What the British anti-slavery movement can teach animal advocates about overcoming the politics of pessimism
Several prominent animal advocacy organizations have convinced large numbers of their members, including some experienced activists and community educators, that as "realists," we should direct the bulk of our available resources and energy towards achieving whatever small improvements we can in the treatment of the billions of animals humans use and kill each year. "We will not see major progress toward the elimination of animal exploitation in our lifetimes," they say. "After all, most people are not ready, willing or able to grasp that the exploitation of animals is a question of justice."
Largely on the basis of such presumptions, these organizations have also convinced their supporters that even such compromised goals can often only be accomplished by forming coalitions with various segments of the animal-using industry and by developing and promoting alternative "humane" animal products. As a result, the question of justice, "Do we have the right to use and kill animals?", is being methodically displaced by the question of regulation, "What is the right way for us to use and kill animals?"1