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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #270 - Aurélien Barrau (astrophysicist), on animal welfare: "Empathy is essential in our choices" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Tue, 4 Apr 2017 11:23:12 +0300
Ecological damage to livestock production, animal welfare, the issue of specism ... The
debate on meat consumption has re-emerged strongly in recent years, and is also going
through the revolutionary currents. Interview with Aurélien Barrau , an astrophysicist
committed to animal rights. ---- Alternative libertarian: "If we were to realize the
happiness of all those who bear the human face and destined for death all our fellows who
bear muzzles ... we certainly would not have realized our ideal. For my part, I also
embrace animals in my affection for socialist solidarity, "wrote the anarchist geographer
Elisée Reclus. What are the links between animal emancipation and the emancipation of
humanity? ---- Aurélien Barrau: Magnificent Elisée Reclus, authentic citizen of the world!
I think that excluding animals from the "socialist ideal" is difficult to justify.
This would require the creation of an insurmountable boundary between human beings and
humans (ie one of the great apes) and other living beings, in the manner of creationists
and right-wing think-tanks who support them . It is senseless from a scientific and
arbitrary point of view from an ethical point of view. Once the idea that the human or
human right to life can not be subjected to its social success or its ethnic origin (let's
say its proximity to the one who values its value ) There is no reason to restrict the
approach to living and living humans alone.
Empathy is essential in our choices. But the animals also suffer. They feel the tortures
they have endured - especially those we inflict on them! - what every living person feels
in a situation of extreme pain. They live it in their bodies, which is similar to ours.
Even the existence of consciousness, in the strong sense, is now accepted in many species.
It is now politically cowardly and intellectually incoherent to exclude animals from our
desire for respect.
The human being is an omnivorous animal, so also carnivorous, without meat does not it go
against the natural course of things?
There are endless debates about whether the physiological characteristics of the human
being are carnivorous or vegetarian. I do not think it's important for the issue we're
looking at. Nature has no finality. It is indisputable that the human being has the
faculty of eating animals and plants. The problem is not what he can do but what he wants
to do. Who would dare to justify rape or murder on grounds that we can rape or murder?
There is, of course, an infinity of actions that are compatible with our biological
abilities that we choose not to lead. I do not torture my children, although my body
allows me to do it. The argument that we should eat animal carcasses because we have the
ability to do so is a foolish thing to do. All the more so because it is possible to live
without deficiency, in a healthier and often more savory way, by feeding without killing
animals. Everything is here.
Opinions on this issue seem finally to evolve, why now?
Animal ethics often go by the wayside. Twenty years ago, when I was interested in this
question, one smiled in society by finding it too marginal. Today, we smile while finding
it too fashionable. All pretexts are good! I think we are beginning to understand Robert
Badinter's argument against the death penalty. He looked at the jurors straight in the eye
and asked them whether or not they wanted a living man to be cut into two pieces by their
decision. Everything is there: do we want, yes or no, that 60 billion animals are
unnecessarily cut into pieces every year? Knowing that, besides, they are not even
blameable for any crime and that their agony will be much more painful than that of a
guillotine. I think that the unsustainable images of the functioning of slaughterhouses
also play. Almost no animal eater is coherent to the point of looking at them and assuming
Are the "religions of the book" also responsible for our relation to the living?
Yes, the monotheistic religions have their share of responsibility. But philosophy is no
exception. With a few notable exceptions, the philosophers have completely missed this
question. We still hear so many stereotyped and anguished speeches that cling to the
"proper of man", incapable of thinking the immense challenge that opens today to us. It is
a climax for a discipline whose full meaning is to bring us into questioning ...
Even for the simple survival of our species, would only a minimal vegetarian humanity have
a chance of survival?
It is certain that the meat diet is not only a disaster for the tens of billions of
animals that it decimates every year but also for humanity. The meat industry is more
polluting than the transport industry. One kilogram of beef requires 10,000 liters of
water. Concretely, eating meat is, in effect, a choice of an elitist mode of being, which,
irrespective of the immense ethical problems, can not be generalized to all humans. So
it's highly anti-social behavior. It is undeniable that an evolution towards vegetarianism
and veganism is also a political gesture in the most "human" sense of the term, necessary
for any thought claiming to be left-wing.
"I am sometimes really disappointed by the fact that many of us assume to be radical
militants without thinking about the food we put into our bodies.[...]Usually, I do not
mention that I am vegan.[...]This is the right time to talk about it because it is one of
the components of the revolutionary perspective, "said Angela Davis. What do you think?
Beautiful Angela Davis! When I was a teenager, it was necessary to specify, when one
declared himself a vegetarian, that it was "medical", under penalty of appearing like a
madman. Those who defend the rights of Blacks and women were thus considered in the not so
distant past. I am glad that this concern can finally be claimed without becoming
marginalized. In some quarters the trend is reversed. At the CNRS canteen, where I have
lunch, I sometimes feel a little embarrassment in those who feed on dead animals. I will
never venture to blame them explicitly: there is no question of being moralizing or giving
lessons (and for good reason, I am far from being exemplary), but this change of side of
the Possibility of a "shame" is meaningful. It is essential to see that fighting for
animals is never opposed to social struggles for humanity. To try to oppose them is
another ruse of the repressive system that we are fighting.
Interview by Nico (AL Moselle)
"Animal welfare is a pernicious notion", AL No. 268, January 2017.
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