It seems lost on most of the global anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist Left that there is a new liberation movement on the planet – animal liberation – that is of immense ethical and political significance. But because animal liberation challenges the anthropocentric, speciesist, and humanist dogmas that are so deeply entrenched in socialist and anarchist thinking and traditions, Leftists are more likely to mock than engage it.
For the last three decades, the animal liberation movement has been one of the most dynamic and important political forces on the planet. It is not for no reason that the FBI has branded the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) (along with the Earth Liberation Front) the top “domestic terrorist” threat in the US. Where “new social movements” such as Black Liberation, Native American, feminism, chicano/a, and various forms of Green and identity politics have laid dormant or become co-opted, the animal liberation movement has kept radical resistance alive and evolved into a potent global force of progressive change.
Since the fates of all species on this planet are intricately interrelated, the exploitation of animals cannot but have a major impact on the human world itself. When human beings exterminate animals, they devastate habitats and ecosystems necessary for their own lives. When they butcher farmed animals by the billions, they ravage rainforests, turn grasslands into deserts, exacerbate global warming, and spew toxic wastes into the environment. When they construct a global system of factory farming that requires prodigious amounts of land, water, energy, and crops, they squander vital resources and aggravate the problem of world hunger. When humans are violent toward animals, they often are violent toward one another, a tragic truism validated time and time again by serial killers who grow up abusing animals and violent men who beat the women, children, and animals of their home. The connections go far deeper, as the domestication of animals at the dawn of agricultural society is central to the emergence of patriarchy, state power, slavery, and hierarchy and domination of all kinds.
In countless ways, the exploitation of animals rebounds to create crises within the human world itself. The vicious circle of violence and destruction can end only if and when the human species learns to form harmonious relations – non-hierarchical and non-exploitative — with other animal species and the natural world. On its own, however, the animal liberation movement cannot possibly bring about the end of animal exploitation. It can only do this in alliance with progressive social causes, anti-capitalist struggles, and radical environmental movements.
In addition to gaining new insights into the dynamics of hierarchy, domination, and environmental destruction from animal rights perspectives, Leftists should grasp the gross inconsistency of advocating values such as peace, non-violence, compassion, justice, and equality while exploiting animals in their everyday lives, promoting speciesist ideologies, and ignoring the ongoing holocaust against other species that gravely threatens the entire planet. Conversely, the animal advocacy movement as a whole is politically naive, single-issue oriented, and devoid of a systemic anti-capitalist theory and politics necessary for the true illumination and elimination of animal exploitation, areas where it can profit greatly from discussions with the Left and progressive social movements. Further, environmentalists can never achieve their goals without addressing the main cause of global warming – factory farming – and grasping how water pollution, rainforest destruction, desertification, resource depletion and other key problems are shaped principally or significantly from global meat production and animal exploitation.
We assert the need for more expansive visions and politics on all sides of the human/animal/Earth liberation equation, and we call for new forms of dialogue, learning, and strategic alliances. Human, animal, and Earth liberation are interrelated projects that must be fought for as one, as we recognize that veganism is central to peace, ecology, sustainability, nonviolence, and the healing of the major crises afflicting this planet.
Thus, we must replace partial concepts of revolutionary change, such as involved the liberation of humans, animals, or the Earth, in favor of a far broader, deeper, more complex, and more inclusive concept of “total revolution.” We must replace the critique of any one system of domination with a critique of hierarchy as a systemic phenomenon, as we recognize that capitalism is a metastasizing cancer eating away at the planet and that a viable program for total liberation necessarily seeks to replace global capitalism with decentralized democracy and a dismantling of hierarchy in all forms."