INTRODUCTION

In 1896, Frank Wilson Blackmar, who later would become president of the American Sociological Association, wrote: The domestication of animals led to a great improvement in the race. It gave an increased food supply through milk and the flesh of animals. . . . One after another animals have rendered service to man. They are used for food or clothing, or to carry burdens and draw loads. The advantage of their domestication cannot be too greatly estimated.1 A year earlier, the Harvard professor of paleontology and geology Nathaniel Southgate Shaler wrote similarly: In the group of continents termed the old world . . . there were many species of larger mammals which were well fitted for domestication, the advance of social development went on rapidly. . . . It is hardly too much to say that civilization has intimately depended on the subjugation of a great range of useful species. . . . The possession of domesticated animals certainly did much to break up . . . [the] old brutal way of life; it led to a higher sense of responsibility to the care of the household; it brought about systematic agriculture; it developed the art of war; it laid the foundations of wealth and commerce, and so set men well upon their upward way.2 Such long-held views about the role of other animals in human civilization have been widely accepted as obvious and unassailable. However, as Michael Parenti observes, “the most insidious oppressions are those that so insinuate themselves into the fabric of our lives and into the recesses of our minds that we don’t even realize they are acting upon us.”3 This book offers a different point of view, one much neglected by academia. The thesis of this book is that the practice of capturing and oppressing cows, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, and similar large, sociable animals for human

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use did not, as Shaler put it, “set men well upon their upward way.” Rather, it undermined the development of a just and peaceful world. The harms that humans have done to other animals— especially that harm generated by pastoralist and ranching practices that have culminated in contemporary factory-farming practices—have been a precondition for and have engendered large-scale violence against and injury to devalued humans, particularly indigenous people around the world. Over the past ten thousand years, human lives and those of other animals have been shaped indelibly and tragically by the priorities and interests of elite groups in their societies. Those customs and practices that serve their interests include the much-touted process of “domestication” of other animals, from which human civilization and advancement allegedly sprang. Cultural representations and even much scholarly discussion long have mainly supported and preserved societal practices that serve the interests of the most powerful—and the practice of exploiting other animals is no exception. The perspective on human treatment of other animals promoted by Blackmar and Shaler once stood alongside similarly anachronistic racist, sexist, and other proclamations by scholars and social commentators. Such beliefs have been ameliorated somewhat over the years, changed by decades of social-justice activism but also by the needs of the capitalist system. Profound institutionalized discrimination against women and people of color, for example, was inconsistent with increased profit taking and the expansion of capitalism.4 But while the eventual prohibition of legalized human enslavement and some amelioration of sexist policies and practices furthered the expansion of capitalism, the lucrative exploitation of other animals continues and today remains one of the most profitable of industries. Not surprisingly, support for objectification and utilitarian use of other animals still is ubiquitous, well into the twentyfirst century. For instance, current history textbooks contain statements such as: “Domesticated animals, especially cattle, yielded meat, milk, and hides. Food surpluses made it possible for people to do things other than farming. Some people became artisans and made weapons and jewelry that were traded with neighboring peoples.”5 Such reflexive pronouncements by scholars are commonplace. A relatively recent work that supported this benign view of “domestication,” one rooted in the speciesist writings of scholars like Blackmar and Shaler, is Jared Diamond’s popular 1997 work Guns, Germs, and Steel.

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Diamond suggests that human use of other animals facilitated the development of the collective knowledge that fostered human advancement.6 This point of view was buttressed by the 2011 book The Animal Connection by Pat Shipman, who maintains that human use of “living tools” throughout history furthered human development and our capacity for caring.7 The moral-philosophical position inherent in the works of writers from Blackmar to Shipman is one in which the exploitation of other animals serves the interest of human society and the ethical implications of the suffering experienced by other animals are simply ignored. Such traditional representations of history and human society—in lectures, printed works, and documentaries that are widely used in school and university classrooms—deny the personhood and subjectivity of other animals, who are simply reduced to “biota.”8 The profound bias in this view presents the exploitation of other animals as normal and necessary; at the same time, challenges to the conventional view—works that speak to the interests of other animals and that reexamine the consequences of their use by humans—are widely regarded as prejudiced, unscientific, and flawed. The tendency for the academy in capitalist society to reflect dominant ideological positions has been noted by, among others, the sociologist Thorstein Veblen. He observed in 1918 that while the scholar “is guided in effect by a meretricious subservience to the extra-scholastic conventions, all the while . . . he must profess an unbiased pursuit of the infusion and diffusion of knowledge among men.”9 Other writers have questioned scientists’ very ability to conduct unbiased, value-free scholarship and suggest that intellectuals and teachers who present themselves as unbiased are participating in academic dishonesty. For example, as Robin W. Winks observes, “the tendency is for historians to examine a concept derived from popular culture and, especially when they feel that the concept has essential validity, to put little or no explicit distance between themselves and the popular manifestations of the idea they are examining.”10 Similarly, the sociologist Alvin Gouldner writes: If sociologists ought not express their personal values in the academic setting, how then are students to be safeguarded against the unwitting influence of these values which shape the sociologist’s selection of problems, his preferences for certain hypotheses or conceptual schemes, and his neglect of others? For these are unavoidable and, in this sense, there is and can be no value-free sociology.11

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Most contemporary scholarship pertaining to the relationship between humans and other animals reflects what the scholar and social critic Michael Parenti refers to as society’s “background assumptions”: Our tendency to accept a datum or argument as true or not depends less on the content and substance of it than it does on how congruent it is with the background assumptions we already have. But those background assumptions are of course established by the whole climate of opinion, the whole universe of communication that we are immersed in constantly, which is why dissidents learn the discipline of fighting and developing their arguments from evidence, while those who work within the safe mainstream work a whole lifetime with unexamined assumptions and presumptions.12 This book’s perspective also is distinct from popular opinion and mainstream scholarship in presenting most human use of other animals, past and present, as violence—as the unethical and chauvinistic treatment of the other inhabitants of the planet. Increasingly, ethologists are reporting that other animals, including those relegated to the socially constructed position of “farm animal,” are sentient beings with emotional lives, strong preferences and desires, and profound social bonds. However, the individuality and personality of each is ignored by the humans who benefit from their mistreatment and death. Rosamund Young observes, “Animals and people can appear to lose their identities or become institutionalized if forced to live in unnatural, crowded, featureless, regimented or boring conditions.”13 Much has been written about the sentience, consciousness, and mindedness of other animals, however, and this book is not an elaboration on that ongoing scholarship,14 nor will it add to the critical reviews of the traditional arguments that have been used to legitimate the oppression of other animals.15 This book is a comparative historical analysis that examines recurring patterns of the oppression of significant numbers of large animals for food and resources by elites in different societies and at different points in history and discusses how this form of oppression led to invasion, conquest, and other harms. While the historical periods and regions are unique, they are not beyond comparison. The focal point of this study is the process commonly referred to as animal “domestication” and how this practice caused large-scale violence, destruction, and disease epidemics. Specifi-

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cally, it will compare the ways that such use of other animals in different societies—as instruments of warfare, forced laborers, or rations and other resources—has enabled widespread violence. This work also will review the ways in which such use of other animals has promoted harm. These include damage from the need to expropriate the land and water necessary to maintain large groups of animals, the amassing of military power resulting from animal exploitation, and the pursuit of economic benefit from the use or sale of animals. The widespread violence and destruction engendered by such uses of large numbers of “domesticated” animals encompasses both the violence experienced by the animals and the ways in which this harm has been entangled with related forms of violence against free-living animals and groups of devalued humans. These include invasion, conquest, extermination, displacement, repression, coerced and enslaved servitude, gender subordination and sexual exploitation, and hunger. Accompanying such violence have been deadly zoonotic diseases that have contributed to the destruction of entire cities, societies, and civilizations. Finally, as the practice of oppression and the impediments to effective moral challenges to the practice are closely tied to the material interests of elites, special attention will be given to the relationship between animal “domestication” and the development and expansion of the capitalist system. A primary assumption of this work is that oppression—of both humans and other animals—is entangled with and motivated by the desire for material gain, especially by elites. Moreover, for institutionalized oppression to occur, it must be supported by state power and justified through ideological manipulation.16 This book takes a historical-materialist approach to the practice of animal oppression and the ensuing, pervasive violence of pastoralism, traditional ranching, and today’s intensive factory farming.17 This historical review emphasizes systemic factors and does not focus on the agency of individual human and animal actors. This is not to suggest that individual-level actions—and resistance to oppression—are insignificant, but a satisfactory treatment of this important subject is beyond the scope of this book.18 However, it will try to recognize what the scholar E. P. Thompson asserted should be acknowledged in historical works: “the quality of life, the sufferings and satisfactions, of those who live and die in unredeemed time.”19 Finally, it is important to recognize that public acceptance of the profitable oppression of other animals has been socially engineered in no small

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part through the creation and ubiquitous use of reality-defining words and expressions that disparage or objectify other animals. As William Kornblum puts it, “A culture’s language expresses how the people of that culture perceive and understand the world and, at the same time, influences their perceptions and understandings.”20 Walter Lippmann noted, “For the most part we do not see first, and then define, we define first and then see.”21 Accordingly, throughout the text the phrase “other animals” often is used instead of simply “animals,” to highlight the fact that humans also are animals—a truth that frequently is obscured in order to advance a powerful ideological divide that furthers terrible acts of oppression. Moreover, in an effort to reject language that objectifies and devalues others, words such as “cattle,” “poultry,” and “livestock” are placed in quotation marks throughout the text, to underscore the usually overlooked ideology and values built into those terms and to reduce the likelihood that such disparaging terminology will be comprehended in the conventional sense. Words that represent parts and body fluids of other animals as mere commodities, such as “meat,” “wool,” “milk,” “dairy,” and “eggs,” similarly facilitate a psychological-social detachment, in which the reality of the lives and deaths of other animals is masked and the animals themselves become what Carol Adams calls “absent referents.”22 This practice of placing certain language in quotes also is used in the cases of words such as “slave,” “peon,” and “peasant” that serve to devalue groups of humans and of male pronouns used where references to both women and men are implied. Moreover, terms such as “master” and “owner” that are euphemisms for oppressors or oppressive practices also will be set in quotes. When such terms appear in quoted material, they are placed in italics. While some readers may find this device awkward at times, it is very important, in any work that strives to address oppression, to avoid language that supports or legitimizes oppressive arrangements. To this end, the term domesecration will be put forward as a necessary replacement for “domestication” in chapter 1. Chapter 1 of this book opens with humankind’s transition from foraging systems of subsistence to hunting and then discusses agricultural society and the large-scale violence and warfare that was enabled and promoted by nomadic pastoralist and ranching practices. Chapter 2 examines the Spanish and Portuguese invasion of the Americas, incursions made possible by the oppression of horses, cows, and pigs as resources and as instruments of war, as well as the deadly effects of infectious diseases re-

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sulting from crowding together oppressed animals. Chapter 3 reviews the broader European colonization of North America and the lethal conflicts with Native Americans that resulted from the intruders’ ranching of cows, pigs, and horses—violence that expanded with the emergence of commercial ranching operations. Chapter 4 focuses on ranchers’ and enslavers’ violent expropriation of Texas, the U.S. confiscation of half of Mexico, and the ensuing war against indigenous peoples and other animals of the Western plains that permitted the development of vast ranching operations. Chapter 5 looks at the role ranching played in nineteenth-century European colonialism in other parts of the world—including the British takeover of Ireland, rancher invasions of many parts of Africa, and the British colonization of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania—and the tragic consequences for indigenous people and other animals there. Chapter 5 also examines postindependence Latin America, where powerful, landed elites—disproportionately ranchers—undermined attempts at democracy and perpetrated widespread violence in order to maximize profits from the export of ranching products. Chapter 6 reviews the rise of corporate capitalism in the United States and the development of the fast-food industry, the creation of “hamburger culture,” and the push for expanded “meat” consumption. Chapter 7 examines the effect of “hamburger culture” on conflict and violence in Latin America, where the United States and international financial institutions helped expand greatly both ranching and feed-crop production. We will see that the recurring general pattern throughout this history—conflict and entangled violence produced by elite-controlled pastoral and ranching systems— has varied somewhat in different regions but has increased in complexity with the growth of capitalism. Chapter 8 discusses the global risks linked to the enormous contemporary expansion of intensive ranching operations and the vast increase in global consumption of animals as food. We will see that, in fact, “domestication” not only has undermined the development of a just and peaceful world but also presents one of the most significant threats to future stability, peace, and justice. In chapter 9, brief consideration will be given to the counterproductive nature of most contemporary animal advocacy and the obstacles that the capitalist system creates to achieving a just and nonviolent world.

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