Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism isn't funny...

Nor is using racism (disguised as humor and veganism) to make money. Pattrice Jones does a masterful job of calling out these racist efforts.

When I first ran across stuff about this phenomenon I was both amused and made uneasy by my amusement. I was naive enough initially to presume that these creators of "thug kitchen" were African American while at the same time apprehending that if they weren't their offerings were blatantly racist.

A post on this blog recently noted: "Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose."

The thug kitchen stuff perfectly illustrates this. Their purpose is to accumulate money...and they don't really care how they do it or who they harm in the process even as they cover their goal (profit) under the blanket of veganism.

What they present is racism being exhibited (for monetary gain) while attempting to hide it under two more acceptable covers....humor and the promoting of veganism.

If you struggle with seeing this (and given the cultural narratives which teach us to obfuscate and hide oppression this is entirely possible) then try this mind experiment. Instead of "gangsta rap" vernacular imagine their presentation is made in English that mimics the accent (Hollywood version) of a native Chinese speaker (think Charley Chan) or that it is presented in the (Hollywood version) accent and/or language structure of a speaker of a Native American language (think Tonto) and you will likely more clearly see the inherent racism.

You may want to choose your own minority group and substitute those characteristics in the "thug kitchen" presentations...all the while keeping in mind that this is the creation of two white people whose goal is money and neither are they contributing any of that money to worthy causes nor or they apologizing for any offense toward the cultural group from which they are appropriating. In addition...they kept their identities hidden until they appeared to be assured of a monetary gain. Hiding of this sort should be a profound marker that something nefarious is occurring.

It's important to realize that maliciousness and harmfulness will adapt itself to contemporary ways of expression. Several decades ago "humorous" racism exhibited itself via 'minstrel shows' where ostensibly "harmless" (nevertheless malicious) fun was made (for profit) of various distortions of the language and the appearance of African Americans. The characters were white people made up to be caricatures of African American people.

The thug kitchen stuff is a 21st century version of a minstrel show and is even more viciously destructive and repugnant than those minstrel shows simply because we ought to know better by now and...they're using veganism to cover up their racism. Ostensibly helping one oppressed group (non-human animals) by making fun of another harmed group is a swap the victim proposition and one that should be rejected and ostracized by everyone.

Please read the post by Pattrice Jones...she does a much more precise and eloquent and thorough job of explaining this than I can.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Legacy.

A post about obituaries over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog brought to mind something that doesn't seem to receive much attention from vegans.

Reading a fairly lengthy interview with Donald Watson (which took place when he was 92 years old) made that which came to mind seem rather more important. (a big thank you to Lee Hall who posted a link to that interview).

It is doubtful that many vegans have read that interview and that's unfortunate. I almost wish it were somehow mandatory that everyone receive a printed copy of it at the onset of their living vegan and that they then read it annually (at least) for the remainder of their lives. It's a terrific interview and I hope everyone who happens to see this will take the time to read the whole thing and maybe even print it out and go back to it occasionally. He (Mr. Watson) was quite a remarkable human animal.

Donald Watson.
In his interview he touched on the thought that seems to get way too little focus from vegans and vegan organizations and that is consideration of legacies. He, in a lovely and understated way, points out something that seems to be almost completely overlooked by those who promote the vegan lifestyle.
So, I say there’s nothing wrong with colour printing providing it doesn’t obliterate the words or make them more difficult to read, especially for older people who may, for all we know, be the very people who leave legacies to the Society. The legacies don’t come from teenagers or young people who’re struggling, day by day, to live, and pay the basic living expenses, to keep their business, and their educations, going. The legacies come from older people, not rich people, but people with no dependents, very often, who can leave thousands of pounds as a kind of blood transfusion to keep our message still available for those who are drawn to read it.
Those thoughts from him seem so plain and simple and profound. Everyone who's vegan is going to eventually die, and as my friend over at So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan noted, they'll have an obituary, in addition to a legacy, and how lovely it would be if each vegan left a message of advocacy via their obituary (in addition to directing their legacy toward furthering the spread of veganism). As she points out in her post, that obituary could: "be a testimony about what was most important to you, and an appeal for others to go vegan as well".

It is deplorable that so little attention seems to be given to how very very much we owe our sister/brother Earthlings. Think of all the slave labor we've stolen from them for thousands and thousands of years. Think of all the plowing they've done (under threat of violence) for humans, all the pulling of carts, all the carrying of humans on their backs.

This photo was taken from the internet and the human depicted is doing exactly what my Mother's father did to prepare the soil to plant the crops that he grew on his farm. He (my maternal grandfather) farmed his whole life, helped raise four children (including my Mother) on a small farm in southwestern Oklahoma. None of that way of living would have been possible without the slave labor of non-human animals. My family, it could be argued, owes its very existence to the labor of non-human slaves (not to mention the deaths and misery of those who were killed for food).  We have a debt, a phenomenal and huge owing, to those mule and oxen and horse beings who were made to live their lives expending effort for our benefit.

If you think about it...and you should...the current configuration of human societies owes their very existence to the non-human animals. Certainly my mother's family does. They could not have been able to pull that plow and prepare that soil for crops...well...maybe a little...but nothing like on the scale that allowed my grandfather to grow acres and acres of corn and cotton and whatever. That allowed them to scratch out an adequate enough livelihood to raise four children.

Saying all that to say. Everyone who's vegan should be making provision to leave their legacy to furthering veganism, to helping alleviate the suffering and captivity of non-human Earthlings. Every human animal who is vegan (and non-vegan), it could be argued, owes their life's existence to those animal slaves and those animals who were victimized for food. We took from them, against their will, their labor and their lives.

Those efforts and lives are ill-gotten gains. They didn't belong to us but we took them (or our ancestors did). We got here on their backs and over their corpses (and because of eating their corpses). Everyone reading this, if they look far enough back in their family history, will eventually reach a point where they find that the livelihood of their foremothers and forefathers depended on animal efforts and animal lives. Every single reader will, most likely, find this to be true.

That's why whatever I've accumulated during my lifetime will go toward supporting vegan rescues and/or sanctuaries and/or vegan advocacy efforts. Some small bit of that accumulation might be because of my efforts...but the unpaid owings of my ancestors easily accounts for that and by far the bulk of whatever I might have is because of the beginnings I was given from the efforts of animals who weren't human. We owe reparations to them (just as we here in the U.S. owe reparations for the stolen misery and effort and labor of human slaves)...we owe and we owe tremendously. Trying to returning some of what we've stolen isn't "charity"...it's justice...it's decency...it's the right thing to do.

Use your obituary for advocacy, bequeath your legacy for vegan advocacy and for the sanctuaries and rescues devoted to the alleviation of the suffering and killing of our sister/brother Earthlings. Because we all owe them for what is and has been stolen (by violence or threat of violence) from them. Oh, and please, as Mr. Watson suggests, don't obliterate words in your vegan literature...or make them difficult to read for us older people. Ok?

(Previous blog posts here and here reference some of the ideas that are visited in this piece.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Some observations...

Heartland Rabbit Rescue cares for over 100 rabbit beings who were either abandoned (or deliberately released) by their former caretakers. Spending several hours daily with these fur people means that I've becoming rather familiar with their personalities and their behaviors.

Frank
Here's a recent photo of me holding Frank, a long-time resident of Heartland. Frank was at Heartland when I first started volunteering so I've known him for over 5 years. He definitely did not like humans when I first started and he still isn't particularly impressed with my species but he's much less inclined to growl and slap if he's approached by two-legged folks now.

Frank was outside once right after I started volunteering and a low-flying helicopter cruised over the rescue property. Frank...who at that time really really disliked humans creeped over to position himself as close to my feet as he could get. I was a much safer (even though he thoroughly disliked me) refuge to him than whatever it was that was making all that noise up in the sky. Heck, I might even protect him. Or...at least that's my speculation about what he was thinking.

Frank also exhibits one of the most common activities of the bunnies. When their enclosure is being cleaned they will often be released to run freely around in the building where they are housed. Most of the bunnies (not all of them, but most) will, upon being given freedom to roam the whole building, immediately head toward one or more of their neighbors to settle some scores. A slapping, growling and sometimes biting spat will immediately erupt. It's one of the darndest things I've ever seen. You would think they would want to run and explore after being released from confinement to a fairly small area...nope...they want to go kick some a**. Frank particularly dislikes his neighbor Abigail who lives in the back of his area. He and Abigail have serious differences and they both, if they have the chance, will tangle.

I fantasize that they say mean things to one or fart or engage in annoying habits while they are housed next to one another and when they get the opportunity to go after whomever has offended them...well...then yeeehaaaw. I've seen this so often from so many different bunnies that I've decided that one way to make a rabbit dislike another rabbit is to house them side by side for a lengthy period of time. The odds are high that they will develop quite a dislike for each other. Not always...some buns are pretty laid back and don't do this...but the majority develop some serious antipathy for their neighbors and will get into a real spat if they get the chance.

Putting living beings in close proximity to one another (and their having no choice in the matter) almost always will result in instances of antipathy...that goes for humans and for rabbits...and I betcha it goes for chickens and ducks and cows and donkeys and and and.

Saying all this to say...it sometimes makes me want to weep to think about how thoroughly and completely we've gone about convincing ourselves that the excellent beings with whom we share this beautiful planet are "different" than us. It's one of the most incredible con jobs ever successfully undertaken. Here's a broad statement that carries more accuracy than error: All living beings are more alike than they are different. Period. And yet...we walk around in a fog of human supremacist bushwa. We are truly the delusional species.

Wake up...live vegan if you aren't...and if you are then thank you. Only delusion or profound ignorance or horrid personality issues would cause you to live any other way.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A caution and a warning...

I recently ran across a link to an article that was presented in The Guardian (a newspaper in London). The article was titled: Business and entrepreneurs seize opportunities in rise of veganism. This piece is essentially all about the growth of interest in various areas of business re the plant based foods notion.

I was made very uneasy by this because while this is a positive in one way, there is something that must be kept in mind. Business/capitalism has the very powerful ability to capture and transform all sorts of things...transforming them by subverting them from their original purpose and intent into vehicles to maximize profit. That's the core purpose of business/capitalism.

Mr. James LaVeck talks about something similar to this sort of thing in a series of videos (and an essay) that can be accessed here. While he's talking about similarities between the anti-slavery movement and veganism, he also spends some time talking about the hijacking and/or the co-opting of the vegan movement.

Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose.

One thing that rarely gets attention is that capitalism looks at everything through the prism of money/power. This means everything gets evaluated, ultimately, only in those terms. Capitalism has nothing to do with life or with ethics or justice or with the avoidance of exploitation (indeed, business/capitalism is all about exploitation) or much of anything that people genuinely value...yet...we often seem to be oblivious to this.

Veganism is all about avoiding the exploiting of others or harming of others. Business/capitalism is all about profit. They are not the same thing. While I'm not 100% sure of this, I'm pretty much convinced that a vegan world is going to require the end of the kind of thinking and behaving that drives the stuff we now call business/capitalism. A principle goal of "no exploitation or harm" must be the heart of a vegan world...not profit.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The boys...

live here for now. When we brought Gwendolyn to our home we didn't think she would soon be joined by some youngsters. Well, Heartland ended up with two babies unexpectedly and we decided that fostering these kids might be a good thing to do.
JJ and Luigi, Jr.
I have never had the opportunity to live with baby bunnies and since these two brothers were not part of a larger group birthing (they were the only two to arrive when their mom gave birth) there was an opportunity to experience baby bunnies growing into adulthood on an up close and personal basis without having to take on a group the size of a basketball or baseball team (group births of bunnies can be large...the biggest one I've seen was 11).

So, as shown in the photo above, John Fitzgerald Kozinski (on the left) and Luigi Bunzini Junior (on the right) live here now. They were born on July 24th so they are about 4 months old. JFK is called John John or JJ and LBJ is called Weegi (we thought it might be nice for them to have the initials of a couple of presidents who helped those with less power (sometimes anyway) around) for short.

They are, like all kids, full of energy and always ready to play or be cuddled. If they want to play...they want to play...and if they want to be cuddled...they want to be cuddled. In the photo above, the fellow on the right (LBJ or Weegi) is, in my wife's phrase, a bit more 'outgoing'...which means he is high energy and fairly demanding. The fellow on the left (JFK or JJ) is less so but he is a binky meister and will let you know what he wants in his less 'in your face' manner.

I wanted to see what sort of blossoming might happen if bunnies lived in a human home and had lots of attention and no trauma. These two have known nothing but kindness, acceptance, attention and encouragement from humans...and...they are a delight to experience.


Weegi and JJ.
If I sit in the floor when they are bounding around, Weegi will climb all over me, jumping over and on my legs, standing up on my arm and sniffing my neck and face. JJ is a little more sedate and calm but both, when they've burned off some energy, will flatten themselves for headrubs. Right now they really really like each other, we hope that will stay true but...just as with human animals...time brings change and they may end up not liking each other at all. If that happens, based on what's going on now...rancor will occur because JJ is sick of putting up with Weegi's intrusive pushiness. We'll just have to see how that plays out.

Watching Weegi run is sort of a hoot...he has so much long hair that he looks sort of like a dust mop with legs hopping around. While the cute factor (to humans anyway) is over the top...all that hair (on both of them) and the whiteness mean they would be immediately attacked and killed by predators if they were placed out into the world. They are doomed to dependency and while I think they are both beautiful, I really would like to grab people by the neck who "breed" our sister/brother Earthlings and talk with great intensity to them. It's a terrible thing that has been done to these boys...and we human animals owe a great price for this crime.

If ever you are feeling like you want a little excitement and energy in your life, foster or adopt some baby bunnies. Whatever it might cost you in time and attention is much more than returned in terms of smiles and large and small delights. However, be prepared, there's no way to not lose your heart to them.

Gwendolyn is not particularly happy about having two teenaged boys around so there's no mixing between the kids and the adults. She said (behaviorally) they are a pain in the butt and I don't want to deal with them. I say teenaged because baby bunnies don't stay babies long, the hormones flow fast and all kinds of behavior changes come hot and heavy. But...that's part of the charm and fun.

Live vegan, and...if you have the time, energy, affection, resources and desire...spice up your life by adopting or fostering some babies (species aside, all babies are pretty much the same in the most important ways, they all want/need attention and affection and safety...and plenty of food).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm reading...

a book titled: Witnessing Whiteness (The need to talk about race and how to do it) by Shelly Tochluk. On page xiii of the introduction to the book, she writes about something most every one who is vegan might recognize:
It is highly disconcerting and offensive to be told that you are unconscious of what influences your attitudes and beliefs about the world. The insinuation that unrecognized socialization was largely responsible for my thinking and my actions struck at the heart of my sense of individuality and freedom.

Next time you broach veganism to a non-vegan and get blasted with an inordinate amount of unexpected and bewildering anger and upset, think back to that passage above and see if it doesn't help you to comprehend what just happened.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, along with several others that I'm reading about white privilege. Another one I found is called Bootstraps (From an American Academic of Color) written by Victor Villanueva, Jr. Well, 'enjoying' is maybe a misleading term...more like excited and dismayed at the same time. As I read, I find myself asking "where have I been, why haven't I read about or been aware of these ideas before?"

There are many observations and perceptions in these works that are significant, not only in terms of the deplorable manner in which we white people in the USA have avoided coming to grips with racism but how very very similar our pretenses about 'race' are to the pretenses we've fashioned to blind ourselves to speciesism.

Human animals in the USA live in a white supremacist culture that denies it is such, just as we live in a human supremacist culture that either denies it is one or freely admits it is one and blithely asserts that that is "just the way it is and it is supposed to be that way". It most commonly asserts that human domination and/or exploitation of our sister/brother Earthlings is "natural" and "normal". The current "normal" way of dealing with speciesism is so very reminiscent of the way race was thought about (and dealt with) 200 years ago here in the US.

It's eerie and, for me anyway, more than a little stunning and scary. Look at what we've done with racism. We've essentially said that since we passed some laws about civil rights and voting then it's all taken care of. Poof. We don't have to worry about it anymore. And, I'm not letting myself off the hook here, I pretty much blundered around with some of that same attitude for some time...at least until I started serving as a liaison (for mental health services) with the American Indian Tribal unit where I worked. Then I started coming out of the culturally induced dream of "all is well". It isn't...in many ways it's worse than it was before the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Awakening from that dream prepared the way for my being able to grasp the totally disorienting movement toward veganism. I've been in a state of greater or lesser bewilderment ever since. Things are not what they seem in terms of how life is lived for non-human Earthlings nor are things what they seem for how life is lived for non-white humans (at least in the USA), just as things are not what they seem for how life is lived if you are not male. They're not what they seem for white males either but since that group (white males) don't suffer atrocities and/or horrors (beyond mental/emotional deformation) because of membership in that group...their suffering is qualitatively different from those they subjugate.

It's hard to write about this, to think about this, to feel about this...and I'm struggling to find firm ground to stand on. I do know that living as an oppressor is no good way to live nor is living as one being oppressed. We can do better than that...we must do better than that. From what I can see now, unless one is living as a vegan...then you're an oppressor. No matter if you strive to be non-racist or non-sexist or non-whatever-terrible-thing-you-try-to-avoid. You can be a sexist and a vegan or a racist and a vegan or a racist-sexist vegan...but...you can't live as a non-oppressor without living vegan. Or so it seems to me.

Being vegan doesn't mean you're not an oppressor...it just means you're trying not to oppress those who aren't members of the human species. You still benefit from the historical and current societal and institutional oppression of other animals just as (whether you're personally racist or not) you benefit from the historical and ongoing societal and institutional oppression of those who are non-white. If you're a male, even if you personally strive to be non-sexist, you benefit from historical and current societal sexism. Jeez, it makes me want to grab my head and run out in the street and start screaming. I don't know what the hell I would scream though...something incoherent and incomprehensible probably.

I'm in a state of flux now and looking back at my recent posts shows that. The flux has accelerated however over the past several months. New thinkings and ways of understanding are coming hot and heavy as of late and not much firm ground is available. One the one hand I really like it...on the other hand...it's thoroughly upsetting and disconcerting.

There is one source of solace and safety though...living vegan...that's something that seems about as hardcore OK as it gets. Whew, it's a bumpy ride, all this waking up and stuff...it's hard on us old people. Better never to have never been lulled into uncomprehending numb-nuttedness than to have to awaken from it.






Friday, November 7, 2014

Just thinking.


A recent exchange made me think about the different behaviors that we human animals exhibit towards our sister/brother Earthlings. These behaviors seem to fit into some rather easily discerned groupings. Here are five categories (and there would be some shading toward greater or lesser degrees in any category).

More thinking needs to be done, obviously the names of the groupings could easily be changed but I wanted to throw this out and see if anyone else has thought along these lines and/or your thoughts about such a grouping of behaviors. Or maybe you have some snazzier names for the groups. No research or anything has been done so there might be all sorts of stuff that's missing or redundant.

It would be fairly easy to shorthand the groups to initials (RA, N, E a or p R, EP, EA)...I'll keep thinking about names but I sort of like the exploit - restore thingee. For instance, someone who kills for "fun" (a hunter) who also supports the Sierra Club would probably be designated EaR...hmmm...an ear. I don't much think I would want to lend them mine though. The Sierra Club itself would be EpR I think and Catskill Animal Sanctuary would be RA.

The groupings are specific to behaviors only, humans obviously change their behaviors and someone could modify their behaviors say from active exploiter to active restorer...like Howard Lyman for instance. I just wanted to see if I could come up with some general groupings to help me think about how someone (or some organization) typically behaves in relation to the other Earthlings.

By the way, just to think about what percentage of U.S. citizens might fit into each of these categories, a check into charitable deductions as reported on income tax returns for recent years provides a dismal picture. Charity write-off amounts indicate that only about 2 to 3% of all charity deductions are assigned to contributions to environmental/animal welfare groups (they lump them together). Pretty sad.


Restorer – Active
: Vegans who also engage in advocacy against animal use or rescue/assistance activities for animals or the environment.

Neutral
: Vegans (avoidance of the deliberate use/exploitation of animals for food or any other purpose).

Exploiter (active or passive)Restorer: Consumers of animal products who also engage in rescue or welfare or restorative activities on behalf of animals or the environment. This would include those who limit or purposely decrease their use of animals or animal products (but who continue their use in limited amounts) and individuals or organizations who seek to prevent or ameliorate environmental destruction.

Exploiter - Passive: Consumers of animals or animal products who do not engage in activities directly harming Earthlings or the environment beyond common types of use or consumption.

Exploiter - Active: Consumers of animals who are also hunters, ranchers, slaughter-house employees, animal farmers or ranchers or employees of companies exploiting animals. This includes any environmental or Earthling damaging activity or business or promotion of such activity.

If you aren't at least Neutral (vegan), move there as quick as you can...and if you're neutral (vegan) ...think about become an active restorer. Your sister/brother Earthlings not only need us to stop harming them, they need our help too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Big Three...

excuses for animal exploitation (use of someone or something in an unjust or cruel manner, or generally as a means to one's ends) are:
  1.  Might makes right.
  2.  We have abilities they don't have.
  3.  God said to do it.

Those pretty much cover the gamut, especially if you press someone who's trying to justify it. They will usually end up at one of the three...or maybe more than one.

What's interesting is that the "big three" excuses are pretty much the same for the oppression (the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner) of any group of living beings, be they Indigenous peoples, women, a particular race, the elderly...and on and on. All the entanglements, the social issues, the confusion, the upset, the harm...all of it generally comes down to one or more of the "big three". It's actually not that complicated at all...pretty simple actually. Such simplicity driving such misery...it makes me shake my head.

The first excuse is the stance of a dweeb, the second excuse is the stance of a narcissist and the third is the stance of someone unwilling to be responsible for their own behavior...so they fob it off on an invisible power. Ascribing credence to one or more of the "big three" doesn't say much for the ascriber, eh? Also, notice how well any one of the big three fit into the logic of domination to justify moral superiority. These three are the music for that dance of destruction we are so caught up in.

I ran across mention of the "big three" in a piece written by Pattrice Jones. It contains a wealth of information...much more than I can do justice to in this entry.  I was just was struck by the "big three" and how...like some evil spell...so much horror and suffering and misery has been created and maintained by those three trivial notions. Jeez...we are a piece of work.

I love this vegan stuff, I spent decades trying to sort through and understand human behavior and social ills and thought I had figured some things out...and I had...but nothing like the clarifications that I've stumbled onto while trying to wrap my mind around why I ignored and harmed the innocent Earthlings for so long...and why others keep doing it. It's not rocket science...it's actually fairly simple stuff. But...we do a tremendous job of blinding ourselves to that simplicity.

Simplify your life, opt out of hiding behind the "big three", become an Earthling that our sister/brother Earthlings don't mind having around. Go vegan, you'll be very glad you did...and so will they.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Errata.

I screwed up and I apologize. This was brought to my attention by a gracious and valued reader (Bea Elliot) via her comment on my entry titled Ecofeminism and such. In that post I linked to a talk by Pattrice Jones. My original link led to the wrong talk by her. My serious and humble apologies.

For those who want to visit and watch the correct talk...the linking in that post has been corrected (I hope and it is also accurately linked above). If you simply want to focus on the specific part that prompted my post, you can jump to about the 25 minute mark and follow along for the next 10 minutes or so and you'll hear her speaking about the logic of domination. (the whole talk is very informative...but I focused primarily on that particular segment)

I actually don't think Pattrice Jones does such a thing as giving a "wrong" talk, what I'm meaning is that I linked to a talk she gave about rights and that talk itself is worthy of attention but...it didn't have the segment that prompted the post. Jeez...excuse me please.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Am I my brother's keeper?

When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain replied, angrily, with another question: 'Am I my brother's keeper?'. The greatest ethical philosopher of our century, Emmanuel Levinas, commented: from that angry Cain's question all immorality began. Of course I am my brother's keeper; and I am and remain a moral person as long as I do not ask for a special reason to be one. Whether I admit it or not, I am my brother's keeper because my brother's well-being depends on what I do or refrain from doing. And I am a moral person because I recognize that dependence and accept the responsibility that follows. The moment I question that dependence, and demand as Cain did to be given reasons why I should care, I renounce my responsibility and am no longer a moral self. My brother's dependence is what makes me an ethical being. Dependence and ethics stand together and fall together.    p.72, Zygmunt Bauman, The Individualized Society.
I was struck by this paragraph when reading because it brought to mind a post I recently made about something quite similar to what this author was saying. The word "brother" (excuse the sexist term, sexism...like a bad smell, takes a long time to dissipate) here is a substitute for those whom I mean when I use the words sister/brother Earthlings. Their well being depends on what we do...or refrain from doing. What makes any of us an ethical being is acceptance of that dependence. If you have to ask why you should care...well...

I only recently discovered the writings of Zygmunt Bauman and I've already ran across a number of exquisite thinkings from him. I'm also reading a book by him called Modernity and the Holocaust that is so very evocative and stimulating. Jeez, you just never know what you're going to stumble across.

As far as I can see...accepting the dependence of all sister/brother Earthlings means living vegan...so do so if you aren't...and if you are...thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ecofeminism and such.

When I was in graduate school, some of the more memorable times I had were when a bunch of grad students (and sometimes faculty) would get together at a party (while liberally using alcohol) and engage in sessions of trying out the stuff we were learning to solve all the problems of the world (obviously we failed). Bouncing ideas and concepts back and forth in such a setting was usually lots of fun as well as offering a chance to get different takes on perspectives that we were being exposed to in our classes. Looking back, those were some of the best of times that I've had. Trying out concepts on others who can give you feedback or impressions or countervailing thoughts can be lots of fun (some alcohol doesn't hurt either).

Moving into a vegan perspective has been sort of like returning to grad school, but without some of the opportunities to have sessions like I had then so I've sometimes used this blog to explore concepts. Except...it's not quite the same as a great alcohol-fueled session where everyone threw in their two-cents about Freudian repression or existential authenticity or what-not. I can't get y'all together for a session with margaritas and beer...but hey, we work with what we have, right?

I watched recently a talk given by Pattrice Jones (at a conference) and in it she made reference to something called the Logic of Domination. I was really intrigued by this, enough so that I started researching and trying to learn more about these ideas. They came from an area of philosophy called Ecofeminism. The talk is rather lengthy but here's a more concise summation...it's not exactly the same as her talk but many of the same concepts are present.

The originator of this conceptual structure is a philosophy professor named Karen J. Warren. Below is a condensed and truncated version of that which is written in more detail here. She contends there are three components to something she calls oppressive conceptual frameworks.


(1) Value-hierarchical thinking, i.e., "up-down" thinking which places higher value, status, or prestige on what is "up" and less on what is "down" and

(2) Value dualisms, i.e., disjunctive pairs in which the disjuncts (a disjunct is a separation of that which is usually considered contiguous or continuous or as part of a continuum) are seen as oppositional (rather than as complementary) and exclusive (rather than  inclusive), and which place higher value (worth, status, prestige) on one disjunct rather than the other (i.e., dualisms which give higher value or status to one over the other such as mind, reason, and male versus that which has lower or less value such as body, emotion, and female).

So…within an oppressive conceptual framework you frame things in terms of a hierarchical structure with higher/lower status associated with position in the hierarchy and think in terms of oppositional binary type terms with one term valued more highly than the other term, e.g. mind, body or reason, emotion, or male, female and then you stick those hierarchically arranged oppositional (and exclusionary) dualisms into a structure of 'reasoning' called a logic of domination.

(3) A logic of domination is a syllogistic structure of arguing/thinking which leads to rationales for subordination. For example…
 (Al) Humans do, and plants and rocks do not, have the capacity to consciously and radically chance the community in which they live.
(A2) Whatever has the capacity to consciously and radically change the community in which it lives is morally superior to whatever lacks this capacity.
(A3) Thus, humans are morally superior to plants and rocks.
(A4) For any X and Y, if X is morally superior to Y, then X is morally justified in subordinating Y.
(A5) Thus, humans are morally justified in subordinating plants and rocks.

Assertion A4 is the core of this stuff, words in red are the beings/groupings involved and the words in pinkish are the characteristics or qualities (or lack thereof) being specified. You can plug in different groups or individuals and characteristics/qualities yourself and use this structure to identify the perpetrators and victims of various dominations.

The subordinating part (A4) is where supremacies and damaging isms are justified…such as male supremacy (sexism), white supremacy (racism), human supremacy (speciesism), etc.

A conceptual framework is simply an internal way of thinking or a script that we use to arrange or structure our beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors as well as our view of ourselves and other beings and the world in which we exist. An oppressive conceptual framework then is one where the viewpoint encompasses dominance and subordination and that framework is used to explain, justify and to maintain such relationships.

Connections and Intersections.
There's something about this that is, for me anyway, extremely mind-warping. By that I mean that this way of looking at things seems to offer an incredible tool to clear up many confusions that are engendered by the way I learned to understand the world.

Most all oppressions (dominations and subordinations) are essentially the same...and the only change that happens from one to another is the identity of the victims and the identity of the perpetrators...the structure and logic are virtually identical.

The "reasoning" used to support the dominating of women, non-human Earthlings, indigenous peoples, various "races", nature and on and on is brought into clear and immediate awareness....at least it is for me. I saw it before now but this way of looking at it is wonderfully precise. This notion of an oppressive conceptual framework (and the included 'logic of domination') makes it all jump into astonishing clarity.

This approach to looking at human doings is new to me in many ways...not so new in others. A conceptual framework that isn't oppressive is something similar to the viewpoints that have accreted with me over the years as a result of wallowing around in the swamps and sloughs of human behavior and mental health.

For instance, male and female exist on a continuum, repression always creates rebellion, no one is any better or any worse than anyone else (their behaviors can be considered awful or great but not their beings), nor is anyone any stronger or weaker than anyone else, all life is related, and on and on. The previous post was very much about these same notions.

But I've never seen oppression laid out with such precision. It is all rather disorienting to me...to have things like this be so clear and apparent. I've written about similar things but never so concisely. (here and here and here)

Many of the blog entries on veganelder have been about just this sort of phenomena, the victims of oppression, the dynamics of oppression, the horrors of oppression, the damage to the victims, the damage to the oppressors, the beauty and dignity of the victims and on and on.

Veganism is about not doing oppression, it's about lives being equal in value and worth, it's about apprehending the wonder and excellence of all beings and mother Earth. Veganism is about not being a harmer and it just might be (I have lots and lots of thinking and learning to do about this) that these tools for understanding (oppressive conceptual frameworks and the logic of domination) ourselves and our behaviors are great guideposts for identifying and comprehending detours away from the vegan road and markers to let us know that we're on the path.

It's usually very easy to see when someone is being harmed or oppressed, not always but usually. However it often is much more obscure as to what's behind the harming...the why of it...the justification of it. Maybe these ideas clear some of the fog away. I'm sorta wowed by all this.