Unlike the UK where the grassroots AR movement has moved towards a reformist, pro-party politics stance in recent years, across the water in the rest of Europe there have been groups determined to develop an anti-capitalist critique of animal exploitation.
A group called Tierbefreiung-Hamburg (Animal Liberation Hamburg) produced a leaflet called Humans, animals and nature in the crisis: On the need for an anti-capitalist critique of animal exploitation for a workshop at the International AR Gathering in Poland in 2012.
It’s refreshing because instead of starting from a theoretical basis about an imagined, idealized world, it dissects the financial crisis and austerity of the last seven years and then links that to the wider issues of our relations with animals: “The imprisonment of animals that is ever-present in our society, their merciless exploitation and seemingly perpetual slaughter are also linked inseparably to an economic system that is aimed solely at use and profit.”
It then talks about the attacks on welfare and workers’ rights – “all aimed at securing the interests of finance and recasting more and more areas of life along economic lines” – before looking at the domination of nature and the ecological crisis – Fukishima, climate change, and the industrialised slaughter of animals as “some examples of the devastating consequences of capitalist appropriation of nature.”
Animals, its says, “are the main victims of nature domination…encaged and murdered in their billions, so their labour power can be exploited and their dead bodies exchanged as commodities.” This is underpinned by the ideology of speciesism, which is a “type of false consciousness about animals” that appears natural and unchangeable and hides “the historical development and social creation of the exploitation.”
The embodiment of this system is the slaughterhouse where “capitalist principles of production are realised” and industrialised killing becomes a rationalised, goal driven process where there are human as well as non-human victims – “abattoir workers on minimum wages labour under precarious conditions and at constant risk to their health.”
How can capitalism and the “authoritarian politics of the crisis regimes” can be overcome? The pamphlet concludes that a first step would be the collectivization of key industries like finance, housing and especially food production. Then the building of “the participation of people in decision-making processes that are actually democratic” which can challenge the “daily barbarity of capitalism”. At the heart of this will be a rejection of violence towards animals and the acceptance of a vegan way of living.
Finally the importance of joined up struggles – or to use the latest buzzword – intersectionality – is emphasized. Single issue struggles will fail and only shared goals and strategies will be able to build ” strong resistance against the attempts to rescue an economic system that is only geared towards exploitation and is not based around needs.”
Overall very well thought through and well worth reading. It’s rare to find a piece of writing that emanates from the animal rights movement which also reaches out to embrace ideas of class and economic exploitation.
The text as it appears on the website is here: http://www.tierbefreiung-hamburg.org/texte/humans-animals-and-nature-in-the-crisis-on-the-need-for-an-anti-capitalist-critique-of-animal-exploitation
Here is a pdf version: http://www.tierbefreiung-hamburg.org/wp-content/uploads/Capitalism_Englisch_CMYK.pdf