[Marxism] Socialism and "animal rights"

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Mon Oct 26 18:23:17 MDT 2009

At 10:32 26/10/09 -0700, nada wrote:
>Unfortunately Max, you failed, utterly, to contradict or really 
>challenge D'Amato on any of his assertions. His point of the demeaning 
>of the concepts of racism and genocide by those that equate the use of 
>animals by humans as like the "Holocaust" is quite true
Absolutely. I think this article is right on the mark.

This debate doesn't have anything to do with which side acts in the best
INTERESTS of animals. Rather it is the unthinking reference to "rights" and
even "self-determination," neither of which would apply universally to
humans. In Marxist literature "self-determination" generally refers to a
nationality or geographically defined population establishing its own
national state, which obviously wouldn't apply to any species incapable of
such a level of organization only reached by humans in the last few
thousand years.

But "rights?" Of course we all believe in human and civil rights, but who
here believes that a 4 year old child has a "right" to run into a busy
street? Or an (adult) Alzheimers patient? When the "ALF" releases
laboratory animals into the wild (in a climate where they can't even
survive) is that a valid "liberating" experience for these creatures, any
more than the 4 year old is "liberated" by being allowed to roam the
streets of New York? It doesn't make sense to talk about "rights" separate
from the LACK of a right which is being addressed. In other words, outside
of a political context, in which one human entity is RESTRICTING the
behaviour of other humans. There are very specific rights that some humans
need to strive for in specific situations, but just talking about "rights"
in the abstract is meaningless. So is it for animals.

Most people are against cruelty to animals, so you might say that animals
have a "right" to avoid cruelty. Fine, you can use the word. But what you
are really saying is that there should be laws against people being cruel
to animals. That is a MUCH better way of looking at the issue and MUCH more
in the INTERESTS of animals. There is not necessarily a "competition"
between humans and animals or need for humans to dominate or exploit
animals. But is it surprising that a system that "treats workers like
animals" also treats animals like workers? Yes, farm animals are certainly
exploited and often treated with great cruelty by the system, and we surely
wish to eliminate such abuse. But that doesn't imply "rights" per se.

As human society has advanced over the centuries, we have become, and will
continue to become, more caring for the welfare of animals and protective
of the environment. If that general trend has been marred by the barbarity
of the capitalist system which cages pigs into small pens (as they also do
with political prisoners), then it is the system, not the human species,
that is to be blamed. 

But on the purely political level, I would have to say that mindlessly
calling for "animal rights" has the most profound miseducational effect in
trivializing the actual struggles for SPECIFIC rights by SPECIFIC
populations suffering SPECIFIC oppression. D'Amato does a good job of
deconstructing this pseudo-leftist fad.

- Jeff

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