As freedom activist and anarchist Larken Rose recently stated on social media, the one banner to unite all human beings under is consent. Consent is the one universal spiritual law that binds us. All human beings seek to live in a state of peace, freedom, and abundance, free from coercion and threats of violence.
No one, in any part of the world, regardless of their culture, race, sex or religion, ever wants their consent violated. Voluntary, consensual interactions are the backbone of anarchism, and human beings -- for the most part -- interact with others on a consensual basis. Even the murderers, rapists, and thieves do not want to be the victims of their own crimes. The murderer doesn't want to be murdered. The rapist doesn't want to be raped. And the thief doesn't want his property stolen.
But what about the animals, those innocent creatures who are completely at our mercy? Can the cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and fish give consent to our unconscious widespread initiation of violence and imposed system of slavery? Do we, as supposed beings of moral agency, have the permission to violate hundreds of billions of animals for the sake of our own sensory pleasures and eating habits?
Animals, who are lower down on the evolutionary ladder than humans, may not be able to sign contracts or utter the words 'yes' and no', but they communicate with us in their own unique language - a language that we are all capable of understanding and tuning into due to our undeniable connection to nature and all life on the planet.
Animals, like babies and young children, give their consent in the form of body language. They may not be able to articulate their thoughts and feelings verbally, and their vocabulary may be limited (parrots) or completely absent, but animals do speak the language of life. A dog, pig, or cow will consciously look to avoid pain and will cry or squeal when suffering. Given that many of us in the west grew up with domesticated pets, this is common sense.
Human beings abhor animal cruelty and non-consensual violence towards dogs and cats but ignore the suffering and plight of 'farmed' animals. Animals who, for the most part, are tortured and abused in slaughterhouses and dairy farms, some of whom never see the light of day. These creatures, who wish us humans no harm, do try to escape (and, in some cases, do) and DO NOT give consent to our imposed system of slavery, torture, and murder.
I, personally, have visited my local slaughterhouse and witnessed the horror first-hand. Pigs are lowered into gas chambers where they thrash and squeal in their last moments of life. I can assure you, there is nothing consensual about it. These creatures, like us, desire freedom and all the abundance nature provides.
We can not, as anarchists, voluntaryists and freedom activists, champion the ideas of freedom and liberty for humans whilst enslaving and murdering countless animals for our own hedonistic pleasure and convenience. Our relationship with farmed animals is NOT consensual, and is, in fact, much worse than the master-slave relationship between government and its citizens.
To rephrase retired vegan activist Gary Yourofsky, freedom begins at the dinner table, with what you put into your body on a daily basis.
Thanks for reading, in lak'ech.