Tolerance, ‘division’ and appropriation: Strategy for a mainstream monoculture

corn-fieldIn some ways it might be claimed there are two prevailing views within the animal movement; one suggests that we can achieve our aims within the system (mainstream) and the other which suggests that a ‘justice for all’ approach is not compatible with the present economic / political system. So people could move in different directions depending on how they view that situation. However, when overarching discussions have taken place regarding tolerance and cohesion within the animal movement, they have generally been weighted toward the mainstream (status quo). In this regard, i think there needs to be a greater recognition of different perspectives within the movement. Whilst people who take the justice perspective would probably accept this, people that do not, often have difficulty even acknowledging that different perspectives exist, for them it appears that to do so would undermine their own approach. I expect a similar situation presents itself across many other justice movements as well. So it is plausible to consider that ‘unified and focused’ efforts need to take place across justice ‘borders’ rather than within the animal movement itself. Where the ‘justice for all’ approach gathers momentum there will inevitably be increased tension with mainstream groups that fail to question the economic and political system, or even how they are structured as a reflection of that system.

When we hear calls from the mainstream movement that we are all in this together heading in the same direction, we know this essentially reflects a simplistic perspective that tends to serve the mainstream agenda by erasing alternative approaches. Can we agree that even within these differences non-human animals can suffer less with the ‘pragmatic’ or ‘effective’ approach? I think we can, yet the purpose of the rights position is to represent ‘rights’ in a non vegan world, it is not designed to support exploitative systems. In this regard there is a separate utilitarian approach of ‘animal liberation’, and a rights based approach that centres on justice for non-human animals whilst including a full definition of ‘veganism’ as both a philosophy and lifestyle. When we centre non-human animals we are compelled to find those ‘effective strategies’ that allow us to communicate these ideas in accessible ways, this includes an emphasis on personal responsibility within a social context, where the complexity of society (in regard to inequality, discrimination and oppression) can be explored and addressed rather than sidelined or dismissed.

So, in order for there to be ‘tolerance’ (acknowledging there will always be tension where organisations are promoting strategies that exploit non-human animals) we need to overcome the reductive notion of rights based perspectives being inherently ‘divisive’. Where the ‘mainstream’ movement can acknowledge there are different perspectives, and make an increased effort to understand those approaches, whilst encouraging analysis of their own approach (especially in regard to social context / dismantling systems of oppression). In this way we could more readily move toward understanding differences in a more reflective and co-operative manner, where we may find our relations with each other improving, as understanding is emphasised and encouraged.


From animals to anarchism

In relation to veganism

Protest Inc.‘ by Peter Dauvergne and Genevieve LeBaron

Vegan or veganish?

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