Abolitionism, Veganism and Anarchy in the Protection of Animals

I remember how a friend and I once caught a mouse. We climbed with it onto the roof of the local bowling alley (as children we spent a lot of time on that roof), tied a string to its tail, and played with it. When it tried to run, we let it get a little way, then we slowly pulled it back, or yanked on the string, and had fun watching it fight for its life.

We walked around on the roof, pulling it behind us, then we ran, dropped it over the edge, pulled it back up, swung it from side to side, spun it over our heads, and finally struck it against the wall.

At first the mouse tried to run away. Then it just stood there shaking. We saw that it was afraid, that it was trying to escape those huge children’s hands, get to safety. So why didn’t we leave it alone? Because it was fun and interesting? Because its fear, pain and life were just the fear, pain and life of our toy? Why didn’t it hurt me at all at the time? Until today.


If I wanted to name the relationship of the majority of people towards animals on farms, in laboratories, etc., outright, which I do, then the way I see it, I am talking about slavery.

Being enslaved means having your personal freedom taken away from you and being a tradable property. It means being owned by someone else.

Only an individual with her or his own interests in life can be enslaved, because only such an individual can have their personal freedom taken away from them.

Because other animals, not only humans, have their own interests in life, are capable of making decisions for themselves, where and which way to go, who to have contact with, what and who to avoid, or who to love, because they are capable of a free life and because life belongs only to the individual who lives it, regardless of the type of animal. I am talking about their enslavement where humans requisition them as property. Because we are able to live without destroying everything for them or taking it, their enslavement is unnecessary violence.

At the same time, legislation valid in the Czech Republic mentions slavery in the same way as I do, although in different dimensions and euphemistically. It defines animals as “living beings, able to feel pain and suffering” (1), where for the purpose of this law the human is not considered an animal, as if it were possible to consider the human as something else.

Thus the law, by its own definition, acknowledges animals’ life and the specific special ability to live life yet also considers them to be property. It does not say that a pig, dog or rat is something like a chair, tractor, scalpel or money. It regards them as living things. If you hurt an animal which is owned by someone else, you can be prosecuted for damaging another’s property. That is legal and factual slavery and a schizophrenic admission of this.

Being enslaved does not necessarily mean to live in cruelty, but it is always a loss of the possibility to have the power to make your own decisions.

Animals on farms, in laboratories and other places are not only deprived of personal freedom, but also evolutional freedom. The characteristics of animals and their life cycles change as if they were just money-making toys. In the 1980s, the average chicken’s breast muscle was 10% of its weight, now it is 21%, and it is expected to reach 30% (2).

A sow has (stupidly put) 10 to 16 piglets in one litter; that means more than she has functioning nipples, and in a year the sow (if she is a good quality reproduction unit) has 2 to 2.5 litters. Her life rotates around violent artificial insemination and birthing, in one big circle, until she is completely exhausted. Then she is thrown on the back of a lorry and taken to be slaughtered.

The FAO estimates that in 2003 over 50 billion different animals were killed worldwide for human consumption. The estimate is based on reports from over 210 countries and state territories and it is important to realise that this is a significantly reduced number since some countries or territories have given no information about hundreds of thousands, since some types and animals are not included (for example aquatic animals are not counted), and neither are animals which do not survive the livestock production process (3).

The largest slaughterhouses in the world have been opened close to Mecca, with a daily capacity of up to 200,000 animals and it is estimated that they will employ up to 100,000 people (4).

Danish Crown was the first company in the world to operate a fully automatic pig slaughter line with a maximum work capacity of 360 to 400 pigs per hour (5).

Animals are reduced to production units, enclosed in the dark and concrete, and after a short life, when their everyday reality is fear, pain, boredom and solitude, their end station is the execution line of the abattoirs.

1) Act No. 246/1992 Coll., on the Prevention of Animal Cruelty.

2) Joel Achenbach: Meaty Chickens, National Geographic, April 2005 (In the 1980s meat from the breast made up 10% of the weight of an average chicken, today it is 21%, says John Hardiman, a geneticist from the firm Cobb-Vantress in Arkansas’ Siloam Springs. “I believe it is clear we will reach 30%, which is noticeably closer to the status of today’s turkeys,” adds Hardiman.)

3) Statistics database of FAO – Agriculture – http://faostat.fao.org/faostat/collections?subset=agriculture

4) Fleischwirtschaft, 80, 7/2000

5) Schlachtlinie für Schweine komplett, Fleischwirtschaft, 2001, No. 5, pp. 111-115 (More on: http://www.maso.cz/aktual/a72.htm)

Human and Animal

It is a mistake to ask whether I put human life on the level of an animal’s life. Do you prefer apples or fruit? What kind of question is that? An apple is a fruit. Just as a human is an animal. One of many different kinds of animals. I don’t find anything offensive in this, but I know a lot of people, in fact the majority, who disavow themselves and are then reminded of this, are offended and offend. Human is after all totally different from animal, they say. I cannot compare a human with a rat or cow. I can. The term – animal – is extensive enough to include a bug, human, dolphin or elephant. And a rat and cow too. This term includes us based on mutual characteristics that do not deny the differences. A dolphin is not a bug, a rat not a cow, a human not an elephant. But they are all and we are all animals. No offence.

Of course, we have different scopes of consciousness and consciousness of self, differing abilities and varied possibilities in development. Different shapes, consistencies of hair. But we are not different.

Perhaps we are less able to sympathise with other types of animals, just as we cry more for the pain of our mother or for the pain of the mother of the flat opposite, but it is not a reason to inflict more distant pain or overlook it or give it your own value in place of the value of the one experiencing it.

When you poke out a cow’s eye, it will hurt in the way it can only hurt a cow. If you poke out a human eye, it will hurt in the way it can only hurt a cow. What more do we need to know so we do not cause pain when it is not necessary?

I must add, to explain, that the majority of people, when they hear the word “animal”, they hear something below human, and when they hear the word “human” they heard something above an animal.


The route from slavery is the abolition of slavery. It is necessary here to start differentiating between human slavery, playing at animal liberation and actual animal liberation.

Welfare recognises the dominance of humans over other animals, does not doubt slavery, leaves it legal and legitimate, keeps them alive, and only tries to make the slavery humane, whatever that means.

The extent to which such logic can lead is evident for example when it is considered better to remove a calf from its mother immediately after its birth instead of two weeks later, because their instinctive common bond is stronger after two weeks than immediately after birth, so it is less traumatic – and they are right. Fault-free logic, when you think only of the possibilities of enslavement.

Some time ago, I was asked what I recommend to those who want to eat meat, eggs and milk but do not like the way animals are usually treated today. If I recommend for example food from ecologically farmed animals. I said in no event would I recommend this. I recommend them one, two or as many days of the week that they want and are able to be vegan. It is not so demanding after all. Furthermore, it teaches them and allows them to think about refusing or accepting slavery. It does not just remain in the logic of its acceptance and respective regulation.

Veganism is not Vegetarianism

You can go on about the legislative amendments again and again, about improving conditions for those who should be free, but you become a vegan and promote and live the vegan culture. Why shout for better slavery and murder when you can stop it simply?

The best protection of animals is not the law but veganism, and the realisation that with all the non-human misery and suffering, veganism is not everything, but part of the whole.

Many people consider veganism to be part of vegetarianism. I do not agree. Veganism exceeds vegetarianism not only with the measure of perspective over needless suffering and killing of animals, but also with its potential. Vegetarianism is positive because it rejects the consumption of meat, and the connected killing, and is negative because it does not reject and actually facilitates the consumption of milk and eggs, and the connected suffering and killing. For this reason it is important to popularise and spread veganism not as a part of vegetarianism, but as an independent cultural movement.

The production of milk is inseparably linked to the spilling of blood. Worn out cows, surplus bullocks and calves all end up at the abattoir. Milk is murder. If you drink milk, and eat yoghurt and cheese, you are among those who keep a cruel roundabout in motion. Cows’ milk is food for calves, and this is its only value. It is not an agricultural commodity. The meaning of a cow’s life is not the production of milk. When a lorry transporting animals to slaughter passes you vegetarians, your animals will be there too, only someone else will cut and eat them.

Vegetarians are also fully responsible for hens dying of exhaustion with the egg yield and cockerels gassed on the day they are born in the hatches themselves, or minced alive by fast rotating blades, because the cockerels do not make eggs, and are therefore superfluous.


You go for a walk round town, for example. It is sunny, a nice day. You see someone beating up someone else. What do you do? Do you walk on? Do you stop? Do you help? And if you decide to help, how do you do it? The victim in front of you has no more strength, is just stiff and huddled on the ground, lying there beneath the blows.

You can try to discuss it with the person doing the beating. They should stop, because it hurts and is harmful. Perhaps it will work and the person will stop, but if they do not? Do you just carry on discussing it?

A couple of years ago the group Only One Solution (OOS) arose from the conviction that the world is not just about humans and if one animal type causes such a large amount of suffering around it, believing it is to the general advantage to destroy this animal type. In their manifesto they state that they are not led by hate, just that there is no other way.

They say that history and daily reality has shown that you cannot rely upon human sympathy, that people will never give up their dominance over non-humans, that power is too addictive and dominance too comfortable, that protection of some animals, including the changes in some people, is not enough. And how do those animals which are now suffering feel about our waiting?

If you accept the fact that the world is not the property of humans and if you look at the world in this way and the way humans behave, free of all of human moral and amoral rules, this solution stops seeming mad or at least madder than what humans have done to the world.

So that you realise the measure of the misery, try and imagine what it would be like if everything humans inflicted on animals happened to them.

I am convinced that the background research and protection of animals, masked or not, have more power and potential than assassinations, not just because of the mistakenly created value of human life by the majority, which puts it as the centre of everything, and the connected strategic reasons. Nor because I would believe that humans are basically good and for this we should choose a peaceful path, because I am not sure of that. Nor because I would wait until the hundredth monkey understood. But I do not know about anything that would fail to reverse the misery and horrors more than murder, even regulated. Also my sentiment is elsewhere and I am with it, even when it is sways.

Violence when preventing violence to animals has its momentary and possibly positive value, but minimum potential for greater and more permanent positive changes, as with every war, even a just one.

It is also important to realise what war does with those who fight and how easy self defence may slide down to retaliation.

Unfortunately I am afraid, even regarding what has just been said, that if we do not also recognise the authority of armed battle for the defence of animals other than humans, they will talk about how we recognise the value of their life just like human life, only with lies and hypocrisy.

I can imagine that in the defence of animals I will be aided with violence and I do not regard this as an inadequate response. I am too conscious of violence, maiming and killing and the fact that it is not necessary for that. I am too much on the victim’s side for that. I know it is not the overall or the conclusive solution, but the world is not just about this.

I know that in modern society such a battle would not be understood and categorised with general fanaticism, but how many of us would hesitate for those really close to us?


An example of non-violent direct action is the Animal Liberation Front. Thanks to this work this animal protection movement has materials documenting bad behaviour towards animals in laboratories and on farms, evidence for the public, devotees of the parasiting of animals for financial losses, halted projects, closed laboratories and breeding stations, thousands of animals have been liberated from cruelty and pointless death, thousands have changed their direction to the benefit of animals.

Of course it is limited success but not even the legal protection of animals is able to have more than limited successes. Furthermore it retains the reverse priorities. Saving lives for them is not more important than property, the law, majority opinion. Or they behave as if it was not really like this.

The truth is that these people often harm the work of ALF and similar groups and do this consciously, for various reasons. Mostly they do not think it through, because they do not even break legal boundaries in their thoughts.

I think it is necessary to openly confront the demonisation of these activities, either on the part of the state, industry, the non-profit sector, or majority opinion. We are anti-terrorist, we are not a terrorist movement.


Someone recently asked me whether I could summarise what I am talking about in a couple of sentences. I said that one was enough – I don’t harm if I don’t have to. This philosophy leaves me choice and responsibility and also teaches me to think in confidence and doubts. The same goes for anyone else. It is not authoritative. It does not intrude its will timocratically, oligarchically, democratically or tyrannically.

I believe less and less in the categorical imperative and desire it less and less. More and more I ask why animal rights and more and more I retreat from them. When I first entered a hall full of broiler chickens and saw just week-old birds dragging their industrially mutilated limbs behind or next to their bodies, sometimes moving with the help of their wings in an attempt to balance their walk, probably as if they were rowing, I did not ask in equity and did not look for obligations. Why would I force this on others?

Mostly in the animal protection movement they do not appeal to humans as able free beings, but to show business. To the government, laws, media, celebrities. In misplaced faith in a perestroika, and in their selves as some kind of positive faith, they regard it as success when they can become part of the system against which they declaim. When more people tune into their program, because bags full of hope is more important than the bare truth. Because they want those who have tuned in to stay watching. And the real face and reasons for abuse of non-humans remain more and more hidden like a nun’s pierced clitoris.

They become part of a game, the folklore of a system, which gives them a specific weight in society in exchange for helping them maintain faith in its principles, order and the path offered for this change.

They rely more or totally on the law and on charity instead of their own power and direct action. They suspend the creation of ideas about a possible better future instead of changing the present.

They degenerate in mere advertising for compassion without confrontation with the economic political reasons for their abuse. They regard and declare themselves apolitical, but simultaneously try to have a legislative impact, they lobby parliament, the senate, government, they start petitions and lose their voices in elections.

They believe that one day they will reach the horizon, because they believe the world is flat.

I am convinced that even that which can be positively enforced within the system is thanks to the work of those who defy it, and not those who let themselves be chewed.

My observations led me to realise that I would basically feel it would be inconsistent and illogical if I were a vegan but not an anarchist.

For those of you who are now startled, because their idea of an anarchist is the same as one essay written in a primary school at the White House in 1904, where it is written, I quote: “The anarchist is a very wild creature. It is the closest relative of the gorilla. It kills presidents, princes, ministers, by way of sabotaging their meetings and summer vacations. It wears long, unkempt hair, which covers the whole face. In place of nails it has long, sharp claws. The clothing of the anarchist conceals a multitude of pockets, in which it rocks, knives, pistols and fuses. It is a creature of the night. After dusk they meet in packs, large and small, and plot assaults, murders, and epidemics.”

For those of you who believe that this is anarchy, all I have to say is: never fear, it is not. Anarchy is the belief that we do not have to be owned, that we do not have to rule ourselves to live well and better and in the effort for such a life.

We need more anarchy in the protection of animals.

Still, we live together with differing power, values and priorities, wisdom and debility, internal and external empathy, faith in hierarchy and denial of it. We coexist.

What about it?

(Omnia vincit amor?)

This entry was posted on Neděle, Leden 11th, 2009 at 15.40 and is filed under writings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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