Abolition, Liberation and Veganism

I'm glad The Vegan Police has a post discussing "Abolitionist History 101: Animal Abolition and Racism." In the post, The Vegan Police challenge the post-racial appropriation of "abolition." The post seeks to challenge readers ignorance and encourage us to dig deeper and learn something about the past and present abolitionist movements with regard to the historical and ongoing captivity of Blacks and other people of color in the United States. (Read more...)

Veganism as a Theory of Anti-Oppression

According to the "theory of oppression," there are three basic factors of oppression: 1) economic exploitation/competition; 2) unequal power, largely vested in the state; and 3) ideological control. In terms of the oppression of other animals these three factors are: 1) the exploitation of other animals; 2) human supremacy; and 3) speciesism. Given these factors, veganism offers the basis for a theory of anti-oppression. (Read more...)

The Assimilationist Appropriation of 'Liberation'

Debates between the movements doing nonhuman animal advocacy often revolve around "welfare" and "rights." (I say "movements" because there are many different ideologies driving several divergent social movements.) I'm increasingly less interested in the welfare-rights debate. I think both welfare and rights are limited, although the former is more conservative than the latter.

One of the things I'm very interested in communicating with this blog is the difference between assimilation and liberation, and where veganism fits in.

Liberation and Vegan Revival

Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to post. But people like Royce Drake at Vegans of Color have been posting some great stuff. His post on "Rights or Liberation" makes an important distinction between liberation and rights discourse.

liberation encompasses the tactics used in rights-based discourses but isn’t limited to them. One can write to a politician or corporation and whether or not something is done a that level, change will be sought anyway. I also feel that liberation struggles are linked in a way rights are not. When fighting for liberation one is actively engaged with dismantling the system(s) of oppression, and if oppressions are linked (which a lot of us seem to think they are), then one can fight several battles with the same action. I think that liberation is more full, where as animal rights creates legal change that forces people to treat animals differently, animal liberation is a fight for a paradigm shift, for political, legal, social, psychic, an material changes in how we all interact with animals.

Drake has another post on Vegans of Color where he talks about veganism feeling a little confining. I also struggle with this, because the way veganism is popularly (mis)used is extremely confining and co-opted. But this is not really veganism; as originally envisioned, veganism is about liberation. So, for me, dealing with the confining (mis)interpretation of veganism means contributing to a revitalization of veganism as a revolutionary praxis of liberation.

Veganism, Privilege and Liberation

In 1947, at the 11th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Donald Watson, representing the Vegan Society, gave a speech on veganism where he said "that the vegan believed that if they were to be true emancipators of animals they must renounce absolutely their traditional and conceited attitude that they had the right to use them to serve their needs. They must supply those needs by other means."

This is an argument for liberation, as opposed to an argument for rights or equality. As a liberation-oriented approach, veganism addresses the structure of the oppression of nonhuman animals. (Read more...)

Veganism, Social Change, Solidarity

In the mid-1940s, when the founding members of the vegan movement organized themselves into The Vegan Society they set out a clear purpose for the movement that "seeks to abolish [humans'] dependence on [other] animals, with it inevitable cruelty and slaughter, and to create instead a more reasonable and humane order of society. Whilst honouring the efforts of all who are striving to achieve the emancipation of [humans] and of [other] animals." (Read more...)

Veganism and Anti-Oppression

Keeping in mind the centrality of exploitation to oppression, I think it is important to place the vegan ideal of non-exploitation firmly in the context of anti-oppression organizing. Viewing veganism as a broadly anti-oppression movement is not to redefine veganism as something new, but instead to "clarify the goal towards which the movement aspires." (Read more...)

Veganism as Liberation

veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of man [sic]; not so much an effort to make the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built.

The above quote is from a letter titled "Veganism Defined," printed in The Vegetarian World Forum in the spring of 1951. The letter, signed by Leslie Cross as vice president of the Vegan Society, makes explicit what was the movement's aim since 1944 — that veganism is a movement to end the exploitation of animals. It's sadly ironic to consider how a book with "liberation" in the title — written by a non-vegan 25 years later — has become the basis for a countermovement seeking to divert veganism from its original revolutionary, liberationist roots to a very conservative welfare standpoint. Thankfully this letter give us proof of veganism true meaning at a time when it's being attacked by those trying to rewrite history.