Marxist Animalism?

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Spikymike
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May 25 2020 12:42
Marxist Animalism?

A surprisingly interesting discussion on this spgb forum amongst themselves with socialist vegetarian, vegan and meat eaters arguing out the issues in relation to practice in capitalism and a future socialism worth a read here:
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/topic/marxist-animalism

mollymew
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May 27 2020 19:36

The title of this post had me going for awhile. I'm somewhat disappointed that it doesn't involve a group of Marxists dancing naked around a totem in the shape of Karl's penis and hoping to invoke his spirit. Now 'that' would have been interesting.

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Reddebrek
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May 27 2020 19:49

Marxist-Animalism you say?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m1VsFOUePw

zugzwang
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May 27 2020 20:37

I'm pretty sure Marx would object to his name being used to describe Stalinist russia, and fwiw Orwell equates socialism to nationalization in "Lion and the Unicorn":

Quote:
Socialism is usually defined as “common ownership of the means of production”. Crudely: the State, representing the whole nation, owns everything, and everyone is a State employee. This does not mean that people are stripped of private possessions such as clothes and furniture, but it does mean that all productive goods, such as land, mines, ships and machinery, are the property of the State. The State is the sole large-scale producer. It is not certain that Socialism is in all ways superior to capitalism, but it is certain that, unlike capitalism, it can solve the problems of production and consumption. At normal times a capitalist economy can never consume all that it produces, so that there is always a wasted surplus (wheat burned in furnaces, herrings dumped back into the sea, etc., etc.) and always unemployment. In time of war, on the other hand, it has difficulty in producing all that it needs, because nothing is produced unless someone sees his way to making a profit out of it. In a Socialist economy these problems do not exist. The State simply calculates what goods will be needed and does its best to produce them. Production is only limited by the amount of labour and raw materials. Money, for internal purposes, ceases to be a mysterious all-powerful thing and becomes a sort of coupon or ration-ticket, issued in sufficient quantities to buy up such consumption goods as may be available at the moment.

However, it has become clear in the last few years that “common ownership of the means of production” is not in itself a sufficient definition of Socialism. One must also add the following: approximate equality of incomes (it need be no more than approximate), political democracy, and abolition of all hereditary privilege, especially in education. These are simply the necessary safeguards against the reappearance of a class-system. Centralized ownership has very little meaning unless the mass of the people are living roughly upon an equal level, and have some kind of control over the government. “The State” may come to mean no more than a self-elected political party, and oligarchy and privilege can return, based on power rather than on money.

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Reddebrek
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May 27 2020 20:53

Sorry, are you just trying to start an argument or did you really not realise that was a joke?

ajjohnstone
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May 28 2020 00:48

"...a group of Marxists dancing naked around a totem in the shape of Karl's penis and hoping to invoke his spirit. Now 'that' would have been interesting."

smile

Spikymike
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Jun 24 2020 10:28

Yes an odd title and my brief further explanation of the content got stuck with the admins, but thought the substantive issues which are commonly discussed on this site even if past 'veg's versus meat-eaters' battles have disappeared recently might reignite interest.
Edit: Noticed that the spgb discussion site has a huge 783 posts under this heading plus 837 under the 'Coronavirus' heading with an overlap between the 2 that may well be justified. Gets us into the whole arena of thoughtful debate about the connection between our personal behaviour today and our vision of a potential future libertarian communist society, including what compromises we choose or are forced to make. A good deal of that between just a handful of their own members including our very own ajj poster on this site. PS: Noticed that at a recent meal I had with a group of friendly Leftcoms I was the only meat eater!

Spikymike
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Aug 15 2020 15:45

I'm adding this link here:
https://letsgetrooted.wordpress.com/2020/08/15/the-daily-grind-corona-th...
cos if libcom readers were interested that particular item they would find much more posted up by ajj on the spgb discussion thread I linked to that is still growing in it's useful related coverage and which the opening title of this thread does not maybe otherwise inspire.

ajjohnstone
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Aug 16 2020 02:29

My take on things is that we cannot pre-determine the diets of those who will be living in a socialist society. Nor is it my attention to guilt-trip meat-eaters because some have chosen to become vegetarian or vegan. The Middle Way for now. A flexitarian diet, where existing tastes and existing cultural foods adapt but don't disappear

It is easy to say that without the mass advertising, without the need for possessions for some sort of statement on status to strengthen personal esteem, conspicuous consumption will disappear and the level we consume individually will drop but will our addiction (and i believe in many cases it is an actual physical addiction) for particular foods also change.

Another important overlooked aspect is the health and safety of those workers who have to undertake the terrible work of preparing meat for our tables. It is not without severe mental and psychological effects upon their personalities that they can perform the task of slaughtering and butchering. No one can be immune to the pain and suffering that goes on in an abattoir. There is a good reason that employers can only find only the desperate and most vulnerable of people to hire such as migrant labour. When offered a choice, not many if any, view the job as desirable and would continue if they had other alternatives.

Then there is the pet industry, just as pet-shops, circuses and zoos eventually became recognised as places of potential animal abuse, soon it will be pet ownership, that has despicable puppy-farming, not to mention its own ecological destruction as mining for cat-litter clay. In the UK, i have been to vets with more sophisticated equipment than many clinics i have seen in Asia.

My theory was that it was the start of animal insurance, following the dental insurance model, that created a boom in medical treatments for animals. In my youth, a vet would tell you, better to put the animal down because of the cost, but now if you are insured, they offer advanced treatment and it all comes at a higher price if you don't have that insurance ( just a pet complaint - pun intended).

Spikymike
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Nov 21 2020 13:17

So thanks mostly to ajj this spgb discussion still rolling on and clocking up 866 posts so far.
I was reminded of the much earlier and extensive discussions on libcom around the pamphlet 'Beasts of Burden' and the contribution amongst others of Gilles Dauve here:
https://libcom.org/library/letter-on-animal-liberation-gilles-dauve

ajjohnstone
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Nov 22 2020 02:59

Sadly, Spikey, many members despite the increasing studies confirming that meat-eating levels must be drastically reduced for several reasons, not merely humanitarian anti-cruelty but for ecological sustainability and now also to avert zoonoses virus threats, are happy to leave the consensus as in favour of a more flexitarian diet developing but will decline to publicly advocate for such.

It reminds me of the early religious debates...how many socialist parties declared belief in superstition as private personal opinions and the SPGB stood out as one organisation that insisted religion was a social question.

No, don't get me wrong, i'm not for a moment suggesting that a qualification for membership is denouncing eating meat, just as we declined to endorse prohibition and condemn strong drink although many were indeed non-drinkers. But those in the SPGB did relate how drunkenness was one of the ills of capitalism that would disappear when the need for alcohol to escape capitalism disappeared just as we view the consolation in religion withering away.

It seems coming out strongly against a meat-eating culture is seen by some members as distancing us from the majority population and being associated with the deep-green abstinence and austere activists and losing potential popularity...as if...

I'll plug away reminding that we have to always connect any socialist vision with reality facing society...and that we are what we eat...

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Red Marriott
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Nov 22 2020 14:10
ajj wrote:
But those in the SPGB did relate how drunkenness was one of the ills of capitalism that would disappear when the need for alcohol to escape capitalism disappeared just as we view the consolation in religion withering away.

I don't see that as a fair comparison. Alcohol use pre-dates capitalism and would surely post-date it too. People don't drink - or otherwise alter their mental state - only to escape capitalism or other miseries. It's sometimes done as a joyous celebratory social act. Getting pissed can be fun. As your mentor Marx would surely agree; http://libcom.org/history/marx-piss-london-pub-crawl-karl-marx-late-1850...

ajjohnstone
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Nov 22 2020 22:31

Red, You have a point and as a tippler myself, i won't disagree with the cultural relevance and the social gathering aspect of public houses.

But my point was aimed at the ravages of the social problem of alcohol which arose from the industrial revolution and the ascent of capitalism. We see it the drawings of the gin dens by William Hogarth.

The early socialist movement was perhaps more abstentious and puritanical regards drink and just as likely as the Salvation Army to point the finger at the influence of being under the influence.

According to Bakunin there are but three ways for people to escape their wretched lot. The first is via the wine-shop, the second is the path of the temple; but the third is by way of the social revolution.

“People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy."

But to keep on topic I'm a pet-owner, but it doesn't mean i cannot recognise the anti-social aspects of owning pets and the commercial profiteering from its industry. I have seen vets with more elaborate and sophisticated diagnostic and treatment equipment that some hospitals in parts of the world.

But again i have to qualify that i'm not intending to shame those who rather leave money to cat charities than to give to orphans and the needy.