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Dawn Evans: The commodification of non-human life is rarely taken seriously by the left, a dangerous mistake

The cause of animal rights and species discrimination is now gaining acceptance as being a matter of survival, and not just for non-human animals. However, the political left has yet to fully engage with and understand as the existential matter it is.

DAWN EVANS: The rights of animals and their correlation to a healthy, sustainable environment have over recent years become a critical issue which is no longer viewed as a niche preoccupation of the middle classes who have the luxury of time to engage in quirky interests.

The cause of animal rights and species discrimination is now gaining acceptance as being a matter of survival, and not just for non-human animals. It is now widely understood that the continued existence of the human species is intricately linked to a healthy ecosystem which is dependent on a flourishing animal and insect population.

However, this is an issue that the political left has yet to fully engage with and understand as the existential matter it is. And like all matters involving health and wellbeing, the negative impact and fallout resulting from extreme animal exploitation disproportionately affect the poorest in society. It is a class issue…

In many of his works, Karl Marx wrote vociferously about capitalist agricultural practices and the resultant alienation of labour, and he identified the fundamental source of this alienation as enforced estrangement from nature… In his 1844 Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx acknowledged the spiritual needs of people, and the devastation caused by the loss of a way of life rooted in a relationship with nature…

When the Covid pandemic first kicked off in early 2020, this latest zoonotic disease seemed potentially more serious and wider-ranging than previous ones such as HIV, Sars, Zika, Ebola, Mers, swine flu and bird flu. One of my earliest reactions was that I wasn’t surprised — followed rapidly by a hope that this would wake humanity up to the consequences of treating the animal world as a lifeless commodity. In my mind, I visualised the massive industrial, metal hangers crammed with suffering creatures — chickens, pigs, calves, mink etc all bred purely for their flesh, secretions, skins, or fur.

Conveyor belts crammed with live chicks, male chicks considered valueless by the monolithic, capitalist meat and dairy industries; a relentless onward procession of living beings moving mechanically towards a massive electronic shredder. And I knew that all this was just the tip of the iceberg; it was too mind-boggling to take in the full extent of the insanely cruel practices being inflicted on sentient creatures.

I was never a vaccine conspiracy theorist, and I did not doubt that scientists would come up with something effective to combat the effects of Covid-19 — but I also thought that society would surely now realise that a vaccine could only be a temporary fix, and would not cure the causes driving the zoonoses of microbes spilling over from animals and infecting humans — and that the rise of zoonotic diseases would continue to proliferate until they would reach unmanageable levels soon.

The only prevention is to address the root cause: our horrific mistreatment of the animal world. Looking back at my naivety at the beginning of the pandemic and my belief that it would be the wake-up call that humanity would finally and positively respond to, now startles me…

Nevertheless, it is apparent that a fundamental shift does seem to be occurring, all be it at a reluctant and semi-conscious level, evidenced by the ubiquitous expansion of the plant-based produce shelves in supermarkets, as more and more people try out dairy and meat-free alternatives and begin gradually incorporating them into their daily diets.

Of course, as with all revolutions, it is the young that lead the way. They are the embracers and drivers of change. Campaigns initiated by movements such as Animal Rebellion do not always get it right, but their commitment and willingness to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the future is inspiring…

So, as we humans face with some trepidation the commencement of another new year and another move forward into the unknown, hopefully, we, and particularly those of us on the socialist left, will actively seek an affinity with the other species we share this world with and will campaign for their rights as though our lives depend on it, which they do.

And with a fierce determination to put an end to the grotesquely cruel, intensive capitalist animal-agricultural system, to vanquish forever the enslavement and torture of animals, in the full realisation that class consciousness and species consciousness are inherently linked. Happy New Year to all Earthlings. SOURCE…


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