Socialism is an economic and political order that sets common needs above private desires, and that values people over the things they make or sell. In that broad sense, it’s a system as old as humans themselves. Our forager ancestors were socialists: they had no conception of private property, disdained greed, and honored each other and their environment. Why hoard when the world was so bountiful? Why vaunt the sense of having, when the sense of wonder yielded much greater delight? Why treat other people and non-human animals as mere things when propinquity was so clear?
But then agriculture, private property and nation-states appeared. The actual history is long, complex and debated, but the result was clear: Hierarchy deposed equality and accumulation displaced sharing. Personal or dynastic wealth changed from being exceptional occurrences to vaunted principles, and socialism in its many forms became a radical idea, even a dangerous one. Five hundred years ago, during the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas More explored it in his book, Utopia (1516). He described an island whose inhabitants work at trades that bring them pleasure, sleep a full eight hours every night, and have abundant time for relaxation, chiefly reading, attending lectures and discussing ideas. The fact that the book was published in Latin may have protected its author from attack, but only for a while. More was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to accept the supremacy of the English crown over the Church of Rome, but Utopia had already earned him enemies. Ambrosius Holbein’s map of Utopia for the 1518 edition, suggests the risk More was taking. His island takes the form of a memento mori: a skull or death’s head. (The ship’s hull at lower right is a jaw with teeth.)
English radicals of the next century – the True Levellers (later called Diggers), Ranters and other radical, dissenting groups – also embraced socialism. Gerrard Winstanley, the Levellers’ spokesman, proclaimed the earth a common storehouse for everyone, labor for wages a curse, and landlords to be oppressors and murderers. He also said that animals no less than humans bore the imprint of God, an idea picked up later by the poet William Blake when he wrote: “Every thing that lives is holy” The Levellers were defeated by Cromwell in 1649, but their ideas lived on and grew even more seductive. Jean-Jacques Rousseau invoked socialist principles in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755) and The Social Contract (1762), and socialism motivated some of the revolutionists in France after 1789, including Gracchus Babeuf who in 1796 led a left-wing Conspiracy of the Equals. He and his supporters proclaimed: “Nature has given to every man the right to the enjoyment of an equal share in all property”. (Babeuf alas, shared the fate of More: he was beheaded.)
Socialism and its equally radical corollary “democracy” (rule by the people) thus represented at the time of the French Revolution the principle that workers and peasants had as much moral and social worth as their class betters and deserved equal shares in earth’s bounty. By the middle of the 19th Century, the word “socialism” itself, and sometimes “communism” was widely deployed, and a raft of politicians and philosophers in several countries wrote about it, including Karl Marx. His book titled Capital (1859) was a fully-fledged theory of capitalism that contained within it an implicit theory of socialism. (Marx often used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably. Sometimes he spoke of the first as transition stage to the second.) Well into the 20th Century, capitalist movers and shakers quaked at the very mention of Marx’s name. That’s less true today for two reasons. 1) Soviet Communism (an authoritarian version of socialism that misconstrued Marx) is dead; and 2) elements of socialism have been used to buttress existing capitalist democracy.
Some socialist ideas were endorsed by European and other nations in the decade before and the two decades following World War II. The preservation of labor peace – perhaps even the survival of capitalism itself – depended upon it. Before the war, during the Great Depression (1929-41), many workers joined together in solidarity to protest unemployment and the decline in living standards. After the war, at a time of rapid economic growth (1945-73), unionized workers gained bargaining power. The degree of socialist advancement in a country is in direct proportion to the relative power of its working class. In the U.S., Social Security and Unemployment Insurance (1935), Federal Air Traffic Control (1936), the Interstate Highway System (1956) and Medicare (1966) are all expressions of socialist principle achieved during periods of working class strength. They are services provided by the people for the people, (with the state acting as intermediary), without regard for profit. Obamacare by the way, is not an example of socialism because unlike Medicare it relies upon the private insurance system as well as private physicians. It consists of price supports for the insurance oligopoly in the form of premium-subsidies for consumers. A “public option” – an extension of Medicare eligibility — such as proposed during the 2016 presidential campaign by Sen. Bernie would constitute an increase of socialism, though the system of private, profit-driven medical practice would remain. Federal payments for all public college and university tuition would also constitute an advance of socialism.
However ingrained in the fabric of economic life, socialism today remains only a seed within the carapace of capitalism. Large, monopolistic, private corporations, supported by laws and regulations that protect them from both competition and workers, dominate the production and distribution of goods and services in the U.S. and abroad. They deploy armies of lobbyists and millions of dollars in political campaign contributions to protect their interests.
Another reason that socialism is so limited is ideological. Marx wrote in 1845: “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” Those who have the preponderance of money and power have the loudest voices; among other things, they own the mass media. And they use their loud voices to uphold the moral worth of private riches above public goods. In this context, proponents of socialism continually struggle to be heard. The majority of people therefore either don’t believe they have any natural rights, or that those rights could ever be claimed. Indeed, monopoly capitalism – the most recent incarnation of an economic order now more than 500 years old – is maintained in part by an ideology that places competition, entrepreneurialism and individualism at the core of human nature itself. At the same time it inculcates political helplessness. “There is no alternative” was Margaret Thatcher’s neat dismissal of the value or practicability of dissent.
But there are indications socialism is gaining ground. After the global, economic crisis of 2007-9, also known as The Great Recession, capitalism lost its aura of invincibility. The Occupy movement, short lived as it was, alerted working people in Europe and the U.S. to the unexampled scale of wealth and income inequality. Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung’s poster from 2011 of the Wall Street Butcher Shop illustrated the greed by showing the famous Charging Bull (aka Wall Street Bull) as a beef meat chart with each section a different example of financial corruption: “subprime mortgages,” “credit default swaps,” “kelptocracy” etc. However inexact, the term “the 1 percent” was an effective descriptor of the small percentage of people who possess the wealth that should belong to majority who created it. The slogan “we are the 99%” therefore didn’t refer only to the vast majority of people denied the resources held by the few. It also suggested the incipient power that resided in the force of numbers. (That insight is missing from Hung’s image, which shows the 99% as a cow pie.)
During the U.S. Democratic Party primary elections earlier this year, Bernie Sanders even dared to endorse the term “socialist,” previously anathema to successful U.S. politicians. His policy proposals — higher taxes on the wealthy, single payer health insurance, re-regulation of Wall Street, breaking up the big banks, and rolling back “Citizen’s United” (the Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections) – fell short of the “political revolution” he proclaimed. For example, he never called for the nationalization of banks and essential industries, or the confiscation and redistribution of private fortunes. But he proposed a much bigger public sector than now exists, a modest redistribution of wealth through taxation, and a better-educated and better-mobilized working class. To be sure, he lost the nomination (the deck may have been stacked against him, Democratic Party internal memos suggested), but he gave the anointed Clinton a good run for her money.
On paper- and within crucial limits- Clinton’s 2016 program is the most progressive a Democrat has offered since LBJ. (The danger however is that she may be as militarist as he, and that any progressive initiatives at home will be derailed by wars abroad.) In the UK leadership contest the same year, the socialist Jeremy Corbyn, supported by a strong majority of young, rank and file Labor Party members, fought off a coup attempt by liberals within his party. His program of re-nationalizing railroads and other essential industries would, if implemented, constitute a major advance of socialism. It harkens back to the policies and principles of Aneurin Bevin, the Minister of Health under the post-war Labor Party Prime Minister Clement Atlee. Bevin was the architect of the National Health Service, the crown jewel of Britain’s incipient socialism.
Given the growth of global inequality and the persistence of economic stagnation, and considering the popular insurgencies that have risen to challenge them, socialism may have a bright future. Indeed, it could be the planet’s only future. Prevention of global warming beyond the 2 degree Celsius tipping-point will require massive state intervention in the economy. The wealth of the few — the managers and shareholders of oil companies, utilities, automobile and airplane manufacturers, and animal agriculture — will have to be sacrificed for the good of the many. In other words, a regime of socialism — its precise shape and form as yet unknown — will have to be established if a habitable planet is to be salvaged. But that transformation won’t happen by itself. It will demand popular mobilization and major changes in the politics, ethics and practice of everyday life. It will require both that people who possess wealth extend empathy to those who don’t, and that majorities of people in the most highly industrialized countries agree to conserve the ecological diversity of the planet. In short, people will need to become a bit more like early foragers (albeit technologically advanced ones) if they are to become successful socialists. Only then will the risk to the planet be reduced and human survival assured.
“Animal Liberation” is the title of a popular book from 1975 by the philosopher Peter Singer. It is also the general name for a social movement that proposes to free animals from human oppression. The idea, if not the term, has been around at least since Greco-Roman antiquity. Indeed early19th Century vegetarians were sometimes called “Pythagoreans” in remembrance of the ancient mathematician who abjured meat because of his belief in the transmigration of souls. But “animal liberation” is also an umbrella term beneath which are found: “animal welfare,” “animal rights,” and “animal abolitionism”. Each of these has its own meaning, which has led to a splintering of the broader animal liberation struggle:
“Animal welfare”, (sometimes also called “animal protection”), promotes a paternalistic model of human-animal affairs. It says that people owe a duty of kindness to animals even if the former still own, use, and even kill the latter. The argument for animal welfare goes back to the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. He argued in 1789 that just as enlightened people recognized that skin color was meaningless for the determination of moral worth, so they would soon understand that possessing a tail or having fur was insignificant in the determination of rights. What mattered most of all was the capacity to suffer, and in that, animals were equal to humans.
But while Bentham believed humans and animals had the right to be spared pain, he nevertheless asserted that the latter had a lesser claim on life itself. Because animals, unlike humans, can’t imagine the future, they have less to lose from an early death so long as little pain was involved. Indeed, to be quickly killed in a slaughterhouse was a death much preferred to the drawn out agonies that often attend human passing.
Bentham’s argument, essentially repeated by Singer in Animal Liberation, is an odd one. Apart from the suggestion – absurd on its face — that animals are lucky to be eaten, it denies what everyone who lives with a dog or cat understands implicitly: that animals live in constant expectation of future joys. A dog who sits all day by the door waiting for a human companion to return, or who brings over a favorite toy, or who yips in excitement when brought in proximity to the dog park and the chance to play with other dogs is expressing hope for the future. Few humans are much more future oriented than this. Their focus may be on an anticipated holiday, gathering of friends or family, or acquisition of new consumer goods.
Animal welfare was the basis for the creation of animal protection societies in Europe and the Americas, beginning with the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) in 1824. It remains the principle underlying most contemporary animal charities including The Humane Society, Farm Sanctuary, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“Animal rights,” concerns itself with the legal and ethical apparatus that structures human-animal relations. Proponents of the doctrine of animal rights generally seek to use the existing state – its executive, legislative and judicial branches – to moderate or even end the oppression of animals. They believe that animals posses certain negative rights (for example the right not to be confined, tortured or killed) that must be respected even if they conflict with human prosperity. The English artist and animal champion William Hogarth explored these rights in the middle of the 18th Century in his series of engravings (also made as woodcuts) called The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751). His series is an exploration of everyday cruelties witnessed on the streets on London and an attack on animal experimentation, also called vivisection. Curious and malicious children in the first plate attempt to see if a cat can fly by attaching balloons to its back and tossing it out a window; another boy, the anti-hero Tom Nero, tries to fit an arrow into the anus of a dog, while two others are testing the theory that blinding a bird will make it sing more sweetly. The second plate represent a further series of experiments in depravity, including testing the maximum weight a carriage horse can pull before it breaks down, and the point at which a harried bull will finally become enraged and violent. The third plate of the series, “Cruelty in Perfection” shows Tom as an amateur vivisector, cutting progressively the finger, wrist and throat of his lover Ann Gill – there is an identical wound at each location — to discover which will be the fatal wound. Having succeeded at killing her and being arrested, he looks down at the dead body with mingled horror and awe. And of course the final plate shows the executed Tom apparently come back to life. He grimaces as his eyes are gouged out and guts removed. It was Tom’s eyes, the chief organs of sentiment, that from early in his life failed to register the suffering of his victims. His blindness led to his downfall. In the foreground a dog, the most frequent victim of vivisection during these years, turns the tables and opportunistically snatches the human heart pulled from the murderer’s chest.
[huge_it_gallery id=”1″]William Hogarth, The Four Stages of Cruelty, 1751
More than 250 years later, animal rights advocates have become very good at dismantling speciesism (unreasoned prejudice against animals) and sometimes even at conjuring pictures of what a future of animal liberation would look like. For example, the authors Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson argue in their book Zoopolis (2011), that wild, domesticated and liminal animals (such as squirrels and raccoons who thrive in proximity to humans) be granted limited sovereignty or citizenship rights in order to ensure their well-being. The result would be an animal-human, cooperative community that resembles More’s Utopia in so far as it would ensure that all creatures performed fulfilling work and had adequate leisure time for self-development.
But rights advocates, including Kymlicka and Donaldson, who base their theories on liberal principles, are unprepared to challenge the social and property relations that actually maintain animal oppression. Class conflict falls outside their purview. They are in this way utopians in the bad sense of the term: dreamers of a future world in which all creatures, great and small live in harmony, but who offer little guidance as to how to achieve it. Indeed, if humans reached a state of political maturity sufficient to grant animals any kind of sovereignty or citizenship, a new social contract would be unnecessary – animal liberation already will have occurred.
“Abolitionism” is more controversial than the first two. It means the end of all ownership and use of animals – for food, clothing, medical research, service (“guide-dogs”), pets or anything else. The idea has ancient roots, and non-European ones as well. The religion of Jainism, established more than two millennia ago and practiced by about 5 million people today (mostly in India), has non-violence toward humans and animals (ahisma in Sanscrit), as one of its core principles. The ancient Roman philosopher Porphyry of Tyre argued that to kill and eat animals was rank injustice. Humans do not need them for food, he said, and they have done nothing to deserve cruelty or killing.
The modern origin of abolitionism, like the modern origin of socialism, may be traced to the late 18th Century. At that time however, the word was used to describe the movement for the emancipation of African slaves and end of the slave trade. But a host of essayists and poets in the late 18th C. harbored both animal and human abolitionist sentiments. They include the poets William Blake and Percy Shelley, and the English Jacobin John Oswald. They were motivated by two mutually supporting ideas: first, that human and nonhuman animals alike possessed the same capacity to suffer; and second, that economic development – what we would now call Industrial Capitalism — led to great misery among the classes of artists and artisans, women and children, unemployed and homeless, mentally ill and disabled, slaves and former slaves, and animals. So if suffering was a thing to be avoided, (and who was so cold-hearted as to disagree with that aim), and if capitalist industry and trade hurt all the above mentioned groups, then humans and animals shared a common political goal: the transformation of society from one based on slavery, oppression and private profit to one that prizes equality, democracy and the free exercise of the physical and mental faculties of every sentient being.1
In 1796, William Blake illustrated John Steadman’s anti-slavery Narrative, of a Five Years Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, (1796) with a series of plates that exposed the terrible atrocities committed by planation slavers, including: “A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows”. Less than a decade later, he wrote Auguries of Innocence, a poem that specifically links animal cruelty to political misrule:
A dog starved at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for Human blood
Shelley in 1813 included an incisive vegetarian and animal rights treatise in his book-length, utopian poem Queen Mab. He wrote:
How unwarrantable is the injustice and the barbarity which is exercised toward these miserable [animal] victims. They are called into existence by human artifice that they may drag out a short and miserable existence of slavery and disease, that their bodies may be mutilated, their social feelings outraged. It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery.
The British Jacobin and anti-slavery crusader John Oswald’s book The Cry of Nature argues in an abolitionist vein that the vegetable kingdom can supply all the food and other resources people need without recourse to bloodshed. Oswald’s personified Nature – represented as a many-breasted Pomona in a frontispiece etching by James Gillray – asks humanity:
Why shouldst thou dip thy hand in the blood of thy fellow creatures without cause? Have I not amply, not only for the wants, but even for the pleasures of the human race provided? . . . [Why] dost thou still thirst, insatiate wretch! For the blood of this innocent lamb, whose sole food is the grass on which he treads; his only beverage the brook that trickles muddy from his feet?
By the time the renowned British slave abolitionist William Wilberforce, along with Richard Martin and others helped pass the world’s first animal anti-cruelty law in 1822, the connection between animal and human abolition movements was so natural as to go almost unremarked by parliament and the press. But the exigencies of the legislative process and the powerful influence of Bentham and the animal welfare tradition meant that true emancipation or abolition for animals was taken off the negotiating table. It remains today a minority position even among advocates for animal rights.
The leading global proponent of the “abolitionist approach” to animal rights is legal theorist Gary Francione. Building upon the ideas of both Singer and the philosopher Tom Regan, he argues that the capacity of a creature to experience pleasure or pain – sentience — should be the basis for granting it moral status. But unlike them, he believes that sentience alone, regardless of an animal’s intelligence or capacity to apprehend the future, is sufficient to grant them the right to be free from human exploitation. He further argues that animals should no longer be considered, as slaves once were, mere chattels, property that could be freely moved from place to place, bought and sold.
An abolitionist approach to animal rights thus demands an end to animals’ property status. And that of course poses a profound challenge to the existing economic and social order. In an essay from 1993 called “The American Left Should Support an Animal Rights Agenda: A Manifesto” Francione and co-authors Anna E. Charelton and Sue Coe observed that animals are indispensable to many sectors of the U.S. and global economy, including food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and clothing.2 (To that list we can add furniture, entertainment, health-care, security, pet products and veterinary services.) Thus to argue for abolition it is also necessarily to argue for a massive re-orientation of the economy toward the satisfaction of genuine human needs instead of the generation of profit. At the end of their essay, the authors stated “the capitalist system is crumbling and something else must be put in its place.”
But Francione, like Kymlicka and Donaldson, may be faulted for utopianism. Though he goes much further than they in recognizing the moral and institutional changes necessary to grant animals their rights, he does not offer suggestions about how to achieve these, apart from vegan education. And by rejecting all single-issue advocacy — whether to protect an endangered species or to end a particularly abusive farming or research practice – he dispenses with the usual means of developing radical constituencies and achieving change: identifying a local injustice, organizing an interest group, rallying press and politicians to the cause, establishing a track record of victories, attracting more followers, broadening and deepening demands for change, and building success upon success. Moreover, Francione’s organizing slogan “veganism as a moral baseline” mistakes ends for means. If the goal of the animal abolitionist movement is universal veganism, then veganism as a moral baseline can’t also be its organizing method. In rejecting any form of gradualism or reformism, Francione’s abolitionism also dispenses with politics.
A Necessary Synthesis
Whatever particular animal liberation formulation is endorsed, its defender must confront an historical paradox. At precisely a time in history when animal advocates are growing in numbers and influence, the global pace of exploitation has accelerated. The total zoomass of vertebrate animals bred for the table is 25 times that of all wild vertebrates.3 There are in the world at any one time about 19 billion chickens, 1.7 billion cattle (including water buffalos), and 900 million pigs compared, for example, to a vanishingly small number of elephants, rhinos, polar bears, tigers, gazelles, buffalo and other charismatic fauna. Animal agriculture constitutes 40% of the total value of global agriculture, not including fish. In the U.S., it comprises about half the $850 billion contribution of agriculture to the annual gross domestic product. It accounts for about 1/3 of all agricultural employment.
Though the term “factory farm” is misleading – so-called “family farms” may also be large, intensive and cruel — the modern practice of raising domesticated animals in conditions of maximum density is clearly the leading mode of animal agriculture in the world. More than 75% of poultry is raised this way, and pigs, kept in so-called “hog parlors”, are similarly concentrated. Though cattle farming is somewhat less rationalized than chicken and pig farming, the dairy industry and beef-packing process are very highly mechanized. JBS Brazil, the largest meat processing company in the world, had revenue last year of $45 billion and profits of a little under a billion. It has a global cattle slaughtering capacity of more than 50,000 per day. Tyson Foods, headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, is the world’s second largest meat producer with revenue of $32 billion. It kills 6 million chickens per day, 48,000 pigs and 30,000 cows, and supplies meat to the largest U.S. grocery stores, including Walmart, IGA, and Krogers, and leading fast food chains: MacDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Burger King. Tyson foods gave a relatively modest $180,000 in political contributions in 2014, but spent $1.4 million on lobbyists such as the American Meat Institute and the National Cattleman’s Association.4Judging from data obtained from OpenSecrets.org, their strategy is to affect legislation and regulation not by the scale of spending, but by precisely targeting their contributions to influential lawmakers and regulators.
Animal agriculture contributes somewhere between 14% and 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization cites the lower figure and the World Watch Institute the higher.5 The data discrepancy involves such things as animal respiration, the potency of methane and nitrogen versus carbon as greenhouse gases, the global population of livestock animals, and the relative carbon absorption capacity of livestock, grassland and forests. A careful review of the scholarship suggests the figure is somewhere in between, perhaps 30%, but you can decide for yourself. The point is that the number is big – perhaps twice as big as total greenhouse gas emissions from the global transport sector. If we outlawed beef, we’d lower greenhouse gas emissions more than if we banned gas engine cars.6
Animal agriculture also causes deforestation, (trees are felled to grow grain to feed to animals), pollution of groundwater, lakes and rivers (from animal waste), the disappearance of wildlife (due to destruction and degradation of habitat), and the diminishment of water reserves. Animal agriculture is the leading user of fresh water in the world, consuming 55 trillion tons annually. It consumes 520 times as much freshwater as the controversial and wasteful practice of hydraulic fracturing. (A single pound of beef requires roughly 5,000 gallons of water.)7
In addition to using moral suasion therefore – “veganism as a moral baseline” — any ambitious animal liberation campaign should highlight the devastating environmental consequences of animal agriculture. Animal rights organizations need to target the meat industry and its complex web of political influence. Unfortunately, the largest animal welfare organizations have barely touched, much less damaged this elaborately interwoven corporate and governmental infrastructure. Indeed, the Humane Society and Farm Sanctuary among others have actually partnered with agribusiness. And herein lies the reasons socialism must be part of the animal liberation movement if the latter is to be effective: existing property relations are the very things that make possible the exploitation of animals. Francione and other abolitionists have made this point for a generation and it remains correct. So long as animals are chattel, they can be used and abused at will. Genuine animal liberation will therefore require state intervention to curtail and ultimately end an industry that kills both domesticated and wild animals in obscene numbers, and renders the environment increasingly unfit for humans. There can be no animal liberation without socialism, as Sue Coe proposes in her clever woodcut and collage that envisions the spirits of slaughtered animals and the specter of socialism combining to menace a greedy capitalist.
But socialism also needs the insights and organizing strategies of the animal liberation movement if it is ever to help people regain control of their own labor and marshal nature’s bounty for the satisfaction of genuine needs instead of mere profits. Animal agriculture should be one of the first industries (along with energy and banking) in the crosshairs of socialism. It is a highly successful system for maximizing profit at the expense of labor (its workers are among the most poorly paid in the U.S.), the environment, and of course sentient animals. It stands as the textbook example of an industry that privatizes profits and socializes (or “externalizes”) costs. While corporations accrue vast sums through the sale of animal products of every kind, the public pays much of the price of production in the form of polluted or depleted surface and groundwater, loss of biodiversity, poor public health, and a warming planet. Without that public subsidy, animal products would be prohibitively expensive for most people and thus be unprofitable.8 Animal advocates can help socialists in their campaign for moral, economic and political justice.
Advocates for animal liberation can also help advance core socialist values of generosity and sharing, while stigmatizing greed and selfishness. That’s the very point of becoming a vegan. While eating a hamburger or a hot dog may be moderately pleasurable to some consumers, it depends upon the suffering and death of sentient beings like us. It is also an act of embodiment. Consuming the flesh of a formerly a living animal makes the consumer physically and emotionally complicit in killing, as Coe proposed in her woodcut, and therefore likely to be less resistant to other forms of plunder. That one-way street of oppression and death must be closed off in order for people to more fully comprehend their common needs and those of the planet itself.
More than ever before, animal liberation and socialism represent a necessary synthesis. Any community concerned to protect animals from abuse or premature death must confront the enormous economic and political powers arrayed against them. And so it must therefore endorse the restraints on capital that socialism has consistently championed. (Of the three versions of animal liberation discussed here, abolitionism is the most reliant upon socialist practice since it would require the most stringent controls on capital.) And any socialist who would proclaim the virtue of re-orienting production to the needs of the many versus the luxuries of the few must turn to animal liberators for a lesson in opposing greed and celebrating its opposite: the responsible stewardship of organic nature for the benefit of all of earth’s creatures and the planet itself.
Title graphic: Modern Man Pursued by the Ghosts of His Meat, Oil Painting © Sue Coe, 2013, courtesy of Gallerie St Etienne.
Unless noted, graphic images courtesy British Museum and archives of Northwestern University.
- See my: “The Real Swinish Multitude,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 42, no. 2, 3390373.Winter 2016, pp.
- Animals Agenda, vol. 13, no. 1, Jan.-Feb., 1993, pp. 29-34.
- Vaclav Smil, Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact, Population and Development Review 37(4), December 2011 , p. 618.
- Henning Steinfeld, Pierre Gerber, Tom Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Maricio Roslales, Cees de Haan, Livestock’s Long Shadow, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2006; Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, “Livestock and Climate Change,” World Watch, Nov-Dec., 2009, pp. 10-19. Also see the more recent: Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.
- Gidon Eshel, Alon Shepon, Tamar Makov, and Ron Milo,
“Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014 111 (33) 11996-12001; published ahead of print July 21, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1402183111
- See Mark Bittman’s very conservative calculation: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/opinion/the-true-cost-of-a-burger.html