Thursday, September 20, 2007

Animal Rights and Eco Action / Environmentalism: One Cannot Exist Without the Other

A great writing. I encourage all to read it and pass it on. Really shows the true connection between the two issues.


Animal Rights - the Beating Heart of Eco Action

A Discussion on How We in the Animal Rights Movement are at the Centre of Political Change
There is an expression, though not one an Animal Rights activist would tend to use, that describes something so large as to evade notice as the “Elephant in the room.” However, there is now an issue so large, so vital, that it might be better described as the very room itself. That issue is of course Climate Change. What started as the relatively innocuous sounding Global Warming is well on the way to acquiring its more rightful status as likely Climate Catastrophe. Over the last few years this issue has gone from being the preserve of a few scientists and commentators, largely dismissed as cranks, to the front page of every newspaper and the top of most political agendas.

More importantly, this realisation has led to the flowering of a new Eco Action movement, committed to Direct Action in defence of the Earth, and against all those who put greed and material self gratification before the common interest and a sustainable future for all. This Summer saw the second annual Climate Camp take place at Heathrow airport, to protest at the exponential increase in aviation, one of the fastest growing causes of human induced Climate Change. It is absolutely vital that this grassroots movement continues to grow and to succeed. For whilst they might pay lip service to the idea of change, there is no real sign as yet of politicians having the courage necessary to take the necessary decisions.
Over the last year I have made a point of becoming more involved in this movement. For we know that even if we in Animal Rights achieve our goal of eliminating the abuse and exploitation of all Animal Lives, the onset of Climate Catastrophe will render this utterly pointless. The potential consequences of such dramatic change to the weather systems of the Earth, beggar belief. The very ability of the Planet to continue to sustain life may well be compromised.In the face of this possibility it is incumbent on those of us in the Animal Rights movement to take this on board and adapt our strategies accordingly.

It is my belief that it is not possible to separate that which is truly sustainable from that which is properly ethical. As I like to put it, there can be no Life Rights without Earth Awareness. It is possible to argue, and most politicians would, that Climate Change can be tackled without recourse to fundamental change, both in the way in which we view ourselves, and our relationship to the Earth that is home to us all. However, it is the Earth which is the only properly holistic context in which we can come to informed decisions about the way in which we should live. Politicians would argue that we can continue to found ourselves, and our aspirations, on the politics of permanent economic growth. The lie must be put to the madness of this conceit. Money has never made good motivation, and the evidence of this is now made stark for all to see. We need a new ethic on which to base our idea of what it is we are, and it is we in the Animal Rights movement who can provide that ethic.

Throughout the Summer months, and to a lesser extent the rest of the year, there are an ever increasing number of green gatherings and festivals where people from all backgrounds come together to celebrate and discuss our relationship with the Earth. Some are more overtly political than others, and as Climate Change comes to dominate our thoughts, political activism is bound to seem more relevant than celebration. So what is it that links celebration with political activism, be it Eco Action or Animal Rights? What is it also that is the single most important change an individual can make to their lives in order to reduce their carbon footprint? It is to be Vegan, and it is this which is the indissoluble link between Animal Rights and Eco Action.
For those in the Animal Rights movement it is pretty much unthinkable to be deeply concerned with the equality of all Lives, and yet to kill and eat other animals. Granted, vegetarianism is often a stepping stone on the way to being Vegan, but Vegan is where most people end up as the only rational, reasonable and responsible choice. It is the only ethical way. For those in the Eco Action movement, to be Vegan is coming to be seen as the only sustainable way, given the effect it has on one’s carbon footprint. All food at this year’s Climate Camp was Vegan, as it is at most green or Eco gatherings. So it is that to be ethical is to be sustainable, and to be sustainable is to be ethical. As I presume that all of us who wish to see an ethical and sustainable future believe that it is better to be kind than to be cruel, we are, from our differing starting points, coming to the same conclusions and heading toward the same position. That position must be that it is wrong to exploit any Life, human or otherwise.

Although it would now seem that the many and disparate groups and individuals involved in Eco Action or Animal Rights are, in effect, fighting the same fight, that is not yet the way it appears to those we oppose. To them we either seem, or can be portrayed as, a collection of minor, single issue groups, easily dismissed as anything from cranks to crazed extremists. I know this to be a matter of much frustration and annoyance to the many good and decent people acting in defence of the Earth and all life. I would like to suggest that there is something that we can do about this, which will immeasurably increase our influence, without losing the intensity that a small but committed group can bring to a particular issue.

Why is it that the state so dislikes those groups and individuals who make up the Animal Rights movement, and is now showing the same reaction toward Climate Change campaigners? Why is it that the state brings so many resources to bear against us, and is even prepared to compromise its stated, if not realised, democratic ideals, in order to silence us? Could it just be that in their quieter moments or at least somewhere in their being, that they fear us? Not because we pose a physical threat to them, (after all it is they who are the people of violence, not us, it is they who have the guns and the bombs, and who do not shirk from using them), but because they know that we are right! And in being right we threaten not just their power and wealth, but their very idea of who they are.

Without compromising the integrity of these groups, or of those who prefer to work as individuals, I do feel that we need to operate under a collective, recognisable banner. I say this whilst realising that it is already happening in all except name, and has been for some time. For instance, as someone who has centered themselves in the Animal Rights movement, I chose to work under the banner of Earth First! a name more associated with Eco Action. Earth First! is an idea not an organisation. As such it is available to all of us working toward ethical and sustainable living in whatever field. Evidence of how the movement is operating under this banner can be seen from the self posting website Earth First! Action Reports. This website is ever more widely used by both Eco Action and Animal Rights groups to post details of Actions or for information purposes. I feel it would help to raise the profile and effectiveness of all that we do, to use the Earth First! Name in conjunction with whatever other names we are already using. After all, what better expresses our ethos than to state that what we do, is not done for ourselves, but for the Earth and all Lives. However we choose to operate, as individuals we are all Earth Firsters!

As a visible and tangible demonstration of how Eco Action and Animal Rights are coming together as an Earth First! Movement, the following suggestion has been made. For organisational purposes, the Climate Camp, both in its planning and for the actual event, is made up of a number of neighbourhoods representing different regions. Animal Rights, however, in its various groups and individuals, is a nationwide movement. We feel, therefore that it would show our understanding of the vital importance of Eco Action, and our solidarity with those already involved, to have an Animal Rights neighbourhood at next year’s Climate Camp. Having met a number of people involved in the planning and implementation of this year’s Camp, I am hoping to put forward this suggestion as soon as appropriate, and to help with the necessary planning. In this way, it will become increasingly obvious to those in power who seek only to protect vested financial interest, no matter what the real cost, that they are facing serious opposition. Cogent, coherent and organised opposition working, by way of consensus based non hierarchical systems, toward properly ethical and truly sustainable solutions to the problems we face. We who have decided to care, who have chosen to change, will not sit idly back and watch the Earth and all life being ground into money. As a movement our numbers will grow, and so must the Actions that we take. The future depends on it.
Written by Matt Clowes

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