Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow comments:

Please note that one week into the epidemic, not a single major American newspaper has reported even the possibility that factory farming may be implicated in swine flu.  The power of the meat industry could not be more graphically underlined.  (In President Obama’s most recent news conference, he even used an esoteric medical name for the virus to avoid mentioning the connection with pigs.)

There is also another political link. When the Stimulus Bill (”Recovery Act”) came to the floor of Congress, it included appropriations of almost  a billion dollars to prepare for a possible flu pandemic. But Karl Rove organized Republicans to demand that this money be taken out of the bill, and when Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine agreed to vote down a filibuster against the bill, one of her demands was that the pandemic appropriation be stripped out. It was.

Somehow the notion that health is more than a private personal concern, that it involves the whole community and indeed the whole planet, has escaped the attention of some who call themselves “conservatives.”

There is a reason that we  speak of people “hogging ” everything for themselves, or eating “piggishly.” It is about ignoring the needs of others and seeking to gobble up the world’s abundance for the benefit of a few. That kind of greed is at the root of the impoverishment of the middle class, the bonuses of hundreds of millions of dollars for a small group of bankers, the willingness of Big Oil and Big Coal to burn the world for their own profit, and the willingness of the last U.S. government to lie, torture, and kill for the sake of controlling great pools of oil.


Almost a year ago, when the Postville debacle showed the destructiveness of present immigration policy, The Shalom Center also pointed out that the oppressive behavior of the Rubashkin owners toward both workers and animals was based on the effort to make super-profits out of factory farming.  The torture of animals and the oppression of workers followed as a matter of course.


"Followed as a matter of course" seemed like such a strong echo of my own train of thought

I don’t see the two themes (torture and CAFO) as at all separate really. One may be a distraction from the other in the media circus but both are stories about the brutality of the quest for profit and control. No amount of suffering (and CAFOs are nothing if not giant torture-houses for animals as well as workers) is too much for the elite to inflict in their quest for profit and control. The cruelty of capitalism was always there, from the Enclosures and evictions to the Conquista to the “dark satanic mills” and the brutal mistreatment of labour, and it continues wherever profit and “efficiency” in profiteering are the ultimate goals.

I have not worked out this train of thought very thoroughly yet, but it seems to me justabout axiomatic that the notion of industrial efficiency (with its emphasis on conformity, control, repeatability, regimentation, maximisation of throughput, and prioritisation of the mechanical over the biotic) -- when applied to living systems (critters) -- will always result in suffering and cruelty, illness and misery.  And it seems to me also axiomatic that the singleminded pursuit of money-profit maximisation, even without industrialism, always guarantees cruelty and suffering (to get the maximum possible work out of your slaves with the minimum cost in food and care, you have to abuse them as living creatures, let alone as human beings).  The synergy of industrial efficiency and singleminded profit maximisation -- applied to critters -- finds its canonical expression in the CAFO (it well represents the rest of our deeply, disturbingly sick corporate agricultural system): as Reb Arthur said, torture and oppression follow as a matter of course.

A nation that quietly condones the mass torture of animals for the expediencies of profit, it seems to me, is fairly well-prepared for the torture of humans for the expediencies of politics (and profit, too).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 02:12:36 AM EST

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series