In the former posts of this series about violence we addressed The Seville Statement on Violence and the book The Nature of Human Aggression by the anthropologist Ashley Montagu who bases many of his claims on hunter-gatherers’ allegedly non-violent lifestyle.
Our last representative of the thinkers who argue that humans are not naturally violent is Paul Chappell, a captain in the U.S. army who writes and lectures about violence, war and peace.
The following post mainly regards his book Will War Ever End? as well as some of the claims he often argues in his lectures and articles.
Like the former thinkers, he argues that humans are not naturally violent without even mentioning (not to mention considering), humans’ daily and worst expression of violence.
And like the former thinkers he also argues about violence and human nature but refers only to wars as if they are the only expression of violence, and despite that they are not even the worst expression of violence.
One of Montagu’s theory’s main foundations is hunter-gatherer societies which he writes about:
“these people live, more or less clearly approximately the way our ancestors lived during a great part of human evolutionary history, and they afford us some insight into the basic questions of human nature and human culture.
If we are indeed innately violent, if we are really creatures driven by genes to murder our own kind, if we are indeed incapable of controlling the hostile forces within ourselves, we should see these characteristics demonstrated here in these people… and they are peaceful. And friendly. And cooperative. They share their food and their belonging with each other and with strangers. Their relationships with each other are close and loving. They care.”
Like many Rousseauistic romantic anthropologists, his observations of hunter-gatherers societies are extremely biased. Since similar false perceptions are sometimes heard by some animal activists, we find it important to examine these societies from a more critical viewpoint. Continue reading →
Many Rousseauistic thinkers, such as the ones that signed the Seville Statement on Violence, which we covered in the opening post of this series regarding violence, base their arguments that humans are naturally nonviolent on the hunter-gatherers’ allegedly nonviolent life style. According to them this lifestyle was corrupted by civilization.
One of them is the eminent anthropologist Ashley Montagu, who wrote a very influential book called The Nature of Human Aggression, which in a way is an expansion and explication of the Seville Statement‘s main ideas. Montagu argues that humans are not naturally violent but are peaceful cooperative beings in a violent world dominated by an aggressive culture, and he focuses on pre-state societies (mainly hunter-gatherers) to prove that.
Since similar arguments can be heard from time to time by many environmentalists and more importantly by many animal rights activists, we find it important to address the issue specifically and expansively, through one of the most Rousseauistic modern thinkers. Continue reading →
Last year we marked October the 2nd – the international day of nonviolence, with a series of posts about non-violence.
In the first post we argue that the allegedly historical success of non-violent struggles is a myth and a non-relevant approach when it comes to the animals’ struggle.
In the second post we argue that the allegedly non-violent approach is principally, philosophically and ideologically a violent and speciesist approach.
In the third post we argue that non-violence is even theoretically impossible, since practically there is no way to avoid violence in this world.
If you haven’t read these posts please do.
This year we ask to mark October the 2nd with a series of posts about violence.
Obviously violence is a too extensive issue to seriously cover in several posts, so our focus in this series is primarily addressing the main corner stones in the modern discussion regarding violence. A good place to start is the “scientific” statement that humans are not naturally violent. Continue reading →
In the last post we have mentioned Joan Dunayer’s definition of speciesism and it seems that the spirit of some of the ideas she argued in her book Speciesism from a decade ago are expressed in the World Day for the End of Speciesism, so we thought that for a completer view, a critical review of the book is necessary. Continue reading →
Yesterday the second World Day for the End of Speciesism was held, with marches that took place in several locations in the world calling to end speciesism.
Unfortunately what seemed on the face of it as a more radical version of advocacy (especially in light of the rise of consumer oriented approaches, and the notorious reductionism trend) was found to be not much more than more of the same.
As usual, activists are asking humans to stop consuming animal derived products, and “urge parliaments and the courts to create and enforce a new legal status for animals that stops them from being considered as property and recognising them as sentient beings whose interests must be protected by the law”. As we broadly explained in the posts Non-Violence Approach and Reclaiming the Power We Should Have Never Given to Humans, the mere position of asking the abusers to stop abusing is in itself speciesist. It’s perpetuating the speciesist reality in which one species makes all the calls for all the other species, especially when the case is of systemically exploiting them. The self-evident frame of thought is that it is humans’ decision how to treat the rest of the species. And when humans leave the conversation about their abuse and choose to keep abusing, as most humans do, that’s what will happen. Merely asking them to stop abusing is letting them continue to torture. Continue reading →
Ever since the image of the first man landing on the moon was taken, 47 years ago today, it is widely considered as the most iconic image of the human race.
The moon landing legacy that humans wish to maintain is of an astonishing scientific, technological and organizational achievement, an inspiring demonstration of mankind’s ability to leave its origin planet, travel to another body in the solar system and return safely.
What they consistently tend to omit are the motives behind the expedition, at what cost the achievement was gained, and mostly what could be achieved alternatively. Continue reading →
Today is Fourth of July, the day millions of animals are attacked by Americans who commemorate the independence of their country. Millions of them in the form of the notorious and most blunt violence attack – the barbeque (which all of you already know very well), and millions of others by acoustical violence in the form of dozens of thousands of deafening explosions in the sky.
The use of fireworks is of course worldwide and year round, but with more than 100 million humans attending more than 14,000 fireworks displays in a single day, The Fourth of July is the symbolical day of this acoustical torture. Continue reading →
Usually “solutions” offered by humans end up hurting more animals or hurting animals more severely, and in many cases both. One of these cases is fish farming.
In the last post we discussed how as a consequence of the reduction in marine animals capture from the oceans in the last few decades, humans hurt marine animals even more severely by intensively farming billions of them. A lifetime of dense confinement in waste filled water, exposure to diseases and other bodily harms due to genetic manipulation are forced upon the fish as a direct result of the decision to switch to farming. The other, less known result is widening the scope of abuse even further. As a consequence of farming fish, many of which are of carnivorous species, even more fish are captured from the oceans, to feed the fish confined in the farms.
It is estimated that every year between 450 billion and one trillion fish are purposely caught specifically to be grind up into fishmeal and fish oil, which are mostly used as food for other animals humans rear for food, mainly farmed fish.
Virtually any fish or shellfish in the sea can be grind up into fishmeal and fish oil, but they are usually produced from small marine fish that are considered not suitable for direct human consumption.
These sentient beings, hundreds of billions of them, are even more invisible than the hundreds of billions of sentient beings that humans directly consume.
Today is world oceans day. Most of the exploited beings on earth are fish, what makes the oceans the greatest exploitation arenas on earth. However, even in the animal liberation movement the center of attention is not on the fish’s suffering rather on the fact that consequent of the fish’s exploitation the oceans are hurt. In other words, directing attention to all the suffering individuals is shoved aside in favor of the argument that humans must stop eating fish since “the oceans are getting empty”.
The use of egocentric and anthropocentric arguments in veganism advocacy is notoriously popular in the animal liberation movement (an issue that should and is broadly discussed separately). In the case of advocacy for fish, it is not by chance that egocentric and anthropocentric reasons (an ecological one in this case) are at the front stage. Continue reading →
In the post about the last and extremely depressing chapter of Peter Singer’s last and extremely depressing book, we’ve addressed a scenario comparison made by the philosopher Derek Parfit (quoted by Singer) regarding the moral obligations for future generations.
In this post we want to address Parfit’s most famous contribution to the field of population ethics which is a paradox in moral philosophy called The Repugnant Conclusion.
The paradox is presented in a book called Reasons and Persons written about 30 years ago, and is considered since then as an iconic work in the field of analytic philosophy.
Basically the paradox is the following – according to utilitarian thought, we ought to choose a world in which billions upon billions of people are living lives barely worth living over a world in which much less people are living extremely happy lives, if the sum of the happiness in the extremely populated world is greater than the sum of the happiness in the extremely happy world. Continue reading →
Last Friday the Paris agreement on climate change was officially signed in a ceremonial event at the UN headquarters in New York, after being formulated and agreed upon on December 2015.
Expectedly, the triumphant language declaring a historic moment blatantly overlooked various major flaws in it. The Paris convention is far less exceptional, and more of another dot in the same line of failures in the way humanity confronts its greatest challenge ever.
Getting into its details reveals the extent of the oversights, compromises and distortions to the point of data deceptions and modeling manipulations that were required to finally achieve an agreement, after decades of failures to reach one.
International conventions about climate change have been held for 25 years, and up until now the world has failed to finalize them with an agreement. During this period of failures, the emissions of CO2 are estimated to have risen by 60%.
With that legacy of failures in mind, and especially with the disappointment of Copenhagen, the ultimate goal in Paris was to reach an agreement which all of the world’s nation can sign. The signing itself became more significant than the content singed upon, as we’ll explain along this post.
However, in spite of all our arguments (further in the text), we do believe that this development should be taken as a wakeup call for activists who count on the human race destructiveness to finally turn against itself. Continue reading →
This is the last part of the series about slavery. It is a very important issue since many activists compare slavery with animals’ institutionalized exploitation. They use it as a rhetoric tool, trying to convince the public that just as discrimination based on skin color is arbitrary and wrong so is discrimination based on species, and they use it as an inspiration source arguing that just as discrimination based on skin color was ended, discrimination based on species can also end.
The hopes of the animal liberation movement are laid on an institution that exists for about 15,000 years, was never ended nor reduced but increased to the point that there are more slave today than ever before in history. The fact slavery kept growing in size regardless of the fact that it is illegal now in every country in the world, shouldn’t be inspiring but alarming.
In this post we argue that not only the inspiration is false but that the comparison itself is false and it is so for several reasons: Continue reading →
Last week the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that the number of African rhinos poached in 2015 has increased for the sixth year in a row and is the highest in the last decade.
The rise in slaughter of rhinos has been driven by demand for their horn by the growing middle classes in countries such as China and Vietnam, where they are prized for their purported medicinal properties. The horns are sold for about $60,000 a kilo on the black market, making it worth more by weight than cocaine and gold.
Poaching is rightfully not one of the issues on the animal liberation movement agenda. However the staggering fact that poaching rhinos for their horns, mainly for use in traditional medicine, still exists, not to mention increasing, should be noticed by the movement.
The fact that there is an increase even in industries that exploit big, iconic, wild and charismatic animals and from an endangered species, must be an alarming warning sign. Continue reading →
The formal estimations of the numbers of salves in the world that are mentioned in the former post don’t include the hundreds of millions of sweatshop slaves. The people trapped in these extremely exploitative systems are not formally owned by another person, and they are not formally forced to work under these conditions. However, they can’t leave, in many cases they can’t negotiate their working conditions, they must compromise their physical and emotional health, they work very hard for very long hours, for very little pay, not allowed to talk with fellow workers or move away from their working station without permission and they have no other options except for transferring to another place and work under more or less the same conditions.
When all the options are of the same awfulness only in a different location, choosing is only theoretical, practically it is slavery. Maybe not formally, but definitely practically.
Almost 600 years after the trans-Atlantic salve trade was started and about 200 after it was allegedly ended, and we are in the middle of the greatest slave trade yet. Continue reading →
What makes things even worse is not only that slavery was never ended, 150 years after the formal passage of the 13th Amendment and 67 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves today than at any time in human history.
Since slavery is illegal it is hard to find an accurate number of slaves. The formal estimations are of between 21 and 38 million slaves. That is by a very tolerant definition of the term which mainly refers to what is called Trafficking – the transport or trade of people from one area to another and into conditions of slavery. Considering the appalling working conditions in sweatshops and at least some forms of child labor, as we think is must, then the estimations are of hundreds of millions of people. That’s why we’ll discuss sweatshops separately in the next post and focus here on the exploitation forms which are formally considered as slavery. Continue reading →
We chose Valentine’s Day for the third part of the series about slavery since today is the day humans commercialize love, most iconically by consuming chocolate for the ones they care for on the expense of the ones they don’t.
Chocolate is one of the unofficial symbols of modern slavery, the topic of this post.
There should be no wonder that humans, who express virtually everything through consumption, have commercialized love and affection, buying chocolate for the ones they care for. Unfortunately there is also no wonder that at the same time they care so little for the ones who picked the cacao for their consumerist gesture. Continue reading →
Tomorrow is National Freedom Day in the United States, commemorating Lincoln signing the 13th Amendment, and celebrating freedom from slavery. In this second part of the slavery series we argue that the celebrations were and still are too early.
Not only that the American civil war didn’t break to end slavery as we argued in the former post, it didn’t end slavery at all. In fact it took another century for slavery to really formally end in the United States and even then it wasn’t for moral reason but again for strategic ones.
For slavery to really end, it took watertight prohibition laws and the will to enforce them. Blacks didn’t have the first to their help and whites didn’t have the second.
The allegedly emancipatory 13th Amendment has an exception which is involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime. Humans like humans, used this exception as a loophole to keep slavery active and thriving by systematically criminalizing African Americans.
We are not talking about the notorious Jim Crow laws which were designed to further exclude blacks from society (mainly by absolute social segregation) but about the former discriminatory system known as the Black Codes, which were directly designed to further enslave blacks by establishing a legal basis for neo-slavery. Continue reading →
The first is that since activists who would engage in violence activities towards non-vegans would get caught very fast, it is counterproductive. That is despite the fact that we have clarified in the preface of the post that we don’t suggest sporadically killing non-vegans.
What we do argue is that killing every meat eater who wasn’t convinced by advocacy is morally justifiable, but since it is absolutely impracticable we don’t suggest or support that. It won’t help even one animal and would even end up hurting more animals by labeling animal activists as even more extreme and violent by the general public. It is a bad option which was never suggested nor implied.
Another type of reply is that since activists obviously can’t kill every non-vegan who was not convinced by their arguments (since they would probably get caught after the first one), they are not violent and speciesist for choosing advocacy.
It is crucial to emphasis that the point of this argument isn’t that activists are actually violence supporters and speciesist because they don’t kill meat eaters, but that they are because they don’t think they ought to.
We are not arguing that if you practically don’t kill every human who wasn’t convinced to stop consuming animals you are a speciesist. We are arguing that if you don’t think that theoretically you must stop (by whatever means it necessary) every human who wasn’t convinced to stop consuming animals you are a speciesist since that human is going to keep abusing Continue reading →