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Two New Peter Singer Interviews

First I have to again say that Peter Singer was influential in the veganization of Mary Martin: in my evolution from cat person to animal person during my college years.

For me and my delicate, cat-person sensibilities, college was a caustic, offensive world that compelled me to examine my relationship with animals wherever there was one, which turned out to be everywhere. And in case I forgot that tidbit of real life, or chose denial for a moment, there were plenty of belligerent, black boot-wearing, CBGB-going, no meat-eating, no drug-doing, Peter Singer-reading, pesky, activist types to remind me. 

Though I outwardly chided them for their distasteful techniques and relentless prodding, I credit them for the bulk of my transformation into an animal person. They thought it was their job to make everyone they came in contact with think about how their actions affected animals. They had perfected the art of raising awareness and educating potential animal people with learning tools including: pictures, trips to slaughterhouses (a.k.a., a one-way trip to vegetarianism), statistics, facts about how the animal industries abuse the earth, and of course, the names of famous people who are vegetarians (as a budding English major, I was particularly intrigued when they tossed out H.G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Voltaire, and my personal crush, William Blake). They had something for everyone’s hot button.

I read Animal Liberation, probably in 1986, after already ceasing my use of animals, and what I recall as my aha moment was speciesism. I hadn't heard the word before and it helped me make sense of our relationship with sentient nonhumans in a different way.

Regardless of Singer's utilitarianism or his thoughts on infanticide or bestiality, no one can deny his impact on budding vegans and animal rights activists.

Both Shari Rudavsky's "Interview with Peter Singer" and Jill Owens' interview (at Powell's) are in promotion of his new book The Life You Can Save and its companion site (where we learn that Singer is now on Twitter). I don't disagree with his premise, but it does smack of a pet peeve of mine: judging the philanthropy of others. Each of us is moved to address a unique combination of causes and issues, and I don't know if you can say that the 27,000 children who die, each day, from preventable, poverty-related causes are more important than (fill-in-your-cause), in point of fact. They're more important to Singer, but perhaps finding a cure for bone cancer is more important to you. Or combatting female genital mutilation. Or genocide.

I do agree that many of us can do without much of what we have and do in order to put a larger percentage of our disposable income toward charitable causes (and Singer proposes a very modest percentage allocated to extreme poverty, so it's tough to argue with that part of it). I'll read the book this weekend and give you some highlights/save you some time.

I like the way he talks about what we choose to do also makes a statement about what we choose not to do in this clip:

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan #

    I am profoundly disappointed in this blog entry and strongly disagree that Peter Singer has had a positive impact on vegans or animal rights activists.

    March 12, 2009
  2. First, I don't know why some people have been unable to comment. Let's see if I can.

    Next, Dan, I don't think we can deny that when we look back to, say, the late 1980s, people were going "strict vegetarian" and getting rid of their leather largely because of PETA and Peter Singer. Now, that's not to say Singer meant to start what is now the animal rights movement (no matter how you define it), as rights weren't his focus. But regardless of his utilitarianism or some of his other, more recent essays, I believe the fact is that he was the person who introduced many of us to the idea of speciesism. We may have gone on to evolve in a different direction within veganism, but I don't believe that means we can take that initial positive influence away from him. Or PETA.

    I think that though people who call themselves animal rights activists may disagree on what that means, they do agree on speciesism, and they were probably (probably) introduced to that idea, particularly if they are over 40 and have been at this for a couple of decades, by Peter Singer.

    (And note that speciesism was coined, according to the OED, by Richard Ryder and appeared first in 1975 with: "I use the word ‘speciesism’ to describe the widespread discrimination that is practised by man against other species… Speciesism and racism both overlook or underestimate the similarities between the discriminator and those discriminated against.")

    March 12, 2009
  3. Dan #

    It is ironic that a speciesist like Peter Singer introduced so many of us to the word speciesism, but that's part of the problem with claiming he had (or has) a positive impact. He is popular precisely because of his speciesism and its consequences (not just his utilitarianism), which have led to the 'humane' movement, etc. Further, I would be a 'conscientious omnivore' shopping for happy meat right now if I never went past Singer, as one ought to do if one presently agrees with Singer.

    Singer and the new welarist movement is a much bigger obstacle to AR progress now than industry itself. You don't help that situation by promoting Singer.

    March 12, 2009
  4. Peter Singer is directly responsible for my switching to Veganism. If it were not for his writings, I would not be vegan. That's not to say I agree today 100% with what he says (I don't) but I think he's been painted unfairly by Francione and others.

    While I obviously have no knowledge of this, I'm not convinced Francione himself (and thus those who've been influenced by him) would be vegan today without Singer's influence. Singer's premise (equal consideration of interests) is Francione's premise. Francione has taken that premise in a different direction, but I don't think he just thought it up on his own.

    One of my problems with Gary Francione (with whom I largely agree) is that he spends as much of his writing criticizing others (like Singer) as he does advocating for his own position.

    What I like about Singer is that from my perspective – and others may argue with this – he does deeply consider the issues, and genuinely tries to figure out what is right. Whether I agree with his conclusions or not, I'm less wary of that approach than I am when I hear that we need a "clear, simple message" for the masses to understand.

    March 12, 2009
  5. Dan #

    I would also like to remind everyone that PETA et al intentionally ignored and even suppressed Tom Regan and Gary Francione, which is another big reason Singer gets so much credit for being widely read and popular. The Net is the only reason that is starting to change.

    March 12, 2009
  6. Dan #

    I do have knowledge from a discussion with Gary that a certain few people other than Singer influenced GLF to go vegan. A trip to a slaughterhouse was Gary's first influence. There were at least two or three other non-Singer influences after that.

    Anyway, by your argument Scott, it is really Jeremy Bentham whom we should credit for starting the movement, since Singer is merely a neo-Benthamite. I credit Singer with starting the new welfarist movement, which will never lead to AR or abolition and will only postpone the day of a vegan society and the abolition of property status.

    March 12, 2009
  7. I am with Dan on this one Mary.

    The issue with Singer is fairly complex, I'd say, but here are some factors I believe to be important.

    It is true that Singer popularised Ryder's notion of 'speciesism' but it is also true that Bridget Brophy had written an influential article of the 'rights on non-human animals' in 1965, and Ryder did the same in 1969.

    Then comes Singer with his utilitarian take on human-nonhuman relations, and within a couple of years of the publication of Animal Liberation, he's writing:-

    "Why is it surprising that I have little to say about the nature of rights? It would only be surprising to one who assumes that my case for animal liberation is based upon rights and, in particular, upon the idea of extending rights to animals. But this is not my position at all. I have little to say about rights because rights are not important to my argument. My argument is based on the principle of equality, which I do have quite a lot to say about. My basic moral position (as my emphasis on pleasure and pain and my quoting Bentham might have led Fox to suspect) is utilitarian. I make very little use of the word 'rights' in Animal Liberation, and I could easily have dispensed with it altogether. I think that the only right I ever attribute to animals is the "right" to equal consideration of interests, and anything that is expressed by talking of such a right could equally well be expressed by the assertion that animals' interests ought to be given equal consideration with the like interests of humans. (With the benefit of hindsight, I regret that I did allow the concept of a right to intrude into my work so unnecessarily at this point; it would have avoided misunderstanding if I had not made this concession to popular moral rhetoric.)"

    (Peter Singer, "The Fable of the Fox and the Unliberated Animals," Ethics 88 [January 1978]: 119-25, at 122)

    What he's alluding to here is the fact that he opens AL with a reference to women's rights but also to the fact that utilitarians will happily talk about legal rights as political shorthand while having no commitment at all to the notion of moral rights. Rights as such have never formed the basis of Singer's position on ~anything.~

    Regan (in the 1980s) calls his position 'morally bankrupt' – here…

    What seems to have happened is that Singer sought to clarify his non-rights position in academic journals while playing fast and loose with the word 'rights' elsewhere. I don't know whether or not he objected to AL being called the 'bible of the new animal rights movement' as it still is by PeTA. Perhaps, as a utilitarian, he is faithful to the view that moral rights are 'nonsense on stilts' and so does not care if rights-based thought is harmed or distorted or, perhaps, he really believes what he says: that these philosophical differences are not so important in the real world.

    Whatever is the case, it is obvious that he's willing and able to trample all over the aspirations of animal advocates who want more than anything to present a rights-based vision of human-nonhuman relations. In the light of that, perhaps the question to be asked of Singer is not how many vegans he has created but how many ethical vegans he has prevented.


    March 12, 2009
  8. Hi Dan (and all).

    Just to be clear, I'm not crediting anyone with starting the movement. We've all been influenced by the people who've come before us. And I think most of us develop or build upon or adapt those views we receive. My worry about Francione (and I apologize if I'm wrongly equating your own views with his) is that he seems to operate on the premise that people will always do what they're "told" by those who publish their beliefs in books. That is: we have to say "X", because then people will do "X". But if we say "Y", then people will do "Y", and the movement will be harmed.

    March 12, 2009
  9. Roger and Dan,

    I remember how excited college students in NYC were in the late 80s to read Singer and to go to early PETA (Pacheco-days) events. My personal experience informs me of their early influence.

    There might however be some kind of equation where you factor in the damage either/both have done since then where the result negates any early positive impact.

    But I recall the positive impact quite vividly, and cannot deny it.

    (And just to mention it again, I've never said Singer talks about rights–quite the opposite.)

    Like Scott, I appreciate the way Singer delves into issues (not necessarily ones related to animals, but many issues). I may not agree with him, but I like the way he doesn't shy away from connections and conclusions.

    March 12, 2009
  10. My computer illiteracy reveals itself once more: my last post was supposed to embed this:

    This is the clip in which Tom Regan calls Singer's position morally bankrupt.

    March 12, 2009
  11. Mary. One thing interests me – twice now, I think, you have mentioned the late 1980s. But Regan's The Case for Animal Rights was long published by then. This surely underlines my point: had Singer made clear his utilitarian position beyond academia, perhaps Regan's rights-based stance would have been understood as such.

    Sociologists Jasper and Nelkin suggested that Regan's rights view had gained supremacy over Singer – but they were wrong – the welfarists strangled Regan's position and marginalised him and later Francione and all – apparently – because they wanted to claim the name 'animal rights' for themselves, albeit that they were/are informed by a non-rights view of human-nonhuman relations.

    You could not make this sort of craziness up!


    March 12, 2009
  12. May I just admit to the reality, which I have never even alluded to, that I did not know Tom Regan's work even existed until probably 2000.


    Once I had the idea of not using animals in my head, and struggled with vegetarianism here and there and spent that year I ate filet mignon, I didn't read any theory. I didn't read about animals much at all. That changed probably shortly before I got married, with the maggots-in-the-filet-mignon episode.

    And I don't recall hearing Regan's name 20 years ago, but that doesn't mean anything.

    My story is just that: it's a statement of what I saw and experienced. It's not meant to leave anyone out intentionally. It just sort of happened that way.

    March 12, 2009
  13. Mary, "the-filet-mignon" incident… how horrible!

    I was a vegetarian in my late teens too, but not because of having read anything AR related… In fact I probably didn't read anything related to animal concerns at all… My mind was already made up – and was motivated by the innocent "anyone with a face" notion… But I was not offended by others who made a different "choice".

    By the time I reached 20, my vegetarian "choice" vanished as well. But as I look back – with the knowledge I have now, had I read Singer, I probably would have gone the (permanent?) route of welfare/"compassionate" eating. Whereas I'm certain, had I read Empty Cages, or anything by Reagan/Francione… I would have been vegan for all those decades since. (oh, if only…)

    Singer's utilitarianism plays right into the hands of the "sustainable animal foods" advocates. And I'm sure given the money, time and motivation that the industry (and society) has for clinging to animal exploitation – they will try to make it work, no matter what it takes. In the meantime, I'm glad utilitarianism has been met with irrefutable counter debate. We can move forward from this "sustainable" "welfare" point. And good riddance!

    It is promising that Animal Rights theory is crystalizing as civiliztion advances. Philosophers, continually seem to be getting "it" more correct. And no wonder, having the advantage of those before, ie: Bentham, Decartes, Plutarch, Gassendi, Paythagoras, etc. I wonder who next will walk in Regan's shoes, or Franciones? Who can lead it beyond the sound reasoning that already exists? Dispite all the errors and flaws of those before – I'm hopeful now, because of the steady progress of logic. This critical thinking is doing Animal Rights a world of good… We are headed in the right direction. And couple this advantage with today's communication… AR is certainly inevitable (someday).

    I'm rarely this positive, but I believe given all this, (and more) – that culture will have to concede. In the pursuit of ethical consistency, Animal Rights just makes sense. And each better reasoned argument furthers this eventuality. In this way Singer, me… you, all of us "thinkers", are part of the whole. Press on.

    March 13, 2009
  14. Angus #

    Although I reject his utilitarianism, I think that Singer's overall influence has been quite positive — by giving impetus to the whole animal-ethics debate in philosophy, and by giving impetus to the animal-liberation movement itself. At the same time, despite my own efforts to publicize animal ethics, I have become quite pessimistic about the possibility that philosophical arguments on behalf of animals are going to convert more than a small minority of people. If major change comes, it will come because people start making the connection between animal exploitation and their own interests. Today I listened to an interview on CBC radio with Mark Bittman, who is promoting his new book. His message: Eat less meat and more plants — it's good for your health and good for the health of the planet. Bittman has no ethical objection to eating meat, apart from its terrible impact on the environment. He says he's a "vegan" every morning and afternoon and then in the evening he eats whatever else he wants to eat, in moderation. Like it or not (and I don't like it much), I think that's the way progress is going to be made. Eventually, one hopes, changes in habits brought about by self-interest are going to open the door for many people to start thinking about the right of other sentient beings to be treated with respect. Most people are going to have to change their habits before they can change their ethics.

    March 13, 2009
  15. But, Mary, surely it is the other way around. You say it does not mean anything not hearing Regan's name until 2000. I think that SAYS everything about the relationship between ~this~ social movement and the philosophers who write about human-nonhuman relations.

    As Dan mentioned above, the internet has changed everything – until the web, it was relatively easy for the prime movers in the 'animal rights movement' to marginalise the rights-based thinkers. (Imagine the notion of the main players in human rights advocacy marginalising human rights theory and not believing that humans have moral rights). This practice goes on today: under the category "general animal rights", PeTA feature only Singer – We may expect no Francione – but why no Regan? It is probably chiefly because the rights view inevitably contains a critique of animal welfarism and most people in the 'animal rights movement' are non-rightists of some sort.

    It is this sort of thing which would also explain why contemporary animal advocates have not heard of Tom Regan.

    When I took part in a debate recently along with Carl Cohen and Bruce Friedrich, the latter said (twice I think) that Singer was PeTA's philosopher and that they do not take rights to be the foundation of their position on human-nonhuman relations. A few weeks later, there was another debate, this time with a rep from PeTA England, who said they regarded rights-talk as 'a convenience'.

    Surely, it is such circumstances that go a long way in explaining Singer's continued prominence in the movement and Francione's and Regan's marginalisation until recently?

    March 13, 2009
  16. "But, Mary, surely it is the other way around. You say it does not mean anything not hearing Regan's name until 2000."

    What I meant is that it doesn't say anything about the quality of Regan's work versus Singer's or anyone else's. I don't disagree that it appears he was intentionally ignored by PETA. But Mary Martin didn't say: Tom Regan? No thanks–Singer's my man.

    March 13, 2009
  17. Hella #

    I agree with Dan–again!I could never understand it when people said the A.L.-book was the bible of the animal rights movement.To me, it was a right turn-off- largely due to Singer's utilitarian & often inconsistent views.However, he may have had some influence in pointing out human illogicality when it comes to applying ethics towards "the other".
    Personally I turned veggie long before reading anything on animal rights (call it an inner stirring)& became vegan when I met some a.r. activists.I strongly believe in education/information (of the abolitionist sort)and think it's great to discuss views/ideas on the net but sometimes I worry a bit that there is too much "armchair philosophy" out there & not enough grass roots activism.

    March 13, 2009
  18. Dan #

    First, Roger said it perfectly when he said “. . .the question to be asked of Singer is not how many vegans he has created but how many ethical vegans he has prevented.” Indeed, that is the big question, perhaps bigger than we can even imagine (i.e. if the AR movement fades into oblivion over the next few decades, turning into a slightly stronger version of traditional welfarism, will future generations see Singer and PETA as a primary cause? Perhaps.)


    What you should apologize for, if anything, is grossly distorting Gary Francione’s work and intentions. Francione tells us to say “X” instead of “Y” because, and only because, he honestly believes “X is right and Y is wrong”. The problem is that new welfarists say either “X and Y” or “X via Y”, which is 1) wrong, 2) equivocal, and 3) presents a distorted and confusing message. Francione say “just say X because Y is wrong”.

    Further, Francione’s conclusions and “simple message for the public” are the result of clear and valid moral and legal reasoning from rock-solid premises drawn from centuries of empirical facts about our existing moral, legal, and political systems and theories up to today. Anyone is more than welcome to explore Francione’s facts and reasoning in his works, and if they don’t accept it, it is likely due to self-interest overriding any moral considerations. But the ‘message’ to our sound-bite-loving public with an attention span of a gnat must be very clear, simple, and unequivocal.

    Peter Singer, far from being a careful explorer of ethics, is pretty much a dogmatic utilitarian who insists on following the flawed theory all the way into the depths of Hell if that’s where it leads him, as long as he’s consistent with the theory. That he explores or accepts “interesting” connections and conclusions after his utilitarian calculations should worry us, not make us enamored with him.


    Fine, Singer was all the rage in the 1970s and the 1980s in the college and punk bubble of NYC. I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know. What I do know, however, is that whatever positive influence Singer had then, it has all been heavily negated into trivia when compared to the damage he and PETA have done in the 1990s and 2000s. He calls vegans “fanatics”. He encourages people to be “conscientious omnivores”. He abused his reputation to rally the ‘movement’ to sign a letter from ‘Animal Rights International’ endorsing Whole Foods’ “Animal Compassionate” meat department. He scoffs arrogantly at genuine animal rights.

    I must admit that as much as I was very disappointed in your positive, if not just-short-of-glowing, promotion of Singer, I’m even more disappointed in your failure to admit, at least this far in this discussion, that Singer has been a disaster since the early 1990s. After all, this is 2009, not 1989. If you can admit that, I think your statement about Singer without a major qualification was a mistake. Ignoring Singer would be best, but if you must talk about him and his utilitarianism (which is what inspires everything that comes out of his mouth), then please at least qualify your endorsement of his 1970s success with an acknowledgement that he’s been quite harmful toward animal rights since the 1990s. At any rate, here is a pointed question that might resolve my concern: ***Do you or do you not believe that Singer has been a disaster since the mid-1990s (or at least since around 2000)?***

    Finally, it doesn’t merely “appear” that Regan was intentionally ignored by PETA; rather, it is the indisputable fact that Regan (and Francione) was intentionally ignored by PETA, which is probably why you never heard of Regan until 2000.


    Regrettably, I have to agree with you on self-interest being the biggest motivator for humans, and the unfortunate implications of our species as mostly devoid of genuine morality. Chattel slavery was ended not because human majorities in industrial societies spontaneously evolved consciences, but because it became far more economical (serving self-interest) in industry to ~rent~ labor rather than ~own~ it; owning being more economical in agrarian societies. In fact, had industry never occurred and we presently lived in a primarily agrarian society, there would almost certainly be widespread slavery today.

    So, today, most progressives talk about how evil slavery was, but they fail to take into account how they would likely have been slave owners themselves in the 19th century, especially if they see no need for veganism today. All of the “compassionate carnivores” would be slave owners who whipped their slaves a infrequently as necessary, and certainly not just for the fun of whipping them.

    That said, many of us do like to see ourselves as “moral” or “decent” (regardless of how amoral and selfish we really are), so the moral arguments are important in that respect, even if the moral arguments by themselves won’t get us there.

    About Singer being a positive influence, I think you are correct with respect to the 1970s and maybe 1980s for Singer starting dialogue in academia; however, like I said to Mary, since the 1990s, he has negated much of his initially positive influence by being a disaster ever since.

    March 13, 2009
  19. Angus,

    I think you miss a very important aspect of the Singer issue in the animal movement. Whether his overall influence as been beneficial for ~animal rights~ can be questioned; that he has been influential in animal protectionism cannot: that has been acknowledged by everyone, not least by Francione and by Regan.

    What was apparently needed early on, as it were, was for Singer himself to make it known to the social movement he was influencing that his philosophy was not a philosophy of animal rights. IF that had been made clear, then people would have had much greater opportunity to assess the rights-based claims and the utilitarian claims about human-nonhuman relations without getting all tangled up thinking they were essentially the same thing.

    Instead, however, Singer writes in such a way that readers can easily mistake his position for a rights based one, as Regan points out here:

    Because I am a sociologist, I place great emphasis on the importance of claims-making and see social movements, indeed, as important claims-makers in civil society. I believe that the reason the 'animal rights movement' is rather a mess – and totally inconsistent – when it comes to articulating its claims can, in large measure, be blamed on Singer's apparent refusal to sort out the understanding of the foundations of his ethics (apart from ~within~ the boundaries of academia). Had Singer made this, I believe, necessary clarification, then fewer animal advocates who are ~not~ rights-based advocates would insist on being called animal rights advocates thus making life a whole lot harder for rights-based animal rightists!!

    Not only are we trying to deal with the confused position of 'pragmatic abolitionists', we also have a whole host of people insisting on the label 'animal rights advocates' while caring not a jot about the philosophy of animal rights. I say again, imagine how grotesque that would seem in the context of human rights advocacy.

    March 13, 2009
  20. Mary Martin #

    Methinks you're mocking my buzz cut and combat boots.

    However, you shall not break me! I shall stick to my original: "Regardless of Singer's utilitarianism or his thoughts on infanticide or bestiality, no one can deny his impact on budding vegans and animal rights activists." Do you see that I'm acknowledging the bad stuff–utilitarianism, infanticide and bestiality? Don't I get any points for that?

    I do think that he has been a recent disaster for animal rights and that he was erroneously paired with it from the gitgo and that never stopped or people weren't paying attention or reading closely enough. But there was that gitgo where he had a positive impact, whether he should have or not.

    I think his views on philanthropy, from what I've read and heard, are not objectionable at all, though, and that's what his most recent project is about as far as I know. It's not about animals. I was trying to say–regardless of all the bad stuff, he's got some good, constructive things to say about how we give and what that says about us.

    March 13, 2009
  21. Dan #


    No, I’m not mocking anything harmless, like buzz cuts and combat boots. Although I’m quite the conformist myself (and have been all my life), dressing in mostly “jock wear” (sweatshirts, tee shirts, sweatpants, and jeans), I’m all about harmless and positive diversity (like buzz cuts and combat boots; or long pony tails, dreadlocks, long untrimmed beards, and tie die shirts; or tattoos and rings covering or in every body part one desires). It would be a pretty boring world if everyone conformed, even if everyone conformed to nonconformity.

    You do get points for mentioning the bad stuff, but an elaboration on the bad stuff, particularly his disastrous influence on AR during the past 15 or so years, would have left me in a pleasant state of equanimity from the gitgo.

    In fact, I do agree with you that Singer’s views on philanthropy (we need a non-speciesist word for “philanthropy”) are not objectionable. Indeed, there are some areas of ethics where utilitarianism is on solid ground. (I’m a pluralist, realist (in the metaethical sense), and intuitionist when it comes to moralizing and see theories as variously useful tools to avoid excessive self-interest and cultural and individual prejudices and guide intuition in discerning moral facts.)

    Thank you for acknowledging that Singer has been a recent disaster for AR. That’s really all I wanted to hear from the start to continue believing that you and I were still at least mostly on the same page regarding nonhumans. Next time you mention him (if you must mention him), please hammer him appropriately in the specific areas where he ought to be hammered, even if your main point is to say something positive about him. Thanks. 🙂

    March 13, 2009
  22. Dan,

    You state: "Singer and the new welarist movement is a much bigger obstacle to AR progress now than industry itself."

    While I agree that Singer's utilitarian beliefs and the adoption of them by the large "animal protection" groups has taken us backwards, I think that industry power is primarily to blame for our lack of progress towards justice for nonhuman animals.

    Human exploitation of nonhuman animals is big business. Speciesism is structured into our social institutions to maintain the system of human supremacy and the accompanying benefits humans gain from oppressing other animals. Through agressive marketing of their products and services, public relations campaigns, and managing the "animal protection" groups to suit their ends, animal-user industries know how to protect and expand their profit margins.

    Harold Brown's essay "The Dynamic Between the Animal Industry and the Animal Movement" explains things well:

    March 14, 2009
  23. To add to my last post, I want to recommend "Animal Rights/Human Rights" by David Nibert:

    In this book, Nibert takes a sociological approach to studying speciesism. He demonstrates how the current social structure serves to legitimate speciesism and how economics drive the entrenchment and intensification of this oppression. Nibert argues that we must link our movement with other struggles against oppression and dismantle the corporate capitalist system that profits off exploiting humans, other animals, and the natural environment.

    March 14, 2009
  24. Brandon – in terms of an obstacle to AR, it would probably be better to close down PeTA than close down HLS.

    As a sociologist, I have to agree with your comments via Nibert. Sociology has a great deal to teach us about the social construction of human-nonhuman relations. For one thing, it can reveal how animal welfarism is the dominant paradigm in terms of how people are encouraged to assess our relations with other animals. In this sense, animal welfare is activity and thought ~inside~ the envelope.

    March 14, 2009
  25. Dan #


    You are correct that industry is quite powerful financially and politically and that they are quite an obstacle themselves.

    The main reason I claim that Singer and the new welfarist movement he started are bigger obstacles than industry itself is that the new welfarist movement (which likely makes up about 85-95% of all vegans and their personal efforts and donations) has permitted itself to become long-term strategic partners in an industry-welfarist partnership to find more humane, more marketable, and more profitable ways of exploiting sentient nonhumans. The new welfarist movement has surrendered its opportunity to attack industry’s weakest point: its moral bankruptcy. The new welfarist movement has turned the industry’s weakness into a strength: an opportunity for improvement.

    The industry-new welfarist partnership is a win-win. New welfarists win because they get ‘victories’ – crumbs from industry’s table – which generate future donations from both vegans and non-vegans in a long term, perpetual business cycle leading nowhere. Industry wins because 1) they’ve neutralized and managed the movement in the long run, and 2) they receive a steady flow of endorsements from the same people who the public looks to for approval of what industry does. It is a BRILLIANT strategy on the part of industry and idiocy on the part of anyone who wants to eventually bring down industry. But new welfarists like the full-time, paid positions as ‘guardians of animals and industry’ (with all of the paradox and irony in that statement).

    March 14, 2009

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