Archive for earth liberation

A Fire in the Belly of the Beast: The Emergence of Revolutionary Environmentalism (part 3 of 3)

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by carmen4thepets

Please see: Part 1 Part 2

A sign bearing the letters ELF was found near the towers of KRKO Radio in Everett, about 25 miles north of Seattle in Washington state.

By Steven Best, PhD

While standpoints such as deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism,animal liberation, Black liberation, and the ELF are all important, none can accomplish systemic social transformation by itself. Working together, however, through a diversity of critiques and tactics that mobilize different communities, a flank of militant groups and positions can drive a battering ram into the multifaceted structures of power and domination and open the door to a new future.

Thus, revolutionary environmentalism is not a single group, but rather acollective movement rooted in specific tactics and goals (such as just discussed), organized as multi-issue, multiracial alliances that can mount effective opposition to capitalism and other modes of domination. We do not have in mind here a super-movement that embraces all struggles, but rather numerous alliance networks that may form larger collectives with other groups in fluid and dynamic ways, but that ultimately are as global in vision and reach as is transnational capitalism.[1] Although there is diversity in unity, there must also be unity in diversity. Solidarity can emerge in recognition of the fact that all forms of oppression are directly or indirectly related to the values, institutions, and system of global capitalism and related hierarchical structures. To be unified and effective, however, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist alliances require mutual sharing, respectful learning, and growth, such that, for instance, black liberationists, ecofeminists, and animal liberationists can help one another overcome racism, sexism, and speciesism.

“New social movements” and Greens have failed to realize their radical potential. They have abandoned their original demands for radical social change and become integrated into capitalist structures that have eliminated “existing socialist countries” and social democracies as well in a global triumph of neoliberalism. A new revolutionary force must therefore emerge, one that will build on the achievements of classical democratic, libertarian socialist, and anarchist traditions; incorporate radical green, feminist, and indigenous struggles; synthesize animal, earth, and human liberation politics and standpoints; and build a global social-ecological revolution capable of abolishing transnational capitalism so that just and ecological societies can be constructed in its place.

Using This Book

“Another world is possible.” World Social Forum

Similar to our last effort, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books, 2004), we seek in this book to present a rich diversity of voices and perspectives. Thus, we employ a pluralist, multipersectival, interdisciplinary, boundary-transgressing, bridge-building approach, bringing together sundry people and positions that ordinarily never meet. Igniting a Revolution breaks down various walls and boundaries, such as typically exist between academics and activists, scholars and political prisoners (former and current), whites and people of color, men and women, and human and animal rights advocates. This volume features a wide array of critical perspectives on social and environmental issues, ranging from social ecology, deep ecology, Earth First!, ecofeminism, and primitivism to Native Americans, Black liberationists, political prisoners, and animal/Earth liberation movements.

This book was organized according to the principles of radical feminist and anarchist philosophy, in order to give voice to oppressed peoples rather than present yet another selection from the few privileged. In this weighty volume of over forty diverse contributions, we have made a special effort to reach out to and include those activists who still sit in prison for their political “crimes” against the corporate-state complex. Yet because our focus is on people struggling from within the belly of the beast, we do not include those battling corporate ecocide, neo-liberalism, and biopiracy in India, Brazil, Ecuador, Africa, Chiapas, and elsewhere.[2]

An important task of this book – and of revolutionary environmentalism as well – is to decouple environmentalism from white, male, privileged positions; diversify it along class, gender, racial, ethnic, and other lines; and remove it from its single-issue pedestal. Still today, in the u.s. and other western nations, mainstream environmentalism fails to reach out to women, the poor, workers, migrants, and people of color whose immediate problems have more to do with toxic waste and chemical poisoning than a vanishing wilderness, although clearly these are interconnected issues.[3]Yet there are many promising signs in the last three decades and contemporary context whereby the struggles for Earth, animal, and human liberation are being conceived of and fought for as one. From a broad perspective, revolutionary environmentalism is a class, race, gender, and culture war that aims to abolish every system of domination, including that of human beings over nature.

This anthology is divided into seven sections that explore different aspects of the ever-deepening, global social-environmental crisis. Each section begins with a poem by a renowned activist-poet relevant to its general themes, as we close the book with a poetic afterward, and provide an appendix of rarely collected ELF communiqués.

Section I provides historical, philosophical, and political overviews of revolutionary environmentalism, with a focus on deep ecology, social ecology, Earth First!, and the ELF.

Section II reflects on the pathologies of consumerism, the ideologies of mass media, and the politics of everyday life that call into question one’s own complicity in the machines of destruction.

Section III dissects Christianity and orthodox religion from an ecological standpoint, and discusses the importance of spiritual connections among each other and to the Earth from numerous standpoints.

Section IV explores the “anarcho-primitivism” perspective which assails “civilization” as inherently and irredeemably rooted in domination, and thus calls for a return to primal ways of living.

Section V spotlights academics, political prisoners, Black liberationists, and animal liberationists who share personal experiences with state repression and paint a vivid picture of corporate dominated police state such as the u.s., as they also offer hope for continued struggle.

Section VI explores the justifications for sabotage tactics as a much-needed weapon in defense of the Earth, as it also discusses their limitations and advances larger visions for social change.

Section VII examines the commonalities among various oppressed groups and radical struggles, and underscores the need for a broad social/environmental movement for revolutionary change.

Our Goals

Igniting a Revolution is written by and for earth liberationists, animal liberationists, Black liberationists, Native Americans, ecofeminists, political prisoners, primitivists, saboteurs, grassroots activists, and militant academics. It reaches out to exploited workers, indigenous peoples, subsistence farmers, tribes pushed to the brink of extinction, guerilla armies, armed insurgents, disenfranchised youth, and to all others who struggle against the advancing juggernaut of global capitalism, neo-fascism, imperialism, militarism, and phony wars on terrorism that front for attacks on dissent and democracy. This book does not offer analysis or theory for its own sake, it is a political intervention to help spread resistance and change. It is not a haphazard collection of thoughts, but a strategic effort to unite radical struggles in the western world and beyond. It is not a history book, but a book to help make history.

This volume aims to promote thought, provoke anger, stir passion, emphasize commonalities, establish connections, advocate systemic thinking, and, ultimately, to galvanize militant action appropriate to the level of the destruction of the earth and its sundry inhabitants and communities. While the voices in this book speak in different ways on social, political, and environmental issues, together they recognize the insanity, injustice, and unsustainability of the current world order, as they seek profound transformation at many different levels.

Windows of opportunity are closing. The actions that human beings now collectively take or fail to take will determine whether the future is hopeful or bleak. The revolution that this planet desperately needs at this crucial juncture will involve, among other things, a movement to abolish anthropocentrism, speciesism, racism, patriarchy, homophobia, and prejudices and hierarchies of all kinds, while reconstituting social institutions in a form that promotes autonomy, self-determination of nations and peoples, decentralization and democratization of political life, non-market relations, guaranteed rights for humans and animals, an ethics of respect for nature and all life, and the harmonization of the social and natural worlds.

The Earth will survive – indeed, it will regenerate and flourish – without us, but we will not survive without a healthy Earth. Numerous hominid species such as Homo Neanderthalenis have perished because they could not adapt to changing conditions, and countless human civilizations have collapsed for ecological reasons. Clearly, there is no guarantee that Homo sapiens will survive in the near future, as the dystopian visions of films such as Mad Max or Waterworld may actually be realized. Nor is there is any promise that serious forms of revolutionary environmentalism can or will arise, given problems such as the factionalism and egoism that typically tears political groups apart and/or the fierce political repression always directed against resistance movements. Yet as social and ecological situations continue to deteriorate globally, the struggles for ecology and justice may grow ever more radical and intense.

Amidst so many doubts and uncertainties, there is nonetheless no question whatsoever that the quality of the future – if humanity and other imperiled species have one at all – depends on the strength of global resistance movements and the possibilities for revolutionary change.

May this collection of readings help blaze the trail forward and ignite this revolution. We invite you to read, reflect, resist, and revolt.


[1] In 1996, for instance, the Zapatistas organized a global “encuentro” during which over 3,000 grassroots activists and intellectuals from 42 countries assembled to discuss strategies for a worldwide struggle against neoliberalism. In response to the Zapatista’s call for an “intercontinental network of resistance, recognizing differences and acknowledging similarities,” the People’s Global Action Network was formed, a group explicitly committed to anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and ecological positions (see http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/en/index.htm). For more examples of global politics and networks that report on news, actions, and campaigns from around the world, and cover human rights, animal rights, and environmental struggles, see One World (http://www.oneworld.net/), Protest.Net (http://www.protest.net/), and Indymedia (http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml).

[2] For some of the works chronicling the ecological and political battles in other areas of the world, see Carolyn Merchant, Radical Ecology: The Search For a Livable World; Richard Peet and Michael Watts (eds.),Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements (London: Routledge, 1996); Bron Taylor (ed.), Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism; and Chapter 8 in Rik Scarce, Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement.

[3] For an attempt to forge a grassroots alliance politics that links environmental justice with broad social concerns, developing an anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-authoritarian, feminist, queer and trans-liberationist movement against global capitalism, see the “Colours of Resistance” group at http://colours.mahost.org/. Also see the race-based critiques of Shellenberger and Nordhaus in footnote 15 above (footnote 1 Page 2).

Dr. Steven Best is NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation.  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 booksover 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis(See Dr. Best’s Complete Biography)

source: http://negotiationisover.com/2010/01/17/a-fire-in-the-belly-of-the-beast-the-emergence-of-revolutionary-environmentalism-part-3-of-3/

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The Fresno Frenzy: Invasion of the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2010 by carmen4thepets

by Steven Best

Flying over Fresno, I looked out the window of the airplane and saw a landscape littered with factory farm buildings that housed thousands of animals in complete misery, confined in cramped cages and pens until they were ready for slaughter. I got a foreboding feeling about the setting in which I was about to land.

I was en route to an unprecedented conference called “Revolutionary Environmentalism,” held at the California State University, Fresno (CSU). It brought together notorious animal rights and environmental activists that, at one time or another, had been arrested for direct action and acts of animal liberation and property destruction, along with noted academics who write about and support this controversial aspect of the animal rights and environmental movements.

The implicit understanding of “revolutionary” involved (1) a critique of the capitalist system and its privileging of profit over all other values; (2) opposition to the Western worldview of anthropocentrism which disconnects human beings from nature and views the natural world as resources for human consumption; (3) direct action tactics that bypass the political process as an ineffectual means of change, that practice civil disobedience and lawbreaking, and that sometimes destroy the property of individuals or industries that harm animals or degrade nature.

Organized by political science professor Mark Somma,CSU approved hosting this provocative and singular conference. Rarely do universities support such controversial topics, but CSU approval was all the more remarkable as animal rights and environmental activists have declared war against interests such as agribusiness that are among its key financial contributors.

In attendance were former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activists Rod Coronado and Gary Yourofsky; Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepard Conservation Society; former Earth Liberation Front (ELF) spokespersons Craig Rosebaugh and James Leslie Pickering; Dr. Bron Taylor, chair of the Religion Department at the University of Florida; Dr. Rik Scarce from the Science and Technology Studies Department at Michigan State University; faculty members from various departments at CSU; and myself.

During a time when the Bush administration put the nation on “high” alert for terrorist attacks, the conference brought together representatives from the FBI’s most wanted “domestic terrorist” groups–the ALF and ELF–and many others to discuss radical environmentalism and direct action. The stage was set for high drama.

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Interviews with Rod Coronado and Captain Paul Watson

An Irate Industry

The passion play started in December 2001 when the Center For Consumer Freedom (CCF), a conservative group representing restaurant and tavern owners, got wind of the conference and put notice of it on the group’s website with an article entitled “Legitimizing the Lunatics.” Setting the precedent for conservative reaction, the CCF vilified the conference participants and condemned CSU for allowing “criminals” and “eco-terrorists” on its campus, thereby allegedly justifying their cause. In a case study of how industry propaganda and disinformation machines operate, CCF whipped up a climate of fear and hysteria by alerting other interest groups around the country about the event. CCF misrepresented university motives, absurdly exaggerated the danger of violence, and caricatured conference participants in crude terms while never questioning the impact of industry on animals and the earth.

Needless to say, the Fresno agribusiness community was outraged that the university it contributed money to would host a cadre of people militantly opposed to its business and values. Weeks before it happened, the conference dominated Fresno media and talk radio stations. People throughout the university and community debated it with great intensity, although with precious little information about direct action movements. Symptomatic of the paranoia hovering over Fresno as thick as its deadly fog of air pollution, car dealers hired extra security out of fear that hoards of black-clothed, balaclava-wearing thugs would pounce on their SUV lots in pre-dawn raids, as in fact the ELF has done in other states.

Prominent among the mob of detractors was John Harris, owner of one of the largest beef ranches in the San Joaquin Valley. Harris penned an op-ed in the Fresno Bee calling the conference participants “terrorists.” Many backers of CSU threatened to withdraw financial support in the belief that the university “sponsored” or “supported” eco-terrorism. Republican California state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth joined the chorus of those decrying the “waste” of taxpayer money and demanding reducing state funds to the university proportionately.

The university issued press releases and statements on its website that rejected these charges and insisted it was only hosting a timely debate about issues that clearly relate to the critics. Wisely, the university acknowledged that animal and earth liberation movements were part of a new political culture and it is better to try to understand rather than ignore them. Many critics were not convinced, and felt that the university was unavoidably validating repugnant radical viewpoints. These same people insisted that they are not opponents of free speech rights, while they made a convenient exception to the rule. Symptomatic of the level of bias, a CSU student interviewed in the Los Angeles Times compared the conference members to the Ku Klux Klan, as CSU classics and humanities professor Bruce Thorton argued the university should no more sponsor this group of radicals than it should child molesters.

Other critics proclaimed the conference was rigged unfairly to advance a one-sided agenda without opposing voices. In fact, agribusiness interests were invited to speak but declined the offer. Moreover, the charge of bias is absurd because the conference was the one time university and community members could hear alternative viewpoints rather than the agribusiness propaganda that dominates Fresno. The conference, in other words, was the balance critics claimed was lacking.

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Free Speech  Except For You

Putting aside invidious comparisons with activists who espouse compassion, non-violence, and anti-discriminatory views of any kind, does not even the KKK have a right to speak? Is not the university the most appropriate forum for debating controversial issues? Does truth not emerge through the clash of opposing positions? Are direct action tactics and the new liberation movements not among the urgent issues of the day that deserve a public airing? Is it wrong to discuss what is happening to animals and the environment in an era of intense development of the natural world and mass mechanization? Should students be “protected” from controversial views or do they need to hear them? Can they not make up their own minds, or do they need the paternalism of the state patriarchs?

The greater harm is not in having the debate, but in silencing it. The representatives of the agricultural industry and their conspirators showed themselves to be cowards, morally bankrupt, devoid of respect for truth and democracy, and shameless peddlers of propaganda. The university, conversely, was courageous as it withstood attacks from ardent supporters, from other members of the faculty and the community, and from the state government. If nothing else, the university gave local business interests the opportunity to meet and better understand their enemy.

Most of the conference was closed to the non-university community in order to prevent disruption and guarantee the kind of sober dialogue the organizers and participants sought. Thus, conference participants spoke to students and faculty in classes, seminars, and panel discussions. The main event, an evening panel open to anyone in the community with a ticket, drew 800 people. Like the classroom visits and the day panels, the audience response was overwhelmingly positive.

Instead of being bombarded with one-sided opinions, vilifications, slander, and distortion of the highest order–as they were in the weeks before the conference–thousands of members of the university and community had their first opportunity to hear radical activists and academics represent their views in their own words and in a full context. As the conference participants spoke to classes throughout the university and presented their views in numerous panels and a huge public forum, they had the opportunity to explain the legitimacy and need for direct action tactics, and to discuss the origins, motivations, and goals of the new liberation movements.

Whatever audience members concluded, it was obvious that these “lunatics” are intelligent, aware, and compassionate people who lost their government trust blinders for good reason. They are people committed to the defense of the natural and social worlds against the ever-escalating assault of industries on the forests, rivers, wilderness, and animals, and their radicalism emerged organically out of their political experience. In effect, radicals are products of the state that condemns them, for if government enforced laws and protected citizens, and if industries were not allowed “ownership” rights over animals and the environment, there would be no need for an ALF, ELF, and their academic supporters.

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Interview with Dr. Steve Best

Will Monkeywrench For Nature

Throughout the event, the activists and academics challenged the charge that destroying property is violence by insisting that violence can only be committed against sentient beings and not objects. The ALF and ELF are deeply committed to principles of nonviolence and see themselves as adhering to the peaceful direct action traditions of Gandhi and King. In the history of ALF and ELF actions, no human being has ever been injured or killed, whereas activists have been assaulted and killed by industry goons and the state. Subsequently, panelists rejected the charge that they are “terrorists” as an Orwellian reversal of the truth. ALF and ELF activists harm no one and protect animals and the environment from severe harm; conversely, industries torture and kill billions of animals as they devastate ecosystems throughout the planet. Thus, who are the real terrorists?

Key questions emerged throughout the conference: who are the ALF and ELF and why do they exist? Do these groups play a positive or negative role in the struggles to protect the natural world? Why do they feel it is necessary to break laws? Can no real and enduring progress be gained through legislation? Are property destruction and arson acceptable tactics? What role do radical academics play in the new liberation movement and how should activists and academics relate?

The new liberation movements are relatively young, having emerged in the late 1970s (the ALF), the early 1980s (Earth First!), and the 1990s (the ELF). In strong terms, activists explained that they have found it necessary to work outside the legal system and flout its laws, because the U.S. government is thoroughly corrupt in its representation of powerful corporate interests over the people. Activists have no trust in the state, and they described how, in cases such as the Animal Welfare Act, laws serve only to regulate exploitation and violence, or to distract attention from the fact that the state serves the interests of industries. Known for sinking and ramming whaling ships, Paul Watson explained that he does not break laws; rather he upholds international treaties supposed to protect whales and other animals but which in fact are not enforced.

Activists did not block the possibility of others making useful reforms within the state. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, has been the driving force behind creating special elections that bypass the influence of industries on governments and allow citizens themselves to pass laws against various forms of animal cruelty. But the direct action activists emphasized how difficult it is to make progressive laws, how poorly they are enforced, and how they are constantly rewritten and watered down through industry pressure on government. In an extreme situation where after decades of hard work by animal rights and environmental groups ever more animals are being killed and abused and the destruction of the earth advances rapidly, activists feel that “extreme” measures are needed to defend the earth and its animal species from attack.

Liberation: Coming to a Town Near You

While the country feared another attack from the Al Qaeda and remained on high alert status, activists and academics gathered peacefully to talk about the crisis in the natural world. Although they provoked anger with many, the conference members had a deep and lasting impact on many students who for the first time heard radical viewpoints instead of industry propaganda. Along with the outrage, there was also appreciation for alternative perspectives and challenges to the state, capitalism, and the Western anthropocentric mindset that views the natural world as nothing but resources for human beings to use as they see fit.

Clearly, this band of “eco-terrorists” is no threat to national security, although the movements they represent or defend do pose serious threats to industries that exploit animals and the earth. The new liberation movements can be compared to the Black Panthers of the 1960s to the degree that mainstream thinking frames them as radical, extreme, and violent. Or, they can be likened to the abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century insofar as they seek to liberate and protect a living world from those who illegitimately claim rights of property ownership over it. Along with globalization and genetic engineering, animal rights and radical environmentalism are among the most urgent and heated topics of the day.

Flushed with excitement over a successful and historically significant education forum, I wondered about its long-term impact. Would there be more or less free speech at Fresno in the future? Can the spark of the conference ignite activity among an otherwise passive student body and dormant campus? Was the door opened to other radical viewpoints, or would there be a strong reaction and efforts to reindoctrinate the community with agribusiness propaganda? Can there be more conferences like this, or was it a singular event, both in terms of bringing together a unique combination of individuals and getting a university to host and fund it? (In fact, since the Fresno conference, a conference of radical environmental activists was featured at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and provoked similar ire against the university for using tax dollars to sponsor “eco-terrorists.”

Moreover, another university-sponsored conference of radical activists and academics is being planned for spring 2004 around the publication of the forthcoming book, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, co-edited by Tony Nocella and myself.)

Unfortunately, one of the main issues of the conference, the relation between radical academics and activists, was never engaged. Academics certainly appreciate the activists, but I heard anti-theory/academic biases voiced on occasion by some activists. Whether appreciated by all or not, it was important that academics were present to speak a different discourse informed by their study of history, sociology, and philosophy. There is a need for the new liberation movements to be taught in university courses; to be studied and debated at an academic level by sociologists, philosophers, political scientists, and others; and to be involved in public debates. While many radical academics are deeply involved in activist causes, teaching and writing can be important modes of activism. Educating students and the public about the history, ethics, and politics of militant direct action movements is an important service academics can perform as they help to legitimate animal and earth liberation as serious and important topics of discussion.

Despite the new attack on activism and constitutional rights in the era of the “PATRIOT Act,” animal and earth liberation movements continue to wage war against the destructive planetary machine of capitalism. As capitalist industries destroy ever more human and animal life and devour the earth, opposition movements to this genocide and ecocide will and must escalate. As they do, and become ever more serious threats to industries, the state will fight back with ferocity, as it is doing currently through the Patriot Act and its even more repressive sequel soon to debut in our land, “PATRIOT Act 2,” or the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.”

One can only hope that the coming struggles will not be violent, but history shows that when the stakes are this high, moderation is not always exercised. •

Dr. Steven Best is NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation.  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 booksover 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis(See Dr. Best’s Complete Biography)

source: http://networkedblogs.com/p23617193?a=comment

Who Is Winning the Battle for Food Regime? Vegans or Carnivores? Dare To Know

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2009 by carmen4thepets

by Dr. Steven Best

We often hear about the any “victories” the vegan movement is piling up with new products on the shelves, new restaurants, growing coverage with celebrities and talk show hosts, and growing consciousness in general.

As this article shows, a growing awareness that meat production is environmentally devastating means that vegans have grounds for hope and optimism.[1]

But the big picture and full context brings sobering realities to light; the fact is that this is all too little, and too late and, while we win some battles, we are losing – badly – the overall war to save the planet from ecological collapse. Consider just two of many grim facts and narratives:

1) “Animal-food production in the United States alone has increased no less than four times since the 1950s, despite the more recent spread of popular knowledge concerning the harmful effects of meat consumption. At present there are an estimated 20 billion livestock on earth. In the United States more than 100,000 cows and calves are slaughtered every day, along with 14,000 chickens. The Tyson plant at Noel, Missouri kills some 300,000 chickens daily while the IBP slaughterhouse at Garden City, Kansas and the ConAgra complex at Greeley, Colorado both disassemble more than 6400 steers a day. All told 23 million animals are killed worldwide to satisfy human and food demands daily. In a McDonaldized society Americans now eat on average 30 pounds of beef yearly, with seemingly little concern for well-known health risks. Conditions of factory farming, said to be improved owing to reforms, are in fact worse by most standards — more crowded, more painful, more disease-ridden, more drug-saturated even than at the time of Upton Sinclair’s classic The Jungle (written in 1906).[2]

2) In a February 17, 2009 interview, Mia MacDonald of Brighter Green, a non-profit environmental think tank based in New York, discussed her case study of China’s runaway demand for animal-derived food products:

“Since 1980, meat consumption in China has risen four-fold. It’s now about 119 pounds per person a year, just over half the average American’s per capita annual meat consumption of 220 pounds.

In 2007, China raised and slaughtered 700 million pigs. That’s about 10 times the number in the U.S., although pork is China’s most popular meat and China’s population is more than four times as large as the U.S.’s, dairy consumption is rising even faster; the dairy industry in China has grown 20 percent a year over the past decade, and consumption of milk products in China has risen three times since 2000.”[3]

As Mark Bittman writes, “Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago.” There is a shocking spike in global flesh consumption as well: “The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050.”[4]

Opportunities are slipping through our hands like sand. Veganism is crucial, but the vegan movement could not be weaker and more marginalized in response to this planetary crisis. In the essays Jason Miller and I wrote in critical response to the visions put forth by Lee Hall and Gary Francione (“Averting the China Syndrome”)[5], we argued that the projected “vegan revolution” – to happen somehow, sometime – is a pipedream, not only because there is not enough time for this incremental change to creep glacially over the planet, but because, to reiterate, agribusiness and the carnivore paradigm are dwarfing tiny gains in veganism, and we cannot outrun a tornado or outswim a tsunami.

The answers and positive models of revolutionary change will be hard to come by.  One thing for sure is that we can never take even the first step so long as vegans live in their insular elite fantasyland.

This entire movement needs to be picked and shaken to its core. The most monumental events in human history are largely going ignored by the public in general and vegans in specific, and yet this community claims special enlightenment and a unique mission to bring truth and ethics to the world, but they’re lost in their cyber-matrix and the illusion of internet politics, and they have kept veganism restricted from everyone other than privileged whites..

As one step toward revitalizing and rethinking veganism as a social, political and environmental movement, we have proposed recasting veganism as “deep veganism.” [6] On the surface a simple thing, deep veganism rethinks practices such as gardening in radically new terms.  As we wrote earlier: “see the importance of gardening in broad terms, involving not only avoiding chemical poisoning of corporate agriculture and the high costs or inaccessibility of organic foods, but also as cultivating individuals and communities not only soil, breaking with capitalist market relations and a key link of the oppressive chains, becoming autonomous and self-reliant, and bonding with the earth and processes of growth in one of the best possible ways to nurture ecological consciousness.

So there are nutritional, individual, community, educational, political, and economic dimensions to this that are crucial for planting seeds for a new world. It is key to autonomy, health, veganism, community, and breaking with corporations and market structures”[7]

There is no time left to waste. Veganism needs to emerge as a comprehensive and relevant social movement, accessible to everyone, that holds the key to our survival.  There is no blueprint.  Grassroots community outreach and independent radical approaches are required.  Our survival depends on taking control locally instead of reinforcing the systems that threaten our planet.


[1] Kathy Freston, “10 Signs Vegetarianism is Catching On,” November 30, 2009, AlterNet.com(http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/144241/10_signs_vegetarianism_is_catching_on?obref=obinsite).

[2] Carl Boggs, “Corporate Power, Ecological Crisis, and Animal Rights,”2007,  Fast Capitalism 2.2(http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/2_2/boggs.html)..

[3] Anna Lappe, “An interview with Mia MacDonald on China’s growing appetite for U.S.-style meat production,” February 17, 2009, grist(http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/2/16/21496/7516).

[4] Mark Bittman, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler,” January 27, 2008, The New York Times, (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html).

[5] Steven Best and Jason Miller, “Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism,” February 24, 2009, Thomas Paine’s Corner(http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/averting-the-china-syndrome-response-to-our-critics-and-the-devotees-of-fundamentalist-pacifism/).

[6]“ Steven Best, “Introducing “Deep Vegan Outreach”: The Time For Change Is Now,” December 19, 2009, Negotiation Is Over(http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/19/introducing-deep-vegan-outreach-the-time-for-change-is-now/)..

[7] Steven Best, “Planting the Seeds of Deep Veganism and Social Revolution,” December 19, 2009, Negotiation Is Over (http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/19/introducing-deep-vegan-outreach-the-time-for-change-is-now/).

Dr. Steven Best is NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation.  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 booksover 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.

If the nonhumans could fight back, their tormentors would have expired long ago. We have an obligation to expose the abusers. It is the LEAST we can do! I welcome your emails & contributions.

source: http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/28/who-is-winning-the-battle-for-food-regime-vegans-or-carnivores-dare-to-know/