July 27th, 2014


My paper, Utopian Visions and Pragmatic Politics: Challenging the Foundations of Speciesism and Misothery, was published in Animal Rights: The Changing Debate edited by Robert Garner (Macmillan, 1996).

Eventually animal advocates must realize that success in the animal advocacy movement is not a question of deciding which is a more effective vehicle for change: a national society or a local organization. They are both essential. Success is not a question of competition between national organizations and grass-roots groups. Each has a responsibility to help the other. Nor is success a question of whether incremental measures that improve the welfare of animals are inimical to the preferred goal of abolition based on the rights of animals. No one has ever proven that a small step obviates a larger one. Success in animal rights is, however, a question of the mind-numbing quantities of individual animals whose suffering cries out to those who hear them. In order to hear those cries more clearly, animal advocates must reject the artificial constructions and selfishness that divide their movement. They must unite around a long-term strategy that balances our utopian vision with pragmatic politics.

Animal Rights HarnackMy article, The Animal Rights Movement Must Be Politically Pragmatic from The Animals’ Agenda magazine was included in Animal Rights Opposing Viewpointsedited by Andrew Harnack (Greenhaven, 1996).

There are two fundamentally important challenges which we face individually as animal advocates and collectively as the animal rights movement. Our ability to respond to these challenges will inevitably determine whether we are successful in confronting the cultural, political and scientific assumptions of speciesism on which animal exploitation is predicated.

The first challenge is learning how to balance the utopian vision of animal liberation with the pragmatic politics of animal advocacy. When I say the utopian vision of animal liberation I refer to our cherished ideals of a world where human and nonhuman animals can peacefully coexist together. When I say the pragmatic politics of animal advocacy I refer to the reality of the world in which we live and the day-to-day experiences we encounter which shape our opinions on what it is possible to achieve for animals.

The second fundamental challenge that we face is learning how to construct a united and professional animal rights movement that balances the utopian vision of animal liberation with the pragmatic politics of animal advocacy.

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?My article, A Personal Overview of Direct Action in the United Kingdom and the United States, appeared in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?edited by Steven Best and Anthony Nocella (Lantern, 2004).

With respect to violence against humans, animals, and inanimate property as a strategy and tactic in the animal rights movement, I conclude that all acts of violence toward humans and animals as well as the vast majority of acts of violence toward property are incompatible with the four core values in animal advocacy of truth, ahimsa/nonviolence, compassion, and interbeing. […] Clearly, what is incompatible with the four core values of animal advocacy is gratuitous violence, including graffiti, wanton property destruction or vandalism, and home demonstrations. Compatible with the four core values of animal advocacy is a statement explaining why such action was taken and urging the owners, management, and workers of the business or institution to end their practices of animal exploitaiton and explaining why such action will benefit humans and animals.


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