First off, I would like to say that have no problem with Julian Langer. I think Langer’s quite great, a friendly sort of person with an outlook on matters that I think is lucid, well-thought out, and quite refreshing. Not to mention, rather bold (after all, Langer’s one of the few, aside from FB, and myself, who has the guts to say that “ecofascism” is effectively not real, a big lie manufactured by the communists to paint all radically dissident greens as Nazis and fascists, because let’s face it, folks like us are a threat to the socialists, and when it comes time, I’m sure I’ll be cracking their skulls with my big ol’ boots, right beside all the fascists and white power shitheels. And they write in a manner that’s very whimsical, poetic, full of ornate and engaging language, something that is often lacking in anarchist theory. Usually theory and philosophical ponderings in our milieu are dry, dull, and can be a real slog (sorry to any who my be offended by this notion, and don’t think I’m placing myself above the rest).
However, what I am here for, what this essay of mine shall be about, is that I think Langer’s got veganism (or, at least, how folks like me and FB and Ria would approach veganism) all wrong, and why I think his understanding of veganism, in relation to things like anarchy and individualism, is shallow. Let’s get into why I believe this to be the case, shall we?
While I can’t speak for many vegans (and many vegans, indeed, get on my fucking nerves for a whole host of reasons, from their support for socialism/communism (or the opposite, being conservative goons or sometimes even full-blown scumbag fascists), to championing veganism as “civilized”, to trying to de-radicalize veganism so it can be “acceptable” and brought into the fold…to the point where I wonder how “vegan” these jackasses really are…), I, myself, see the exploitation of fauna and air, water, soil, etc., as horrific beyond belief, and my idea of veganism means fighting on behalf of the ground I walk upon, the air I breathe, the trees I gaze upon in the woods, and the water that makes up the river I live near. Indeed, a good many vegans probably are just concerned with animals, and animals alone (and even then, only reformist methods that eschew “violent, terroristic extremism” in favor of reformist, populist, legalist idiocy, proving they care not at all), I, and I’m very much convinced Flower Bomb and Ria Del Montana, and a great deal of anti-civilization vegans out there, do not exclude the flora, as well as the minerals, waters, and the very gas we consume to survive. I imagine the metaphysical side of this viewpoint is neglected, but I don’t think it would be inaccurate for me, and others like FB and Ria, to view the Earth as an entire living being. Much issue would be taken, I can infer, with the liberal, Enlightenment-borne idea that Nature is just some cold, lifeless machine that keeps chugging on, here to serve us by essentially being little else but a machine composed of various components and parts that can be isolated and sectioned off for whatever short-sighted purpose we have, because that’s a mindset perpetrated by leftists, rightists, economists, techno-fetishists, etc. Of which I, FB, and Ria are most certainly not. We are of the opinion that the Earth is very much alive, and is being killed by the life-denying philosophies civilization perpetuates wholesale. Obviously, we have to eat something, don’t we? But I’ve tried to do my best (which, I’ll admit, isn’t always (or even, at times, isn’t frequently) my best) to eat more fruit (which isn’t the plant itself, per se), and obviously a good deal of the veggies I eat are moreso byproducts of the plant, rather than being the plant itself. As well as steering clear of substitutes, which I tend to think are not great anyway. It’s not the best rationalization, yeah, but any sort of harm reduction, I think, is worth it. Point being, the delusions of grandeur humanity has instilled into itself do wage war against the water, which is harmed by being filled with toxic bullshit, the minerals and dirt and sand and rocks, gouged out by digging machines, greedy hands, probing eyes, and an assortment of structures planted firmly into the ground (the Freudian in me wants to equivocate this forceful insertion of hard monuments to death with rape and sexual violation), and we turn the air into a mode of strangulation, rather than a source of life. None of this, I support in any capacity. And the meat/dairy industries are fucking guilty.
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am no egalitarian. That I find the idea of “equality” to be based in little else but utopian pipe dreams and a poor understanding of existence, and Nature. If things were all equal, all the same, in whatever arbitrary manner we use to define “equality” (because equality is always very open to interpretation), then things would have no individuality. Thus, they would not be free, for their egos, their unique selves, would be leveled flat. And if they were to ignore, to resist, this leveling, they would have to make themselves…unequal, I guess would be the right term. Different. Separate from the herd, from the crowd, from the many. Not to mention, egalitarianism requires enforcement to be achieved. Proudhon wasn’t right on very much (Stirner was very good at picking apart the old man’s horse shit, even if we ALL owe something to that same old man, even I do), but he was right in that any equality-obsessed society, is a society predicated upon and obsessed with surveillance. It is a fantasy, a phantom. It doesn’t exist. Ill-defined, as well, as previously said. When all is left to be as it will, organically and without interference, without disturbance, sameness shall not occur. Uniformity, rigidity, a dull, stale sort of crystallization of existence that resembles more an assembly line than life, shall not happen. Only when an outside presence comes into play, shall egalitarianism come to fruition.
This disbelief in egalitarianism, however, has nothing to do with ideas of “supremacy”. Supremacy relies on objective value judgments such as “better” or “worse”, both of which are entirely relative and have no basis in reality beyond the inane thoughts of individuals who might be so inclined to believe in idiotic ideas like “better” or “less” than. Supremacy is also usually used to justify all kinds of actions that I have nothing but contempt for, such as imperialism, ethnic cleansing, economic exploitation (and economics in general, especially the class/caste system), slavery, ecocide, rape/misogyny, gay bashing, and a whole host of other deplorable practices. To me, there is simply difference. And difference should be allowed to thrive and exist. Without difference, there is no freedom. A friend of mine, who is also a staunch vegan, told me that Nature eludes the idea of symmetry, of sameness. To be asymmetrical, is to be in line with Nature. Doctrines of leveling conformity are completely against Nature.
As for Flower Bomb believing vegans to be some sort of “step up” from the non-vegans, as an “evolution”, as Langer seems to characterize it, from the ones who aren’t vegan and thus are “lumped in with the rest”, I’ve never really found that to be the case with anything they’ve ever said. If anything, FB’s always been critical of elitist tendencies and forcing vegan edge on people. Rightly so. We’re not hardliners (although I must profess that I like some hardline bands). Our words shouldn’t sound like Walter Bond and Sean Muttaqi. On the flipside, just because someone is passionate about veganism, doesn’t make them an “elitist” or what have you. Humanism and the Darwinian notion that Homo Sapiens is the hot shit that deserves to be king of everything that exists because of some half-baked theories built upon progress and a Christian-like end goal to history…is, if anything, the real elitism. Not to mention, if one looks at all of the ecocide the meat/dairy industries cause, and how seriously destructive and torturous they are, then I’d say being vegan is the way to go if one is, in fact, anti authoritarian and anti exploitation. Contrary to what Langer may be thinking, me, FB, and Ria are not vegan FSU here to beat up all the meat eaters (although I have zero problem hunt sab or meat sab of any kind, and if you’re a butcher or hunter, you deserve a good ass kicking, because let’s face it…they aren’t doing that out of need; I can almost guarantee it, since most hunting these days is trophy hunting done purely for money and bravado). Though I’m going to be frank…they do get on my last damn nerve. I should know; I live amongst them, and have to deal with them day-in, and day-out. We aren’t vegan Slapshot, ready to go up to random grocery shoppers and slap steaks outta their hands…not yet, anyway. I definitely wouldn’t mind spoiling the carcasses they’re going to munch on later, just so they couldn’t have ‘em on their plates. Carnists are usually macho dicks overtaken by the need to prove how tough and “manly” are, I’m sure even Langer would agree, and they need to be called on their bullshit. They need to be reminded of all the consequences of their lifestyle choices, even the ones they hadn’t considered, and be shown how truly deep meat-eating goes. What they support has a whole slew of reasons to condemn it in the strongest terms. Hunters and butchers and cow-milkers and animal breeders and all those other fucking people? As far as I’m concerned, they can go die. What they do on a daily basis is inexcusable, and if they did what they do to animals, to people? There’d be uproar on a massive scale. But because animals are the victims, we’re told to not give a damn. And yet, we vegan individualists are the supposed “elitists”. Gimme a fuckin’ break…
Let me be the first to say: I am an individualist. A passionate, deeply individualistic sort of person, alright? Collectivism? Fuck all of that. Damn all manner of collectivism that seeks to make individuals ignore their own true will…and that likely condemns most forms of collectivism, doesn’t it? If not all of them outright. Hell, sometimes I am so passionately individualist and anti-collectivist, it causes friction. Usually between me and the reds, and those sympathetic to the reds. To the point where quite a few of them likely want to challenge me to fisticuffs over it. I know one in California damn sure does. Many will rant and rave about how individualism is pure selfishness. Maybe, maybe not. It can be, no doubt. However, one could easily make the case that collectivism is wholly selfish, rabid in its hatred for any and all heterogeneity, determined to crush whatever does not conform, and absorb it instead, molding it exactly however the collectivism that is taking place demands it manifest its existence.
Being an individualist, however, doesn’t mean that I have to agree with someone’s thoughts on a matter. In fact, I may very well have an intense dislike of their opinions regarding a certain subject. I’d say that’s the hallmark of being an individualist. When two unique beings come into contact who feel one way or another about this or that, there is bound to be conflict. There is bound to be “friction”. Yet, the uniques go their own way, do they not? Be it on amicable or amorous terms, they will continue to travel down whatever path it is they have chosen. Hardly anyone is being “condemned” here, I don’t think. Seems more like a disagreement of opinion. And if the disagreement turns a little squirrelly, well, hey, we’re all passionate, hard-headed people. It doesn’t mean we can’t “live and let live”, despite difference of opinion. Maybe the difference of opinion causes a permanent rift. So what? That’s “policing” or “condemnation”? If you want to live how you wish, be my guest.
On the other hand…if you’re going to talk about being against speciesism, and against the engine of civilization that wages an all out war on life as we know it, yet knowingly participate in something that tramples on all other species with sadistic glee and malicious intent, then I’m sorry, but you’re going to sound like a jackass in my eyes. It’d be one thing if you’re not all aware of how deep the rabbit hole goes, and you’re just chowing down on meat because that is all you know, or were at least vegetarian, or, hell, you were of the mindset of “well, I’m getting there, but it hasn’t happened yet”, being at least sympathetic and open to veganism, then hey, I could live with that. Because at least you’re trying, and at least you recognize there is an issue to be addressed. However, to be so hostile towards veganism, and the idea of being vegan? As a self-proclaimed “anti-speciest”? That makes zero sense in my eyes at all. Meat and dairy are genocidal apparatuses of civilization, and anyone who thinks they deserve to still be standing in any capacity, supports civilization to at least some degree.
Now, I’m under no illusion that all unique individuals are worthy of care, which is a stance Langer takes (note that I do not include Langer in this category; merely making a point). I’d argue the opposite, actually. There are many, many, many individuals I think we could do without. Nazis, rapist, pedophiles, wifebeaters, fagbashers, child abusers, cops, politicians, animal abusers, hunters, butchers, rich folks, a whole cavalcade of deplorable types who I would not be sad to see go whatsoever. Do I condemn them, and what they are? Sure, I’d say I do. Perhaps my aggression towards them might be argued to be a kind of “repression”. But I see it as self-defense. The kinds of human waste I just named are likely to be against the individual (human and non-human alike) being allowed to go their own way, to live how they wish, and instead be subject to another’s will. Another’s thoughts, desires, etc. From my perspective, all of these people are authoritarians. Fascists, even. Wholly deserving of such a heavy insult. Do they deserve care? Absolutely not. Not to me, anyway. All they’d do is impede my freedom, my liberation, my desires for what I think anarchy and total unrestriction are. I understand wanting to extend that care as much as possible, however…let’s be realistic at the same time. This system, this Leviathan, is violent against us. Always has been, always will be.
From what I have gathered, many anarchists have a limited view of what individualism is. Many individualists of an anarchist variety only see humans as being capable of living as unique beings. And their concept of “living as unique beings” can often come down to a depressingly shallow economic question: how free, in (insert economic ideology here), are they able to act? It’s entirely humanistic. Based on the Cartesian-esque principals that only humans are rational agents, and all else are mere soulless automatons. Put here on Earth for our use, our pleasure, our needs and wants. Standing-reserve, auxiliary resources to be gobbled up later by the hand of “technique” and repurposed into something else. I say boulderdash to all of this. Everything that is alive, from blades of grass to giant trees, from honeybees to great whales, has a will. A will that manifests uniquely. What Crowley called a “true will”. Being is experienced in a myriad of manners by all that contains the chaotic, rambunctious, hectic, incomprehensible ways of the ol’ cosmic pulse. To deny this to other lifeforms, is to be thoroughly anti-individualist. It just so happens that things like animal agriculture and the meat industry are denying the individuality of flora, and especially fauna. Meat/dairy consumption as it is perpetrated in our society, as it is propped up and upheld and pushed and ruthlessly employed, is totalitarian in every aspect. An engine of domination, of total control and authority. How can one claim to be anti-capitalist and anti-slavery, yet say nothing or do nothing against the meat/dairy industry? How can one claim to be anti-fascist, when the slaughterhouses and the farms and the slash-and-burn teams are still at large? Contrary to what Mr. Gelderloos says, that hack, veganism, for me, isn’t just some trendy consumerist venture for me to do after seeing some liberal friends of mine partake in it. It’s born out of the same mentality I employ in regards to not having a car, not buying a bunch of useless shit, not always paying for what I obtain from stores, hanging out in Nature as much as possible, not owning pets, not paying for movies, not getting intoxicated, etc., etc.
Again, I reiterate this: I do not have a problem with Langer. Never have. And I respect quite a bit of what he’s written. I don’t mean to condemn, I just think Langer’s got, to put it vulgarly, some shit mixed up. Got the wrong idea, if you will.
I’ve said my piece.