Wednesday, January 25, 2006

further discourse regarding direct action, etc.

JEREMY WROTE:

i'm not sure that you can say with any degree of confidence that "EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabotage." i'm constantly re-evaluating my own position on this issue, and i imagine i'm not the only one."

yes i can. what i cant say with confidence is that everyone will support it in all instances. there is difference between saying that you would like to always choose nonviolence and saying that you absolutely 100% are against direct action. what it really boils down to is that you just dont feel as strongly about animal rights as you do human rights. heres proof. hypothetical of course. imagine that you are at home blogging away and you read your neighbors blog that he has a lot of human infants and toddlers locked up in his basement. every few months he takes the older ones and brings them out back and sticks electric probes in their anuses to electrocute them. you are of course dismayed at this so you peek over his fence to see for yourself. sure enough its actually happening. being that you want to be strategically nonviolent about it for some reason, you begin to tell others about it. after quite a bit of time some people are sympathetic to you while others dont want to listen to you. (sound familiar?) but really nothing has happened to stop the horrible man from doing his awful deed. he doesnt care if you say please. so next he ends up coming into your home and doing the same to your family. how many times would you ask him nicely and respectfully strategically nonviolently before you try to physically stop him? of course you couldnt ever try to stop him any other way besides saying please because that would be direct action and you want to distance yourself from supporting direct action or violence. but you wouldnt actually do that would you?

the problem with sn people is that they always use the argument that direct action distances social justice movements from widespread social support. although i have yet to find one scientific study to back up this claim. societies as a whole are violent. like it or not. another problem with the sn mindset is failing to seriously look at successful liberation movements throughout history. they all were won using a variety of tactics in combination. with violence being at the forefront. i think that the reasons that sn people think they are being more effective is that they never really encounter any serious opposition. in my experience sn by itself is really ineffective. if it were really more effective then caa surely would have made more progress than s.o.a.r. by now wouldnt it have?

I WROTE:

first of all, it should be mentioned that caa is compassionate action for animals, and s.o.a.r. is the student organization for animal rights. both are based in minneapolis, though it appears as though ca(4)a also has something going on in richmond, virginia, and i believe that there are s.o.a.r. chapters or groups at different college campuses across the country, although the degree to which they are affiliated is something i'm not sure about.

full disclosure: as i'm a full-time student and full-time worker bee, i am not a member of these (or any other) groups. i did attend a handful of s.o.a.r. meetings about nine years ago and attended one or two actions that they organized.

none of that is really relevant.

i attempted to clarify last time around that this blog was really created as kind of a fun outlet, and so far it has been that, but i take issue with the implication that i view blogging as my contribution to the world or the full extent of my politics in action. that seems to be a recurring theme in this discussion, and again, as you somehow stumbled across this blog and took the time to comment on it, i'm afraid we're going to have to walk down the road to dorkville together.

having gotten the housekeeping out of the way, i'd like to talk about another accusation, this one is that i don't feel as strongly about animal rights as i do about human rights, followed by a hypothetical example as an offering of proof. while i'm increasingly certain that jeremy and i used to know each other, i'm quite sure that we don't know each other well enough to be making such statements about each other's moral ideologies. i don't believe i've said anything here that should indicate a preference for humans, and in fact have offered evidence to the contrary. as such, i'm not sure that it's necessary for me to address the electric-baby-anus scenario.

i will, however, because i think there is a problem with hypothetical scenarios. the problem is that they tend to be narrow oversimplifications with awkward parallels. i could just as easily say this:

imagine that i'm the baby-killing neighbor. imagine further that some well-intentioned citizen takes it upon him- or herself to liberate some babies from my basement while i'm out buying new electric probes. i come home to a bunch of empty bassinets and i'm furious, as this has really cut into my baby-killing operation (i really don't mean for this argument to sound as much like an abortion debate as its starting to). now imagine me on the phone to my cousin in cleveland, explaining how we've taken a hit and need to aggressively expand our operations.

that's my point, that's the documented evidence with the situation in Vail (i really need to find that link), and that's what continues to happen in the factory-farming industry. i don't pretend not to be frustrated with the molasses-esque pace of social change, but i also understand that if things are going to change, we should at least make sure we're moving in the right direction.

points that remain unadressed include the hypocrisy of the use of aerosol paint, plastic milk jugs, and the combustion of construction materials, because to me, that's the larger issue: destroying the environment/animals to save them. it just doesn't make sense to me.

finally, i'm not sure how well you understand strategic nonviolence outside of the rhetoric and debate in the local animal rights circles, but you might want to check out writings on the subject by Howard Zinn and/or Eugene Sharp. People often misunderstand just how involved the strategizing can actually be, and while i don't want to presume or sound patronizing, your "tone" (i understand we're on the internet) sounded as though you may be in this camp as well.

i'd also like to encourage other voices to join the discussion.

1 Comments:

Anonymous jeremy said...

i didnt mean to imply that your blog was your only contribution to the world. its just the forum in which this debate is taking place.

now that thats out of the way i feel you totally skirted the issue. because had you simply answered the hypothetical situation you would had to have said that you would use direct action possibly even violence. you failed to acknowledge that in certain cases you would indeed physically intervene. it would just take an extreme circumstance involving other humans or your own family. which goes for every single person i have ever met. i have yet to find a person who said they would not intervene if a loved one especially a child were being subjected to violence. but you may say i would simply call the police. that wouldnt be ok either using sn principles because you would just be advocating another individual do your violence for you.

in choosing my hypothetical situation i simply changed fur bearing animals to babies. it definitely sounds more gruesome to most to say human babies but its a very real situation on fur farms all over the world.

your charge that direct action creates more of a problem by actually expanding the offending operation rings hollow. you used the two elk lodge in vail as an example. hers your link you were looking for http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20051221/NEWS/112210027

they have rebuilt the building slightly larger but the expansion wasnt larger.

this one action isnt an all encompassing example of the failures of direct action as a tactic. its much much easier to find many examples of businesses that have been closed down, fur farms forced out of business and research projects halted because of direct action. the same cant be said of those following gene sharps tactics. i have yet to read of any real success in animal rights from the proponents of sn since it has been tried for the past 8 years. the greatest thing has been a handful of chicken liberations that were great for the chickens liberated but totally ineffective against the battery cage industry because it was so easily ignored by the farm. had the sn campaign been effective why is not still ongoing? it certainly didnt close any farms. the conditions at the targeted michael foods arent any better. its been five years! i think its time to move on to other proven effective tactics like those utilized by s.h.a.c. do you feel their campaign is failing? they certainly arent swept under the rug by hls like crystal farms did to ca4a.

i appreciate this debate. its fun. even if i did start it being really confrontational.

on another note the millenium restaurant is hands down the best there is. for those who have a chance to go there and cant afford much then skip the meal and order dessert. theirs are the best anywhere. the food is indescribably fantastic.

10:19 AM  

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