The 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.
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.