For many Anarchists, reform is a bad word. Thou shalt not speak of change, but rather building anew. For a minority, destroying capitalism is literal, not figurative. Though I am not one to judge fellow radicals, I have evolved in my critique of “what is” and have refined my rhetoric.
There is no community without people. And most people like to do the right thing, the right way. The safe way. I recognize that reality. And have embraced it. So instead of empty rhetoric like “fuck the police”, “tear down the walls” and “eat the rich”, I have started to think and promote idealism in terms that society will get behind and support.
So in my search for issues to support, I decided to settle on one that is close to my heart. An issue I support passively and in my day-to-day life. An issue that has been made popular by celebrities and ex-Presidents alike. An issue that hits greedy corporations in their pocketbooks and forces them to adapt with consumer demand. And if you know me, you know I speak of the “V” word. I speak of veganism.
I once lived in a collective house where one roomie posted up a propaganda poster that spoke about animal liberation activists whose goal was to free animals from bondage. The poster compared the enslavement of animals to the enslavement of humans in early U.S. history. To an ethical vegan, that makes perfect sense. But another roommate was offended by the comparison of black slaves to animals and took the poster down.
In order to promote true veganism, where abstinence from consuming animal products is just as important as rejection of cosmetics and clothing made from animal by-products, you have to see all animals, whether human or non-human, as one and the same. An injury to one, is an injury to all. And to me, the exploitation of humans, is no different from the exploitation of animals.
Promoting veganism has been made easy by recent research which shows that the livestock industry, and the process of storing animals, transporting them and their eventual conversion from living things to food and clothing for humans, contributes far more to the destruction of the environment and global warming than all fossil fuel machines and vehicles combined. Massive strides in food technology has produced faux meats that look, feel and taste like their animal counterparts. Have you tried vegan jerky? Non-dairy cheese and cheesecake alike sweeten the deal.
Promoting compassion towards all animals, human and non, is a formerly radical message, now a part of mainstream dialogue. What was once a topic of discussion in leftist squats, is now talked about at the Wall Street firm’s water cooler. Did you know that fast food chain Chipotle recently introduced a vegan topping for their burritos ?
Not recognizing the power of reformist tools to further radical ideas is foolhardy. Burning a police van in Taksim Square makes a great AP photo, but it doesn’t say anything to the masses. I don’t consider myself a pacifist because I recognize that certain situations call for certain tactics. But beware, what may make perfect sense to you, is alien to the homemaker in Missouri.
Building a movement isn’t easy. For instance, if it wasn’t for the sustained, and collaborative, efforts of radicals, libertarians, apolitical farmers and non-profits, we would never have seen the governor of a state sign a GMO-labeling bill into law.
So the next time you decide to show up to the planning meeting for a badass action, think about those who aren’t present there. And then draft an action which will translate to the people and not just your ragtag, trust fund leftists.