Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why History Matters...

is the name of a book I'm reading and in it I ran across something that struck me. Here the author is writing about desiring social change that is in the service of equality and justice. 

“....social change implicitly demands an end to ideologies of hierarchy, such as racism and sexism. Without the abolition of sexism, none of the other hierarchical concepts and systems can be successfully ended. No matter how changed economic and social relations may became, as long as sexism constantly re-creates the inequality in the family and in the consciousness of men and women, hierarchy will be reborn......

…...the goals of feminism cannot be achieved without a vast cultural revolution, involving every institution of society, in particular, the family. The magnitude of the social change needed presupposes the diffusion of the forces of change into every aspect of society. No other oppressed group except women is so located as to be able to effect such changes.” 
pg 109 Why History Matters, Gerda Lerner.

She goes on to point out why women aren't in the same relationship to those who dominate them as are other groups. Women are too numerous and widely distributed to be wiped out or ghettoized and because of their intimate connections with the group members of those who dominate (fathers, brothers, sons, husbands) women can't use violence to reach their emancipation. She argues they must use tactics of social pressure and persuasion that result in a new consciousness in men and women....not an overthrowing but a transformation.

Reviewing what she argues makes it readily apparent that speciesism must be included in the idea of re-creating hierarchies. If we view other living beings as unequal then the idea of hierarchy will forever persist. In fact, if you think about it, devaluing other species and/or members of other species makes inequality among our own species almost guaranteed. Because that devaluing of beings who differ from ourselves teaches us that "difference" implies unequal which then can be used to identify human animals belonging to groups ripe for oppression because they are not our equals. 

Difference is easy to identify between species...there is a major training ground for viewing different as being not equal...not equal meaning it is ok to oppress or harm because of their "differentness". Speciesism then is part and parcel of the "original sin" that leads to the notion that some living beings can be conceived of hierarchically and that such conceptualization is acceptable.

Or so it seems to me. Obviously, the only way you or I can participate in bringing about the transformation needed is by living vegan. There's where it all starts.


Bea Elliott said...

It's so true that "othering" is the prime motivator for all injustices. As if being different always means being inferior. And those with one leg up, external sexual anatomy, or opposable thumbs, are then granted authority to do the most heinous acts. How smugly those "on top" claim... "I am better, so I can do worse".

You're so right that the key to end the oppression of all is a "harm none", vegan ideology. Sadly even those groups with the most to gain from a re-think of power and domination, also are the ones hesitant to relinquish control over "lower" species. Human supremacy - A cunning trap that ensnares us all. I am soooo ready for a new consciousness!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. And an excellent and insightful comment it is, too. The trap sure seems potent doesn't it? I just finished a biography of Rod Serling written by his daughter. In it she noted that Mr. Serling had thought that prejudice and racism was the central evil of his time. Well, speciesism and all that it spawns is seemingly the central evil of all time. And a trap that apparently ensnared such a sensitive and compassionate man as Mr. Serling, since he didn't (as far as I know) live vegan.

I'm ready for a new consciousness too.

Have Gone Vegan said...

Whoa, I didn't realize I was THIS far behind, snort.

Yep, without an end to speciesism, sexism, racism and all other isms will continue to thrive. But I sometimes fear that we'll be living in an ism world until the human species ends up destroying itself, and unfortunately, the planet along with it.

That biography sounds interesting. I just started Season 2 of The Twilight Zone, and am quite certain Rod Serling would be vegan if he were alive today. Pity he died so young -- he was one talented dude!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. Mr. Serling would have been a very interesting person to have known. I too suspect he would have apprehended the vegan message.