Saturday, December 15, 2007

No gods, no masters and no hunters please...

I believe in anarchism for a simple reason, the only way society could ever be organized and be able to function is with a system of mutual aid. I agree with most green anarchist propaganda that civilization itself is not sustainable. However there is a disturbing trend among anti-civ thinkers who lead these arguments against Vegetarianism and Veganism.

John Zerzan and Derek Jensen are leading anti-civ authors who write books on the ills of civilization. I prefer the work of Jensen who has wonderful things to say on anti-civ and other subject such as zoos. However he is perhaps the most well known defender of the consumption of animals within this ethical belief system. In one of Derek Jensen’s books he spends an entire chapter to detailing the methods he uses to dismember chickens he keeps as food slaves.

Personally I find it hypocritical to write hundreds of pages condemning civilization while still taking part in one of its most brutal traditions. For 10,000 years society has grown into the monster that is, primarily through the exploitation of animals(human and non-human). Animal domination is built into almost the entire fabric of civilization. Few would deny that it was the birth of animal agriculture that gave humanity the ability to leave hunter-gather lifestyle to built cities and nations.

Derrick Jensen loves to talk about the world pre-ritual and how harmonious society was before civilization organized while overlooking the role the relationship human and animals play. I believe we will never solve the problems of sustainability and injustice in this world if we don’t first come to terms with our role as slave master to other species. The only way to reject that role is to be vegan.

How shocked was I when this essay was sent to me by a friend. I had to respond.

here are some excepts and my response.

"However, many vegans/vegetarians have allowed their resistance to become a stagnant moral position, one which is considered morally superior, and one that has blinded them to the destruction and exploitation they are participating in. The choice to go veg can only be made inside of civilization"

Every human being has the choice of what food they eat and how they attain it. The above statement is complete lie. Any person wishing to forego society has the ability to make their own food. They can gather, grow, can their own food. It is certainly more sustainable considering the shrinking wildlands to have a large garden than to go out and hunt animals.

Eating Road kill and food waste(I can and do dumpster vegan food) is parasitic and requires the existence of civilization so it is also not sustainable. I agree the way vegan food is produced to is not perfect it is so much better than mainstream food. A reformed vegansim(with emphasis on local, organic, whole) is the only diet than has a sustainable future that could realistically feed the planet in a peaceful and respectable manner.

The sad fact is that due to habitat destruction there is no sustainable way for the entire planet to re-wild in the short term. You can’t ask the human race to walk forward to into starvation so any anarchist ideal (green or otherwise) must have sustainable plan for how we would re-organize and feed human race. Perhaps that is the difference between Green Anarchism and simply Green Anarchy.

"where thousands and thousands of acres of soybeans and other vegetables are grown to meet their demands. Obviously the farms that grow these crops replace forests and other natural ecosystems, ensuring the deaths of countless animals. As an example, soybeans (for tofu, vegetable oil, and other products) are among the world's top crops, and therefore their excessive production to meet the demand is leading to the excessive destruction and loss of plant and animal life worldwide. These facts are often over looked by self-righteous vegans and vegetarians who take an uncritical look at their own lifestyle."

This is such bullshit. Who is Green trying to fool? This is an arguement for veganism. It doesn’t take a degree in animal agriculture to know that the majority of soybeans, corn or any grains grown on planet earth are fed to cattle and other animals who are turned into food. The author(s) of the Green Anarchy piece have no clue what they are talking about. Every pound of beef requires 16 pounds of grain. Studies have shown numerous times that the most sustainable Animal foods don’t even come close to the least sustainable vegan foods.

“Animals fed on grain and those which rely on grazing need more water than grain crops.[2] According to the USDA, growing crops for farm animals requires nearly half of the U.S. water supply and 80% of its agricultural land. Animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and 70% of its grain.[1] In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1.[3] The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits.”

Vegans have every right in the world to feel proud and self righteous about the environmental impacts of our diet. Unless green anarchists want the human race to choose starvation (hey I’m down but I don’t think they will) we need to come up with diet that can feed the people in the most sustainable way. I agree a system of food production and distribution based on mutual aid is needed but without the sustainable and ethical nature of veganism it could not be truly effective.

If people interested in re-wilding are worried about disappearing wild lands they better get on board with promoting veganism. The meat, dairy and egg industries are a wrecking ball to the planet. We have no time to spare the wild lands are going quickly, while your leading trapping workshops, were taking daily actions(three times a day) to stop the destruction. The world Fish population is on it’s way to a crash, the world’s fresh water is disappearing fast. Human beings continue to breed. Veganism is the best and most comprehensive solution to all these problems. Veganism is also a more realistic option for most people compatible with their lives – I agree that is not enough for the long term but we are in a crisis now.

Gatherer-hunters were not vegetarians.

While a high amount of there diet was vegetable and plant based (around 70%), they still consumed wild meat. There are certain nutrients that humans need that are found only in animals. Among these are omega- 3s and vitamin B- 12 (vegetarian and synthetic sources are available, though not in a sufficient quantity).

This simply is not true. There are several sources of B-12. If someone wanted to go off the grid and grow there own food there vegetables would come out of the soil rich in B-12. Growing hemp to grind and put on salad is one great source of omega’s, but there are even more. The author of this piece is again stretching, talking about issues they do have to research to understand.

As an animal species, it is only natural that we are omnivores. While the consumption of domesticated plants and animals is highly unhealthy, especially because the relationship between us and our food becomes mediated and alienated, the consumption of wild plants and animals is healthy and is more closely attuned to what we are meant to eat, as our bodies are still designed as if we were living in the Paleolithic. A diet such as this puts us in direct connection with our food and thus the plants and animals in our world.

We share more physical traits with herbivores than we do omnivores* however that issue is irrelevant. We can’t go into the future denying the impacts that eating animals (enslaved or wild) would have for the future. If you are going to promote a belief system and proclaim that is best for the planet it should work for the whole planet and not just for a group of ideological elites and crusty punk kids.

Re-wilding is perhaps the most dangerous of all radical environmental ideas. Imagine if huge numbers of humans decided to re-wild in few remaining polluted wild lands. Humans have almost destroyed every shred of wild land on the planet the solution is not for humans to continue to invade the last shreds. We need to find solutions that transform society and balance sustainability into the future. A solution for one person doesn’t mean shit. What happens if we re-wild and civilization comes to destroys our habitat or makes the air unbreathable? It is not green solution. A green solution must take into account that we have one ecosystem that must function for all life.

We support vegetarianism as a personal choice, but we understand that when given the chance, a diet based on wild plants and animals (hunted or scavenged) is a far wiser choice, and one which acts outside of civilization. While a natural and ancestral diet is becoming a fad (Paleodiet, Neaderthin, etc.), it is nonetheless a more healthy choice, for us as humans, and for the planet itself.

It’s funny that this author(or authors) Call vegans self righteous and then proclaims that their lifestyle is far wiser. The facts don’t support a paleodiet, not in a world of 6 billion people and disappearing habitat. There is not one strong argument defended by facts for how a Paleodiet could feed anything more than a small part of the human species. The sad fact is that these arguments are used to grease a slippery slope that leads to all kinds of diet compromise. Re-wilding while it might sound fantastic in a kneejerk way doesn’t stand up to critical thinking. Anything short of a massive population crash** will prevent it.

Hunting in the wild is different for human beings who can make choices without instinct. We can choose to take part in an act of domination or make another choice. Anarchists love to say “No gods No masters,” But these green anarchists don’t have problem assuming the role of master in their own lives. Hunting animals in wild while alternatives exist that are non-violent and do not include an act of domination is to accept the role of master over another life. A vegan diet is natural extension of Green anarchism. It is the most important piece of a puzzle that could make a green anarchist future possible.


* <
Also this piece by Milton R. Mills, M.D

** As painful as it would be for most humans, possibly people I love and care for I think a massive population crash would be fantastic for the future.


Tylor said...

Honestly, read his books. Read them all. I never once got the impression he enjoyed his role as "slave master" (your term, not mine) while raising chickens. He consistently remarks upon the lack of alternatives to survive in this civilization. I hate to use the term 'lesser of two evils', but it's a bit of the truth. I'm sure, given an alternative, he would have shot the chicken in the forest. Oh wait. There isn't that alternative.

But there's veganism! Oh yay! Does it come with a cape? It's the salvation of the world! Once we get rid of civilization, we can get rid of the remaining indigenous groups that might still hunt meat for food. And when they're all gone, we can get rid of the lions. And then maybe bears. What about sharks? They eat meat, don't they?

I think you really missed Jensen's point about the cycle of life/death.

And no, you're wrong. "Every human being" DOES NOT HAVE "the choice of what food they eat and how they attain it." You're dumpster diving, you said. Is that really a choice??? Don't you think, given a REAL choice, that you would choose to grow it on your own in a much more sanitary manner? But you don't have that option, do you? (unless of course you can afford to "buy" the land [though I'm doubting that, given the aforementioned dumpster-diving])

Is it really about about what you eat? I always looked beyond to the process of how we go about doing it. And whether you give something back. I agree Jensen's "chicken farm" isn't the way to go - he probably would, too - but living off the waste of others while standing on moral superiority isn't either.

Veganism is not the only way to reject the slave-master role. That statement really only admits to a belief that plants are less important than animals.

Again, I think you miss Jensen's point.

It's not just about animals. It's not just about plants. It's beyond salmon and animals and dams. It's about survival. Not just of us but EVERYTHING. And civilization CANNOT be a part of that equation.

And by CANNOT, I mean not an exclusion but simply a logical incompatibility.

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