Jeremy Corbyn’s Vegan “Process”
It seems that not even the refreshingly egalitarian labour leader is immune to the lull of campfire morality – the proverbial backpackers and travellers of the mainstream “animal movement” who so often claim to be on “journey’s” away from unjust exploitation, whilst simultaneously stopping at every cheap grill and diner on the road out. And how long is that road? Who knows. One could be on it for a week, a year, or hell, even a lifetime. But like that age old wisdom suggests, it’s all about the journey, right? Not the destination? Well, perhaps try telling that to the piles of corpses left behind (or more likely, consumed) along the way.
Jeremy Corbyn was recently questioned at a Lush cosmetics event about his ethical choices with respect to animals. He responded saying that he was “going through the process” of eating more vegan food, but was quick to deny that he was going vegan, later clarifying that he was referring specifically to the consumption of vegan produce. After a discussion about how vegan food has improved over the years (because obviously, vegetables two decades ago were shit), he again reiterated that he was “going through the process, alright?” and that he “[wouldn’t] go any further than that.” His meaning here is rather ambiguous, but what it does highlight is the depth to which animals in our society have been relegated to the class of things through their property status and into our collective psyche. Society, and even political leaders who pride themselves on their embrace of justice, are blind to the equal interests in not suffering, in continuing to live, that all sentient beings possess.
See, that’s the problem with conflating the concept of a life journey with issues of morality. Invariably, the victims of injustice get swept along with enlightened and gentle sounding rhetoric, left to fall off the edge into oblivion whilst the proberbial moral traveller assumes some sort of position above all those who are not on any kind of “journey” at all. The irony, and the reality, is that the moral traveller, the one on a “journey,” is exactly the same as everyone else. They claim to be on the right side of the exploitation/no exploitation duality, when really they still sit in the exploitation camp along with those who have yet to take a moral position on an issue of injustice. When we reject human injustice, nobody needs to go on a “journey” to get to that point. Where animals are concerned, we’re all too eager to pack the car, don the sunglasses and go for ride before we see the truth of what has been in front of us the entire time. This is speciesism at its worst. Allowing ourselves to feel good about our actions whilst we knowingly exploit others for no good reason. Why? Because we are on a “journey,” and that “journey” is somehow more important than the lives of those who either benefit or suffer directly because of our actions.
Like the rest of us who have yet to realise this and recognise the implications of animal value, Jeremy, and the new society he wishes to bring about, will ultimately fall short if the scope of its moral thinking starts and ends with humans and humans alone. Animal welfarism is testament to the historical arrogance of human thought, the idea that we can view animals as lesser because they are not sufficiently like us. None of this will change unless we drop the “journeys,” drop the speciesism, and realise that veganism isn’t a “process” that can be “gone through.” It’s a minimum standard of decency.