1970s >> 1976 >> no-858-february-1976

50 Years Ago: Cruelty To Animals — And To Humans

Just before the great Christian festival at Christmas, the Animal Defence Society thought to improve the shining hour by inserting a seasonable advertisement in the newspapers. ‘Christmas is approaching’, they said, ‘and the spirit of Mercy is knocking at the heart of Everyman’. And so the Animal Defence Society suggest that in answer to the knock, why not send them a nice donation . . .

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Now what is wrong with all this? Surely we also are in favour of any movement to lessen the amount of suffering in the world! Surely we are not going to crab any attempt, however feeble, at abolishing avoidable cruelty! Perish the thought. Then where does our grumble come in? Just here. We do believe in first things first. We do insist upon a sense of proportion. We also have our objections. They relate primarily to human beings. Consider recent history. We objected to human beings being torn to pieces by shrapnel and splintered steel. We objected to our boys being taught the proper way to insert a bayonet into the intestines of a fellow human being, and to so twist it as to make the most ghastly wound.

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We were the Human Defence Society. Where were the members of the Animal Defence Society then? Were they weeping over the pole-axed cows and distressed sheep, or were they taking part in the great work of disembowelling their fellow creatures? We fear the latter. It needs little more than the list of Lords, Dukes, Earls and Admirals who figure in the list of contributors to convince us of that.

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Cruelty to animals will go the way of all forms of cruelty, when a real civilised existence becomes a
possibility to everyone. So let us have first things first. If anyone has a thousand pound cheque they would like to devote to the abolition of cruelty to human beings, our address is on the back page.

(From an editorial ‘Socialism and the Humanitarians‘ in the Socialist Standard, February 1926.)