All right, since my discussion with Will Wilkinson and Katherine Mangu-Ward on PJTV last night went well, I’m feeling sort of big-tent, so, while I’ll just briefly say again that it’s not clear to me that feminism constitutes “consciousness-raising” (to use a term deployed earlier in this conversation) any more than does touting some brutal form of Nietzschean machismo, I will move on to note something that both expands my usual philosophical horizons and arguably makes my lady friends look good.
For some reason, women are far more likely to be vegetarians or vegans than men are (and I even know a few vegans, principled vegetarians, or animal-welfare-proponents who are libertarians), and I have some sympathy for these positions, albeit not enough to stop eating tasty, tasty flesh — and in any case, animals would just spend all day mass-murdering each other without our help if we left them alone, making the whole thing seem rather futile from a utilitarian perspective, even if you believe that brute animal pleasures are as morally relevant as the rich, highly conceptual pleasures known to the frontal-lobe-advantaged mind of humans.
But I can appreciate, for example, the genuine heroism of this spontaneous dog-on-dog highway rescue clip from YouTube, pointed out by my evolutionary-psychology-studying, vegan, utilitarian friend Diana Fleischman (note the ironic last name), which is amazing even if the dragged dog still passed away (and the bold rescuer dog reportedly ran off before numerous humans could make good on their desire to adopt or reward him). Moments like the one in that clip make some anti-animal-cruelty laws seem all the more reasonable, somehow.
Ironically, though, it was not one of my vegan pals but my conservative girlfriend Helen who I found myself likening to a “green anarchist” the other day, since she tends, even if sometimes half-jokingly, to say that the old, tribal, and primitive is always preferable to modernity, which seems logically to lead to wanting to live like the Amish or perhaps cave people — or, even more radically, like green anarchists want us to, they being a small, almost maximally-radical political sect who believe not only that the invention of agriculture was a mistake (as do many other radical environmentalists) but that even the development of symbolic communication was a step too far and that we should go back to living in the woods and communicating through grunts and smells.
Conservatives normally think of themselves as the great guardians of civilization, but, ironically, might it be Helen who belongs down in the dirt on all fours, grunting like an animal?
In a related question that might well be going through your mind, though: is there a progressive rock/New Wave band that paradoxically fuses green anarchist-sounding songs (about, for example, the desire to exist with “less cities”) with high-tech synthesizers and electric guitars? You know there is, my friend, and it’s high time you cranked up the volume on the Fixx’s song “Calm Animals” so you can really hear the politics. Oh, how I love this pretentious, grandiose song — even with lines like “Given one chance to think social/ But we choke on greed and excess!” (I said big tent, yet note you don’t hear me trying to declare them libertarian — just cool.)
In other animal news, my favorite comic book writer, Grant Morrison (whose Final Crisis issue #5 comes out tomorrow), is also a militant vegetarian but, in contrast to some of his hyper-complex plots, managed to create a simple, elegant little fable of animal liberation several years ago in the form of a comic book miniseries called We3, the poignant tale of cute, experimental animal cyborgs who innocently escape from their military creators but are hunted down as threats to national security — as indeed they are, being festooned with rocket launchers and the like — while they make their forlorn way into the surrounding wilderness. And best of all, this story is now likely to hit the big screen, directed by none other than the man who gave us Kung Fu Panda.
If I were an animal rights activist, I would plan my whole life and philosophy around the release of this film, starting today.