"the freedom of all is essential to my freedom"

human and animal liberation

Posts Tagged ‘green

Building Alternatives

with one comment

As residents of the western world we often complain about working conditions and low salaries. However, in comparison with the residents of developing countries, and especially China, our situation is a whole lot better. Don’t get me wrong here, we are also slaves of global capitalism, the slaves of our employers, banks and we are fine as long as we play to their rules. Every day we meet with negative issues such as abuse of power, consumerism, or unemployment, crimes and corruption too. And obviously in the Western world, there are many things that should be changed as soon as possible.

But in many ways the face of globalization with whom we deal is milder than the one which face workers from other countries. Mass production is operating for us – the West. And they produce because we consume and we never have enough. So in many cases, we make use of other people’s murderous work for our conformity. A new iPad for example. Last (and next), corporate affair perfectly illustrates what mass production is based on, and in what way corporations earn their millions. That’s not all, we may blame those awful corporations once again, we can blame the Chinese politicians. Together we can admit, it’s terrible that the desperate workers are not allowed to commit suicide! Or that they are forced to massive overtime and are banned from talking and are made to stand up for their 12-Hour Shifts. The problem is that soon after we will express our indignation we log on to Facebook using our iPhone. Guess where your iPhone was produced? This does not mean that we are evil people though. We were taught we need more stuff that we really need. But look where it led us.

BOYCOTT

So people say, Ok, let’s boycott Apple products straight away! But I partly agree here with Noam Chomsky who said: “If only a few people do it, it isn’t going to have any effect – it just means that some guy picking bananas in East Costa Rica isn’t going to have money to feed his children tomorrow” and also “So there might be particular moment when a boycott of something would be helpful. But as general matter, I don’t think they really make a lot of sense frankly. I mean, suppose we got millions of people to stop buying: what would happen? The economic system barely functions as it is – I mean, the contemporary economic system is a complete catastrophe (…) So you know they maybe worthwhile as a tactic at some point, but what’s really required is just a complete of rethinking of the entire nature of economic interactions and structures – there really is no other way to overcome this massive failure of the economy”. Another thing is how many products we use every day were not made in China? Two? So yes, boycott sounds good, quick response to injustice. But the results do not meet expectations. We need to change the entire system, not one company. The problem is not just Apple and Foxconn. The problem is the whole globalization, based on exploitation and false premises. So we need to start to build new solutions, rather than focus all attention on the politics of protest. Protest is important, but it rarely brings a radical change.

BUILDING ALTERNATIVES

Fortunately after years of struggle with globalization, it seems, that many of the activists comes to the point where you realize, that the only way to end exploitation, poverty and abuse is to build a self-governing society, based on the local economy. But what does it really mean? Well, for example, that rather than to import apples from China, you better grow them in a village 10 km from your city. Why do you buy apples from China, since you can have it locally? Without pesticides and transport issue which pollutes the environment. I mean if we pollute the environment we also pollute ourselves. People must finally understand that. And I think that in this direction we must go. Want an iPhone? Produce it locally. Just follow the principles. Don’t destroy the environment and don’t hurt others for your own interests. You are not able to produce it locally? Ask if you really need it. And if so, then buy elsewhere and make sure that its manufacturers were well rewarded. Sure, I know it’s easy to say and I do realize this requires a redefinition of the whole system of thinking. But at the end of day what’s left? 12 hours shifts for €5.20 or 30 year mortgages to own a house?

Localization can result in reducing power of multinational capital while increasing the strength of local societies. Local communities very rarely want to hurt themselves. Therefore, the proposed solutions are based on ethics. Nobody wants to drink contaminated water, no one wants to be poor and exploited. So we have a whole package of ideas: community banks, local economy, green energy, self-organized businesses, support groups, etc. For big business it has no meaning. They just want profit. For the community it is the basis of sustainability. For the community it does matter are people happy.

Finally there’s an old saying: if you want to get something done, do it yourself. This works not only in the micro level but also in the macro scale. Do you want a better life? Start to build it with others. No one can do this for you. No government or company. And you won’t be able to do it on your own. But there’s a great group of others who look for change, who seek values in their lives and communities. Whether you’re in Canada or in Chile start building alternatives. This is the best way to oppose the policies of inequality and lack of ethics.

Advertisements

Written by Kruk

May 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Healthy but not ethical?

leave a comment »

Recently, I noticed the growing number of people switching to a vegan diet or interested in that diet. Though I’m unable to say whether it’s just my experience or if it’s a general trend. But surely we are dealing with the growing amounts of local green businesses, mainly focused on the sale of natural food. And these new stores enhance interest in organic food and healthy life style.

Apparently it would seem that everything is heading in the right direction. We see the growing awareness of people who are looking for new healthy options, we see some signs of a return to the support of local producers and local community values (localization instead of globalization)​​. Thanks to the work of many activists mass production and the supermarkets lose customers who learned more about them. So where’s the problem? The thing lies in the fact that we need something more, we need a change of attitude, which is still highly conformist or consumer. In large part this is seen in the example of animals, which continue to be defined objectively.

Business comes first

On one hand, health food stores appeal to the values ​​such as Fair Trade, while advocating for compassion, on the other hand it doesn’t bother them to sell products based on suffering. It is true that meat, dairy and eggs they sell are organic, but the researches revealed the word “organic” often means nothing. So it often happens that buying free range eggs or organic milk we buy organic feel, but for animals it doesn’t change the thing. It is difficult to expect that the people leading such shops don’t know about it, when at the same time they’re giving an animal-friendly impression through the range of vegan products which they offer.

Why is there such inconsistency? Well, in a capitalist system animals are defined as “property”. This leads to a situation in which many people conducting the so-called ethical and green businesses remain opposed to the interests of animals for their own interests. I suppose that, apart from economic factors, many of them simply don’t care about animal welfare and treat animals as inferior species, which we have the right to kill. Of course, only if we’re talking about killing a cow or a pig, not their beloved home pets.

So at the end of day there’s a moral problem. While we wishing to support local economy to make social change, at the same time we are forced to support the holocaust of animals.

Also aside from the issue of animal rights it is worth noting that frequently we can see Fair Trade products and those imported from China or other countries where workers rights are violated on the same shelves. Therefore, the question of ethics is extremely important here.

Wanna be healthy not ethical

On the other side we have the phenomenon which perfectly illustrates the conformist attitude among many people using vegan diet. It always surprises how many people are focused only on food, the nutrition, the flavors and their own well-being. Their experiments with plant-based diet are addressed primarily to let them feel happy and healthy. So they focus on nutrition benefits while animal rights are in addition. This way we can meet vegans (and loads of vegetarians) wearing leather shoes, or those who don’t know what vivisection is.

This attitude seems to be a derivative of the capitalist system (or, more broadly neo-liberal), which is based on selfish considerations. From an early age we are taught to care only about our own interests and conformity. The system creates an extreme individualism. So why vegan diet would not be a part of these processes? And why the hell should we care about animals?

Let’s be healthy and ethical!

Therefore, we need to build a cruelty-free projects and truly ethical businesses that care both about human animals and non-human animals. We need egalitarian solutions, cruelty-free jobs, we need to learn how to change our ego-based attitudes through experience of self-organization.

We can’t say that we promote the compassionate life style and at the same time selling e.g. dairy products, or that corporations’ corruption makes us sick, while we accepting unethical compromises. Obviously the world isn’t black and white, but let’s just follow the principle of “do not hurt, do not kill”and all decisions become much easier.

At the end of day there’s no such thing as unethical veganism. Veganism means caring for every human or non-human being.