| A NEW APPROACH TO ANIMAL
RIGHTS/ ANIMAL WELFARE ACTIVISM
advocates to get out and learn what others are doing, to see the
whole picture and then act accordingly. Only working
diligently to save today's animals is simply a waste of time, effort
and resources that will only guarantee that millions and billions of
animals in years to come will simply suffer the same fate at the
hands of humans. Discussing problems we need to overcome such
moral concept of animals in society
root, not the branches
---The problems arise when people attack or
discriminate against AW or AR. Usually through a total
misunderstanding of what each is wanting to do.
unnecessary enemies, assuming our way is the only
means of accomplishing our goals,
become involved and to court the local and county
government's elected officials.
Additional pages on this site that
shed light on similar ideas to help move this effort
forward are found at
www.21stcenturycares.org/whyorganize.htm as well as
All provide eye-opening support for the incredible need
to group and become more involved.
us, we often want to think that things are getting better for
nonhuman animals thanks to the work of the many organizations,
groups and individuals defending the consideration of their
interests as sentient beings. But we tend to see everything done
"for the animals" as something positive that will make people change
their attitudes towards them. This, far from being true, is the last
nail in the coffin for this movement and the animals defended by it.
A lack of reflection and criticism has driven us to a point at which
we are often considered lunatics or emotional freaks. Due to the
actual situation of the animal rights movement in terms of strategy,
tactics and effectiveness, a new perspective on the issue appears to
First of all, I want to express my support to all of those who fight
against the exploitation, killing, or use of sentient creatures.
Although I show certain disagreements with certain views, methods,
or campaigns, I do not underestimate the efforts, good intentions,
or work of those carrying them out. Everyone really wanting to help
animals should be happy to be criticized so that they can analyze
their work better and decide if they can improve what they are
doing. It is very sad to see that the most widespread attitude
towards criticism is: "If you don't like it, don't do it. You do
your thing; I'll do mine." That way, the movement will never
Also, there are things that can be counterproductive, which can
affect the work of others, and thus animals. So, if someone is doing
something that might damage this cause, we should not shut up. Also,
if someone has an idea that could improve our effectiveness, her/his
comments should be welcomed, not simply ignored or dismissed without
any real consideration. Nobody is perfect, and we constantly do
things that could be done in a better way. Lots of times we notice
it ourselves after a while, but sometimes we just don't think of it
until someone says it. Accepting you were doing something wrong (or
simply that you could have done it better) doesn't mean accepting
you are a bad or stupid person. What actually shows a lack of wisdom
is to think that everything you do is fine and that there is nothing
for you to change. Wise people realize they can always do things
better and evolve constantly to improve their effectiveness.
Activists should have a deeper
look at the issue and see the great power they have to change things
on a larger scale. It is understandable that seeing animals
suffering in front of us is very difficult to cope with, but those
who are not there for us to see are probably hidden because they are
suffering much more. And the fact that we don’t see something
doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
Still, trying to achieve nonhuman-animal liberation this way seems
not only terribly slow but impossible. And let's not forget that
those saved animals need attention, which makes many activists spend
their time taking care of a few animals instead of saving millions
by campaigning (and the same goes for the large sums of money spent
We must not lose perspective, and we shall choose those campaigns
that will save more animals in the long run. The animals who exist
today are a very tiny percentage of the animals who will be killed
and tortured in the coming centuries and millennia. Paying excessive
attention to those who suffer today is condemning millions more to
suffer the same fate. We can’t save them all, but let’s save all the
ones we can!
Campaigns such as the ones mentioned are wasting enormous amounts of
money, activists, time, and other resources in promoting not the
egalitarian treatment of all sentient beings. Not surprising to
anyone who actually made it through the entire article, there is
simply no better manner of getting more people involved or teaching
the masses what they obviously do not know than through humane
education. This, my friends, is most useful and effective in our
schools, yet most simply cannot see the forest for the trees.
Remember, our primary goal is to
save as many animals as possible. That cannot be achieved if
the major focus is on today's animals. We need to recognize the
millions and billions of animals yet to be born that are simply
ignored until it's almost too late for most of them. That in
itself shows incredible ignorance on the part of humans.
I hope no one feels offended by the comments in this article and
that everyone understands that my only intention is to improve the
movement to end all exploitation, use, or killing of beings with the
ability to suffer and to enjoy life.
Many activists often say that AR and AW groups should work together
and not criticize one another. Indeed, there are many groups who
call themselves AR and constantly carry out AW campaigns or use AW
arguments (e.g., referring to the regulations not being followed in
farms or labs, workers causing animals "unnecessary" pain,
anesthetics not being used, cages being dirty or small...).
So-called welfarism is the main enemy of AR. You just need to talk
to people on the street to find out that there is practically no one
saying, "I don't give a damn about animals suffering in factory
farms, or in experiments, or during slaughter." Instead, the most
common comment is "Oh, yes! This way of treating animals is
horrible. But there are farmers who have them on fields and kill
them humanely, and experimenters who use anesthetics…" Many others
also say, "I know everything about it; I only buy free-range."
Very few people agree with "outright cruelty." What we have to make
clear is that it is unfair to breed, use, or kill someone for your
own purposes without his/her consent. And, in light of the practical
impossibility of being certain about consent in the case of
nonhumans, the idea that they can consent must be completely ruled
No one can ever say s/he is on the animals’ side when stating that
it is acceptable to kill or breed them as long as you do it nicely.
It is true that many people that use welfarist methods do actually
think that the use of animals should be abolished, but they find
their way of campaigning a more effective way of achieving that
goal. Nevertheless, for the public, the strategy you follow, and not
your objectives, is the idea they have of you. This means that what
people understand of a welfarist campaign is that it is fine to use
animals if you do it carefully and "humanely." And then, although
personally many of us might feel close to those campaigners,
publicly we need to oppose them, as they justify the utilization of
sentient creatures (or, at least, that is what the public will
Animals are not property; they are not resources. They are
individuals with an interest in living their lives, and doing so
free from pain, exploitation, or coercion imposed by other actors.
Our interest in not being subjected to suffering comes from our
ability to feel pain and discomfort. Our interest in living, and
doing it in freedom, is due to our ability to feel pleasure and joy.
When we die, our interest in not suffering disappears, as we don't
suffer when dead. But all our chances of experiencing any further
joy or pleasure are ended. That is why all sentient creatures with
the ability to feel positive experiences must have the right to
live. This should be added to the right to live painlessly and
freely (the lack of freedom causes suffering and doesn't allow
pleasurable activities to be carried out).
To reach a situation in which public awareness means that fewer
animals are killed or exploited is a step towards animal liberation.
However, although a change such as animals being killed with less
pain or bred in better conditions is not something we should oppose,
we must not be the ones to promote it.
Many activists call themselves "animal lovers" and tell others to
love animals instead of killing them. This is quite inappropriate,
as you can't ask others to feel one thing or another; all that is
needed is for people to respect them and to leave them alone. Also,
by talking about love instead of justice, we make AR seem like a
sentimental issue instead of a very important ethical question.
Actually, most people who come up to stalls and say they love
animals appear to eat meat or defend vivisection for medical
It is more important to teach others that animals matter in
themselves and that the fact of harming them is wrong in itself,
because they are sentient, not because it is bad for us. Suggesting
that the problem of “animal abuse” is that it causes abuse of humans
is plain anthropocentrism.