LARGE-SCALE LIVESTOCK FARMING: Whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about large-scale livestock farming

A series of texts NON-HUMANS, HUMANS, CLIMATE, MACHINES about large-scale livestock farming from the viewpoint of theorists, artists and activists views large-scale livestock farming as an area primarily related to ethics and animal rights, but at the same time draws attention to the fact that large-scale farming is a capitalist mechanism, and is the result of economic and power-related interests and pressures that allow and normalise slaughter on a large-scale. The texts try to identify a network of actors, agents and relationships that are involved in large-scale farming and present them as a complex problem.

The series is published in parallel with the ongoing campaign All Farm Animals Deserve to Roam Free. We call to end this inhumane practice by banning all cages for farmed animals. Cages are cruel.

Sign petition HERE!

People have taken advantage of animals for various uses since ancient times. Today’s industrial civilisation, however, succeeds in exploiting and killing billions of animals every year. Passing moral judgement on intensive livestock farming is not enough to resolve this situation, because its existence is closely related to the logic and development of the capitalist economic system and its imperatives.

Author of the second text for the series is Patrik Gažo. Patrik Gažo is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University in Brno. His research is focused on contradictions and relationships between employees’ interests and conservation of the natural environment.

Whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about factory farming

Patrik Gažo

This is how we might alter a famous quote by a philosopher and a representative of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, Max Horkheimer, who wrote in 1939: „Whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about fascism.“ (Horkheimer 2005, s. 226) He pointed out that fascism is not just a random deviation from the standard or a defect of a naturally-occurring alliance between liberal democracy and capitalism, but that it is in the shadow of a concealed consequence of the contradictions of capitalist production logic awaiting its opportunity. The radicalization of individuals and whole societies are affected by many factors, however, these are often related to the systemic crisis of capital accumulation and economic growth, which are vital for the stability of capitalism.

Like Horkheimer, who searched for the systemic causes of fascism, we may also think of other equally serious problems in today’s world, such as climate change or the so-called “animal production”, which is strongly linked with it. At first glance, many may think that the title of this essay combines two absolutely different and unrelated spheres of our lives. Therefore, we will gradually shed light on the legitimacy of this claim and clarify the deadlock between capital and farms. But to do that, we must start in the ancient past.

Download the whole text in English in PDF: