Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Resistance is Never Futile

By Jason Hribal, Counterpunch, April 17 (click on the title of this post for the complete essay):

Whether from the thoughts of the owners or the print of the media, the language used to describe these "escapes" (their term) is most illuminating: "captured," "fugitive," "amnesty," "outlaw," "criminal." These words, in reality, reflect a hidden truth -- a truth that is only exposed when actions are taken by other animals against human domination. In other words, when the curtain is pulled back, our fellow creatures emerge as active beings -- each of whom has the ability to shape the world around them. Agency is not unique to the human animal. Cows, pigs, monkeys, and elephants can also resist their exploitation. Over the centuries, humans have learned to deal with this.

Farmers, ranchers, factory owners, and managers have tried a multiplicity of methods to deter or prevent escapes. Wooden-post fences were erected. Cows leapt over them or crawled under them. Taller, stronger metal fences were developed. Cows found their weak points and busted through them. Barbs were put on the wire to cause pain. A few cows still got over them. The wire was then electrified to cause even more pain.

Humans have used tethers, clogs, and yokes to lessen movement. They have used bull-whips, bull-hooks, and electrified cattle-prods to scar and frighten. They have cut tendons, pulled out teeth, blinded eyes, ringed noses, and muzzled mouths to punish. They have castrated testicles, removed ovaries, and chopped off horns to control aggressiveness. These techniques are not called "breaking" because their targets are mindless, spiritless machines. Quite to the contrary, they are deemed as such because turning autonomous, intelligent beings into obedient, productive workers is difficult.

If these methods failed, humans employed specialized bounty-hunters. They constructed pounds for the detained. Local, state, and federal laws were written. Fines and penalties were levied. The death penalty has always been the final option for those chronic troublemakers. FEMA itself has detailed strategies on how to deal with animal escapes. For this form of resistance can have serious consequences for owners, businesses, and governments. The run-away macaque from Davis, CA, for example, almost brought about the closure of the entire research center. The Tamworth two incited spot inspections and steep fines for the Wiltshire slaughterhouse. But more than bad press and possible loss in profits, these escapes can produce a public awareness of exploitation and resistance. This combination of struggle and recognition then ultimately forces such industries -- their operators, executives, scientists, and engineers -- to adopt animal-welfare legislation and practices.

anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism