Just a handful of days after being interviewed by Elizabeth Collins of the NZ Vegan Podcast on the differences between welfarism and the abolitionist approach to animal rights, Professor Gary L. Francione is on the interwebs again to discuss those vast differences in much greater detail. Adam Kochanowicz, Vegan Examiner and host of The Vegan News, was fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with him last week. The first part of their interview can be heard here at Examiner.com and provides a really excellent suscinct introduction to what actually constitutes the abolitionist approach to animal rights. In the second part of the interview, released today at Examiner.com, they drill down further to discuss the complete inefficacy of incremental welfare reforms, with Adam serving as an effective devil's advocate to ensure that welfarist (and new welfarist) supporters' claims are properly addressed. Both parts of the interview can also be accessed in the audio resources section of Prof. Francione's website.
I can't be adamant enough about how potentially eye-opening these interviews will be for those who either haven't given much critical thought to the huge essential differences between the welfarist and abolitionist approaches to animal advocacy (and how nonsensical it is to believe that incremental welfare reforms will lead to the abolition of our use of animals as property), as well as to those who currently embrace these incremental reforms, thinking that "something is better than nothing". Prof. Francione describes the misrepresentation of their efficacy, stating:
It is analogous to saying, "We've got to do something now about torturing people, so let's make sure that everybody getting tortured is sitting on a padded chair as they're getting the electrical shock supplied. That's really not going to get anybody anywhere and it's not going to lead to the abolition of anything.I think that in light of the reactions of various new welfarists and others involved in animal-related movements to the recent discussion that took place here between HSUS supporters and abolitionists over the differences between the terms, the theories and their practical applications, that it's crucial for people to get their facts straight. Not only does the confusion between welfarism and abolitionism need to be sorted out, but efforts to blur the significant distinctions between the two both need to be prevented and discouraged. To quote Ward Chanley: "Just as you cannot reasonably claim to be a vegan who eats flesh, you cannot reasonably claim to be a welfare abolitionist.” Ward's full piece concerning the attempts at language appropriation to blur the lines between two aforementioned essentially different philosophical approaches can be read here. As he states, the need to avoid lumping one approach in with the other isn't merely about squabbling over words:
It goes deeper than which group of persons has the “right” to use the abolitionist label. The issue is that the abolitionist approach has a very clearly defined underlying first principle: we reject ANY welfare regulation, whether or not people may think that such a regulationist approach will “eventually” lead to animal rights, because the fundamental issue is USE and not just treatment.Additionally (and even more problematically), as Prof. Francione pointed out in the comments below concerning the history of language appropriation by welfarists:
Welfarists (what I called "new welfarists" in my 1996 book "Rain Without Thunder") then tried to blur the distinction between concepts that are quite clear in a very deliberate attempt to stop debate and discussion. They took the position that welfare reform was an appropriate strategy to pursue despite the rights critique because there was no real difference between the rights and welfare approaches and that these approaches were compatible.If the abolition of the exploitation of animals--of their use as property--is to happen, there needs to be clarity and consistency concerning both why and how it needs to happen. The debate needs to continue--not to be silenced. I don't believe in browbeating, but I also don't believe in sending mixed messages. If being unwavering in educating others that veganism should be the moral baseline of the animal rights movement leaves someone seeming less snuggly, then so be it. If insisting that it's morally inconsistent to both a) support regulating the continued usage of animals, and b) attempt to co-opt the term "abolitionist" to define oneself offends some who are convinced otherwise, then so be it. I'm more interested in presenting sound, logical arguments and saving animal lives than I am in hand-holding people into continuing to delude themselves and to confuse and misdirect others. And there's no shame in that.
The same is happening now with the use of "abolitionist."
ETA: Angel Flinn recently wrote a rock solid piece that I recommend called "Animal Welfare Reform: Total Denial, One Step at a Time". Take some time to read it, as well as the debate that follows it.