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Signs of the Times for Wed, 29 Nov 2006

Signs of the Times
Henry See
29 November 2006
It is strange how people can fix on certain ideas and then lose any sense of the larger picture. Take food production, for example. The truth of the matter is that, unless you raise or grow your food yourself, the production of food has become an industry. They call it factory farming. Long gone is the family farm with free range chickens, cattle grazing on the open prairies and the like. Today, your chicken or pig comes from a cage.

Factory Chickens

For an overview of how your meat is prepared, we invite you to watch this following ten minute video, Meet Your Meat

There is no question that what you see is horrible. So understand that if your food comes from the local supermarket, these are the conditions under which it is "prepared". And their slaughter is only the final blow. As the site Factory Farming describes it:

Today's "broiler" (meat) chickens have been genetically altered to grow twice as fast and twice as large as their ancestors. Pushed beyond their biological limits, hundreds of millions of chickens die every year before reaching slaughter weight at 6 weeks of age. An industry journal explains that "broilers [chickens] now grow so rapidly that the heart and lungs are not developed well enough to support the remainder of the body, resulting in congestive heart failure and tremendous death losses." Modern broiler chickens also experience crippling leg disorders, as their legs are not capable of supporting their abnormally heavy bodies. Confined in unsanitary, disease-ridden factory farms, the birds also frequently succumb to heat prostration, infectious diseases, and cancer.

And that doesn't even include the massive use of antibiotics in these animals to control the disease so rampant from the brutal conditions in which they "live", drugs that later end up in your body when you eat the chicken, turkey, pork, or beef. It ain't pretty, folks, but that's how it is done today, with 6 billion people to feed, or not, across the globe.

So given the entire food production system is polluted, so to say, we found it curious this morning to read an article about an attempt to ban foie gras in New York City:

City Councilman Mulls Foie Gras Ban

November 28, 2006

City Councilman Alan Gerson is considering a proposal that would ban foie gras in the city, saying the delicacy, which is made out of diseased bird liver, should be banned because companies are intentionally making the birds sick.

The Federal Humane Society sued New York State over the practice, saying the birds were being force fed, with some suffocating and others developing blood poisoning and nerve damage.

A New Jersey foie gras company says the lawsuit is "totally meritless," and that foie gras production is humane.

The company plans to fight any ban in New York, which is a major market for the dish.

Chicago has already banned foie gras and a California ban will go into effect in 2012.

We ask: given that the entire food production system has been industrialized, what difference is it going to make that foie gras is banned in New York or other US cities? What does such a campaign actually accomplish, other than stroking the egos of those involved?

Moreover, given the very serious problems facing our world, is the question of foie gras really a priority? Is it the root question that we should be addressing in order to make a more humane and just world? Or does it amount to a diversion?

Yes, as we have seen above, the industrialization of the food chain has brought great suffering to the animals throughout their lives. But what is the root cause? And if we could identify that root cause, would it not be better for activists and anyone concerned to focus together on correcting that, rather than being divided in a series of small skirmishes against secondary issues?

Is the plight of chickens and turkeys and pigs of more importance than the issue of the million Iraqis, mostly children, who died because of the sanctions against Iraq? Or the 660,000 who have been killed since the US invasion and occupation? Or the issue of clean water or starvation?

What of the ongoing extermination of the Palestinian people? Or the emergence of openly fascist governments in the US and Britain?

We have identified the root cause of these afflictions: psychologically deranged people organised in power in a system we call the Pathocracy. It is evil in power, because these individuals have no conscience, no ability to feel for another, to put themselves in another's shoes, be it a human or a chicken. Change that, and the other problems have a very good chance of being resolved because those elements who view the world with a crippled vision will no longer be in positions of leadership.

But the anti-foie gras battle is political, first, on the part of vegetarians, and second, as part of the generalized anti-French propaganda waged since the French refused to participate in the destruction of Iraq. It is financed by celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Roger Moore, to whom the Frenchwoman, Ariane Daguin, who is leading the battle against the ban, responds: "They would be better off giving their money to the starving in Africa!". They could talk to Bono about it.

A Different Choice

Although in the face of existing economic and political systems and our social structures, our world appears fixed and permanent, the existing structures have been erected through a series of choices, made by individuals, human, and almost human. Things would be different if different choices had been taken. Things could be different if different choices, based upon a different set of values, started being made today.

Society could be organised differently. As it is, the neo-liberal dogmas of profitability and efficiency are the ultimate criteria. We worship something called the invisible hand of the market, a fancy phrase that obscures the very conscious assumptions and decisions underneath the veil. We are sold the idea (and ideas are sold to us in the same way we are sold cars and toothpaste) that if business and trade goes well, then the rest of society will benefit. Economic activity is proclaimed as being the indicator of the well-being of a society, not the health, job satisfaction, or the personal fulfillment from life of the individuals that comprise that society. These factors are nowhere to be seen in the models and charts and treatises that justify the subject. In fact, because they can't be easily quantified, in the way dollars and cents can be entered into a spreadsheet, they are excluded a priori from any "objective" analysis.

In the sixties, this idea of the supremacy of economics was summed up in the USA by the phrase "If it's good for General Motors, it's good for the country". How far such nonsense is from the truth can be seen by looking at the great misery and poverty, material, intellectual, and spiritual, in the United States, supposedly the richest country in the world. In the country where individualism is taken to its extreme, the individual, that is, the flesh and blood person who is born, schooled, and offered to the Dollar Gods, doesn't count for anything. And yet nowhere on earth is "individualism"more praised and promoted than in the US of A! Using the type of double-talk that is common currency in a ponerized society, the emphasis on the individual serves to place the burden of survival on each person's shoulders alone. It is used to set us against each other on a deep level, the level controlled by our reptilian brain. Fear for survival is a primal instinct.

And it is this system that is being imposed upon the rest of the world through so-called free trade agreements and trade liberalization accords. It is this world view that is being used to wipe away the social gains made by normal people in health care, unemployment benefits, a minimum income, and other areas.

In this world view, community only exists as the arena in which to feed. The idea that we are our brother's keeper, that we need to cover each other's backs, has vanished.

What would society look like if the well-being of the individual were placed at its centre, replacing the idea of his need to compete to survive? Can you imagine such a world?

Concern for another's well-being is directly related to one's capacity to feel for another, that is, empathy. It also, in its largest and most profound sense, must be widespread, that is, caring for the well-being of a family member or a friend at one end of the scale, and caring for other groups and humanity as a whole at the other, not forgetting the entire range in between. True empathy is being able to care for all of the points on the line.

Here, again, is where we see the influence and the effects of that pathological group we call the Pathocrats. By promoting surface differences such as skin colour and religion, they set groups against one another while they themselves, the invisible predator, remain out of view, setting the agenda and imposing their conscienceless "standards".

An instance of this can be found in the fact that Israel does not permit the process of "gavage" that is used to feed the ducks and geese to increase the size of their livers in the preparation of foie gras. It violates Israel's Animal Welfare Act. There may well be Israeli animal rights activists who are proud of their country for such a "righteous" stand, while at the same time, Israel wages open warfare on the original people of the land, the Palestinians, with the obvious, although unstated intention, of either driving them away or killing them off.

Do you see the disconnect?

If you are living in a country such as Israel that is committing genocide on a people, what is your responsibility if you ignore it and focus on the welfare of ducks and geese? If you live in a country that is bombing other countries, committing atrocities, kidnapping people and holding them in illegal and secret prisons, torturing them, and claiming this is being done to keep you safe, such as the United States or Britain, what does it say about your conscience, about your real understanding of the terror of the situation, that you concentrate of the welfare of ducks and geese? Has your judgement not been ponerized, that is, touched by the evil around us?

Are you really seeing clearly?

What can be said about those people who care more for animals than they care for humans? I would not be surprised that in scratching them, we would discover that they suffer a belief in what Lobaczewski calls the schizoid declaration. He characterizes it thusly:

Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea. [p. 124]
He describes their features:

Carriers of this anomaly are hypersensitive and distrustful, while, at the same time, pay little attention to the feelings of others. They tend to assume extreme positions, and are eager to retaliate for minor offenses. Sometimes they are eccentric and odd. Their poor sense of psychological situation and reality leads them to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations upon other people's intentions. They easily become involved in activities which are ostensibly moral, but which actually inflict damage upon themselves and others. Their impoverished psychological worldview makes them typically pessimistic regard-ing human nature.

Does that not sound like a description of a person who could become active in Animal Rights?

To be clear, we are not suggesting that concern for the welfare of animals is wrong. It is the natural expression of an empathy for life. What is distorted is the focus solely on the welfare of animals to the exclusion of concern for humanity. It is the prioritization of animal rights over correcting the root causes of evil.

Yes, society could be organised differently, but for that to happen, the rule of the pathological over normal people must come to an end. As long as this state of affairs continues, as long as we wear the dark lenses of a pathological world view, there can be no fundamental change for truth and justice, for as Andrew Lobaczewski shows in his book Political Ponerology, the pathocrat can use any ideology as a mask. Any movement for social change can be infiltrated and perverted to pathological ends. Without rooting out this prime cause, the destructive cycle of human history will continue.

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