Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Intellectual Black Holes at the Forefront of American Radicalism

I picked up a copy of the Summer 2014 issue of Resistance Ecology the other day and I was very impressed with some of the content (namely "Capitalism, Veganism and the Animal Industrial Complex" and "With Love & Rage"), and the very nice cover design/art and layout too.  It also brought up some things I keep coming across that frustrate me though, that I felt would be good to get off my chest (and may be valued by others), specifically three ways "American" activism is stuck intellectually in ways that are major obstacles to any viable/true liberation movement actually gaining ground.  So here they are:

1)  As if solution oriented debate and action were following an exponential curve that never actually crosses the line to freedom, I have consistently observed the shying away from (or knee-jerk reaction against) suggesting any real specific solutions (like say a couple acres of cost/tax-free sovereign land being a birthright of every individual), so much so that they are rejected a priori/outright, based on the belief that "there is no one way."   So, by trying to avoid some totalitarian/imperialist/colonialist/capitalist bad idea that was seen as the one way by ignorant people in the past, sound conclusive ecological/holistic ideas that are introduced, which have none of those negative attributes, are still rejected in favor of further/perpetual "dialogue."   This leads me to point two.

2)  Inclusive/open conversation/debate is crucial of course, but when it becomes the god of the radical community, worshiped above all else, it's just another brick in the wall, or I should say it is the wall.  If people aren't willing or able to make crucial truth, rationality, and ethics their main concern, focusing on real solutions rather than just more ultimately inconsequential activist news and tangential ramblings, we will just continue to have a radical community that has meeting after meeting, article after article, unproductive action after action, while the ecological/social/health crisis worsens even more, and a dystopic nightmare becomes more the reality. 

Thankfully there has been growing recognition of the simple fact that if we are going to disconnect from destructive social-systems of slavery (and thereby stop funding them via taxes and consumerism), we necessarily must connect with the Earth (and each other) in a more direct, natural, sustainable, self/community-sufficient and unobstructed way (ideally via communities of sovereign veganic homesteads in my opinion).  Yet, frustrating to see and hear, is another thing so many activists seem caught in, going around and around like motorcycles in a small metal sphere at a circus, the common "Yes, but we're on stolen land."  This simplistic statement makes no distinction between those that actually did the killing and stealing and those who were/are peaceful migrants and their respective ancestors (oftentimes wrongly amalgamated into the terms "settler" or "invader," with its supposed inherent ubiquitous cultural/behavioral trappings), nor what actually comprises actual invasion and stealing of land and what does not, i.e. what distinguishes natural/legitimate/cooperative e/immigration of humans on the Earth compared with violent colonial conquest.   There is no distinction made between aggressive and non-aggressive action!  That's a huge oversight!  And because these important details are not sorted out, the very much needed back-to-the-land movement (incorporating the non-aggression principle and universal individual sovereignty) becomes incapacitated by a sort of radical version of political correctness, coupled with irrational "white guilt" (and blame).  The clear solution of everyone (of course including people of indigenous ancestry) having their sovereignty and birthright to a fair share of land & water recognized and respected is lost in race/collectivist-minded conversations that go absolutely nowhere.  They go nowhere because they are based on a false premise, namely that women & men are not actually individuals; individuals cannot be accurately or fairly judged as some collective entity. (Yes of course privilege exists, and racism against Native peoples and "people of color" still exists, but to treat all peaceful people of European ancestry as if they are white devils who don't also deserve sovereignty and their birthright is just exercising the very evil that is being deplored.)   "We don't want to repeat the model of colonialism/genocide/white supremacy that led us to the current situation."   Of course!  Can we please move forward from that ultra-obvious and basic lets-not-be-like-Columbus ethic?  Ironically, by getting stuck on such a basic ethic (that should be part & parcel to any mind that isn't completely delusional), to the point where those espousing it seem more interested in repeating the "decolonize" mantra rather than discerning whether offered solutions are in actual violation of being violent/oppressive or not, it becomes an extremely unethical subterfuge because it actually stands in the way of some rational consensus toward building a just society.

Speaking of racist arguments against racism, the same psychological dynamic is at play with insubstantial justifications for the mass enslavement and murder of animals, i.e. if people say they have the right to do so for no other reason than tradition (hunting which may be more a post-colonial tradition than was prior, due to forced/genocidal displacement from a single-area land-based lifestyle), then that is clearly an expression of a dominator mindset toward animals (a.k.a. speciesism), no matter what "honoring" is said to be exercised.  Hence my third example of a critical issue that the radical community is unproductively caught in like an intellectual black hole, and what it takes to get out of it:

3) Here is the clarity needed in the animal vs. human rights/liberation debate (which also misses the reality that the two are actually intertwined and codependent): The truth is if you don't care about animals being physically/emotionally tortured and killed for absolutely no good reason then you are being less compassionate than those who do care about it.  Enough with the denial around that obvious fact; veganism is a necessary component of an ethically consistent liberation philosophy and action strategy.  To say vegans "shouldn't be so judgmental" is absurd, all activism is founded on judging some things as better than others.   African slavery was rightly judged wrong by abolitionists, and just like vegan abolitionists today, they were ridiculed by their morally lacking counterparts with nonsensical quasi-intellectual rubbish.  New-age style "Don't judge" b.s. that has seeped into radical theory/rationalizations is of no use or value whatsoever; of course we should be sure our judgment is sound, and be understanding and forgiving, recognizing our own imperfections and that the truth is gradually learned by all of us, but that doesn't mean that having selective judgment, as if it matters who is murdering and enslaving other sentient beings unnecessarily, actually holds up to rational moral scrutiny.  To make this even more clear: if you can purchase or grow plant foods (like hempseed) for your survival, but choose not to simply because of personal tastes (of food and lifestyle), that is not a morally strong/valid position.  And those who do make the more compassionate choice don't deserve any ridicule for doing so or for advocating that choice.


Well I'm sure some will just spin off of these points into irrational/untrue/unethical reactions, as is so common (e.g. "The use of terms "abolition" or "abolitionist" by vegans creates the perception that we live in a post-racial, post-colonial, or post-patriarchal society and that these struggles are now just distant memories to be utilized as analogies for the only "real" oppression that is left--the oppression of animals."), but off-target accusations/assumptions like that aside, I hope a few might see and act on the truth of what I've shared here.  With consensus on the necessity of individual sovereignty with corresponding sovereign land, and the un-necessity/wrongness of murdering and enslaving animals, we can actually move forward on solid philosophical/ethical ground against (or more rightly, out of) this slave-system/machine of degradation, destruction, exploitation and oppression we live within, namely by establishing new veganic autonomous zone coalitions of women and men of all backgrounds (e.g. taking Occupy Your Homes to the level of communities of autonomous homes, and rhizome-like autonomous cultivation/occupation by mutually supporting individuals of un/misused land like massive cattle ranches), united together against all forms of aggression and slavery.