Perpetuating The Animal-Confusion Movement: Faunalytics (Part II)
In part I of this Faunalytics piece, we saw a biased interpretation of flawed research. The results clearly demonstrate a dire need for the embrace of abolitionist education, yet the opposite is promoted. The rejection of abolitionist education is not a coincidence; it just so happens to serve the various organisations that offer Faunalytics financial support – both traditional welfarist and new welfarist groups. This embrace of welfarism is also apparent in the animal tracker “analysis and takeaways” blog post where welfarist terms such as “animal liberation,” “animal protection,” and “animal suffering” – phrases that have no meaning in the face of animal exploitation – are used regularly. In this final blog post, it makes the claim that “animal liberation is a long-term struggle,” and that “we must acknowledge that animal issues are not ‘top of mind’ for most people.” It quotes two public opinion researchers who maintain that “most people don’t think about most issues most of the time.” Again, what we see here is Faunalytics further muddying the waters and perpetuating a sense of confusion—it is making a mountain out of a molehill in order to give the impression that the “animal protection” movement (the mainstream movement, comprised of welfarism) is required in order to get people thinking about animal issues. The reality is that people already know everything they need—they either agree or disagree that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals. There’s only one benefit to people having more “knowledge” on the particulars of animal exploitation – and it’s not for the animals, or even the public. If you’re an organisation like Faunalytics—funded by welfarist groups that make a living from selling campaigns targeted at particular forms of exploitation—it makes sense that you would want people to have “knowledge” on certain forms of exploitation, but never put all the pieces of the jigsaw together. If people are mindful of certain types of exploitation, but are never asked to consider the morality of animal exploitation as a whole, they are more likely to support campaigns targeting single forms of exploitation, while simultaneously engaging in other forms of exploitation themselves. Without abolitionist vegan education, having more “knowledge” on single animal issues is worse than useless. All it does is ensure that people are kept looking through cracks in the wall as opposed to knocking the wall down and seeing the entire picture; it perpetuates the myth that animal issues exist separately and that there is a morally relevant divide between each of them. This is the sense of public confusion that Faunalytics and its sponsors benefit from. A never-ending road where “animal liberation is a long-term struggle” forever. A “struggle” that ensures a healthy bottom line for all of the organisations that are involved. Without the “long-term struggle,” these organisations that profit from the “struggle” wouldn’t exist.
Faunalytics also claims that if the public is not knowledgeable on something, partaking in a public opinion survey may mean that “attitudes are formed on the spot.” They believe that “animal issues” are not front and centre in peoples minds and that this “lack of consideration and urgency is one of the most important hurdles faced by animal advocates.” Once again, we have a situation that benefits the humans of the movement, and not the animals: We have so many “important hurdles” to overcome, and to do that we need the financial support of the public. To get that financial support, we need confusion, hopelessness, and a sense of being at the bottom of an unassailable mountain. Let’s talk about “animal issues” as tiny individual little pieces, as opposed to tackling the route cause of the problem and educating people about veganism.
These public opinion surveys do nothing but ensure that the “struggle” continues.
Further, Faunalytics yet again proves the abolitionist point in the “cognitive dissonance” section of its blog post. It lists some examples of cognitive dissonance as recorded by the Animal Tracker research (see the screenshot below).
Most interesting is the second point concerning the 73% of people who believe that “protecting animals is important to them when buying meat, eggs, and dairy products.” Here, Faunalytics puts an emphasis on “higher welfare” products, as if it would be morally better, or somehow less contradictory for these people to be consuming animals tortured and killed via method X as opposed to method Y. This is interesting, not just because it demonstrates—yet again—its agenda in promoting welfare reform, but it also demonstrates how Faunalytics values animal life. In suggesting that “higher welfare” products would be better somehow —or that these products even exist from the animals’ point of view—it is engaging in outright speciesism. In order to maintain such a thing you need to make a value judgment against animal life: one that says that animals are of lesser value than humans. It makes sense that Faunalytics would hold this position, given the support it receives from the mainstream movement, and how hostile it is to the Abolitionist Approach.
Again, if Faunalytics were to take its results seriously here, it would have no choice but to embrace abolitionist vegan education. These examples of “cognitive dissonance” that it cites show profound levels of public confusion, but also incredibly high levels of moral concern. Instead of focusing on the moral concern and breaking through the confusion, Faunalytics focuses on the confusion. There would be little profit and substantially less funding for the Animal Tracker if they promoted clear moral principles. This much becomes clear in the final section I wish to comment. It maintains that “it’s not enough to speak the truth and then expect people to internalise it and change their behaviour. Persuasion is a more nuanced process that requires a deep understanding of one’s target audience, a message that resonates rather than conflicts with existing beliefs, and an ongoing “discussion” with people instead of just a one-time message. Making progress for animals will require connecting with people on a deeper level than simply providing more evidence of animal suffering.” That’s right; it portrays education here as nothing more than a “one-time message” where the only thing that an educator can do is “provide more evidence of animal suffering.” But that is not vegan education. Abolitionist education does enable people to “change their behaviour” and does “connect with people on a deeper level,” precisely because it speaks directly to the moral concern that they already have for animals and shows them the rational conclusion of that concern. There is no need to provide further “evidence of animal suffering” —it only perpetuates the false idea that animals don’t care about dying, they just about not “suffering” during the process. It’s only Faunalytics and its partners in the “animal protection” movement that “provide[s] evidence of animal suffering” to the public without a “deeper” message that “resonates” with them.
The next 10 years of “animal trackers” will undoubtedly continue to prove the abolitionist point, but given the vast business interests involved in the mainstream movement, we can safely assume that the “results” will continue to be interpreted in a way that ensures the “struggle” never ends.