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(en) Union Communiste Libertaire Bruxelles - For an Animal Revolution - Watching from the Perspective of the Margins (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 13 Aug 2020 09:32:04 +0300

By Norah Lattécrie, Social Ecology Front of UCL Brussels ---- Antispeciesism and the notion of social class ---- We consider that anti-speciesism as defined by its founding fathers (Peter Singer, Tom Reagan, Gary Francione and Anna Charlton)[1]is an ideology foreign to anarchism, and that the two ideologies, although sometimes using a similar vocabulary, are in reality contradictory and incompatible. In the essay that made famous the notion of antispeciesism, Animal Liberation, Peter Singer explains that speciesism is to the species what racism and sexism are respectively to race and sex: these systems arise from the desire not to take into account the interests of certain people for the benefit of others, on the pretext of real or imaginary differences. What we keep from this definition of antispeciesism is that the interests of most animal species are indeed violated (and in particular those of farm animals), without this being rationally justified. Large mammals, he says, have cognitive abilities equal to or better than those of human children, and yet our legislative system continues to treat them as if they were devoid of reason, conscience and emotion.

Apart from this observation, we reject the whole of the antispeciesist analysis. Indeed, first of all, we believe that Peter Singer, Tom Reagan, Gary Francione and Anna Charlton (who claim antispeciesism as defined in Animal Liberation) are wrong when they compare systems of oppression linked to gender, race (in the sociological sense of the term), and species. As materialist anarchists, we indeed consider racism and sexism as systems of oppression which come under the domination of certain social classes over others. However, we do not believe that all non-human animals are integrated into human society and are declined in one or more social classes: they and they cannot, consequently, undergo a system of oppression, and be part of of the oppressed. However, this statement finds some exceptions in animals which participate in the economy by performing work requiring the mobilization of their energy, intelligence or sensitivity, to accomplish tasks (dairy cows, police dogs, circus animals, etc.), and which are de facto part of our society. In these cases, animals have a social status and the notion of social class still needs to be worked on.

We think that erasing the differences between the species and the social classes amounts in fact to fundamentally impoverishing the theories of domination, in particular by feeding the "essentialist" arguments: unlike two animal species (biologically different), the notion of genus and race (in the sociological sense) are based on differences which are above all socially constructed.

A "specific to man"?

Then, we distance ourselves from the primary ethical objective sought by antispeciesists, namely the reduction of suffering at all costs. To the "biological" arguments of the existence of carnivores in nature (and therefore of the determinism of suffering), Peter Singer replies that we are moral beings, the only ones in "nature", and that therefore we we have a responsibility for animal suffering. This responsibility should push us to adopt a vegan diet, in order to reduce the suffering that we cause, but also, ideally, to intervene within "nature" so that animal beings reduce the suffering that they impose on themselves. between them.

However, we think that it is precisely these types of "proprist" arguments (relating to an alleged "proper to man", often having a link with morality) that led to the current ecological disaster, it is why we don't endorse or support them. Indeed, apart from a few exceptions, all the scientific and philosophical works which have studied the question of our relationship to animals have strived, in one way or another, to prove that a difference, of nature or degree, existed and distinguished us from other animals, by the possession of a "characteristic of man". Thus, the difference "in nature" (advocated mainly by René Descartes[2]) defends the idea according to which the human being would have a "clean" of which would be completely deprived the other animals: intelligence, morals, or even the conscience of oneself are all elements invoked. On the other hand, the "degree" difference (the main figure of which is expressed in the person of Charles Darwin[3]), said to be more "progressive", defends the idea that animals have the same qualities as animals. be human, but in lesser degrees (they are intelligent, but less than the human being; they are aware of themselves, but less than us, etc.).

In the end, these considerations are both frozen in the same logic which does not manage to think of other animals without comparing them negatively, which does not manage to extricate itself from a way of thinking that prioritizes species among themselves on the basis of criteria established from the characteristics of our own species.

Umwelt, a change of point of view

It seems to us that other ways of thinking about other animals exist. One of them, theorized under the notion of "Umwelt" by Jakob von Uexküll. serves to explain that each animal species has developed in an ecological niche[4]which is peculiar to it, and which has conditioned the evolution of all the features which characterize it. Each species has its own world, and its vision of the world, which is unique to it and which cannot be judged by another species having another vision of the world: each species is perfectly evolved in itself. There is no reason, therefore, for any particular species to rise to judge that one characteristic of one species can be better or worse than another. Each species therefore has an intrinsic, inalienable value that we cannot deny by moral judgment. We therefore do not believe that there is a "peculiarity of man" which can justify a position overlooking "nature", but that each species has its own "peculiarities", which are perfectly suited to their own world.

We do recognize, however, that as an animal species, we can promote species interests (this is why our empathy goes first to other humans). Likewise, we tend to favor the species that we understand best: it seems normal to us to better understand large mammals, because their intelligence is more similar to ours, and to prioritize their interests. We accept the completely biased character of these considerations: as an animal species belonging to our environment and in relation of interdependence with other species, it seems obvious to us that our relations are conditioned by our material subjectivity and the way in which we perceive our world, and the extra-specific affinities that flow from it.

Reinvest our place, see our world again

Resolutely for the deconstruction of all types of arguments which would root the idea of a human "proprism", we oppose the antispeciesist objective of reducing the amount of suffering in other animals on the pretext that, unlike them and them , we would be endowed with a morality that would elevate us beyond our primary instincts. We do not believe that the abolition of suffering is an end in itself. We believe in the relevance of a reinvestment of our place among other living beings, and of an acceptance of our mortality. The place we currently hold within the organic scale reduces the interests of other species to nothing. We agree with the analysis of Kropotkin who, in L'Entraide, defends the idea that relations of inter and intra-species solidarity have contributed more to the evolution of our living conditions than relations of competitiveness (thus opposing the analyzes of Charles Darwin, who defended the idea of a "law of the jungle" within nature, which the benefits of civilization would neutralize). However, the capitalist system and all other systems of oppression exacerbate these relations of intra and inter-species competitiveness. We associate the majority of the forms of breeding with a contribution of these relations of competitiveness, since it is based on a relation of authority not consented by the animal species. We thus define mutual aid relationships as relationships agreed to on both sides, capable of respecting and improving the interests of each.

To sum up, we associate antispeciesism with a counter-revolutionary struggle which perseveres in wanting to attribute to the human species an overhanging position which can justify paternalistic behavior. We recognize ourselves more in a change of revolutionary and materialist point of view, according to which we are the other animals and that therefore we have our own subjectivity of species.Our interest, as a species, is to abolish the competitive relationships that we have built within our societies, and with other species. We want to replace competitive relationships with mutual aid relationships. For the time being, we are pleading for the end of breeding, because we consider that our societies offer us suitable alternatives to animal consumption which in no way justify such a blatant denial of the interests of the animals that we consume.

[1]Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1975. Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, 2004. Gary Francione and Anna Charlton, Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, 2015, and Small Treatise on Veganism, 2013.

[2]René Descartes, The Discourse on Method, 1637.

[3]Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859.

[4]A well-defined place within ecosystems.

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