First published on January 5, 2012
SRCC, Delhi University
•What is Veganism?
[In the following video, vegan philosopher Peter Singer.
This queer intellectual is what all a bourgeois society can produce at its philosophical best. Only Austrialian Capitalism could manufacture an intellectual the likes of Singer.]
Animals suffer mostly because of systemic contradictions, just like human beings. Some questions arise:
•Whence do these contradictions come?
One may argue: from the only dominant system of this world: Capitalism.
•What are these capitalist contradictions?
Those of Capital and Wage-Labour; which I discussed in other articles/pamphlets.
[in the following video, Zizek on Vegeterians]
By overcoming these contradictions — entailing property, anarchy of production, unemployment, slums, pollution, alienation and all their material consequences— animals, of course, will benefit too.
There is no need for "Animal Rights" and other similar liberal gewgaws in the long run, once the contradictions are abolished by uprising people.
Calling for the "abolition of cruelty against animals" in Capitalism is like telling slum dwellers that malnutrition and workplace poor ventilation are bad for their health.
At the same time, promoting vengeance action against violent individuals — who ill-treat animals — without understanding the historical nature of such behavioural problems naively shifts the attention from the very simple fact that no human being was born to maniacally kill other species. Maniac ill-treatment of other species, of course, is an historical produce of a determined social structure, containing elements such as alienation, exploitation, lack of fulfilment, repression and so on with determined political economy laws.
In a contradiction-less Post-Capitalism — where no politico-economic contradictions "modify" humanity in a negative way — one would be able to see what would be the "genuine" human treatment of animals; as not modified by (non-genuine) contradictions; such as those of Capital in general, alienation, production for profit and so on.
A tribal, a slave or a serf e.g. — who is quite hungry and has to constantly struggle against the material challenges of nature and/or society — is by no means bothered by the "murder" of an animal; a necessary historical act. The maniac development of one's "love for animals" — (sometimes paradoxically accompanied with liberal indifference towards wage-labourers!) — is a sheer aristocratic/bourgeois privilege; insofar as only these queer historically modified individuals could materially afford it. Following the objective dynamics of history and the extreme logical consequences of Veganism, killing and eating animals would appear moral "from time to time";
perhaps eating non-veg would be moral in Capitalism where production make (some) people afford exclusively veg processed/non-processed food whilst it would not be moral in tribalism (where material scarcity doesn't make a human being worry too much about the "animal homicide").
Yet this very simple problem of non-Capitalist nature and lower dialectical character, all in all, self-evidently shows the spontaneous impracticability and natural groundlessness of Vegan universalistic morality.
It must be remembered that dialectics of nature made a human being an omnivorous creature with anti-animal and socially oriented instincts.
Dialectics of nature made a human being a creature with objective needs to satisfy; entailing certain material and historical acts apt to satisfy the very same needs with the least amount of resulting contradictions.
In fact, Nature originally made the human being a contradiction-less omnivorous social being and not a Liberal Jainist wearing a mask for fear of killing microbes by inhaling them.
By no accident, there are several controversies regarding the biological validity of certain axioms of Veganism too.
Among others, the WHO e.g. considers a Vegan diet as a dangerous one for a breast-feeding mother. Nature — if it has made some behavioural praxis "non-moral" in human terms — has done it in dialectical terms. Not with the moral modernist exception "of breast-feeding mothers". At the same time, avoiding meat in one's diet may expose Vegan believers to brain shrinkage, according e.g. to Oxford academics, insofar as Veg food is quite low in b-12 vitamin. True, one could argue that b-12 can be supplemented with integrators!
(that's the "very spontaneous and available for every one" bourgeois philosophy)
For the record, plants — living entities like human beings and animals— suffer too; online several writings on the matter are available
(noteworthy is the web appearance of fake movement "Vegetalism", in defence of the vegetables' rights!)
Plants suffer like more complex biological entities and yet the food chain entails their suffering, as induced by more intelligent animals.
Natural injustice? Or merely "nature"?
Natural speciesist suffering is part of dialectics; and therefore moral in human terms. In this regard, the human being IS at the top of the food chain; for the very simple fact that s/he is able to responsibly dominate entire flora and fauna with his "mechanised" labour. As previously discussed, destroying one rain forest is not necessarily dialectical; as in most of the cases would create human contradictions, whether in the short or long run. It is important to remark that the the human beings, unlike animals, have consciousness of their life activity:
The meat consumption issue is a different one. I am personally aware that a large consumption of it may be harmful, just like an exclusive vegan diet.
Yet the boundary between moral and non-moral is given by dialectics, for nature: humans included. Destroying a rain forest may create human contradictions; it is not moral. The "murder" of biological entities that are able to suffer — when for survival — is a natural process, as all biological entities do naturally suffer due to other biological entities in this world, plants included.
- Noteworthy is environmental Veganism, which rejects the use of animal products by pointing out its industrial production is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
What should we say to the "environmental Veganists"?
That they are right. But not "in the sense they think they are right".
Environmental degradation is a product of Capitalism, of Commodity production and - when achieved - it is achieved, alas, in the name of capitalist profit, in the name of the owner's pockets.
Not much can be done against these Capitalist dynamics.
One Capitalist - if s/he wants to survive as a competitor in Commodity production - has to maintain a certain Average rate of Profit (as for Monopoly Capitalism, I would say more appropriately "an Average Rate of Mark-up). For him, it is not a matter of morality, it is a matter of survival and mere economic calculation.
This is why the contradiction of Profit-environment balance is stronger than ever in Capitalism.
By no accident, Bourgeois economics went as far as to produce the wretched solution of a Pigouvian tax so as to ward off negative economic externalities such as pollution.
This, of course, is to be implemented on the premise that a "harmonious" optimum between the never-ending struggle for Profit and Environmental balance can be achieved! The logic of this humbug is "a lesser degree of pollution is socially desirable (as long as it legitimises profit)".
Hurray, let us say "thanks" in unison to the Vulgar economists for this sweetie gewgaw and for their general preservation activities in the name of our current mode of production: billionaires' Capitalism!
Pretending that Capitalism is not a perverse mode of production may perhaps please the wretched consciousness of vulgar economists, but it will not save our planet from environmental degradation, which is inevitable if the Anarchy of irrational Capitalist production is there to stay.
Only a Rational Economic planning, in which only socially necessary investment is carried out, can assure environmental balance.
Once the economic planning is democratically implemented by elective local bodies, the minimised pollution would be the "socially necessary" one; namely, a limited degree of pollution (assuming pollution would be there) allowing the achievement of people's necessary social functioning.
In Capitalism, the introduction of renewable clean energy is hindered by profit, competition and production property.
If a Capitalist finds cheaper to produce with more polluting methods so as to get higher profit to be reinvested for, again, higher profits, s/he simply does it. One should not get the narrow-minded notion whereby one Capitalist does it for "lack of responsibility".
It is not a matter of 'ethics', one Capitalist must do that, if s/he wants to survive as Capitalist in a world of competitive sharks (and of course if Capitalism is there to stay).
For as much as the public opinion can influence politics or directly the consciousness of Capitalists, the limit is there; it is a systemic one, an economic one. It is the system that sets out exploited wage-labourers against exploiting Capitalists and vice versa;
it is Capitalism that promotes profit, competition and production property as opposed to environmental balance.
Supply and Demand in Capitalism merely express the profit crave of Monopolists, speculators and investors as opposed to the need of buyers; with all its consequences. (I discuss them in my Short guide to Capitalism, Zeitgeist ideology, Socialism and "Capitalism with a human face").
Why did I need to emphasise all these dynamics?
To point out that instead of, say, concocting a plan to abolish the above mentioned Capitalist contradictions, the queer intellectuals of environmental Veganism - as real court philosophers - repress themselves.
In fact, it has by now become easier to repress one's own natural desires by adjusting one's own ideas to the benefit of 1%, than liberating humanity and abandoning the old ideological humbug of Capitalism.
It must be remembered, anyway, that a certain biospherical balance is desirable whenever e.g. a threat towards biodiversity risks to create dialectical contradictions for the human activity.
One may say - not without reason - that the abstention from animal meat consumption is always desirable, insofar as its lack would disturb the worthy love for animals by Vegans: human products of historical ideology, who implicitly apply their moral yardstick to past, present and future, in the most narrow-minded fashion.
We should not forget, however, that the Vegan bourgeois fetishism is in itself a produce of contradictions like, say, Feudalism, Mr Bentham or Nazism. As such, it deserves to be transformed into rational thought by historical praxis and therefore vanish, so as to make room for Postcapitalist freedom and lack of contradictions within human society and the praxis of human beings: the sovereigns of nature.
This historical transformation will begin spontaneously once the bourgeois poles of Capital and Wage-Labour fade away and give rise to free "Post-Labour".
•Who's the most "worthy of study" Vegan philosopher?
Undoubtedly, Peter Singer.
Says vegan Mr Singer,
[from "Ethics and the Left", by Edward Lewis, Peter Singer,
Let's try to achieve an impossible harmony between exploiting non-working Capitalists and exploited working wage-labourers; that would work! Mr Singer, an intellectual extremely ignorant in political economy, is among philosophers what Mankiw is among economists and Billy Bragg among leftist musicians.
Singer presents a groundless apology of Capital in the most non-scientifical and philistine way; whilst not understanding that this planet of slums has not dropped from the sky. It was produced by a material social structure; having a certain superstructure and mode of production: those of Capitalism.
This planet of slums and rioting west drenched in austerity are the produce of a system that tried "following the fantasies of Peter Singer" with political economy, to then end up being plundered by oligarchy and impoverished by keynesian stagflation, damaged by capitalist pollution and mutilated by imperialistic pro-Capital wars.
The Capitalist system inherently produces all this humbug, which can't be abolished by decree. It also produces cyclical crises, eternal unemployment and low wages perpetually squeezed by the vice of a tiny 1% — the Capitalist non-working and profiting class.
Social Democracy à la Peter Singer — that of Scandinavia — is by no means the solution. It fomented double digit unemployment, wars, inequalities and exacerbated the very same contradictions that will concretise the demise of Capitalism; through the law of falling rate of profit. But Mr Singer makes short work of it.
He stands still with his animal rights, social democracy and worthy enjoyment of idealistic Utilitarianism; as a real apologist.
Bourgeois philosophy went as far as to produce "anti-speciesist utilitarianism" à la Peter Singer, "the Vegan friend of the investors".
According to queer intellectuals à la Singer, use of meat should be eliminated insofar as it cruel, unhealthy and damaging to the ecosystem. Singer applies this to past, present and future; in the most anti-dialectical, idealistic and anti-historical way.
The fancies of Singer don't show the reader that Capitalist anarchy of production is the main human force conflicting with the ecosystem.
However, the horrible political economy conclusions of Singer's philosophy show that the political and economic liberation of wage-labour slavery — whose victims are persons not worthy of politico-economic dialectical inquiry for Singer's — is idealistically replaceable by the historical disaster and partialness of Social Democracy.
Speciesism is racist, according to Singer. Discriminating animals in favour of humans is immoral; and this is extended to past, present and future with no materialistic analysis.
Zizek's considerations e.g. against Singer's wretched philosophy are worthy of philosophical attention. A utilitarian anti-speciesist would certainly feel like sacrificing 1000 pigs to save 10 humans; and, paradoxically, vice versa.
Bourgeois philosopher Singer — whilst writing nothing in favour of wage-labour and praising an old-fashioned keynesian-sounding social democracy — makes short work of the inconsistency of Utilitarianism, in his worthy enjoyment of pro-utility and idealistic pro-Capitalist "Speciesism".
Whomever still feels like contextually sacrificing 10 humans to save 1000 pigs — for the sake of the extreme logical implications of Singer-style utilitarian fantasies — may conveniently read again this article from the very beginning.