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Veganarchism and Emma Goldman

RA Goldman

By: Chris Carr

Cross-post from realanimal.net, a site devoted to animal philosophy.

Anarchy has a bad rap. Too many people conflate the ideas illustrated in anarchism with chaos. So much so, current hollywood blockbusters and deodorants use the name to sell more consumer goods. Like Che’s face on a t-shirt, a look into these ideals show a glaring dissonance between the cause and the product.

“Anarchism, then, really stand for the liberation of the human mind from the domination of religion; the liberation of the human body from the domination of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.” –Emma Goldman.

Goldman, prominent anarchist writer and publisher, seems to say very little about misinformed movie producers and pheromone-inducing antiperspirant. Anarchism, is rather about cooperation against oppressive authority, and not about every-man-for-himself mentalities, like such propaganda would have you believe.

Goldman spoke very little about animals. In the quote above she specifically writes, “the human mind” rather, than the “sentient mind” like a veganarchist might prefer. If we can agree that the animal mind should warrant the same protections as that of a human child, we can then agree that the tenets of anti-oppression–as illustrated in anarchism–also extend to the lives of animals.

If she were alive today, I think Goldman would agree that a proper definition of anarchism would necessarily extend to the lives of animals. Goldman, a product of late 1800s never saw the strife of animal life to the extent it is today. She saw lower-class labourers exploited like cattle, and not, cattle exploited like lower-class labourers. The sentient mind of animals killed for their flesh would certainly fall within the parameters of the scope of anarchism, as the tyranny of the industry not only oppresses the free labour of these animals, but also their entire, living bodies.

The case for veganarchism seems to flow in a single direction. Anarchists, by the definition of the cause, must also understand and accept the strife of animal labour, however the opposite may not be true. Animal rights advocates do not necessarily accept the ideals of anarchism. However, I would argue, the commodification of animal flesh necessarily demands attention be given to the problem at large; namely, the problem that has millions and millions of animals killed for their meat is capitalism, and not, simple attitudes toward animal husbandry.

The problems, solved by the ideas in anarchism, are also the problems solved by the elimination of capitalism. Oppression, in all its forms–misogyny, racism, speciesism–seem to stem from the pursuit of happiness, the american dream and a misguided idea of consumer culture cultivating happiness.

Veganarchism aims to resolve the issues of commodification, as a whole, including the oppression of animal and human labour alike. Only the abolition of all forms of oppression will free humans and animals. This is something, certainly, Goldman would have agreed with, if she had the misfortune of observing the factory farms of today.

“Anarchism is the liberator of man from the phantoms the have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces of individual and social harmony.”–Goldman.

The sentient minds of animals, given their ability to suffer and seek out comfort, extends to the ideas illustrated in anarchist theory. They are the ultimate proletariat, giving away more than just their labour, but their entire species as well. Social and individual harmony can only be achieved and cultivated once this ultimate form of oppression is abolished, something Goldman would have certainly stood for.

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