Beyond Animal LIberation

  • Posted on: 27 May 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">Zine Library (pdf)</a>

We have posted a collection of writings that critique the animal liberation movement and the corresponding lifestyle choice, veganism. We have spent extensive time working within the animal liberation movement in North America and our critique is highly influenced by our personal experiences. Through study and discussion, we have developed a new understanding of domination, making this a critique not only of the animal liberation movement but also of our previous selves and the ways in which we attempted to deal with animal oppression.

Beyond Animal Liberation - by subversive energy </td><td><img title="oppression is a drag. we should stop it forthwith" src=""></td></tr></tab...

1 - Introduction
This is a collection of writings that critique the animal liberation movement and the
corresponding lifestyle choice, veganism. We have spent extensive time working within the
animal liberation movement in North America and our critique is highly influenced by our
personal experiences. Through study and discussion, we have developed a new understanding of
domination, making this a critique not only of the animal liberation movement but also of our
previous selves and the ways in which we attempted to deal with animal oppression.

2 - Beyond Veganism
In North America, the animal liberation movement puts considerable emphasis on
veganism. While it is not rare for the liberals of a movement to adopt specific consumer or
lifestyle choices (buying fair trade, recycling, and so on), it is unusual for the ‘radicals’ of these
movements to actively endorse these choices. Taking a quick survey of some of the individuals
considered ‘radical’ animal liberationists, the North American Animal Liberation Press Officers
and Advisors Camille Marino, Jerry Vlasak, Gary Yourofsky, and Peter Young to name a few,
all claim that veganism is an important part of the animal liberation movement
. Apparently
there is something incredibly special about veganism that distinguishes it from other consumer or
lifestyle choices.
In what appeared to be breaking news in the animal liberation movement in June 2011,
Camille Marino announced what anarchists have known for years – that veganism “does
absolutely nothing to relieve animal suffering.” (Ethical Veganism Doesn’t Help Animals) So if
veganism is not an effective means of combating animal oppression, why all the fuss?
We are more than what we consume
In the quintessential ‘veganarchist’ pamphlet Animal Liberation and Social Revolution,
Brian Dominick explains that, “By my definition, pure vegetarianism is not veganism. Refusing
to consume the products of non-human animals, while a wonderful life choice, is not in itself
veganism. The vegan bases her choices on a radical understanding of what animal oppression
really is, and her lifestyle choice is highly informed and politicized”. Many animal liberationists
share the perspective that veganism is more than a consumer choice but a lifestyle choice
representing their morals.
As anarchists, our analysis of the domination of animals involves the recognition that the
distinction between human and nonhuman animals must be abolished. While this involves
developing a “radical understanding of what animal oppression really is,” we see no reason why
this understanding also requires a vegan diet.
Dominick points out that a radical analysis of animal exploitation must appreciate that
“the meat industry (including dairy, vivisection, etc) is not an isolated entity. The meat industry
will not be destroyed until market capitalism is destroyed.” He also admits that the items we
purchase harm more than just nonhuman animals (unlike what the ‘cruelty-free’ bunnies on
‘green’ products everywhere would have us believe), yet he clings to the term veganism and
consumptive practices more generally, stating that “there is a compromise point at which we can
achieve an understanding of the effects of our actions as well as adjust and refocus our lifestyles
accordingly… You are what you consume.” Anyone with a radical understanding of capitalism
recognizes that ‘ethical consumerism’ does not challenge the exploitation inherent within the
system and the power imbalances it develops. Since “there is no escape from the massive
markets of late capitalism”, Dominick’s ‘compromise point’ is irrelevant – every purchase
contributes to the capitalist system we are bound by and wish to destroy. We certainly hope that
our purchases aren’t an expression of our desires even if we do buy ‘fair trade’, ‘sweatshop-free’,
or ‘vegan’, since any society that has a capitalist mode of production is one we want to
It is not specific institutions that maintain dominance over animals (the meat industry, the
vivisection industry, the entertainment industry, etc.) but a network of institutions (including the
state, the economy, religion, the family, etc.) that dominate us all (human and nonhuman). This
network forces specific social roles upon us, the main purpose being the perpetuation of this
system. One of these roles is that of consumer, and regardless of how ‘ethical’ the consumption
appears, whenever we make a purchase we accept the consumer-product relationship. To
overcome these social roles we must destroy the system that creates them and find new ways of
relating to one another. In an attempt to subvert the consumer-product relationship anarchists
often participate in stealing and/or ‘freeganism’, as both undermine the transfer of resources to
the capitalist system. However, the insistence that veganism is important has animal
liberationists encouraging us to engage in ‘ethical’ consumption, even going so far as ‘Supreme
Power Vegan’ Walter Bond advocating against the supposed speciesist acts of dumpster diving
or stealing animal products. (Supreme Power Vegan) So rather than actually engage in actions
that subvert the capitalist system (which also happens to be part of the system that dominates
animals), we are encouraged to advance the ‘vegan economy’.
The limited options that capitalism offers cannot even begin to represent the many ways
in which we hope to relate to one another when we break through the trappings of the current
system. And if what we consume is not an expression of our desires, a person can be against
speciesism without being vegan in the same way that one can be against industrial civilization
while driving a car. ‘Ethical consumerism’ should be left for the liberals.
Why a diet can’t abolish ‘Violence in Everyday Life’
Dominick attempts to describe veganism as more than a mere consumer choice when he
implies that it is part of the process of “challenging the false wisdom and values we’ve been
indoctrinated with.” Dominick responds to the “abuse of animals – whether directly, as is the
case regarding the mistreatment of pets, or indirectly, as through the process of meat eating
[which] correlates to social violence”, by advocating the “conscious abstinence from actions
which contribute directly or indirectly, to the suffering of sentient beings.” But this fails to
acknowledge that we are forced into the role of consumer, a role we cannot fully withdraw from
(except by removing ourselves from industrial civilization completely – an act that is becoming
increasingly difficult). This makes participating in indirect forms of violence impossible to
avoid. Since capitalism is an inherently exploitative system, whenever we engage in the role of
consumer, whether we are buying meat, vegetables, or shoes, we are participating in social
violence. Refusing to purchase certain products from the capitalist market does not wipe one’s
hands clean of social violence. Of course we should attempt to develop non-hierarchical
relationships with the animals we are in direct contact with, but the only way to avoid the
indirect social violence we are complicit in is to destroy the system that forces the consumer-product relationship upon us.
Dominick even attempts to convince us that participating in the indirect violence of
purchasing and consuming animal products will increase the likelihood of engaging in direct
abusive behaviour. “[T]his cause-effect dynamic works both ways. It has been shown that those
who are violent towards animals – again, directly or indirectly – are also more likely to be
violent towards other humans. People fed a vegetarian diet, for instance, are typically less
violent than those who eat meat. People who abuse their pets are unlikely to stop there – their
children and partners are often next”. While various researchers have demonstrated that a link
exists between domestic violence and animal abuse
, we found no research showing that
vegetarianism is even linked to ‘less violent’ behaviour, let alone demonstrates a cause-effect
relationship. It is absurd to think that the traits fostered by the direct abuser are also developed
within us when we are forced to engage in the role of consumer.
The revolution starts… in the kitchen?
When Dominick states that, “the role of the revolutionist is simple: make your life into a
miniature model of the alternative, revolutionary society you envision”, he attempts to make the
(naïve) case that changing ourselves will change the world. “It is we who are the enemy;
overthrowing the oppressors in our heads will be the revolution.” Although personal
transformation is important, referring to ourselves as the enemy misdirects the rage we should be
unleashing on the elites and institutions of domination.
It is obvious to (almost) everyone that refusing to buy factory-farmed meat will not create
a world without factory farms. While challenging the oppressive ideas we have been taught and
creating new ways of relating to one another are both important tasks, they are not the only tasks
of the revolutionary. As put by sasha k, “anarchists must attack, for waiting is defeat.” (Some
Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism) Even Dominick admits that “the simple act of changing
one’s lifestyle, even when joined by millions of others, cannot change the world, the social
structures of which were handcrafted by elites to serve their own interests”. The role of the
revolutionary is not so simple – it is essential we engage in daily acts of resistance and attack the
institutions that dominate us all.
The vegan secret to eco-harmony
Dominick tells us that “Radicals need to realize, as vegans do [emphasis ours], that the
only thing we can learn from animals is how to live in a sane and sound relationship with the
environment”. Dominick should be reminded that the only known examples of individuals living
in a sane and sound relationship with the environment are indigenous cultures. To pretend that
veganism is required to develop a holistic analysis of human-nature relationships is possibly the
most embarrassing of Dominick’s mistakes. While eating meat may not be a necessary condition
for living in a sane and sound relationship with the environment, we know for a certainty that
one can live eco-harmoniously while consuming animals.
Moving beyond veganism
Our critique of veganism does not mean we support speciesism, in the same way that
anarchists who critique feminism do not support patriarchy. Rather, our critique is meant to
demonstrate that a radical understanding of the institutions of domination means moving beyond
the notion that veganism, whether defined as a consumer or lifestyle choice, is a crucial step in
changing our human-animal relationships. Developing non-hierarchical relationships with
animals requires thoughtful analysis, an attempt to recreate the one-on-one interactions we have
with animals in our daily lives, and acts of resistance against the system that dominates us all.
This obsession with ‘cruelty-free’ living allows the movement to be co-opted and diverts us from
real revolutionary projects. It is completely ridiculous when Steven Best and company advocate
so strongly for ‘ethical veganism’ and then complain that “[vegans] are lifestyle oriented and
apolitical; we are consumerist… we care more about our own purity, or the purity of other
vegans, more than we care about the social problems and social structures.” (Best, Veganism –
The War We Cannot Lose) It is Best’s insistence on the revolutionary potential of veganism that
opens the door for the ‘apolitical’ vegans he claims to hate. The ‘voice of the voiceless’ Peter
Young even refuses to support non-vegetarian prisoners that have engaged in direct attacks
against animal industries, demonstrating just how obscene this ‘radical’ infatuation with
veganism really is.
We are not denying that there are many subjective reasons for being vegan, such as a
personal aversion to eating meat, feeling healthier as a vegan, being fearful of contaminated
animal products, or feeling that veganism strengthens your personal understanding of animal
exploitation. But it should be emphasized that veganism is not a radical response to animal
oppression – it can never be more than a lifestyle choice. It is time for us to abandon the idea that
veganism is a revolutionary act and begin to attack the forces of domination that control us all,
human and nonhuman.

3 - Animal Liberation as Liberal Ideology
As individuals who attempt to live in constant struggle against the system that dominates
our entire existence, we have embraced the insurrectional project of constant revolt against the
forces that limit our freedom. This life project is not based on an image of a future society and
we propose no ideology to define our revolt. This places us in opposition to leftist forms of
struggle (including the animal liberation movement) who construct an ideology to guide their
struggle and propose a future society with new ‘anti-authoritarian’ morals.
In recent years, the animal liberation movement has developed strong ties to anarchist
organizations and projects. Anarchists (us included) identify with and support the willingness of
individuals in the movement to engage in direct action against state and capital and some animal
liberationists have embraced an anti-state/anti-capitalist analysis. This has led some animal
liberationists to describe their movement as an explicitly anarchist project. While the discussion
of human-animal relations has added to anarchist theory and we can find moments of affinity
with animal liberationists who engage in direct action, the isolated struggle against speciesism
and the movement’s intense moralism are at odds with our project of insurrection.
Isolating issues can only lead to isolated struggles
In Animal Liberation and Social Revolution, Brian Dominick falls short in his description
of what he calls ‘the Establishment’ - “an entity which exists solely for the perpetuation of the
power of a relative minority.” Although he recognizes that the Establishment exists in order to
maintain the social relationships that keep the dominant social order intact, by listing all of the
oppressions that the Establishment employs (classism, racism, patriarchy, etc.) and attempting to
deal with them individually, Dominick fails to confront the totality of this system.
Present society is ruled by a web of domination composed of institutions, structures, and
relationships which completely dominate our lives. The state, work, the family, religion and
technology are examples of institutions that combine to create the network that stops us from
living as free individuals. Each of these institutions forces us into social roles not of our
choosing with the primary purpose of maintaining the system of domination. Only by breaking
out of these social roles and creating our lives in a way that refuses all domination can we begin
to destroy this society.
To subvert the Establishment, Dominick asks us to challenge oppressive attitudes such as
racism, patriarchy, and speciesism, suggesting that equalizing the power within these
relationships (white-black, man-woman, human-animal) will abolish the oppression. But so long
as these ways of relating with each other exist, we will never eradicate these attitudes or the
Establishment. Attempting to merely change the meanings of these oppressive relationships will
always limit what we can accomplish; by focusing on oppressive attitudes, we become distracted
from the root of the issue – the institutions that force us to engage in these oppressive
relationships. “By accepting the idea (promoted heavily by progressive education and publicity)
that the structures of oppression are essentially mindsets inside of ourselves, we become focused
on our own presumed weakness, on how crippled we supposedly are. Our time is eaten up by
attempts at self-healing that never come to an end, because we become so focused on ourselves
and our inability to walk that we fail to notice the chain on our leg.” (Wolfi Landstreicher,
Against the Logic of Submission)
So long as we continue to merely respond to oppression from within the confines of roles
not of our choosing, we will never be able to destroy the Establishment. We need to reclaim our
lives as our own and in the process destroy this society which limits our freedom. Of course, the
various oppressions that exist have real effects on real individuals, but the only way to break free
of these oppressive relationships is to rid ourselves of the web of domination, rejecting the social
roles created for us and living as free individuals. While this process will manifest differently
for each individual, this is part of the insurrectional project we have chosen to undertake.
Who wants a Bill of Animal Rights anyways?
Despite their attempts to show otherwise, the animal liberation movement is single-issue
by definition. Although they connect the oppression of animals to other forms of oppressive
behavior (racism, sexism, etc.), by continuing to focus on the behavior rather than the institutions
that force the social roles upon us they fail to challenge domination in its totality.
To show how radical the movement is, animal liberationists draw comparisons to other
social movements such as black liberation and feminism. But these comparisons serve only to
demonstrate how liberal the movement truly is. For example, when Steven Best refers to the
animal liberation as the ‘new abolitionism’, he limits the movement’s actions to merely
demanding for change within the confines of this system. This way of thinking leads Best to
suggest that “[b]uilding on the momentum, consciousness, and achievements of past abolitionists
and suffragettes, the struggle of the new abolitionists might conceivably culminate in a Bill of
(Animal) Rights.” (Rethinking Revolution) Since a Bill of (Human) Rights has clearly given us
our freedoms, it’s no wonder that Best wants the same for animals.
Similarly, Dominick points out that “[f]eminism and veganism have much in common,
and each has plenty to teach to and learn from the other.” (Animal Liberation and Social
Revolution) We fully agree with Dominick - both are liberal ways of attempting to deal with a
single form of exploitation in isolation. While it is imperative we attempt to minimize the ways
in which we perpetuate speciesist and sexist behavior, we disagree with Dominick's contention
that feminism and the animal liberation movement (and its associated lifestyle choice ‘ethical
veganism’) are radical responses to them.
Best complains that “because animal liberation challenges the anthropocentric,
speciesist, and humanist dogmas that are so deeply entrenched in socialist and anarchist
thinking and traditions, Leftists are more likely to mock than engage it.” (Rethinking
Revolution) It seems obvious that the reason some anarchists mock the animal liberation
movement is because of its attempt to deal with animal exploitation as an isolated issue, rather
than confronting the entire system of domination. By referring to anarchists as part of ‘the left’,
Best fails to recognize that although some anarchists choose to associate themselves with the left,
many anarchists, us included, have chosen to distance themselves from the liberal ideology of the
political left.
Militant activists are still activists
Best distinguishes animal liberationists from the overall animal rights movement by
claiming that liberationists engage in ‘non-statist’ (and thus, anarchist) action, while animal
rightists engage in ‘statist’ projects. Non-statist actions include any action that does not fall
under state-sanctioned activities, such as peaceful protest, voting, and petitioning. However, his
distinction seems to be completely arbitrary, as many animal liberationists also engage in ‘statist’
actions including vegan outreach and legal reform (see, for example, the government funded
group 'Animal Liberation’ or the vegan outreach and potluck group 'Animal Liberation Action' in
North Carolina). To claim that the animal liberation movement engages in only ‘non-statist’
activity is a blatant misrepresentation of the movement.
It's also worth pointing out that just because someone engages in ‘non-statist’ action does
not mean they have gone beyond liberal ideology. Best implies that anyone willing to break the
law is an anarchist when he declares that “the [Animal Liberation Movement] challenge the
myths of representative democracy, as they explore direct action and live in anarchist cultures.”
Best also claims that “Not only are animal liberationists anarchist in their social and political
outlook, they are also anarchist in their organization and tactics. The small cells [of] ALF
activists… are akin to anarchist affinity groups in their mutual aid, solidarity, and consciousness
building.” (ibid) But just because a group uses anarchist tactics does not mean that they share
an affinity with all anarchists in the way that they create their life project. While attacking
institutions of domination is part of the insurrectional project, by issuing communiqués that
demand “animal liberation – no matter what it may take”, the movement continues to deal with
the oppression of animals as an isolated issue. The insurrectional project goes beyond this
specialization and expands revolt to an attack against all the forces that dominate us.
ALF activist Walter Bond has written essays titled Supreme Vegan Power and The
Crusade for Animal and Earth Liberation – this certainly does not sound like an anarchist who is
concerned with attacking the system of domination in its totality. In fact, these titles sound
frighteningly similar to white supremacist and religious propaganda – maybe not entirely
surprising coming from a member of a movement completely obsessed with enforcing a specific
diet. Bond specifically refers to himself as, first and foremost, an animal liberation activist. He
then goes on to say that if a case arose in which it was necessary to choose between animal and
human needs, he would choose the ‘innocent’ animals over humans because “our depravity,
perversion, and lust for blood as a species is profound and disturbing!” (Supreme Power Vegan)
This misanthropic attitude certainly is not that of an anarchist, but one of a single-issue activist
concerned solely with animal liberation. Bond demonstrates that the tactics do not define the
individual, and although it may seem that we are using this one individual to represent the entire
movement, our experience finds these to be widespread themes. Best himself is guilty of this
when he states that “I cannot fathom privileging a work reduction for humans who live relatively
comfortable lives to ameliorating the obscene suffering of tens of billions of animals who are
confined, tortured, and killed each year in the most unspeakable ways.” (Rethinking
It seems obvious that the animal liberation movement is not anarchist, as Best and
Dominick suggest, but is in fact just a militant faction of activists. Dominick seems to think that
the two are synonymous when he suggests that “[w]ithout claiming to speak for all, I will say
that those I consider true anarchists and animal liberationists seek to realize our visions via any
means effective. We understand, contrary to mainstream perceptions of us, that wanton
destruction and violence will not bring about the end we desire.” (Animal Liberation and Social
Revolution) As anarchists, we do not bother with the activist obsession with effectiveness, as
this often causes paralysis, over-analysis of the action, and an attempt to find the ‘perfect’ action.
Instead, we suggest attacking institutions of domination with the “playful ferocity” referred to by
Feral Faun in Insurgent Ferocity. Although this can be done tactically, we will not allow
effectiveness to channel our revolt against the forces of domination. We are not sure what
perfect ending Dominick seems to desire, but “wanton destruction and violence” can certainly
be a part of our projects.
It is also worth pointing out that many actions advocated for by Best and the animal
liberation movement are merely acts of civil disobedience. Although these actions challenge
specific laws, their purpose is to show that certain laws protecting animal exploitation are unjust
and need to be changed. In Best's speech Veganism: The War We Cannot Lose he states, “[s]tart
breaking the law, start joining in civil disobedience. Fuck the law! When the law is wrong the
right thing to do is break it! Now you think I sound radical? I'm only quoting Gandhi and Martin
Luther King.” Although we agree that laws should be broken, we reject the liberal suggestion
that they should be broken only when they are ‘wrong’. As anarchists, we reject all laws and
have no interest in Gandhi and King’s desire to beg the state for more ‘just’ laws.
Steven Best – Animal Rightist
Perhaps it is no surprise that Best advocates for civil disobedience since he supports the
law as long as it protects the rights of animals. He does acknowledge that “[r]ights, in short, are
created by the capitalist elite for the capitalist elite,” but then goes on to say that “it would be a
strategic error of the highest order to abandon the discourse of rights as a critical tool for
animal liberation, as it has ably served the cause of all past human liberation struggles.”
(Rethinking Revolution) We are very curious what liberation struggle has been aided by
begging the state for rights. It seems obvious to us that any rights that have been granted by the
state have been awarded only because it is in their interest – whether it directly benefits those in
power or stifles revolt. Best should certainly understand this, as any concessions that have been
gained in the struggle for animal liberation (larger cages, free range meat, etc.) have only helped
maintain the meat industry by providing customers with ‘happy meat’. Let's make no mistake,
green capitalism is still capitalism and is in no way progress.
But Best claims that “the concept of rights continues to inflame rebellion and the
political imagination, [and] continues to provide a critical leverage and internal critique against
capitalist exploitation.” (ibid) Well, this is hardly radical and certainly not anarchist. The
concept of rights does nothing but quench the fire of rebellion and pushes people towards
reforming the current social order rather than destroying it. Best even goes as far to say that
“[i]n a non-statist society, rights can 'wither away'.” (ibid) But why would rights that were
presumably seen as victories simply ‘wither away’? Does it not seem more plausible that a
movement struggling for rights would fight to keep those rights, eventually solidifying them into
laws and moral absolutes? A project of liberation cannot use or advocate for state-approved
methods of revolt because doing so only strengthens the state's power.
Supreme vegan moralism
As anarchists, we are not only against all laws but also against any construct which limits
our individual freedom. As such, we are opposed to the leftist view that a future society must be
developed around universal principles and morals. This critique is influenced by Max Stirner's
The Ego and Its Own, which shows that morals and laws are identical in how they are
constructed to govern our actions. Morals are values which are set in stone and then applied
universally, regardless of context. The political left, including the animal liberation movement,
engage in moralism, which is the act of not only living by morals but using them as tools to
affect social change. Moralism restricts the individual's freedom by forcing them to live by these
constructed beliefs, whether or not they apply to the unique situations we experience. We refuse
to live our lives by any construct and instead live according to our real desires and passions.
Steven Best says that “Animal liberation is the next necessary and logical development in
moral evolution and political struggle.” (Rethinking Revolution) The ‘moral evolution’ he
refers to is the application of the moral principle that it is always wrong to kill and consume
another living being. Although this may be a valid way to live in certain circumstances, by
making it a universal principle, animal liberationists put limits on the ways we can interact with
the world.
But Best shows that he is clearly not opposed to the universal application of an abstract
concept when he asks “is it any less 'totalitarian' to enforce prohibitions against killing human
beings [than those against killing animals]?” (ibid) Any universal law against killing humans
or animals is equally totalitarian and as anarchists we reject any such prohibition. Best goes on
to say that “[a]ny future society worth fighting for will be based on principles of universal
democracy that forbids any form of exploitation, regardless of the species.” We certainly would
not bother fighting for a future society based on universal principles governing any aspect of our
lives. We have no interest in defining what the future will look like – each individual and group
of individuals will have to decide their path for themselves based on their lived experience.
The problem with representation
Since the anarchist project is one of reclaiming our lives, it must also be one that rejects
all representation. We are against anyone who attempts to speak on our behalf and we have no
interest in voicing the desires of anyone but ourselves. The animal liberation movement is
inherently based on representation, as animal liberationists act on behalf of animals. Best is at
least explicit about this, admitting that “[w]hatever language we use to describe it, enlightened
humans must speak for the animals.” (ibid) Maybe the meaning of representation confuses
Best, because this is certainly not a reflection of a movement that “challenge[s] the myths of
representative democracy.” (ibid) Our goal should not be to represent the needs of animals,
since this will limit us to the reformist position of improving their condition within present
society. We should be attempting to create new ways of relating with the world that do not
require ‘enlightened’ humans speaking on behalf of anyone, animals included.

4 - Beyond Animal Liberation
Like feminism, animal liberation is a response to an isolated oppression and an attempt to
change the power dynamic within a specific relationship. While discussions of the oppressive
attitudes we exhibit can help us develop new understandings of how domination manifests in
daily life, the focus on specific attitudes only serves to reinforce the social roles forced upon us.
Since animal liberation is an attempt to balance the power in the human-animal
relationship, like all liberal movements, animal liberationists rely on morals to define the way
this power will be equalized. In our experience, there are two dominant forms of such moralism.
The first, generally expressed in the more ‘radical’ factions of the movement, is that animals
should be granted the status of person and with it the inalienable rights of humans. The second is
that the act of consuming an animal is inherently violent and dominating. Animal liberationists
may use one or both of these arguments, but since they are separate we will deal with them as
Taking a brick to the relationship
As discussed earlier, present society is made up of social roles which have been forced
upon us by the various institutions of domination. The purpose of these social roles is to alienate
us from ourselves, thereby preventing us from living as free individuals. The human-animal
relationship is one example of these social roles. In this society, humans are seen as subjects,
while animals are seen as objects, there for our consumption. Animal liberationists recognize
this unbalance of power, but they adopt the typical liberal response of attempting to elevate
animals to the status of person, changing the power dynamic within the human-animal
relationship. For example, Walter Bond asks “Would you eat the dead and broken bodies of child
laborers left in the trash?” attempting to demonstrate that one should treat animals as they do
humans. (Supreme Power Vegan)
This is similar to the feminist desire to elevate woman to the level of man. Feminists
recognize the power imbalance in the man-woman relationship and like animal liberationists
attempt to correct this imbalance by equalizing the power within the relationship. What they fail
to grasp is that so long as the social roles continue to be filled, the relationship cannot change in
any meaningful way. As pointed out on the Not Yr Cister Press website, “patriarchy can only
exist so long as it is performed - that is, so long as the role of the man is fulfilled. What we want,
quite simply – as for with any other determinate role imposed by and in the service of capital – is
for it to be destroyed.” Simply replace patriarchy with speciesism and man with human, and this
statement shows the shortcomings of the animal liberation movement. It is not enough to
attempt to alter the balance of power in the relationship. We must go beyond the social roles that
have been forced upon us – beyond the role of man, of woman, even the role of human. We must
subvert the human-animal relationship that is based on human dominance over animals and start
creating new relationships that reflect our desires and passions. Coupled with a project of attack
on the institutions that perpetuate relationships based on domination, this is part of the
insurrectional project that we engage in.
We have no interest in defining how these new relationships will develop. However, it is
important to recognize that the only examples of communities that have gone beyond the human-animal dichotomy are so-called ‘primitive’ societies. By considering themselves part of the
earth, indigenous peoples have lived without the social roles that define humans as separate from
animals. This does not mean that we are advocating for the primitivist position that we return to
a certain way of living - we have no interest in defining what the future should look like, nor are
we trying to turn the real lived experiences of indigenous people into mere concepts. We are
simply pointing out that these individuals have managed to live without the human-animal binary
and this should be our goal as well. Once we begin to create relationships of our choosing, we
can start to live our lives as free and wild individuals, unrestricted by the social roles currently
forced upon us.
There is no systematic violence in the wild
When animal liberationists claim that killing an animal is always an act of violence and
domination, our objection is not with the first point, but with the second. While we agree that
killing another animal is always a violent act, we reject the idea that violence is always an act of
domination. In his essay Insurgent Ferocity, Feral Faun points out that “[v]iolence, in itself,
does not perpetuate violence. The social system of rationalized violence, of which pacifism is an
integral part, perpetuates itself as a system.” For example, the capitalist system forces us to
work on projects not of our choosing, with the main purpose being the continuation of our need
to work to survive. Absent of the social institutions that use violence to reproduce themselves,
violence simply becomes momentary flare-ups between individuals. “Violence is an aspect of
animal interaction... There is no systematic violence in the wild, but, instead, momentary
expressions of specific passions.” (ibid) As wild individuals living according to our desires and
passions, we may engage in temporary moments of violence. Since these moments are not used
to maintain social control, the only reason to oppose such violence is a pacifist mentality. We
will not bother pointing out the problems with pacifism since so many others have done so at
length already.

For examples please see, for Marino: Vlasak: Yourofsky: ; and Young:

See, for example, Frank R. Ascione & Phil Arkow, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse.


from Nietzsche:

"My friend, you have talked yourself hoarse."
"Well then, I stand refuted."

What is it with the greens? Why do they have to write SO MUCH to realize it's about the attack?
Deep Green Resistance was 520+ pages?!

My partner is staunch vegan ALF and she's a great influence on my diet by the way.
ATTACK DAMNIT! Actually the ALF in my neighbourhood is some of most active folks around.


"My partner is staunch vegan ALF"

"ALF in my neighbourhood"

lol, either they're doing something very wrong, you're full of shit, or you're really really endangering them. either way, FAIL!

What the hell are you talking about? Alleging that the ALF is active is endangering them somehow?
Your idea of security culture is just snivelling cowardice loser.

Besides, my and mine are comfortable enough being under semi-regular surveillance.

Because Deep Green Ridiculousness was written by 3 ego-maniacs who consider themselves 'field-generals' when they are less apt to lead any form of military-style resistance than fucking Noam Chomsky. Thus the book has to be filled with their inane personal opinions on every facet of their underlings existence to assuage their overbearing personalities and convince themselves that they have actually written anything new on the subject (aside from fallacious criticisms of actual resistance groups who don't cry to the feds when they get death threats from Rush Limbaugh fans.)

"They threatened to cut off my genitals for crissake! How about some victim solidarity?"

I'm sure that's just what the James Connolly and the other IRA leaders they extoll would have said in a similar situation.

Every opportunity to piss on those folks must be taken so that they stop sucking well intentioned green anarchs into their self-righteous book marketing/entrapment scheme.

- A non-vegan anti-civer who thinks "The Vegetarian Myth" is utter bullshit

Do they actually call themselves that?


wait do they really "James Connolly and the other IRA leaders they extoll"

It's one of the many authoritarian movements which that book studies and seeks to glean strategies from. Most of the movements the they talk about (possibly all of them I'm not sure about MEND and a couple others) are explicitly hierarchical organizations with generals, command structures and a statist, political above ground leadership like the IRA. This is the overall template which DGR is based around.

DGR dismisses autonomous action (ELF, IAF, etc.) as 'ineffective' and 'impulsive', Kieth openly mocks the ELF. In fact they say that now is not yet the time for action because 'we' need to establish 'above-ground' support for a specific DGR platform and 'we' need training and leaders to know which targets are significant enough for Derrick Jensen and how to attack them.

So basically, autonomous people going on the offensive and taking things into their own hands aren't 'professional' enough for DJ. Thus you can see the basis for his calling black bloc participants 'criminals' and saying that they are just doing what is 'easy' instead of spending all their efforts promoting DJ book tours which are a necessary prerequisite for taking actions. It's essentially the same idea as Karl the US Uncut guy who said we need 85% popular support before there is any point in committing sabotage.

So in conclusion, no DJ doesn't call himself a field general but he thinks that field generals, command structures, and an above ground political organization with offices and PR reps in all major cities is the definitive strategy for 'saving all life on earth.' Anyone not doing that (basically all anarchists) are in the way or wasting their time at best.

So yeah, it's a book marketing scheme to build DJs readership and convince people to join a formal organization which we know is currently being monitored by the FBI. This is ok though, because DJ trusts the FBI enough to call them when he gets threatening phone calls.

More hating on The Vegetarian Myth please! Fuck I can't stand that stupid, self-righteous, piss-poor little book!

Great review! My opinion of Derrick Jensen dropped substantially after reading his nasty, manipulative, dishonest little response to it.

While you make some good points about vegan fundamentalism, most of your core argument rests upon really dubious logic. I'm keen to write a full response at some point, but for now here are some scattered thoughts:

- I agree with you that violence is impossible to avoid within an inherently exploitative system, but why does it follow that we should not seek to diminish the violence we are complicit in? We live in a rape culture; does it follow that we are not to be held accountable for behaving like rapists simply because we're structurally embedded in this culture? (Yes, I know, it's the 'dreaded rape analogy'.) Additionally, you assume here that the *only* effect consumer / lifestyle choices have is to contribute to the capitalist system we are bound by, whereas it's reasonably obvious that our personal choices can have multiple effects, even if these effects do not by themselves result in the one final goal of anarchy. I'm sure I don't need to point out why this logic leads to a pretty steep slippery slope ;-)

- You're also using some serious strawmanning; Peter Young's views on non-vegetarian prisoners are pretty offensive, while Walter Bond is an authoritarian extremist whose dumbass ideas on the ethics of dumpster diving are not representative of most folks in the animal lib scene. Nor is a 'bill of animal rights' something many anarchist-type animal libbers would seriously consider. We're agreed that rights discourse is fucking stupid.

(As for Steve Best, his game is obvious: he wants to politicize vegans, hence his endorsement of 'total liberation'. Regardless of his conflation of anarchists and 'teh left', I think he has been quite effective in this regard - I've noticed a distinct shift towards radical politics amongst a number of the previously apolitical vegans I know.)

- You repeatedly describe veganism as an ineffective consumer or lifestyle choice, whereas most vegans and animal lib folks would argue that it is qualitatively different from most lifestyle choices in that it involves - reasonably directly - the exploitation of other animals. In the same way infoshops usually sell Fair Trade coffee and radical publishers use unionized labor and recycled paper (none of which, we're agreed, will themselves result in the revolutionary overthrow of class society or the return to wildness or whatever it is you're after), surely we should also try, to the extent that we're able to in a horribly stratified, hierarchical society, to minimize our complicity in relations of exploitation? In fact your argument only works if you eschew the entirety of prefigurative practice within the anarchist milieu; you attempt to do exactly this by falsely asserting that prefiguration / 'lifestylism' is usually understood as a *sufficient* condition, whereas for many anarchists, I suspect, it's seen as a *necessary* but insufficient condition.

- Oddly, you also argue that prefiguration *is* a valid practice: 'developing non-hierarchical relationships with animals requires thoughtful analysis, an attempt to recreate the one-on-one interactions we have with animals in our daily lives, and acts of resistance against the system that dominates us all.'

(In this regard, it's also odd that you invoke the insurrectionist argument against effectiveness, given that you've just critiqued veganism on grounds of lack of effectiveness. Do you only use the measure of effectiveness when convenient or did you in fact you mean to write two different essays - one produced using the automatic Wolfi Landstreicher essay generator and one defensive rant against the anal vegans at your local anarchist cafe?)

- I agree with you when you say that "We must go beyond the social roles that have been forced upon us – beyond the role of man, of woman, even the role of human. We must subvert the human-animal relationship that is based on human dominance over animals and start creating new relationships that reflect our desires and passions."

If you look into the work that's been done in critical animal studies and posthumanism (e.g., Cary Wolfe's stuff), you'll notice that the contemporary animal liberation scene is fast becoming aware of the problematic reasoning behind attempts to 'equalize' humans and other animals by reworking the criteria for belonging to a category that is itself a product of capitalist relations; we now use words like 'radical otherness' and 'fields of difference' to talk about our relations to other animals and 'the natural world'.

- I partly agree with your appeal to Stirner and amoralism (as I wish all anarchists did); Joel Marks has some interesting views on amoral veganism / situated ethics:

PS: Sorry you failed at veganism. I know how tasty that cheese can be :P

Usually long comments are bad news, but this one is all solid gold.

Defensiveness is rife among anti-vegans, and frequently leads to them jumbling together a bunch of arguments that don't address the same behaviors or logic and don't really make sense together. The classic anti-vegan is a former vegan who has retained the normative self-righteousness prevalent among vegans, and uses it to aggressively attack what (s)he recently aggressively defended.

This is not unlike Ryan Harvey, "riot folk" asshole extraordinaire, who was a self-righteous jerk when he was into confrontational direct action, then decided only self-righteous jerks were into it, and was a self-righteous jerk about how people shouldn't be into confrontational direct action. Fuck that guy, and defensive anti-vegans too.

But veganism, like confrontational direct action, can be a good thing. Whether or not it's "effective" according to consumer protest models, it can enable us to transform the way we relate to the world and to ourselves, precipitating a qualitative rather than quantitative change.

"The classic anti-vegan is a former vegan who has retained the normative self-righteousness prevalent among vegans, and uses it to aggressively attack what (s)he recently aggressively defended."

LOL! So true :D

I was with you until that last part. Really? All it transformed for me was my cooking ability and the massive eating disorder I ended up with.

But what do I know? I'm just a former vegan.

...i'm a current vegan (and not the OP) and i'm sorta with you on the eating disorder point. i think there are good ways to be vegan, but those are also socially and culturally contingent ways. if being vegan is something one feels sufficiently supported in doing (especially if it supports others simultaneously), then great.

if, however, one feels more isolated and burdened than anything else, then in a way that can be more real than where this egg came from, regardless of what we tell ourselves. if one continues to behave in a way that contributes to their sense of isolation and burdening, then in the long run that can lead to having a fucked relationship with food and their own bodies.

the (personal) efficacy of some things is socially contingent. anyone ever try raw veganism with just a blender, no dehydrator or food juicer or anything? kinda sucks, in my experience.

* that latter "socially" was supposed to be "situationally."

also, i do believe it makes sense to argue for "qualitative" differences, but i'm just not sure how to best articulate what those qualitative differences ARE.

the only qualitative changes veganism gave me were teeth with no enamel and poor nutrition.

what's more useful to revolutionaries are ways of eating and taking care of ourselves that make us healthier and more fit than our enemies. the effect food has on our bodies is more important than some moralistic high-horse.

The interview you posted is interesting, but ultimately fails:

"The only rational question is: What is the most effective way to address the situation in keeping with one’s own considered desires? In the case of Hitler this could mean killing him. In the case of factory farms it means, I believe (following Gary Francione), promoting veganism."

Seems to me that the logical conclusion would be burning down the factory farm. For veganism to be consistent, he should be proposing convincing Hitler to take a less violent stance or something (a la Gandhi's letter to him).

As the guy who posted the interview, I actually agree with you on this point; we should be burning down the factory farm :-)

This. Also, PARAGRAPHS, people. Format your diatribes if you want us to read the whole thing!

A long winded, morally deficient diatribe, which admittedly I could not finish. Veganism is not a "lifestyle choice", just like not owning slaves is not a lifestyle choice. The color of the draperies in your squat is a lifestyle choice.

Neither is veganism a revolutionary choice, a la Gary Francione. Abstaining from the active exploitation of beings of another species is simply a rejection of the fake hierarchy maintained by this culture they call civilization.

Abolishing capitalism and the unsustainable culture around us is our goal, but I for one could not look myself in the mirror knowing I was not doing what I can to repudiate the exploitation, torture and murder of innocent beings. Not to mention explicitly rejecting at least one industry responsible for massive ecosystem destruction. Oh, and do I need to mention how BAD eating the flesh of others is for your own human health?
Jerry Vlasak

Haha, hi, Jerry! You must be new around here; we don't respond to moral arguments except by lol'ing at them.

Remember when we locked down together? I'm glad I don't do that anymore.

i didn't know who jerry vlasak was until right now. and also, while i'm vegan, i'm usually very wary of comparisons made (like those PETA regularly turns out) between speciesism and other forms of oppression.

however, i think the slavery argument here in this particular instance is pretty apt. jerry's not saying the active exploitation of other species is the same as slavery (or any better/worse than, either), but that it makes sense to think about it here. in both scenarios, we exist in systems of total domination of other life. everything from the constraining to the rape (dairy industry, etc.) to other physical and mental abuse to ultimately the slaughter of this other life is coercive and hellish.

so, in 1812, do we buy slave-made cotton goods?
or now, do we buy ... slave-made (international) cotton goods? or non-human slave-produced cheese?

what about theft? if we stole or dumpstered the cotton or cheese?

aside from the impact animal products continue to have inside our own bodies, i'm pretty pro-freeganism. however, i wonder if -- to borrow the language of another commenter -- we're perpetuating coercive, hierarchical relationships on a qualitative, not quantitative level through continuing consumption of animal products. that's regardless of whether our consumption of them contributes to or actually depreciates their market value, or inspires others to consume or turns them away from consuming animal life themselves.

"so, in 1812, do we buy slave-made cotton goods?
or now, do we buy ... slave-made (international) cotton goods? or non-human slave-produced cheese?"

so does that mean if we buy t-shirts made in sweatshops that we cannot be against them?

not necessarily, no. i mean, shoo, when you break it down, i and presumably most anarchists i know are against *businesses*, but we still buy goods and services.

this is just a matter of putting things in perspective. is being vegan to the extent possible, a necessary but not sufficient component of our arsenal against the animal exploitation industries?

if you're vegan, you're fucking stupid.

actually i was vegetarian for 5 years and i recently just started eating meat again and already feel loads better, more energy, etc. How can you tell me what's best for my health? You don't have the same body as I do.

My partner was vegan for a couple months and she was getting terribly sick so she had to start being a vegetarian again. Vegan is not always the best health choice. That, my comrades, is an illusion.

Good article. I agree with a lot of the stuff you wrote. This is the argument I always try to present critiquing veganism.

This is sometimes true but almost everyone I've ever known to use the "I can't be vegan, I'll get sick" argument is full of shit. And it pisses me off because I have friends who really *can't* be vegan and they get overscrutinized for other people's laziness.

I'm vegan but I have way more respect for people who can own the fact that they just don't care about animals rather than people who make excuses for why they're not vegan.

I'm a human animal and you are oppressing me by annoying me to death, causing me undue harm by forcing my palm to meet my face with your sick experimental food neurosis, and slaughtering me with illogical self-righteousness.

Ps I love animals

>>Ps I love animals

It's such a drag when people expect you to follow through on the things you say you believe. Annoying AND inconvenient!

Okay algore. Let's get real here: only people who don't expend a lot of physical energy, and can afford to be choosy about their diet, are vegan. How many athletes are vegan? I just looked it up - not many.

I respect people who are vegan who do not exhibit the traits of the poster I responded to.

I suggest to the people who are railing about the moral imperative of converting everyone to veganism that their time might be better spent getting inexpensive fruits and vegetables and other fresh foods to people who can't afford to go to yuppie markets, rather than producing more "pro-life" animal holocaust pornography.

Carl Lewis set world records in track and field and matched Jesse Owens record of four gold medals in the 1984 Olympics while eating a completely vegetarian diet without any meat, dairy or eggs. There are many ultra-marathoners and many athletes in general who are vegetarian and vegan and even eat totally raw diets and also vegan bodybuilders. I do agree about the importance making sure everyone has access to fresh produce, as being well fed is a right not just for the privileged. I hate yuppies who think you can solve everything by "conscious consumerism" or "conscious capitalism". Tierra y Libertad! My ancestors were healthier and stronger on a traditional diet, as "beaners" with the 3 sisters of maiz, beans and squash. Before Columbus there wasn't really animal domestication for food not even for use as "beasts of burden". Yet the indigenous farming techniques were far more productive than European's. Look up the Tarahumara who eat a plant-based diet including chia seeds and tell me you can hang with their level of physical exertion.
Only people who can afford computers and the internet can afford to be anarchists. How many working class people are anarchists? I just looked it up - not many.

Mike Tyson is apparently vegan now...

Your argument is weak - there are very very few vegan athletes, but perhaps a few more who are vegetarian (I was referring specifically to strict vegans). If you are going to try to emulate the diet of tarahumara or whatever indigenous people, then I hope you have a lot of money and you know your shit, or chances are you're going to get sick.

Your last statement is idiotic. There were and are a lot of "working class" anarchists. Most ppl in the US have access to a computer/internet.

Yes the last statement is idiotic. It sarcastically uses the logic of the person who asks how many vegan athletes there are to show that just because something is uncommon or unpopular doesn't mean it is not possible or impractical, which are two arguments made against anarchism as well. Such fallacious arguments are just appeals to majority opinion and the status quo. Just because you are not aware of athletes who are vegan, which is not a diet but a conscious choice to oppose animal exploitation as much as possible, doesn't mean there aren't many. e.g. Mac Danzig Devours Fighters, Not Flesh (Go Vegan)
Also, historically vegetarian meant either zero animal products, or might include people who consume dairy and/or honey. Most people on earth, and in particular people of colour, are lactose-intolerant after being weened from their mother in infancy just as all other mammals. I suppose none of the many vegans in China ever do anything physically challenging? Shaolin Kung Fu (exploding the meat myth)
We're on the internet but you want to claim the number of vegan athletes is so few as to be insignificant, as if you don't know how to use a search engine? And athletes are not the only ones who need a lot of energy, people who do physical labour and even mental labour do too. Many musicians, even some who do arduous schedules of performances, are vegan. It's ironic that someone who believes you need to consume animal products is telling someone who actually is well-educated about nutrition and the effects of the modern diet that they might get sick.
The Tomato Effect

Take it to fox news.

"This is sometimes true but almost everyone I've ever known to use the "I can't be vegan, I'll get sick" argument is full of shit. And it pisses me off because I have friends who really *can't* be vegan and they get overscrutinized for other people's laziness."

I'll tell you straight up right now that I stopped being vegan because it's too expensive and I just straight up love cheese and other stuff. When I say my partner was getting sick, I mean the doctor was like damn you really can't be vegan because your body isn't getting what it needs. This is the person who cooks the bangin'est vegan shit ever with plenty of "nutrients" and all that. It still wasn't enough though. I probably could have been vegan, but I don't want to and just because I don't, doesn't make me speciesist or any less anarchist than the folks who are vegan.

If you think eating meat makes anyone speciesist, tell that to all the indigenous tribes who eat meat and are way more ecologically sustainable than your 10 dollar vegan meals bought from trader joe's or whole foods wrapped in plastic. But hey, you're going green right? To me, going vegan is the same as buying energy efficient light bulbs. It doesn't do anything but make you think you're not guilty. This doesn't mean I don't support people doing those things, just don't get it twisted like you're so anarchist and pure because of it.

you're not "repudiating" exploitation by eating vegan. refusing factory farms while ignoring agricultural production does not make you better.

also, there isn't anything BAD about eating the flesh of others (but i'm sure you think your whole grains are fucking amazing for your body). i'm glad i don't rely on @news comments for health information.

Don't Go Vegan. Go Cannibal!

Been saying this for years! Up the Cannibals!

my partners haiku:

is just like Veganism
but more effective

"I stand behind my statement: ethical veganism does absolutely nothing to help the animals! Whether or not carnivores choose to use my words to support their complicity in animal exploitation is irrelevant and, the fact that my words were taken out of context to support views antithetical to my own, only speaks to the typical rationalizations of the guilty and disingenuousness.

Theoretical anarchists do not concern me. They present as much of a threat as the ladybug on my windowsill.

What concerns me is that my community understands that veganismn is a moral imperative. If we are not vegan we are guilty. But veganism is insufficient and is NOT a form of activism. It is a diet or ideology -- both of which the animals entombed in a holocaust are unconcerned with.

To understand how govt subsidies and the structure of "free market" economics render changes in consumption wholly irrelevant to any impact in production, please read my interview with Rhys Southern in its entirety:

But please do not be distracted by smoke and mirrors. The fact remains that as vegans, if we are not actively liberating animals or confronting and eliminating their tormentors, the we remain guilty and complicit. Veganism is a moral imperative.

Veganism is not a form of activism!" -Camille Marino

"If we are not vegan we are guilty."

LOL! So if you are vegan then you are innocent? Yeah I know you said this stuff afterward "But veganism is insufficient and is NOT a form of activism etc." but if you are aware of that you should realize how incredibly self-righteous and tunnel-visioned you sound. This is the reason I, and many others, avoid you folks

Hey, whatever gets you in to the streets and going on vegan-ninja missions at night.

Oh dear. This is seriously one of the worst things I've ever read on this site- every detail.

the vegans are just mad cus i can run circles 'round them.

protein is oppression dude.

hitler was a vegetarian, yeah I know godwins law.

This vegan is embarrassed by the consistent use of the moral imperative in defending veganism over other dietary choices. I mean really, my choice is for me, and not for anyone else. There are as many valid arguments to condemn veganism (if we reject morality, I mean really, fuck your morals!) as there are to defend it. You can take my vegan card if need be (funny thing- I'm wearing a "vegan death squad" shirt right now!), but please spare us the spooks.

This consensual sex adherent is embarrassed by the consistent use of the moral imperative in defending consensual sex over other sexual choices. I mean really, my choice is for me, and not for anyone else. There are as many valid arguments to condemn consensual sex (if we reject morality, I mean really, fuck your morals!) as there are to defend it. You can take my consent card if need be (funny thing- I'm wearing a "consent death squad" shirt right now!), but please spare us the spooks.

As if you need morality to make an argument for consensual sex.

What do you use? Autonomy? I'm genuinely curious.
I can't think of how to make a nihilistic argument for respect for consent.

Feeling like it? Getting pleasure out of it? Or just the fact that people are just generally easier to fuck when they want you to?

... ask an amoral question, get a chilling response. Thanks creepy anon!

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