Solidarity with Animals Statement
As part of Arika’s beliefs we want to extend solidarity to animals – namely furred and hooved creatures, insects, birds, fish and other all living creatures. It is interesting to reflect upon the statement: “Those most directly affected by specific oppressions are those best placed to develop methods to overcome it” in the context of animal liberation. In some ways this is true – animals have instinctive pathways and profound healing abilities that extend beyond the boundaries of the self. For example, when wolves were returned to Yellowstone national park in the US – having previously been hunted to death by white settlers – their presence brought about many beneficial changes. Beavers have returned and willow, songbird and fish populations increased. If animals are given sufficient space and scope their determination to survive, live and adapt is tenacious. Yet at the same time in relation to human’s technological and societal might animals are rendered powerless, vulnerable and subjected to exploitation, torture, abuse and genocide. Some people active in the animal liberation movement speak of being “a voice for the voiceless” and – complex though this is – there seems to be merit in this statement.
The question of how to bring about a world where humans do not inflict suffering upon animals and how this is achievable in relation to our plethora of different human cultures is complex. Arika are motivated by love and respect for all animals. Recognising that humans too are animals, we know that our wellbeing and very survival are inextricably bound up together. Without proscribing what exact forms animal liberation would comprise, we advocate recognition of the following:
- Animals are our kin.
- Animals and humans share one world. We have evolved together. Animals are the larger part of this environment. Animals can live without us, but we cannot live without animals.
- How a human society relates to and treats animals is indicative of the core values and nature of that society.
- All animals feel physical pain and experience emotions.
- Animals, of all sorts, have intelligence and insight from which humans can learn.
- The bondage (and arguable enslavement) of animals predates history, is common to but yet far from universal to human cultures, and is an aspect of human societal development that it would behove us to examine honestly.
- The development of capitalism has been and remains dependent upon the exploitation of animals.
- Various human societies have had and continue to have very different attitudes and approaches to their relationship with animals.
- The forms of the animals liberation movement that have manifested in the global north whilst characterised by bravery and insightful analysis have also been beset by sentimentality, racism, cultural arrogance and neo-colonial outlooks.
- Indigenous people hold multiple perspectives on interrelationship with animals, emergent from a multiplicity of worldviews. Indigenous peoples and people from the global south have generated much insight, analysis and good practice around animal liberation. The process for non-indigenous people to gain insight into these perspectives is ongoing and requires care and respect.
- The scale of avoidable animal suffering brought about by humans is stupefying.
- We are experiencing extinction of animal species and loss of species diversity at an unprecedented rate.
- The consumption of animals (mammals, birds, fish etc.) for food by humans is a key contributor to catastrophic climate change.
- Indigenous people’s hunting practices are not an underlying cause of either species extinction or climate change but, in fact, if managed intelligently by the people’s concerned contribute to a sustainable environment for all.
- Respect for the territorial and political autonomy of indigenous peoples and their traditional hunting and/or husbandry practices is key to animal liberation.
- There are a variety of traditional cultural practices (of people who would not be classed as indigenous) that involve complex interrelationships between animal husbandry, land alteration and/or stewardship (e.g. through forestry, grazing practices etc.) meat consumption, ultilisation of animal body parts etc. and the current demands of capitalism. To determine how to best move forward and end any animal abuse that exists in such contexts is not straightforward and will involve collective discussion and negotiation.
- Denigrating, binary and utilitarian philosophical approaches to animal lives lie deep and little examined in the cultures of the global north.
- Immediate emergency measures are necessary to prevent mass species extinction.
We recognise that the following reforms would reduce suffering and save lives:
- Immediate emergency measures to prevent mass species extinction.
- Immediate ban on all trade involving endangered species, both land and marine, with heavy (but appropriate) penalties for any breaking it
- A true global commitment to minimising the process of climate change as a matter of collective urgency
- A huge reduction or almost entire elimination of meat consumption on a global level
- The adoption of humane best practices in farming involving animals.
- Maintenance and protection of all existing marine protection areas, national parks, SSSI’s, designated protected zones, UNESCO designated Natural World Heritage sites etc.
- Expansion of natural environments that are protected from damage and exploitation
- An end to pollution of our environment by plastics, dioxins, radiation, heavy metals, genetically modified crops, long-life pesticides, unnecessary artificial fertilisers etc.
- Ensure access to clean potable water for all animals
- Recognition of the particular role the global north and our neo-colonial power plays in animal abuse, meat consumption and climate change
- An immediate end to the use of animals in all scientific testing. (There are alternatives involving safe and consensual human participation)
- An immediate end to all imprisonment of animals that could be successfully returned to the wild
- An immediate end to the use of animals in circuses, bull-fighting, sea- parks, dog and horseracing, zoos and other forms of live entertainment that involve suffering
- An immediate cessation to the use of animal labour in war zones
- Increased legal and/or financial penalties and/or consequences for animal abuse
- Increased funding and support to legal bodies and NGO’s investigating and prosecuting animal abuse
- The creation of public and intimate forums to explore, mourn, discuss, consider, celebrate, repent, express and heal our personal and collective relationships with animals
- Exploration, for example, of the question – if animals are sentient and sentient beings who have been oppressed by another group deserve reparations then what reparations are due to animals everywhere?
- Intelligent exploration on a societal level of the variety of factors that lead to abuse of animals with the aim of breaking the cycle of violence.
- The inclusion of honest and respectful depictions and documentation of animals in school curriculums and other educational settings
- Prioritisation of the aim to provide all necessary medical treatment to domesticated animals everywhere
- Increased material support for animal sanctuaries and rehoming projects
- Prioritisation of the adoption of abandoned companion animals, as opposed to the continued breeding of more
- A ban on breeding practices that involve the development and/or maintenance of congenital health problems
- Introduction of humane spaying/neutering programmes where appropriate
- Public education and support programmes that teach effective non-violent training/behavioural interaction techniques for domestic animals
The above listed reforms are both critical and yet inherently limited in nature. We are clear that for full liberation of animals to come about change on a profound, revolutionary, level is necessary. For such changes to occur would entail the end of white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy. This would involve collective re-organisation of society on a mass level and equitable redistribution of resources and decision-making powers.
The process of struggling for these changes – both long term and immediate – is complex and takes place in challenging circumstances. We recognise that we are all potentially able to develop effective strategies and guiding visions around the eradication of animal oppression. Our intent is always to be especially mindful of the approaches and ideas recommended by indigenous people. However the process of ending the denigration of animals (recognising that the current pass we are at has been a long time in the making) and creating a world where respect for the autonomy and wellbeing of animals is honoured is inherently a matter of collective responsibility, to which we can all directly contribute.