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Dec 19

Magical Abolitionism: Francione Admits Defeat and Irrelevance As He Degenerates into Self-Parody by Steven Best

Simulposted with – Negotiation Is Over  &  Thomas Paines Corner

“Let’s be honest. The animal rights movement as we now know it will never become a revolutionary struggle because the representatives of the oppressed enjoy enough privilege from the system they oppose to prevent them from supporting, let alone engaging in actual revolutionary activity that would risk those comforts. ” Rod Coronado, Former ALF Activist and Political Prisoner

The increasingly desperate and vapid vegan abolitionists, led by Gary Francione, have run so dry of ideas, they apparently have hired a Madison Avenue advertising team – or perhaps a Rutgers-area high-school marketing class – to rescue them from paralysis and irrelevance. But whatever suave snake-oil peddler conjured up the first advertising campaign for this moribund movement, they inadvertently drove the final nail in Francione’s coffin and removed the last veil covering the impotence and bankruptcy of lifestyle veganism and bourgeois abolitionism, on display for all to see at this incredible historical moment of planetary crisis, where humanity must choose life or death, sustainability or extinction.

What advertising slogan did the best and brightest of Francione’s team dream up that is so good, clever, and effective, that it now shines as the centerpiece of a new campaign and website, drew the “oohs” and “ahs” [1] of the faithful flock, and merited dutiful posting on the blogs of Franciombes [2] such as Roger Yates? [3] Why nothing less than this bon mot and sparkling gem: “The World is Vegan, If You Want It!” [4] In fact, this is not an original slogan, but stolen from John Lennon and modified for Francione’s purposes.

The embarrassing inanity of this Ford Edsel of a campaign should lay all doubt to rest that this is a cult of personality run in a top-down fashion in a chilling group-think environment in which authoritarianism is complemented by conformity. In fact, appropriately enough, this viral vapidity is being promulgated though an email chain letter where followers are directed not to think but merely to pass on, and the drones are following their Master’s orders.

One has to appreciate the brilliance here, which has nothing to do with intrinsic merit but rather  its laconic capture of the quintessence of life in Franciombe fantasyland, of the utter detachment from the realities of impending catastrophe and entombment within a quaint 1950s “Leave It To Beaver” utopia of privatized consumption, political retreat, and acquiescence to the status quo.

Advertising has always been a lie, and it is no different here, with bourgeois vegan propaganda, than with the falsehoods of the meat and dairy industries. And like many ads and ideological narratives, this one deconstructs itself. Behind the mask of hope and advance we find the truth of a feeble, pseudo-abolitionism, [5] on the ropes from punishing rounds of devastating criticism, now dazed, confused, and wobbly, going down for the count.

One cannot appreciate the full irony of the revelation here without understanding that Francione floated this flaccid campaign as perhaps the most important assembly and event in human history – the Copenhagen summit to reach a new global contract for dramatic reduction of greenhouse gases – was underway and breaking down. And as the world scientific community was warning humanity of its last chance to avert social and ecological catastrophe, demanding unprecedented collective action and cooperation of international governments, Francione responds, once again, by ignoring the crisis, by diverting attention, and by peddling individualist fantasies. Virtually in the same camp as Senator James “Global Warming is a Myth” Inhofe (R-Ok), [6] Francione reinforces the mass denial and inactivity that plagues the vegan community as well as humanity as a whole. .

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Copenhagen : ” Negotiators for the G-77 have expressed frustration throughout the summit with what they view as stingy offers of aid from richer countries. At one point members of the group briefly walked out of bargaining sessions. China has aligned itself with the G-77 on many key points, even as U.S. negotiators have argued that China can’t be considered a poor country. ”   http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126096715665993577.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Leading Scientist Warns that Planet Ecosystems are Close to Tipping Point: 2 November, New York – ” A temperature increase of more than two degrees Celsius is likely to push components of the Earth’s climate system past critical thresholds, or ‘tipping points, ‘” according to one of the world’s leading climate scientists in a briefing at the United Nations.  http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/gateway/the-science/pid/4101

The polar ice cap as a whole is shrinking. The melting of once-permanent ice is already affecting native people, wildlife and plants.

Gary Francione : ” Change will come sooner or later. We can only hope that it will be sooner rather than later . The revolution I seek is one from the heart. ”

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So often a joke, I no longer find Francione funny, his pernicious influence commands too many potential activists and sabotages the incredible importance veganism [7] has to turn crisis into opportunity, but only as a social and political movement, in alliance with global forces of resistance, and not as “an insular, marginalized, elitist, cult of personality and consumption that eschews real “outreach,” that runs from the streets to retreat to the kitchens, and that hangs a “Whites Only” sign on its door to do everything in its power to assert its elitism and sever potential alliances with the revolutionary power of mass social movements.

The increasingly reactionary Francione flock doesn’t even understand the problems raised by mass extinction, human overpopulation, resource scarcity, corporate globalization, and runaway climate change, so how can they contribute to the solutions? As the critically important moment in history, when the Copenhagen summit commenced only to collapse in failure [8] , as we stand at this momentous crossroads in seven million years of hominid/human history, this is Francione’s response.

And his narcotized, drone-like followers, instead of rising in revolt against a captain unable to steer a ship, simply fall in line, praise the brilliance of their infallible leader, and post the most insipid and reckless slogan in history, without shame or embarrassment, apparently oblivious to their utter absurdity and their betrayal of the enormous significance veganism [9] holds for healing this battle-scarred and convulsing planet, but only once removed from their incompetent hands.

They replace politics, struggle, and movement building with privatized fantasies, lifestyle veganism, and “culinary activism.” The new advertising campaign is an exquisite symbolization of their hopeless and delusional mindset and proof of the irrelevance of their elitist, classist, apolitical approach. Let them dare not, ever, to take in vain Dr. Martin Luther King’s name, for they are his antithesis and everything he  feared humanity could degenerate into, should they lack the courage to actively fight oppression, no matter what the dangers or consequences.

We can no longer stand quiet in the face of the betrayal in the vegan and animal advocacy community in general. They cherry-pick King to embrace his nonviolence, which allows them to rest in their complacency and judge those who take real risks and action, while jettisoning his commitment to civil disobedience, mass protests in the streets, filling the jails with “singing children,” and bold and implacable confrontations, never backing down until justice is won. [10]

“The World is Vegan If You Want It.” This the most delusional campaign in recent history; it is symptomatic of a vegan movement which has, in fact, degenerated into a satire of itself and reinforces the worst stereotypes of vegans as elitist, privileged puppy-hugging whites indifferent to the nightmare of oppressed races and classes amidst the collapse of the industrial-capitalist world order.

This last campaign shows, more clearly than ever, that Francione is throwing in the towel, admitting defeat, acknowledging his utter impotence and complete irrelevance in a time of planetary crisis. Nothing could be more disabling that this campaign at this time. .

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Scientist James Hansen :

In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen , the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen

In Hansen’s view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. ” This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill,” he said. “On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can’t say let’s reduce slavery, let’s find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen

” We are closer to the tipping point than we had realized,” he warned, referring to a series of feedbacks that could be unleashed by the melting of the Arctic ice shelves, combined with other factors to produce runaway climate change .”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tracy-l-barnett/james-hansen-embodies-the_b_384731.html

LiveVegan: “No more ‘go vegetarian’ or ‘go veg’ campaigns, but abolitionist VEGAN advocacy! Let’s come together and share ideas for creative, non-violent vegan activism. The world is vegan! If you want it.”  http://www.facebook.com/LiveVegan#/group.php?gid=206105852721&ref=mf

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No arrogant dogmatist or megalomaniac, certainly not of Francione’s stature, can admit error as falsehood becomes most apparent. As we often see with aggressive prosecutors, people will knowingly condemn a person to life in jail rather than admit mistake. And so rather that acknowledge the validity of radical abolitionist and deep vegan critiques, Francione can only run the other way, become more extreme, and become a parody and caricature of himself.

But this is only one of two reactive strategies. In a clear response to our critiques, Francione claims that his domestic-grounded pacifist vegan abolitionism is a “political campaign” and his lifestyle veganism is a form of “social activism.” [11] But don’t be fooled, it’s just more of the same and repackaging of impotent ideas. Francione, the venerable Grand Wizard bereft of ideas, can only now confuse the issues with discursive smoke and mirrors, casting spells of Doublespeak that would awaken the wrath of Orwell.

Francione commits basic category mistakes, confusing his truncated veganism that is inalienably individual and apolitical with a bona fide resistance movement that is social and political. His definitions of “social” and “political” are as wide, elastic, and strategically self-serving as the corporate-state’s mobilization of a “war on terror” to mask the real war on democracy and dissent. But it’s worse than this, because rather than ignoring a social and political discourse and approach, he is trying to co-opt it.

Francione’s approach is a pseudo-abolitionism that has no right to position itself as an extension of the nineteenth century movement that was implacably defiant, utterly kick-ass, and pluralist in its embrace of emancipation by any means necessary. Whereas the famous former slave, powerful orator, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass preached a “gospel of struggle,” [12] Francione offers homilies of surrender and defeat.

Francione is best seen not as a Jain, but a shaman, one involving his tribe in a frantic digital rain dance, hoping the skies will open and pour fruits and vegetables throughout every land.

The age of Francione is over, if you think it. But this is not wish fulfillment; it is an acknowledgement of  a reality that has come to pass. But let there be no illusion about one thing: whatever semblance of society and ecology we can salvage from this disastrous evolutionary process of Homo rapiens , it will come about through long and hard struggle, not imagining it didn’t exist, and through collective movements, not the fantasies of atomized individuals who have been so pacified, brainwashed, and repressed that they have forgotten their ancestors and social history and lost the will to fight.

Note: Add this link on all your social message boards and ask your friends to send it on theirs. Text your friends and ask them to text their friends. Add this message to your signature line on your emails. Let’s start a not-so friendly wave of militant direct action.

Disclaimer: I do not  advocate posting this essay on Francione’s blog and each and every one of his followers (for a complete list, see:  http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/links/#the-world-is-vegan ) in a way that disrupts the interminable flow of pernicious pacifist discourse and advances the goals of radical abolition and total liberation. Thank you.

[1] E.g., Lorraine Haines on December 16, 2009 : “This is a wonderful idea – well done!” http://twitpic.com/tqzkd ); Shirley Wilkes-Johnson : “Love this!” ( http://www.facebook.com/LiveVegan ); brazil nut on December 16, 2009: “Great job!! ” (http://twitpic.com/tqznt).

[2] E.g., http://www.jcolv.com/world_is_vegan ; http://www.lobsa.org/images17/WORLDISVEGAN.jpg ; http://my-face-is-on-fire.blogspot.com/2009/12/world-is-vegan-if-you-want-it.html ; http://weotheranimals.blogspot.com/2009/12/world-is-vegan-if-you-want-it-banners.html ; http://www.facebook.com/LiveVegan ; http://twitpic.com/tqzkd ; http://animalemancipation.com/

[3] http://animalrightsbook.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-world-is-vegan-if-you?xg_source=activity

[4] “The World is Vegan – If You Want It” (http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/spread-the-message-the-world-is-vegan-if-you-want-it/).

[5] “Radical Abolitionism: Total Liberation By Any Means Necessary” ( http://negotiationisover.com/manifesto-for-radical-abolitionism/ ).

[6] See  Steven Best, “Senator James Inhofe: Top Terrorist Threat to the Planet Earth” (http://www.drstevebest.org/Essays/SenatorJamesInhofe.htm ).

[7] “Introducing ‘Deep Vegan Outreach’: The Time for Change is Now – Out With the Old, In With the New ( http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/19/introducing-deep-vegan-outreach-the-time-for-change-is-now/ ).

[8] “Why Copenhagen Failed” (http://www.countercurrents.org/cooke191209.htm).

[9] “Planting the Seeds of Deep Veganism and Social Revolution” ( http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/16/planting-the-seeds-of-deep-veganism-and-scoial-revolution/ ).

[10] “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”,  I Have a Dream (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm).

[11] I have tried to show  a comprehensive political and social context within which veganism is not only relevant, but a crucial key to social revolution. Although these ideas and strategies are complex, Francione is suddenly promoting the same terminology couched in simplistic thoughts as if to imply that “Go Vegan” has always been a relevant social campaign.  But, as his occasional references to commonalities of oppression never amount to anything but single-issue veganism, so his scattered references to veganism as a social or political movement are buried in the avalanche of bourgeois individualism. Moreover, it’s quite curious that he is now resurrecting hollow discourse. A hyperactive Fraciombe and malignant pacifist cheerleader using the name LiveVegan could easily be Gary Francione, but a trusted source revealed to me that it may be Trisha Roberts, an Australian who seems to have dedicated her life to laboring (24/7)  in Francione’s propaganda department.  LiveVegan tweeted the following on  December 18, 2009: “Gary Francione said, ‘ Veganism is one of the most important single form [sic] of social activism a human being can engage in. The most important thing we can do is be vegan. Veganism is not a diet as we all know and it’s not a lifestyle. It’s a political commitment to non-violence. It is an extremely important commitment to nonviolence. If we believe in nonviolence, the cornerstone of nonviolence is veganism. And we have an animal ‘movement’ telling us ‘oh it’s so very hard to be vegan, you’re hanging on the cross for animals, you’re a martyr for the animals.’ We have to stop that. We have to make it clear to people that being vegan is easy. It’s extremely easy. And it’s crucial. We need to build a vegan movement. We talk about the animal movement, but we don’t have an animal ‘movement’ yet. We don’t have a political movement. We have charities; we have big organisations which have millions of dollars; and they’re charities, bourgeois charities; they are not political; they have nothing to do with political ideas. We need to build a political movement . We don’t have one yet, and veganism has to be it’s foundation. ‘”  ( http://www.twitlonger.com/show/19viq ).

[12] See Steven Best, “The New Abolitionism:  Capitalism, Slavery, and Animal Liberation” (http://www.drstevebest.org/Essays/TheNewAbolitionism.htm).

Dr. Steven Best, former Press Officer and now Speaker and Advisor at NAALPO, also NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation .  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 books , over 100 articles and reviews , spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis .