We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.
–William Ralph Inge, Outspoken Essays, 1922
Enlightened as he was, even Inge’s thinking was tainted by the toxin of ego. Who are we human animals (whose collective knowledge of our own capacity to think, learn, and know is still significantly limited), to presume to know that non-human animals do not conceptualize a Devil of sorts? And whether they are able to conjure such a mental abstraction or not is ultimately irrelevant. Objectively speaking, we human animals ARE Devils toward our non-human counterparts, whether they perceive us to be or not.
That’s right. We’re all wearing Prada. Whether we’ve winnowed our wardrobe down to a couple of items or are still amongst those who don the apparel of speciesism with the pride of a redneck whose just beaten “his woman” back into submission, we’re all complicit in the systemic infliction of cruelty, oppression, torture, and murder upon our non-human animal brethren.
As Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote, “As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.”
“Might is right” has been a staple of our repugnant reign over this planet throughout the history of human “civilization,” a mode of existence which is so severely malformed that anarcho-primitivists like Derrick Jensen have concluded that the only cure for this cancer upon the Earth is to blow up and start over.
Self-delusional and mentally masturbatory as it may be, we human animals invest insane amounts of energy into maintaining our perverse illusion that we are separate from the “natural world” and possess an omnipotence that enables us to bend the forces of nature to our wills.
Aside from the pragmatic concern that in so doing we’re fouling our nest so badly that we’re eventually going to be smothered by our own sh*t, there is a moral component to consider as well. As luminaries like Inge and Singer have reminded us, our heinous and reprehensible collective actions towards non-human animals readily invite and substantiate comparisons between us and Nazis or the Devil.
We mercilessly and thoughtlessly abuse, exploit, and slaughter commodified non-human animals simply to amplify our personal pleasure and fatten our wallets. Despite the slow and choppy moral progress we’ve made in how we treat our fellow human animals, we are still acculturated to view non-human animals as enslaved property or lesser beings, unworthy of the basic rights to life, freedom, and protection from torture.
Occasionally, “civilized people” stumble upon an undercover PETA video that exposes factory farms for the Auschwitzes they are, cringe in horror, and decry the shocking cruelty. Yet an hour later many of those same “born again empathizers” have no problem grabbing a burger from McMurderers, the principal catalyst for the emergence of the factory farm system.
As utilitarian social reformer Jeremy Bentham once stated, “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’”
Consider just a few of the atrocities many of us commit (with our collective approval and in response to our economic demands) against non-human animals on a daily basis, resulting in abject suffering for billions of animals each year:
Chickens are debeaked sans anesthesia and penned for life in battery cages so small they can’t spread their wings or turn around.
Once those same chickens have exhausted their egg-laying capacities, their throats are slashed. Those that haven’t already bled to death are boiled alive in the scalding tanks used for feather removal. Ultimately, fried chunks of their carcasses make their way into our greedy little mouths via systemic torturers like Kentucky Fried Cruelty.
Pigs, creatures more intelligent than dogs (yet not fortunate enough to have gained the favor or the “lords and masters of the Earth” like their canine counterparts), face miserable “lives” in confinements so tiny that they go insane to the extent that their flesh farming executioners pull or blunt their teeth—without anesthesia of course. After all, it would be tragic for the mass-murdering torturers if they lost profit because pigs they caused to be deranged were able to harm one another via biting. In a twisted way, one could even argue that they are humanitarians for protecting their insane porcine “property” from themselves.