7. Should Domesticated Animals Go Extinct? A Radical Vegan Perspective

Rundown

This episode was inspired by a great series of questions from one of our listeners, Julian. Julian asked:

Would you want the domesticated races to simply die out (like, after we have achieved full communism and everybody has gone vegan)? Even horses? How do you feel about humans engaging in a kind of idealized farming? Would you agree with me that in traditional farming animals suffer less than they do in the wild? Would you want family farmers in third world countries or pastoral nomads to give up their lifestyle so as to not exploit animals anymore?

To answer these questions, we start by discussing the history of domestication and how humans formed various ‘symbiotic’ relationships with different species of animals. We then explore what alternative (anti-capitalist and/or anti-statist) relationships to animals might look like, focusing in particular on “hill people”, or forest-dwelling communities in the highland forests of Southeast Asia. In this section we highlight how capitalism mediates our relationship with meat and ‘prey’ animals in the Global North. Next, we discuss how domesticated animals may be necessary for the inputs required for widespread vegetarian or vegan practice. We follow this with a discussion of the domestication of pet animals, and how our understanding of them as dependent and incapable of a ‘real’ life without us can reproduce ablest attitudes, as well as how capitalism imbues our relationships with our pets. We finish by trying to sketch out what an alternative, decommodified, and more ‘symbiotic’ relationship with animals might look like as we learn to envision ourselves as animals, very much a part of the ecosystems we participate in.

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