The absurd persistence of domination: Of speciesism, capitalism, and shaking their foundations

by Jason Miller
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE
Dec. 29, 2008

Even the most ardent reactionaries, deluded ‘patriots,’ and apathetic cynics, whose myopic, Panglossian perspectives ensure that they continue to reflexively genuflect to the deeply criminal enterprise of American Capitalism and rationalize the savage imperialism of US foreign policy, are beginning to concede that we are in the midst of a crisis of epic proportions.

So lack of awareness, which is usually the first obstacle to solving a problem, isn’t the real enemy here. Our chief foe is a swarm of greed-driven, self-absorbed, mean-spirited locust-like human beings who are dedicated to “reforming” and perpetuating capitalism, the very system that has led us to this woeful state of environmental, economic, social, and political affairs.

Capitalism, the systemization of greed, selfishness, subjugation, and exploitation camouflaged by the narcotic of consumerism, the irresistible illusion of equal opportunity for all, and its ostensible compatibility with liberal democracy, has seduced hundreds of millions of people into ignoring its contradictions, injustices, and malevolence.

Capitalism has inflicted deep wounds upon the Earth and is the persistent infection that must be eradicated to avert the sixth mass extinction, the ongoing torture and murder of billions of non-human animals, an acceleration of Climate Change, further economic collapse, mass starvation, severe shortages of potable water, perpetual resource wars, and a host of other catastrophic events.

While much of its foul stench emanates from the United States, the foul odor of capitalism has wafted its way into the nostrils of nearly every citizen on the globe. Capitalism’s cockroach-like apologists, propagandists, beneficiaries, enforcers, and power brokers scurry in and out of nearly every nook and cranny of the planet.

Global and dominant as it is, capitalism is the culmination and perpetuator of a number of vile social, economic, political, and cultural elements and dynamics, many of which began rearing their ugly heads with the advent of agriculture, domestication and civilization. Starting about 10,000 years ago, as humans became “civilized,” we alienated ourselves from nature, psychologically enabling us to exploit non-human animals and savagely abuse the Earth for our enrichment, amusement and comfort.

As a collective, we human animals have hubristically determined that we are the master species, endowing ourselves with the right to dominate, enslave, torture, humiliate, murder, and eat any sentient being on the planet (with the almost universal exception being the taboo of cannibalism–which is a bit perplexing considering the numerous other evils we inflict upon one another and the fact that human over-population is a tremendous problem).

Speciesism, the mental perversion that afflicts most people–causing them to view themselves as superior to all other species, is the one of the most blatantly exploitative and reprehensible of all human ideologies. Yet it remains “socially acceptable.” Inextricably linked with the bourgeois belief in the supremacy of profit and property over life, speciesism reveals the ferocity and grotesquery of savage capitalism. Animal exploiting capitalists of all stripes, including ranchers, biomedical researchers, meat processors, egg producers, fast food restaurateurs, and their ilk spend billions of dollars on agitprop each year to ensure that both the law and those who consume their products continue to view non-human animals as property, worthy of no more consideration than a lawn-mower. In fact, many people treat their Lawn Boys far better than factory farmers treat “their” sows.

Remember that human slavery, in which certain members of the human species were reduced to the status of property, was once institutionalized. The United States, the self-proclaimed land of the free (and not coincidentally the nexus of parasitic and decaying capitalism), was one of the last “advanced” nations to abolish slavery. And abolition wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for great sacrifices by many people of conscience and a civil war. Such is the pernicious and relentlessly cruel nature of capitalism.

Patriarchy and racism were once institutionalized too. Yet despite the fact that women and minorities have made significant legal, political, and social strides, the white man still wields tremendous power in this world, much of it economic in nature.

Overt and unapologetic imperialism and colonialism may be relics of the past, but conquest and subjugation still thrive under the guise of humanitarian intervention, loans to developing nations requiring corporate-friendly economic reforms, and aid to puppet regimes amenable to the rape of their country. All this to satisfy capitalism’s insatiable appetite for new markets, cheap labor, and natural resources.

Many people are concerned about the devastating and noxious impact we humans are having upon the Earth. But thanks to corporate green-washing, the globalization of the American Way of Life, and the deep allegiance many people have to capitalism (a system that is based on infinite growth on a finite planet), the rape and plunder of Mother Nature continues at an alarming rate. Relentlessly bludgeoned by the unquestioned supremacy of capitalist “ideals,” potential solutions that might interfere significantly with growth and profit are beaten to death before they can fully emerge from the womb.

Meanwhile, anti-capitalist radicals, including Marxists, socialists, anarchists, deep environmentalists, anarcho-primitivists, animal liberationists, members of indigenous movements, feminists, and many others who recognize that the problems we face are systemic in nature and that capitalism must go, remain marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, vilified, and perhaps worst of all, divided.

An example of the agitprop the ruling elite successfully deploys (despite its obvious absurdity) to throw the true left to the margins of society. Obama is, AT BEST, center left on the political spectrum, yet the deeply indoctrinated amongst the working class–who remain faithful to their capitalist exploiters–swallow this nonsensical portrayal of him as a communist as if it was gospel….

American Capitalism’s power elite, comprised of the upper strata of the economic, corporate, political, and military hierarchies, enjoy tremendous advantages over those who oppose them. Despite their obvious economic and military might, their most powerful weapon is actually their seemingly omnipotent abilities to prevent any ideology from challenging the national religion of capitalism, to maintain the allegiance of most of the working class, and to demonize those who dare to blaspheme against their economic rape.

In a recent interview, internationally-renowned progressive political analyst Michael Parenti described the means by which the ruling class manipulates the masses into supporting such an obviously wretched system:

“Through control of the universe of discourse, including the media, the professions, the universities, the publishing industry, many of the churches, the consumer society, the job market, and even the very socialization of our children and the prefiguring of our own perceptions, the ruling interests are able to exercise a prevailing ideological control that excludes any reasoned critique of the dominant paradigm.”

It is imperative that those of us who recognize that electing a Democrat who is a racial minority and who talks a progressive game is a band-aid, at best, and that the real solution is to drive a stake through the heart of vampiric capitalism by uniting and by finding a means to take on the corporate media in such a way that we begin winning significant numbers of hearts and minds.

Anti-capitalist academics, writers, publishers, organizers, speakers, community leaders, politicians, and activists need effective conduits through which they can meet, communicate, educate one another, derive a sense of solidarity, and coordinate their efforts.

It is essential that we break down the perceived barrier between intellectuals and activists so that we can unify against regressive forces that thrive on inequality, injustice, environmental abuse, speciesism, and hierarchy—or in other words let’s come together and crush those loathsome bastards who prosper via the domination and abuse of the Earth and its sentient inhabitants.

Derrick Jensen has called on rational people of conscience to form a culture of resistance against the soulless insanity of a status quo that empowers and rewards those who are the most sociopathic and the most devoid of empathy. And if we are to create this culture of resistance and strive to forge an egalitarian, just, ecological, non-speciesist and democratic society, it is crucial that we expand our moral circle and bring animal liberation into the fold.

Aside from the morally indefensible fact that we enslave, torture, and murder sentient beings who feel pain and fear just as we do, consider Charles Patterson’s powerful argument he advanced in Eternal Treblinka. Patterson demonstrated that there is a frighteningly thin line between the abuse, objectification, and industrial torture we routinely inflict upon cows, for example, and that which we inflict upon other members of our own species. Many of the techniques the Nazis employed in the Holocaust came directly from the livestock and meat-packing industries.

Because our delusional notion of superiority is so deeply ingrained in our psyches, even many people of good conscience ignore the fact that non-human animals, who have no voice, no legal rights, and no viable means to defend themselves, are the ultimate victims of the ‘might makes right’ capitalist mentality. As the radical front line of a culture of resistance against a brutal social structure that thrives on abuse and exploitation, we need to attack the problem at its root. Leaving racism, sexism, classism and even Zionism in the dust, speciesism is the most enduring, savage, and widely accepted of the cultural ethos that enable capitalism to thrive, as it enables morally retarded wretches to pitilessly damn billions upon billions of innocent beings to a nightmare of Hobbesian proportions.

If we truly intend to subvert the dominant rapacious paradigm and replace it with something that will serve the greater good and heal the Earth, we must put animal liberation on our agenda.

So, how can we create a formidable culture of resistance and establish animal rights as one of the pillars of the radical agenda?

The Transformative Studies Institute (TSI) at http://transformativestudies.org/, a radical educational entity that “fosters interdisciplinary research that will bridge multidisciplinary theory with activism in order to encourage community involvement that will attempt to alleviate social problems,” is sponsoring Thomas Paine’s Corner (TPC) at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/, which partners with Cyrano’s Journal Online (http://www.bestcyrano.org) to provide a media platform for radical writers, scholars, poets, playwrights, activists, and groups. No significant social movement will take place if the intelligentsia is cloistered in ivory towers, alienated from the activists who need them for education and guidance. We have an abundance of theory, but a dearth of praxis. TSI and TPC intend to get ideas into the heads of those who will translate them into action!

Both TSI and TPC will work in conjunction with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) at http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/ to promote “critical scholarly dialogue and research on the principles and practices of animal advocacy, animal protection, and animal-related policies in the fields of social sciences and humanities.” ICAS, TSI, and TPC will push to catalyze the inclusion of animal liberation into the broader radical agenda through critical pedagogy and again through facilitating the conversion of theory into praxis.

With noted scholars, activists, thinkers, and writers such as Steve Best, William Blum, Ward Churchill, Anthony Nocella II, Richard J. White, John Asimakopoulos, Lisa Kemmerer, Gary Corseri, Jason Bayless, Michael Parenti, Adam Engel, Ed Duvin, Gore Vidal, Richard Kahn, Joe Bageant, John Steppling, and many others behind this ambitious under-taking, the project has great potential. We desperately need ventures like this one to succeed.

As Adorno wrote in Minima Moralia,

“A breed of men has secretly grown up that hungers for the compulsion and restriction imposed by the absurd persistence of domination.”

Capitalism and speciesism are woven into most of the world’s cultural and socioeconomic DNA. This ensures that the sociopathic “breed of men” to which Adorno referred enjoy the perpetual existence of the “absurd persistence of domination.” Which in turn is ensuring the rapid acceleration of widespread suffering and calamitous events.

As radical scholars or activists, we face the daunting task of exterminating capitalism and speciesism. And time grows short. Yet we can find solace in the fact that resistance is NOT futile!

Jason Miller is a tenacious anti-capitalist and vegan animal liberationist. He is also the founder and editor of Thomas Paine’s Corner, associate editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online, blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute and associate editor for the Journal for Critical Animal Studies.

TSI and ICAS do not endorse the content of TPC. TPC and CJO are independent media sources for writers to express themselves in an open democratic manner. TPC, CJO, ICAS and TSI do not intend to encourage illegal/unethical activity or behavior. The information herein is solely intended for entertainment, educational, research, academic, or other lawful purposes.

13 thoughts on “The absurd persistence of domination: Of speciesism, capitalism, and shaking their foundations

  1. Pingback: Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism By Steve Best & Jason Miller « Dandelion Salad

  2. hey i hear ya.

    i am just very concerned about use of language. if one purports to promote socialism, i want to know what they mean. if one supports the free market, again, what does one mean by that?

    in so far as madoff is concerned. his actions may have been non-violent, but that doesn’t excuse him from fraudulent activities.

    and he is just one man engaging in the larger ponzi scheme that the world should deal with, the US in particular:

    End the FED! [the largest ponzi scheme of them all]

  3. Sorry, it’s “If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying attention”. There is no positive outcome from being ‘enraged’. ‘Outrage’ in the other hand is the power behind progressive change in the face of injustice.

  4. Apparent hyperbole in my prose is a result of seething frustration at the incomprehensible insanity of our era, and the final failure of the Americon experiment as manifested in its Palinesque model of utter cultural decay— when all else fails, write a run-on sentence about it!

    I agree the whole thing is a lie– lies upon lying liar’s lies. People intrude on other’s property because they are selfish thieves, which, in keeping with the Darwinistic theme is not unlike gangs of meerkats or flocks of seagulls fighting over that oyster a yet other seagull found…

    The problem, the incongruity is the preposterous idea that evil state selfishness is somehow just, filtered through complex legalisms, fake morality, and religious propriety, and when the underlying crimes are revealed, not a thing is done to render those responsible accountable.

    All of which wouldn’t be such an issue if the populace didn’t then conspire to finance and manufacture deranged weapons of war, and then enlist and fight and kill for preposterous lies in the name of obviously incongruous faux-ideology (or to put it in your more direct term, “Lies”).

    People can steal and some system of laws will theoretically then bring about ‘justice’, or not (we’ll see just how ‘punished’ Madoff is for his vast, but non-violent caper of the eon).

    But killing, bombing, invading, roping us all into war-crimes for similar sums?

    That is sick, sick, sick.

    Promoting ‘free markets’ at the expense of life on earth for short-sighted selfish enrichment?

    Sicker than sick.

    But I too repeat myself, and not being an economic theorist such as yourself, and finding the entire ethos of this nation a complete and unforgivable farce, and seeing how all activism of any kind fails to achieve goal #1 any more, I’m left only with perversion of language with which to vent my enraged horror.

    But one takes heart in the activist adage “If you’re not enraged, you’re not paying attention”

    Or the one I learned on Lo’s old Myspace page: “Dissent Is Your Duty”.

    Thank you Lo for allowing me to post these unintelligable rants, in my barely controlled, somewhat anti-intellectual mode of Dissent.

  5. i still don’t understand why the perversion of language is needed to make a good point about the abuse of power, etc.

    “”the tendency of the ‘free market’ to promote greed, graft, and war-mongring (I.E. the invasion of foreign lands, falsely justified genocides of impoverished nations, and the vast profits to be gained by the necessarily hawkish tendencies of typical Amerigoon free-marketeers).”

    just keep it simple and call it what it is: they are liars. that is not what a free market is. that’s just the rhetoric to get votes or whatever. just as one can say the same about those who pervert and exploit socialism and communism for their own gains and central “authority”. these are not examples of real principled positions, but rather the exact opposite.

    again i repeat myself:

    “the invasion of foreign lands”

    how is that a free market and recognition of others’ property? that is a total abrogation of freedom and rights and the very foundations of a free market.

    who on this earth but tyrants claim the right to intrude on other peoples property?

  6. If by ‘free market’ you mean something akin to a farmer’s market, where the booth with the better tomatoes sells out first, then I’m right there with ya. But when commerce is abstracted by ‘capitalism’, the gulf between reality and absurd theory widens to the point of disease.

    But industrial capitalism, as it’s been defined in the modern age, is largely a product of not theory and ingenuity, but an enormous exploitation of the ‘Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight’, prior to which we had slaves, then sweatshops.

    American ‘capitalism’ is largely a product of the exploitation of a pristine continent within a few generations. But your immense timber is all gone, your Oglala Aquifer is more than half mined out, and this ‘clean coal’ is leveling an entire mountain state.

    The problem with the system of wealth accrual as we’ve seen, is its abusive, addictive element, and the tendency of the ‘free market’ to promote greed, graft, and war-mongring (I.E. the invasion of foreign lands, falsely justified genocides of impoverished nations, and the vast profits to be gained by the necessarily hawkish tendencies of typical Amerigoon free-marketeers).

    The entire speculative mindset, which is fundamental to industrial capitalism and the ‘free market’ as manifested by Wall Street and its public/private ‘corporations’, is that it promotes a fundamentally diseased behavior.

    Making a living, or even prospering through production and sale of one’s earthly wares and produce, is a far cry from the modern ‘free market’ and its dubious corporate valuations and vehicles.

    Any ideology that admits and espouses the concept that it trades in ‘fear and greed’ is obviously unbalanced and deranged.

    The idea is not to capitalize’ on our worst psychological impulses, but rather to find a healthy path to survival and prosperity, which does not promote abuse.

  7. id answer your question natureboy, but id have to repeat my previous comment. i suppose i could phrase it another way.

    “modern militarism is as much as anything a disease of capitalism”

    there’s a difference between a free market and the state, without this understanding the ruling class will continue to remain in power forever.

    “Tell us, “jesse” how, in light of recent events, you can logically argue with this observation?”

    do you mean in light of the state giving handouts to the politically connected through the “legal” use of counterfeiting at the expense of all? you call that capitalism? if so, then yeah, i am against capitalism too.

    but that’s not the free market at work, that’s ruling class exploitation through use of the state.

    since you obviously do understand the term capitalism as marx described it, we are not debating with the same language. and i would then prefer to use the term free market instead of arguing “what capitalism is”.

  8. Wow indeed. This guy can write…

    (unlike “nordicthebarbarian” et. al. who clearly have ‘genuflected’ on bended knee to the almighty disproved dollar and its ‘derivatives’…).

    There is no marxist ideology in the early observation:

    “Capitalism, the systemization of greed, selfishness, subjugation, and exploitation camouflaged by the narcotic of consumerism, the irresistible illusion of equal opportunity for all, and its ostensible compatibility with liberal democracy, has seduced hundreds of millions of people into ignoring its contradictions, injustices, and malevolence.”

    Tell us, “jesse” how, in light of recent events, you can logically argue with this observation?

    Gordon Gekko was wrong—(which was the point of Wall Street, which all the capitalistas worship, despite the fact that he was arrested for insider trading, hence the moral of the story).

    Then go read this one:

    “Capitalism and speciesism are woven into most of the world’s cultural and socioeconomic DNA. This ensures that the sociopathic “breed of men” to which Adorno referred enjoy the perpetual existence of the “absurd persistence of domination.” Which in turn is ensuring the rapid acceleration of widespread suffering and calamitous events”.

    Phew!

    While I’m never quite convinced of this idea of ‘socioeconomic DNA’ (i,e, Social Darwinism’ ) because for the biological nature of evolution and ‘survival of the fittest’ to work, you need generations and mutations and selections to occur for that system to apply.

    But I can certainly attest to the “sociopathic breed of men” (if one can define a ‘sociopath’ as a person who lacks conscience).

    Indeed all life exists out of self preservation and self-interest, even in community. And all animal life exists at the expense of others (onlu plants eat dirt, and some microbes and worms)—a principle of biology without which life would never have emerged (i.e. crawled atop the drowning heads of our colleagues”from the muck).

    The difference is that we know better.

    “exterminating capitalism and speciesism” is likely a far-flung dream, if one realizes that predominant judeo-christian concepts have been molded by the very endemic problem of greed itself (I,e, ‘Jesus was a carpenter therefore capitalism must be good’ —people actually say these things, or just go watch Creflo A. Dollar…).

    The ‘god part of the brain’ is a biological flaw, in many respects (except for amazing architectural triumphs, paintings, Sufi poetry and Bach, etc.). It’s a sort of incongruous insanity, a cerebral mechanism invented by the brain in order to makes sense of questions about existence which we are apparently unequipped to answer ( and it’s a scary thought that those with the keys to the Bomb are invariably religious fanatics who believe in the Apocalypse).

    Capitalistic doctrine, as it’s been expressed in our time, is a religious disease as well, akin to an addiction, which like all gambling-addictive behavior, is apparrently a brain disorder (as, perchance, hunting for ‘sport’, be the quarry du-jour ‘Hadji’, ‘gooks’ or moose) .

    There is a fundamental difference between capitalism and commerce. The ‘locust’ element apparently appeared with the ‘corporation’; equities, bonds, ‘derivatives’ vastly amplifying the power of greed by making available to the general populace the idea of owning a piece of ‘personal and corporate profit at the expense of everyone and everything else’, a sport once reserved only for nobility and royalty, and later robber-barons.

    But before that we had imperialsm, colonialism, slavery, etc. and plenty of state-sponsored terror on steroids.

    In the end I suspect we need to accept the inevitable biology of greed, and use the very compassion our evolution rarely provides, to achieve the best for all (as all of our religiouns and laws often claim to promote)

    This idea of the common good (as opposed to ‘greed is god’) is profound. We would not have holidays for Dr. King or laud Gandhi if we did not all recognize the power of social progress over selfishness.

    Justifying greed, racial dominion, religious propriety, or speciesistic absurdity is an indulgence, and as a system of belief is unraveling as we write.

    Let’s start by recognizing that modern militarism is as much as anything a disease of capitalism. Re-contact our revelations about “global warring” so hard-won after ww2, and we’d be well on our way to achieving compassion and balance as a society.

    “Another world is possible, and we pledge to make it real”

  9. the author could choose to reduce the population by a factor of one, but i am guessing this person is too self absorbed to do it.

    ‘might makes right’

    if one can’t understand the difference between violence and voluntarism…..

  10. Yes…Right On! We need to unite and now when people are feeling depleted and uncomfortable is the time when change can happen. Comfort only fosters apathy. Organization and synchronicity are necessary to be the antidote to: “Our chief foe is a swarm of greed-driven, self-absorbed, mean-spirited locust-like human beings who are dedicated to “reforming” and perpetuating capitalism, the very system that has led us to this woeful state of environmental, economic, social, and political affairs.”

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