A DECLARATION OF WAR, Killing People to Save the Animals and the Environment,
THE MYTH OF NON-VIOLENCE
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.”
The Bible’s Ecclesiastes can be used for historical purposes to show that several thousand years ago, people were wrestling with the fact of human cruelty and the difficulty of finding an answer to it all. How do we make sense out of the madness of the world we have created? As said in the previous chapters, liberators believe human nature and society are never going to allow an ethic of respect for animals. Given the liberator approach, then, how are true animal lovers going to live in this world? If your family is doomed to suffering and death, what can you do about it? ?
“Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of the oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive, but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes was aware of evil, and realized that all human action to change evil into good was for naught. “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all is vanity.”?
We cannot make a difference! We are kidding ourselves if we think we can. Liberators agree with that biblical author. But they disagree with his ultimate prescription for coping with the evil in the world.
“Fear God, and keep his Commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
You can see the foundation of the peace movement in these quotations from the Bible. There is the recognition that evil exists, and a belief that God will judge all evil at some point. When you throw in the Christian ideal of turning the cheek and loving your enemy, you get the following strategy. Live peacefully, refrain from killing, and love the oppressors as your brothers, for all evil will be judged by God. ?
It seems like a tall order, asking humans to live like Jesus Christ. But the real meaning of this strategy is more true to human nature. It means that you should cover your own ass by obeying God’s commandments, so that when your day of judgment comes you will be a shoe in to Heaven. On the other hand, the evil oppressors will get theirs when God gets His hands on them. In other words, let God do the dirty work of punishing evil bastards – keep your record clean! There is nothing wrong with punishment of oppressors, just with humans doing the punishing. ?
According to the liberators, that’s not exactly loving ones oppressors! ?
Nothing is new under the sun. People have oppressed others before, and freedom fighters have existed to oppose them. Just as Christ’s tactic was in the form of self suffering and preaching love for all, even for his oppressors, so have other social reformers sought love and peace as a force for social change. ?
Some people who hope to end the suffering and killing of animals are attracted to non-violence, for reasons, interpreted by liberators, that will become clearer near the end of this chapter. Their modern day hero is M.K. Gandhi. Some broader minded people use Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., as a model. Since King was essentially a Black American Christian clone of Gandhi, and himself quotes Gandhi on many occasions, the following analysis of non-violent resistance will concentrate on the originator of the modern day peace movement – and with his own words. Let’s look at Gandhi’s non-violent resistance and see what his approach was all about. The following analysis will use Gandhi’s book, Non-Violent Resistance, published by Schocken Books. (All emphasis is added.) As in other chapters, this presentation is from the point of view of liberators. ?
The main force that Gandhi used was called Satyagraha, also called passive resistance. Satyagraha is a word that he coined, and it means soul force, or truth force. At its root is the view that:
“(One’s opponent) must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what means truth to one may be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on one’s self.”
One key point of Satyagraha is that, “It excludes the use of violence because man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth and, therefore, not competent to punish.” If one punishes oneself, then errors in judgment would not hurt others. As Gandhi explained:
“Everybody admits that sacrifice of self is infinitely superior to sacrifice of others. Moreover, if this kind of force is used in a cause that is unjust, only the person using it suffers. He does not make others suffer for his mistakes. Men have before now done many things which were subsequently found to have been wrong. It is therefore meet (sic) that he should not do that which he knows to be wrong, and suffer the consequences whatever it may be. This is the key to the use of soul-force.”
To illustrate the effectiveness of using soul-force. Gandhi told of one of the “sweetest recollections in his life” in which it was used. His wife, Kasturba, was suffering from a hemorrhagic malady and seemed refractory to usual forms of treatment. Gandhi felt that she should abstain from eating salt and pulses to purify her body as a treatment. Asking her to give up pulses and salt was like asking the average American to give up meat. Let’s have Gandhi tell the rest of the story. ?
“At last she challenged me saying that even I could not give up these articles if I was advised to do so. I was pained and equally delighted – delighted in that I got an opportunity to shower my love on her. I said to her: ‘You are mistaken. If I was ailing and the doctor advised me to give up these or any other articles I should unhesitatingly do so. But there! Without any medical advice, I give up salt and pulses for one year, whether you do so or not.’ ?
She was rudely shocked and exclaimed in deep sorrow: ‘ Pray forgive me. Knowing you, I should not have provoked you. I promise to abstain from these things, but for heaven’s sake take back your vow. This is too hard on me.’ ?
It is very good for you to give up these articles. I have not the slightest doubt that you will be all the better without them. As for me, I cannot retract a vow seriously taken. And it is sure to benefit me, for all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for man. You will therefore leave me alone. It will be a test for me, and a moral support to you in carrying out your resolve.’ ?
So she gave me up. ‘ You are too obstinate. You will listen to none.’ She said, and sought relief in tears.”
Gandhi called this an example of domestic Satyagrahi. It’s key elements are the same for all forms of this technique. ?
Notice that, much like a child who holds his breath until turning blue, Gandhi engaged in self-suffering to get what he wanted. He played on another’s love and pity. As he said: “Force of love and pity are greater than the force of arms.” In other words, give others a guilt trip. Say to them: “If you don’t do what I want I’ll hurt myself, and it will be on your conscience.”?
It is extremely important that the ones to whom you apply self-suffering tactics have a conscience. The basis of the technique is that others will learn the truth you are trying to communicate as they empathize with your pain and suffering. Empathy and identification are essential for self-suffering to work. ?
To have empathy and identification, there must be a sense of oneness between individuals, and a mutual love. Gandhi referred to this in the term ahimsa, which is a universal love. But it is a typical Eastern religion term, with many nuances of meaning foreign to Western minds. For example, it means dissociating oneself from all worldly possessions and relationships. (Marriage is out for true people with ahimsa. You are not supposed to play favorites.) In this context, ahimsa is the realization of a kinship with all people, and, in fact, with all animals. ?
Gandhi gave an example of the power of ahimsa and non-violence associated with it in dealing with a thief.
“You set this armed robber down as an ignorant brother; you intend to reason with him at a suitable opportunity; you argue that he is, after all, a fellow man; you do not know what prompted him to steal. You, therefore, decide that, when you can, you will destroy the man’s motive for stealing. Whilst you are thus reasoning with yourself, the man comes again to steal. Instead of being angry with him you take pity on him. You think that this stealing habit must be a disease with him. Henceforth, you, therefore, keep your doors and windows open, you change your sleeping-place, and you keep your things in a manner most accessible to him. The robber comes again and is confused as all this is new to him; nevertheless, he takes away your things. But his mind is agitated. He inquires about you in the village, he comes to learn about your broad and loving heart, he repents, he begs your pardon, returns your things, and leaves off the stealing habit. He becomes your servant, and you will find for him honorable employment.”
Yea, right, Gandhi, exclaim the liberators! Even social workers don’t believe that crap about people. ?
Gandhi was probably only talking about Indians, not Americans or other Western peoples. In fact, he did say that his experiment in non-violent resistance had the best chance of working in India. And he said, near the end of his life,
“I am but a poor mortal. I believe in my experiment and in my uttermost sincerity. But it may be that the only fitting epitaph after my death will be ‘He tried but signally failed’.”
Alas, Gandhi, all is vanity! ?
The above description of how to deal with a thief illustrates Gandhi’s belief that:
“Three-fourth of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear, if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint. We will then agree with our adversaries quickly or think of them charitably.”
In other words, empathy will bring understanding and peace. ?
To be this ideal person, full of love and forgiveness, is to be a Satyagrahi, a practitioner of Satyagraha. This type of person is the Eastern equivalent of Christ. “He has to almost, if not entirely, be a perfect man.” Gandhi did not think of himself or his followers as real Satyagrahis. ?
This is what it takes to be a Satyagrahi, a true passive resistor. Gandhi made the following rules: (I quote)
1. A Satyagrahi, i.e., a civil resister will harbour no anger.
2. He will suffer the anger of the opponent.
3. In so doing he will put up with assaults from the opponent, never retaliate; but he
will not submit, out of fear of punishment or the like, to any order given in anger.
4. When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by the authorities.
5. If a civil resister has any property in his possession as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, even though in defending it he might lose his life. He will however, never retaliate.
6. Non-retaliation excludes swearing and cursing.
7. Therefore, a civil resister will never insult his opponent, and therefore also not take part in many of the newly coined cries which are contrary to the spirit of ahimsa.
8. A civil resister will not salute the Union Jack, nor will he insult it or officials, English or Indian.
9. In the course of the struggle if any one insults an official or commits an assault upon him, a civil resister will protect such official or officials from the insult or attack even at the risk of his life.
Those were Gandhi’s words. I have not exaggerated them.
What may seem strange was Gandhi’s insistence that non-violence resistance is only possible when those resisting are absolutely loyal to the State. Gandhi got this idea from Thoreau, who coined the term civil disobedience. It is the belief that a man of honor, who normally obeys moral laws, has a right to disobey immoral laws. As Gandhi said:
“The privilege of resisting or disobeying a particular law or order accrues only to him who gives willing and unswerving obedience to the laws laid down for him.”
Unless all moral laws are obeyed scrupulously, the resister is ineffective. This is because public opinion is tremendously important in this non-resistance approach.
“Experience has shown that mere appeal to the reason produces no effect upon those who have settled convictions. The eyes of their understanding are opened not by argument but by the suffering of the Satyagrahi. The Satyagrahi strives to reach reason through the heart. The method of reaching the heart is to awaken public opinion. Public opinion for which one cares is a mightier force than that of gunpowder.”
If the Satyagrahi was not pure of mind, spirit, and action, if he was not a model human being, then it would weaken the pity that the public would feel at his suffering.
Liberators hold that whenever a theory seems too naive to stand on its own, you can bet God isn’t far behind. Naive in theory becomes faith in God. Gandhi’s theory is no exception.
He believed that a faith in God is essential for non-violent resistance.
“A Satyagrahi has nothing to do with victory. He is sure of it, but he has also to know that it comes from God. His is but to suffer.”
When asked whether Socialists or Communists could be Satyagrahis, Gandhi explained:
“I’m afraid not. For a Satyagrahi has no other stay but God, and he who has any other stay or depends on any other help cannot offer Satyagraha… I am talking of those who are prepared in the name of God to stake their all for the sake of their principle… To bear all kinds of tortures without a murmur of resentment is impossible for a human being without the strength that comes from God. Only in His strength we are strong. And only those who can cast their cares and their fears on that immeasurable Power have faith in God.”
Suffering and dying make sense if there is a God to pass judgment on it all. Haven’t Christians heard that message before? The writer of Ecclesiates was correct: there is nothing new under the sun.
Gandhi’s plan of using Satyagraha in dealing with oppression was starkly stated in his discussion of the German Jews’ struggle with Nazi Germany.
“Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn… As the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my 盈彩彩票 even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon: I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment… If the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For the God-fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”
Liberators doubt whether the multitudes of activists who speak in favor of Gandhi’s approach and its application to the animal movement have ever read his writings. Let’s examine some of the details of non-violent resistance and, given the liberator perspective, see its inappropriateness for freeing animals from human oppression.
First, his approach demanded a purity and perfection of soul that even highly spiritual people, such as Gandhi’s followers, had not even achieved. It required that one give up all worldly possessions, too.
“The use of Satyagraha requires the adoption of poverty, in the sense that we must be indifferent whether we have the wherewithal to feed or clothe ourselves.”
Does this mean that activists must give up their jobs, cars, and 盈彩彩票s, and live simply by their faith that God would provide? Gandhi expected his civil resisters to do so.
“No civil resister is to expect maintenance for his dependents. It would be an accident if any such provision is made. A civil resister entrusts his dependents to the care of God.”
But don’t worry. Gandhi continued:
“It is the universal experience that in such times hardly anybody is left to starve.”
Civil resisters do not pay taxes that support the evil system. They all practice non-cooperation, which is the mildest form of Satyagraha. This entails the withdrawal from society. Gandhi outlined some basic steps to be taken as the first stage of non-cooperation: (I quote)
1. Surrender of all tittles of honor and honorary offices.
2. Non-participation in Government loans.
3. Suspension by lawyers of practice and settlement of civil disputes by private arbitration.
4. Boycott of Government schools by parents.
5. Non-participation in Government parties, and such other function.
While some of these prescriptions for non-cooperation were designed for the Indian problem, their intent was clear. Thoreau, in his essay, On the duty of Civil Disobedience, a work which highly influenced Gandhi, said:
“I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them.”
Thoreau also quoted Confucius, who said:
“If a State is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if the State is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame.”
Indeed, nothing is new under the sun! From Confucius, to Thoreau, to Gandhi the message has been that participation in an unjust system must stop for those who want to change that system 5. What does that mean for those wanting to free the animals?
It means that you can’t afford the plane tickets to the next march in Washington, DC. If you think about it, you were welcome business for airlines, hotels, taxicabs, and other tourist services. How many thousands of dollars of taxes were raised through animal activist purchases, from airline tickets to soft drinks? What abuses of animals do you think that money will go towards?
The typical person concerned about animals is white, middle class, and not about to give up property, titles, or wealth. Even the animal rights groups are deeply entrenched in the system. Many national animal organizations have millions of dollars, which they invest in stocks, bonds, or real estate. This isn’t non-participation with society.
Professions capitalize on their credentials to gain public respect, as when “MD’s” speak out against animal research. This isn’t exactly surrendering all titles of honor or honorary offices!
The fact is, no one in this society who proclaims a belief in non-violent resistance practices anything like true Satyagraha. Does it make a difference? It does if they are supporting Gandian tactics. Liberators believe that so long as people participate in the society which they condemn, they are nothing more than hypocrites.
The point here is that Gandian non-violent resistance demands that resisters behave in a self-sacrificial, self-denying manner. People in Western society just don’t behave that way. Gandhi found that they don’t necessarily behave that way in Eastern society, either. This is one reason why liberators believe non-violent resistance is inappropriate as a model.
The second reason they believe Gandhi’s approach is inappropriate for the animal liberation movement has to do with his appraisal of human nature, which is central to his philosophy and approach. He believed that humans are basically good. If you show them you are suffering because of their actions, then they will feel pity and change their ways. He also believed that oppressors lose all pleasure in their actions when the victim betrays no resistance.
“The wrong-doer wearies of wrong doing in the absence of resistance.”
You might agree with Gandhi’s assessment of human nature. You might even, like Gandhi, make stealing easy for the thief, so as to reform him. But the success of that approach depends on the ability of victimizers to empathize with their victims. Perhaps in a small village, with mostly well intentioned people, such an approach could work. But liberators remind us to get back to reality – late 20th Century, animal abusing reality.
People see animals as exploitable objects. They eat them, something that the British didn’t do to the Indians. (at least not in public.) The level of respect for animal life is so low, as outlined in the previous chapter, that a reliance on human empathy for non-humans is more than naive – it is destructive to animals. Furthermore, over the millennia during which animals have been butchered by people for one reason or another, their oppressors have never grown weary of their deeds of terror, despite animal non-resistance. If anything, domestication has led to strains of animals which are more easily manipulated than older ones, making the slaughter even simpler for humans to perform. 6
Gandhi was dealing with the sensibilities of humans towards humans. Guilt, or pity, only work when there is a connection between oppressor and oppressed. Gandhi gambled that even the most blind oppressor would eventually stop his aggression when he met unselfish, pure, non-violent resisters.
Liberators ask who is a better non-violent resistor than a dog about to be experimented on, sitting helplessly in a cage at a laboratory, or a cow anxiously waiting in a feed lot to be slaughtered? Animals are the ultimate Satyagrahis! They have no possessions, they do not participate in the system, and, despite their abuses, they still have the capacity to love humans. Some, like dogs, can even love those who abuse them. Kick them and they will apologize for hurting your foot. Gandhi would have been proud of such self-suffering creatures.
Despite their cries, blood, and dead bodies, people are unmoved. Liberators are not surprised by this. As explained earlier, they believe that empathy is essential for pity to work, and animals receive little empathy from humans.
Liberators feel that people who support non-violence are confusing the objects of oppression with the agents of liberation. Gandhi’s Satyagrahis were both the oppressed and the liberators. When it comes to animals, humans can merely act as the agents of liberation. Humans can vicariously suffer for animals. The oppressors will see this human suffering as vicarious. But if oppressors have no respect for animals, will their hearts be melted into compassion by seeing other humans suffering for them? Of course not, say the liberators!
When people have no empathy for animals, they see humans who have empathy for animals as lunatics. Telling a vivisector that you love rats is like telling him you love rocks. If you fasted and engaged in all sorts of self-suffering to demonstrate the truth that you hold about animals needing to be free, then the oppressors will pity you – as mad!
This, then, is one problem the animal movement has that Gandhi’s civil rights movement did not have. The liberators are not the same as the liberated. Humans have sympathy and pity for other humans (sometimes), but they will not necessarily extend that sympathy and pity to rats, mice, goats, pigs and dogs. Remember, it is important that the ones towards whom you apply self-suffering have a conscience. Unless people have a conscience about the way they deal with animals, which most people do not have, human self-suffering will never get the job done of raising consciousness.
There is another problem which occurs when a human acts as an agent for the animals. According to liberators, there is a different responsibility being an agent for someone else, than merely acting as one’s own agent. If it is your own life under fire, you can use non-violent tactics if you wish. You have a right to attend your own funeral! But what if it isn’t your own life for which you are responsible?
People practice non-violence for personal reasons. It is a way of life, a strategy for dealing with the world. When acting as an agent for others, however, a dogmatic adherence to non-violence can work against the best interests of the individuals being protected. Liberators assert that a good agent must do whatever is necessary to protect his wards. This means that one’s personal preferences regarding non-violence may have to be overridden if the circumstances demand it.
For example, consider a situation in which ten innocent children are about to be slaughtered by an insane killer. A non-violent woman has accepted the responsibility for protecting the children. She does everything peaceful that she possibly can imagine to stop the massacre. Unfortunately, her efforts are useless. While she could stop the man with force, she rejects such intervention. He lifts a machete and prepares to decapitate the first child, who is bound and gagged. Watching the slaughter, she prays to God for the children’s and murderer’s deliverance. A few moments later the children are all dead, and the murderer leaves the scene to terrorize and destroy other lives.
In this situation, non-violence may have made the protector feel virtuous. But it resulted in the death of the children, whose protection was her responsibility. Liberators believe that non-violence may be chosen as a personal way of life, but it makes for lousy protectors.
In short, it is fine to risk one’s own life with non-violence. But do not endanger others in need of physical intervention by declaring yourself their savior.
Liberators say it’s animal abuse when non-violent animal supporters allow animals to die simply because these self-appointed guardians value non-violence over fighting for the animal’s lives and liberty.
Gandhi said that human uncertainty is a root cause for accepting a strategy of non-violence, since we have no right to inflict our potentially erroneous assessments on others. The purpose of non-violence, then, is to live by your own beliefs and let others live by theirs. Hopefully, as others see you suffering because of their oppressive behaviors, they will come around to seeing things your way. But when you are agents of animals who are being slaughtered by the millions daily, can you take such a live and let live attitude?
Liberators make their point angrily. Not intervening to protect animals is to allow crimes against our wards to take place. Indeed, it is a live and let die attitude to accept non-violence in the struggle for animal freedom. The animals need us to save them. Let us not inflict our mistaken belief, the liberators say, in accepting non-violence to keep animals from receiving our help.
Despite these arguments, some readers may still reject the use of force to stop animal abusers. Liberators consider some people dogmatically committed to a pacifist position when it comes to saving animals. The dilemma for these conscientious objectors, who consider themselves protectors of the animals, is easy to resolve, as far as liberators are concerned. If you feel it is wrong to use force to stop animal abuse, that’s fine. Just don’t consider yourself a protector of animals. Innocent members of our family are being abused and killed en masse. The animals don’t need people who are afraid of asserting, in a physically meaningful way, that such treatment of our family is wrong and must stop.
Those readers who have studied Gandhi may object to the implication that Satyagrahis only fought for their own liberation. In fact, there were times when Gandhi used Satyagrahis as instruments for other social change, acting on behalf of other disenfranchised groups. One example was their efforts in gaining equality for the “Untouchables,” a caste of people not allowed near temples or on temple roads, and who generally were treated “like animals.” Some people might reason that the Satyagrahis acting on behalf of the “Untouchables” is the equivalent of humans acting on behalf of the animals. Can this then justify non-violent resistance for the animal liberation movement?
Consider Gandhi’s reflections on the “Untouchable” liberation campaign. He thought the “Untouchables” needed social reform, rather than political reform. On this difference, he observed,
“I have long believed that social is a tougher business than political reform. The atmosphere is ready for the latter, people are interested in it… On the other hand, people have little interest in social reform, the result of agitation does not appear to be striking and there is little room for congratulations and addresses. The social reformers will have therefore to plod on for some time, hold themselves in peace, and be satisfied with apparently small results.”
The common feature of the “Untouchable” struggle with the animal liberation struggle is that one group is acting on behalf of another. In one, Satyagrahis acted on behalf of “Untouchables,” and in the other, humans act on behalf of the other creatures. The difference is that the “Untouchables” are still human. To analogize the two struggles is an error.
Despite having this human advantage, Gandhi recognized that the process will be slow and arduous. In fact, the “Untouchables” still suffer in India. Why was he willing to accept such small results of non-violent resistance?
Partly, the liberators say, it is because God will have the final say on justice. I will return to that in a moment. But it is also because Gandhi expected the people who are resisting, and the group that they are representing, to always remain a part of the society they are fighting. That opinion is even made clear in his advice to Jews, telling them they should not leave Germany, but should stay and accept their nationality and convert their oppressors with love.
Liberators recognize this as a critical feature of non-violent resistance. It assumes that the resistors, and the groups they represent, ultimately want to live with the people who are now their oppressors. That is why non-violent resistors are to obey all laws rigorously, except for the immoral ones. They are to be model citizens, showing that it is out of loyalty to country and love for others that they suffer. This approach considers it better to accept small moves in the right direction, than risk alienating society in an attempt at getting more. Remember, alienation is the opposite of identification, which is needed for empathy. In order for non-violence to work, the oppressors need to feel connected to their victims. In that way the victims’ suffering will cause suffering in the oppressors.
Gandhi was trying to get people included in the power structure of Indian society. It was a movement of inclusion. If you get inclusion through violence, then it will always be an uneasy relationship. True love between people can only be reached by peaceful means. This was essentially Gandhi’s position. Liberators say Gandhi may have been correct, as far as humans living with other humans are concerned, although they have less faith in human nature than he. But correct or not, they feel his point is irrelevant for the animal movement.
Liberators are not working for the inclusion of animals in society. They are working to free animals from human interference in their lives. From the animals’ point of view, they contend, it doesn’t matter why animals are left alone, so long as they are. Having a loving revolution is only important if you want to be around afterwards to love one another. Animals don’t want human love, only freedom from human exploitation. 7
So long as humans are the agents of the animals, however, liberators see a problem. The animals need freedom, but their human agents are concerned about living with other humans. To put it bluntly, humans have a conflict of interest when they help animals. 8 This is because humans are part of the society which abuses animals. They want to get along with other humans. Every animal supporter wishes that the world consisted of other animal respecting humans with whom they could live peacefully, in harmony with the other animals. Yet, the society in which humans live will never stop abusing other creatures, and, in fact, has become invested in continuing that abuse.
Liberators contend there is no way that people will stop eating flesh, driving cars, wearing leather, hunting, and doing all other overt and covert abuses of animals simply because a handful of “lunatics” feel compassion for beasts. Even Gandhi admits that you can’t get through to everyone. When it comes to animals, liberators say you can’t get through to most of the people in the world.
What is the conscientious animal defender to do?
The liberator solution is the use of physical force. They believe force is a necessary method for defending animal beings against their human being oppressors. The fact that we are human need not stop us. But it does demand, they say, that each person reassess his or her loyalties.
If you are of the family of all creatures, brother or sister to the other animals, then you must stop cooperation with society and participating in the slaughter, and fight for your family.
If you are of the family of man, then don’t call yourself an agent or defender of the animals. You have a conflict of interest, and not admitting it is doing animals more harm than good. It can mislead people who are of the family of creatures, and who may be willing to fight for their family.
People who are of the family of man engage in tactics which are designed more to keep peace with other people than to free the animals. This is why most animal organizations are concerned more about public opinion than their effectiveness in liberating animals.
The liberators haven’t finished with Gandhi, yet. Let’s return to Gandhi’s other answer to the problem of facing impossible obstacles. He believed God is there to rescue the suffering and bind their wounds – even unto death.
Agreeing with the writer of Ecclesiastes, Gandhi proposed that the way to deal with life’s cruel reality is, in common parlance, to let go and let God. As with all religious positions, there is no way to argue against this belief.
Liberators lament that the power of God is not in God itself, but in the impenetrable wall of faith His name invokes.
They point out that a mouse about to be scalded by boiling water in the name of science is not comforted by a human’s belief in God. To rely on divine judgment is a cop out. If he could, maybe the mouse would ask the researcher how he could believe in a god that would allow such cruelty to continue!
Gandhi and people in the New Age movement who are influenced by Eastern religions, have an answer for the mouse. The purpose of animal suffering is to provide sensitive humans with opportunities for growth. It is all a learning experience, helping us raise our consciousness and love for others. Gandhi even believed that life’s evils were planned by God to test us.
Can you see how human centered such thinking is, ask the liberators? The world’s problems are here as a test for us! Tell the mouse that she is dying, not for science, but for a test of the moral fiber of human beings.
Liberators do not object to the belief that life’s natural disasters are opportunities for personal growth. But are they planned for our growth? To regard them as such is to see the world and all its inhabitants as a resource for humans, objects placed in our way as obstacles to be overcome in the process of personal growth. It is another variant on the age old theme of anthropocentrism.
It is clear to liberators that non-violence will not work for the animal liberation movement. Yet, people still insist on its use. Why do people hold onto non-violence as a tactic when it is so clearly inappropriate?
Liberators ask that you face the truth. In their assessment, most people are cowards. They are comfortable sitting on their fat sofas, sipping beers, and watching football games on television. If a person likes dogs or cats, he may give twenty bucks to some animal group, particularly one that sends pictures of dogs and cats being experimented on. It’s easy for some people to disagree with animal research. They don’t have to change their behaviors, like the food they eat, or the fact that they drive through the living rooms of animals each day. Of course, they still want their prescription drugs when they are sick, even if the drug company does test them on animals.
Complacent people like this, who constitute the majority of people in this society, are too lazy and unthreatened in their own lives to engage in any real struggle for the animals. The civil rights movements in India and in this country were all by the people for the people. Indians fought for independence from the British, women fought for equality to men, blacks fought for the enforcement of their constitutional rights, gays fought for equality among straights, retired citizens fought to retain their power in society. And these struggles continue. They are struggles of people wanting power in society. They are self-serving enterprises. And they only occur when a group of people feels threatened and oppressed enough to rise up against their oppressors.
The animal liberation movement is entirely different, say the liberators. It takes courage and conviction to fight for someone else’s freedom when you are free yourself. Most people don’t have what it takes. So they hide their lack of courage and commitment behind a trust in God, or vows of non-violence.
There is another difference between human civil rights movements and the animal liberation movement. While no civil rights movement has been totally without the loss of lives, the level of carnage suffered by the animals is infinitely greater than anything experienced by humans. Thousands of people may die in their cause for liberty; but billions of animals are systematically, thoughtlessly, and brutally exterminated every year, which translates into millions each day! Animals are bred for slaughter, fed for slaughter, and led to slaughter. The level of oppression experienced by animals is greater, more pervasive, and longer in existence than any human oppression against other humans. For people to fight on such a bloody battlefield for their fellow creatures takes great courage and conviction. Few humans have what it takes.
Liberators think the animal exploiters know this sad fact about people. That’s why so many conversations with animal abusers end with the abusers saying: “I’ll respect your right to live according to your beliefs, but I expect you to respect my right to live according to mine.” What they are saying is that we humans are entitled to an honest disagreement over choice of lifestyles. But let’s not get too serious about this animal business.
Imagine how it would sound if they said: “I expect you to respect my right to treat your brothers and sisters as mine to use as I wish.” You wouldn’t merely shake hands and agree to disagree.
But, liberators say, that is exactly what happens each time a debate between animal abusers and animal supporters is conducted. Be peaceful and respectful at all cost. Don’t get the public thinking that you are a bunch of violent fanatics. You have to live with your neighbors, even if they are animal exploiters, don’t you?
Abusers know what choices most people will make. People have made them in the past. Abusers know there is nothing new under the sun. Most people will never put their lives on the line for animals. They do want to ease their consciences concerning animal suffering, but still participate in the cruel system.
Liberators have learned from personal experience that it’s hard living in a cruel society as a participant, while trying to maintain a sensitivity to animals. In fact, as Confucius knew, it is impossible for a moral person to live in an immoral society.
For example, how can you eat in a restaurant as an animal supporter, when all the restaurants, except the handful of vegan ones in this country, are serving members of your family on platters with assorted sauces? How can you shop in a grocery store, when an entire department is devoted to selling body parts of your loved ones? The more sensitive you are to animals, the more difficult this participation becomes.
Liberators declare that the idea of non-violence as an effective means of gaining freedom for animals is a myth, perpetuated by people invested in making life in a cruel society easier for humans. The myth is promoted by four different factions in society. One is the abusers, invested in maintaining control over the oppressed. They prefer sign carrying, hymn singing protesters to bomb throwing, gun shooting liberators, and for obvious reasons. If the peaceful protesters feel their signs and songs are doing some good, then the protest will vent their anger and hostility to animal abuse, allowing them to blow off steam. This will keep them from engaging in more serious, violent, and effective action.
The second faction promoting the myth consists of moderate animal lovers. These people stand to lose whenever the status quo is upset, but they are uncomfortable with all features of the existing regime. They see non-violence and compromise as the best means for maintaining their comfortable lifestyles, while at the same time assuaging their consciences. Cowards and insincere people always prefer non-violence to physical intervention. Talk is always cheaper than action.
The third group is the religious people who believe that God will punish the sinners and reward the virtuous. They essentially pass the buck to the big man upstairs, and speak words of love and peace to make themselves seem pure and holy when their time comes up for judgment. To these people, non-violence helps them get to heaven, which is more important to them than helping other creatures get free from human bondage.
The fourth faction consists of “New Age” peaceniks, who style themselves according to their Westernized, oversimplified interpretation of Gandian non-violence. They believe that no peace can come from war, a point which Gandhi espoused. Like the religious people who want to leave judgment to God to keep their personal records clean, these spiritually minded people want to leave everything to karma and maximize their personal growth. They do not reflect on the inappropriateness of their tactics to animal liberation, because they are too busy reflecting on their own spiritual enlightenment and development. They may see the animal movement as a branch of their own growth in becoming more peaceful and loving people. Their interest in animals is secondary to their interest in becoming loving beings. When animals are being abused, they will speak out for love and peace, but will do nothing to physically stop the abuse. Sometimes, they are not even willing to face the destruction that exists all around them, since they want to keep a positive outlook and “good vibrations” in their lives. Of course, the animals gain nothing by this fair weather, anthropocentric love. The animals need liberators, not people who stick their heads in the sand, denying that the world is filled with evil, horrible acts committed against innocent creatures.
The liberators content that every massive, successful movement was never exclusively peaceful, even when it was designed to be. Gandhi’s movement was consistently associated with violence, despite Gandhi’s appeals for peace. The black civil rights movement had Martin Luther King Jr., but it also had Malcolm X. There were peace marches, but there were also race riots and Black Panthers actions and threats. It is popular for non-violence supporters to accept credit for gains made in these movements. But would the gains have been made without the specter of violence, real and threatened? Gandhi, for example, had millions of followers eager to fulfill his every command. Despite his message of Satyagraha, Gandhi, and the British officials, knew that the possibility of violence breaking out was real. How much of Gandhi’s influence was due to the officials’ fear of this potential for violence?
Liberators hold that the use of militant intervention is the only way to make people conscious of the fact that they cannot continue to exploit other creatures. One can’t raise consciousness until there is consciousness. People are unconscious to the pain and suffering of non-humans. They are only conscious of the pleasures and pains that directly affect their lives.
Liberators say it’s time lovers of animals make abusers conscious of pain when they hurt our family members.
The author of Ecclesiastes says:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Specifically, turn your attention to six such times:
“A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Liberators believe it is a time to physically stop human oppressors, and allow our brothers and sisters, and the environment in which they live, to heal; it is a time to love animals with deeds and not mere words, and a time to hate humans for their callousness, bigotry, and greed; and it is a time for war on humankind, and a time for peace in our hearts by freeing ourselves from this massive destruction machine called society, whose wheels turn with the blood, sweat, and tears of animals.
Liberators agree with the moral requirement that one should not participate in an immoral system. But they do not believe this is for the purpose of changing the system. They believe the system cannot be changed in any significant way. Non-participation is simply to remove oneself from the bloodshed, making sure one does not contribute to or support it.
The inability to empathize or identify with the environment will likewise prevent non-violence to work for the environmental movement, according to the liberators. All the arguments against non-violence for liberating animals applies to the liberation of the environment. Only militancy directed at the agents of destruction – people – will be effective.
See page later for a discussion of the “pet” situation.
See page later for a discussion of the human need to be with other people
Proceed to CHAPTER 6: A TIME FOR WAR