We are a movement being pacified with veganism and potlucks. Yes, it is important to embrace a lifestyle that rejects death for sustenance and encourages camaraderie. We do need at least that, but we also need more. We need total liberation.
Animal liberation will only come with total liberation. Until there is total liberation we will live in a world of inequality, in which those in power will seek out ways to confine and control the masses. Sexism and racism and ageism and disablism and heterosexism and nationalism, or any other form of disadvantage or abuse targeted at populations because they are different from those in power, must always be rejected. We must keep our eyes on animal liberation, running toward it full force, using our fists to push back any other inequality that rears its head. For any inequality is a roadblock if we are to have a world of liberation. We must make community organizers, feminists, anti-racists, anarchists, and anyone working for social justice our comrade. We must hold their hands, and not grasp their oppressions as a tool to forward our own goals. We must acknowledge that total liberation will only come if we absolutely believe in liberation for everyone; even when that means relinquishing some of our own advantage and comfort.
We must not be satisfied with constructed truths or half measures. Bigger cages save no one and lengthen the route to change; they institutionalize our claims within the very systems of exploitation that generate and justify the abuses, inequalities, injustices, mass genocide, and torture to which we are opposed. Liberation, once institutionalized and embraced by these systems, is nothing more than welfare at its best and rhetoric at its worst. We must not concede to accept less for other animals than what we would want for ourselves. When we turn our attention to bigger cages rather than empty cages, we are gluing shut the locks of the oppressed, not of the oppressors, and we keep the concept of animal imprisonment and ownership intact.
When we persist in the struggle for liberation there is nothing to fear and everything to hope for. Yes, it is true, authorities repress us and will continue to do so. Their repression is a sign of their fear. Their fear is a token of hope. It means we are effective and now is the time to push forward not to shirk in fear. Do not hide, or cower, or silence yourself on their behalf. Do not stay locked inside your home because you fear they will lock you behind their bars if you step out and speak up. Do not cage yourself like they have caged the animals. Be free, and in your moments of freedom, lend your voice to the dogs and cats and bunnies being killed in shelters, the cows and pigs and sheep and goats and chickens and turkeys living the most painful lives and meeting the most violent deaths so that their bodies can be rendered into “food,” the elephants and tigers and bears who are beat until they perform tricks, the monkeys and cats and dogs and mice and rats and bunnies and guinea pigs and fish and alligators tormented daily in Frankensteinish experiments that help no one and solve nothing.
We have an obligation. As those who recognize the insanity inherent in the way that billions of animals are tortured and murdered, we must do something about it. The thing we must do is to fight for total liberation. We must never compromise ourselves or our goals. Our potlucks and our veganism should not be all that defines us. We should define ourselves by the work we do to free others. Veganism should be the foundation upon which we build our work for total liberation. Potlucks should be where we rejuvenate, take in love from our community to strengthen ourselves, and build unity in our fight against oppression. Each of us must cultivate the talents we have and the skills we’ve learned so that we can better fight for animals. We must be honest about our own capacities and aptitudes to decide how best we can help. We must also acknowledge that different people can help in different ways, allowing us to stand in awe and support, not in judgment, of those who fight this battle from a different vantage point.
The world is a tragic place these days. Environmental devastation, human atrocities, and individual acts of hatred and violence abound. We can give up all hope in this context or we can fight for change. Yes, we will make mistakes and yes, sometimes, we will fail. But we need to try. When we give up the fight for total liberation, when we are pacified with lifestyle choices and potlucks, our silence casts a vote in support of oppression.
*Courtesy of Vegina.