Animal Rights Is A Leftist Movement

by Roland Windsor Vincent 


hsus_new_logo1The great animal protection organizations (like the Human Society of the United States) are indispensable to animals. They raise awareness, recruit activists, alleviate suffering, cobble together improvements in laws, and generate money from the general public. Their roles are not to wage political warfare for animals. They are like medics, not snipers. They are fulfilling roles that cannot be performed by individual activists or small organizations. They cannot be political, or even outspoken, without alienating legislators or donors. And HSUS, for example, accomplishes a great deal for animals. They’re working to end seal slaughter, puppy mills, battery cages, gestation and veal crates, ag gag laws, etc.

But they are not the future of the Animal Rights movement. If the movement indeed has a future, it will be one shaped by activists themselves, unfettered by financial considerations or organizational sensibilities.

HSUS certainly makes strides for animals. They have brought the animal movement into most Americans’ living rooms and made animal issues mainstream. But they face a mountain of opposition from Big Agriculture, Wall Street, Big Oil, and Big Pharma. And there is no way that HSUS, or the current political system in which it functions, can hope to do more than chip away at the surface of animal cruelty and exploitation, as the universal enemy of animals is capitalism.

Profit drives animal cruelty, is its biggest cause, and only relents in the face of profit-impacting publicity or when reined in by regulation.

So, while I salute my friend Wayne Pacelle, who heads HSUS, and wish him every possible success, I remain unconvinced that he and others can stem the Animal Holocaust or even impact it at all.

The frustration that many of us feel is too often expressed in criticism of organizations like HSUS, the ASPCA, etc. Such knee-jerk reactions occur in place of reasoned analysis or understanding of the political and philosophical foundations of the animal movement.

The long term goals of most animal activists are completely at odds with capitalism, conservatism, mainstream politics, or with most religions. Animal activists, given the opportunity, would ban all animal consumption. They would ban animal exploitation and murder. They would end animal ownership and replace it with conservatorship, where the best interests of animals is the primary consideration. Those goals are in keeping with a future Socialist society, and defy the very roots of Capitalist economics.


Animals as commodities. (Photo by mhall209, used under a Creative Commons license)

Animals as commodities.
(Photo by mhall209, used under a Creative Commons license.)

The simple truth, unrecognized by most people, is that the Animal Rights movement is a Leftist one. And a Leftist movement cannot hope to flourish in an environment of crony capitalism, bipartisan expediency, or conservative political agendas.

Only by recognizing and planning for our long term goals can the Animal Rights movement coalesce into a political and revolutionary force. And only by embracing and working with our allies across the Left can we hope to build the political will to change the world.


2 replies »

  1. I so disagree. I am not leftist, will not be but I am a total animal rights activists. It’s an issue of compassion, mercy, being our best not of politics. It annoys me when some in the movement want to make it leftist for their liking leaving out so many of us who are not. Keep it pure, please.

    • Most animal activists are far too busy saving lives and rescuing animals in distress to concern themselves with such esoteric topics as political philosophy, economics, history, or theories of human and animal liberation.

      Early animal activists were mostly comfortable suburbanites, the products of middle class backgrounds and conservative political philosophy. Their experience in political struggles was virtually non-existant, and certainly did not extend to radical social issues of the day, ie, civil rights, integration, and voting rights.

      In seeking political support to end the more egregious abuses of animals with which they became familiar, they turned to those with whom they were familiar, their conservative elected officials. The issues that primarily concerned those early activists regarded dogs, cats, and vivisection of laboratory animals.

      It should have been immediately apparent to those early activists that they were imploring the enemy for help. Of course, they had no clue.

      Even then conservative politicians were firmly in the grasp of Big Pharma and the medical lobby, and concerns about abuse and torture of animals in medical research fell upon deaf ears. Activists were placated with lip service about stray dogs and cats, and they went away feeling they had impacted those in positions to help.

      No such help was ever received. But the enactment of the Animal Protection Act in 1966, engineered by Republican Robert Dole and signed into law by Democrat Lyndon Johnson, convinced the rather naive activists that animal issues transcended partisan political agendas, and that the plights of animals, and the solutions to those plights were totally apolitical.

      Almost 50 years later the damage done by that misguided notion is only beginning to be recognized.

      Since those early years of the animal movement the country has come under the growing influence of Big Business, Wall Street, the Banks, Big Oil, and Big Agriculture. Their power is based upon the politicians whose campaigns they finance and on whom they bestow contributions and gifts. They are rewarded with the passage of legislation they favor and with the appointments of industry insiders and lobbyists to position of authority in agencies regulating those very industries. The result is as predictable as it is pernicious: Industries are running the government, at least insofar as legislation and regulatory oversight is concerned.

      And it is just that legislation and oversight which operates against the interests of animals where they conflict with the interests of business.

      The result is Big Oil destroying wildlife habitats, Big Pharma is killing millions of laboratory animals each year, Big Ag is opposing any relief to the suffering of animals trapped in the food system, conservative politicians are defending puppy mills, circuses, rodeos, horse racing, dog racing, and aquatic parks, as free enterprise,

      Even with the mountain of evidence that conservative politicians are the mouthpieces for business, apologists for the exploitation of animals, and defenders of animal cruelty, there are still animal activists who refuse to look at the evidence and who defend the conservatives’ records.

      Fortunately, those activists are advancing in years and giving way to a younger, more politically astute crop of animal defenders and movement leaders.

      This next generation of activists is better educated, more liberal,
      historically informed, and possessed of worldviews that embrace universal rights and the struggle for both human and animal liberation.

      The Animal Rights moment has its dinosaurs: they are older, politically unsophisticated, philosophically adrift, and clutching feverishly to the notion that somehow Republicans and conservative Democrats share their interests. They have to believe it, lest their whole world crumbles around them. They will have been proven to have been wrong for the entirety of their lives.

      The Animal Rights movement has continued to lurch forward, from one issue to another, from crisis to crisis, with no direction and little leadership.

      Animal activists have been leaving their love for animals at the doors of the polling booths, at best using their votes for ridiculously unimportant issues or, at worst, supporting those actually hostile to animals.

      How could they do so? Easily. Guns, or taxes, or gay folks were more of a concern than were animals.

      We’ve come a long way since then. But the animal movement is a long way from politically knowledgeable or sophisticated.

      Animal activists actually continue to throw away their votes and their influence.

      Animal rights is a concern of perhaps 2% of the population. But our troops do not vote as a bloc. We could make the difference in every close race in the country if we did.

      Incredibly, animal activists vote about 60-40 for liberals over conservatives.

      What that means is that 4 out of 10 animal activists are cancelling out the votes of another 4 in 10 animal activists! Eighty percent of animal activists’ votes are meaningless!

      Only 20% of us are heard. It’s as thought the movement were only one-fifth its size.

      Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

      Did I mention stupid?

      This is caused by animal activists who are political conservatives.

      Activists who care more about zygotes than they do about calves, puppies, piglets, or lambs.

      Activists who are oblivious to the horrible agenda conservative legislators are following: blocking attempts to end puppy mills, gestation crates, battery cages. Favoring wolf kills, hunting on federal lands, Mustang roundups and horse slaughter, repealing the Endangered Species Act, continuing corporate welfare to Big Agriculture, destroying animal habitats by drilling, fracking, and mining, etc.

      Conservatives in the animal movement are less than worthless. They are dangerous, disruptive, counter-productive, and confused.

      Bad enough there is blood on the hands of the general public.

      It is a tragedy to be on the hands of those who are supposed to be the animals’ friends.

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