On Species-ism

A defining trope with Vegan ideology is that we, all animals, are equal, at least in the right to live if not on other grounds. Failing to acknowledge this fundamental assertion of Vegan values is called by Vegans “species-ism”, riding on the general notion of discrimination amongst different groups of human beings based on non-intrinsic factors: skin colour (racism), gender (sexism), etc..

We need to understand these concepts more deeply to understand what they mean; let us take racism and sexism as our examples. In both cases genetic differences (either of skin colour or of gender) are used as a means to discriminate capability. A man with white skin is intellectually superior both to a man with say black skin, or a woman with any coloured skin. While racism generally applies from one apparently dominant group over subservient group(s), sexism is an almost universal characteristic of human societies.

The general physical differences (height, strength, stamina, etc) between men and women have been used by men to impose superiority over women in all fields of life: intelligence, political acumen, etc. Just as some current social status (white European technological supremacy in recent centuries) has been used to impose (presume) superiority over other human groups with different coloured skin, religions, cultures. There are always exceptions, some grudging acknowledgement of capability: “she is my better half”, “black men have better rhythm, are more athletic”, “asian men are not very sporty, but are smart”, etc, ad nauseum.

The social movements of the last couple of centuries have rebelled against this, pointing out, time and time again, that all of these characteristics are skin deep, “even” people with severe physical disabilities can be just as high-functioning in certain areas as “normal” people, those with mental disabilities are not “inferior”; rather there is a spectrum of human capability and behaviour. Our basic rights as individual human beings within the broader community of humanity are not to be defined by such superficial characteristics as race, gender, physicality, etc…, but are to be seen as based on a common foundation of equality of rights. We slowly, hopefully irrevocable move towards celebrating and embracing our diversity from this basis.

The key factor with this of course is that this is all about us: how we relate, as human beings, to each other. The essential, irrevocable, point here is the notion that any human has the same basic rights as any other human beings. And in recent years we seek to enshrine these rights, to describe them, with the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Taking this concept across species, to imply any equivalence, is to denigrate those efforts, to undermine the basic premise and is an appalling and typically naive application of values in a grasping void of values that characterises Vegan ideology.

As we saw with PETA, their basic notion is an equivalence of rights between all animals, and further impose a “do onto others…” ideology to apply across all of our interactions. If we are all animals, if we are all equal, then shouldn’t we expect to live within the same framework of rights? When a lion chases a gazelle to kill it, the gazelle does not want to be killed. Is the lion acknowledging the gazelle’s right to live? No, it is hungry, and it puts its need to survive, by hunting its prey, killing and eating it. When a wolf kills a coyote, it is not killing it for food, it is killing it to lessen competition, and as we saw with the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park, this continues to lead to a profound and beneficial improvement in that park.

In these cases, and this is true throughout nature, the natural act of killing, of animals taking the lives of other animals, is a fundamental characteristic of our world, a defining characteristic of the species within it. But, to deprive one of ones life, is an act of profound inequality and injustice; it is a statement of power, predator and prey. Life does not conform to the values espoused by Vegans, and if it were, it would extinguish itself in far surer terms than any action of mans’.

The natural world places no intrinsic value on the right of one animal to live over the other. The natural world places no intrinsic prohibition of an animal to kill another. Life, death, killing, survival, these are all basic features of the organic world within which we live. In all cases there is no distinction made about the right to kill, or the right to survive, rather it is all about whether one can kill, or one can survive.

Animals will eat and kill plants, plants on rare occasions eat animals. Animals eat other animals. Any life form will use anything it can to gain energy, sustenance, to survive. This is the natural world.

With the entire panoply of nature before us, we can categorically say that there is nothing unnatural in taking life, and if we want to place an ethical dimension to this, we are therefore forced to conclude there is nothing unethical or immoral about the taking of life. Neither is there anything unethical in wanting to preserve one’s life; just as in the taking do we see the running of the lion, in the preserving we see the running of the deer.

Vegan ideology asserts that human beings act in a species discriminating way by using, by killing animals. It fails to deal with the fact that animals kill animals, not as a by-product, but as a defining feature of the natural world. Vegan ideology asserts that “we are all alike” – the “P” in Peta explicitly states we “are all People”. Are human beings not a part of the natural world, are we not, by this reasoning, to be thought of, all of us, as equal? If so, as animals take the lives of others, why is it unethical for a human to take the life of an animal? If not, then are not all animals, the entirety of nature, unethical?

Thus, the claim of “species-ism” is as absurd as as it is insulting to the vast social struggles we have engaged with in recent times to define and assert a fundamental set of rights for any and all human beings.

Return to: Veganism, An Unnatural Ideology

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