people are forced to use most of their active time working, selling their labor
to bosses. Many times even that is not enough to maintain even a decent level
of life. If we use the term class, these people are called working class (that
is, people who don't own anything else other than their labor, which they have
to sell to whomever wants to buy it). The vast majority of animal rights activists
come from working class backgrounds.
If we look at the world as a whole,
wealth is extraordinarily unequally distributed. For instance, only 355 of the
world's richest people own as much cumulatively as all of the poorest 47% of the
whole world combined. So-called "first world" countries consume dozens
of times more natural resources per capita than in the poor South. According to
the UN, the gap between wealthy and poor nations is widening all the time as the
rich get richer and the poor countries remain stuck in poverty.
context the animal rights message might sound elitist, something reserved for
privileged middle and upper class kids. For many people, the struggle for everyday
survival and the frequent feeling of powerlessness over one's personal life creates
a distance from themes like GM-food or animal issues.
Trade unions were
historically formed to empower working people and to defend their rights against
the boss class. Via mass struggle, strikes, pickets, boycotts and sabotage, the
workers have won everything we today recognize in labor rights, welfare, public
healthcare, better salaries, education, shorter working hours, abolition of racist
legislation etc. Without these workers' mass movements, our societies would be
quite different and animal liberation or rights wouldn't be on anyone's agenda.
But so much is still to be won. Certainly the animal liberation movement
will gain victories as a single issue, non-class movement. But paving the way
to a real animal- friendly society needs way more than these minor victories.
Some people argue that as long as there is capitalism (the systematic exploitation
of other people's desperate situation as a class who doesn't own anything other
than their labor, the practice of putting profits over human, animal or nature's
rights, etc.), there can't be animal liberation.
Trade unions for animal
The liberation of the working class is the aim of the radical
Trade unions. For instance, IWW in the US aims to abolish wage slavery altogether.
But along the road, they intend to empower the workers and inspire them to take
more control of their lives both personally and at their place of work, liberating
them from the exploitative position under the ruling class.
The IWW is
also teaching the working class to be aware of their power. Here is where animal
liberation movement should be working together with the workers' movement. This
does not necessarily mean that we need to work together as groups, but rather
that the animal liberation movement recognizes the necessity of other social movements
and at the same time attempts to raise the trade unions' awareness of animal issues.
Look at Seattle for instance; the marginal animal and earth movements couldn't
have made their impact without the workers' movement and the farmers.
Promoting animal liberation via trade unions is a two
First, in campaigns we can try to get the workers involved
rather than turn our anger and frustration against them (and hence getting them
against us). For instance, campaigns against Burlington Coat Factory or other
fur selling companies would be much stronger if they had the backing of the organized
workforce. The trade unions have organized numerous strikes and other industrial
actions for environmental reasons worldwide. I can't wait to see the first one
done for the animals.
Second, by joining trade unions and getting more
control of our lives in the work place, we can make this world a better place
for ourselves and for our fellow workers. Only in society where individuals feel
empowered, respected and have their basic needs met, may animal liberation advance.
Industrial Workers of the World
For the uncompromising and
radical animal activist, the most natural choice for a trade union would be IWW.
IWW is a union based on syndicalism and anarchist ideas, and hence it is in the
total control of the members unlike other unions. It aims to liberate people from
wage slavery, not just slight reforms like other bigger unions, and uses direct
action to get the goods.
Check out IWW on the web at http://www.iww.org/
and judge for yourself.
For human, animal and earth liberation,