ANIMAL RIGHTS, NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND POWER
By Roland Watson
11. Animal rights, hunting and fishing, wearing furs, eating meat
Activist issues with an existential basis, and which are also surrounded by form. Just as there is a question of when it is ethical to end a human life, so the same question exists when we consider ending the lives of other species. We obviously must take some lives, if only of plants, since our survival depends on it. But should we take the lives of sensate organisms, and if so in what circumstances? As an ethic, we have seen that this is acceptable only when we do it to support ourselves personally, and also that we should seek to minimize it. Therefore, there is a basis for an activist response to such things as wearing furs, and sport hunting and fishing where we do not personally consume our "kill," since for the former we do not need furs (we have other options), and for the latter we do not use what we destroy. Furthermore, activists can (and should) strive to educate us to follow a higher ethic, such as not hunting and fishing at all, or using animal products, but not attempt to force us to behave this way, since that would be form.
However, this argument does not extend to the humiliation and torture of animals. Animal rights activists are fully justified in opposing this, including through direct action. But even still, there is a limit. The most extreme activists have threatened physical violence against animal lab experimenters, and they justify this with the idea of the lesser evil. Killing a vivisectionist may be wrong, they say, but by doing it they prevent a greater wrong, i.e., it is the lesser of two evils. But, as should be clear by now, this is the same argument as the greater good: using an ethical end to justify an unethical means. (Also, it assumes that we have no options other than "evil" ones.)
Do you threaten vivisectionists (or abortion doctors), as on internet "hitlists"? No. It is unethical. It is terrorism. You do create a fear for life in the target. Also, even if you do not act (and even never planned to), it could encourage others to do so such that the threat is fulfilled.
In addition, we need to make a closer examination of the idea that meat is murder. I, personally, reject this. Carnivorous consumption is part of our evolution, and as such, while it should be opposed, it cannot be prohibited. However, our broader actions against nature do justify such a response. Just as we are beginning to prosecute dictators and their co-conspirators for crimes against humanity, so too should our real environmental terrorists be punished for crimes against nature.
12. Nuclear weapons and power
Activist issues that are surrounded by form, and which are yet more measures of real progress. Nuclear technologies, weapons or power, are among the most extreme examples of the form of scientists and technologists, and the corporations which support them, pursuing their interests blindly without any regard for their effects on others, including people, society, other species and the planet. As such, they are perfect examples of the human selfishness that is one of our core problems, and among the clearest targets of our opposition.
We cannot have real and enduring peace until nuclear weapons are eliminated, but given the effects of chaos it is likely that we will never be able to accomplish this. We are trapped in a cage of our own design. Also, as we saw earlier, this demonstrates that the worst technology will always get into the worst hands. The world of the twentieth century was completely remade - the effects cannot be overstated - by Soviet espionage of American nuclear secrets. The world of the twenty-first century may well suffer a similar fate due to the recent Chinese espionage. (There is a greater need for the end to dictatorship in China than ever before.)
(Regardless of the involvement, or lack of involvement, of Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, such espionage did take place. The Cox Commission found that "the Chinese government sometime in the late 1980s acquired sensitive design information, in particular regarding the miniaturized W-88 warhead used on the Trident D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile." Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2000)
As for nuclear power, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since we are using our non-renewable energy sources with wild abandon, and without developing new, renewable sources, we may well feel compelled at some point - the nuclear energy industry will certainly tell us that we are - to end our opposition to such power on "practical" grounds. And, with such an opening not only will we have a far greater potential for nuclear accidents, and ecological damage, but we will also lose our ability to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. While it seemingly has evaporated into the background, at least in Western consciousness - India and Pakistan's and North Korea's actions notwithstanding - this remains one of our greatest threats, and it likely will surface again. But rather than wait for this to happen, for the next nuclear war or "incident" to occur, we must reenergize our activism and do our best to prevent it.
© Roland Watson 2016