The most important political and economic decision of the past week didn’t happen during the G20 summit held in Japan, but during trade negotiations in Brussels.
After 20 years of bargaining, the European Union and the South American Mercosur trading block which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, have reached agreement on a new free-trade deal.
Covering markets with the total of approximately 780 million consumers, the deal is the largest free trade agreement involving the EU and it follows the recent European trade agreements with Canada , Japan, Mexico, and Vietnam. The agreement is set to eliminate import taxes levied on European goods and services exported to the South American block and a reciprocal reduction in taxes on imports from those countries into Europe.
The deal includes many economic sectors, however it’s no accident that images of cows were picked for the headlines of the deals’ media coverage. The cows flesh industry has a very big part in the deal, as one of the goals of the Mercosur countries is to intensify it. They hope to export up to 99,000 tonnes of cows flesh to Europe every year before they have to pay tariffs. 99,000 tonnes of cows flesh is about 450,000 suffering individuals.
Such a large scale export of cheap animals flesh is expected to increase the flesh consumption of the 500 million European consumers. And even the hope that it would at least lead to a decrease in European factory farms, is very unlikely since the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that the European Commission would provide up to a billion euros in support to farmers “in the event of market disturbances“. That support might lead to a reduction in the European flesh’s prices and so an overall greater increase in consumption. Continue reading
Tomorrow is the first official day of the summer in the northern hemisphere of our planet of suffering.
As you know, for humans everything is a reason for celebration, and when humans celebrate usually nonhumans suffer.
Humans have been celebrating Summer Solstice since pagan times, but it was christianized during the 5th century and named “Saint Joan’s Day” after Saint Joan the Baptist, who is believed to be born on the 24th of June, the day most nations celebrate the holiday.
Different nations celebrate it in different ways, each with its unique cultural feature. However all of them lit bonfires and many set off fireworks and have a festive corpse consumption around the fire.
In Spain, the mother lode of torturous festivals, several different interpretations of the holiday take place, all distinctly express humans’ dominance, from dominating the inanimate sun, to dominating sentient animals. The following are the worst three examples taken from the article about global festivals called Celebrating Suffering. Continue reading
A couple of days ago the world record for deepest submarine dive ever was broken by an American explorer.
“It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” said the explorer. “This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving – rapidly and repeatedly – into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean.”
But besides a great ago boast opportunity for the explorer personally, and for humanity as a species, another thing was found by this expedition. During the 4 hours of scouting, the explorer spotted a plastic bag and candy wrappers on the seafloor in the deepest place on earth.
This story is very characteristic of humanity, breaking records which shouldn’t have been set in the first place, investing in the wrong scientific areas, reaching places they shouldn’t, discovering that they already reached them long ago in the shape of one of their most familiar features – pollution. Continue reading
Yesterday the guardian published an article regarding a new repot which ranks the deadliest cities in the US for birds, who often collide with glass-covered or illuminated buildings.
Obviously, every activist knows that birds have much bigger problems, but skyscrapers are very symbolic. They are a symbol of humans’ total occupation of the planet. Everything is theirs for the taking, even the sky. Continue reading
For the last official day of the winter, we focus on the fur industry. That is despite that unfortunately, as explained in this text, fur is no longer seasonal and luxurious, but year-round and causal.
Once considered a fading industry, in the past decade and a half fur has been making a comeback. After being branded politically incorrect during the 90’s, fur is back in fashion since the beginning of the 2000’s. The fur industry has not only recovered from the decade of slow business during the 90’s, it strengthened and it’s now stronger than ever. The industry’s value has increased year-on-year over the past two decades. Global fur sales rose by 70% from 2000 to 2010. In 2017, fur generated global retail sales of $30 billion. More than half of that was in China, Europe with $7 billion was the second largest market, followed by Russia with $2.2 billion. And in the U.S. the industry accounts for about $1.4 billion.
On average, about 70% of catwalk shows worldwide featured fur in recent years. This turn out might come as a surprise to some activists who hear every now and then of another fashion brand, and designers, and recently even a city (San Francisco became the largest city to ban the sale of fur) dropping fur, but these positive steps simply don’t reflect the current global trajectory. These specific achievements must not be a source of consolation, as the frightening overall picture is of an industry which not long ago appeared to be defeated via public campaigns, but actually is on a scary reemergence.
There are several reasons for this dreadful outcome, and one major conclusion for activists to take from it. Continue reading
The final part of this series of posts regarding Why We Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows An Introduction to Carnism is respectively about Joy’s final chapter of the book.
In it, Joy suggests to fight Carnism by bearing witness.
All along the book her focus is prominently on humans. On humans being deceived to act against their true nature, being deceived to consume unhealthy products, being victims of environmental pollution, and of course risking themselves in the dangerous job of murdering and tearing apart other animals. In the last chapter, again she asks humans to focus on themselves.
“when we witness, we validate, or make real, the suffering the system works so hard to hide, and we also validate our authentic reaction to it. Witnessing connects us with the truth of Carnistic practices, as well as with our inner truth, our empathy. We bear witness to others, and to ourselves”.
But ethics mustn’t be about connecting to ourselves, but about how others are being treated. It is not about us, it is about them. Morality shouldn’t be about witnessing the atrocities, but first and foremost about doing something to stop them. And in the case of the systematic exploitation of animals, suggesting bearing witness is also extremely anthropocentric since it shouldn’t be about us humans witnessing other animals. It is not about how humans feel about what nonhumans go through, but about what nonhumans go through. Morality should be about the victims. In a victim oriented ethics, the focus is not on what the activists think the victimizers’ interests are or what they are willing or unwilling to do about the cruelty they are involved in. It is about the victims and what they need to be done for them, regardless of what the victimizers’ interests, views and desires are.
Activists shouldn’t bear witness, they should bear solutions so the suffering will end. And it is not going to happen as long as activists keep believing that humans are naturally good but are deceived by a bad system that makes them do bad things and all that activists have to do is to expose the truth to them.
While activists should see all the harms as direct ones, as humans know they happen, including harms that are a result of habitat destruction, deforestation, chemical pollution, electricity manufacture, and etc., Joy tries to convince activists that all the harms are indirect, including the ones of factory farms. She is doing that by inventing a cognitive state which is ‘knowing but not knowing’.
There is no mental state such as knowing without knowing. Of course many humans know little about what meat production really involves, so there is knowing little. There is knowing but not thinking about it. There is knowing and not wanting to stop. But there is no knowing without knowing.
People know, they don’t want to know more or know but don’t want to think about it, but they don’t “know but don’t know”. And when you know but don’t want to know more or don’t want to think about it, you don’t care. Continue reading
In the previous post regarding Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, we have focused on humans’ relations with dogs, being a keystone in her thesis. We argued that it is true that some humans love dogs, but not all of them, not in any case, and not in every point in history. Humans’ love of dogs is not a natural constant truth, but a relationship with a history and conditions.
Like in the case of dogs, it is true that some humans care about animals, but not all of them, definitely not in any case, and most certainly not in every point in history. Humans care for animals other than dogs is also not a natural truth, but a relationship with a history and conditions.
If her thesis was right, meaning that humans basically and naturally care about animals, and the only reason they don’t care about specific kinds of animals, is because they were taught by society that these animals are meant to be used by humanity, than humans would have cared about all the rest of the species. Following Carnism’s logic, humans were supposed to care about all the animals who don’t belong to the species which they were allegedly conditioned not to care about. But that is of course not the case, not today, and not ever in history. Continue reading
In the following several posts, we’ll focus on Melanie Joy’s theory. That is after we discussed Norbert Elias who argues that humans relation to meat changed because they started to feel repugnant by their own animality and so gradually felt repugnance for meat, and after we discussed Nick Fiddes who argues that humans don’t eat meat despite that it is made out of animals but because it is made out of animals, and then Keith Tester who argues that humans who choose not to eat meat are actually doing so to define their own humanity. Melanie Joy however, argues that humans eat meat not because it is made of animals but despite that it is made of animals, and only because of a highly structured belief system that conditions them to see some animals as food and others as not.
According to Joy, humans are naturally empathic and caring towards animals, and only because of this highly structured belief system, which she calls the Carnism ideology, are they able to subdue their natural inclination and hurt the ones they actually care about.
We disagree with her Carnism theory, mainly with the power and influence she ascribes to it, and more importantly we disagree with the theory’s foundational assumption – that humans are naturally good and caring. Such claims are very appealing to flesh eaters and thus are tactically tempting for some activists. The biggest problem with adopting these false views is that it can convince activists to act against animals’ interests. Some might actually genuinely believe that humans are actually naturally good and caring, and that is a dangerous idea for animals. In the following series of posts we explain why.
We start with humans’ relations with dogs, obviously not because we think it is the most important aspect, but because its Joy’s starting point as well as a key element in her whole theory. Continue reading
The natural continuation of this series about meat eating is covering books such as Meathooked or Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, and we will get to the later after this post. But while working on Elias’s thesis, we have encountered a book called Animals & Society by Keith Tester which we felt we also had to address as part of this series.
The book’s main theme is that ‘animal rights’ is not a natural truth that have waited for someone to discover, but a social construct which was invented under specific historical circumstances, and for human purposes.
Subtitling his book The Humanity of Animal Rights, Tester is not only pointing at the fact that humans’ relation to animals is bound to be humane for the obvious circumstantial reason that animals can’t represent themselves, but also and especially because humans’ only interest in animals is as objects who serve to define humans’ humanity.
Covering several theorists from the fields of ethology, sociobiology, anthropology, social history, philosophy, sociology, and most importantly animal rights, tester’s arguments are much more challenging than they may sound on the face of it.
He is far from being the conventional critique of animals rights and therefore worth your attention. Ours was caught by some of the points he made during his historical and sociological examination of the concept of animal rights, as well as ones which he didn’t make but his analysis emphasizes. In this post we wish to discuss mainly one of them, but to do so, first, some background is needed. Continue reading
After addressing the estimation of the sociologist Norbert Elias that as part of a general and gradual refinement in humans’ social behavior vegetarianism would probably be much more popular, for the second part of this series we wish to address a theory about meat by the anthropologist Nick Fiddes. In his book Meat: A Natural Symbol Fiddes suggests an anthropological explanation to why humans are so keen on meat, and what is according to him, the only condition which might alter them.
His thesis is extremely depressing but highly essential for understanding the motives behind meat eating. Though we disagree with his assertion that there is only one motive behind meat eating, we do agree that the motive he suggests is indeed extremely central, and it is extremely underrepresented in the animal rights community.
Basically, Fiddes’s argument starts by recognizing that meat is very highly valued by humans all along history, practically by every single culture. Meat’s value is incomparable to any other food, in no proportion to its nutritional significance (in other words to its actual practical importance to humans). Fiddes deduces that this special status of meat results from the fact that it embodies humans’ dominance over nature and the other animals. Animals symbolize power and nature, and so eating other animals is the ultimate symbol of humans’ power, of their superiority over other animals, and their triumph over nature.
“Consuming the muscle flesh of other highly evolved animals is a potent statement of our supreme power.” (Page 2) Continue reading
For the World Vegetarian Day, held yesterday, and for the World Farm Animals Day, held today, we wish to discuss The Civilizing Process theory by the famous sociologist Norbert Elias – in which he estimated that one of the next phases in the civilizing process could be mass vegetarianism.
The reason we are addressing this prediction despite that it is relatively old, is that it relates to a current and very popular notion in the animal rights movement. Elias’s theory, indirectly (and obviously independently) “refers” to McCartney’s famous quote that “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”. Elias’s work suggests that since humans are a product of their cultural and social circumstances, if slaughterhouses have never had walls, nobody would ever be a vegetarian. A very frightening thought, which contradicts a belief too many activists hold about humans’ natural compassion abilities which are supposedly being canceled out by the animal exploitation industry manipulations.
To understand where this idea comes from, it is necessary to elaborate a little bit about Elias’s theory first.
But even before that, a quick word of clarification. Obviously the term Civilization is highly and rightfully controversial, and from several different aspects, including speciesist ones. We use this problematic term here only in the way Elias used it and only for the sake of the argument about vegetarianism. Specific and direct reference to Civilization can be found in some posts in the series about violence. Continue reading
Every once in a while an article featuring an overview of nonhumans’ amazing abilities is published in the public media. These articles are about animals’ complex emotional world, their high social skills, their ability to empathize, their grief, their curiosity and need for play, and generally about how smart they actually are. This week another such report, headlined Animals are Smart. Are Humans Holding Them Back? was published in the Huffington post, reminding how little humans actually know about nonhumans.
This publish was in close proximity to two items the Animal Liberation community shared online – that goats skillfully read human facial expressions, and that possibly a species of fishes “passed” the mirror test.
Activists’ inclination to promote information about the depth of nonhuman cognition in hope it would generate a shift in human’s views and behaviors is extremely naïve, and morally problematic.
The question how smart animals are has no ethical relevancy. Sentience is the only relevant criterion determining who belongs to the moral community. You and we acknowledge that, but most humans believe otherwise and so nevertheless relate “smartness” with moral treatment. It is not accidental that humans consider the trait which they see as their relative advantage over other animals as the most important one, and use it when it comes to moral treatment. Continue reading
After a week of ongoing horrible news in relation to animals suffering from the current heat wave, coming from all over the world and especially from Australia, 2 days ago another related atrocity occurred.
New South Wales is experiencing the driest and most widespread drought conditions since 1965.
As a consequence, the state government had increased the number of kangaroos that farmers are allowed to murder, since according to human logic kangaroos are “competing” with cows and sheeps for food and water.
So like in plenty of other horrible examples, nonhumans are punished for humans’ mistakes. Humans are responsible for climate change, mostly since they refuse to give up eating meat, and these days humans’ meat obsession is broadening its victim scope, to include probably millions of kangaroos (already on any “regular” year more than a million kangaroos are murdered).
The kangaroos are caught in a cynical and vicious cycle. But this cycle is very familiar.
It is not new that animals are being shot at not to mention their habitat is being destroyed to satisfy humans desires. Nonhumans always pay the price for humans mistakes and irresponsibly.
A few days ago it was published that 4 more U.S. dairy farms would add fully automated robotic rotary parlor by the end of 2018.
Robotic milking, or automatic milking systems (AMS), have been around for 25 years and are now a mainstream technology in Europe (these systems account for more than half of the new installations in the UK). There are about 50,000 milking robots operating worldwide.
Rotary parlors are also helping humans to exploit cows for a while now. The combination of the two is quite new, and is said to “give dairy farmers the efficiency of rotary parlors with the consistency of robotic milking”.
The mechanization of the dairy industry is extremely worrying. Continue reading
Last week the Washington Post published an article stating that fishes can feel pain. Though usually headlines are the result of new data, there is nothing new about this specific article, just another article pointing the obvious. What we find interesting and relevant is its existence half way through 2018 more than its scientific content, as well as a possible implication of this “finding” which is being discussed along the article. We’ll start with the later.
A Cynical Reaction to a Self-Evident “Revelation”
Instead of fishes’ sentience “revelation” leading humans to stop hurting them, the article speculates possible changes in the fishing industry, some of which may lead to humans hurting them even more.
Today a “top-level” trade meeting between Chinese and American officials takes place. This meeting followed a month and a half long tit-for-tat trade tensions, which included policy acts as well as many threats between the world’s greatest super powers. Some of which were at the expense of the world’s most weakened – nonhumans animals.
The negotiations weren’t about animal legislation and for the most part not even about animals trade. In fact, the word ‘animals’ probably wasn’t even mentioned, not even once, during the meetings (except for the exploitative terms – ‘cattle’ and ‘pork’). The talks were an effort to stop an escalating trade war, yet millions of animals are to be effected by them, and that says a lot about the fate of animals in this world. Continue reading
Today is Earth Day, a day which is not and never was about non-human animals. The only species that Earth Day is about is humans. The reason we do address this day is that the AR community tends to adopt some of the environmental rhetoric. This is of course not at all new, but it became more prominent in the last couple of years due to the relative rising awareness of climate change.
The motivation behind it is unquestionable, AR activists are recruiting ecological claims as a tactical move, trying to tap into a more consensual topic, for the sake of animals. What is questionable is whether animals are benefiting from this use.
The use of egocentric and anthropocentric arguments in veganism advocacy is notoriously popular in the Animal Liberation movement, and we have a multimedia article about that problematic issue called Even the Most Selfish Argument. This is not the main concern we discuss in this post. It is also not about the fundamental differences between Environmentalism and Animal Liberation, an issue we have broadly discussed in another multimedia article called The Anthropocentric View of the Environmentalists.
In this post we focus on the more immediate and practical effects of environmentalism and the environmental rhetoric on nonhuman animals, some of which are already happening, and others are expected in the coming years.
As you know humans excel at resisting any substantial changes in their beloved habits, and instead settle for half-baked, partial options, which are often no more than lip service. They usually recruit their ingenuity so they would have to change their ways as little as possible. When it comes to dealing with climate change and sustainability issues, some of those moves may even end up causing more animal suffering around the world. Continue reading
Yesterday was World Day for the End of Fishing, a new initiative that asks for the abolition of fishing and fish farming.
The motivation behind this day, which is organized by the same groups who launched the World Day for the End of Speciesism in 2015, is the absolute indifference to the fate of fishes by the general public.
This day is an exception to the rule which, to a large extent, is a disregard of fishes’ suffering by the AR community. Most campaigns, organizations and activists rarely mention fishes and other aquatic animals despite that they are the vast majority of the victims of animal exploitation.
The marine animals industry is by far the largest exploitation industry in the world. Thousands of billions of individuals are caught in the world’s oceans, seas and lakes. Hundreds of billions of them are caught to feed the hundreds of billions of farmed fishes and crustaceans. Additional billions of individuals are caught unintentionally as bycatch.
But we don’t accuse activist of internalizing a speciesist view which prioritizes the suffering of land animals over that of marine animals. We are sure that the downplay of fishes’ suffering is mostly a tactical move, resulting from activists’ despair of humans’ apathy. Humans are much less likely to relate to fishes than to other industrially exploited animals, and especially mammals. That’s why, more than any other systematically exploited species, fishes are mentioned in many cases as part of a more ecological rhetoric of “empty oceans”, and not as sentient individuals.
The use of egocentric and anthropocentric arguments in vegan advocacy is notoriously popular in the Animal Liberation movement (an issue that should be and is broadly discussed separately). In the case of advocacy for fishes, it is not by chance that egocentric and anthropocentric reasons (mostly in disguise of ecological ones) take centre stage. Continue reading
There is an ongoing fuss in the past week over some press coverage of British farmers claiming they were threatened by vegan activists.
Obviously it’s a blown story made up by some farmers and used by some gutter press. There is no evidence of any of these accusations. No screenshots, no recordings, no letters or anything of that sort. If anything, activists were suggesting farmers to try and put themselves in the position of the animals, writing things like “would you want to be treated that way” – hoping to make them feel more related, not frightened. Expectedly, these scumbags have turned what is meant to be some sort of a thought experiment to try and make them empathize with their victims – into made up death threats.
But even if it was true, the problem isn’t that activists sent violent threats to farmers and butchers, the problem is with the method and with the addressees. Farmers and butchers are not the reason why billions of animals are suffering from birth to murder – humanity is. Farmers and butchers are only the operating hands of a huge oppressing machine. The head is humanity. No point in threating the hands. It would be the wrong method aimed at the wrong target. It is the head which should be targeted and the means shouldn’t be death threats.
Many of the activists’ responses are defensive, arguing that they can’t be violent since they are advocators of non-violent approach. Activists should be defensive but not because of manipulative farmers and sensationalist media, but since the non-violent approach is actually violent. Continue reading