Where the Left Turns Right: Carnism and Colonialism

Where the Left Turns Right: Carnism and Colonialism
by Moses Seenarine, 01/16/18

Livestock is related to colonialism, racism, and classism. Geologist Tony Weis in his book, The Ecological Hoofprint - The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock, explains how the growth and industrialization of livestock production were instrumental to European colonialism and imperialism, and to worsening human inequality in the present. For centuries, over the course of European colonial domination and expansion worldwide, livestock production enlarged through intention and accident.

Livestock was a profound part of European conquest of thousands of indigenous groups, and their subsequent extraction and under-development policies on local lands. From mining and logging to plantations and trade, livestock was instrumental in land dispossession, indigenous genocide, extraction of minerals, and ecological disaster. In Brazil and elsewhere, the growth of cattle facilitated the colonial economy's expansion into the forests and indigenous communities, and continues to do so in the present-day. 

Unequal consumption of animal-based foods was a critical aspect of colonialism, class differentiation and white supremacy. Eating animal carcass was a prized demonstration of class status in England, first among the nobility and later for emergent capitalist elites. And, progressively, consumption of animal flesh became a strong working class aspiration as well. Across Europe and the globe, progressively, flesh intake's marker of class and privilege is linked to social oppression. By way of illustration, one researcher shows how by exploiting Irish and Scottish workers and land, carcass intake in England was able to dwarf that of the rest of Europe well into the 19th century. 

Sociologist David Nibert centers his analysis on nomadic pastoralism and the development of commercial ranching, and he shows how this practice was largely controlled by elite groups with the rise of capitalism. Nibert links domestication to some of the most critical issues facing the world today, like the depletion of fresh water, topsoil, and oil reserves, global warming, and world hunger. Similar to Weis, Nibert argues that animal-based exploitation was central to the expansion of capitalism and economic elites. 

Nibert explicates four critical connections: (i) the military use of domesticated animals in agrarian society; (ii) livestock's role in the Spanish invasion of the Philippines; (iii) domesticates and indigenous displacement; and (iv) the reign of “cattle kings” in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America. 

Rural displacement is commonplace in the industry. In the 1950s, only 25% of the population in Latin America lived in urban areas. This number grew to 40% by the 1980s. And, over this period, the number of landless campesinos more than tripled. By 2007, around 77% of the population were living in urban areas. 

Nibert further links domesticated animals with depletion of finite resources and conflicts at regional and international levels in the present. And, he probes how exploding animal-based food intake is leading to a pandemic of chronic diseases and creates the potential for a global influenza pandemic that may disproportionately affect the poor and disadvantaged.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC ]

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