Monday, October 8, 2012

Francionist Means Are Inconsistent with the End of Maximally Negating Violence

Gary Francione states, in a blog entry on "Means and Ends" for October 6, 2012, that some activists indicate that there is no real difference between:

  1. Those who say we ought to abolish animal use, rejecting "happy" exploitation but campaigning for veganism, and
  2. Ones who say that they wish to abolish animal use and the means is "happy" exploitation and animal welfare regulation.
(Notice how, quite ridiculously, he does not include the promotion of veganism in the second option, as if only he does that.) Of course there is a difference. But the biggest difference of all that he never touches on is the difference between how he characterizes incrementalism versus what I would argue is its best version. The best version:
  • does not agree that exploitation could ever be fully “happy”
  • does not say that the means to abolishing animal exploitation is animal welfare laws.
I have repeated the latter point so often and it is spelled out so clearly in “Animal Rights Law” that I will not much repeat myself here. Anti-cruelty laws contain no abolitionist language, so how could they “cause” abolition? And no one says they do. Francione is boxing with his own shadow here. Now what do you think of someone who always misrepresents the other side, even though he has been corrected ad nauseum only because he persists in this misrepresentation or straw man argument? (A straw man argument attacks a false and weak version of what an opponent says, leaving their best arguments untouched.) What do you think of such outrageous behaviour that goes totally against non-violent discussion, seemingly deliberately distorting the opponents' arguments as a matter of routine?

In addition, my side is not less – but far more - implementing of vegan, abolitionist, anti-exploitation education as our own means to abolishing speciesism. Millions or perhaps billions of people have been exposed to PETA’s vegan campaigns, or their slogan that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or exploit for entertainment. But let’s face reality here, hardly anyone has heard of Francione and his crowd by comparison. He is marginal in contrast to PETA. Yet he acts as if he is the only one advocating an end to speciesism. He tries to create this impression by not giving our side any credit at all for that kind of campaigning. Even though we do far more of it. Gee, now, what should we make of that? As I have explained before too, veganism is a moral baseline for my side, and we also are far more successful in ridding the world of animal product consumption through our incrementalist approach.

Then Francione switches gears from misrepresenting the incrementalists. Oh, sorry. He switches gears as to the particular way in which he misrepresents the incrementalists. He says that there is a difference between someone who advocates world peace and non-violent dealings as a way of getting to peace, and someone who says they want world peace but advocates the use of war to get to the state of peace. Yes, there is a difference there too. Please wait just a little bit to see how Francione abuses this distinction that everyone agrees to.

He asserts that we are not here contemplating questions of “mere strategy” but that moral questions are involved too. He enjoins us to agree that our means must be consistent with our ends. I could not agree more with the last two statements. If our end is non-violence, then it is wholly consistent with that end either to see that absolute non-violence is realized if that is possible, or if violence is inevitable, then to negate violence as much as possible. I have shown how the incrementalist strategy uses this principle of non-violent approximation – approximating non-violence as much as can be when its absolute form is unattainable. That is because effective anti-cruelty laws clearly lessen violence in the world, whereas the Francionist do-nothing approach to legislation allows far more violence to persist and proliferate. So my means are consistent with my end: they negate violence. It is the Francionists who are not consistent with this end of non-violence, because they allow far more of it to exist.

The comparison of animal rights incrementalists to those who are willing to go to war to get to peace implies that people such as myself advocate violence. That is totally insulting, false, and misleading. How is it “violent” to ask for a reduction in violence? The Francionists not only permit more violence – which could be a passive allowance - but actively campaign to leave factory farming legislatively intact as one example. Now that is exercising violent agency in the name of so-called “non-violence”. It is violent to block effective and radical reduction in violence. Similarly, it is violent of "enablers" of domestic abuse of children to turn a blind eye or to defend the abuser. Francionists are "abuse enablers" of a different sort, enabling animal cruelty by trying to stall or negate the fight against it. And getting rid of factory farming like Sweden did negates monstrously cruel – Holocaustian - forms of violence. Make no mistake about it.

Why would Francione think that incrementalists are “violent”? Does he think that anti-cruelty laws “reinforce” speciesism, as he has often said in the past? How does it make speciesism more powerful if we remove key components of it such as gross cruelty? Francionists leaving this cruelty intact is rather what reinforces actual speciesism, empowering it more than ever. And leaving factory farming alone conduces towards a more cruel society that is less inclined to take animals’ interests seriously, and therefore will not treat animal rights respect for interests with full gravity.

Does he think that incrementalists “approve” of speciesism by advocating anti-cruelty laws? That is again false. Animal rights incrementalists approve of anti-cruelty laws relieving speciesism. But they disapprove of the ongoing speciesism of, say, animal agriculture that is obviously not abolished due to anti-cruelty laws. And the latter persists only in spite of incrementalist demands which PETA overtly makes, not because of anything that PETA advocates. It is other people who effectively insist on speciesist practices. So parts of anti-cruelty laws I approve, and other parts I disapprove. Do the Francionists think that one cannot both approve and disapprove different aspects of the same thing at the same time? Has there never been a political party one approves of in some respects but not others? Should child discipline be approached with the simplistic attitude that one either entirely approves or entirely diapproves of a given child’s conduct? This is nonsense. When we minimize violence, we approve of the reduction in violence, not the part that remains due to others who are violent. Still, animal laws may be overall accepted by incrementalists just because they have the approvable overall goal of minimizing violence. They are not permanently approved but only as a temporary solution, until full anti-speciesism can be enacted.

Rather, one could argue that doing nothing by way of law reform constitutes tacit approval for what is going on, or rather that there is no difference in behaviour between those who tacitly approve and the Francionists. I do not say the Francionists approve of speciesism though, only that again they defend the cruel status quo in effect, which is what those who approve of all animal exploitation want. (And that the anti-incrementalists approve of speciesism perhaps if we use the Francionist nonsensical standards for deciding who approves of what.) Oh, no, I stand corrected by myself. They not only resemble those who happen to approve of speciesism in terms of what results, but go out of their way to preserve the legislative status quo by aggressively defending against these vital anti-cruelty changes.

The Francionists crow about means to ends, but they in effect defend the speciesist means of factory farming against anti-cruelty initiatives, thus vigorously helping the “animal industrialists” to keep going some of the most cruel means ever devised. And as I indicated last blog entry, I honour all sentient beings as "ends in themselves" (to use Immanuel Kant's immortal phrase), whereas the Francionists treat contemporary animals under the law as mere means. They ask: "What good is my helping you going to do for my goal of total abolition of animals' property status?" As I illuminated last time, that is a utilitarian regard for animals more than a truly animal rights respect for them. It also uses animals as a mere means to say, as he does, that animal welfare laws promote complacency among citizens. This claim clearly implies that keeping conditions legally cruel would prevent complacency. Such a contention constitutes treating animals as a mere means to the end of anti-complacency as well, not just as means to the end of abolishing speciesism as noted previously. Animal rights dignifies all individuals as much as possible, contrary to his indignant defence of indignity for the billions of satanically tormented animals. To understand Francionism is to see clearly what is wrong with it. To think it is "all right" is to fail to grasp either it or its implications. Fully to refute Francionist pro-cruelty - in effect - is to expose its hyperbolic hypocrisy. Francione has said his Abolitionist Approach website is the go-to place for information about his approach. Actually, my own site not only outlines a better abolitionist strategy, but shows how his relies on falsehoods, fallacies, and is morally destructive.

Yet despite the fact that the incrementalists do not deal in violence, Francione goes on to compare people who just want anti-cruelty laws – and anti-speciesism and non-violence as much as possible - to Joseph Stalin and his waging of wars of imperial aggression. That is just an ugly smear on Francione’s part. But if he is saying that he is a pacifist like Gandhi, then I will indeed gladly part company with Francione once again. It did not negate violence as much as possible when American Quakers did not physically resist attacks by some natives who developed a hatred for so-called “white” people in vicious and genocidal wars over lands. (The aboriginals’ fury against so-termed “caucasian” people was at least understandable.) It would not have minimized - but rather entrenched - violence if the Nazis were not physically fought. Yet Gandhi explicitly demanded that the Nazis not be physically resisted in a famous letter to the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, written during the Second World War. Francione is a Jain, but a great many Jains agree, in principle, not only to forceful defence of the innocent, but also defensive wars. They – Jain householders and not monks that is - even enlist to fight in defensive wars as common practice. The Jains also use a variation of the “lesser of evils” argument. If people did not fight the Nazis, then Francione would not have the freedom to type away, trying desperately to protect animals from – yes – anti-cruelty laws.


A Selection of Related Articles

Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.

go there

Short version of "Animal Rights Law".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".

go there

A Selection of Related Blog Entries

Anti-Cruelty Laws and Non-Violent Approximation

Use Not Treatment: Francione’s Cracked Nutshell

Francione Flees Debate with Me Again, Runs into the “Animal Jury”

The False Dilemma: Veganizing versus Legalizing

Veganism as a Baseline for Animal Rights: Two Different Senses

Francione's Three Feeble Critiques of My Views

Startling Decline in Meat Consumption Proves Francionists Are Wrong Once Again!

The Greatness of the Great Ape Project under Attack!

Francione Totally Misinterprets Singer

Francione's Animal Rights Theory

Francione on Unnecessary Suffering

My Appearance on AR Zone

D-Day for Francionists

Sztybel versus Francione on Animals' Property Status

The Red Carpet

Playing into the Hands of Animal Exploiters

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Francione's Mighty Boomerang

Dr. David Sztybel Home Page

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