Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ARZone Podcast 1: Considering Tom Regan

Welcome to the first podcast from Animal Rights Zone (ARZone). The ARZone team, Carolyn Bailey, Barbara DeGrande, Tim Gier, Jason Ward, and Roger Yates, explain the aims of the podcasts before presenting and discussing extracts from their guest Q&A interview with animal rights philosopher, professor Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights, Defending Animal Rights and Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights.

Click on the embedded player above, or LISTEN HERE.

The Animal Rights Zone podcasts are the result of global Skype recordings by people located in Australia, North America, Canada and Ireland. Therefore, please excuse some slight volume problems and other technical glitches in some sections.

Related links.

Main ARZone site.


Corey Wrenn said...

Interesting debate here. Welfarist incremental reform has been shown by Francione time and time again to confuse the public and make them more comfortable with use. Beyond that, these reforms tend to make the industries more profitable and efficient. Single issue campaigns single out one issue or animal as more deserving than others, further confusing the public.

timgier said...

Hi Corey,

Francione hasn't actually "shown" anything, although he does present an interesting argument. However, it's not a perfect argument and certainly there are lots of honest, well-meaning and hard-working advocates and activists who disagree with it.

Beyond that, what you've said about how "the industries" would be adopting these reforms on their own, allegedly because of the efficiency and profitability of them makes little sense. If it were true that these reforms were such a bonus to "the industries" - increasing the sale of their products, increasing their profits - then no industry would ever resist them. Businesses are guided by one ideology, and that's the capitalist money making one, so they would have every incentive to adopt reforms if reforms do as you say. Moreover, you seem to misunderstand how these "industries" are actually constituted - because of the complexities involved within the supply chain it isn't even clear that "the industry" would adopt on a widescale basis those changes which were demonstrably "more profitable and efficient". "The industry" isn't a monolithic entity and the individual players within it will do what is in their own best interests, not what is the best interest of some abstract idea of "the industry". Lastly, you give "the public" too little credit, and as someone presumably interested in educating others it might be better for you to not suppose that most people are somehow less equipped than you are to be not confused.

Roger Yates said...

Hi Corey,

Nice to hear from you. Sociologically we have to be careful using broad categories such as “the public.” I think it is safe to say that, for some people, the clarity of their general thinking about human-nonhuman relations is not aided by welfare reforms. On the other hand, some people will see through them and look at the bigger picture. Indeed, Gary Francione makes that very point in his last podcast – he argues that “the public” are often quite capable of taking a critical view of single issue campaigns and, try as they might, animal organisations are not going to be able to restrict people’s thinking to a single form of animal use. In this sense, if he’s right, SIC are not as “dangerous” as some suggest.

After all, I think all experienced campaigners know that once the public begin to think about any form of animal use it is likely that the issue quickly becomes very personal for them and they perhaps think about what they had for breakfast and they then think about what’s planned for the evening meal.

In the same podcast, it was suggested that SICs can be used as a “hook” to draw people into discussing animal use as a general matter. I tend to be wary of that to some degree but I can see the point more clearly with respect to single-issue events rather than campaigns (especially if the campaign is run by a specialist organisation, say, opposed to bloodsports or fur). It is those organisations that may want to restrict the claims that are made – grassroots animal advocates tend not to try to act like politicians in this way and are open about the fact that they stand for veganism and they want to see the end to all animal use.

In his ARZone “chat,” Gary Francione said this: “I am not saying that you should not engage in peaceful demonstrations at a circus or whatever; I am just saying that you ought to be distributing literature and educating people about why ALL animal use is unjustifiable.” He has said similar things in a couple of his podcasts. I think we can all agree that participation in a single-issue event at which claims are made for the end of all animal use would be acceptable and consistent with the goals of abolition. I think that is a world away from running a campaign which is solely focused on one issue and I don’t know many grassroots groups that do that – or ever have.

timgier said...

Hi Roger,

As you know, Ronnie Lee made some good observations about the value of so-called single-issue campaigns in ARZone podcast number 7. I'm glad to have these audio versions of ARZone's trademark Rational Discourse - there are no easy or pat answers to questions involving complex social problems and being able to hear a variety of views from knowledgeable and experienced people is invaluable.

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