We asked Filip, guitarist of the czech-swedish vegan anarchist band Avvika, about the ethical frames of vegan intersectionality and how to politically navigate veganism as an activist praxis and tool for liberation. In the lyrics of their song “Eternal Treblinka” Avvika speak about the correlation of totalitarian genocide and the taboo of speciesism as the totalitarian zoocide rooted in the epistemics of human hierarchical “objectivity”.
Filip: Personally, veganism is an important commitment in my life. I am happy every time I see new people turning vegan and honestly a bit sad when people turning back to this way of living. As well, people like to say that “it’s everyone’s choice”, but is it everyone’s choice to have a slave or beat their wife? I will still be on the side of the oppressed rather than fully respect the choice of somebody taking control over someone elses life. Yes, it might sound overexaggerated, but that’s a problem of those who read it, not mine. That’s the whole problem coming from speciesism – to see some beings as “just” animals and peoples choices as a principle with higher value.
Though, I find veganism as a path rather than a solution. It’s a choice how to live in the place and the time I/we live in. For me it’s a way, not a goal at all. It’s the least, the most passive act and basic ground of what each of us can do or choose. It’s just a start within the long run for animal liberation. I consider human beings as animals too, so for me it goes hand in hand with anarchist revolution, whatever that means. Veganism is also an act of solidarity.
Veganism got a bit trendy in some circles, which I can’t say I am a big fan of. I think, that to realize something shall come through (self) education or more sources of information rather than from fashion. Because what happens is that people quickly become vegans without really knowing why and then they conclude that it doesn’t make any sense to them, so they stop. But still I obviously welcome this trend much more than if it was trendy wearing fur, or go hunting, you know.
I think it is a mistake to think that nowadays you can boycott anything by just choosing a different product. Let me show some examples of what I mean: Most known vegan milk companies are owned by the biggest dairy corporations of the world. I heard there is some (anti)social media page called something like “compassion pizza” and there is list of places where you can get pizza with vegan cheese. These sellers never wanted to make a vegan restaurant or even don’t care, they just realized that they can sell a bit more if they include vegan cheese to the menu, so “compassion blog” actually made free advertisement to all the restaurants which mostly profit from selling meat and dairy products. That’s what I find dangerous about this trend.
Many people think that the choice of vegan cheese and soy cappuccino makes some change. All the food industry is a greedy monster (actually not just the food one, any industry is evil to all life). And especially so called green capitalism is a great example of how this system takes whatever comes from people who have some potential to question or critique inequalities and power structures. The system takes it, absorbs it, turns it into some product and sells it back to you. That’s why capitalism is more efficient than any dictatorships. It makes almost everything possible if you can afford it and people believe that that’s the freedom, just to get higher in this competition to be able to pay for it. It’s „democracy“ when you can have nearly everything if you have enough money, and it’s even easier if you are white and “at best” male. Then you have an „equal way“ to power.
That’s not freedom! We live in a „man made hell“!
We created a mantra which is now much bigger than us, than any each of us. The most of people’s values and relationships are capitalist ones; to see something or somebody else valuable according their social status or profit potential. The animal industry with vivisection is just a peak of insanity and ignorance of this society. And it is a big example. I don’t believe in liberty and harmony within capitalism. Capitalism with it’s own stupidity like economical competition, global “free” markets, the prison system, national states, police and more and more … . All of that is not gonna change by buying vegan coffee. That’s why I wouldn’t call veganism (without anticapitalist critique) as ethical.
I see the way to animal liberation through abolishing thedomestication of animals (including us people). Domestication by work, money, industry, church, alcohol, social (gender, sexual) norms, etc. All of it just creates an alienation. Yes, I know that many could oppose these opinions and say that people with these ideas can just move to the forest and shut up. But I am talking about abolishing domestication, not hiding from it. Last, but not least, in a region where I am from, or even country (probably like in the most of Europe) there is not much natural (not man-made) forest which is not considered as private or state property where one could stay and live wildly without further repressions anyway.
We have to strike back, not hide or escape!
No one is free, untill all are free.
GO VEGAN! GO FURTHER!
Avvika – Eternal Treblinka
You can find an explanation of this song here. Here are the Czech and Swedish translations of the lyrics.
The beginning of Genesis says that God created man in order to give him dominion over fish and fowl and all the creatures. Of course, Genesis was written by a man, not a horse. There is no certainty, that God actually did grant man dominion over other creatures.
What seems more likely, in fact, is that man invented God to sanctify the dominion that he had usurped for himself over the cow and the horse, over the pig and the bird. Yes, the right to kill an animal is the only thing that all mankind can agree upon, even during the bloodiest of wars.
We have been at war with the other creatures of this earth ever since the first human hunter set forth with spear into the primeval forest. Human imperialism has everywhere enslaved, oppressed, murdered, and mutilated the animal peoples.
All around us lie the slave camps we have built for our fellow creatures, factory farms and laboratories, Dachaus and Buchenwalds for the conquered species.
We slaughter animals for our food, force them to perform silly trics for our entertainment and delectation, gun them down and stick hooks in them in the name of sport. We have torn up the wild places where once they made their homes.
Speciesism is more deeply entrenched within us even than sexism, and that is deep enough.
The most calamitous and fragile of all creatures is man, and yet the most arrogant. Is it possible to imagine anything so ridiculous as that this pitiful, miserable creature, who is not even master of himself, should call itself master and lord of the universe?
The domestication of women followed the initiations of animal keeping, and it was then that men began to control womens reproductive capacity, enforcing chastity and sexual repression.
A greedy monster devouring with a thousand mouths.
The spirit of Capitalism made flesh.
European explorers and colonists, who at home abused, slaughtered, and ate animals to a degree unmatched in human history up to that time, sailed forth to other parts of the world representatives of a religious culture that was as theologically arrogant and violence-justifiying as any the world had ever seen.
In the made-for-TV culture the only addmitted genocide is now part of history. “It’s comforting – it’s over”.
But aren’t the Auschwitzes of today animal farms, transports, laboratories and slaughter houses that are so carefully hidden from view? Where the most defenseless of the world’s victims are merely seen as material.
Nowhere is patriarchy’s iron fist as naked as in the opression of animals, which serves as the model and training ground for all other forms of opression.
Sight, sound and smell. Death on monumental scale.
No one wants to hear it, no one wants to see.
All unseen and unheeded, this horrible crime is
buried out of sight, wiped out of memory.
…thou shalt not be a perpetrator; thou shalt not be a victim; thou shalt not be a bystander. …”If learned throughout society, those three commandments could help people see that choices we make determine the extent to which we are perpetrators, victims, or bystanders in a society that has long been carrying out a holocaust against animals and other beings and ecosystems while declining to recognize it as a holocaust.”
“the point of understanding the Holocaust in Europe is to prevent and halt other ones, not to remain narrowly focused on that particular one, traumatic though it was.”
Credits: from S/T 12″, released26 February 2014