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Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.

Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)

How Co-option of Grass-Roots Activism Played Out in Kansas City’s First VegFest

September 18, 2017
by

Source JoAnn Farb


 

When I heard that a new group, Voices for Animals Kansas City (VFAKC) was planning to host Kansas City’s first VegFest, I was thrilled.  Although it seemed odd that they didn’t reach out to the longest running animal right’s group in the area, Animal Outreach of Kansas, and invite them to participate, I didn’t start to have concerns until AOK’s founder, Judy Carman inquired about tabling at the Vegfest and was informed that to have a table would cost her 300.00 dollars — the same as for food vendors, even though she wasn’t selling anything, and didn’t have that kind of budget.  My concerns grew when I found out HSUS and Whole Foods (one of the largest meat retailers in the US.) were both sponsors.  

How would messaging at the vegfest be impacted by its sponsors?

Sponsors provide money expecting to get something.  Non-profits typically sponsor expecting to expand membership and increase revenue.   In the case of VFAKC’s Vegfest — HSUS wasn’t just a sponsor, but also provided one of the speakers — Paul Shapiro.

KC’s first VegFest was free and open to the public, and my family went and mingled with other attendees.  Our intent was to support and promote veganism by talking with others. When we talked with non-vegans, we shared literature that encouraged veganism.  When attendees told us that they were already vegan, we discussed the issue of co-option within the movement and provided them the flyer pictured above (front) and below (back).

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Overwhelmingly the people we met expressed gratitude that we were raising awareness of this issue.   At no point were we loud or disruptive in any way.  We simply spoke respectfully one on one with individuals, and heard no objections.

But in weeks following the Vegfest we heard from a number of people that the Vegfest’s main organizer, Dave Swarts, was upset when he learned after the fact that we had been providing this literature to people and he was seeking to block us from attending next year’s Vegfest.  Dave told others (incorrectly) that we were distributing  “Humane Watch” literature. Humane Watch is a well-known front group for animal exploiting industries, that also is very critical of HSUS.  Mischaracterizing our hand-out and the website it linked to in this way, may cause those supportive of HSUS  to not even look into the substance of what we were saying.   After hearing how upset Dave was and that our actions were being misconstrued, my daughter reached out with an email to Dave asking to set up a phone call to discuss what happened, hoping that they could better understand each other’s perspective.

12 days later, Dave Swarts replied to my daughter with the following emailed statement and he copied me too:

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It is ironic that Dave used the words, “conflict with our brand” in his statement.  If we are both  working to help animals, why would his biggest expressed concern be his “brand”? Perhaps this definition of co-option HERE can shed some light:

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When the vegan movement began in 1944 with the coining of the word, “vegan,” it was clearly defined as the exclusion of all forms of exploitation of animals.  Keep in mind — factory farms were not yet known.  Nearly all animals were raised on family farms like those being promoted as “humane” by organizations like HSUS.  

I’ve been vegan over 25 years and have witnessed messaging from large animal advocacy groups changing in a disturbing way.  Groups, that once advocated for justice for animals, are suddenly steering the conversation away from promoting veganism to endorsing meat, dairy and eggs from farms they now refer to as, “humane,” in some cases even giving their stamp of approval as with the infamous Whole Foods Letter, or when Peta gave an award to Temple Grandin for designing a “humane” slaughterhouse.  To put that in perspective, consider what would be the public’s reaction if Amnesty International gave an award to a dictator for jailing dissidents in more comfortable jails and feeding them a great meal before killing them by lethal injection, instead of a firing squad?  Should animal advocates publicly applaud baby steps that still perpetrate violent injustice against animals?  How would you feel if Amnesty International suggested that the less terrible dictators were our allies in the struggle against the most horrific dictators?

Now juxtapose that scenario with a real conversation that occurred on a vegan Kansas City Facebook group, when a new vegan, expressed interest in holding a vigil in front of a small local slaughterhouse to raise awareness.  The new vegan asked if anyone knew where local slaughterhouses were, and Dave tried to dissuade this individual by suggesting that these slaughterhouses were, “allies” with vegans who work to raise awareness about the injustice of exploiting animals:

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​What does it mean if we begin to ally with those who are profiting off of the exploitation and killing of animals?  What is left of our movement, if we are no longer clearly opposed to exploitation and killing of other beings? What does that make our movement a movement for?  

​Does messaging matter?
One of the speakers at KC’s VegFest was Paul Shapiro, a VP at HSUS.  As a segue to his endorsement of cultured meat, (Which I have raised concerns about in my post, Cultured Meat, Yellow Rice, Cage Free Eggs, Have YOU Been Duped?)   Paul told the audience a tall-tale about how whales benefitted from the transition from whale oil lamps popular in the 1800s to kerosene lamps — a tale that I have deconstructed in my post, Dangerous Myths that Threaten AnimalsPaul used that tale as a metaphor for why people who care about animals should now endorse cultured meat.Paul also made the following Orwellian statement while on stage:

“We should accept that not all animal raising is the same…In fact if all animals were raised that way [on small farms] we might go do something else with our lives…because there’d be maybe bigger problems.”
                                                                          –Paul Shapiro HSUS VP

Why is VFAKC providing a platform for sentiments contrary to real justice for animals?   I  shudder to think how this messaging (which also included suggesting that ethically, its better to eat beef than chicken) might have influenced attendees.  How many people on the verge of considering veganism — because a vegan spokesperson/leader suggested that embracing or working for “humane” meat/dairy/eggs is a morally acceptable alternative to veganism, will now become consumers of, “happy meat?” instead of embracing veganism?   Might this translate into economic benefits for sponsors like Whole Foods and HSUS?
IF you are involved with the group Voices for Animals — or for that matter, ANY group that is partnering with entities which might present a conflict of interest, I urge you to speak up and raise awareness.  Go to their events and dialogue with others who attend.  If you are not sure what constitutes a conflict of interest, Tribe of Heart Defined  it Here:

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Who is VFAKC advocating for — the animals or their sponsors? 

PLEASE do all you can  to keep the conversation about industry co-option of grass-roots animal advocacy alive!   If you attend VFAKC events, make sure others there know what is taking place and share information.  Share this post on your social media, email it to friends who may not be on FB.  Print out some of the articles that I have linked to and share them with others. The animals need us to speak up!

If you’d like to know more about how conflicts-of-interest are undermining grass-roots activism and decades of work by sincere activists on behalf of other beings, read Invasion of the Movement Snatchers and When Animal Groups Promote Happy Meat, and watch the video, Happy Meatopia. I would also encourage you to read this excellent post by Gary Francione explaining how the Vegan Society of the UK — THE very first vegan society ever — founded in 1944 by Donald Watson has also been, coopted/rebranded.

​Something else just bought to my attention is this 2012 article:

Justice For Animals, Respect for Advocates — Ideas too Dangerous for Corporatized Animal Advocacy?







if they could speak
what would they say.
now all they can
do is pray…
and hope some kindness
comes their
way!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 

Planet of the Apes: Speciesism Exposed

September 11, 2017
by
war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-image2

Free From Harm

Source Free From Harm
By 

The third installment of the epic prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movies came out recently and I was captivated along with everyone else in the theatre. Cheering for the mass extinction of your own species is an peculiar feeling — a little unnerving when you pause to think about it — but so easy to get on board when the human species’ litany of destructive, vicious, and callous actions are on full display as they so expertly were in this trilogy.

These three films are a startling illustration of speciesism, the assumption of human superiority resulting in the exploitation of animals. Many doomsday scenario films fill us with dread of asteroids and trepidation of severe weather events, but this apocalypse — or ape-ocalypse as graffiti on a wall suggests in the third film — is more subtle, emerging from our arrogance, greed, and disregard for other species. I am not the only one to perceive the speciesist themes of the movie that this writer also points out in her article where she explains that “War for the Planet of the Apes” inspired her to go vegetarian.

Starting with the first installment of the trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, we meet young Caser, who was born in a laboratory experimenting on apes for a potential Alzheimer’s drug. The death of his mother is one of the most tragic scenes in all three films. Laboratory workers are trying to forcefully take her out of her cage, not knowing that she has just given birth. She was hiding her infant from them and gets violent when she feels she had no other way of protecting him from the humans. After escaping through the building, she is dramatically shot dead on a board room table where the drug company executives were plotting to make billions on the drug that had been tested on her. The symbolism was not subtle.

Please read the rest HERE







if we choose to see
with “blinded” eyes
who will hear
the wounded’s cries
who will reach out
who will go that
one step, far
so we can be better
than
we
are.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 

United Poultry Concerns and the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos

September 5, 2017
by
63cc59e0-fd05-11e6-a9fd-06028f6061f3

Wikimedia Commons

Please sign HERE

United Poultry Concerns and the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos would like to invite you to participate in our campaign exposing the cruelty of Kaporos. Kaporos is a ritual preceding Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, occurring in late September this year, in which thousands of chickens are “swung” and then slaughtered by certain ultra-orthodox Jewish communities. Practitioners wave the chickens over their heads by the legs or by pinning the bird’s wings painfully backward while reciting a chant about transferring their sins and punishment symbolically onto the bird.

Our campaign seeks to end this horrific cruelty to chickens at Kaporos sites year after year in New York City, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and everywhere the ritual is performed. Prior to the ritual, thousands of chickens are crammed into transport crates without food or water for as long as four days. They are deprived of shelter from rain, heat, and cold. Many die in the crates of starvation, dehydration, heat stress, and fear. More and more rabbis are publicly condemning Kaporos for violating the Jewish values of mercy and compassion for animals.

We would like to encourage you to join our campaign by taking this simple action:

Please send an alert to your members informing them of the inhumane practice of using chickens in Kaporos and encourage them to sign our Change.org petition. This petition urges major Orthodox Rabbinical Organizations to oppose the use of chickens for Kaporos and encourage practitioners to perform the ritual with money instead of chickens, an accepted method of atonement. Please feel free to pull copy, text, or images directly from our site to create your own post based on the content of our petition.

Please share our petition on your social media sites and/or website and urge people to sign. Here is the full link to our Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/urge-jewish-community-to-do-kaporos-with-money-not-chickens

Thank you for your collaboration to help end this cruel practice. Let me know if you have any questions and please provide me with a link to any alert or post you create.

With compassion,

Hope Bohanec
Projects Manager, United Poultry Concerns
Office: 707-540-1760
Email: Hope@UPC-online.org




until we see ourselves and animals
on an even par,
we as a species will
not go far!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 

91 Thoughts We Had While Watching ‘Okja’

August 28, 2017
by

Source PETA

Written by Zachary Toliver | July 12, 2017

1. Damn, Tilda Swinton. For a quick second, I thought I was watching The Hunger Games.

2. Mirando is like this universe’s Conglom-O.

3. “Now the rotten CEOs are gone.” Movie speak for “The rotten CEOs are totally not gone.”

4. The unseen sister being roasted in the speech in the first minute of this film couldn’t possibly have a fundamental role in the plot.

5. How in the hell did super-pigs just go unnoticed in Chile all this time?

6. Hey, it’s the guy from Breaking Bad. What’s his name? This dude frequently plays roles that scream, “Something sinister is going down!” Dead giveaway.

7. I’m going to hate Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Dr.  Johnny Wilcox. I just know it.

8. You know how super-pigs could leave even less of an impact on the environment? Don’t raise them for food AT ALL.

9. Now I remember that actor played Gus on Breaking Bad.

10. Googled it. His name is Giancarlo Esposito. He played one of Malcom X’s assassins in the biopic. Seriously, so many sinister roles.

11. And here comes Okja! The CGI in this movie is next level.

12. If we can make imaginary animals look like this, why in the world is it legal to use live animals in movies and television?

13. It’s as if Hungry Hungry Hippos came to life and helped you with grabbing snacks.

14. Wagging her tail, begging for food, creating memories with her human. Okja is like a giant dog.

15. I guess pigs do all that stuff, too, when given the chance. So, OK, she’s like a giant … pig. Let’s carry on.

16. Everyone, please go vegan.

17. I’m glad she didn’t take a selfie with that tiny fish.

18. You think dogs make great cuddle pillows? Have you met Okja?

19. Just like pigs in real life, Okja is a remarkable problem solver.

20. Oh, my God—totally hugged my dog after watching Mija and Okja hug.

21. Currently trying to have my companion animals answer to “Okja.”

22. Booze stash under the floorboards—new life goal.

23. All the times I’ve talked about this movie, I’ve been totally pronouncing “Okja” wrong.

24. Dr. Wilcox, that’s too much mustache for any one man to handle.

25. Dr. Wilcox is getting a little too fresh with Okja for my comfort.

26. To make an exceptional healthy pig, he “just let her run around.” Animals thrive when they live as nature intended and not on some filthy, crowded farm. Go figure.

27. Think Okja is just a movie? Have you met Esther the Wonder Pig?

28. Okja > 1,000 golden pigs.

29. “Plans for her in America”—you mean “slaughter and eat your best friend.”

30. Girls don’t like boys. Girls like pigs and moneeeeeey.

31. Her favorite food is chicken stew? I’m going to be bummed if she doesn’t come out of this experience a vegan.

32. It’s no one’s “fate” to have their throat slit before being dismembered and packaged.

33. Oh my pants, that calendar of Okja butts.

34. “No photos.” Yeah, because like all meat industry companies, if the public saw how Mirando treats animals, its business would tank.

35. Anyone notice that dank-looking roof garden when Mija was chasing the semi-truck through Seoul? More life goals.

36. This is, like, the nicest hijacking in the history of hijackings.

37. I bet a lot of people working for the meat industry—which is notorious for treating employees like garbage—feel just like this disgruntled driver.

38. A giant animal running amok in a store, and of course, someone is taking a selfie …. But why the hell is she dressed like a pig?

39. The musical score for this “animal rights activists versus soldiers from Mirando” scene is straight fire.

40. Netflix helped make a vegan movie. Real life is getting wild in 2017.

41. Both of the trucks used to transport Okja are Hyundais. Wonder if that company just has the whole “transporting oddly large animals” market covered.

42. Villains slipping on marbles on the floor … classic.

43. Woah—Okja poops on command?

 44. How many people smashed that “Like” button on Facebook after watching this movie?

45. How many Googled “How to go vegan”?

46. We’ve found ketamine in “all-natural” chicken. “Natural, safe, and non-GMO” means jack all.

47. Totally called the whole B.S. story on super-pigs being “discovered” in Chile.

48. Speaking of B.S., using that “local farmers” crap is exactly what the meat industry tries to do in real life. It survives on propaganda.

49. So does Jay understand Korean sometimes or what?

50. Oh, actor from The Walking Dead, you’re out here lying.

51. LOL, “pig-napping.”

52. Calling it right now—the disgruntled Mirando driver being interviewed has the best lines in the movie.

53. Dear Lucy Mirando, there’s nothing more narcissistic than the human supremacy responsible for killing billions of animals every year.

54. I bet Mirando is a reference to Monsanto. Off to Google I go!

55. Yup. Search “Monsanto” and “Agent Orange.”

56. Oh, Lucy, you can’t love someone you choose to eat.

57. Director Bong Joon-ho sneaking in some symbolism with Okja staring out the transport truck, looking at all those gravestones. I see you, Bong.

58. The tiny cages they’re keeping the sick and crippled pigs in actually look biggerthan the ones actual pigs are kept in.

59. Go vegan!

60. Are they keeping the sick and injured pigs around for experimenting? In real life, they would have already bashed their heads in and thrown them out like trash.

61. I feel sick to my stomach after that rape scene, knowing that countless animals are forced to breed just like this all around the world.

62. I’m going to dress like Jay for a while. Looking dapper 100.

63. Dr. Wilcox is like the stepdad no child deserves.

64. “It’s just a movie.” Bruh, 110 million pigs are killed for food every year.

65. Why is everyone acting like talking to an animal homie over the phone is weird? Are Mija and I the only people who do this?

66. Like Dr. Wilcox, I wonder how many self-proclaimed “animal lovers” who work at circuses or roadside zoos actually just hate themselves?

67. Did you know Jake Gyllenhaal’s character was based on a few terrible people, including a TV personality who was also a pedophile? That reeaaaally shines through during his interactions with Okja.

68. Honestly, his interactions with Okja are what every meat-eater looks like when they fetishize bacon.

69. I mean, I could totally still tell it was Jay, even with the glasses. I’m sure Mija could, too.

70. “For me, it was like every time he was on screen, I wished he weren’t”—a colleague on the character of Dr. Wilcox.

71. God, he humps the air! Just low-key humping in the face of all those innocent bystanders.

72. Whoa, there’s an actual result on YouTube if you search “Mirando is” … ahem … you know.

73. Black Chalk, aka “Blackwater.”

74. There’s so much pain in Okja’s bloodshot eyes. I’m not crying—you’re crying.

75. Just like all animals, Okja feels pain and wants to live free from harm and the fear of death.

76. This farm looks like a concentration camp for super-pigs.

77. Floors flooded with blood, carcasses hanging from the ceiling, yet, somehow, real-life farms are still more disgusting and disturbing.

78. All this death and suffering, when people could just eat plants!

79. Hats off to Tilda Swinton for embodying the heartless, sociopathic nature of the meat industry.

80. Lives ARE NOT property. Throughout history, we’ve proven this time and again.

81. I feel like, in real life, a meat industry CEO would have taken the golden pig AND killed Okja just for fun.

82. Would have probably killed and eaten Mija, too.

83. OH, MY GOD, those other pigs saved their baby! Okja will be a surrogate mother. OK, this time I am crying.

84. This movie is going to have people crying in the meat aisles of grocery stores.

85. Told you.

86. Imagine how all mother pigs must feel when their babies are torn away from them.

87. I’d hate to spoil this moment with my cynicism, but really, they saved two pigs out of thousands. Everyone, please go vegan.

88. Oh snap, extra scenes after the credits! Marvel changed the game.

89. Jay was jailed long enough to grow a beard. A beard! For simply wanting to save lives through nonviolence.

90. It’s a real website!

Wow, that was quite the ride. Thank you for making it through all this insane hullabaloo, and I hope you enjoyed the movie as much as I did!

91. Seriously, go vegan.







Order a FREE vegan kit: http://www.peta.org/living/food/free-vegan-starter-kit/

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click on the below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend.

PETA: http://www.petacatalog.com/catalog/Literature-39-1.html

Looking for merchandise? Action for Animals has a very good selection : http://store.afa-online.org/home.php?cat=284

Have questions? Click HERE






the heart sees
the heart feels
at the heart of it all
the love
that
is
real.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 

Whenever we eat animal foods, we are being exploited

August 21, 2017
by

Source The World Peace Diet
By Dr. Will Tuttle

The most obvious and non-controversial characteristic of animal agriculture is that it is a system in which humans exploit animals for food. The vast majority of us go along with the internalized cultural narratives that justify this exploitation. We don’t realize that we are also being abused and exploited by the same system that is exploiting the cows, chickens, fishes, and pigs.

There’s basically one primary reason any of us eats animal-sourced foods: we do this because we’re following orders that were injected into us from infancy by well-intentioned people we trusted completely. This indoctrination is literally eaten in the most potent and pervasive of all social rituals, our daily meals. It’s important to understand that when we go to shops and restaurants and purchase animal foods, we are not only sustaining a system of exploitation of animals, we are also unwittingly fueling our own exploitation on many levels, and in feeding these foods to our children, we’re fueling their exploitation as well.

Let’s take cows as a profoundly relevant example. Cows are clearly designed to thrive on grass, but they are fed richer and more complex grains such as soy, corn, oats, wheat, and alfalfa in order to boost milk production in dairies and increase weight gain in beef operations. This causes cows digestive distress and leads ironically to the proliferation of the E. coli bacterial strains that are deadly to human consumers of undercooked hamburgers. However cow exploiters don’t stop with grains. Agricultural scientists discovered long ago that if cow feed is “enriched” with fish meal as well as the rendered flesh and offal of chickens, pigs, cows, dogs, cats, and other animals, this is even better than grain at promoting milk production and weight gain, and thus increased profits for the industries involved.

In sum, cows are fed foods that are not in their interest, but that are to the advantage of their exploiters. With us, if we are eating animal foods, it is precisely the same situation. Like cows, we are created and have evolved to thrive on the food for which we are designed, which in our case is whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Like cows, we can certainly eat other foods, such as animal flesh and mammary secretions designed for other species, and as in the case of cows, this harms our health on many levels, but the significant point is that it increases the profits of our exploiters, and so it continues. The animal exploiters have stolen the sovereignty of cows, and so the cows are powerless to eat anything but what the exploiters provide them. With both cows and humans it is remarkably similar. Exploiters provide the foods that they want the exploitees to consume to maximize their profits and power, and the exploitees dutifully comply. They encourage each other by their shared example, and additionally in our case, we ironically police each other to ensure compliance.

Farm-Animals-300x208

The World Peace Diet

The benefits to the exploiters in these situations are vast. The disempowerment and harm to the exploitees are equally vast. Let’s have a brief look at the consequences of this exploitation on five levels of our health.

First, our physical health. Being compelled from infancy to eat animal-based foods, we are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immune diseases, dementia, and the other chronic diseases which fuel hundreds of billions of dollars of profits annually for the pharmaceutical-medical complex, and the banks and financial institutions in the background. This system, and the governmental, academic, media, and corporate complex that is tied in with it, requires a steady flood of reliably sick people. Feeding the population a diet based on animal foods that concentrate toxins accomplishes this. Most of the wealth generated concentrates in the hands of a powerful elite, while most of us endure economic injustices such as exorbitant medical costs that ravage our economy and well-being. Eating animal foods, we become unwitting cash cows for an aggressive medical-pharmaceutical complex.

Second, our environmental health. Animal agriculture is well recognized to be the single most environmentally devastating human activity, destroying forests, oceans, aquifers, soil quality, climate stability, and propelling the mass extinction of species through rampant habitat destruction. Here again, we are being exploited when we purchase and eat animal-based foods. Because animal-based foods require much more petroleum, land, fertilizer, pesticides, and water, we are paying powerful and polluting petroleum, chemical, and agribusiness corporations and financial institutions to not only devastate the precious air, water, soil, and life quality for ourselves and our children, but we are also funding their legendary political power to infiltrate and dominate our governmental, educational, legal, and media institutions. As a result, these corporations are even subsidized with billions of our tax dollars annually to damage the health of our ecosystems, which further erodes our physical health, increasing our disease rates and the profits to the medical complex and the bankers lurking in the background.

Third, our cultural health. Because animal agriculture is profoundly wasteful of oil, water, land, and food, we have chronic food shortages in our world, even though we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, if we ate plant-based food directly rather than feeding it to livestock. Food shortages are well recognized to be the primary driving force behind much of the conflict in our world, and together with this inevitable conflict, is the direct cause of refugees, social breakdown, and many forms of human trafficking. The very first word for war going back ten thousand years is the ancient word “gavyaa” meaning literally “the desire for more cows.” Economic injustice, war, hunger, domination of women, and the arising of a privileged ruling elite are all linked to the ancient invention of animal herding around which we still organize our society. Thus, instead of using our economic surplus to revitalize our ecosystems, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure adequate housing, food, education, healthcare, and opportunity for all, we use it primarily for subsidizing the wealthy military and medical complexes. We sacrifice our children in wars that benefit a ruling class that uses the media and other institutions to propagate narratives that justify and promote an agenda of violence. Eating animal foods, we are fueling continued harm to our cultural health as well as the ongoing exploitation of our children and of ourselves.

Fourth, our psychological health. When, as children, we are compelled to sit at the table and eat animal foods that are harmful to our physical health, we are also being compelled to eat attitudes and beliefs that injure our psychological health. With every meal, we are being colonized psychologically in order to be malleable to the military-industrial-meat-medical-media complex. There are many dimensions to this, but to keep it brief, we’ll just look at a few, for example, the attitude of disconnectedness and desensitization that is imposed on us by being required as children to relentlessly eat animal foods. It’s well understood in systems theory that intelligence is the capacity for any system to make relevant connections and respond to feedback. Eating animal foods reduces this capacity and numbs our feelings both individually and collectively. We learn to stay shallow and avoid looking, listening, and feeling deeply. We avoid making the dreaded connection between what we are eating and what it took to get it on our plate. We are indoctrinated in daily meal rituals to repress our natural empathy and caring for others and this reduction of our cognitive and affective intelligence makes it comparatively easy for us to become gullible and uncritical consumers of narratives and products that reduce, harm, and enslave others and us. Our minds and bodies are also colonized by the poisonous attitude that beings are not beings but are rather mere commodities: material objects that we buy and sell by the pound. Upon reflection, this is shockingly debasing to others and to ourselves, but we both propel and consume this highly exploitive attitude with every meal, sowing seeds of our own exploitation. Finally, we are compelled to eat dairy, eggs, and meat products that require rampant abuse of animal mothers, their forced insemination and stealing of their babies and the destruction of their sacred mother-child bonds. We become easily exploited psychologically by causing and eating this trauma, repressing our feminine capacity, and feeding this to our trusting children. We eat products that are the embodiment of misery, fear, despair, insomnia, frustration, and chronic pain. The pharmaceutical industry’s most immense profits come from people buying drugs for precisely these conditions: despair, trauma, insomnia, depression, and chronic pain.

Fifth, and finally, our spiritual health. This may be the most severe exploitation of all. Every meal corrodes our basic connection with our true nature as eternal expressions of consciousness. By being required to repeatedly and ritually reduce other magnificent expressions of life to mere physical matter devoid of subjectivity and purpose, we sever our connection with the beauty, abundance, and enchantment of the living, interconnected web of life that is celebrating on this Earth. We have unwittingly become, in significant ways, an abusive scourge on this Earth that destroys and consumes as our life-purpose, both individually and collectively.

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The World Peace Diet

Our innate spiritual wisdom and our purpose have been paved over and repressed, and as we become sick and addicted, our exploitation increases dramatically. A false purpose and set of narratives has been forced on us by the herding culture into which we are born: that we are here to exploit the garden and consume it. Other animals and ecosystems pay a steep price for our inability to free ourselves from being exploited, as do our children and we ourselves, ultimately.

The animal agriculture roots of our multi-dimensional exploitation have been invisible and unrecognized for too long. Now we can finally see and fully understand the dynamics involved. Being compelled from infancy to eat animal foods has created us to be a severely wounded population with drastically reduced capacities intellectually, emotionally, morally, and spiritually to fulfill our potential and create contexts that nurture justice, cooperation, creativity, freedom, joy, radiant health, and sustainability. Fortunately, this is beginning to change, and the momentum of our healing and awakening is increasing.

We can see two raging infernos on this planet. One is burning and destroying ecosystems, animals, societies, sanity, health, and our children’s future. The other is benevolent and is illuminating and incinerating the obsolete delusions perpetuated by our unquestioned exploitation of animals, and is revealing a new path to a doorway that leads to a positive future.

We will be free when we free others, and there is nothing physically holding us back from the evolution of respect, freedom, and harmony that is beckoning us. Whenever we eat animals foods of any kind—free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught, factory-farmed—it is all the same and cut from the same cloth: exploitation. Our exploitation ends when we awaken from the cultural program of exploiting other living beings and co-create a more aware plant-based way of eating and living, and understand the reasons behind this. Exploiting animals, we exploit and delude ourselves; freeing animals, we free ourselves.








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be heard oh kindness
within us all
be heard before
there is nothing left
at
all.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 


Rendering Cruelty in Art and Politics

August 14, 2017
by

Source Animal Liberation Currents
By  and 

Sue Coe one has long been the single most recognizable artist dealing with animal liberation politics and one of the few to draw explicit connections between animal oppression and capitalism. In work that has spanned decades, she has forced readers to consider the horrors of animal subjugation and inspired many activists to re-think the role of class struggle in the movement. Her most recent collection of art supports a movement call to action: The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto. The works are inspired by graphic novels of the 1930’s and are in the tradition of Goya, Kollwitz, and Groszand. Dedicated to animals liberated from slaughterhouses, the 115 black-and-white woodcut illustrations span an enormous range of ideas, contexts and interpretations. As is often the case with Sue’s work, many images are troubling and provocative.

In an email conversation which spanned many weeks, Animal Liberation Current’s editor Michael John Addario spoke with Sue about the Manifesto, the possibilities for animal liberation struggle and her activist work as an artist and educator.

*All images are from The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto; ALC questions are in bold.

This is now your 7th book. It is a fantastic collection of work.

I would, of course, like to start with the ideas that went into it. It comes out at a particularly alarming period in American politics, published this past January on the eve of the inauguration of Donald Trump. Animal liberation has not yet established itself as a viable politic within the left, a left that now finds itself under both a continuing and renewed siege. There are serious questions as to where or even whether there may be an opening for animal liberation struggles to coalesce into a viable political bloc. In light of this, releasing a work of this kind becomes especially urgent.

What was the creative process like over this recent period – were you anticipating some of these questions?

I have always understood that this time period is the fifth and final stage of capitalism, which, in its death throes, will become particularly dangerous to all life. Animals as a class of beings are facing extinction. What’s alarming is Clinton would not have lifted a finger for animals either, it would have been business as usual. Animals and those humans who speak for them are in the same struggle as any other social justice movement in history. In the US we have a president who calls women fat pigs and dogs, migrant workers rapists and drug dealers, calls lawyers and judges un-American, blames African Americans for police violence, journalists are called liars, military force was used to remove American Indians from their sacred land – again — and he wants to ban Muslims. This is month one, month two he will go after senior citizens. He and his cohorts, have a blanket condemnation and loathing for anyone not a white billionaire.

He has accidentally unified us. The forces of oppression create the resistance and animal rights activists are everywhere, existing within all his target groups. It may spell different radical strategies, other than corporate welfare. Animal exploitation has always been incorporated into the politics of the right, in the form of the meat industrial complex and big pharma, now animal rights will be joined to the Left.

The book is based around a manifesto, but the actual statement is very concise – in fact quite understated – for a manifesto. Can you expand a bit on the meaning of the statement? What are you hoping to achieve with it?

Hah! I wrote so many different manifesto versions! None worked. I have reams of scrapped ideas. At the suggestion of an animal rights lawyer friend, I went back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony for the language of the first welfare laws. I tried to adapt the sophisticated language of the communist manifesto, then the American Constitution. Nothing worked. It would have been a pastiche. In my mind the entire time was Orwell’s Animal Farm manifesto and the Beasts of England song: that the old boar taught the farmed animals to sing. He told them they were all going to die and they had to resist.

Orwell organically unified the Left with animal rights and much as I tried, I couldn’t improve on what he wrote. Orwell didn’t manipulate animals like glove puppets. His critique of the Left goes much deeper than that. There is a scene where the liberated farmed animals walk into the kitchen of the farm house and see hanging body parts of animals, they carry them outside for a burial. Then the scene of the donkey, written with great poignancy, desperately running after the knackers truck containing the worn-out cart horse who was told he was going to the hospital. The donkey in Animal Farm was the knowledge. Donkeys live long lives, so he saw what happened to generations of farmed animals. In my book there is a donkey, and the animals win. They stayed equal in the struggle, no one became more equal. They achieved a world of non-violence. In the end, I tried to get as close to what I think an animal would say to us. It’s so simple!

My intent is for the ‘reader’ — the book is all images that are meant to be read — to go vegan. To see that animals have their own agency, sense of justice (they escape slaughterhouses all the time) and speak for those who cannot.

Readers will find some familiar themes in this collection. You have been uncompromising in dealing with the visual depictions of mass animal slaughter in a very direct ways. The topic is horrific and overwhelming, but you do not hide the visceral impact of that reality, or make any particular attempt to gloss over it with the use of stylistic or conceptual artistic devices.

At the same time, the footage of slaughterhouses, rendering plants, undercover cruelty investigations – and graphic images generally – are becoming not just ubiquitous, but the subject of increasing criticism. The criticism is directed at the potential desensitizing impact of this imagery on activists and questions whether it has genuine use-value as an organizing tool.

Do you feel a sense of conflict about this? As an artist, do you have a sense your own impact on readers – and have you detected any change in reader’s reaction over time?

My work is essentially reportage, going places where a camera is not allowed and recording what I see. Most of my work history has been working for newspapers and magazines covering stories or recreating events. When Biggie Smalls was shot, I recreated the scene, as close as possible for a publication. Same with any event deemed as news.  Along with covering the AIDS pandemic and HIV within the prison system, night court, sweat shops etc., making that work for mass media publications.

There was zero interest from the media in covering animal exploitation, so I went feral, and did that work on my own and got it published myself. Eventually, “non-commissioned” animal work became my full time job. I may go back to other subjects – and certainly am going to address Trump regime – but the animal work is my mission.

If people are bored or turned off by images of, say, refugees being washed up onto beaches, then too bad.

It’s incredibly hard to gain access to slaughterhouses or any of these concealed industries. There are volunteers right now, rescuing animals or picking up bodies on beaches, they are on the front lines. This is not about ratings or treating the viewer gently, it’s about the victims, and the massive injustice perpetrated, it must be relentlessly covered until it stops. Animal activists know what is going on. My images are to help support them. Other people think they can choose to be indifferent and the filter of art is a useful veil to present the reality. It opens up a chance to have a dialogue where the viewer asks questions and is more open to the challenge of change.

Factory Farm

I know my work does work as an activist tool. Am continuously adjusting my approach, fine tuning, based on what works and what doesn’t work. Something I consider to be ‘good art’ may not be activist art. Activist art may not be good art. It’s always been a balance of form and content throughout history of art.

When I see undercover videos of chickens being ground up alive, my first thought is of the victims, then person who took the risk to get that footage, second reaction is of rage, which I channel, into making myself work harder.

If I was in a slaughterhouse, it’s not as devastating. Am used to being in slaughterhouses, and can turn off that part of my brain, to do the drawings. If live footage of animal abuse lands in my email, am I not prepared, I find it unbearable; but then again, it’s not about me and my emotional reactions, it’s about the little chick being ground up or a calf being punched and kicked. Here I am typing, not particularly upset, and its 11.41 AM EST– which is lunch break in slaughterhouses. The animals will be waiting in pens outside. An animal inside, may be still alive in a restraining pen, which is a steel box.

Since I started writing this, hundreds of thousands of animals have been slaughtered. All of us should be aware of the illusion of safety given to some, whilst so many, are not safe. I think the real question is how that footage is being used, is it being shown to raise money for a single issue campaign? Is it being used to raise money for vet treatment of an individual? Or is it being used to promote the abolition of all animal use?  The strategic danger of course, is to criminalize individual slaughterhouse staff as the ‘other’ or the anomaly, with the message that there can be a humane way to murder others. The latter message is quite sinister and leads us down the path to fully automated slaughterhouses with no staff, and cameras in an endless loop recording the silence of animals being tipped into gas chambers.

There is a particular work that depicts a pig dressed in striped pyjamas that recalls the garb prisoners were forced to wear in places like Auschwitz. You have used this kind of imagery only on occasion, but it is placed somewhat conspicuously near the beginning of this book and includes text that explicitly references Nazism as a normalized experience for animals. Some artists that focus on animal liberation, such as Jo Frederickson, use these kinds of images a great deal, but many other artists consciously avoid invoking them.

There is a considerable intellectual tension regarding the use of terms such as “holocaust”, “slavery”, “genocide” and others when interpreting the politics of animal liberation or articulating the character of the violence done to them.

There is a lot at work here: properly interpreting actual politics, the sensitivity of potentially erasing the histories of certain ethnic groups, the fear of somehow diminishing the uniquely human political experience. It also speaks to the very ability to articulate certain possibilities for social change. But at the same time there is also a critical semantic weakness, in that even these kinds of terms somehow fail to adequately grasp the political dimensions of animal’s oppression, the industrial scale of atrocities, the intimacy of human involvement in them and the intersections with other systems of oppression.

How do you navigate these sensibilities and interpret these kinds of “semantics of oppression” as they relate to other species?

I have a German book, somewhere, published in the 1930’s and republished, translated into English, with an introduction by Goring. The book is promoting the modernization of slaughterhouses, making them more efficient. The Germans were proud of their hygienic and efficient slaughterhouses and the British meat industry was impressed and wanted to keep up. The introduction explains that Hitler youth were put to work, collecting the tails and manes and hooves of animals for use in industry, making them more efficient. What was formerly discarded as waste was being used. At the same time, the German Government was deciding that animals owned by Jewish farmers were ‘unclean’ and were not to be rendered.

The mechanization of death, was well underway, before the human Holocaust. Napoleon, for example, created the first mobile slaughterhouses to feed the troops, and then large municipal slaughterhouses.

In image making, everything is like something else, if art was only about original concepts, the canvas would be blank or abstract splatters and not be accessible.

Animal Farm Fascism

I would employ the imagery of animals dressed in work camp pajamas, very, very sparingly and carefully, and in context. Fascism is not German – the comment next to the image makes clear our day to day complicity. The slaughterhouse is our house. If we reject speciesism then we will not be the silent. If we accept and normalize breeding other persons just to murder them, then we are capable of any atrocity. How many times have we heard of violent crime, being described thusly: “they behaved like animals”? We know what happens next.

The history of revolutionary art, anti-fascist soviet art for example, depicts the Enemy as sharks, wolves, snakes, predators to be annihilated. If we, as animal activists refer to farmed animals being raped to extract semen or force semen into cows or pigs or turkeys, is that appropriate terminology, when women and girls are raped? It’s certainly a concept people can extend to understanding the animals plight. It gets the message across. Every depiction of animal exploitation is seen through the lens of a human-centric experience. Our range of communication in describing the slaughter of all animals, ourselves included, is so limited. Which is the problem. The human mind just cannot conceive of it. I don’t have a clear answer to your question, except to veer on the side of not re-victimizing others to make a point. But am not the art police either.

Some of your works have distinct elements of surrealism to them, even displaying a kind of psychedelia. Although a bit complicated, surrealism has a long association with radical politics going back to Breton and Peret. But like other “movements” in art, it becomes superseded by others and its influence and meanings change over time. It doesn’t seem an accident that your images seem to engage with and continue this tradition. Can you tell us a bit of what you were thinking here and how you reinterpret the surrealist tradition for a modern political artist in the context of animal liberation?

Insects and Flowers

I have never looked at the Surrealism movement. Now you have made me interested in investigating it! When the printing press was invented in the time of the Reformation, the most popular broadsides apart from the Bible were World Upside Down woodcuts. These images portrayed a world where the power relationships were reversed. It shows us that the artisans and peasants had a keen and insightful view of both class struggle and animal lives. These broadsides continued to be popular into the 19th century in all European counties. They would depict men in harness dragging carriages of horses, men, breast feeding babies, fishes holding a rod and hook,  fishing for humans, stags hunting humans, trees with their roots to the sky, churches loosened from gravity falling off the earth, pigs roasting humans on a spit. They were the “alternative facts” of the day and allowed the peasant some freedom of speech to take on injustices without being punished by the state or the church. Grandville, the French caricaturist, continued this tradition into the 19th century with his little drawings of animals in human clothes, depicting humans in zoos being gawked at by animal crowds and insects in gentlemen’s attire. He died in poverty in an institution (the fate of most artists) and his wife made hair curlers out of his drawings. But his illustrated books remain. Have always thought his small drawings were more interesting than most ‘important’ French painters.

I’d like to return to the idea of “agency”. Interspecies communication, the notion of animals as social & cultural agents — and the idea of certain groups of non-human species having a kind of political agency — is just beginning to gain political salience. It appears to be guided by some elements of European and Australian Critical Animal Studies – meaning it is getting academic treatment ahead of activist practice. This stands in sharp contrast to much of the activist community, where other species are tacitly viewed as a kind of undifferentiated, monolithic “other’, whatever values are superimposed on them.

You have highlighted the important insight that a genuine understanding of animal agency can tell us a great deal not only about other animals, but about ourselves as human beings – socially and culturally. This speaks to where we ultimately need to orient some of our political efforts. There are several images in the Manifestothat deal very consciously with this. They can be interpreted in various ways by readers, but can you give us some hints as to what at least inspired them?

Humans are not intelligent enough to understand other species. Possibly generations of dogs have made the most effort in understanding us, but it’s been thousands of years of labor on their part, as we are not fast learners. Am sure they would prefer to abandon the quest if the conditions were right. Remember the playing card test Leaky gave to his prospective primate researchers? He was interviewing applicants for the study of orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas. He put the cards down on the table and then took them away and asked each applicant what they remembered. The applicants that remembered that cards were stained and bent and torn and described the condition of each card, as well as the symbols on the card, were Goodall, Birute and Fossey. Did their gender effect their recall? Possibly. They were not compelled to name the King of Hearts, Seven of Clubs to prove their memory. He hired them. Animals as perceived by humans, fall into ‘biological Thatcherism’ (Midgley) or a kind of reductive Darwinism where each action is presumed to be genetically linked to survival. Or even worse: as clocks, mechanisms with no agency whatsoever. Animals study and observe us all of the time. Their day-to-day survival is based on knowing and predicting of our actions. Most of us are oblivious to animals, as anything other than property. Our observations of our own species are distorted by the impulse for power and control.

Uncaged

Part of animal agency, I think, is their very bodies are evolving as a resistance to our rule: jumper viruses that can leap to different species; BSE in cow brains does not fall within a category of a life form as a prion, becomes lethal to us; avian influenza contains the genes from ‘factory farmed’ hogs – it’s a type of rebellion/agency on a cellular level.   As birds are such a diverse species, the virus can never fully take hold with them. Farmed animals being fed antibiotics, which function as a growth hormone is making our species increasingly vulnerable to infectious diseases like antibiotic resistant TB. Nature abhors a stand. We survived because of species variety which diminishes every day. Our crimes against other animal persons, exacerbated by the economic system of capitalism, are inconceivable. They are only partially glimpsed and then helped by the genes of non-humans. In our skin, we detect day and night by fruit fly eye genes, the fly is a part of us. We are less important in the scheme of things, than a fly or a worm or bee. Blake pointed that out, hundreds of years ago, without the power of an electron microscope.

There is almost no light pollution where I live, so was sitting outside one night looking at the stars and heard a coyote yipping quite close to me, which is not unusual. Could see him or her in the starlight. What was unusual, was also sitting close to the coyote was a large bear, also singing but in bark sounds. They appeared to be sitting side by side looking up at the night sky and singing together. They could have been old friends, or learning different sounds from each other, don’t know.

There seems to be a large and increasing number of artists engaging with the ideas of animal rights and liberation, but fewer who would describe themselves as actively engaged in animal liberation struggle. It stands as both a commentary on the state of the animal liberation movement and a testament to your own intellect that you are one of the few – perhaps only – such artist that is politically committed to socialism and openly declare these commitments in your art.

Can you tell us a bit about how you were “radicalized”? What are some of the key interconnections that you see between these movements?

Animals are oppressed as a class. Early connections were made by the first Labour Party, between pit ponies and miners and child labor. All were small enough to work in narrow tunnels, and then small enough to dig trenches and fight in WW1, killing other working class people from different countries. 99% of all horses and donkeys were taken from field labour to war labour. Connections were made between the Suffragettes and animals and the working classes and vivisected animals. The poor realized the bodies of their loved ones were going to be dug up for research by medical students and protected graves by fencing. They identified with animals used in research. The working poor were treated like animals.

It would be unusual of someone from my generation and background to not be on the Left. At University one would be hard pressed to find a professor who was not a Marxist, and anyone from the working class would identify with the Labour Party. I came of age when for the first time, sons and daughters of the working, lower middle class gained entry into Universities. It was a brief window of the government providing grants for education that was a 100% paid for.  Resistance and forming and joining Unions was the norm. Then along came the Thatcher revolution of monetarism, from the Chicago School, Friedman, Pinochet, Regan et al, and ruthless union busting.  Monetarism morphed into neoliberalism and the degradation of all life in the name of profit and ‘growth’ – the state of the world today.

It would be irrational to assume that an animal’s right to live unmolested by our species can be protected within the economic system of capitalism. Animals are destroyed by the trillions – for profit. Corporations have legal personhood and the absolute right to make profit at the expense of anyone else. The most successful mental colonization of the human mind is that this can never be questioned or changed – it is sacrosanct. If capitalism is ever threatened, then freedom is expendable. The age of enlightenment cannot be vanquished quite so conveniently: we do have science, we do have art and we are capable of turning this around. Galileo was tortured to say humans were at the center of the universe, but the truth was out. We do have alternatives, and as much as capitalism depends on wars and destruction for profit they are incapable of stopping the tide of extending rights to all beings. It’s as inevitable as climate change. The capitalist class only has as much power as we allow them. The crime is economics and the time for change is very soon.

Yes, there are an increasing number of cultural workers representing animal liberation. It’s difficult to evaluate how many globally, or how this awareness is linked to other social justice movements, without being anecdotal. The increasing numbers of vegans in populations would suggest to me that people are making the social justice connections, rather than solely focusing on ‘humane treatment’ of farmed animals as property and indirectly enabling the meat industry to continue.

All of us feel such a great tearing disappointment when people who are aware and engaged with the political struggle of resistance, yet continue to be oblivious and exploit animals by eating their bodies. The sore temptation, in reaction, is to embrace identity politics, to exist within the comfort of our own kind. This is an understandable reaction to the isolation of struggling in a hostile world, where the majority have a forced indifference to animal suffering.

Yet as a humility lesson we have all been guilty of this at some point in our lives – not being able to walk in another’s shoes, or hooves or paws or fins or feathers. Animals do not have the luxury to disengage from our species. There is no safe place for them. Out of the discomfort can come a greater awareness of how to become a more effective voice for animals, how better to link all the social justice movements. It’s called the struggle because it’s very hard.

My own strategy, despite all these words, is to use culture to communicate. Art can reach across maps, without the desire for power and control over others. It works both ways, I look at art and can be changed.

Let’s talk about that change. The animal liberation movement – to the extent we can discern it – has arguably had the worst social record for the ways in which it has operated under the de facto primacy of liberal individualism. We are failing at both questions of solidarity and questions of political orientation.

Animals themselves are a no more than a literal commodity; and their subjection is such that they have actually played a fundamental historic role in capital accumulation. But just as liberating labour from the commodity form is the basis of liberation for workers under capitalism, the case of animal liberation presents a massive concurrent problem of liberating real lives from the commodity form. The fundamental class struggle between capital and labour – and definitions of “socail” ownership – need to be moved to the centre of animal liberation strategy.

The best examples of political art are where the reader is challenged on multiple levels where there are contradictory layers of understanding. Where there are not necessarily clear answers, but more questions. You have captured some of the contradictions of capital accumulated on the backs of animals and illstrated some of the class privileges it confers.

I’d like to take a closer look at a couple of works of yours that require a higher degree of responsibility on the part of the reader. These images speak to the kinds of politics that must necessarily emerge for revolution to be viable.

This would normally be an unfair question for the artist, but by reader here I am meaning activist: you must have at least some hopes for – if not high expectations of – readers here?

The images you reference describe the wealthier nations feeding food grain to farmed animals who in turn are consumed by humans, who have sufficient access to calories without resorting to murdering others. The ‘others’ in these images are the poor who are starved by a western diet and the non-humans who are murdered.  Humans thrive on starch based diets, potatoes, corn, rice, sorghum. We know a plant based diet can feed 7.5 billion people, its water and land efficient, does the least harm. To invest in and subsidize animal agriculture is criminal on many levels.

No one has yet examined the over-production of animals as products – the mountains of cheese and oceans of milk that are thrown into landfill, the billions of male chicks thrown away like garbage. The monetary value of surplus, the profit of, say, buying pharmaceuticals to put into animal feed, make this insanity viable for capitalism. Capitalism never collapses by producing less, it collapses under the weight of surplus, and like a balloon it cannot stop itself from expanding.

Feed Some Starve Others

Art propagates ideas. The idea in those images is to point out that a ‘western diet’, which heavily subsidizes animal agriculture, starves the world, is my answer to, “why don’t you care about humans, as much as animals?”. Art doesn’t have a right or wrong answer and it can always be misread. The viewer decides what has meaning for them, what could be useful for them. I know from experience, ‘my’ art, has created thousands of vegans, and younger artists will come along and create millions more. Within the realm of art as a tool to propagate ideas, the work must achieve a level of technique to convince the viewer to look at the sincerity of the content, and it can be both sincere and contradictory too. I trust the craft of culture to deliver a message of positive change, whether it’s Brecht, or Goya, or Charlie Parker.

Labor produces all wealth, that wealth belongs to the laborer. But certainly the animal body has been critical to wealth accumulation. Animal bodies have created empires of wealth for the human species, their bodies have been stolen for thousands of years, now on an industrial scale, to which most humans are seemingly indifferent. We have a learned passivity in the face of injustice. It becomes almost hot-wired, not to step too far into another’s shoes or hooves.

Animal activists have given their efforts and sometimes their freedom and very lives to save animals, but have been removed from having much voice in the strategies to defeat animal exploitation. What should have been a clear message of non-violence by going vegan has been compromised by the dominant voice of the ‘humane economy’. This is business marketing absorbing niche markets created by activism and then expanding them by promoting individual consumer choice untethered from social justice, which is profitable to corporations. For animal activists to stress consumer choice, to combat the control corporations wield, is feeble. It’s not even consumer choice, as manifested by a boycott of all animal products, but creating diversionary niche markets of “happy meat”. These strategies are not accidental. At this stage, forty years on, they are not even naïve – but a deliberate undermining of the philosophy of animal rights, which the meat industrial complex has fully embraced. We have become the product to be manipulated. How to have community solidarity, with such self (animal)-defeating and confused strategies, is a challenge to be understood and met.

Meat Starves Children

Most animals born into this world will be murdered by human hands. Those hands will be from all cultures and creeds. There is a sickening universality to speciesism. But that is not an excuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater: to suggest a poverty-stricken person in Bangladesh killing a fish to get enough calories for their families to survive is somehow the moral equivalent of billion dollar corporations, JBS, or Tyson, or Shuanghui and their investors, and their consumers, of the industrial scale violence – that is not a strategy that will change anything.

The modern animal rights movement came of age simultaneously with the deliberate crushing of organized labor. Unions funded the Labour Party – no unions, no Labour Party. Labour was forced to rely on the compassion of the middle classes. In the US the unions invested worker’s pension funds, in stocks that directly exploited other workers. They became invested in the continuance of their own exploitation. What should have been an organic thread of solidarity and future progress, withered on the vine. Most, but not all, modern animal philosophers of note, were educated by a concept of a liberal progressive society that could provide health care and education, a living wage, which was essentially ‘humane’. They were a product of their time, which underestimated the powers behind Thatcher and Regan and Pinochet, etc. If the enemy did not appear costumed as a Nazi, corporations could become more benign, we could ‘meet people where they are at’. This was at best, naive, I don’t want to suggest a worst motive, because I have no access to individual motives, we can only analyze the results. These progressive expectations, which were formed from the 1930’s, did not keep pace with sheer force of the revolution of the right. There is uneven development, as there always is.

Since we started this interview the Labour Party in the UK has made massive gains, based on the clear strategy of rejecting New Labour. Funnily, one of the most three ‘googled’ questions ‘is Corbyn a vegan?’. He certainly has been involved with animal activism since the beginning of his political career. The Tories have been forced to create allegiances with crude reactionary forces, which will be their undoing, to remain in power. For the first time in decades there is a mass realization that “socialism” will provide the resistance to corporate murder. In the US, Trump and his regime is floundering, thus becoming increasingly viscous and irrational, despite their controlling all three branches of Government. This is certainly not capitalism’s last gasp, and there is certainly the real threat of authoritarianism- but it’s not inevitable. It’s up to all of us to prevent that happening, whilst we still can.

The rise of the Right is often explained as some kind of aberrant pendulum, that could swing back all by itself, not an outcome of global monopoly capitalism that must keep expanding to survive and will stick that pendulum on the right, by force. Global corporations constantly and relentlessly fund the crushing of socialist ideas and solutions in every area of human society, education, science, the arts, whilst simultaneously killing off all life.  Yet for all their power, they cannot defeat class struggle, they cannot change reality, and make the earth flat, only adapt their illusion of reality, to exert fear and more profit for themselves. We are entering another time, of both the worst, and the best. We have one more chance to align the abolition of all animal use, with the struggle to defeat the crime of capitalism. I say one more chance, because climate science appears to suggest time ran out the day before yesterday. But grassroots animal activists are so accustomed to being on the outside, dreaming the impossible, whilst practically rescuing animals, we are very well equipped to continue on under the worst circumstances.

The notion of pre-figurative politics is one that is absent from this collection and maybe much of your art in general. The pre-figurative – or roughly the notion of practicing the kind of politics we envision as an inspiration for organizing outward – is a common left tendency (even fetishized in various sects on the left!). We both understand that the liberation of animals requires an unprecedented cooperative struggle directed at institutional change. This includes ways we have not yet come to grips with or even yet imagined.

Is this an idea you have entertained, or am I simply failing in my own responsibility reading your work? Have you ever put out a such challenge to the movement? To say that the conversation on animal liberation needs to include a detailed vision what kind of future we want – and how we actually create that future, rather than the kinds of wishful thinking that dominates so much of contemporary “animal justice” discourse?

There are the really the difficult political questions at stake here and they have no easy answers. It is also hard not to phrase them as pseudo-questions: how do we get out of this mess? Where do you we go from here?

We don’t know exactly where the railroad track switches are, to stop this train hurtling over the cliff. Even if we believe we have located the right switch, we may not achieve the desired result. Activism gives meaning to the life of the activist. Animal activists especially, are so sensitive to all the data of species extinction, the suffering of all animals, we drown in despair and frustration, grasp at straws, yet we will continue on, because we don’t have a choice. Animals as a class, cannot give us a pat on the back, put their snoots and beaks in our ears and whisper that this or that strategy of industry collusion for bigger cages, and welfare standards for happy meat, which enables animal exploiters to continue on for yet another murderous decade. Our unique contradiction as animal activists is that the most oppressed are not leading their own resistance. Refugee animals, the named few who are saved, do speak to us, but they are monetized, hijacked as ambassadors, ‘for the good of the others’ – their voice is fragmented, made individual by our power and control and they are still property. The survivors, have been shifted over to different, more benign owners. The struggle for animal liberation is not any harder than any other social justice movement, but it does have more gaping openings for a lack of critical thinking.

My task as an artist is to show the crimes of capitalism and the disintegration of the bourgeois world, make a visual record. I would be inept at ‘tractor art’. It is too comforting for the viewer to think there is a happy ending before fully digesting the fact that we are living within – and as a species are responsible for – an extinction event. As a movement we are still in an early educational stage. But my work is not directed at the movement. It is directed at the mass of people who are willfully ignorant of exploiting animals.

There is an impetus, and even need, to create works such as you describe, but art cannot do other people’s work for them. It cannot provide happy endings and faux victories. Crudely, I define those works as ‘art therapy’ – not art for change. It’s necessary for activists to have their labor shown in art, to not be made more invisible. But it has to be done in such a way that demands the viewer actively participate in the struggle, not assume someone else is doing it for them.

The Communist Manifesto and Capital did not have Part 2 – after the end of capitalism, what next? It was impossible for Marx to write such a thing, with any conviction. Any utopian ideal, as a replacement system to capitalism, has its origins within religions not science.

William Blake used his work to posit alternative realities that exist alongside us. He truly believed Angels were sitting in trees speaking to him. He believed in the French Revolution too. The German Expressionist Beckmann who was in the trenches in WW1 said “my art gets to eat here”. Goya wrote in his secret sketch books of Inquisition torture, “I saw this”.

Who could describe politics better than Yeats? “The falcon can no longer hear the falconer, the center cannot hold…”

As I am artist, am biased of course, but the enormity of the crime against other animals, against the poor, can only be described by art. When Yeats was asked to do a ‘war poem’ by the Government, he asked what could he possibly say to a politician?

Art functions on a level that maybe only animals understand, because their lives are the art.

Banner image: Self-portrait at 5 AM
The Animal’s Vegan Manifesto is available from O/R books: www.orbooks.com/catalog/animals-vegan-manifesto-sue-coe/
Sue Coe @ Graphic Witness: www.graphicwitness.org/coe/enter.htm
Sue is represented by Gallerie St Etienne: www.gseart.com/Artists-Gallery/Coe-Sue/Coe-Sue-Biography.php








 


images have far greater volume than words,
the impressions they leave.
so very loudly heard.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

100 VEGAN Shop Signs Worldwide ~ ‘What the World Needs Now’

August 7, 2017
by

Source Veganism: A Truth Whose Time Has Come
By M. (known as) Butterflies Katz

These 100 photos (from storefronts and inside vegan shops) around the world, depict ‘what the world needs now’. We need to make ‘vegan living’ accessible to people. May this post inspire many more.

In conclusion, I can say from personal experience (as a head chef at a vegan restaurant) that vegan establishments do help to convert people to being vegan. Vegan business owners are activists whose everyday work helps others to go vegan. In addition, they are making their living in an ethical vegan way without participation in animal exploitation.  







Order a FREE vegan kit: http://www.peta.org/living/food/free-vegan-starter-kit/

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click on the below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend.

PETA: http://www.petacatalog.com/catalog/Literature-39-1.html

Looking for merchandise? Action for Animals has a very good selection : http://store.afa-online.org/home.php?cat=284

Have questions? Click HERE




An upward spiral, as compassion goes viral!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

 

Jet Eliot

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