is the right diet.”

2. No diet is “universal.” “Your diet and what you need as food changes with the ‘who you are space.'”

3. As an example of the “who you are space,” Harper says that she stopped being vegan when she got pregnant because she “just couldn’t do it” and “ate a few eggs per month.”

4. Being vegan is “difficult” in certain places (and so veganism can’t be a “universal” obligation).

In the Introduction to her book, Sistah Vegan, Harper characterizes promoting veganism as a moral imperative as a matter of “preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism.” That is exactly the way in which corporate welfarists characterize promoting veganism as a moral baseline.

Putting aside that veganism is more than just a diet, this is nothing more than the “veganism is a sort of an okay default but it is subject to convenience, individual idiosyncrasy, etc.” position. But let’s be clear: it explicitly rejects veganism as a moral baseline and makes veganism a matter of the particular situation—the “who you are space.”

Is veganism a matter of the “who you are space”? It is most certainly not, any more than observing the fundamental rights of humans is a matter of the “who you are space.”

Maintaining that veganism is a moral imperative is not a matter of “preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism.” It is a matter of fundamental justice.

Are food deserts and places where grain is fed to animals for export rather than to humans a problem? Absolutely. But does that mean that veganism is not a moral imperative such that we have an obligation to increase availability? Of course not.

Bottom line: this version of “intersectional justice” is just speciesism embellished with superficially progressive jargon. It’s anything but inclusive: the animals are left out and are treated as sacrifices to the “‘who you are space.'” The fact that a person of color may articulate that view does not mean that it is not speciesist.

In any event, it seems that what you are saying is that we ought not to accept the idea of veganism as a moral imperative because some white guy promotes it. We should instead promote a speciesist position because a person of color promotes it. Those people of color who would reject Harper’s transparently relativist (or possibly utilitarian) position are just a bunch of automatons that “elevate white men to most positions of leadership” so their views can be ignored.

To call such a position intellectually vacuous would be the nicest thing one could say about it.

As for Carol Adams and ecofeminism, Adams thinks that rights theory is patriarchal and argues that we must reject universalizable moral judgments in favor of an “ethic of care” that calls for consideration of the “particulars of a given situation” rather than the application of a moral rule.

I certainly agree that rights have been used in patriarchal ways as a historical matter but, as a conceptual matter, a right is simply a way of protecting an interest. A right protects an interest in a non-consequential way. There is nothing inherently patriarchal about a right. A stick can be used to harm a woman but there is nothing inherently patriarchal about a stick.

Interestingly, although ecofeminists reject rights, they most certainly and rightly maintain that their interests in, say, their fundamental interests ought to be protected as a matter of moral (and legal) rules and not evaluated in light of the “particulars of a given situation.” I do not know of any ecofeminist who maintains that physical abuse should be evaluated in light of the “particulars of a given situation.” In other words, where the fundamental rights of humans are concerned, ecofeminists support rights concepts irrespective of what they say they are doing. But where animals are concerned, the ethic of care can play out in a very different way.

In 1996, I did a review (published in a journal) of a collection of essays on ecofeminism edited by Adams and Josephine Donovan and I discussed the various sorts of animal exploitation, from consuming animal as food (“contextual moral vegetarianism”) to breeding animals for companionship and to riding horses, that were justified by the various ecofeminist writers contained in that collection. But that sort of speciesism is inevitable when one rejects all universalizable moral rules and adopts a situational framework. Ecofeminists call it an “ethic of care.” Harper calls it the “who you are space.” It’s all pretty much the same thing—a rejection of the idea that we cannot justify any animal use whatsoever (for food or otherwise) and that veganism involves a clear and unequivocal moral obligation that we owe to nonhumans now as a matter of fundamental justice.

I note that although Adams certainly promotes veganism more than she used to, she also describes vegetarianism—and not just veganism—as a normatively desirable position. She uses both “vegetarian” and “vegan.” She says, for example, that “we should view meat eaters as blocked vegans, blocked vegetarians.” It’s rather difficult (if not impossible) to not read that as Adams expressing the idea that veganism and vegetarianism are both normatively desirable positions.

As far as my position is concerned, veganism is a moral baseline and anything short of veganism involves direct and morally unjustifiable participation in animal exploitation. There is no morally coherent distinction between meat and other animal products. Vegetarianism is a morally incoherent position. Being a vegetarian involves engaging in animal exploitation with a more limited range of exploitative choices—nothing more. Vegetarianism is no more normatively desirable than is any other omnivorous consumption of animals. The moral status of animals means that we cannot justify eating any animal products, wearing animals, or using animals as resources in any way.

In any event, if people find Harper’s or Adam’s approaches to be persuasive, that is their prerogative. If they are persuaded by my work, which is very different from that of either Harper or Adams, that is their prerogative. To say that those in the latter group are not critical thinkers but those in the former group are rests on nothing but a very unfair, demeaning, and ultimately indefensible stipulation.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.

Sincerely,

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished 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.

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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

©2015 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM, December 26, 2015

Although my reply was to Hamad and mentioned Breeze Harper only as an example of Hamad’s problematic analysis, Harper posted this in response to the essay. She tells us about her engaged Buddhist practice but, as far as I can tell, does not address the fact that she rejects veganism as a moral baseline. Actually, she seems to reject the concept of moral baselines as a general matter.

Also, for context, I come from the spiritual practice and training of engaged buddhism, influenced by Zen Buddhism. Ruby Hamad and Gary Francione, I just wanted to let you know that this blog post is the impact both of you have had on my developing practice of engaged Buddhism and Ahimsa; these are ‘central’ to my personal ‘moral baseline’ [that will always be on a continuum]. I appreciate it, because what it has done is allowed me to practice responding to actions and impact and not necessarily ‘take the bait’ or be ‘ensnared’ into trying to defend myself or prove myself all the time; it’s teaching me to understand the difference between responding to an individual vs. understanding actions and their impact.

Here’s a screenshot of that:

ScreenHunter_1410 Dec. 26 16.02

Click to enlarge.

In other words, Harper has expressed the view that veganism is not a moral baseline and that the obligatory nature of veganism is a matter of the “who you are space.” I called her on that (indirectly as my reply was to Hamad). Her response: she isn’t going to “take the bait.” The “bait”? I commented based on her words. She is apparently not responsible for her words.

Perhaps she was not in the right “who you are space” at the time.

In any event, if animals matter morally, veganism is a baseline moral obligation; it is what we are obligated to do. Moral baselines are not a “personal” matter; they are a matter of moral principle.

As discussed above, Harper views promoting veganism as a moral imperative as involving “vegan fundamentalism.” From the Introduction to Sistah Vegan:

ScreenHunter_1453 Dec. 28 13.03

I am aware that certain people who claim to be “abolitionists” promote Harper. It is either the case that they don’t understand abolitionism, or they don’t understand Harper, or they are merely trying to appropriate “abolition” in the way that the new welfarists appropriated “animal rights” in the 1990s and turned it into a meaningless concept to further their own agenda.

Our Grassroots Movement is Growing

The corporate “animal movement” is big business. Every year, it brings in hundreds of millions of dollars. How does it do that? By selling the idea of “compassionate exploitation.” The “movement” sells the idea that life can go on as usual and people can continue on as before–as long as they give a donation so that the “worst abuses” are addressed. When challenged about this, these groups claim that it’s all just a “baby steps” strategy to lead people incrementally to ending animal exploitation.

Look around you. We’ve had this way of thinking for 200 years now. That’s right. Animal welfare reform started in the 19th century and the first piece of legislation (in Britain) was about the “cruel” treatment of farm animals. 200 years later and we are exploiting more animals in more horrific ways than ever before in human history. There are people who are members of these animal organizations who have been involved with them for 20 years and they are still not vegan. That’s because the large groups don’t promote veganism as a moral baseline. “Baby steps”? No. Big steps. Backward.

The grassroots abolitionist movement is growing. It is a movement composed of individuals who promote justice for nonhumans and who are not interesting in selling the false–and morally reprehensible–idea of “happy exploitation.” Although some who claim to be abolitionists have “donate” buttons, most don’t.

This is upsetting the large groups that cannot deal with the substantive issues and who fight back by attacking abolitionists in ad hominem and often defamatory ways. They whinge endlessly about being “hated on,” “shamed,” “bullied,” etc. But their ad hominem attacks and their interminable whining are signs of abolitionist success. They have nothing of substance to say so they call people names and they characterize themselves as victims. But all of this puerile behavior cannot hide one very important and crucial fact: we have a grassroots movement that is promoting the idea of veganism as a moral imperative with crystal clarity.

And that movement is only going to grow larger and larger no matter what the corporate welfarists and their minions do.

**********

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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2015 Gary L. Francione

OUR NEW BOOK: “Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach”

Our new book is now available. You can get it as a Kindle or paperback edition here.

This book is about a revolution–a revolution of the heart.

The exploitation of animals is pervasive, entrenched, and horrific. In this book, we reject the idea that animal use is morally acceptable if people treat animals “humanely.” We reject the campaigns for “compassionate” exploitation promoted by virtually all large animal protection organizations. We argue that these campaigns reinforce the notion that we can consume our way out of injustice and trade one form of exploitation for another. They are morally wrong and they are, as a practical matter, ineffective.

AAARCoverFront

Front cover: “Abolition” by Sue Coe.

The central argument of this book is that we need a paradigm shift. We must see nonhuman animals as nonhuman persons.

This paradigm shift—this revolution of the heart—starts with our own veganism, not as some sort of “flexitarian lifestyle” issue, but as a basic, fundamental, and non-negotiable commitment to justice and fairness for nonhuman animals. Veganism, as a moral imperative, recognizes that we have no moral justification for using animals—however “humanely”—for our purposes.

It continues with our daily efforts to educate others in creative, positive, and nonviolent ways about veganism—something that each of us can do if we want to. Every day, we have opportunities to educate family, friends, colleagues at work, and people whom we encounter in a store or on a bus.

AAARBackCover

Back cover: “vegan World” by Sue Coe.

Those individual educational efforts will merge into the creation of a grassroots movement that will do what the large welfare charities have not done and cannot do: be an anti-slavery movement for nonhuman animals and promote the idea that all sentient beings have the moral right not to be used as the property of others.

In this book, we discuss six principles that make up the Abolitionist Approach:

I. Principle One: Abolitionists maintain that all sentient beings, human or nonhuman, have one right—the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.

II. Principle Two: Abolitionists maintain that our recognition of this one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation, and that abolitionists should not support welfare reform campaigns or single-issue campaigns.

III. Principle Three: Abolitionists maintain that veganism is a moral baseline and that creative, nonviolent vegan education must be the cornerstone of rational animal rights advocacy.

IV. Principle Four: The Abolitionist Approach links the moral status of nonhumans with sentience alone and not with any other cognitive characteristic; all sentient beings are equal for the purpose of not being used exclusively as a resource.

V. Principle Five: Abolitionists reject all forms of human discrimination, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and classism—just as they reject speciesism.

VI. Principle Six: Abolitionists recognize the principle of nonviolence as a core principle of the animal rights movement.

On the bedrock of these six principles, we maintain that that we can end animal exploitation.

The front and back cover have original art work from Sue Coe, the leading political artist of our generation–and a longtime vegan. Coe’s works are displayed in the world’s leading art museums, including in the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian. Unlike many other prominent artists, she has sought to make her work accessible to the public. Sue’s brilliant art work captures perfectly the ideas we discuss. We are honored that she created this art especially for our book.

We hope you enjoy our book.

**********

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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

Anna Charlton
Adjunct Professor of Law, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton

“Selfie Morality”: The Moral Rot of the Animal Movement

I identify as “selfie morality” the phenomenon of characterizing substantive disagreement or criticism as “oppression,” “aggression,” “bashing,” “hating,” “shaming,” or “bullying” without providing any substantive response to the criticism. Selfie morality is nothing but narcissism. And it is inherently speciesist.

So, for example, when abolitionist vegans make a reasoned argument that the moral status of nonhuman animals requires recognition of veganism as a moral imperative, they are hit with the predictable chorus of welfarist whinging that such a position “shames” or “hates on” nonvegans. Think about this for a second. Those who are engaging in, or support violent, exploitative, or otherwise morally objectionable conduct involving nonhuman animals accuse those who oppose victimizing animals as “aggressive,” “hateful,” or “violent.” They seem to think that any reasoned criticism of their unreasoned position per se runs afoul of the principle of nonviolence.

That is just unabashed narcissism. It says, in essence: “To hell with the animals; to hell with sound moral theory. The only thing that matters is my feelings and I don’t like being criticized.” Indeed, that is the sort of position that gives narcissism a bad name.

Selfie morality

Selfie moralists will often accuse people who have a reasoned moral position in favor of veganism as a moral baseline of being “cultists.” Think about that. The defining characteristic of a cult is forbidding rational thought. So who is being a “cultist”–the person who has a rationally defensible position, or the person whose only argument is, in effect: “You disagree with me. You are being violent. You are shaming me. I am on a ‘journey'”?

Another manifestation of “selfie” morality: “Anyone who disagrees with me or does not acknowledge that I am awesome and important is a racist or a sexist.” Once again, we don’t look at the position being advanced. It’s all about the speaker and anything that is not liked by the speaker must be wrong. People are classified as morally good or morally bad based on the whims of the speaker. That is completely narcissistic.

Selfie morality is the moral rot of the “animal movement.”

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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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2015 Gary L. Francione

There Is No Third Choice

There are two and only two choices:

Choice 1: You stop eating, wearing, and otherwise using all nonhuman animals;

Choice 2: You continue to participate directly in exploiting nonhuman animals.

There is no third choice. You are either vegan or you are participating directly in animal exploitation.

“But wait!” the welfarists cry, “Even if you are a vegan, animals will be killed in the harvesting of crops. You can’t be perfect so it’s okay to not be vegan as long as you try to reduce suffering.”

Here’s Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich, a longtime supporter of welfare reform, claiming that vegans still exploit animals and that we can’t be perfect:

ScreenHunter_1291 Dec. 04 21.06

(Click to enlarge.)

That is complete nonsense. We can see this easily in the human context.

Even if we drive safely, people will be killed in automobile accidents. Does that mean that there is not a qualitative difference between deliberately murdering people and driving safely even if some number of humans will be killed in accidents? Of course not. The welfarist position applied in the human context would commit us to saying that because we can’t avoid unintended car accidents, it’s okay to commit murder as long as we try to reduce suffering in the process. No one would accept such a position.

If we were all vegans and embraced the moral personhood of nonhumans, we would undoubtedly devise better ways of avoiding even incidental and unintended deaths of animals in the crop production process. But there is a very significant difference between X being murdered and X dying in a traffic accident. We all recognize that but the welfarists seem to have trouble applying that in the animal context.

And that is deeply speciesist.

The welfarists always talk about our going vegan as a matter of being on a “journey.”

The moment you buy into the welfarist idea that it’s morally acceptable to not be vegan as long as you are on a “journey,” you’ve bought into speciesism.

We would never say talk about “journeys” and “baby steps” where fundamental human rights were involved. We would never say, for example, that if someone is a racist, we ought to encourage that person to take “baby steps” and just be a more “gentle” racist because that person is on a “journey.” With respect to fundamental human rights, we are clear. When it comes to the victimization of nonhuman animals, it’s all a matter of “journeys,” “baby steps,” and moral relativism.

And that is deeply speciesist.

Of course the world is not going to go vegan overnight. But those of us who believe in animal rights have an obligation to make crystal clear that veganism is a moral imperative–that we have an obligation to go vegan and nothing less will satisfy our moral obligation to animals. Those who hear and who care may choose to do less (i.e. they may choose to eat “cage-free” eggs, or “crate-free” pork, or reduce their intake of meat, etc.). But that should be their choice and never what we promote as an advocacy matter.

The world will never go vegan as long as “animal people” don’t promote it as a moral baseline. And if each of us who is now vegan persuaded only one other person to go vegan in the next year, and that repeated itself for a dozen years or so, the world would be vegan.

That isn’t going to happen, but if we all made that our goal, we would at least achieve progress. The “happy exploitation” movement that now exists is only pushing things backward.

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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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

Anna Charlton
Adjunct Professor of Law, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton

An Open Request to PETA, Farm Sanctuary, Viva!, and Others

You all claim to reject “happy exploitation.”

But John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, claims that you (and possibly others) were “stakeholders” in the actual creation of the Whole Foods “happy exploitation” standards.

You can listen to Mackey speak here.

Mackey claims that you worked with the meat industry to set the “happy” standards “a species at a time.”

If Mackey’s claim is accurate, you not only expressed your written “appreciation and support” for these supposedly “pioneering” standards of animal exploitation, but you actually helped to create them.

You cannot simultaneously reject “happy exploitation” when you not only expressed support for the Whole Foods program but actually help to set standards for “happy exploitation” and thereby facilitate the sale of these animal products by Whole Foods.

So unless Mackey is in error, you are not only supporting “happy exploitation” but you served as architects of the Whole Foods “happy exploitation” program.

I call on you and all of those who signed that infamous and shameful letter to Mackey, which inaugurated the modern “happy exploitation” movement, to state publicly and unequivocally that your expression of “appreciation and support” for the Whole Foods Program was an error, and your involvement as “stakeholders” who actually set standards for animal exploitation “a species at a time” was very, very wrong.

Thank you.

Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM: Viva! Replies

In light of my exchange with Viva!’s co-founder, Tony Wardle, in London on October 11, I had previously posted about this matter as it concerned Viva! on the Abolitionist Approach my Facebook page. Tony Wardle of Viva! replied:

ScreenHunter_1198 Nov. 09 10.13

(Click to enlarge.)

Here is my reply:

Come on, Tony.

I asked you a question: Who was not stating the truth? Was it Mackey when he said that Viva! was involved in discussions with industry to set “happy exploitation” standards? Or was it you when you said that Viva! does not promote “happy exploitation”?

You did not answer my question although you are, it seems, admitting that Viva! was at those meetings to which Mackey refers.

I asked you about Viva’s participation in the meetings that set animal exploitation standards for the Whole Foods program. The fact that Viva! subsequently closed its U.S. office after apparently participating is completely irrelevant. And what does it mean to say that you participated in setting those animal exploitation standards but that’s acceptable because you had someone there to give a “vegan perspective”? A “vegan perspective” would mean you would not participate in setting exploitation standards. A “vegan perspective” would mean that you would not have expressed your “appreciation and support” for the “pioneering” Whole Foods standards of animal exploitation, as you did.

Why don’t you just withdraw the support of Viva! from the endorsement of the “happy exploitation” program that you provided and admit it was a bad idea for you to do that and for you to sit down with industry to formulate standards for the exploitation of animals?

Isn’t that the very least that you owe to the animals?

As for these comments about Rutgers, I am delighted to say that there are more vegans every year and more vegan food on campus every year. Rutgers does animal experimentation—quite a bit of it—and I am sure that everyone knows and appreciates that a faculty member in one part of the University does not get to shut down departments in other parts of the University. Similarly, the vivisection community is unable to stop my teaching and writing about why vivisection is morally unjustified and scientifically unsound although they are as unhappy with me as I am with them.

Let me add that at Rutgers, as everywhere else, the efforts of those of us who promote veganism could be far more effective if there were not groups like Viva! that are telling everyone that it’s fine for them to do less than go vegan. You endorse reducetarianism on every page of your website. On every page of your website, you reinforce the idea that meat is different from other animal products.

ScreenHunter_1099 Oct. 02 07.20

You sell cookbooks that have non-vegan recipes. You tell people that eating foie gras is somehow different from eating other animal foods, or that it’s worse to use the flesh of kangaroos to make shoes than the flesh of cows.

You have made a business of selling excuses to people so they can continue to exploit animals. That’s clear.

Gary Francione

P.S. I am still waiting for you to give me the support for your statement at VegfestUK about welfare reform leading to reduced numbers of animals being killed. I have asked for that at least three times. Thanks.

ADDENDUM: More from Viva!

Tony Wardle of Viva! sticks his foot further down his throat:

ScreenHunter_1204 Nov. 11 09.27

(Click to enlarge.)

My reply:

Tony,

Viva! is promoting animal exploitation. In fact, Viva! sat down with the meat industry and helped to formulate actual standards of exploitation. You got called on it. You have no reply because there is no reply. So you behave like a pugilistic school child. I am sorry you feel compelled to do so.

As for your supposed skills as an investigative journalist, I am not a governor of Rutgers University. I am a Board of Governors Professor. That’s just the title of the academic position I have. I do not hold and have never held any administrative position at Rutgers. I have, however, turned generations of students on to animal rights and the vegan philosophy and we now have many more vegan options. It’s hard when we’re up against groups like yours, which tell the students that they can discharge their moral obligations to animals by eating cage-free eggs or wearing cow leather rather than kangaroo leather.

I am just one person, Tony. I don’t have a corporation or a “donate” button. I don’t have a PR budget. I don’t have celebrities that promote me. I am just one person making an argument that people are increasingly recognizing as sound–that welfare reform is ineffective and counterproductive, and that the “happy exploitation” you support and the standards for which you help to formulate, is obscenely immoral. Many people are coming to see that foie gras campaigns, and campaigns that declare “victory” when Tesco does not sell live turtles but, instead, kills them somewhere else, are nothing more than fundraising ploys. People are beginning to see that bloated charities like yours are doing more harm than good and that you are selling out the interests of animals. The better position will prevail. And I have no doubt what that position will be.

Gary L. Francione

A Lot of People Are Angry with Me–and They are Right

They are angry that I am what they call an “absolutist” who maintains that we cannot justify *any* animal use.

They are right.

I am an absolutist in this regard–just as I am an “absolutist” with respect to rape, child molestation, and other violations of fundamental human rights. Indeed, I would not have it any other way. Absolutism is the only morally acceptable response to the violation of fundamental rights whether of humans or nonhumans.

They are angry that I reject their purported “empirical proof” that promoting welfare reform and nonveganism is “effective” to help animals and is more “effective” than promoting veganism as a moral imperative.

They are right.

There is no such proof and their purported “studies” are nothing more pseudoscience that these groups use in a self-serving way.

They are angry that I regard all of the large corporate charities as nothing more than businesses that sell out the interests of animals so that they can have broad donor bases.

They are right

I am appalled that these organizations promote “happy” exploitation and “reducetarianism,” partner with institutional exploiters, give awards to slaughterhouse designers, and generally promote the idea that there is a “compassionate” way to exploit nonhuman animals. I reject the idea that we should promote harming animals in supposedly “better” ways so that we can raise greater amounts of money so we can supposedly thereby help animals.

They are angry that I reject the idea that we should not promote veganism as a moral imperative because it’s all a matter of being on a ““journey” and “baby steps” are just fine.

They are right.

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.”

To take a different position where nonhuman animals are concerned is just speciesist.

They are angry that I believe that everyone can understand why veganism should be a moral baseline.

They are right.

I reject the idea that “single mums” cannot understand moral principles (as stated by Viva! in my recent debate with them at VegFest in London), or that “we need to take into account the limitations of “‘ordinary people'” because they don’t possess the requisite “intellectual and moral abilities” (as stated by Ronnie Lee founder of the ALF), or that people just can’t understand the vegan message because it is too “extreme” (as stated by just about every “animal organization” out there).

I firmly believe that many–if not most–people already embrace moral ideas that can lead them to veganism. It is the large groups telling people that they can consume “with compassion” that is the problem, and not the supposedly limited intelligence of “ordinary people.” “Ordinary people” are not the problem. “Animal people” are the problem.

They are angry that I reject their single-issue campaigns as necessarily promoting animal exploitation.

They are right.

Such campaigns necessarily promote the idea that those animal products that are not being targeted are morally acceptable to consume and thereby perpetuate exploitation and speciesist ideology.

For example, a campaign to oppose foie gras necessarily promotes the idea to the public that foie gras is worse than other animal products, and that those other products are morally acceptable to consume. If this was not the message of the campaign, it would not receive support or donations from people who oppose foie gras but who think that eating animal products is otherwise fine.

They are angry that I maintain that we don’t need these large animal charities and that we instead need to build a grassroots movement of people without “donate” buttons.

They are right.

A shift in the paradigm from animal property to animal personhood is never going to happen unless and until we have a movement of people who are not dependent on donations (and who are not subject to the perverse incentives that thereby result), and who are working in their communities to educate their neighbors, friends, and relatives about veganism as a moral imperative.

The late Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Grassroots education does not require bloated organizations, CEOs or Executive Directors, or “donate” buttons. It requires individuals with commitment.

As Margaret Mead once observed: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

They are angry that I link animal rights and human rights.

They are right.

I have done so since I first began my work in the animal movement in the 1980s. We “otherize” humans and nonhumans and this permits us to violate the fundamental rights of all. We need to reject “otherization” altogether. I recognize that this is not a good idea for those who do fundraising because they want to get donations from people who are racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, etc. But that’s a pathetic reason to reject the clear connection between human and nonhuman rights.

They are angry that there is a grassroots Abolitionist movement emerging all over the world.

They are right.

The Abolitionist Movement is spreading. And that is precisely why they all spend so much time trying to suppress the ideas expressed here and on my websites, or reinterpret “abolition” as allowing for welfare reform, single-issue campaigns, “reducetarianism,” and all of the other sell-out approaches that they sell, or attempting to mischaracterize my position or attack me personally and defame me.

The Abolitionist movement promoted here has no office, no charitable status, no employees, and nothing but an idea. People are free to accept or reject that idea. People are free to accept the arguments I make in support of that idea as valid or as not valid. And a lot of people are accepting those arguments as valid and sound, and are embracing the Abolitionist position.

That is threatening the business of animal welfare reform and “happy” exploitation.

That is making petty and malicious people envious.

In sum, I really do understand why they are angry.

And I consider it a measure of the success of the Abolitionist position that they are reacting in this way.

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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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2015 Gary L. Francione

The Problem: “Animal Advocates” Who Promote Animal Exploitation

[Note: Click to enlarge images.]

Mercy for Animals, an animal welfare organization, claims that “The Problem” is “Animals suffering miserably on factory farms.”

ScreenHunter_1079 Sep. 16 05.31

Wrong.

The problem is identifying the problem as “factory farms” and not animal use or exploitation–wherever it occurs and however supposedly “humane” or “compassionate” or “merciful” it is.

Misidentifying the problem has absurd and speciesist consequences, such as declaring the McDonald’s “cage-free” egg announcement as a “victory” and identifying this:

cagefree3

and this

cagefree2

as “Progress!” and as representing “meaningful changes.”

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McDonald’s sells the suffering and death of animals.

Groups like the Humane Society of the United States and Mercy for Animals act as partners with McDonald’s in selling that suffering and death.

McDonald’s gets “animal advocates” to promote them and their products.

In return, McDonald’s gives these “animal advocates” meaningless “victories” to use in fundraising.

HSUS declares the McDonald’s “cage-free” egg announcement as a “watershed moment.”

MFA “applaud[s] McDonald’s for its commitment to phasing out cruel cages in its North American egg supply chain” and calls McDonald’s “praiseworthy.”

That statement is breathtaking.

Here’s a screenshot of the MFA statement in case you simply cannot believe that “animal advocates” would “applaud” animal exploitation.

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Notice that, in addition to “applaud[ing]” the McDonald’s “cage-free” egg announcement, MFA tells its supporters to ask McDonald’s to continue it’s “praiseworthy progress by adopting meaningful standards for chickens killed for Chicken McNuggets.”

And that’s the problem.

Supporting these groups is supporting animal exploitation just as much as consuming a McDonald’s animal product is.

If animals matter morally, then we are obligated morally to embrace and promote veganism as a moral imperative and we are equally obligated to oppose the speciesist idea that imposing suffering and death on animals can ever be “praiseworthy.”

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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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2015 Gary L. Francione

A Movement That Moves Backward

When I wrote “Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement” in 1996, I argued that the animal rights movement was becoming a “new welfarist” movement. That is, the movement claimed to embrace animal rights and abolition but it promoted the idea of using traditional welfarist reform to get to abolition. I argued that new welfarism was unsound both as a moral and practical matter.

It is now clear that the “movement” rejects abolition and maintains, as did the classical welfarists of the 19th and early- to mid-20th century, that animal use is not itself morally objectionable and that we can use and kill animals as long as we do so “compassionately.”

So the “movement” today is not even new welfarist; it is not taking the position that animal exploitation–however “humane”–is itself morally wrong. The “movement” has rejected veganism as a moral baseline. The only difference between now, and, say, the “movement” in 1940 is that in 1940, there were few, if any, people making a living from being “animal activists.” Now, there are thousands making a living off the back of animal suffering and death as they peddle the insidious notion of “happy” or “compassionate” exploitation.

It’s going backward.

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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.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2015 Gary L. Francione