Re; ‘Freeganism Is Evil’ – A Pro-Freegan Story Analogy

Here’s some incredibly niche philosophy arguments encase you ever feel the need to defend rescuing animal products that have gone past the best before date like bread with whey in it from shops for free and eating it yourself or sharing them out:

Firstly it can be great animal rights advocacy in rare circumstances like so; by setting up a Food not Bombs stall in the town centre and putting up a vegan sign in front of a big pan of vegan stew and a freegan sign infront of rescued bread. The vegan sign can provoke lots of interesting conversations about the ethics of breeding and killing animals. While the freegan sign can get people talking about a further layer of if it is true that harming animals for their meat, milk and eggs was necessary to feed the population, how come so very much meat, milk and eggs ended up rotting in supermarket skips instead? Which can provoke further conversation about the evils of producing such an energy intensive product like meat to just become food waste, while people are starving around the world.

Secondly non-human animals we farm don’t experience a worse quality of life worrying about whether they’re going to be eaten by other humans after they’re dead, humans do as a species norm.

Thirdly there exists healthy human cultures in which humans being eaten by non-human animals after they’re dead is seen as a positive, for example in Tibet, having your energy transferred into that of a bird is seen as a beautiful thing or green burials where your body can more easily become nutrients for both animals and plants. So then, healthy human cultures in which non-human animals are eaten by humans is also likely possible.

And finally, even if it’ll be a better world when everyone is vegan and we’re all disgusted by animals products (in the same way as if no one ever felt pressured by sexist beauty standards to shave their legs again), that doesn’t mean that it’s not morally permissible to consume some of those animal products at the moment i.e. it’s not comparable to cannibalism where you’re causing worse quality of life in other humans by normalizing it or normalizing the standard that women should have their genitals mutilated as neither the choice to shave your legs or eat thrown out animal products necessitates violating anyone’s rights or causing harm to anyone.

Intro

Yo, so this is a response to Vegan Footsoldiers video entitled ‘Freeganism is Evil’. My understanding – extrapolating from his story analogy – was that he believes you can’t both be a great human rights advocate and not care about humans interests as a species norm during a humans life time, to then go against them by eating them. And that the same applies to animal rights advocates and animals. But basically I disagree, because animals aren’t worrying about events past their death, so they aren’t suffering a worse quality of life imagining maybe they’ll be eaten by humans after they’re dead.

He also wrote in the comments he uses Immanuel Kant’s indirect principle to justify calling freeganism immoral, so I’ll flash up on the screen my formal refutations of that now for anyone curious you can pause the video or come back to them later, 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. [At the bottom of this post]

But the point of this video is I’d just like to tell a story analogy back, because I think narratives as intuition pumps are useful.

So here we go…

The Story

Once upon a time the good people of London and of all Britain were horrified to hear that a girls genital mutilation ring was discovered in the capital city. A deeply abhorrent and unethical tradition from the land of their origin, the families and surgeons had forced children to have their clitoris’s chopped off. They tried to keep their terrible work secret and warned the children that they must never tell, and most of the children never did, and yet the story came out. One night the ten o’clock news reported that multiple children had been subjected to this horrible abuse.

The people of Great Britain were horrified, they shuddered at what was one of the most ethically repugnant operations continuing to exist in Great Britain. How could it be happening? Why were the children not saved? Was it still happening even now?

The people cried for justice, something must be done! Questions were asked in Parliament, what were the police doing to stop these heinous acts? Stirred into action by the loud clamour of the people, the police searched for information on where the genital mutilation was taking place.

Then suddenly, the surgeons, the elders and parents responsible who had been able to cause unquantifiable tragedy during its short existence thankfully all were arrested and charged by the police. Newspapers across the land carried pictures of their heads bowed in shame, names were named, details given. In the courtroom they all admitted guilt and were each sentenced to prison. Justice! Justice! The repulsed crowd of onlookers shouted as the perpetrators were escorted in handcuffs out of the courthouse and stuffed into the police vehicle.

Two human rights activists stood together gravely, feeling a sense of deep tragedy for the victims while shedding bittersweet tears of resolution knowing that the foul people responsible would be put behind bars where they belonged, where they would have the time to contemplate such heinous crimes.

Jane and Billy were their names. It was these two human rights activists who played the most important part in the story for they had taken it upon themselves to spy on the genital mutilation ring and alert the police.

They already knew what had been going on well before the media picked up on the story and having had little faith in the police to do something about it, thankfully Jane and Billy had become vigilantes to track down the perpetrators themselves Without the help of these activists it would have likely taken much longer with much more bloodshed until the perpetrators were finally brought to justice.

They had frantically run to the police station after having received word of the mutilation that would take place that day to alert the police and point out who the doctor and parents responsible were. The police had broken down the door to the secret location in the middle of the night. The parents had already years ago mutilated their two eldest children’s genitals and were in the process of mutilating the youngest two when the police stormed the building.

One of the children fortunately was unharmed but one wasn’t so lucky, the girl was experiencing massive blood loss and had gone into shock. She was rushed to the hospital accompanied by the human rights activists as they had been at the scene when the police made the raid.

At the hospital whilst the medical staff raced to save the injured child’s life the human rights activist waited distraught in the corridor just outside the operating theatre, Billy paced up and down. Furious at himself not having been able to bring the police to the location sooner. Jane sat with her head in her hands, if only they had been able to arrive just five minutes earlier, maybe even just one minute earlier. Never before had 60 seconds meant so much to either of them.

It wasn’t long before the surgeon walked glumly out of the operating theatre door and into the corridor where the activists waited now frozen, now unable to take a breath in anticipation of the news. Looking up from her chair Jane burst into a whale of tears even before those six heart-breaking words could escape from the lips of the medic, ‘we did all that we could’.

Billy threw his arms around Jane in an attempt to comfort her as she cried engulfed in sadness and regret for not having been able to have saved the girl from this terrible fate. They gathered their things, knowing there was a long night still ahead, the police would want statements. It would be many hours before they would be back home.

A week later, Billy and Jane, still reeling from their experience, were walking round the supermarket together when Jane got a text from their daughter Sam asking for a safety razor. She turned round to Billy to read out the text and they both looked at each other concerned.

Sam was 14 years old and had been a young advocate at school for girls not needing to shave their legs if they didn’t want to. For Sam, the point had always been that women should not alter their bodies to conform to cultural standards or gratify the male gaze. She’d often been teased at school but had always laughed it off. Had someone said something really mean to her for her to suddenly want to shave her legs now?

They discussed the issue some more, but decided they better get the razor as it was her decision and if she changed her mind again, she could always let the hair grow back. They could hardly fight so hard for girls to exercise their rights over a cultural norm like FGM and yet not trust their daughter’s judgement in the matter of shaving her legs.

When they got home they talked to their daughter, trying to find out if she was feeling pressured into shaving her legs, and worried that she was being influenced by advertisements or all the bullying over the years. They were relieved to find out that now it was summer she just wanted to try out shaving her legs to see what it felt like. Billy and Jane were glad to have talked it through and furnished her with her very own safety razor.

The next day was a Saturday and Billy and Jane were busy setting up a ‘Food Not Bombs’ stall in the town centre. They had worked hard all morning on a massive pan of vegan stew that could feed 500 people. Fragrant with cardamom and coconut oil, thickened with red lentils, it contained squashes and pulses, potatoes and vedge. Billy had rescued the crusty bread to dip in the stew from an overstuffed supermarket skip the night before. Jane noticed that it contained the tiniest amount of whey from cows milk, but because they were giving it away, she knew the corporations wouldn’t profit from their work.

They put up two signs on the table, ‘Vegan Stew’ and ‘Freegan Bread’. As well as tons of pamphlets and leaflets with helpful advice on living a low impact vegan or freegan lifestyle and the various campaign struggles in the city and internationally.

The vegan sign provoked lots of interesting conversations about the ethics of breeding and killing animals. While the freegan sign got people talking about a further layer. If it was true that harming animals for their meat, milk and eggs was necessary to feed the population, how come so very much meat, milk and eggs ended up rotting in supermarket skips instead? This provoked another conversation about the evils of producing such an energy intensive product like meat to just become food waste, while people are starving around the world.

So, when it came time to fold down the table and go home, a great day of advocating for human and animal legal rights, plus environmental protection had been had.

Driving home they got to talking about how years ago, Jane had used rescued cheese to help her stay strong in her decision to go vegan. Jane had got the idea from a documentary she’d watched which talked about a therapist who devised a technique in group therapy to help people quit cigarettes. On day one, they emptied bags full of cigarettes into the centre of the group circle, to show them the abundance, so that that stress about scarcity was dulled.

She had worried that she might have been weak willed enough to fail without the rescued cheese and convince herself that going vegan wasn’t for her. But she knew that probably that happens to a lot of people. If more people had access to animal products from a source that is doing no further harm to animals, it might help them in their transition to not buying it anymore. And that could only be a good thing.

Freeganism had had that same effect of re-aligning the value of junk food for her, getting rid of low-level addictions. When you see the mountains of packaged baked goods, croissants and doughnuts produced that day in the shop, stacked in a mountain all in front of you, you know you can get that sugar crash whenever you like, you stop seeing it as such a hot option.

Billy then remarked how interesting it is that buying cigarettes for that therapeutic technique is doing a little harm in the short term, buying the fags profits the tobacco industry. Yet the therapeutic technique serves a greater good long term.

And yet with freeganism not only is no harm being committed, it’s carbon negative because you’re eating food that would otherwise have been thrown out, so less food needs to be produced.

Then Jane said; I used to think it would be as simple as saying, “imagine if you grew up knowing that you were going to be killed for your meat!” Because of how compassion for our fellow human beings works, we couldn’t imagine causing them that fear. The harm would have this cumulative effect on the culture, our community bonds, and who we know we are. Like abhorring female genital mutilation.

But it’s not the same thing. Animals aren’t burdened by those questions, don’t know they’ll be killed for their meat, don’t live in fear of that end. But by buying animal products, we perpetuate the industry that profits from their killing, and contributes to the devastation of the environment.

Billy said, that’s the point isn’t it? In Tibet, having your energy transferred into that of a bird is seen as a beautiful thing, so funerals at the top of mountains and your remains left as a tasty snack for the vultures is not so unusual. He said; it would be a great thing to move away from graveyards with cold gravestones in rows. Imagine if more people chose to be buried at a memorial woodland site. A tree planted in remembrance of you, your remains feeding the tree.

Finally Jane said; Right, so culture can be good or bad, we have to look towards something more concrete like what brings us happy flourishing and go from there. Like, it probably will be a better world when everyone is vegan and we’re all disgusted by thrown out animal products. And it would be great if no one ever felt pressured by sexist beauty standards to shave their legs again!

But at the end of the day, it’s not like cannibalism, where you’d be causing worse quality of life in other humans by foretelling a gruesome ending. And the same goes for normalizing the standard that women should have their genitals mutilated. Both ideas are barbaric, and rightly rejected.

Neither the choice to shave your legs or eat thrown out animal products causes harm to anyone, so I don’t really see why people ought not do it. Even though I want that culture without any more domestic animals or carnism, I still just see a win in the political act of rescuing animals and wasted food, building relationships with people that can benefit from those calories or companionship, where no positive change would happen otherwise.

“Here, here” they both said while enjoying a little laugh. And laugh they did.

Formal Arguments

First here’s my formulation of Footsoldiers argument which is IMO unsound:

A1) Kant’s Indirect Principle Against Advocating For Freeganism

P1) If I accept Kant’s axioms then I accept the indirect principle established in the groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals

P2) If I accept the indirect principle established in the groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals then I would agree that treating non human animals without dignity would harm myself

P3) If I accept the indirect principle established in the groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals then I have a moral duty to not harm myself

P4) If I agree that treating non human animals without dignity would harm myself and that I have a moral duty to not harm myself then I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity

P5) If I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity then I should reject consuming animal products (as it is the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

P6) If I should reject consuming animal products then I shouldn’t promote freeganism (as to do so would constitute promoting self-harm)

P7) I accept Kant’s axioms

C) Therefore I should be against freeganism

Through consquentialism it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the ethical issue is breeding and killing of animals, cutting short their interests to experience wellbeing. And that if non-human animals aren’t experiencing worse quality of life worrying about whether they’re going to be eaten by other humans after they’re dead, then there’s no ethical issue to freeganism.

Through deontology however, you might think you should reject consuming all animal products on principle as you feel it is the antithesis of treating animals with dignity.

So the arguments I’d suggest you use on such a person is firstly you could use a simple comparison to argue the way the person is applying dignity is a category error, like I do in the story analogy by saying:

It probably will be a better world when everyone is vegan and we’re all disgusted by thrown out animal products. And it would be great if no one ever felt pressured by sexist beauty standards to shave their legs again!

But at the end of the day, it’s not like cannibalism, where you’d be causing worse quality of life in other humans by foretelling a gruesome ending. And the same goes for normalizing the standard that women should have their genitals mutilated. Both ideas are barbaric, and rightly rejected.

Neither the choice to shave your legs or eat thrown out animal products necessitates violating anyone’s rights, so I don’t really see why people ought not do it.

And in formal logic terms:

A2) Rejecting the utility of culturally specific disgust reactions

P1) Non-human animals don’t experience a worse quality of life worrying about whether they’re going to be eaten by other humans after they’re dead, humans do.

P2) IF there exists healthy human cultures in which humans being eaten by non-human animals after they’re dead is seen as a positive (for example in Tibet, having your energy transferred into that of a bird is seen as a beautiful thing or green burials where your body can more easily become nutrients for both animals and plants) THEN healthy human cultures in which non-human animals are eaten by humans is also likely possible

P3) There exists healthy human cultures in which humans being eaten by non-human animals after they’re dead is seen as a positive

P4) If non-human animals don’t experience a worse quality of life worrying about whether they’re going to be eaten by other humans after they’re dead, humans do AND healthy human cultures in which non-human animals are eaten by humans is likely possible THEN even if it’ll be a better world when everyone is vegan and we’re all disgusted by animals products (in the same way as if no one ever felt pressured by sexist beauty standards to shave their legs again), that doesn’t mean that it’s not morally permissible to consume some of those animal products at the moment (i.e. it’s not comparable to cannibalism where you’re causing worse quality of life in other humans by normalizing it or normalizing the standard that women should have their genitals mutilated as neither the choice to shave your legs or eat thrown out animal products necessitates violating anyone’s rights)

P5) IF (even if it’ll be a better world when everyone is vegan and we’re all disgusted by animals products, that doesn’t mean that it’s not morally permissible to consume some of those animal products at the moment) THEN (IF I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity THEN I should not reject consuming animal products [as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity])

P6) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity

C) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity, and I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

Or secondly without even challenging their gut disgust reaction to thinking it would be treating the animal without dignity you could try something close to a consequentialist argument:

A3) Refutation of P5 of A1 using Tom Regan’s worse-off principle

P1) If I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity then I should promote freeganism on rare occasions where it’s an effective advocacy tool at encouraging people to stop buying animal products because the principle that I should avoid very minor self-harm in the disgust it brings to mind when advocating shouldn’t override the principle that it’s immoral to pass up easy opportunities to encourage people to stop buying animal products (which leads to the breeding and killing of animals) because I wouldn’t want to live in a world in which everyone passed up on those opportunities, so I should act according to that maxim by which I can at the same time will that it should become a universal law

P2) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity

P3) P1 entails if I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity then I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

C) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity, and I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

Or thirdly you could you could try challenging the necessity of the disgust reaction:

A4) Kant’s Indirect Principle For Advocating For Freeganism

P1) If I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity THEN I should promote freeganism on rare occasions where it’s an effective advocacy tool at encouraging people to stop buying animal products because although killing an animal isn’t treating the animal with dignity, eating an animal to prevent waste is, because you’re eating food that would otherwise have been thrown out, so less food needs to be produced, causing less harm to the environment AND if it had gone to the landfill it might have gotten eaten by maggots which can survive on any food like rotting vegetables, but it would be much less dignity than you could show the animal by putting that energy to use in achieving happy flourishing yourself and setting an example for others.

P2) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity

P3) P1 entails if I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity then I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

C) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity, and I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

Or finally you could try nudging them away from deontology with a kind of virtue ethics argument a la W.D. Ross:

A5) Refutation of P5 of A1 using W.D.Ross’s principle of prima facie duties

P1) If I accept W.D.Ross’s theory of prima facie duties THEN I accept any felt obligation is a prima facie duty, though it can be overridden depending on the circumstances by another one, that doesn’t mean that the original obligation disappears, it simply means that it’s defeasible and it usually continues to operate in the background.

P2) If I accept any felt obligation is a prima facie duty, though it can be overridden depending on the circumstances by another one, that doesn’t mean that the original obligation disappears, it simply means that it’s defeasible and it usually continues to operate in the background THEN I accept when I have a felt obligation that talking positively about the consumption of animal products is disgusting and would be an act of self-harm to myself AND I learn about people using freeganism as an effective advocacy tool in turning people vegan who wouldn’t otherwise have considered it, such that I now feel a stronger felt obligation to do the same that the duty to do the latter is overriding, but I’m going to work extra hard to advocate for veganism such that I can know I’ve contributed to a future world in which no one needs to talk about the positive effects of consuming animal products, because the initial obligation still operates in the background even though it was overridden.

P3) I accept W.D.Ross’s theory of prima facie duties

P4) P2 entails if I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity then I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

P5) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity

C) I should live in a way which treats animals with dignity, and I should not reject consuming animal products (as it is not the antithesis of treating animals with dignity)

References

The video I’m responding to is called ‘Freeganism is Evil’ by Footsoldier:

The idea for the analogy came from this great video called Thoughts On Freeganism by Catherine Klein:

“I understand that shaving my legs and my armpits and everything is a sexist double standard, why are women expected to be completely hairless in order to be seen as attractive? It doesn’t make sense and I think it’s totally badass when women break this norm and go all natural. It does make me question my choices like I probably should be like fuck the patriarchy and stop shaving, just like I probably should be horrified by my leather boots and throw them out because one could argue that shaving your legs is an example of internalized oppression, but at the end of the day, neither of my choices here are causing direct harm to anyone, so I don’t really see changing my ways as a moral necessity.”

Freeganism article on the Philosophical Vegan Wiki:

Freeganism video catalogue

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Why Ecocentrism Is Essential

If you neglect environmental protection you incur a burden on legal human rights and legal animal rights because humans and animals depend on having clean water, clean air and atmospheric stability that doesn’t lead to drastic climate change.

In order to even know where it is ethical to draw a line in the sand on where and what amount of territory can be taken up by human development, we need to look to where environmental processes can and cannot support sentient life and to what degree.

If you neglect legal animal rights, the environment which sustains humans and animals often deteriorates because in most cases it takes more land to grow plants to feed to animals to eat those animals than eating the plants directly, so you have less land acting as a carbon sink, less land for wild animals to be able to express all their capabilities in and less land for human habitation.

And finally, if you neglect legal human rights, obviously humans suffer, but also animals to the extent that we could ideally be good caretakers, like rescuing and releasing wildlife who were injured. Plus how a chaotic inefficient human society leads to worse environmental damage.

Recommended reading:

Recommended listening/watching on the 3 spheres; geochemistry & non-sentient biology, sentient animals & sapient meaning creation:

Ethics of Direct Action Debate & Research

TL;DW I advocate reasons for viewing far-left direct action positively, while my liberal opponent argues for a narrower set of justifications. Hopefully people find the dialogue around ethical foundations and campaign case studies useful.

I had this good debate a few days ago in the Arthuria server on the proposition; It has been and will likely continue to be for some time, in some cases both ethically justified and good political advocacy to use direct action tactics ranging from civil disobedience up to economic sabotage and fighting evil actors today.

Meaning in terms of campaigning against state, corporate and social harms, I think people should have available to them tactics ranging from purposeful; civil disobedience, to graffiti & culture jamming, to hacking, to sabotage & fighting. But, stopping short of political killing today under representative systems.

An example of fighting evil actors would be sometimes fighting people who are displaying character vices and making them feel afraid as being the best solution, like repeat offending rapists and paedophiles. And an example of economic sabotage would be both making a statement and making it more costly for a system or person to continue doing that action, like sabotaging a draft office, disrupting the governments ability to send people to Vietnam.

Here’s my longer essay on the subject: On The Far-Left, Effective Activism & Violence

And finally, in preperation for the debate I started cataloging the history of revolutionairy groups and campaigns to look for interesting case studies which you can find here: Left-Libertarian History Case Studies

On The Far-Left, Effective Activism & Violence

Introduction to what it means to be on the far-left

So first off, as socialists & anarchists, we know we are far outside the Overton window. We know even if left-wing policy positions are more popular than right-wing, most people are still going to be biased to what they’ve grown up with and what’s familiar to them.

But, we also know we can shift the Overton window from the radical fringe: [1]

The most important thing about the Overton window, however, is that it can be shifted to the left or the right, with the once merely “acceptable” becoming “popular” or even imminent policy, and formerly “unthinkable” positions becoming the open position of a partisan base. The challenge for activists and advocates is to move the window in the direction of their preferred outcomes, so their desired outcome moves closer and closer to “common sense.”

There are two ways to do this: the long, hard way and the short, easy way. The long, hard way is to continue making your actual case persistently and persuasively until your position becomes more politically mainstream, whether it be due to the strength of your rhetoric or a long-term shift in societal values. By contrast, the short, easy way is to amplify and echo the voices of those who take a position a few notches more radical than what you really want.

For example, if what you actually want is a public health care option in the United States, coordinate with and promote those pushing for single-payer, universal health care. If the single-payer approach constitutes the “acceptable left” flank of the discourse, then the public option looks, by comparison, like the conservative option it was once considered back when it was first proposed by Orrin Hatch in 1994.

This is Negotiating 101.

So our hope is that our ideals and passion can be admired by some, like risking prison to sabotage the draft for Vietnam, so some peoples sons aren’t conscripted into fighting an evil war. [2] Then any moderate left policies might look reasonable in comparison which makes them the tried and tested policies of the future.

We should also openly acknowledge that the ideal future we would like to see is empirically extremely unlikely to come about in our own lifetimes in the west, as there are still so many hills to climb first in pressuring workplaces over to a more co-operative flattened hierarchy of workplace democracy.

To quickly summarise, the direction the far-left would like to head in, is going from; a two party system, to… a multi-party coalition through preferential voting, to… some local government positions being elected by sortition, to… the majority of society being so content with worker-co-ops and syndicalist unions that we transition from representative democracy to direct democracy. So, a chamber of ministers to federated spokes councils.

Now I might be the minority in the far-left on this, but I would want people to have the option of going back a step if people aren’t ready for that level of direct democracy, where the choice is disorganization and suffering or slightly less suffering under a repressive system of governance again. You could relate this to the position Rosa Luxemburg was in in lending support and hoping some good would come of the Spartacist uprising, whilst also wishing they could have been convinced to hold off until they were more prepared.

This is why it’s so important to build the governance model slowly enough to match expertise, so as not to falter with people pushing for ideals before having adequately put them to the test. So as not to cause a whiplash effect, where people desire a reactionary politics of conformity, under more rigid hierarchy of just the few.

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As anarchists & socialists who desire a more directly democratic society, what tactics should we use if we want to be effective at moving society in that direction?

Electoral politics – We need to get really well educated on how even the baby step policies toward the left would be an improvement on where we are now, we need to learn the internal politicking of government and get good at having friendly arguments with comedy to appeal to friends and acquaintances basic intuitions.

The goal being that we can talk the latest news and (1) Win over conservatives to obvious empirically better policies on the left, and (2) Win over liberals when centre-left parties are in power to feel dismayed at the slow pace of change, and so acknowlege how much better it would be if there was a market socialist in the position willing to rally people to demonstrate and strike to push through bills.

Mutual aid – We should put the time into helping our neighbours and volunteering, for example on a food not bombs stall, to get people to see the positive benefits of a communalist caring society.

Theory – We should be educating ourselves and helping others know what work and rent union to join, what to keep a record of at work, how to defend yourself from rapists and fascists, how to crack a squat and how to write a press release, etc.

Campaigning – We should look for the easiest squeeze points to rack up small wins, like the picketing of a cafe to reclaim lost wages, so that word spreads and it creates a domino effect.

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What tactics should we or shouldn’t we generally avoid in our political campaigns?

Civility as an end in itself

They’re not lies, they’re “falsehoods”; it’s not racism, it’s “racially charged comments”; it’s not torture, it’s “enhanced interrogation.” For years, U.S. media has prioritized, above all else, norms and civility.

Mean words or questioning motives are signs of declining civility and the subject of much lament from our media class. However, op-eds explicitly advocating war, invasion, sanctions, sabotage, bombing and occupation or cutting vital programs and lifelines for the poor are just the cost of doing business. What’s rhetorically out of bounds – and what isn’t – is far more a product of power than any objective sense of “civility” or “decency.”

Where did these so-called norms come from, who do they benefit, and why is their maintenance–-even in the face of overt white nationalism––still the highest priority for many liberals and centrists in U.S. media? [3]

This is so important to challenge, and yet incredibly nuanced. So, it is obviously a great success that the rate at which people would go around hurling racist insults looks to have dropped in favour of more political correctness.

It is also true that in pursuit of political correctness and an ethic of care, we can look for simplistic niceness, to the detriment of being able to identify systems of oppression.  We need to be able to refuse the emotional labor of treating our bosses as friends when we have no desire to be friends with them. [4]

Similarly in our everyday interactions, we need to encourage our friends to accept us for who we are or not to accept us at all, so as to create deeper connections which builds stronger communities: [5]

It can be annoying or hurtful when others presume they know everything about you. But rather than assert their wrongness and make them defensive, you can acknowledge it as a common human failing and find creative ways to hold a mirror up to what life experiences they’ve had that lead them to jump to those conclusions.

One way is a kind of playful authenticity, telling a lie about a lie, to get back closer to the truth. So don’t outright challenge the idea, but don’t live up to it either, in fact live down to it. Playfully undermine the idea by failing to live up to the glamour of what it would mean to be that person, then find a way of revealing that it was a misunderstanding all along, so they needn’t worry about it applying to you.

Media Chasing We shouldn’t chose our actions for the primary purpose of provoking conversations because it is insincere to ones own desires to materially affect change and it’s recognised as such by those who hear about it.

Transparency – We should be transparent with our supporters in all we hope to achieve and how successful we are being at achieving that task, so as not to attract funds for labor we haven’t and aren’t likely to be able to do.

Civil Disobedience – Whether it be breaking the law without causing any damage or economic sabotage and political violence which we’ll talk about later, anarchists hope to chose the right actions to provoke conversations and materially challenge unethical industries and actors, so as to push electoral politics towards direct democracy and eventually consolidate our gains in a revolution.

Fascists will also use tactics from civil disobedience to political violence, and tend toward violence against people for people holding ideas as the things they hate, rather than the lefts systemic critique of material conditions. All in the hopes of pushing society towards a more authoritarian constitutional republic, before seizing power in a palace coup and attempting to rule as a sequence of dictators for life.

It is up to the left to try and counter this violence by doxxing, making their rallies miserable, etc. And it is up to everyone to decide which government to vote in, to enact what degree of punishment to bring down on people breaking the law on either side.

Any direction the society goes in for either not controlling or bowing to which protesters demands is still the moral culpability of the government and those who participated in the party political process.

There simply is an obvious legal and moral difference between for example victimless civil disobedience on the left aimed at all people being treated equally in society like collecting salt from the sea or staying seated on the bus, to the type of violence you see on the right, like Israeli settlers throwing people off their land with arson attacks, stealing another country’s resources against international law.

But again, it is true that to whatever degree anarchists chose bad targets optically, we do to some degree bring the slow pace of change on ourselves by handing the right an advocacy win.

Graffiti & Culture JammingWhether it be an artistic masterpiece that no one asked for or altering a billboard to say something funny and political, instead of the advert that was there before pressuring you to consume more and more, most people can be won over by this as a good form of advocacy. Just don’t practice tagging your name a million times over every building in town.

Hacking – Obviously most people agree whistle-blowing war crimes is a yay. Selectively releasing documents to help conservatives win elections however, is a nay.

Sabotage – We should chose targets which have caused people the most amount of misery, for which people can sympathise most, like the sabotaging of draft cards I wrote about at the beginning. So causing economic damage to affect material conditions and make a statement.

We also need to carefully consider the difference between property which is personal, luxury, private, government owned and co-operatively worker owned.

So, it could be seen as ethical to chose material targets of evil actors in order to cause economic damage and make a statement, so long as in the case of personal property, the item has no sentimental value and can be replaced because the person is wealthy. Or is a luxury item that was paid for through the exploitation of others labor. Or is private property, meaning the means of production which should be owned collectively anyway.

It’s an expression of wanting to find an outlet for legitimate anger against that which causes us suffering. For example, if taking the risk to slash slaughterhouse trucks’ tires in the dead of night is how you develop stronger bonds with a group of people and gain the confidence to do amazing things like travel the world and learn from other liberation struggles.

Fighting – First off, I think propaganda by the deed, physically hurting people for the purpose of making a political statement is evil, as it runs counter to our philosophy on the left that material conditions create the person and so we should make every peaceful effort to rehabilitate people.

However, to the extent that some current institutions fail to rehabilitate people and the process of seeking justice through these institutions can cause more trauma, then personal violence to get to resolve feelings of helplessness in the face of evil acts can be an ethical act.

For example survivor-led vigilantism: [4]

I wanted revenge. I wanted to make him feel as out of control, scared and vulnerable as he had made me feel. There is no safety really after a sexual assault, but there can be consequences.” -Angustia Celeste, “Safety is an Illusion: Reflections on Accountability”

Two situations in which prominent anarchist men were confronted and attacked by groups of women in New York and Santa Cruz made waves in anarchist circles in 2010. The debates that unfolded across our scenes in response to the actions revealed a widespread sense of frustration with existing methods of addressing sexual assault in anarchist scenes. Physical confrontation isn’t a new strategy; it was one of the ways survivors responded to their abusers before community accountability discourse became widespread in anarchist circles. As accountability strategies developed, many rejected physical confrontation because it hadn’t worked to stop rape or keep people safe. The trend of survivor-led vigilantism accompanied by communiqués critiquing accountability process models reflects the powerlessness and desperation felt by survivors, who are searching for alternatives in the face of the futility of the other available options.

However, survivor-led vigilantism can be a valid response to sexual assault regardless of the existence of alternatives. One doesn’t need to feel powerless or sense the futility of other options to take decisive physical action against one’s abuser. This approach offers several advantages. For one, in stark contrast to many accountability processes, it sets realistic goals and succeeds at them. It can feel more empowering and fulfilling than a long, frequently triggering, overly abstract process. Women can use confrontations to build collective power towards other concerted anti-patriarchal action. Physical confrontation sends an unambiguous message that sexual assault is unacceptable. If sexual violence imprints patriarchy on the bodies of women, taking revenge embodies female resistance.

Other examples we can think of are personally desiring to fight fascists in the street to block them from marching through immigrant communities. To pushing your way through huntsman to save a fox from getting mauled to death by dogs.

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Political killing

I’ll work through hypotheticals from circumstances relevant to the past, present and future, then talk through the ethics of each.

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Past possibilities

Most people agree anyone who took it upon themselves to assassinate Hitler a day before the break out of WW2 would be seen as committing an ethical act, no matter who follows, because throwing a wrench into the cult of personality spell built around Hitler would be a significant set back for the fascist state’s grip over the people. And given all the evidence pointing to the inevitability of war, such an act could easily be seen as a necessary pre-emptive act.

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Present possibilities

Most can sympathise with quick revolutions against dictatorships where the result is a freer society, like the Kurdish uprising in Northern Syria which took power from a regime who had rolled tanks on demonstrators and outlawed teaching of their native language.

But, even there, there are key foundations you need to work from, like the probability you won’t just give an excuse for the oppressor committing even worse horrors as was the case with the Rohingya militants who ambushed a police checkpoint, resulting in army & citizen campaign to burn down many villages, plus murder and rape those that couldn’t get away.

As well as a responsibility to put down arms after winning political freedoms and a majority are in favour of diplomacy through electoral politics, like in Northern Ireland today.

Under representative parliamentary systems, the sentiment of most is that even if it could be argued that a war of terror against the ruling class was the easiest route to produce a better society, that it would still be ethically wrong to be the person who takes another’s life just because it’s the easiest way. Since regardless of manufactured consent or anything else you still could have worked to build a coalition to overcome those obstacles and change the system slowly from within.

And I agree, it would be an act of self-harm to treat life with such disregard when you could have been that same deluded person shrouded in the justificatory trappings of society treating your behaviour normally. I don’t think the way we win today is treating a cold bureaucratic system with equally cold disregard in whose life we had the resources to be able to intimidate this week. Time on earth is the greatest gift people have, to make mistakes and learn from them.

So then, an easy statement to make on life under representative parliamentary systems is; outside of absurdly unrealistic hypotheticals, I could never condone purposefully killing others when campaigning against such monoliths as state and corporate repression today.

Breaking that down though; what do I mean by an unrealistic hypothetical? For example the philosophical thought experiment called the trolley problem, where you have a runaway trolley hurtling towards 5 people tied to a track, and you can pull a leaver so the train changes tracks and only kills 1 person tied to a track. Or you can change it to 7 billion to 1 even. Or 7 billion of your average citizens vs. 1 million unethical politicians, police and bosses, to make it political.

Now what do I mean by purposeful, well we can think of for example the most extreme cases of post-partum psychosis which has mothers killing their babies. But more nuanced than that, the rape victim who gets worn down by their abuser for years until they have a psychological break and kill.

That does still leave a lot of lee way for people knowingly taking risks with others lives, not intending to kill, but who are reckless in their actions, such as with some forms of economic sabotage. And I agree such a reckless act would bring up feelings of revulsion for all kinds of reasons like questioning whether the person was really doing it to help people or for their own ego-aggrandizement. All that can be hoped is a person makes a careful accounting of their ability for human error and weighs it against the outcomes of doing nothing.

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Future possibilities

We can hypothesise the unrealistic case of 99% of society desiring a referendum on a shift from parliamentary representative system to a federated spokes council system and the MPs dragging their feet, the same way both parties gerrymander the boundaries to make it easier to win despite it being the one issue most everyone agrees is bad, and people needing to storm the halls of power to force a vote to happen.

More likely though, an opportunity for revolution might arise from such a confluence of events as climate refugees and worker gains forcing the state and corporations into trying to crack down on freedoms in order to preserve their power and enough people resisting that move, who are then able take power and usher in radical policy change, with either the army deciding to stand down or splitting into factions.

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References

1. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution – Use your radical fringe to shift the Overton window P. 215.

2. The Camden 28 – The Camden 28 were a group of Catholic left anti-Vietnam War activists who in 1971 planned and executed a raid on a Camden, New Jersey draft board. The raid resulted in a high-profile criminal trial of the activists that was seen by many as a referendum on the Vietnam War and as an example of jury nullification.

3. Citations Needed Podcast – Civility Politics

4. Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism | Big Think

5. A Love Letter To Failing Upward

6. Accounting for OurselvesBreaking the Impasse Around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes.

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A Love Letter To Failing Upward

Failing upward is simply the concept of failing by mainstream standards and yet achieving more fulfilling outcomes in the long run. Often this is connected to a feeling of unlocking opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

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PowerFailing to take every opportunity to lead from the front

Due to the unfair distribution of power in society in the hands of very few, the good any one person can strive to achieve is immense, because one can imagine wielding the kind of power those at the top currently have to do good. But this power is unnatainable to many.

So, like how a figure like Bernie Sanders could have harnessed the position of presidency to do lots of good, how he did educate the masses on the positives of socialised government institutions and, if he’d gotten into power, mobilise a grassroots movement to demonstrate and strike to push through bills.

But, most importantly power can be a mirage. It’s the carrot dangled in front just beyond our reach. We need to create opportunities for ourselves, to achieve great acts of good on our own, like the personal heroism of people flying to Syria to fight Islamic Fascism or organising edible gardens in low-income neighbourhoods.

As well, even though we may cherish those opportunites to do great deeds today, counter-intuitively, the goal should be to move to a world where grand feats of good deeds aren’t necessary or possible. So that more people get a chance to strive to do good.

So a move to devolve government power to a multi-party system through preferential voting, to… Some local government positions being elected by sortition, to… The majority of society being so content with worker-co-ops and syndicalist unions that we transition from representative democracy to direct democracy. So, a chamber of ministers to federated spokes councils.

We all know the experience of living under a conservative culture that accepts bigoted assumptions.  And we all know of certain unproductive actions which some counter-cultures have dogmatically valorized as the best form of resistance.  Both cultures incuclate their members with a ‘willing epistemology of ignorance.’  That is, a conspiracy to fail to view the world as it is, in exchange for the benefits being a member of that cultural group.

In response, we can simply work hard to fail to be swayed by the fear of what embracing radical compassion will turn you into.  Therefore, we must avoid the pitfalls of an illusory politics of resistance which wears its activists out faster than it inspires lasting change.

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Time – Failing to rush to achieve a bunch of outcomes without fully considering the value.

With the ever expanding knowledge each new generation is able to harness, the hard material outcomes of our goals in life will always be out performed better or faster than before.

So, while some people fret about failing against others, which makes them feel their life is not worth living, you, by failing to set strict goals for yourself and instead giving a leg up to those around you, can just observe everyone acting around you, contemplate your time and place in history and experience a peace of mind knowing you’re part of the fabric of everything.

We were nothing before we were born and we’ll be nothing again after we’re dead. The zoomed out size of the universe and length of time we aren’t around for overwhelms the blip of time we are here. This not-self follows us like a shadow throughout our life, like a chalk outline on the pavement, with every less able iteration of ourselves in between, refracted along a scale and merging back into the universe with other people’s similar layers.

A philosophical denial is just a view, a theory… it does not get one actually to examine all/ the things that one really does identify with… as ‘self’ or ‘I’, / This examination, in a calm meditative context, is what the not-self teaching aims at. It is not so much a thing to be thought about as to be done.

Finally allow ideas to percolate to the surface, don’t rush to nail down what an experience meant to you for time in perpetuity.

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Authenticity – Failing to modify your behaviour to be more comprehensible

It can be annoying or hurtful for others to presume they know everything about you, but rather than assert their wrongness and make them defensive, you can acknowledge it as a common human failing and find nice creative ways to hold a mirror up to what life experiences they’ve had that lead them to jump to that conclusion.

One way is a kind of playful authenticity, telling a lie about a lie, to get back closer to the truth. So don’t outright challenge the idea, but don’t live up to it either, in fact live down to it. Playfully undermine the idea by failing to live up to the glamour of what it would mean to be that person, then find a way of revealing that it was a misunderstanding all along, so they needn’t worry about it applying to you.

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The Middle Way – Failing to achieve short term gratification

Take satisfaction in starting a project with the tools at your disposal in which you have no idea whether it’ll ever be valuable to others, just that you learnt something new and that you really enjoyed the process.

There’s a quote I really like from the Tao Te Ching which explains how we can harness our higher inner character through acting with a conscious awareness about the way the universe works:

The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow.
The high is lowered, and the low is raised.
If the string is too long, it is shortened;
If there is not enough, it is made longer.

The way of heaven is to take from those who have too much
and give to those who do not have enough.
Man’s way is different.
He takes from those who do not have enough
to give to those who already have too much.

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Knowledge – Failing to keep track of every piece of information

It’s great to live with people who are observant of clues as to your mindset and can offer suggestions to help you or give you the room to learn from your own mistakes where the consequences aren’t dramatic.

It’s less useful to try and acquire every piece of gossip about a person and come into interactions with funny presumptions about who they are and why they act the way they do.

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Meaning – Failing to live up to expectations

Through having an accurate accounting of some of the worst possible outcomes at any moment and having a healthy way of coming to terms with that, we can truly decide if the road we want to be on us is as much ‘our choice’ as anything can be.

Compassionate comedy for the wholesomeness of peoples mistakes is one really great way of feeling comfortable in your own skin. In being able to laugh at ourselves, we can feel freer to experiment and enjoy a culture with more complex forms of expression being understood.

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Vulnerability – Failing to avoid pain

Love is the feeling that you almost had no other choice than pursuing the road you’re on. It’s both a scary feeling for opening yourself up to pain and a wonderful feeling for realising a passionate interest you may not have even been aware you had. Embrace it.

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My Virtue-Existentialist Ethics

Major Influences

In After Virtue, MacIntyre tries to explain another element of what is missing in modern life through his use of the concept of a practice. He illustrates this with the example of a person wishing to teach a disinterested child how to play chess.

The teaching process may begin with the teacher offering the child candy to play and enough additional candy if the child wins to motivate the child to play. It might be assumed that this is sufficient to motivate the child to learn to play chess well, but as MacIntyre notes, it is sufficient only to motivate the child to learn to win – which may mean cheating if the opportunity arises. However, over time, the child may come to appreciate the unique combination of skills and abilities that chess calls on, and may learn to enjoy exercising and developing those skills and abilities. At this point, the child will be interested in learning to play chess well for its own sake. Cheating to win will, from this point on, be a form of losing, not winning, because the child will be denying themselves the true rewards of chess playing, which are internal to the game. The child will also, it should be noted, enjoy playing chess; there is pleasure associated with developing one’s skills and abilities that cannot come if one cheats in order to win.

MacIntyre concludes that there are two kinds of goods attached to the practice of chess-playing and to practices in general. One kind, external goods, are goods attached to the practice “by the accidents of social circumstance” – in his example, the candy given to the child, but in the real world typically money, power, and fame (After Virtue 188). These can be achieved in any number of ways. Internal goods are the goods that can only be achieved by participating in the practice itself. If you want the benefits to be gained by playing chess, you will have to play chess. And in pursuing them while playing chess, you gain other goods as well – you will get an education in the virtues. The two kinds of goods differ as well in that external goods end up as someone’s property, and the more one person has of any of them the less there is for anyone else (money, power, and fame are often of this nature). Internal goods are competed for as well, “but it is characteristic of them that their achievement is a good for the whole community who participate in the practice” (After Virtue 190-191). A well played chess game benefits both the winner and loser, and the community as a whole can learn from the play of the game and develop their own skills and talents by learning from it.

MacIntyre believes that politics should be a practice with internal goods, but as it is now it only leads to external goods. Some win, others lose; there is no good achieved that is good for the whole community; cheating and exploitation are frequent, and this damages the community as a whole.

Political Philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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One alternative is a prefigurative or practical anarchism, based on a social account of the virtues (based on a revision of MacIntyre’s virtue theory). This identifies goods as being inherent to social practices, which have their own rules, which are negotiable and alter over time. It stresses the immanent values of particular practices rather than on the externally decided (consequentialist) values that will accrue.

Thus, those tactics which are consistent with anarchism are those that are rewarding in their own terms rather than on the basis of external benefits alone. The different approaches to political-social organisation provide an illustration, in which Leninism exemplifies the instrumental approach, whilst a case from contemporary anarchism provides a contrast. Leninism concentrates on the external goods of the disciplined party, its success is primarily judged on its efficiency in reaching the desired goal of revolution. However, a different non-consequentialist approach to political organisation is to view political structures as the manifestation of internal goods, such as enhancing wisdom and the embodiment of social relationships that disperse social power. Standards are generated by, and help to form, anti-hierarchical social practices. For instance the norms required for secretly subverting corporate advertising or state propaganda are not identical to those required to maintain an inclusive, multi-functional social centre. Whilst different, the norms of both are open, to those entering these practices, they are open to critical dialogue and can alter over time.

Each anarchist practice produces their own standards, which overlap with others. The norms by which a successful social centre is run, will be different to, but bear some similarities with an inclusive, participatory website or periodical. Thus the standards for the goods, the types of social relationship that constitute (and are constituted by) non- or anti-hierarchical practice are observable and assessable within a domain – and between adjacent domains. So that the relatively stable, and common, norms of bravery (opposing dominating power), solidarity (reciprocal assistance between those in a subjugated position) and wisdom (coming to understand the structures of oppression and the means by which ‘other values’ can be created) are identifiable within anarchist practices, but are not necessarily universal. Similar practices involving subtly different actors will generate distinctive other goods (or bads).

Like the Stirnerite subject, there is no universal agent of change, but one in constant flux, resisting, challenging or fleeing the changing dominating powers within a given context. Within these radical practices, it produces its own immanent values. Because social practices are not distinct but overlap there are possibilities for links of solidarity across the different domains between different agents, although there is no universal agent who participates in all practices. A narrative of anti-hierarchical liberation, might provide a link between different practices, and provide routes for new social practices (and new agents to develop). The contestation of hierarchy, however, does not represent a new universal value. There are contexts in which goods are immanently developed but a challenge to structures that maintain inequalities of power is not generated – for instance, children playing in a sandbox. Thus, the rejection of hierarchy is not a universal guide to action, though, given the persistence of economic structures and institutions that enforce and legitimise these inequalities of power, it is highly likely that the contestation of hierarchy will remain a core anarchist value.

 – Anarchism; Ethics & Meta-Ethics by Benjamin Franks

Purpose & Meaning

We are born with biological drives and grow up being taught environmental drives we have to grapple with and make sense of.

All attachment or grasping necessarily entails risk of suffering, sometimes very low level suffering mixed in with greater happiness, which is necessary for meaning, but potentially distressing suffering none the less. 

We can’t quantify for the individual what level of suffering it is right that they owe themselves to muddle through to achieve some level of happiness later on.

We can only say if a persons reason for ending one’s own life, is to desire to make a meaningful decision, in the face of ‘unfair’ meaninglessness, the sum of one’s existence only becomes more absurd. So, actual suicide or philosophical suicide – in the form of on some level choosing to be piously ignorant to what life entails – being viewed as meaningful, is simply an attempt to deny that meaninglessness or no one stable meaning is the foundation to all life.

So, in terms of the internal value to the practice of learning why we are here, we can say grappling with these biologically and environmentally bestowed drives is a goal in which achieving some headway, brings us happy flourishing.

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Moral Luck & Folk Psychological Concepts

The evolution of our material capabilities created values, the ability for things to matter to us. 

Everyone has different views as to what percentage of study in the hard sciences vs. soft sciences is the most productive balance for gaining new insights into human behaviour short term and long term. I lean heavily towards if we want to come to a fruitful understanding of what matters to us, our perspectives as agents in the world, we need to look to social science and the very complicated holistic social framework we build up through perceiving what others are thinking and modifying our actions accordingly. 

That’s not to say study into ways to alleviate mental conditions like arachnophobia can’t be improved by learning about how natural selection affected our genes. Simply that the character traits that provide us the most meaning in our interconnected world, is not whether someone has a personality trait that can be connected back to their lower primate ancestors, but how that person seeks to deal with the capabilities they’re dealt. 

For example, if a person were to win the lottery tomorrow, the character traits they had forged throughout their life would be being put to the test on a massive ethical quandary in such a way that the main character traits that person would be known for is at this social level of description of do they have the ware with all to navigate that road well.

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What Constitutes Right And Wrong?

Because human beings are complex, their flourishing takes complex forms: we can flourish intellectually – hence, the “intellectual virtues” (both practical and theoretical); we can flourish as builders and makers and artists – hence, the “virtues of craft” – and we can flourish in terms of our non-technical, social and civic activities – hence, the “moral” virtues. [1]

Now, if you’re a consequentialist, you can simply relate to this philosophy as through pursuing your own happy flourishing, either the goals are related to other people or it’s more easily achieved by helping others, so we have an obligation to be altruistic and achieve a global calculus of happy flourishing.

But, I would simply appeal to what is good for any one person being more complicated than an external calculation of ends:

Virtues and therefore morality can only make sense in the context of a practice: they require a shared end, shared rules, and shared standards of evaluation. The virtues also define the relationships among those who share a practice: “….the virtues are those goods by reference to which, whether we like it or not, we define our relationships to those other people with whom we share the kind of purposes and standards which inform practices” (After Virtue 191). We must have the virtues if we are to have healthy practices and healthy communities. [2]

So, if how a person was raised to understand virtue is primarily respecting the shared rule that the dignity of a person must not be violated then, in so far as practicing that virtue is meaningful to that person, it will bring that person happy flourishing.

It goes beyond the contractarian view in its starting point, a basic wonder at living beings, and a wish for their flourishing and for a world in which creatures of many types flourish. It goes beyond the intuitive starting point of utilitarianism because it takes an interest not just in pleasure and pain [and interests], but in complex forms of life. It wants to see each thing flourish as the sort of thing it is. . .[and] that the dignity of living organisms not be violated. [3]

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Scaffolding

There are many guide sticks we can use, like narratives of character virtue exemplars who each are near perfect exhibitions of what it means to hold character virtues like wisdom, courage or compassion.

One way I predict this philosophy will be best assimilated by the most amount of people is in scaffolding up one’s ethical biases from the individual, to the community to internationally. So acknowledging how each social layer will ask of the individual a different role.[4]

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The Individual

So, starting with conceptualising the individual in near solitude, living very rurally, we can say that by the way this person has chosen to live and so in turn how they would like to interact with other people is with a respect for the fact that what matters to this person is a bias for consequential ends like negative liberties (the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints) before any shared principle or means of acting.

Now scaling that up to every individual in the world, we can acknowledge we all have a bit of that person in us, and so depending on what age a person lives through, for example how much peace there is in the world, we can say increasing negative liberties like not having to be conscripted into war is an ethical good to work towards as a society. Similarly almost universally good actions throughout time like the negative liberty to happen to be gay and want to kiss your boyfriend in public or Emma Goldman’s sentiment ‘it’s not my revolution unless I can fail at dancing to it’s rhythm’. [5][6]

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The Community

Next we can think of the ethical practices of a community and how an individuals negative liberty puts a healthy limit on what kind of communitarian principles we develop. For example, we can imagine the principle that what it means to be a good member of the community is working till we drop to maximize the wellbeing of future generations. This neither works in practice because of people’s need to balance work with leisure in order to have a healthy head space to create and do great work, nor in theory, because people desire to hold onto their negative liberties. 

So we may not have Kantian obligations which are truths of reason, but for certain there is the intuitional: [7]

I very much like WD Ross’s theory of prima facie duties. Where any felt obligation is a prima facie duty, however it can be overridden depending on the circumstances by another one, however that does not mean that the original obligation disappears, it simply means that its defeasible and it usually continues to operate in the background.

So if I have an obligation to meet you for lunch and on the way to driving to meet you I go pass a car accident and I have to decide whether to save the person inside or meet you for lunch, I’m going to say that the duty to save the person in the car is overriding, but I’m still going to try to make it up to you, I’m going to apologize, I may buy you the lunch next time as a way of making it up to you which shows that the initial obligation still operates in the background even though it was overridden.

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One’s Position Internationally

Finally, when conceptualizing one’s place in a larger social fabric than the responsibilities you desire to take on in the communities you’re apart of, we can think to our place internationally and in time. Here I think when encouraging people to respect your individual liberties and communitarian principles fails, we can again be biased towards end goals in our ethics and be Machiavellian in service to the individual and community where the risk of doing nothing would lead to greater harm. 

So at it’s most severe, needing to fight a war to defeat fascism where civilians will get caught in the crossfire, or at it’s least severe, we can think of ‘the culture war’, where you feel you’ve put in your two cents of duty with your friends and nothings changing, so you play the jester in order to encourage them to accept you for who you are or not to accept you at all, all in an effort to create deeper connections which builds stronger communities: [8]

It can be annoying or hurtful when others presume they know everything about you. But rather than assert their wrongness and make them defensive, you can acknowledge it as a common human failing and find creative ways to hold a mirror up to what life experiences they’ve had that lead them to jump to those conclusions.

One way is a kind of playful authenticity, telling a lie about a lie, to get back closer to the truth. So don’t outright challenge the idea, but don’t live up to it either, in fact live down to it. Playfully undermine the idea by failing to live up to the glamour of what it would mean to be that person, then find a way of revealing that it was a misunderstanding all along, so they needn’t worry about it applying to you.

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Socialist Entailments

Due to the unfair distribution of power in society in the hands of very few, the good any one person can strive to achieve is immense, because one can imagine wielding the kind of power those at the top currently have to do good. But this power is unattainable to many.

So, like how a figure like Bernie Sanders could have harnessed the position of presidency to do lots of good, how he did educate the masses on the positives of socialised government institutions and, if he’d gotten into power, mobilise a grassroots movement to demonstrate and strike to push through bills.

But, most importantly power can be a mirage. It’s the carrot dangled in front just beyond our reach. We need to create opportunities for ourselves, to achieve great acts of good on our own, like the personal heroism of people flying to Syria to fight Islamic Fascism or organising edible gardens in low-income neighbourhoods.

As well, even though we may cherish those opportunities to do great deeds today, counter-intuitively, the goal should be to move to a world where grand feats of good deeds aren’t necessary or possible. So that more people get a chance to strive to do good.

So a move to devolve government power to a multi-party system through preferential voting, to… Some local government positions being elected by sortition, to… The majority of society being so content with worker-co-ops and syndicalist unions that we transition from representative democracy to direct democracy. So, a chamber of ministers to federated spokes councils.

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Legal Animal Rights Entailments

If the wonder that we experience in viewing wild animals is not ‘how similar to us they are’, but their ‘real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value’ and one sufficient reason we grant this freedom at least to a basic extent to other people is we have a desire to achieve what we find valuable then; the fact non-human animals experience this desire too means we ought extend these freedoms to non-human animals.

So, a holistic world-view of not wanting to reduce both the quality and quantity of positive experiences humans can have with animals, as well as animals with other animals for low-order pleasures such as taste/texture.

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In Summary

Any really good end goal we can achieve, would be good in virtue of it being a a practice that’s replicable on a mass scale, easily understood through shared rules & ends, and gives meaning and pleasure to the individual for the practices internal value.  

Therefore, what’s most important is devolving power to a larger body of people to be able to create these practices and set an example for others.

Though the governance model needs to be built up slowly enough to match expertise, so as not to falter with people pushing for ideals before having adequately put them to the test. As well, so as not to cause a whiplash effect, where people desire a reactionary politics of conformity, under more rigid hierarchy of just the few:

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Final Thoughts

Here’s a rough diagram for how I relate to various ethical schools of thought:

And here are some of the ideas it attempts to show:

Why some red bars can reach higher than some green bars: People can identify with conservativism as a virtue philosophy and happen to be a virtue exemplar for devolving power to those without it. Like Malcolm X denouncing drug taking, to keep minority communities strong, in response to the flooding of the streets with drugs by the CIA to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Though I would still say co-operation as a virtue provides a more stable foundation for building up institutions with social virtue.

Why some green bars can reach lower than some red bars: Someone can hold the same ideals of co-operative virtue ethics, but through a mistaken practice of over zealously trying to force through their perspective can fail to achieve their goals and fail to win over others to the merits of their ideas, resulting in a painful stultifying.

Why the shorter bars on the graph: Through a careful consideration of required means and desired outcomes, we can find happy flourishing in a character trait that biases one side of the equation over the other (being more means or outcome oriented). So long as we are aware that we’re simply fulfilling something meaningful to us and that it won’t be a character trait that a majority in society can or need replicate. But it must be done with the knowledge that we’re not directly hampering others pursuit of happy flourishing either.

Why the sum of all the green bars add up to an equilateral triangle: The highest amount of happy flourishing we can consistently achieve in society will be a practice that’s replicable and highly aware of the existential grounding that informs which direction a society desires to move in. So, a practice that doesn’t attempt to factor in peoples desire to autonomously search for their own egoist goals and absurdist means would be a practice that is not as easily replicable and so would not produce the highest amount of happy flourishing in society (a smaller equilateral triangle that doesn’t rise as high for not being as wide).

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References

1. Course Notes – G.E.M Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy”

2. MacIntyre: Political Philosophy | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

3. Beyond Compassion and Humanity; Justice for Non-human Animals by Martha Nussbaum

4. Fairly similar to this would be threshold deontology, explained further here: Normative Ethics: Rights, Consequentialism, Deontology. My virtue ethical system would bias consequential actions when consequences are the least severe, then turn into a bias for deontology at a certain threshold, then back to consequentialism at another threshold, so I assume it’d look fairly similar to the graph Avi made but more of a zig zag.

5. To be incredibly pedantic, absurd hypotheticals are always lurking in the background to warn against universals like what if kissing your boyfriend in public started world war 3 before the left was ready and ended with a 1000 year Reich, would it still be justified then? But bar fringe absurdly unlikely hypotheticals. 

6. I know the more well known slogan is “if I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution”, though Emma never said it, it’s a sentiment attributed to a longer text she wrote, which I plan to write a post on next. As well as how “failing to dance to it” is more accurate and how compassionate comedy for our own failings is something we need to rekindle on the left and spread internationally.

7. Daniel Kaufman On Intuitionism and Folk Psychology

8. A Love Letter To Failing Upward

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Further Reading

Egoist

The Politics of Postanarchism by Saul Newman (Preview) (Buy) (Download)

However, can we assume that the possibilities of human freedom lie rooted in the natural order, as a secret waiting to be discovered, as a flower waiting to blossom, to use Bookchin’s metaphor? Can we assume that there is a rational unfolding of possibilities, driven by a certain historical and social logic? This would seem to fall into the trap of essentialism, whereby there is a rational essence or being at the foundation of society whose truth we must perceive. There is an implicit positivism here, in which political and social phenomena are seen as conditioned by natural principles and scientifically observable conditions. Here I think one should reject this view of a social order founded on deep rational principles. In the words of Stirner, ‘The essence of the world, so attractive and splendid, is for him who looks to the bottom of it – emptiness.’ In other words, rather than there being a rational objectivity at the foundation of society, an immanent wholeness embodying the potential for human freedom, there is a certain void or emptiness, one that produces radical contingency and indeterminacy rather than scientific objectivity. This idea has been elaborated by Laclau and Mouffe, who eschew the idea of society as a rationally intelligible totality, and instead see it as a field of antagonisms which function as its discursive limit. In other words, what gives society its definitional limit at the same time subverts it as a coherent, whole identity. Therefore, they argue, ‘Society never manages fully to be society, because everything in it is penetrated by its limits, which prevent it from constituting itself as an objective reality.’ Antagonism should not be thought of here in the sense of the Hobbesian state of nature, as a war of everyman against everyman, but rather as a kind of rupturing or displacement of social identities that prevents the closure of society as a coherent identity.

Science, Perception, and Reality by Wilfrid Sellars (Preview) (Buy) (Download)

It’s Just a Feeling: The Philosophy of Desirism by Joel Marks (Buy) (Download)

Demoralizing Moralism the Futility of Fetishized Values by Jason McQuinn (Download)

Moral Relativism

Melville J. Herskovits and the Racial Politics of Knowledge (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology) by Jerry Gershenhorn (Buy) (Download)

Is a prescriptive position adopted initially by many anthropologists reacting against the ethnocentrism characteristic of the colonial era.  Melvelle Herskovits, for instance, affirms that “… in practice, the philosophy of relativism is a philosophy of tolerance” (Cultural Relativism, p. 31).

Preference Consequentialism

Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality by Douglas W. Portmore (Buy) (Download)

Nonzero: History, Evolution & Human Cooperation: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright (Buy) (Download)

Hedonistic Utilitarianism

Utiltarianism by John Stuart Mill (Buy) (Download)

Co-operative Virtue Ethics

Anarchism and Moral Philosophy by Benjamin Franks (Essay) (Buy) (Download)

Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully by Robert Nichols and Jakeet Singh (Thesis) (Buy) (Download)

Stoic virtue ethics by Matthew Sharpe (Essay)

Consequentialism and Deontology in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right by Dean Moyar (Essay)

Feral Children and Clever Animals; Reflections on Human Nature (Download)

Our common way of thinking about the difference between physical and behavioral science, described in Chapter 3, is that the goal of the first is to eliminate variance, while the second accepts variance as the essential characteristic of the subject worthy of study. The physical sciences seek to eliminate variation because variation confounds accuracy of prediction. The behavioral sciences should accept variation as the essential aspect of living beings, and thereby strive to measure variance as a technique of describing the nature of life itself. We often confuse the legitimacy of these different goals, thereby leading us to the conclusion, for example, that the physical sciences are more “scientific” than the behavioral because they strive for accuracy and prediction. Some appear to think that a measure of the applicability of science is accuracy of prediction, but variance, too, is a legitimate interest of the scientific method. Science is a unique method, a method independent of what it studies. Measures of variance can be just as reliable as formulas that strive to eliminate or reduce variance. As always, the meaningful issue is what one wants to know, what one wants to accomplish through the application of the methods of science.

Let us put to rest the notion that there can be no science of living beings or that scientific procedures somehow diminish and degrade the awesomeness of life. The chief characteristic of life forms, as opposed to physical objects, is variation. It is variation that permits evolution, for without variation, there is nothing for natural selection to select. The study of variation may be done in two ways: by study of the unique or by study of the general. In this book, we have examined examples of both, although study of the unique case dominates, to be sure; but what Thorndike, Haggerty, and Hamilton contributed is the importance of general variation. Both ways must be investigated because we cannot know what is unique without knowing what is general. Behavioral science, therefore, proceeds on two fronts: the study of the unusual and the study of the variation characteristic of groups.

Conservative Virtue Ethics

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory by Alasdair MacIntyre (Review) (Download)

Intuitionist Deontology

Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle & W. D. Ross (Buy) (Download)

Daniel Kaufman On Intuitionism and Folk Psychology (Video)

Of the Standard of Taste by David Hume (1909) (Essay)

Absolutist Deontology

The Sources of Normativity by Christine M. Korsgaard (Chapter) (Buy) (Download)

Absurdism

Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (Buy) (Download)

Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 by Nick Land (Buy) (Download)

Tiqqun 1: Conscious Organ of The Imaginary Party by Tiqqun (Buy) (Download)

Liberation Theology

The Selfless Mind; Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism by Peter Harvey (Buy) (Download) (Review)

Vegan Grey Areas & Campaign Allies

Another taste of what I’m writing. Anyone can contribute to these simply by signing up to the Philosophical Vegan Forum & Wiki, plus making a little introduction post so we know you’re not a spam-bot.

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Vegan Grey Areas

In Short

Understandable circumstances

  • Eating Disorder
  • Chronic Disease / Multiple Food Allergies
  • Pest Prevention
  • Survival

Some might be surprised that some vegans support

  • Wildlife management
  • Non-intrusive wild beekeeping
  • Freeganism
  • Caring for rescued animals
  • Lab grown meat

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Animal Liberation’s Common Allies

Perspectives both groups/movements can gain from each other about our overlap and practical ways we can all offer mutual support in achieving our campaign goals.

Some vegan perspectives might feel foreign to those who haven’t before considered the emotional lives of animals, but under the right circumstance people can come to understand and sympathize e.g. a fellow volunteer at the domestic violence shelter who’s vegan and you come to understand their passion and dedication is only furthered by this philosophy.

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In Short

What do we mean by alliance?

Low Impact Lifestyle

Human Rights

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Animal Liberation’s Contentious Allies

Groups/movements that don’t live up to our ethical standard, but who we may find useful to collaborate with to achieve our campaign goals.

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In Short

What do we mean by alliance?

Animal rights legislation

Low Impact Lifestyle

Wildlife Habitat Expansion

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Writing Updates + Freegan Activism

Snippets from some writing I’ve been doing on the Philosophical Vegan Wiki recently.

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Freeganism

food not bombs.png

Activism – In Summary

Actions you can take as an individual or group:

• Buy vegan food from relatively cheap, efficient and ecological local food schemes.
• Buy vegan food staples with long shelf longevity and rare plant foods for your own impact and also to make it more efficient to produce, therefore cheaper for others.
• Buy vegan food reaching peak ripeness that has been over-stocked and you’re sure you can plan to use it in a meal that day or the next.
• Buy/sell second hand, recycled or ecological supporting items. Plus give away/collect items for free to friends and on sites like freecycle, freeshops or really free markets.
• Forage and glean food on public paths or where there will be no perceptible difference to farmers (keep in mind safety advice in the section on foraging).
• Compost or feed to animals the organic waste you can’t avoid and build a compost toilet.
• For the adventurous, go dumpster diving, table surf or prepare roadkill (keep in mind the safety advice in each section).

Ways to get organized:

• Advocate to family, friends and acquaintances in your day to day and online. Watch street advocacy and epistemology videos for tips and tricks.
• Help organize a Food Not Bombs stall for serving free delicious freegan food in public squares, gives a strong statement while inoffensively feeding food to the hungry, also making for a perfect opportunity to advocate to the public.
• Take direct action in collaboration with communities to agitate against harmful aspects of our culture and industry.
• Help organize a housing or workers co-op like a social centre, hotel, shop or gym with ecological commitments and incentives for people to be vegan or freegan.
• Petition/run for your local school board, council or party representative to fund and legislate to help remedy all these environmental issues.
• Help organize a veg box or field to street local food distribution network.
• Help organize/donate/fundraise to restore shrub land for use again e.g. overgrown apple orchards and hazel coppices. As well as manage land to encourage wild edible plants, reintroduce animal species and maintain diverse forests that would encourage tourism and local artisan industry.
• Talk to food sellers to put aside food they would otherwise throw away for yourself and others to collect on bin day.
• Map foraging and gleaning locations, plus organize events to go out and for example help each other shake apple trees and catch in nets.
• Guerrilla garden public spaces and abandon plots of land.
• Petition shops to use better stocking and shelving practices.
• Petition farmers to sow seeds once a year, but not to till or spray pesticide at the edge of their fields, to allow wildlife corridors in hedgerows. Build a relationship by organizing with the farmer to glean fields that could not be sold that year or paying for the right to pick grown or wild food at the edges of the field by hand.
• Petition/donate/fundraise for land to be opened up for allotment clubs.
• Document your experiences and create video, podcasts, articles, artwork, zines & books. Reach out to larger media outlets and/or have a way you can be contacted that’s searchable online.

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Companion Animal Care

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

The biggest issue with letting domestic cats outdoors is they are highly skilled predators that are glutenous for enjoying the hunt more than the food, which means often torturing their prey and giving you half-dead animals as presents. Unlike the common ancestor they share with wild cats which are quick killers, consume all their food and have a working niche that is threatened by domestic cats.

Secondly cat fights from living so unnaturally close together and road accidents from living near a busy road, so you have to consider the long healthy life you could be depriving the cat of or long drawn out painful death or injury.

Some potential solutions

You can build an outdoor enclosed cat run and some inside the house to effectively increase your cats play area.

You can test to see if they’ll walk with you on a leash.

And if you still want to let your cat out, the RSPB recommends one step you can take towards limiting the carnage:

Keep your cat indoors when birds are most vulnerable — at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise — especially between March and July when baby birds may be out of the nest waiting to be fed. Also, keep your cat indoors after bad weather to allow birds to come out and feed.

Virtue Activism

Existentialists see mountains of food waste, a disorganized network of rescue efforts and an untapped reservoir of compassion that simply needs to be directed towards simple tools for ending the suffering of these domesticated animals. By making the choice to be good industrious owners, we affirm that it is a valuable thing to do for our pets and those around us.

If you have the capacity and heart to, adopting the most vicious, scarred, mangey looking old pets from low demand, over-populated, no kill shelters is the most ethical choice you can make, but so long as you’re not increasing demand any will do for getting used to having pets and extending that carrier capacity of caring homes.

Enticing feral cats with freegan/vegan food will significantly improve their well-being to know they can have a food source they can rely on. Feeding may also result in increased fertility, so should only really do this with a mind to being able to trap, neuter and release, but you can call groups up in your area to know what percentage of the feral cat population they’ve been able to neuter in your area.

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Racism in Veganism

Jack Green

Went from raw vegan cultist, to MGTOW, to White Nationalist, to Classical Nazi. Influences were Durianrider, Ask Yourself and Richard Spencer.

I was introduced to the ideas on nationalism, I already could tell that a lot of it, if not most of the media was full of shit, and their anti-white propaganda just sickened me, but I learned to question more and more of history, developed an interest in my own lineage and ancestory. . .

Why have the desire to perpetuate your own race when it could result in you getting screwed over and leading a life of slavery and misery. . .

Maybe a potential solution for people who are or are starting to become MGTOW’s and nationalists at the same time, it may be time to start thinking about adopting a kid of your own race, or having a surragete child, that way you don’t have to deal with marriage and women, and you’ll be able to instill your ideas in your kids and continue your own race.

https://philosophicalvegan.com/wiki/images/thumb/b/bb/Jackgreen-national-action.png/300px-Jackgreen-national-action.pngShares national action propaganda on his twitter, (see thumbnail to the right). 2 The white supremacist organisation was outlawed in December 2016 after endorsing the murder of Labour MP, Jo Cox 3. One member of the group committed attempted murder with a machete 4, while another bought a machete and conspired to carry out the murder of Labour MP Rosie Cooper 5

Promotion of anything as bad or worse than genociding non-white people as moral retribution for people having children with partners outside their own skin color.

Sangeet Som

A relatively unknown legislator of the BJP from western UP shot into fame during the Muzaffarnagar violence. He was credited with posting and circulating a video on the social media, taken out from an incident in Pakistan, and using it to whip up hate against the Muslims in the area. By the time the video was exposed as false by an apathetic state apparatus, Muzaffarnagar had erupted in violence. This violence placed Som centrestage, he was garlanded and felicitated at meetings even as an arrest warrant was out against him. He was arrested finally and released on bail in record time.

With this record Som has become a well known face of the BJP. He travels to ‘trouble spots’ to whip up sentiment against the minorities. He was in Dadri recently whipping up passions and demanding that the family of Mohammad Akhlaq who was beaten to death by a mob on the issue of beef, now be charged with a case of cow slaughter. This was after an unverified report suddenly emerged after eight months claiming that the meat consumed by Akhlaq was beef. Som has announced that he will personally ensure the release of the 17 persons arrested for lynching Akhlaq.

The beef ban celebrated by some vegans hasn’t gone anyway to reducing the consumption of cows in the country and was only instituted to flatter Hindu nationalists in a what is supposed to be secular country and has inevitably resulted in the murder of many Muslims and Dalits who had already been suffering at the hands of so-called “cow vigilantes”.

Animal rights and veganism advocate PETA has in fact gone further and berated vegetarians who consume milk in India for “supporting the beef industry”, thus playing into the communal politics of food in India.

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Starting a YouTube Channel

Letting viewers know the ways they can help you

Give an example list of ways people can help improve the service you deliver and your public reach through transcribing, reviewing, academia, and publicizing, that you might like to hear about if it happens and possible rewards you can offer.

  • Write a Review. If you’re a skilled writer who likes to talk about veganism, consider reviewing our site or a favourite episode for your website. We will give you press access to our site for one month in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.
  • Transcribe. Transcribe our videos to text. Each one is approximately 10 minutes long and take 20 minutes to an hour to transcribe. In exchange, you’ll get a free month membership to work on the transcription and then enjoy the rest of the time to watch what you like!
  • Translate. Do you speak a language besides English? Transcribe our text content into other languages — especially valuable for vegan vocabulary that accurately reflects our nationalities.
  • Educate. Use our videos / photos / essays to illustrate your educational articles on your website or lectures. Go to colleges across the country? Share our ideas with your students.
  • Peer reviewed. Get studious about effective activism, writing your own research paper or graduate thesis? Interview our content producers or quote us and bring grassroots advocacy examples into the academic arena.

Start a pay per month subscription?

If you spend a significant amount of time making weekly videos it’s likely a good idea, to allow your fans to give you workplace solidarity when the boss is docking pay unfairly with no possibility of refund. You don’t want to be relying on that income alone, you should be able to expect some economic stability, and it’s great that viewers that get something out of the show can step up and help out where the boss fails. The paywall also restricts to genuinely interested participants in discussion, which can be a bonus or a curse (in the case of echo-chambers).

Patreon takes a 5% tax on donations and you’re on a seperate platform which some like posting to and using, others leave barren and link to a private facebook group that more people are already using. They can also kick you off or age gate you, sometimes based on an algorithm that is wholy undeserved.

Paypal takes a 2.9% tax on monthly donations and you have to go to the work of setting up user groups if you want to create pay to view posts on your website. You can set up a wordpress site, pay £3 per month to get your own domain and install the Groups plugin feature that will do this on SiteGround. Paypal banned the Anti-Fascist Network along with that of the Proud Boys in a PR move, but it’s unclear whether they deploy the same alorithmic censoring reach as companies like Patreon & YouTube.

Liberapay is entirely donation run itself, but with it being a small startup, it’s dependent on other third party licenses. Third party tax on transfers between euro countries is as low as 0.6%, but they haven’t been able to aquire rights to transfer with debit cards in US dollars and transfers between currencies can incur a flat $3.50 tax which just doesn’t make sense outside of large donations, not building a subscription service based on small donations. And there’s always the concern of licenses closing on them as has happened before, but next time them reaching a brick wall.

If you do set up user groups that can see restricted content, this also means you’ll able to offer memberships for other reasons like for collaborators who do so many transcripts per month, coupon codes for affiliates who invite more than 5 people or give aways at a charity event, etc.

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