Tag Archive: earth liberation


My most recent book, “The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century,” hitherto available only in German, is now available in English for purchase (PDF download or hardcopy book), on the Palgrave Macmillan site, and other sites such as Amazon.com.

9781137471116

I am honored that celebrated animal rights author, Norm Phelps, wrote the Foreword to the book, and here is the critical praise on the back cover:

“This is an extraordinary book that shatters all safe spaces found among the debris, torture, genocide, and despair scattered throughout history by the so-called march towards progress.” –Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Chapman University, USA, Author of Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution

“For at least the last half century, a biocentric revolution has been unfolding against the destructive tyranny of anthropocentrism — a revolution guided by the natural laws of ecology against the unnatural diminishment of nature at the hands of “civilized” man. In this bold and timely book, Steven Best writes from, and has documented, the evolution of this universal revolution, as he gives us a glimpse into the catastrophic consequences should this revolution fail.” –Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

“The Politics of Total Liberation is groundbreaking with an innovative new approach to understanding the ills of our society. Best makes is clear that we are losing the battle to save the environment and animals because of greed, domination, control, and war mongering created by humans. Best obviously did not write this to be popular, safe, or political; rather, he wrote because his conscience told him that it is right.” –Chris DeRose, President, Last Chance for Animals

“Steven Best gets it: if we are to stop destructive human conditions and habits, we will need `the most uncompromising, militant form of politics we can muster.’” –Jim Mason, author of An Unnatural Order: The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature.

“I have no argument with Norm Phelps when he states that `this may be the most important book of the 21st century’.” –Ronnie Lee, founder of the Animal Liberation Front

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century. This concise, jargon-free, and highly readable work is soon to be published in three different languages: first, next month, in German, by Echo Verlag publishers; second, by mid-year, in Italian, by Ortica Editrice; and third, in English toward the end of 2014, by the major American academic press, Palgrave-MacMillan.

image

Below is the Table of Contents and the Introduction to the work. Please look for the book soon in German, Italian, or English versions and I will post additional details regarding these and possibly other translated editions of the book as they become available.

 ************************************

Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century

By

Steven Best

Table of Contents

Introduction: Crisis and the Crossroads of History

 Chapter 1: The Animal Standpoint

Chapter 2: The New Abolitionism: Capitalism, Slavery, and Animal Liberation

Chapter 3: The Paralysis of Pacifism: In Defense of Militant Direct Action

Chapter 4: Rethinking Revolution: Veganism, Animal Liberation, Ecology, and the Left

Chapter 5: Minding the Animals: Cognitive Ethology and the Obsolescence of Left Humanism

Chapter 6: Moral Progress and the Struggle for Human Evolution

Conclusion: Reflections on Activism and Hope in a Dying World and Suicidal Culture

 

Introduction: Crisis and the Crossroads of History

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu, sixth century BCE philosopher

In dystopian and apocalyptic times such as ours, one of accelerating global social and ecological crisis, these essays attempt to articulate a revolutionary politics of total liberation for the 21st century.

All political approaches and social movements to date have been fragmentary, weak, and non-inclusive, and regressive in their views toward nonhuman animals. In the last three decades, there have been initial and tentative alliances between social justice and environmental causes, with growing recognition that the assault on people and the environment have common roots in a growth-oriented capitalist system. But, due to neglect on all sides, these alliances did not include vegan and animal rights/liberation movements, which overflow with potential for advancing progressive values (such as peace, justice, rights, equality, and community), creating ecological societies, and overcoming human alienation from other animal species and the earth as a whole.

Alliance politics generally is a challenging issue, as people prefer to focus on their own causes rather than supporting other movements, especially ones they disdain out of ignorance. This has to change and new political ideologies, tactics, and groupings must be formulated, for everything else has failed and the stakes could not be higher. At risk is nothing less than the future of life on a planet that has been pushed beyond all limits to adapt to human existence and is prepared to shake us off entirely and allow the evolutionary process to continue without us. This century, the next decades or even the next years, is decisive, for what we do or fail to do now will determine the fate of species, our own fates, and evolutionary history on this planet for millennia to come. The urgency could not be greater, there is no time to waste, it is now do-or-die.

Although diverse in theme, the essays collected in this book form a coherent whole and address my core concerns as they relate to current crisis conditions. The most promising and relevant politics for this century, I believe, will not focus on class struggle or the fragmented identity politics pursued along single-issue lines concerning race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth. It will be, rather, a politics of total liberation that grasps commonalities among various forms of oppression, that recognizes the interdependence and common goals of various liberation movements, and that forges appropriate political alliances.

By “total liberation” I do not mean a metaphysical utopia to be realized in perfect form. I refer, rather, to the process of understanding human, animal, and earth liberation movements in relation to one another and forming alliances around interrelated issues such as democracy and ecology, sustainability and veganism, and social justice and animal rights. To be sure, total liberation is an ideal, a vision, and a goal to strive for, invoking visions of freedom and harmony. But the struggle ahead is a continuous one, conducted within the constraints of human nature and the limits imposed by ecology. Human, animal, and earth liberation movements are different components of one inseparable struggle — against hierarchy, domination, and unsustainable social forms — none of which is possible without the others.

Through predatory behaviors, systems of exploitation, and growth-oriented societies, we have lived in contradiction to one another, other species, and the planet for so long, that we have brought about a new geologic epoch – the Anthropocene Era – whose name recognizes our global dominance and severe impact of Homo sapiens on the planet. In this era of runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction crisis in earth’s history, increasing centralization of power, aggressive neoliberalism, global capitalism, rampant militarism, resource scarcity, chronic warfare, economic crashes, and suffering and struggle everywhere, we have come to a historical crossroads where momentous choices have to be made and implemented into action.

The omnicidal regimes of “civilization” and global capitalism have reached their zenith and will end — whether through an ascendant global resistance stronger than this dying world system, or through the cataclysmic adjustments the planet already has initiated, such as ensure its evolution for billions of years to come but create conditions utterly hostile to supporting humans and countless other species.

Anything short of a radical, systemic, and comprehensive change, of a formidable revolutionary movement against global capitalism and hierarchical domination of all kinds will yield useless reforms, pseudo-solutions, false hopes, and protracted suffering. The time for partial visions, separate struggles, and fragmented resistance is over, and the hour of total liberation and revolutionary alliance politics has arrived.

Yet, alarmingly, we have not yet as a species or critical mass awoken to the true gravity of the situation and the magnitude of the challenges we face. The big picture proves elusive, antiquated paradigms prevail, and dogmatism and complacency strangle possibilities from all angles and quarters. Although few realize it, the human, animal, and earth liberation movements desperately need one another, and the weaknesses and limitations of each can only be overcome through the strengths and contributions of the others.

If revolt can mature into revolution, the starting point for social transformation is to join hands across the barricades; to engage in respectful critical dialogue; to communicate, educate, and learn as equals; to overcome partial histories, critiques, and battles for a systemic struggle. A politics of total liberation could forge alliances more powerful than anything yet created. It seeks to emancipate not just one class, interest group, or even the entire human species from the grip of a nihilistic power elite, but also animal communities everywhere, ecosystems worldwide, and the dynamic energies of evolution and speciation currently strangled.

Listening and learning, working united not divided, a unity in difference and a differentiated unity, forging a plurality of critiques and tactics that attack at all points and mobilize resistance from all social quarters – through a politics of total revolution, a politics for the 21st century, a flank of militant groups and positions can drive a battering ram into the structures of domination, unlock every cell and cage, and open the doors to a myriad of possible futures.

But humans will awake, if ever, late in the process of advanced crisis and decay. Nothing guarantees we will succeed rather than fail. But pessimism is suicide, despair is surrender, the stakes are too high, and our responsibilities are too great. Despite our violent history as a predatory and colonizing species, what humanity can and cannot achieve is still unknown. Our capacities and limits are still being worked out in the laboratory of history and political struggle, as this evolutionary experiment nonetheless might soon end in extinction. Let us not only hope, but also struggle, for a different outcome.

******************************

“For at least the last half century, a biocentric revolution has been unfolding against the destructive tyranny of anthropocentrism — a revolution guided by the natural laws of ecology against the unnatural diminishment of nature at the hands of “civilized” man. In this bold, brilliant, and timely book, Steven Best writes from, and has documented, the evolution of this universal revolution, as he gives us a glimpse into the catastrophic consequences should this revolution fail.”  —  Captain Paul Watson

by Dr. Steve Best

 

Headline: July 12, 2011, The Independent: “Climate change could kill one in 10 species by end of the century”:

“Climate change,” writes Steve Conner, “is speeding up the rate at which animals and plants are becoming extinct. By the end of the century, one in 10 species could be on the verge of extinction because of the effects of global warming, a study has found. The findings support the view that the earth is currently experiencing a global mass extinction where the rate at which species are being lost is many times greater than the historical extinction rate. It is the sixth great mass extinction in the history of life on earth.”

So “Climate change could kill one in ten species by the end of the century.” Well, this sounds like an understatement and never forget it has already begun to kill thousands of humans and animals and already has precipitated a crisis of environmental refugees. But do be sure to make that read that Homo rapiens could be wiping out evolution at increasingly rapid rates as, of course, we caused climate change and brought about the sixth extinction crisis.

I have an odd hobby of following these reports. I have a five-foot high stack of articles I have collected in huge folders just over the last few years that I refer to as “reports from the apocalypse.” If you just poked through these files, and did nothing but look at the headlines and grasped the mounting evidence for extinction and collapse, you might not be one of the “happy shiny people” who joyously lead the charge each morning on Facebook, trumpeting the coming “Vegan Victory” against the Forces of Evil!

There is a massive global scientific consensus that ecological systems are dying and Gaia is unraveling (as glaciers melt, sea levels rise, temperatures climb, and so on), and that the quickening of change is happening more quickly than the most pessimistic feared might occur. For over twenty-five years at least, scientists have issued serious and credible “warnings to humanity” that have floated away into the winds of apathy and been clouded over with disinformation.

So lifestyle vegan passifists piss me off, on the one hand, as do the neoliberals, growth fetishists, and technoutopians who (1) minimize the reality that there are real limits to growth that we can yet reach without minimal problem, as they (2) praise the miracles of the “new green revolution” (the first one was doomed from the start and only exacerbated the solid and food crisis) or champion biotechnology, the genetic reconstruction of all existing life and cloning alleged “successful designs” (all abysmal failures so far), and (3) fail to consider that, for every one more human added to the Western elite or poverty-stricken of the undeveloped world, we will lose countless many more animals and steal even more habitat and resources necessary for the elephants, gorillas, and tigers, for instance, to live, and all are dying off before our eyes. 

I look at this crisis theory shit every day, and here is a typical sampling of recent lines in scientific reports and credible journalism:

“Parched: Australia Faces Collapse as Climate Change Kicks In”

“Long Droughts, Rising Seas Predicted Despite Future CO2 Curbs”

“World Sea levels to Rise 1.5m by 2100”

“Number of Strong Hurricanes Doubles Over Past 35 Years”

“Riots, Instability Spread as Food Prices Skyrocket”

“Billions Could Go Hungry from Global Warming by 2100”

“Brazil Amazon Deforestation Soars”

“Over 15,000 Species Face Extinction”

“Apes ‘Extinct in a Generation’”

“THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: It Happened to Him. It’s Happening to You”

“Both Ends of Earth Are Melting”

“U.N. Warns of Rapid Decay of Environment”

“Panel Issues Bleak Report on Climate Change”

“Save the Planet? It’s Now or Never, Warns landmark UN report”

“Humans Living Far Beyond Planet’s Means”

“Earth Can’t Sustain Humans”

Every day, I confront two key psychologically troubling facts:

(1) Almost everyone in the world is in denial as to how serious the global social and ecological crisis has become, especially if they are Panglossian “happy, shiny” lifestyle vegan spreading their facile Gospel of Truth everyday on Facebook, assuring us that “We WILL win!!” and,

(2) We will die off soon enough, perhaps over a period of decades, perhaps the agony will be prolonged for centuries, but not before we can inflict considerably more killing, violence, and destruction on one another, other species, and the planet. We might remain alive long enough to play out a ruthless Mad Max struggle for survival, or even to transform this beautiful “pale blue dot” (Sagan) into the horrifying blood-red hues of the dead planet of Mars.

I have accepted the likely imminent demise of Homo rapiens. I just hope we go out with a bang not a whimper, so biodiversity and the earth have a chance to recover and revivify with us gone. In fact, so long as we remain alive and continue to inflate our population by billions more and colonize ever-more animal habitat, as the world’s most populous nations – India and China – clamor to live the “American lifestyle (and we all know that “the earth cannot afford another United States”), I do not see anything ahead but further devastation, destruction, and decimation of all life and nature.

I do not envision a “great leap forward” from a socialist or anarchist revolution, I am near abandoning the metaphysical hope of “revolution” altogether, and I certainly do not buy into the naive myth of “the coming vegan revolution”! I do think the world will soon shift toward a vegan diet, but not due to the “successful” efforts of the global vegan education movement (a dismal failure), but rather because nature, scarcity, and escalating economic and ecological costs will impose change on humanity out of necessity, not from conscious choices, spreading “enlightenment,” and the pathetically elitist, classist, consumerist, and racist nature of vegan education and “outreach” campaigns.

 

I’m sorry to say, but my hunch is that what activists, education groups, and social resistance movement are now doing is all too little, too late, and we continue to lose ground. But I am not excusing apathy, hedonism, or nihilism.

I will continue to fight. Indeed I will become as “extreme” as the crisis itself and chances for resistance demand. Despite the daunting magnitude of the problem, and the pathetically inadequate attempts to understand and resolve it, there is not a fait accompli dooming this great planet and there is still much to save and preserve for nature and animals.

If we cannot learn how to live harmoniously on this planet, then we do not deserve to live at all. This is now a fundamental axiom for me.

I have come to terms with the fact that Homo sapiens is likely to go down the same evolutionary cul-de-sac as did Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo neanderthalensis.

I’ve been an activist for thirty years in countless causes and movements and had my share of disappointments in humanity. But I am a fighter, not a quitter. And so my tears, passion, anger, and the revolutionary fire that continues to rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light will never dim or die out. For while humans may be too stupid, apathetic, oppressed, fearful, and narcissistic to unite and fight, that’s no longer my principle worry or concern.

I do hope we can come together collectively, globally, and with a militant resolve, solidarity, and inclusivity (such as giving animal liberationists the respect and prominent role they deserve in all future struggles) that is as unprecedented as the task is daunting. I’m not placing any bets on the plausibility of this scenario for humans are power-oriented, violent primates and xenophobic tribalists for the most part. It’s hard enough to have a successful relationship with one person, or to run one small effective campaign, let alone to unite a myriad of competing (but ultimately common) interests in alliance, solidarity, and shared power, while fighting the real enemies in the outside world rather than one another!

And so, while I will ally with and fight for every social justice movement that merits support, I am fighting this war now principally for every animal in a cage, for every species not yet extinct, and for every ecosystem not yet poisoned, ruined, or unalterably destroyed. This way, so long as humans continue to speed down the path of self-destruction and extinction, I can take comfort in the fact that a tragedy for humans is a blessing for the planet, and that in a literally posthuman world my work, sacrifices, and struggles might have made some small, enduring difference.

%d bloggers like this: