Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Conflating External Criticism with Infighting

Welfarists/regulationists are desperate to deflect our criticism of their advocacy when their advocacy falls short of condemning the exploitation of others. They insist that this criticism is tantamount to "infighting" and that it should thus be disregarded or dismissed as baseless whinging or nitpicking. They insist that it interferes with The Movement's integrity and solidarity and that it sets The Movement back. They say that our criticism of advocacy that doesn't plainly condemn animal use somehow gobbles up valuable time and energy and thus harms other animals. Welfarists/regulationists try to shame abolitionist animal rights activists into shutting up about teaching/asking/begging others to reject animal exploitation and to go vegan. When we don't shut up, they sometimes even go so far as to insist to the non-vegan public that our teaching/asking/begging them to go vegan is unreasonable and extremist--that they should dismiss us, too. We're just pesky trouble-makers, after all.

The undeniable truth which I think we need to face at this point is that we are, in fact, two separate movements. One movement seems somehow too mired in its own speciesism to accept that other animals simply aren't ours to use. If its members do see this, it's most certainly not reflected in their advocacy. The second movement--my movement and hopefully *your* movement--consists of individuals who respect the rights and interests of others to not be exploited and and of comrades who accept that the very least we owe those others is to use veganism as a starting point for our own choices, as well as for our advocacy work.

As for accusations that criticism of welfarism/regulationism is "hurting The Movement"? Which movement? The welfarist/regulationist movement? So what? As long as they continue to promote the myth of "happy" animal exploitation, applaud so-called flexitarianism and teach the public that not eating flesh one day a week--or shuffling out one animal product for another--is somehow morally relevant, they're teaching the public that some other animals are more OK to exploit than others and we're left struggling to undo this damage. We're focused on teaching people to go vegan as a starting point, while they drag them several steps back, telling them that veganism is just one of the several things they can do. Why on earth would we not want to criticize, interfere with or "hurt" a movement which facilitates and often encourages and applauds the continued use of other sentient beings? 

I truly hope that our criticism does indeed hurt their movement and that instead of constantly having to undo the damage they cause, we can instead focus 100% of our own time and energy on spreading a clear vegan message. Hopefully some of them will hear it too and eventually come 'round and join in. Until then, we should allow nobody to shame us into shutting up on behalf of other animals.