3. Homo Destructus

A DECLARATION OF WAR, Killing People to Save the Animals and the Environment,
Chapter Three


?    Liberators have given up on humans. For them, the goal of converting humans into more ethical, sensitive beings, capable of respecting the rights of animals to live, is impossible. They have two reasons for coming to this conclusion. The first is that it is not in the nature of most people to respect non-human life. Second, animal abuse is an intrinsic feature of our society. In this chapter I will explain the first reason, and leave the second for the next chapter. ?

    When we think of the way we should be treating animals, we are thinking about ethical principles. Ethics is usually presented by philosophers, who appeal to people’s minds with reasoned arguments about how people should behave. However, liberators believe that an intellectual approach towards changing people’s ethical, or moral, beliefs is doomed to failure. This is because ethics really has little to do with the mind. ?

    All the reasoning in the world will not get through to a person invested in a particular behavior. The human mind has a tremendous capacity  to close itself off from all reasoning, and insulate itself from moral argument. ?

    People act from their hearts, not their heads. Every salesperson knows this. They sell the feelings that the purchased item will bring. Children know this technique, too. A tearful eyed plea is much more effective than reasoning in getting parents to comply with wishes. ?

    Humans do things which feel good and avoid things which feel bad. They merely use their minds to justify their feelings. ?

    It’s no different for ethicists. Philosophers, like everyone else, begin with a feeling of what is right, an intuitive sense of what should be, and then try to develop arguments to justify those original feelings. Non-philosophers in the general public, who care about ethical principles regarding how to behave towards others, are attracted to those philosophical theories and arguments which reflect and confirm what they already feel is right. ?

    Intellectual arguments, then, are not effective in persuading people to treat non-humans with respect, unless the people already feel that non-humans deserve that respect 3. ?

    Most people don’t even respond to intellectual arguments concerning ethics. When asked why they are eating animals, for example, they will say, “I like the taste.” When you push them against the wall with words, showing them that they are inconsistent in their treatment of humans and non-humans, that they are merely being speciesists, they will say, “So I’m speciesist. I’m inconsistent! I’ll accept that.” Even after you show them what is done to animals in factory farms and by slaughter houses, and even after you explain to them that billions of animals are destroyed that way each year, they still continue to eat flesh, perhaps averting their eyes when passing a particularly grotesque butcher shop. Clearly, their behavior is not a matter of ignorance. Yet your words fell on deaf ears. Why? ?

    Arguments don’t change people’s behaviors. Only changes in feelings can. ?

    As a simple illustration of this truth, liberators use the example of slaughter house workers. It’s clear that these workers know what they are doing. Telling them the facts of animal destruction makes no sense. They live those facts. Yet they still slaughter animals. Why do they continue to do it? ?

    Liberators contend that it is because, while they know what they are doing, they don’t feel what they are doing. ?

    As a result, liberators hold that it is useless using ethics to “prove” that animals should or shouldn’t be respected in their right to live. All one can say is that one feels it is wrong to exploit animals, or that one feels it is acceptable to use animals for human ends. The rest of the argument is window dressing, mind games to justify that one’s feelings are correct. ?

    This is why liberators conclude that we will never free the animals by talking to abusers about ethics. ?

    At the risk of seeming philosophical themselves, liberators have considered the question, “Why do some people respect animals and others don’t?” To answer this they know that they must address the deeper question, “What makes a person ever consider the needs of others?” ?

    Liberators believe a person only considers others when it affects that person’s feelings, specifically, his or her feelings of pain or pleasure. ?

    If we like someone, it gives us pleasure to be with them. Our behavior towards them is motivated by the pleasure they give us. On the other hand, we will be motivated to avoid a person who gives us pain. ?

    So long as someone can please or harm us, so long as he affects our lives, we will consider how we treat him. ?

    If pain and pleasure are both motivations, it could be asked which is the stronger. Liberators point out that the work of moral development theorists like Maslow, Erikson, and others, suggest that people must first achieve a level of safety and have basic needs met before higher levels of personal fulfillment and happiness can be attained. This means that people need to have their stomachs full and have warmth and shelter as prerequisites for a happy life. Without these basic requirements being met, people will feel pain and its associated feeling, fear. Consumed by pain and fear, people cannot truly develop into happy, fulfilled human beings. ?

    Also, pain and fear can cause a highly morally developed person  to act on the lowest level of selfish, basic need fulfillment. The most generous, compassionate, friendly person can turn into a murderous beast under the right conditions of fear and pain. This, liberators conclude, is because pain is a greater motivation than pleasure on a basic, fundamental level. ?

    They say that personal reflection supports this point. The example they use is that you cannot enjoy very much when you have a headache. The pain overwhelms the pleasure. Also, when you are sick and in pain your consideration of others melts away, revealing a basic self-interest in getting yourself better. This makes good biological sense. Pain tells the organism that he or she is in danger of being damaged, with the ultimate threat of death. Pleasure becomes a luxury that an organism cannot afford until its basic survival needs are again satisfied. ?

    Liberators, therefore, believe that pain is more powerful than pleasure in motivating people. Fear is a component of pain, and is an extremely efficient means of controlling people’s behaviors. Fear is a form of emotional pain. Unlike physical pain, fear can motivate people without being accompanied by physical contact. And fear is used all the time to keep humans under control. ?

    For example, the fear of going to jail keeps many people from disobeying laws. Peer groups control members through the fear of rejection. The Internal Revenue Service controls taxpayers through the fear of an audit. Advertisers try to create a need for a product in the minds of consumers, and use fear when they suggest that people will suffer without fulfilling that need. ?

    Of course, sometimes people are pushed in opposite directions by their fears. For example, someone may believe that eating meat is unhealthy, and wishes to avoid meat for fear of getting ill. On the other hand, that person may fear losing her meat eating spouse by seeming too different and extreme. For that person, it comes down to which fear is greater. ?

    All those interested in influencing people’s behaviors use fear as a manipulation tool. Exploiting this observation of human nature, liberators feel that changing people’s behaviors requires that the fear, and, hence, the pain, of doing the undesirable activity must become greater than the pain and fear of not doing it. ?

    In terms of stopping animal abuse, liberators feel it makes more sense to have people fear what will happen to them if they continue to abuse animals, than to debate with them over the ethical ramifications of their actions. ?

    To liberators, then, fear and pain are the primary motivations of people. Moving on to the weaker, but real, motivating force of pleasure, it is clear that people get pleasure from those they like, and treat them differently from those they dislike. What makes people like or dislike others? ?

    Liberators believe it is our ability to identify with others, which  is  another  way  of  saying  our  ability to  empathize with them, that determines whether we will like them or dislike them. ?

    Empathy is a feeling we get when we believe we can feel what another is feeling. It has nothing to do with the mind, but with the heart, and is therefore real and powerful in its effect on our behavior. It is the way we see our connection to others, and identify with their reality. ?

    Without empathy we cannot feel affection for others. It is the basis of friendship and love. It feels good. And we need it. ?

    According to liberators, love, the most pleasant form of empathy, is the second greatest motivator of humans, second only to pain and fear. ?

    Liberators say that the reason we need love and empathy is because we all feel alone in the world. Humans are an alienated species, unsure of their connection with the rest of nature. It’s a frightening world when you have no real clue how to act, no internal instincts telling you what is healthy or harmful. If we had such knowledge, we wouldn’t need ethics or religion to tell us how to live. Both try to address human behavior and our place in the world. Ever since there have been people, there have been religious and moral codes trying to make sense out of the chaos of the human condition. This basic human existential uncertainty makes people lonely and frightened. Friendship is welcome relief. ?

    On the other side of this existential coin is the need to feel control in the world. Liberators believe that power and control issues dominate most people’s lives. If people can’t be in control over their own lives, then they will try to be in control over the lives of others. ?

    People fear being out of control, because being out of control is painful. We try to feel we will be okay in the world, that the environment is not hostile, and that our needs will be met. Seeking control over others is one way humans achieve an illusory peace in their minds that the world is a safe, manageable place. ?

    Love for others and power over others are mutually exclusive. You cannot love someone you exploit, or exploit someone you love. ?

    The way most people handle this paradox is by loving some and controlling others. And since control is often exploitative, it requires that you feel little or no empathy for those controlled, so you can avoid suffering along with them as you exploit them. ?

    To illustrate this point, liberators use the example of Nazi doctors who conducted heinous experiments on Jews during the day, while acting as loving husbands and fathers at night. Humans label a group as “other”, using race, nationality, sex, or species as the basis for the distinction, and consider that group unworthy of empathy and, therefore, a reasonable target for exploitation. So long as humans have some other group with whom they can identify and find empathy and love, they can satisfy their need for affection. By splitting groups this way, people allow themselves the pleasure of love with some groups, and the reduction of pain through the exploitation of other groups. ?

    The groups they are kind to consist of human beings, particularly those of equal of greater power. The ones exploited are typically powerless, unable to reciprocate aggression, which is the case with non-human beings. ?

    This is an important point about the liberators’ beliefs that deserves emphasis. The conflict between fear and pleasure, control and empathy, plays out in the following way. If you have power over others, then you will not fear them. This means you can treat them any way you like, whether it be exploitatively or fairly, and they will simply have to accept it. If treated exploitatively, then they have no recourse but to suffer. If treated fairly, then they have the choice of reciprocating your fairness. Most likely, since you have more power, they will always treat you fairly, or even give you more than you deserve, which is a form of self exploitation, regardless of your treatment of them. In short, you have all the power and you call the shots. ?

    On the other hand, if the others have equal or greater power than you have, the tables are turned. Your treatment of them is tempered by the constant awareness that they can reciprocate kindness or aggression, and you may lose if it is aggression. Fear of reprisals keeps you in check. Of course, if you like the more powerful individuals and wish to treat them fairly, all the better. But you would not treat them in anything but a fair manner, and you may even chose to exploit yourself and give them more than they deserve as an insurance policy to soothe your fears. ?

    What this boils down to is that those in power have the option of treating others as they wish, with no fear that the others might reciprocate evil for evil. Those out of power are moved by fear to comply with the wishes of the powerful. Another way of saying this is that humans interact with one another according to a pecking order. What this means is that treating others with liberty, fraternity and equality are not natural human tendencies. For most people, it’s a peck or be pecked world. ?

    When people chose groups to exploit, the least powerful are the easiest target. Non-human animals have no power by themselves to respond to human aggression and exploitation. Animals are helpless to suffer the fate of human power over their lives. ?

    Because humans consider animals to be objects undeserving of empathy, they do not recognize the pain they are causing them. They have disqualified animals as feeling beings capable of suffering and having interests of their own. These people are, therefore, numb to their cries and pain. This numbness allows abusers to sleep at night, and kill during the day 4. ?

    Liberators believe that people consider the needs of others only when it affects their pleasure or pain. Those with empathy for animals respect the animals. They get pleasure identifying with non-human beings, and enjoy seeing them free. People, such as liberators, respect all beings as equal members of the family of life, entitled to their moment on the planet. Instead of seeing animals as objects of control, they see them as objects of love. Liberators satisfy their need for control by focusing on their own lives, and committing themselves to a lifestyle consistent with a respect for all creatures. ?

    Why do some people develop empathy for animals while others don’t? Liberators believe it depends on who they are, what their life experiences have been, how open their hearts are, and how seduced they are by cruel social institutions. What makes some people racist or sexist? The same forces are at work in our dealings with animals. ?

    To liberators this means that, if you don’t have empathy for animals, at least to some degree, then you will not understand any argument for respecting their autonomy. Further, animals are helpless and easy prey for human control, since they can’t fight back. ?

    Liberators believe these two factors are major obstacles to changing people’s behaviors towards animals. The impact of these obstacles has made human history a non-stop legacy of animal abuse and exploitation. Human brutality to animals, and even to humans who can’t fight back, has been a fact of life since the beginning of recorded time. It is clear to liberators that the obstacles to humans developing a sensitivity to animals are insurmountable. ?

    The lesson liberators draw from their study of human nature is that the only way to stop oppression of animals is by creating a fear of reprisals for such acts. Animals cannot do this by themselves, but need liberators to act as their agents. ?

    In other words, they believe that reasoning will not help, since people are motivated by their hearts, not minds, to oppress others. Reprisals are the only effective means. The fear and pain of reprisals can offset the existential fear that control over the animals was meant to satisfy. Only when the weak become strong will exploitative humans mind their manners. ?

    Either animals will be respected because people love them, or they will be respected because people are afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t treat them with respect. That is the rule liberators use for understanding how humans deal with others. Since animals can’t retaliate for human aggression and exploitation by themselves, it is up to liberator agents to do so for them. ?

    Let me deal with some objections to the liberator argument. One objection may be that many people can “love” animals, yet still be willing, and eager, to kill them for food. For example, I know a farmer who raises pigs, and “loves” the piglets all the way to the butcher shop. She also gets calves as pets for two years, and then “puts them in the freezer.” Can’t people “love” animals and exploit them at the same time? ?

    Of course not, say the liberators! What these abusive humans feel for animals is not love. People are motivated by self interest as they try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. If letting a pig grow is pleasurable, then the pig will survive. But once eating the pig gives someone more pleasure than letting it live, watch out pig. ?

    This question also raises an important point about empathy. Liberators feel that many so called “animal lovers” are not actually identifying and empathizing with animals, but are merely projecting onto animals their own beliefs about what the animals should be feeling. ?

    I have a personal experience to illustrate the liberators’ point. Some horse “lovers” were sad that a horse was being underfed by some irresponsible people, and were angry that the police were refusing to do anything about it. They seemed to be people sensitive to horses’ needs. Yet they surprised me when I asked: “How do you feel about the carriage horses that are worked up and down this street giving rides to tourists?” ?

    They did not go into a tirade, explaining that such treatment of horses is slavery and an abomination. Instead, they responded: “Those horses are cared for. They are fed well and nicely groomed. And they’re work horses. I don’t think they would be happy if they couldn’t work.” ?

    Liberators would interpret this example as an illustration of how humans can fool themselves into thinking that they are feeling empathy, when all they are really doing is projecting onto others their own feelings and assumptions of how the other should be feeling. ?

    How many times have you felt intense emotions after some stirring event, and someone tells you, quite erroneously, that he knows exactly how you feel? That’s projection. It’s dealing with others in one’s own reality, instead of trying to get into their reality. Most people haven’t the slightest clue how others feel. They use their minds and assume that they know who you are and how you should be reacting to certain situations. ?

    But empathy is not a mind trip. It is a way of communicating that takes place without words. It is intuitive. For a society that underrates intuition and overrates intellect, liberators feel it is no surprise that people have not developed their empathic skills. ?

    This is why someone can love pigs and still say that it’s all right to kill them for their flesh. If they feel it’s all right, and project that feeling onto the pigs, then they can feel that the pigs somehow feel it’s all right, too. Further supporting this illusion is the inability of the pigs to answer  back verbally, explaining  that the feeling attributed to them was mistaken.

?Liberators believe that true empathy with others is difficult. It takes patience, a quiet mind, and a willingness to see reality differently, as others see it. This task is difficult enough with other humans. We are reminded how little we understand others whenever we come into contact with another culture. Suddenly, our assumptions about behaviors don’t work. But dealing with other human cultures is easy when compared to dealing with non-human cultures. The behaviors of mice beings, bat beings, and mink beings are truly foreign to human beings. ?

    Liberators assert that seeing the world as a non-human being sees it requires that we leave our anthropocentric way of regarding other beings and things, and develop a naturocentric perspective. Such a view would place common features among animals as a foundation for understanding, and thereby empathizing, with them. We may not understand the behaviors of all other creatures, but we do know that they are living on the same planet as we are, and have the same physical reality as we have. ?

    The more we see ourselves as animals, connected with other creatures, as well as with plants, streams, rocks, clouds, and all of nature, the greater our effectiveness in truly gaining insight into the feelings of our brothers and sisters. ?

    Liberators think that this is a tall order for most people to fill. Liberators believe that most people live in their own worlds, and don’t even know how to relate to other humans. This is all a function of their alienation from nature, including their own natures as human animals. The more alienated people are, the less they can identify with others, be they human or non-human. That is because identification requires self-understanding. In common parlance, you must understand yourself before you can understand others. ?

    To make human empathy with non-humans even more improbable, people are told how different they are from other animals. We have souls, animals don’t. We have thoughts and feelings, animals don’t. We are made in God’s image. We have dominion over other animals. We are the chosen creatures. ?

    Even the distinction human/animal, which is institutionalized in the “animal” rights movement, implies that we are different from non-humans. In effect, humans see themselves as non-animals. How can anyone develop empathy with others who are by definition different? Liberators claim it’s impossible. ?

    Liberators believe empathy is needed for moral behavior. The obstacles to developing true empathy make moral behavior towards non-human beings difficult for even conscientious individuals, not to mention for disinterested people. ?

    Another objection might arise at this point. If liberators say that self-alienation is at the root of human cruelty, perhaps animal lovers should address human pain with the hope of somehow “healing” humankind? The result of people being healed might eventually trickle down to help oppressed animals. Another way some people put this is that we can’t help the animals until we first address human needs. ?

    Liberators say that there are two false assumptions used for this objection. One is that people are basically good. The ridiculousness of this notion will be addressed in the “Myth of non-violence” chapter. The second assumption is that such healing of human nature is possible, usually through education, reasoned debate, unconditional love, and patience. We have already discussed this fallacy. ?

    To liberators, this approach is anthropocentrism in disguise. Attempting to “heal” humans to save non-humans is useless. ?

    First, liberators consider that the pain which causes the need for control arises from a deep human existential crisis, something that has not been solved since recorded history. Humans have never felt at home on this planet. Our alienation is almost definitional of what it means to be human. We just don’t have the answers to this existential  question, and we never will. That is the cause of our eternal anxiety, and our desire for control. It is not about to go away by debate and education. ?

    Second, taking the time to try and “heal” humankind is a luxury animals cannot afford. They are suffering today, even as you read this, not in the thousands, but in the millions and millions. If liberators truly wish to help animals defend themselves, they believe they must do what the animals need right now. And to the liberators, that means liberation, not counseling and unconditional love for their oppressors. ?
    You may still not understand the liberators view of the use of militant tactics to stop animal oppressors. Let me explain their position with an example that they like to use. People believe that the use of force, even deadly force, is acceptable when being attacked, as a form of self-defense. People also expect an innocent bystander to assist a victim of assault if that victim is in need of help, even if that assistance must be the use of deadly force. In both of these cases, people allow the use of force on the basis of self-defense, whether the force was executed by oneself or by the agent of the victim. Liberators believe they are simply using force in self-defense as agents for animal victims of human oppression. ?

    To the liberators, the animals are being brutalized. They are helpless. Liberators feel that they have every moral right to defend them. And they believe humans will not stop abusing non-humans without militant intervention. ?

    Some readers may disagree with the liberators, and insist that dialogue with abusers is potentially valuable. In response to this, liberators point out that, even if people were persuaded by ideas instead of force, the fact is that most people care nothing about moral issues. Fighting with words instead of force is a waste of time. People who hope to use words to change abusers do not like to think that their efforts have been useless. But look at the evidence. ?

    The Meyers/Briggs Test is a personality profile test, well recognized, respected and used by psychologists. It has helped psychologists determine that the general population of this country falls into the following approximate personality categories:

– 38 % of the people are action oriented, deeply committed to an activity while they are doing it. They seek the “gusto” in life. They live in the present, and tend to have physical occupations. Intense, active involvement is important to them.

– 12 % are interested in their intellectual competence. They usually get jobs in the sciences. Ideas and rigorous thinking are important to them.

– 38 % are duty and responsibility focused. They are concerned with their place in the society, they respect laws and authority and they are loyal to the system. Accountants, bankers and administrators fit into this category. Maintaining the status quo is important to them.

– 12 % are concerned with self-actualization and spirituality, and question the significance of life and their place in the world. Ethical issues and interpersonal relations are important to them.

    Naturally, nobody is purely one category or another. Overlap does occur. But in general, there is a small section of the public, about 12 %, that even cares about the animal issues raised in this book. Of course, 12 % of the 270 million people in this country amounts to about 30 million people, which is a significant number That some of these people are awakening to the fact of animal abuse has given the animal movement a great surge of growth and support. It has been estimated that 10 million people are members of animal organizations. When you consider that these issues were a rarity only a decade ago, the momentum of the movement seems great, indeed.

    Liberators believe that as a result of these newly interested people in the movement, certain businesses have become willing to change their ways. Vegetarian food is more available than before. (although most alleged vegetarian items have milk products or eggs.) Some cosmetic companies have decided to stop animal testing on their premises. And even newspaper, magazine, television and radio coverage of animal issues has increased, reflecting a rise in awareness. Changes have certainly been made as a result of efforts to influence and educate this 12 % of the population.

    Such changes, however, are more window dressing than substance, according to the liberators. Restaurants, cosmetic companies and the media will adapt to consumer demand. If there is a profit in catering to the interests of animal lovers, then some businesses will rush to fill that niche.

    Before we give the non-violent approach more credit than it deserves, liberators ask that we reflect on some actual changes. Vegetarianism has become increasingly popular, although still to a very small segment of the population, primarily because of its apparent health benefits to humans. In other words, they are vegetarian for anthropocentric and egocentric reasons.

    So long as people change their behaviors for personal gain, rather than for ethical reasons, there is always the possibility that they will change again, listening to the next salesman of health and beauty. The meat and medical industries know this. Liberators feel that is why these industries are fighting back to maintain animal abuse. They use the message that lean meat is good and essential for health. They know that health minded people will eat flesh again if told it is good for them.

    And they are successful in pushing their message. Witness how many “vegetarian” people revert to a meat based diet for fear of protein or calcium deficiency. Most vegetarians strike a bargain, hoping to get the best of both camps’ advice, by eating dairy products and eggs. Is this really a victory for the animal movement, liberators ask?

    As another example, consider the cruelty free shoe market. Stores like Payless Shoe Stores offer plastic and canvas shoes. Non-violent animal lovers are quick to claim this as a success of their approach. But, liberators ask, how many people in the movement still wear leather and put fashion before ethics? Is the success of stores like Payless due to the support of animal lovers shunning leather? Or is it that plastic and canvas shoes are cheaper than leather ones? Liberators feel people today are attracted to low cost merchandise. Payless and others stores like it appeal to budget minded people. That’s why it’s called “Payless” and not “Cruelless”. Does that qualify the stores’ increased popularity as a victory for the animals, liberators wonder?

    On the other hand, liberators state, little has changed in the area of animal research. If anything, things have gotten worse. The creation of genetic engineering techniques have opened up new avenues for animal exploitation. Strains of mice can now be produced, and are being patented with certain genetic derangements. The biomedical carnage against animals has continued unabated, except for some increased paperwork that vivisectors must complete. Liberators point out that, despite the growing awareness of such abuses, however, animal lovers still flock to physicians who are trained by bloodthirsty vivisectors, and buy drugs which were tested on animals.

    Another failure of non-violent movement raised by liberators is the hunting situation. According to liberators, virtually nothing significant for animals has been achieved over the past decade when it comes to hunting. In fact, there are now hunter harassment laws preventing animal supporters from going into the woods and interfering with the killing.

    Why have vivisection and hunting been resistant to progress, while other areas have been more flexible to change? To liberators, the answer is simple. Consumers have an effect on the balance sheet of consumer oriented companies, like restaurants and cosmetic manufacturers. It is no skin off of their noses to add a cruelty free item to their list of products, as when Burger King sells vegeburgers along with its Whoppers.

    However, the drug and medical industries know that people will consume their products regardless of animal testing. As discussed above, when people are in pain, their morals often go out the window. As for hunting, that is an isolated business, unaffected by the common person’s interests and biases. Hunters buy guns and ammunition from specialty shops, and pay licensing fees to support government agencies overseeing their hunting grounds. The general public has little impact on their activities.

    In short, liberators ask that animal lovers be realistic in assessing the successes of the non-violence approach in making a difference for the animals. True, some changes have been made. But liberators insist that people assess those changes in the context of other societal influences, such as the economy, and consider the fickle interests of self-centered consumers whose main concern is personal health and longevity.

    According to liberators, all changes that have been made for the animals have been a direct result of an appeal to human self-interest. The popularity of vegetarianism is one example of this fact.

    Many groups fighting animal research tell the public that such research is bad for human health. Stop vivisection because it kills humans! Hans Reusch’s approach is purely of this type, as he exposes the various ways in which people have been killed by animal research.

    Legislative initiatives against trapping have to appeal to the risk of animal traps to innocent children or people’s pets, rather than to the wildlife they are intended to kill!

    Attempts to stop pound seizures, in which pound animals are sold to research labs, have to address whether or not using those animals in research can help improve human health. As a result, those trying to stop pound seizures argue that animals from pounds have poor health and uncertain medical backgrounds, making them unsuitable for any scientifically valid, reproducible study. Groups like the Medical Research Modernization Committee specifically attack animal research for its ineffectiveness in helping humans.

    The cosmetic industry seems at first glance to be an exception to this requirement that the animal movement appeal to self-interest to get changes. Actually, it is no exception at all. Cosmetic products are sold for the feelings and images they create for their users. To fight against animal testing, pictures of blinded rabbits and other animal abuses are shown to consumers, associating cruelty with certain cosmetic products. On the other hand, pictures of gentle, beautiful people caressing warm, fuzzy animals are used to associate kindness and compassion with products not tested on animals. Consumer self-interest in looking beautiful motivates some people to buy products unassociated with animal cruelty, since animal cruelty is clearly not beautiful.

    To liberators, this need for animal groups to appeal to human self-interest means that these groups are really working on a human-centered movement, rather than an animal movement. Any gains for the animals comes as a fortunate outcome of the process.

    The most positive statement which liberators feel can be made about the non-violent approach is that it can educate some people in the 12 % of the public who are interested in moral issues. Some of these people will constitute a new market for animal-friendly consumer goods and services. But in the broader picture, this is a drop in the bucket, and there is no good reason to believe that the trend is irreversible.

    To liberators, the sad fact is that not many people want to help the animals. Most people are happy enough getting through the day in one piece. They don’t have the energy, or inclination, to address social or moral issues. They constitute the majority of humans in this country, and probably in the world. Liberators know the saints were always fewer than the sinners.

    What this means is that moral arguments coming from proponents of various, opposing positions are competing for the attention of that small 12 % of society who care about such issues. Working with this target audience to generate behavioral changes is not easy.

    Liberators recognize that people hate to change. Humans are habit forming creatures. Someone can see The Animals Film, with its graphic display of animal slaughter, agree that the scenes are disgusting, and still eagerly devour a veal cutlet or piece of fried chicken. “I’ve eaten meat all my life,” they rationalize.

    Psychologists explain that people have a narrow tolerance for change. If they are pushed too far, exceeding that tolerance, they rebel and go in the opposite direction. This is why some activists believe that we must change people slowly, allowing their tolerance limits to adjust as they move along in the right direction.

    Forces tear at people in every direction trying to manipulate them. Animal abusers outnumber people concerned about animals by 100:1, and can just as easily outspend their opposition in advertising and propaganda. People will ultimately be pulled away from supporting animals, as humans are brainwashed by Madison Avenue executives.

    Also,  people have to be willing  to  change.  Animal abuse  is  a large part of everyone’s life in this society, as the next chapter will discuss. The inertia against change is tremendous.

    Finally, even if we could get people to change a little in their behaviors, there must be some way of reinforcing that change to prevent people from having a relapse of old behaviors. Many people say they used to be vegetarian, or even vegan, but lost interest, or got into a relationship with a meat eater, causing them to return to flesh as food. Liberators believe that, with society entrenched in animal abuse, making a cruelty free lifestyle an effort to maintain, such behavior reinforcement for respectful treatment of animals is not forthcoming.

    Liberators know that people, even the 12 % of society interested in moral issues, are weak, stubborn, frightened, irrational, habitual, spiteful, inconsistent, angry, vicious creatures. Dialogue may or may not have any effect on reaching the 12 % of the population; but it is certainly a waste of time for the other 88 %. We may be able to battle with words for the 12 %; but the animals need liberators to battle with force to influence the other 88 %.

    Liberators ask that animal lovers be realistic and consider what must be done to save animals. They ask what you would do if your sister or brother was imprisoned in a torture chamber, soon to be executed. Would you talk to the prison guards and torturer about human rights? Would you write your Congressman? Hell, no, they exclaim! You’d be doing everything in your power to rescue your family member. To liberators, talk is cheap, and when it comes to ethics, they feel talk is bullshit!

    They believe the animals are helpless without them. It is up to human beings to defend them, to truly act as their agents. Speaking on the animals’ behalf will not suffice – it hasn’t helped oppressed human groups to just speak about their freedom. Liberators feel we must act for the animals. We must do for them what we believe they would do for themselves.

    And what do liberators believe the animals would do? They would escape from their captors. They would shoot back when shot at. They would destroy the cages that confined them, so they could not be used again. They would damage roads that made way for the destructive force of automobiles. They would burn down research facilities, and kill animal researchers, who daily destroy their kin for profit and amusement. They would form an underground of saboteurs  to  disrupt  the machinery of  the  vast  human  killing machine called society.

    If people had the courage to live up to their commitment to be agents for the animals, then they would do all the above, say the liberators. Indeed, liberators are already doing it!

    If it is hopeless to try changing people, perhaps we can change society? What do the liberators say about that? Let’s talk about that issue next.


Liberators recognize that there are exceptions to this rule. Some people change their feelings regarding animals as a result of education concerning the forms and pervasiveness of animal abuse. Such transformations are rare, however, and are only possible for a small percentage of the population, as discussed later in this chapter.

The inability of some people to relate to animals is made clear when they ask: “Don’t plants have rights, too?” All animal activists have heard that question. Liberators believe such a question is never asked by someone who is truly concerned about plants, or animals. The point of the question is to show that animal defenders are inconsistent in drawing a line between animals and vegetables. The questioners assume that there is no morally relevant difference between asparagus and giraffes, so that killing asparagus is morally equivalent to killing giraffes. Naturally, the questioners have no doubt that humans are different in a morally significant way from both animals and vegetables, and, therefore, deserve special consideration. In actuality, then, their question reflects their own bias in considering animals to be the same as vegetables. This is evidence of their deep alienation from animals. Such people have no hope of identifying with animals, just as they can never identify with plants (unless they themselves are vegetables!)



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