Marxist Animalism

August 2020 Forums General discussion Marxist Animalism

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    Hi Alan and Dave.

    I am a socialist. Does that mean I need to be in the party? I think I can be more effective among non-socialists if I am not.

    It isn’t the party that will make socialism, but the masses. And, young people especially will always be alienated by the smarminess I have criticised.

    Those who trivialise and joke at the expense of animal suffering and at others’ feelings and concerns (and that would be equally so were I to do it) are siding with the bullies in society.  I have no more wish to rub shoulders with them in the same organisation than I would have to stay in a pub or bus station full of smirking yobs.

    If you two want me to stay on the forum, I shall. But I shall not be engaging any further with those who smirk at nonhuman suffering as of consequence only to people to laugh at. (The same ugly speciesism that  jokes about “rescuing” – euphemism for taking away and killing – a cow from “a mob of vegetarians.” )

    Sod them!


    ENGELS LOVED killing animals.

    This article is republished from an eBook series that has been made freely available.

    By Jon Hochschartner.
    Friedrich Engels, close collaborator to Karl Marx, supported the torture of animals in the form of vivisection. This position perhaps should not be surprising given his passion for blood ‘sports.’
    Writing to Marx in August of 1881, Engels complained about a publication’s pro-animal stance. “Since I’ve been here I have been taking The Daily News instead of the Standard,” Engels said. “It is even more stupid, if that is possible. Preaches anti-vivisectionism! Also as deficient in news as the Standard.”
    Writing to Karl Kautsky later that same month, Engels referenced the same factory inspector Marx’s son-in-law Paul Lafargue alluded to in a pro-testing article I’ve discussed previously. Kautsky appears to have written his own defense of involuntary non-human experimentation, called ‘Die Vivisektion des Proletariats,’ but I’ve been unable to find an English translation of it.
    “In Nature, you will find a speech made by John Simon before the International Medical Conference here in which the bourgeoisie is virtually put on the mat by medical science,” Engels said. “Now he, a doctor, finding his own special field invaded by the Church-led bourgeoisie and their anti-vivisection movement, has turned the tables on them.”
    Here Engels was explicitly linking anti-vivisectionist belief to the capitalist class, seemingly in particular a religious subset, which he saw as opposed to rational thought. Viewing themselves as rational thinkers, Engels and Marx were deeply impressed with the work of Charles Darwin. But as Steven Best pointed out, what they failed to glean from the naturalist’s work was “Darwin’s emphasis on the continuity of species, on the continuum of animal existence.” This failure to accept the genuine implications of evolution allowed Engels to continue viewing animals as categorically different and inferior to humans.
    “Instead of preaching dull and colourless sermons like Virchow, [Simon] goes into the attack comparing the few scientific experiments made by doctors on animals with the vast commercial experiments made by the bourgeoisie on the popular masses, thereby placing the question for the first time in its true perspective,” Engels continued.
    In a similar way that reactionary socialists might artificially counterpose the consideration of class and gender, or class and race, here Engels suggested a false dichotomy between political work on behalf of humans and political work on behalf of animals. I’d argue this dichotomy propagates what Marxists call ‘false consciousness,’ in that it directs proletarian anger away from capitalists, the genuine exploiters of the working class, and toward animals and those humans who defend them. Triumphantly, Engels concluded, “The Congress, by the way, declared unanimously that vivisection was essential to science.”
    While I try to assess individuals’ species politics based on their stated positions, rather than what might be failings in their personal practice, Engel’s support for animal testing could perhaps be predicted by his enthusiasm for hunting non-humans. His speciesism, after all, was not a passive acceptance of our society’s omnivority. Rather Engels actively sought out opportunities to kill animals for pleasure. He enjoyed it.
    Writing to Marx in 1857, according to Tristram Hunt, Engels said, “On Saturday, I went out fox-hunting – seven hours in the saddle. That sort of thing always keeps me in a state of devilish excitement for several days; it’s the greatest physical pleasure I know…At least 20 of the chaps fell off or came down, two horses were done for, one fox killed (I was in AT THE DEATH).”
    Lafargue recalled Engels’ gruesome talent and passion for murdering non-humans. “He was an excellent rider and had his own hunter for the fox chase,” Lafargue said. “When the neighbouring gentry and aristocracy sent out invitations to all riders in the district according to the ancient feudal custom, he never failed to attend.”
    Engels eventually developed what Hunt, his biographer, describes with abhorrent approval as bloodlust. “Yesterday I let myself be talked into attending a coursing meeting at which hares are hunted with greyhounds, and spent seven hours in the saddle,” Engels said. “All in all, it did me a power of good though it kept me from my work.”

    Hi MA


    Whilst it is perfectly true that you dont have to be in the party to be a socialist, all things considered  it is better to be in than out.   Numbers do matter.   However irrational it may be – and human beings are both rational and irrational creatures – we do tend to judge the credibility of an idea by the support its attracts.   How does one gauge this support outside of  the particular organisation promoting the idea you want to attract support for? Unity is strength and atomism makes for impotence and eventually apathy.


    So like Alan I would urge you to reconsider.   I have never quite understood why subjects such as animal rights should give rise to such heated controversy in the party.   I am not saying the matter is not important in itself  – its certainly is – but is it important from the standpoint of what the purpose of the party is about?


    I dont think anyone here is saying that animals should be treated cruelly.  The controversy seems to be  more about whether animals should be bred for human consumption.   Strong views have been expressed on either side of this debate which is perfectly OK but I think the problem arises when comrades try to formalise or harden their own ideas into some kind of quasi-official “party line”.


    There is too much  of a tendency towards “Party Line-ism” as it is.   The SPGB is not, and never has been, a monolithic organisation, thank christ.  There has always been a diversity of opinion on a whole range of subjects.  By all means let us have robust debate on these subjects but on the understanding that it is perfectly OK for members to hold differing and conflicting opinions on these subjects.


    It is only with respect to the absolute core principles of the party that we can expect more or less  unanimity of opinion.  These are the principles upon which membership of the party is predicated   But even here there is scope for pruning back.  (I particularly have in mind the requirement for applicants to not hold religious views.   I have long felt that this should apply only to organised religions.   It is perfectly possible to hold vaguely religious-cum-spiritual views and for all practical purposes,  to think in “historical materialist” terms but this is for another thread and I wont derail this one)


    The point is there nothing to stop you as a member putting forward your strong views on  the subject of the appalling way animals are treated under capitalism and I for one sympathise very much with what you are saying.  But leaving the Party is not going to achieve anything as far as promoting the socialist cause is concerned  and in fact will – sadly – do the opposite.



    Bijou Drains

    MA – I have no wish for you or anyone else to leave the party.

    It is clear my unrefined Northumbrian sense of humour offends you, which is why I posted that I had no intention of returning to this debate. I will admit that at times, I can go a little further than is in good taste and if that gets on your wick, I apologise and will attempt to desist.

    However, and crucially, my posting (which appears to have so outraged you) was not poking fun but was about the sites you are linking to this discussion and was not made in a crude or offensive way. It also did not comment one way or the other about how animals are treated in the Indian sub continent, it was pointing out to you that stories of villagers being killed by beef rustlers and other such stories are being propagated in India by Hindu nationalists to attempt to foment religious hatred and intolerance in India, in a similar way to Populist movements in other parts of the world. The fascistic leanings of some of these organisations are clear to see. The parallels with historic anti Semitic libels are also clear to see

    The site you linked, Opindia in particular has been likened on a number of occasions an to Indian version of some of the extreme news sites in the USA.

    I would politely ask you to answer the following question “can you say honestly that sites like this and The Times of India (which is in Modi’s pocket) are sources you are comfortable posting links to on the forum?”

    With regard to the ways in which animals are slaughtered under capitalism (whether it be in Bangladesh or in Doncaster), you will not find me defending it. I eat meat, but I know where it comes from and I know how it was treated, I know where it was bought and sold (usually Hexham Cattle Mart) and I know the small slaughterhouses that the meat came from. I don’t eat supermarket or mass produced meat, as I have posted on here many times before.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Bijou Drains.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Bijou Drains.

    “ENGELS LOVED killing animals.”

    Fair enough, MA – Engel’s attitude to foxhunting is not something we would approve  of.    But I am not quite sure why you brought the matter up.   The case for socialism does not depend on Marx or Engels or any particular opinions they may have held on this or that subject



    Matthew Culbert

    It is nonsense and damned offensive to say that any of us trivialise animal suffering.

    It has been par for the course in all of these postings of MA to level judgemental verdicts upon comrades, saying we can not have known animal companions etc, I personally have five such buried in my garden.

    They were not just pets.

    I also find these horror stories being posted up here extremely distressing, as I am sure plenty of others will too.


    So the cattle rustlers don’t kill farmers? They are such good people that they only sell cows into a nightmare and don’t hurt people? That’s alright then, I suppose? Except I don’t believe it.

    Bijou Drains

    “So the cattle rustlers don’t kill farmers? They are such good people that they only sell cows into a nightmare and don’t hurt people?”

    I never for one moment stated that cattle rustlers don’t kill farmers. I am fairly sure that they do, in the same way as Hindu mobs have been lynching non Hindus and Low caste Hindus over accusations of cattle theft.

    What I did say was that you were using very questionable sources to back up your claims, sources which have been using the on going cattle situation in India to whip up religious hatred, Hindu Nationalism and spreading stories very akin to the Blood Libel story of the anti semitic type

    In fact the wikipedia article you have linked demonstrates that it was possible to get your point across without using such disreputable sources.

    So, in a comradely spirit, I will ask you again, are you comfortable using sources such as these propaganda sites, to illustrate your argument?

    (Please note, there has been no mockery, jest or vulgarity in this post)



    Matt, please delete my account – for good this time.


    Remembrance Day

    Animals are to be remembered and commemorated for their contribution in war zones for the first time with an official purple poppy wreath.


    Very interesting thread. I also recommend figure out in difference between capitalism and socialism…

    Matthew Culbert

    This is the power of vested interests in the agricultural lobby in the USA.

     This is the power of vested interests in the agricultural lobby in the USA.


    Or is it the lobby for  livestock rearers

    “…The Iowa Pork Producers Association lobbied on behalf of the bill…”

    I know it is difficult but language is being twisted

    “…During a discussion of the bill on Friday, Rozenboom said that it is meant to “address the gravest threats to animal agriculture in Iowa today…”

    “…Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry group…”

    But a wry smile appeared when i saw the name of one of the animal rights activists and i am still not sure if it is not a non-de-plume  –  Kecia Doolittle [who talks for the animals]

    Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, which has been popular with tourists for many years, has outlawed the sale of dog meat. It is the first Cambodian province to ban the practice.

    2 million  dogs are killed every year in the southeast Asian country.

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