Total Revolution: Revolution for the 21st Century

by Dr. Steven Best, Negotiation Is Over

My friends, we are winning many battles in the fight for freedom, rights, democracy, compassionate ethics, peace, interspecies justice, and ecology.

But we are losing the war.

The war against greed, violence, plunder, profits, and domination. The war against transnational corporations, world banks, the US Empire, and Western military machines. The war against metastasizing systems of economic growth, technological development, overproduction, and overconsumption.

Despite recent decades of intense social and environmental struggles, we are nevertheless losing ground in the battles for democracy and ecology.

In the last two decades, neoliberalism and globalization have destroyed social democracies, widened gaps between rich and poor, dispossessed farmers, and marketized the entire world. Alongside good-old fashioned imperialism and resource extraction, people now confront genetic engineering, biopiracy, the patenting of genes, and the control of the seed supply. McDonaldization swallows up diversity as agribusiness engulfs the world’s farmers. Corporate power is growing as people power is shrinking.

Signs of ecological distress are everywhere, from shrinking forests and depleted fisheries to vanishing wilderness and rising sea levels. Throughout history, societies have devastated local environments, but only in the last two decades has humanity upset the planetary ecology to bring about global climate change. Moreover, we now live in the era of the sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet, the last one occurring 65 million years ago in the age of the dinosaurs. Unlike the last five, this one is caused by human activity; we are the meteor crashing into the earth. Conservation biologists predict one third to one half of the world’s plant and animal species might vanish in the next few decades.

The global capitalist world system is inherently destructive to people, animals, and nature. It is unsustainable and the bills for three centuries of industrialization are now due. It cannot be humanized, civilized, or green-friendly, but rather must be transcended through revolution at all levels—economic, political, legal, cultural, technological, moral, and conceptual.

In the last three decades, there has been growing awareness that environmentalism cannot succeed without social justice and social justice cannot be realized without environmentalism. This is clear in the environmental justice movement in the US, in Earth First! alliances with timber workers, the platform of the Zapatistas platform, and the 1999 Battle of Seattle against the WTO where turtles joined with teamsters.

But something is missing, the equation is not balanced, the strategy cannot work. The interests of one species are represented as millions of others go unrecognized except as resources to be preserved for human use. But in the last three decades a new social movement has emerged — animal liberation. Its power and potential has yet to be recognized, but it deserves equal representation in the politics of the 21st century.

Progressives fighting for peace, justice, democracy, and ecology must recognize the validity of and need for the animal liberation movement for two reasons. First, on a moral level, the brutalization, exploitation, and suffering of animals is so great, so massive in degree and scope, that it demands a profound moral and political response from anyone with pretence to values of compassion, justice, rights, and nonviolence. Every year alone humans butcher 70 billion land and marine animals for food; millions more die in experimental laboratories, fur farm, hunting preserves, and countless other killing zones. Second, on a strategic level, the animal liberation movement is essential for the human and earth liberation movements. In numerous key ways, the domination of humans over animals underlies the domination of human over human and propels the environmental crisis. Moreover, the animal liberation movement is the most dynamic and fastest growing social movements of the day and other liberation movements ignore, mock, or trivialize it at their own peril.

It is becoming increasingly clear that human, animal, and earth liberation movements are inseparably linked, such that none can be free until all are free. This is not a new insight, but rather a lost wisdom and truth. Recall the words of Pythagoras, the first Western philosopher, who 2500 years ago proclaimed: “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

Negotiation Is Over

3 Responses to “Total Revolution: Revolution for the 21st Century”

  1. johnoswald Says:

    What I want to say here may to begin with seem irrelevant, but please bear with me.
    I support Total Liberation. I also support direct action as part of the struggle on behalf of the ALF and ELF. I see the solution to present evils to be the the overthrow of world capitalism.
    I have long yearned for a movement which combines the aim of animal liberation with the aim of overthrowing the international capitalist class.
    I was raised by my father in the Socialist Party of Great Britain, formed in 1904 (he joined in 1948), part of the World Socialist Movement (www.worldsocialism.org)
    Not including my father (who cannot comment now anyway, as he has advanced Alzheimers), the WSM and SPGB are arrant speciesists and ridiculers of animal rights/liberation and of ethical vegetarianism (in spite of their payment of lip service to the revolutionary poet PB Shelley!), so much so that they naively swallow the lies of the vivisecting lackeys of the capitalists re: the “necessity” of vivisection!
    But it is their view of how capitalism is to be overthrown and the nature of social and economic revolution which I wish to tell you about here.
    From 1904, when they were formed by associates of William Morris and Eleanor Marx, the SPGB consistently opposed reformist “socialism”. They condemned the Labour Party as pseudo-socialist at its inception in 1906, and any party calling itself “socialist” which opted for participation in government or saw socialism as state-control. Immediately, in 1918, they likewise condemned the Bolsheviks in Russia as having nothing to do with socialism (communism), and said that the revolutions in Russia and China were instances of capitalist forces smashing the barriers of feudalism: as had happened in France in 1789 etc.
    Where this may become of interest to you is their consistent insistence that the mass of the population (the wage-slave class) must, when fully conscious and determined, overthrow capitalist rule by disarming the capitalist class, and that this must be done by seizing the parliaments (national assemblies, congresses, etc.) via mass democratic means, and using the forces of coercion thus made available by that seizure to expropriate the capitalist class and establish common ownership by all of the means of production, scrapping thus money, wages, prices and profits, national frontiers, etc. That then would be socialism: a stateless, moneyless, borderless world community of free access by all to all goods and services.
    However, the SPGB and later the WSM have not taken on board 20th century developments re: mind control by the status quo, psychology, animal emancipation etc. They persist, like all Marxists or pseudo-marxists, and many anarchists, in a blind faith in the Enlightenment view of the primacy of human reason and understanding. Were reason indeed sovereign in the human organism, then we would have got rid of capitalism a century ago!
    The problem facing us, as indeed it faced the SPGB and WSM, and the anarchist movement too, is how to convert the “apathetic herd”, the masses, into determined revolutionaries ready to expropriate the capitalist class.
    The capitalist revolution only required a minority of the population (the bourgeoisie) to be consciously revolutionary when they broke through the restraints of the feudal system and confronted the old nobility. But the revolution we envisage as Total Liberationists requires the overwhelming mass of people to be conscious revolutionaries! And, unfortunately, reason is the least part of the equation in the apathy of the masses.
    Wilhelm Reich revealed psycho-analytical and sexual barriers to mass social responsibility-taking and revolution: the hijacking by capitalism and its popular culture and repression of the sex-drive of millions of young people. I can`t go into that here, but his work The Mass Psychology of Fascism is enlightening as to why millions of people actively go against their own interests, while the rest passively do so. We witness this today in the mass sense of helplessness: “Yes, but what can we do?” as liberties are eroded, wars declared, economic strictures declared, etc. Then there are the workers who imagine they have much to gain from the capitalist system, those who are seduced by patriotism, those who are navel-gazers and too emotionally miserable to be activated, and lastly the apathetic.
    So are we suggesting minority action? History shows us that minorities attempting to take on the capitalist state are soon and ruthlessly dealt with. That being said, I support the idea of taking to the streets if it might lead to others increasingly becoming activated. But factors preventing them from doing so are far more multitudinous than simple reason, logic and understanding.
    I am over the moon at having now come across the Total Liberation movement, and it remains to be said that most animal liberationists are sadly equally hostile to the idea of overthrowing capitalism, which they see as “unrealistic”. I know, as you do, however, that our survival depends on it!
    If there is indeed an organisation which stands for Total Liberation, you must show it me that I may join.
    I value your comments on all of this.

  2. drstevebest Says:

    Great comment, thanks, we are trying to build a TL persence and politics at the blogs TPC and NIO; i have pushed this position in my Terroriss or Freedom Fighters, and Ignitring a Revolution, anthologies; and it will be a central part of my forthcoming book on moral progress, animal liberation, and history. There is a TL group in Canada called CALM you can check out. But this revolution has yet to leave the station.

  3. [...] be free until all are free. This is not a new insight, but rather a lost wisdom and truth.” Total Revolution: Revolution for the 21st Century, ( Guerrilla News: Dispatches from the [...]

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