Writing my previous article about the feeling of superiority of vegans made me think about this ideology that is speciesism. I had a vague idea of what it was. Writing my second article about “The West” feeling of superiority made me think of the broader feeling of uniqueness that humans have compared to animals. I think this article is a great mix between those intertwining ideas.
Morality is a human invention. Rights are a human invention. Why would we need laws, governments, police and all these authorities to try to control the populations if we did not think that it would be chaos otherwise? Is chaos happening with those dumb lawless non human animals? Most animals are on this planet for longer than the Homo Sapiens. How did they survive until today? Did they need any written laws or police to teach them how to behave in their own circles? Most animals respect their parents, and they didn’t need the 6th Commandment for that. Most species do not kill their kin and didn’t need the 7th Commandment for that. We’re being told by religious entities that we get our morals from Holy Books. But where do animals get theirs?
The Animal Kingdom is wild and dangerous, but should we consider wild animals as inferior without blinking? In our own society (supposedly moral, ethical and right – because we are Humans of course), 475,000 people were murdered in 2012 around the world. A quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children. 663 million people are living without access to safe water. 2.4 billion people are living without access to improved sanitation. Can we really consider ourselves superior if we treat some of our own species the same way it happens in the Animal Kingdom? Human countries are no different than gorillas territories. An imaginary lane separating two different groups where we can find people in power, people ruled, people left behind and people who fight to get to the top. How can anybody deny intelligence to a squirrel, who’s gonna hide his food everywhere during the summer to make reserves for the winter and remember every spots, when we forget where we left our phone 5min earlier? When you see a bird creating a hook with its beak to catch a treat (without having been taught the trick), don’t you think this is intelligence? When trees are capable of sharing nutrients through their roots to the trees which need it the most, don’t you think that’s some sort of intelligence? As far as I know, Hitler and his followers, who killed millions of people, were no Chimps. As far as I know, the God of the Bible (if you want to believe in her), who killed thousands, is not a tyrannosaur. Did black bears enslave white bears just because of the colour difference?
We cannot deny that all animals have different characteristics. “We are not smart enough to understand how smart other animals are” as Frans de Waal puts it. We are one species in the middle of thousand others. Who are we to say that our world is better than the one of other species? However, considering Humans as just another species, doesn’t mean that we need to treat every species the same way. Even though I agree that we shouldn’t make a difference between a pig and a dog, or a cat and a mouse, there is still a difference to make between those animals and us. It does not mean that we consider ourselves superior. It only means that we focus on the wellbeing of our species. Animal interactions in the wild consist of caring about the survival of your own species. There is no shame in us doing that too. This is just what animals do.
And here comes the issue of anti speciesism. This is the movement that wants to consider every animal to be a “potential suffering living being” (which we already know btw). Humans being animals, this would mean giving every non-human animal species the same status as Humans. Are we going to come back at putting animals on trial? I would love to see an anti speciesist reaction if his/her cat eats a mice? Report her/him to the FBI? Would they turn themselves in for murder after driving over a Bambi? The anti speciesists will tell you that “we are related to all other species”, and this is not fair to consider them as being different the same way it is not fair to consider other races, sexes, etc. as different. This is nonsense. This is the latests ideology of the hipster gluten-free yogi vegan generation who thinks that suffering in the Human society has disappeared (just like racism has?) and who now needs to focus on making peace between the shark and the other fish, the eagle with the squirrel and humans with any other animal meat. However, it is undeniable that animals are not equal, they have different capacities. There is not a better species. There is not a best species. But there are different species. Period. Caring about the fate of other living things is a normal feeling (have you seen this scene in This is Legend? Made me cry), but focusing on yours is a survival requirement. People for years questioned whether animals suffered or not. We just wanted to protect our own persons as humans. The questions should never have been wether they suffer or not (and they do). But whether we take the life of a living thing without any purpose. We should not make any difference between a non-human animal, an insect, a plant or a bacteria. These are all living things which, no matter the way they experience our action of killing them, die. And dying is bad. It doesn’t matter whether they suffer or not. What matters is why we do it, how we do it and if we could avoid doing it. Just living as a Human in today’s society involves the death of other species. Having a house built is destroying the habitat of living species. Building a road or having electricity are too. There is no way we can live as animals without taking the life of other living things. That’s a fact. And trying to see whether the living thing we kill is suffering or not has been a way to avoid thinking about that fact. Most living things on Earth are killing other living things. And this Human denial has been going on forever. The Big Picture is complicated to imagine, it hurts to realize that we’ve been lying to ourselves from the start. Not eating meat won’t stop you from killing living things in other means.
And here comes my last fight, eating animals. Many animals kill other animals to eat. When a Lion kills a gazelle, he knows he has to eat the flesh and not the bones. He knows what his body needs to survive. People would say that animals kill other animals in nature because they don’t have a choice. But they originally had the exact same problem as ours. They needed nutrients which can be found in vegetables too. Lions survived as carnivores because it was the way that made them survive as a species. And now they cannot digest plants. If the ultimate goal of anti speciesism is to consider the lion an equal to the gazelle, and those two animals equal to us shouldn’t that mean turning animals vegetarian/vegan even though they physiologically can’t? But is it that much better to eat plants? Humans most certainly do not need meat to survive. But this is the case of many other omnivorous species. Humans are omnivores. We could/should definitely eat less meat, for both health and ecological reasons, but we can biologically process and eat it. So why not? There is nothing immoral about being omnivorous.
Humans do abuse their position of self determined superiority. African wild animals have nothing to do in a zoo in Denmark. If you want to see wild animals, go into the wild. If you can’t, watch documentaries. Pigs do not need to live in cages and be transported with their feet in their manure, in overcrowded trucks, to be slaughtered. Chickens are not supposed to live in the dark by the thousands, full of antibiotics, etc. Isn’t a farmer supposed to raise, feed and kill its animals? All the collateral animal victims of our needs in electricity, roads, cars, etc. could be avoided. But treating animals better and putting the human in its place of just another animal species does not mean that we should be treating all species the same. It does not mean that we should be ashamed for being omnivores. Moral and ethics, are just excuses given by humans for humans to justify inanimal (inhumane does not mean shit) actions. Can you believe that it was moral to have slaves until 150 years ago? Can you believe that it is still normal to marginalize women in most countries (they had the right to vote only 75 years ago in France, the country of Liberty)? Can you believe that consensual sex between 2 adults is still forbidden in some countries? But still, I do acknowledge that humans have been able to accomplish astonishing things. We are the dominant species of this planet (until we finish creating the AI that will kill us all). We had all these years of supposedly Enlightenment compared to other animals, and we are still acting like them on many levels. That proves that increased knowledge doesn’t even change our animal instincts. Morals and ethics that evolve with time is as good as no moral at all.