Monday, November 19, 2007


Wearing a 'Vegan You Can't Get Greener' T-shirt Heather Mills as the face of animal charity VIVA! said yesterday that "The startling truth is that animals farmed for meat and dairy are now one of the greatest threats to the planet." This is essentially a spin on a earlier fallacy in which VIVA! stated that meat causes starvation. (See the article, Meat, Money and Malnutrition, from the March 2005 Socialist Standard. )

To use a phrase from the charity's latest campaign, Socialists would say that this group as well as the meat and dairy consuming "environmentalists" they are addressing 'haven't got a leg to stand on' when their green reformism is examined. Indeed, Socialists have since the 19th century been warning of the dire effects of capitalist production (see an earlier post from this blog, "Too late" to stop global catastrophe? ).

What is essentially missing from Viva's analysis and that of other Greens is even the most basic understanding the way capitalism works. We would echo today what was pointed out buy William Morris as long ago as 1886:

“a man can hardly be a sound Socialist who puts forward vegetarianism as a solution of the difficulties between labour and capital, as some people do” (Commonweal, 25 September 1886).



Dan_Mims said...

This post is rife with generalities, unsubstantiated assertions, and a clear bias. Completely worthless.

Unknown said...

This post is incoherent, basically substanceless allegation, and lacking in any argument. A realistic socialist movement (and Greens are much more realistic than this blogger, since they take larger, contextual issues into account in their analysis of capitalist modes of production) cannot but conclude that the people would be better served if there weren't the large-scale waste and environmental degradation inherent in industrial animal exploitation.

Hopefully, as in Europe, the Reds and the Greens can come together. This reactionary post is a step in the wrong direction.

ajohnstone said...

i think the point being made is to highlight the failings of sentimentalism being offered as solutions to inherent flaws within capitalism , ( forgetting for the moment , of course , when the forests were hacked down by neolithic man ) . Too often ecological collapse is blamd on the individual and that it is the conversion of individuals which will solve the enviromental disasters . We posit that it is only when the individual takes a over view of the world and understands where the solutions lie will he/she be able to change the world .

"let us not flatter ourselves overmuch for our human victories over nature. For every such victory it takes its revenge on us... At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people" - Frederick Engels

cliff said...

It is your reasoning that is flawed and fallacious.

The meat consumption that provides the economic incentive for ruling governments to deprive their starving population access to their own domestic resources is just as responsible for this starvation as the rulers who profit from it. You're trying too hard to twist this information to sound more relevant to your own interests.

Yes, the underlying economic and political system is one of the main reasons that this abuse exists. But you are completely wrong to imply that animal agriculture doesn't directly cause both starvation and environmental devastation. It does. Economic doctrine merely plays a supporting role.

hallblithe said...

Hi Cliff,

What is the purpose of production under capitalism? Is it to meet needs? No, clearly not. Food is not produced to be eaten! Houses are not constructed for people to live in! Production for profit rather than meeting needs is why people starve to death unnecessarily and why we have the ever present problem of homelessness. The same logic tells us that competition in capitalism can lead to war and, for example, pollution. One further example. With regard to food production, do you suppose for one minute that if the world turned its back on meat and embraced vegetarianism that this would end starvation? No! The starving would continue to die outside warehouses full of grain or alongside fields where crops have been deliberately destroyed, all because such people do not constitute a market.

Yours for a world of free access,

Robert Stafford