Theater of Cruelty

Doesn't the ground hurt, brother?

Justice for animals
ANIMALS / Ethically speaking, we are way overtime with our treatment of the non-human animals. Many of these have emotions such as fear, pity and sadness. We shouldn't eat animals, but what if we get sick from not doing so?


The year is 1983: I'm on a fishing trip with my older brothers. It's not often I get that opportunity; as a rule, they don't want a fussy little sister. We have an old jam jar with soil for the fields. A hole has been poked in the lid with a knife so that the soil can breathe. I am of the opinion that they are fine inside their little prison. For now, I'm not worried. It is only when I have to impale the ground on the hook that it becomes difficult. I'd like to appear tough, but the field is sputtering, and it seems as if it would rather get off the hook. "The field doesn't like the hook," I tell my brothers. "It hurts." The quick answer is that marks don't feel pain, they don't have feeling.

I settle for the explanation from experienced brothers. If Mark doesn't feel fear or pain, it doesn't do anything, right?

When the brothers are going to kill the fish we got a little later, they show me how to hit it in the head with the back of the knife so the fish doesn't have to lie down and suffer. But why that really: The fish feel pain, but not the ground?

Justice for animals

New insights and research have given us knowledge that far more species than we previously thought have a developed emotional life and are far more complex than assumed. They are not primitive beings we can treat mindlessly. They are not biomass, as salmon in cages are called, but individuals.

Where exactly is the line between us and them? Which ones animal feel pain? Which feel pleasure? And how should we deal with it? Cozy up brands in the ground? Are the fish enjoying their journey in the sea? Are we depriving the land of its right to enjoyment if we hook it and turn it into food? Is the pleasure for humans in eating the meat greater than the pain for the fish and the land to be killed? An ethical discourse on animal rights is in short supply in the daily news stream, even though the examples of unethical treatment of them are overwhelming.

The history of philosophy is full of thinkers who have developed theories about this. Now it is high time to increase the general ethical reflection on animal rights and people's relationship to them. Two new books aim to do just that.

Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum writes in her latest book Justice for animals that we live in an 'awakening time', and that we are now becoming aware of our kinship with a world full of intelligent creatures – and that we have a responsibility for how we treat them. Is that so? Non-human animals are treated worse than ever, and species are disappearing at breakneck speed due to the actions or lack thereof of humans. The meat industry is cruel. We destroy habitats through pollution and plastic in the ocean, we kill wolves and elephants and engage in poaching.

Nussbaum was unable to digest legumes and found himself forced to eat animal proteins.

At the time of writing, two main reports on NRK are about horrible treatment of animals, not in China or another country we don't like to compare ourselves to, but in Norway and Sweden. In Norway, there is a mass death of farmed salmon. In Sweden, chickens are slaughtered without first being stunned. The realities of how animals are treated are so serious that the long philosophical and ethical reflections Nussbaum undertakes in his book seem almost painfully long-winded. We need bans and action. Now. Ethically speaking, we are way overtime with our treatment of the non-human animals, and this has disastrous consequences for life on earth.

Equally, Nussbaum's wise book is necessary, if perhaps unnecessarily thorough for some readers. Nussbaum's almost four hundred page long book is also an introduction to the history of ethical thinking about non-human animals. She traces the lines back to Aristotle, Kant and various utilitarians.

At the same time, she gives an introduction to her own answer to the problems, a solution she calls the capability approach. This approach, which she calls a legal philosophy theory, is built around the idea of capabilityis. Capabilities are defined as basic requirements that can be compared to basic rights. A difficult concept to understand in my opinion, but the theory is no less important for that reason. It emphasizes that we must look for and observe what each individual animal holds, and what is important in this animal's life – so that we can protect the life development of the animal in question.

Such a view of animals is in contrast to the idea that we must take care of a particular species because 'it is so similar to us'. Animals should have basic rights regardless of whether they are rats or dolphins or pass the human-constructed mirror test. The capability approach obviously opposes a hierarchical ladder model, which ranks humans at the top anyway, since we must be 'morally high-ranking'. We can no longer draw the usual dividing lines between our own species and the 'wild animals'. We know that many non-human animals have emotions such as fear, pity and sadness. Several animals can solve complex problems and learn to use tools to solve them. And many animals can organize themselves into advanced social systems.

Eat animals?

The ethical and moral implications in Nussbaum's own life become clear when she says that out of conviction she has tried to eat only vegan, but got sick from it. When she reintroduced fish into her diet, she became healthier, and she now regularly eats fish. As an aging woman, she was unable to digest legumes and was forced to eat animal proteins. Proponents of a high-fat, ketogenic diet would probably agree with her. What are we through evolution adapted to digest? Many people are of the opinion that we are not made to eat vegan, while others believe that we can and should do so, precisely for ethical reasons. So what is right? How do the concepts of pleasure and pain relate to this? No, we shouldn't eat animals, but what if we get sick from not doing so? What? And what about additives and chemicals often used in vegan food?

Justice for animals is a quick-witted book, sometimes difficult to read, packed as it is with ethical history, philosophical explanations and many good examples. Nussbaum talks about wonder, empathy and anger as driving forces for change. That's all well and good, but what the book lacks is criticism of the system that enables this insane gross exploitation and large-scale biocidal not just on animals, but also on nature and people. Namely the modern global monetary system.

Animal crisis and criticism of capitalism

In the book Animal Crisis, A New Critical Theory# av Alice Crary og Lori Grue however, we find such a necessary criticism. This book is based on an anti-capitalist and anti-racist eco-feminism.

The so-called green shift, which involves a constant growth mindset, has failed in the first place.

The book goes through much of the same as Nussbaum's, among other things utilitarianismn's history and Kant's moral philosophy. But in addition, the authors are outspokenly critical of the growth imperative, and they rightly point out that man's current relationship with animals is of such a nature that it threatens both the animals and life on the planet.

Alice Crary And Lori Grue

The authors are radical in their view that it is modern global capitalism that underlies our treatment of animals and nature (and women) as exploitable resources. Therefore, a fight for justice for animals, and a fight to save life on the planet, must necessarily also involve a fight against modern capitalism. This means, among other things, that the so-called green shift, which involves a constant growth mindset, has failed in the first place. Because the purpose is still economic growth. As long as the idea of ​​growth and maximum profit continues to be the driving force, project 'a livable earth' is doomed to failure. It cannot be emphasized enough, and it is strangely quiet about this very thing.

And isn't that mind-blowing, like . ice Crary# and Lori Grue ask themselves: "At a time when we are face to face with a climate catastrophe, are we unable to see that we ourselves are vulnerable animals and dependent on the health of our common home on earth?"

Nina Ossavy
Nina Ossavy
Ossavy is a stage artist and writer.

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