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DON’T EAT PLANTS, REDISTRIBUTE MEAT: A Marxist response to the animal liberation and vegan movements

Activists such as Pamela Anderson have fought against the seal hunt. Attacks on the seal hunt can lead to a racist and imperialist approach which attacks the traditional practices of Indigenous peoples.

BRIAN W. MAJOR: ‘How should Marxists respond to the arguments in favor of animal liberation? What position should we take on the growing thought that animals should not be used for agricultural purposes? Is there a way for us to address this movement in a serious way? A failure to address animal liberation could lead to the perception that Marxists don’t really care about environmental issues, and perhaps to an extent that perception is correct. It should be noted at the outset that veganism in itself is politically neutral…

To begin, we should note that some communists have written off the vegan approach as being liberal or bourgeois in its origins. That is a reasonable response to the narratives currently employed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). That organization is the most vocal vegan organization in the West. Many may appreciate their videos or online posts about the importance of stopping animal cruelty. Marxists can certainly agree that measures could reasonably be taken to stop needless suffering.

For most of us, however, that’s where the agreement stops. PETA has acted in ways that have, rightly, been condemned as “environmental racism.” Activists such as Pamela Anderson have famously fought against the seal hunt. Attacks on the seal hunt can lead to a racist and imperialist approach which attacks the traditional practices of Indigenous peoples around the world, particularly those based on hunter-gatherer economies. It is very hard to imagine that those living in far-north Arctic regions will be able to find their protein source from plants. Eating seal and caribou are essential to the provision of protein in their diet.

Approaches based on PETA have also focused on personal responsibility and the practice of “ethical consumption.” It has long been held that individual consumers should personally adopt a vegan lifestyle in order to personally stop the exploitation of animals by the agricultural sector. Within a capitalist framework, just how are our personal eating habits going to change capitalist industry?…

Vegan Marxists also really need to look at the fact that most people living largely on a plant-based diet do so on an involuntary basis. For most citizens of the world, meat is a luxury. For the environmental movement to be successful, all peoples of Earth must not only be considered as equals, but be treated as equals… Under socialism, and ultimately, communism, social resources can be harnessed which are based on a more sustainable model of development’.  SOURCE…

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