Marxist Animalism

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    I remember him. He wrote this good article on the Respect Party in 2004: was why we were surprised to learn that he was later a member of a Trotskyist group (the IMT). Still, if he's now with the Marxist-Humanists he seems to have done something of a full circle (well nearly). Isn't that the group Andrew Kliman is in?I don't think much of vegetarianism myself, even less of veganism, but may be he was influenced by this article from the August 2003 Socialist Standard which he will have read while a member:



    From one of the articles mentioned above.

    The author of Animal Farm, George Orwell, commenting on the genesis of this work, stated: “Men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat”

    I don't think that's right, we don't enter into social relations with animals, but then that does not mean that we should not have ethical concerns about them. It's just that these concerns can only arise from a singular direction only, from us. In much the same way that we have relations with future generations etc…


    The issue about vegetarianism these days is not the moral case that can be solved by individual choice but the environmental one which will require social decisionsabout food production methods being made. The blog has been posting a few articles on the problem recently.


    In my catch up of the news, came across this, as just to confirm my previous comment.

    “Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.”


    That's not the case for vegetarianism, only for eating less meat, even only for eating less beef. I'd have thought that sheep and goats are ok as they can graze land that is not suitable for agriculture and is a more rational way of using land, while pigs and chickens are ok because they recycle human food waste in an efficient way.So generalised vegetarianism no, eating less meat yes. Of course individuals can, like Dan Read, adopt vegetarianism or veganism as a lifestyle choice even if they think they are pursuing some deep Marxist policy. I just wish they'd stop boring the rest of us by telling us that we should too..


    It is perhaps the case for flexitarianism i live in a society where eating insects is not a fad but  daily part of diet and eating frogs is not just a joke about the French. And when it comes to vegetarianism, i doubt even the most dedicated will not consume as varied greens as here too…diverse plants and leaves off various trees, and every meal is served with them as side dish for a balance of nutrients, i suppose, since it is often a free resource , picked  off a bush from around a corner. But i lived in cultures where pork and beef were both very scarce on the menu for hundreds of millions of people and instead chicken and goat (usually called mutton) were the usual subsitutes.We cannot expect one size fit all especially across all the different regions of the world ….but i'm betting those tobacco users will struggle to continue their habit  as the cash-crop farming for it disappears. But i'm told you can grow your own, as well as rolling your own maybe also maybe back to dandielion tea and chicory coffee as plantation workers desert the fields. After the American civil war 40% left the cotton fields, and those that stayed only did so out of fear and uncertainty, something socialism will not be offering. It took Jim Crow laws to ensure they stayed where they and were also designed to drive ex-slaves back to their home plantations. The Vagrancy Act provided that "all free negroes and mulattoes over the age of eighteen" must have written proof of a job at the beginning of every year. Those found "with no lawful employment . . . shall be deemed vagrants, and on conviction . . . fined a sum not exceeding . . . fifty dollars." The Enticement Act made it illegal to lure a worker away from his employer by offering him inducements of any kind. Its purpose, of course, was to restrict the flow (and price) of labor by forcing plantation owners to stop "stealing" each other's Negroes. i have argued this before on other threads that many common products will become relatively rare luxuries for the occasional feast-day and i think meat will return to its earlier state but some foods will simply disappear…or become very localised and seasonal, just as it was before. Xmas was the only time i had chicken and mandarin oranges as a kid., poooor wee soul…but there were plenty of local gooseberry bushes around and various berries to pick wild …gone now too. And stealing apples from gardens was a sport not a crime…. ramble ramble ramble… the good old bad days

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides guidelines for estimating livestock emissions on a regional level. Direct emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from livestock worldwide has been recently estimated: they represent about 9% of total GHG emissions caused by human activity.
    Consequently, beef releases more emissions than pork and chicken per ton of meat traded. Dietary preferences are a strong driver of livestock emissions, with beef generally related to substantially more GHG emissions per ton of meat traded than pork and chicken, and much more than vegetables. Therefore, substituting pork, chicken or vegetables for beef in the diet could reduce livestock emissions.

    #106256 to draw attention to this statement by Scientific American regards the IPCC

    Checking 20 years worth of projections shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently underestimated the pace and impacts of global warming

    A report published in 2013 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) shows that emissions from global livestock production accounts for 14.5 percent (not 9%) of total man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere Livestock-related emissions and associated issues are not in the spotlight of international climate negotiations, partly because of the difficulty of measuring the emissions accurately. The result is a lack of awareness on the subject among global policymakers.When it comes to pigs and poultry their wastes emit another type of greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide, which is nearly 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. China's livestock production contributed to more than half of greenhouse gas emissions in its agricultural activities, releasing emissions equivalent to 445 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2005—the latest data available. That only takes into account direct emissions. When considering carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels in facilities that raise and process animals for food, as well as greenhouse gas emissions associated with feed production and meat transportation, the overall climate impact of the livestock sector would be bigger.(We do have a carbon footprint on grain production but they seem to be highlighted by the livestock industry as in this example –  file:///C:/Users/AP-Lenovo/Downloads/TopPaddock%20-%20Greenhouse%20gas%20emissions%20from%20grain%20production.pdf )We can throw figures and facts about all we want but a gradual transition of the world to a practically meat-free diet is desirable on the long term and people in a socialist society will be debating and discussing such a prospect and how it can be achieved. The defence of meat eating does not require any contribution from the SPGB, the meat industry is quite capable of producing its own defence. What our position should be emphasising is once again to show there exists an alternative to the status quo, which is viable and feasible and rational. The contrary position of uncritically accepting that eating meat is a personal choice decision, and not a social question where we can make a generalised hyopothesis on what should be done based on currently known data, is i think is as faulty as those seeking change to vegetarianism as a lifestyle decision. I see no problem with taking a position (albeit covered with various caveats)  that a world socialist society would in consideration of various environmental concerns aim towards reducing meat eating as much as it could. And reiterate an earlier ethical position from i think the 20s that once we begin to care about and start to value our fellow humans, we will begin to treat animals also with more concern and compassion. I speak, btw, not as a vegetarian, much less a vegan, in case people wonder if i am or not. In fact the more processed the food personally the more i like it…bring on that new Soylent Green …not the people stuff but the goo full of nutrients and chemicals and stuff needed to live.


    John Oswald

    Hi there! Just joined. I do think members of the SPGB ought to read the anonymous BEASTS OF BURDEN: CAPITALISM, ANIMALS AND COMMUNISM before chewing over their conclusions. I have a life-long association with the Party, via my father, and am a world socialist according to your principles. But I am also an anti-vivisectionist and animal egalitarian (cosmicist/non-speciesist) BUT WITHIN THE CONTEXT of a world socialist revolution being necessary. Hoping for an end to nonhuman animal exploitation whilst retaining capitalism, in which the working class and fellow animals are exploited for profit, is certainly utopian and hopeless, and this is where animal rights activists fall short and are pursuing a futile endeavour. On the other hand, socialists in my view need to understand (at odds with a Pathfinders article of some years ago on the subject!) that vivisection is part and parcel of capitalism and would not exist within socialism – simple because the profit system will have been abolished. There is, in my view, no neutral scientific or medical defense of the practice for socialists to identify with. In understanding this, and also taking on board new discoveries in ethology, the Party and movement worldwide need to break with the 19th-20th century prejudices regarding nonhuman animal existence of otherwise brilliant social thinkers, such as Lafargue, and Marx himself. The same goes with regard to their understanding of Darwinism. The Party needs to take on board more the work of Stephen Jay Gould, in preference to Dawkins and his "selfish gene" stuff, and in preference to Huxley and the Victorian view, influenced by capitalism, of evolution as progress: ladder vs. bush. Socialists need to return to Kropotkin in this respect too.


    Well, I think the party position (as such) would be that vegetarianism/veganism  is not a question of individual morality, but will have to be a decision of the democratic production within socialism.  I'd suspect that there will be some meat, it's a way to use scrub lad that we can't otherwise farm.  And I have an ace plan for sealing off the Medditerranean and turning it into a genetically modified whale farm (we could use the fur as well).


    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    Well, I think the party position (as such) would be that vegetarianism/veganism  is not a question of individual morality, but will have to be a decision of the democratic production within socialism. 

    The way you've put could be misunderstood. I'm sure individuals will still be able to decide what to eat in socialism and be vegetarians or vegans if they want. What will be the subject of a democratic decision will be what foods to produce and what farming practices to adopt. Which could/will be different in different parts of the world.  I agree will Alan that the supply of tropical fruits (and tobacco) to the Northern parts of Europe might well be drastically reduced as the people living where they are currently produced decide to use the land to grow food for themselves.

    And I have an ace plan for sealing off the Medditerranean and turning it into a genetically modified whale farm (we could use the fur as well).

    I was going to simply dam the Straits of Gibraltar and drain the Mediterrean into the Atlantic Ocean and then use the Nile, the Rhone and all the other rivers run through the newly re-claimed land as irrigation for further agricultural land. Probably be too salty soil at first though, come to think of it. Might have to lie fallow for a generation of two. Grazing cattle will usually consume twice as much salt as those fed high-concentrate diets. Part of the explanation may be that lush forages are generally high in potassium and low in sodium . The body has to maintain a sodium potassium balance, which may stimulate salt intake. Salt is an excellent means of delivering ionophores to grazing cattle.


    In many of our environmental articles we can take the general position and state that socialism would seek to predominantly use renewable sustainable sources as the basis for energy but we add the caveat that perhaps nuclear power will be used (and possibly fracking) if socialist society deems it worthwhile.Surely we can say that a socialist society will aim for sustainable food production which will be based upon predominantly agriculture rather than animal husbandry with the added caveat that where geography (and perhaps culture coincides) there may be more emphasis on livestock farming but those will be exceptions and not the general rule. I think i have also mentioned elsewhere the fact that i simply cannot imagine many volunteers to work in the de-humanising abattoirs and slaughterhouses when there is no pressing need. People will have to do their own killing and butchering, something i think will make more vegetarians than anything else.  We do not endorse the current lifestyle choice of boy-racers to have their sportscars over the priority of non-pollution and we support the rationalisation of logistic transport along with the common sense relocation of work-places which means less lorries, less commuting and therefore less roads.  Surely we can speculate with a high probability of what indeed will be likely. We aren't advancing sci-fy scenarios that are not rooted in real life as everybody having personal helicopters as in the Jetsons, simply stating the obvious that in a sharing system we will also share public transport but only better.  I don't believe it is idle utopian blueprinting to suggest certain trends that already are developing today within capitalism will grow exponentially within socialism.


    This US legal decision may be of interest

    So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties…unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.'

    Following that logic neither would the severely physically handicapped nor the mentally ill could be deemed full human being but i am sure in the complete judgement that question is probably addressed. The right-wing anti-abortionists would also have a problem with this brief definition of a human in their claims that foetuses are people, too. In fact, even children in many regards do not meet this standard. 

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