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movement building

Challenging Our Own Status Quo

Challenging Our Own Status Quo

Speciesism is the underlying disease of which all human exploitation of nonhumans is a symptom. If our goal as liberationists is to dissolve speciesism, to bring about a robust cultural change that will ensure lasting change for the animals, then the perspective of the "animal rights" movement and its advocates needs to shift:

Right now the dominant perspective, goal and message is about limiting the number of future animals brought into the world. ("Go vegan" and "this company kills animals but we'll ignore that and praise it for the plant-based option they offer on the chance that someone who is not yet ethically aligned with the idea that violence against animals is wrong might purchase it instead of a violent option, thereby slightly reducing the demand for more future violence."*)

We need to shift that to a focus on how the rights of the trapped animals who are suffering and crying and being forced onto a kill floor at this very moment are being violated. The goal here is to get people to realize that the violence is wrong and that these animals are in a state of emergency and need to be fought for. These stakes are much higher, which makes this framing much more compelling. Not only will the currently popular goal of reducing the demand for exploited animals be achieved through this pushing of anti-speciesist, anti-violent ideology anyways, but this is how we will actively combat the disease of speciesism, instead of just pumping drugs into the system to relieve a few symptoms.

•Kelly
*Just to be brutally redundant with this: No one who has decided to stop eating animals and products of their exploitation is going to buy a burrito with someone's flesh in it, and no one is going to decide to stop eating animals because they ate a single plant-based burrito. People don't need convenient access to nonviolent food options, they need motivation to not by violence-based products. What they need (and what the animals need from them, in the interest of a cultural shift in how humans perceive nonhumans) is to become ethically aligned with anti-speciesism. And even if one's goal is "more individual humans eating plants instead of animal products" then making anti-speciesists out of them is their most compelling reason to do that.

Never Compromise

Never Compromise

We should never compromise on our demand for total liberation. And we should never compromise our voice.

Including when it comes to those who share our goal.

Everyone has a right to autonomy over their own body, and for so many animals right now, that right is being violated. The "animal rights" movement HAS TO BE about the rights of the oppressed, not the choices of the oppressors. Someone's freedom can not be a matter of someone else's consumer whims.

So don't just speak up against the oppressors. Speak up when you hear your allies' voices going quiet in the name of "not pushing too hard" or "baby steps" or whatever oppressor-imposed reason we let our society crush our voice and slow our momentum with. Chipotle or SeaWorld, we cannot let anyone distract us from the violence they commit, whether they use manipulative advertising imagery, vegan burritos and rollercoasters, or straight up lies in that aim.

Imagine for a moment that we're in a version of Nazi Germany in which the Nazis are selling all the shoes and jackets and watches and locks of hair that they have taken from those who they have killed. To make a more accurate analogy to our society's institutionalized violence against nonhuman beings, imagine they work their victims to the point of mentally dejected and physically broken immobility in a factory producing consumer goods, and even repurpose their bodies, once spent, into consumer products. And imagine that they come out with one product made from plants instead of human flesh, produced by consenting, paid workers instead of enslaved, brutalized innocents. Would we be so excited about that one product from Auschwitz that was made nonviolently that we would stop condemning the Nazis for the violence they were still enacting against innocent animals at that camp? Would we actively praise them for killing innocent beings (who just didn't make their cut of morally relevant categorization) with gas chambers instead of boiling water?

As if. Check that speciesism. If the billions upon billions upon billions of animals being so violently exploited were humans, we would not be politely handing out vegan recipes to passersby, we would be be aggressively demanding an end to the institutions that violate those animals' rights to freedom from violence and oppression. We wouldn't be asking oppressor-class individuals to eat more plants instead of other people, we'd be preventing the bodies of those exploited people from getting to the shelves. So let's do that.

(As a side note, if we were doing what we know to be truly just, we would be stopping those trains and tearing open those fences. But this is an imperfect analogy, since unlike that human Holocaust, in the case of the nonhuman holocaust, more innocent beings will be raped into the world to take the place of those liberated.)

Frankly I don't even think we'd have to have this discussion about whether to applaud or attack Chipotle for a plant-based option if the flesh they served alongside it was taken from puppies and kittens. Yeah. We have to be fighting for the cages to be opened, not for tofu and rollercoasters to be placed next to the animals crying from them.

So not only do we have to demand nothing short of liberation at all times, but we have to always be looking out for our co-activists, and challenging each other to speak more honestly and uncompromisingly at all times. We can never be silent in the face of injustice and violence. Silence favors only the silencer.

Anyone who kills animals -- especially those who try to convince others that that violence is a good thing -- is our enemy. Because they're obviously that animal's enemy.

•Kelly