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Why Moral Arguments for Vegetarianism/Veganism fail Part III

April 3, 2012

Part III

Return of the Primitive

 

I had thought I didn’t need to write Part III because Abram would never follow Vegetarianism all the way to its grim consequences, but it seems his friends need more convincing, so for their benefit I will continue…

 

After acknowledging the animal death caused by mass-agriculture and having developed your own “special” theory of rights that include animals – you suggest that farmers should perhaps “return to the natural produce of the land as it would be the most naturally bountiful.” And that humanity should simply avoid mass-agriculture all together and return to a simpler, more natural way of life.

 

That, indeed, would be a minimal environmental impact, but would sustain just about a single farmer himself and possibly his family, but certainly nobody else, not the 9 billion people and counting.

 

This necessarily leads to a fork in the road:

1. Either the farmer must utilize a more efficient method of plant production

or

2. The human population must be dramatically reduced

 

Or to phrase it another way, agriculture or death. The current human population cannot be sustained through foraging or subsistence farming – not even close. [and I would love to hear how you intend to curtail population growth without violating individual’s human rights in order to do so]

 

Perhaps you have a romantic, noble sense of “the simple life,” free of the noise, rush, and clutter of modern society – so maybe what I described above about the mass perishing of human life sounds great to you. Working hard for your food every day, resting easy knowing you didn’t harm any creature in its production, and relaxing in the tranquil beauty of nature under the stars at night…right?

 

An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Biblical times—a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream—an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly—an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth—these do live with their “natural environment,” but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother, whose child is dying of cholera: “Should one do everything one can? Of course not.” Try to tell a Russian housewife, who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather in order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations, that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.

Ayn Rand, “The Left: Old and New,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 166

 

I think the allure of the “natural life” as you imagine it and the harsh reality are miles apart. Civilization and that which is the foundation – agriculture – are wonderful things. The science, technology, art, and the cessation of the violent struggle for survival (which frees us to create the aforementioned luxuries) are good. The standard by which I judge good and bad is human life. Your philosophy, if followed to its necessary and consistent conclusion, results in the destruction of civilization and the end of meaningful human life.

 

Without machines and technology, the task of mere survival is a terrible, mind-and-body-wrecking ordeal. In “nature,” the struggle for food, clothing and shelter consumes all of a man’s energy and spirit; it is a losing struggle—the winner is any flood, earthquake or swarm of locusts. (Consider the 500,000 bodies left in the wake of a single flood in Pakistan; they had been men who lived without technology.) To work only for bare necessities is a luxury that mankind cannot afford.

Ayn Rand, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 288

 

Ecology as a social principle . . . condemns cities, culture, industry, technology, the intellect, and advocates men’s return to “nature,” to the state of grunting subanimals digging the soil with their bare hands.

Ayn Rand, “The Lessons of Vietnam,” The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 25, 1

 

I gave up on Anarchism when I was 19 when I was unable to reconcile the benefits of an anarchist social-political system with the necessary conditions of such a system – namely the extreme decentralization of populations and subsequent destruction of modern civilization. You face a similar choice…

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