"There's no ethical consumption" is a bullshit argument

Submitted by ziq in Anarchism (edited )

There's always a more ethical alternative to everything. That's the whole point of anarchy, to analyse our actions and our affect on our environment and limit harm, counter authority as much as possible. Ethics isn't an all or nothing proposition - there are varying degrees of harm.

Just because some solutions aren't 100% pure and wonderful doesn't mean they're not worth doing over much more harmful alternatives.


An example of several levels of harm reduction that can measurably make a difference:

  1. Eating vegan locally-grown pesticide-free unprocessed food is absolutely more ethical than eating imported processed meat.

Why?

Far less carbon is burned to grow / store / transport / process / store again / re-transport the food, workers aren't exposed to the much more dangerous conditions of slaughterhouses / battery farms / pesticides, far less animal suffering and death goes into producing the food. These are real metrics.

There are of course still downsides to supporting for-profit agriculture including desertification, exploitation of migrant labor, and destruction of native ecosystems to plant monocultures.

But it's still much better than the alternative which ensures far greater harm by every metric.

  1. Buying seeds / cuttings / grafts and growing your own food in a community garden, as well as dumpster diving from outside supermarkets is more ethical than buying locally grown food from a for-profit business.

Why?

Even less carbon is burned, waste is diverted from landfills, there are no workers to exploit or endanger, there is no animal suffering and death if you use no-till methods, you control everything that goes into the soil (and ultimately your community's bodies) and can thus stave off desertification and actually improve the soil and rebuild the ecosystem.

Downsides: native flora is displaced in favour of domesticated food crops. Land ownership feeds the state. Living in a city means you'll still be consuming a lot of things you can't produce yourself in your limited space.

  1. Moving out of the city to a rural area and becoming a subsistence farmer to grow all your own food in a food forest you plant, giving away or trading your surplus. Foraging for food where it's sustainable to do so.

Why?

Forest gardening rewilds the planet. Primitive peoples made the rainforests as abundant as they are by curating them and spreading the plants they found most beneficial. If enough people planted food forests in an area, the local population could sustain themselves by hunting and foraging the way they did before civilization.


Personal action doesn't happen in a vacuum

When someone chooses to not e.g. eat cows, that directly creates less demand for cow meat. So over that person's lifetime, less forest will be bulldozed to graze the cows that the vegan didn't eat.

Some of the people that person interacts with will be influenced by their ethical choices and way of life and be inspired to also work to minimise their harm on the ecosystem.

So in this way, an individual action gradually becomes a collective action. People slowly emulate others after being exposed to their lifestyle and ultimately the local culture is changed.

People start planting food forests and others take up their example and pretty soon you have thousands of acres of land that are saved from desertification and become refuges for wildlife.

There are countless places where this is demonstrable, including where I live. Each family has their own plot of land that they cultivate. The more people choose to use forest farming methods instead of standard sprayed orchards, the more people are influenced to follow their example when seeing how successful this method is.

Continuing to eat meat / processed foods / buying a new phone, games console, tablet every year / using disposable plastic bags / toilet paper / chlorine cleaning products / building poorly insulated over-sized concrete buildings / not composting your waste / salting the snow / heating a pool / planting a lawn / etc / etc because "there's no ethical consumption" actively stands in the way of positive change and directly promotes inaction / harm.

Individualist "lifestylist" action isn't "liberal" just because you say so

Consumption under capitalism isn't ethical, but that's no excuse for inaction. There's no global revolution coming to change the way we live overnight. History has shown us the impossibility of that notion - with countless "revolutionary" societies repeating all the mistakes of capitalist ones.

But we can have small local revolutionary action in the here and now that can lead the way to sustained change at a wider level. Just ask the Zapatistas and similar anarchist movements around the world. No one is going to tell them to stfu and conform to globalist capitalist industrial civilization because all consumption is somehow equal.

There's nothing liberal about living what you preach. Oppose hierarchy? Live your life dedicated to minimizing hierarchy wherever you can. Set an example.

Badmouthing people for caring about minimizing the harm they do and for thinking long and hard about the ethical implications of their actions doesn't make you somehow more radical than them.

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betterletter wrote

There's nothing liberal about living what you preach. Oppose hierarchy? Live your life dedicated to minimizing hierarchy wherever you can. Set an example.

there we are, people.

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this_one wrote

When people act like "praxis" is only their idea of whatever a 'perfect anarchist' is, I can't help but think, "well fuck anarchy, then; I'll never be perfect, I just want to make things slightly less shitty".

Isn't that why we were all drawn towards out political views? 'Cause we think they're a good way of making things less shitty? If you've lost sight of that (or, god forbid, if that isn't why you got into politics to begin with), I can't see myself listening to you.

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

Elitism in general needs to die in anarchist groups.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

Ironically, this is what I was trying to say in the comment i made which apparently sparked this response.

In that comment, I decried what I have perceived and experienced to be a sense of elitism around consumption practices in radical communities. In the response, my perspective is accused of elitism itself, which I am trying to take at face value but which simultaneously because of the context feels...almost like it's just something to throw back at me in an argument, rather than a serious critique of my perspective

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ziq OP wrote

Tbf, a lot of your arguments have felt like elitist attacks on me for not meeting your standards of what an anarchist should be.

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transtifa wrote

Damn, I gotta say I don't always agree with Ziq but this shit almost EXACTLY my thoughts to reading the comment theyre responding to

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ziq OP wrote

Bad news: You might be an evil primmie, fam.

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ziq OP wrote

One more thing - to communist collectivists - if you don't create living, working examples of revolutionary life, how do you expect to forge a future revolution? How will the people in the future utopian society you plan to create know how to survive without capitalism?

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Dumai wrote

idk just wait for "the revolution" to roll around i guess

i don't gotta do shit until "the revolution" comes around right

an instantaneous cataclysm that will fix all problems forever

god i'm so radical

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haystacks_ wrote

I always thought the objection was more about how personal action alone can't solve anything. As in, you can't just be a bicycle eschewing, dumpster diving, straight edge vegan and expect anything widespread to happen as a result of that behavior. Just as retreating to the woods and detaching from society as a whole doesn't solve anything. Those behaviors are liberal to the core-- "fuck them, I got mine."

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ziq OP wrote

I think that's just Bookchin's strawman.

What dumpster-diving vegan bike punks have you met that aren't deeply empathetic and constantly fighting for revolution? They live like that because they care, and are constantly trying to get others to join them so they can collectively rise up.

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this_one wrote

This is exactly why I hate facebook pages that decry vegans because 'you need to dismantle the whole system'.

The vegans I know do far more to achieve that than any facebook meme page admins do. I find you don't really get many people who actually care about climate change or the meat industry or whatever who aren't also vegan. "They live like that because they care" is so beautifully put.

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ziq OP wrote

It's just an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for your actions

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haystacks_ wrote

I am in no way suggesting they don't care. Hell, that's almost me. But fighting for revolution ought to be central to the thoughts and actions of the individual, whether it be through teaching or direct actions. I think that's what differentiates it from a liberal mindset, and, in turn, the "no ethical consumption" argument.

As for Bookchin's strawman, I'll concede that point. I was just being hyperbolic because it's early and I want to go back to sleep.

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ziq OP wrote

I think fighting for revolution means different things to different people. To me it has nothing to do with fighting for a global industrial society like it does to most people here.

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haystacks_ wrote

Truth. I split with the an-coms and an-syns for the same reason. Because all these destructive systems in place will be romantically fixed once the same production-oriented models are worker-controlled. It may be nicer than now, but it will still foretell ecological catastrophe.

Plus I just don't like the fethishization of labor and work that is so common with Marxist/communistic ideologies.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

They essentially advocate for the exact same system as capitalism (workers, factories, battery farms, globalisation, ecocide) but "more egalitarian" (direct democracy and equal share of the industrialist pie).

Which is the exact accusation they fling at their "lifestylist" bogeyman; accusing us of somehow conforming to the system (by struggling against it) while insisting we abandon our hard-fought battles and join them in waiting for a more egalitarian industrialism that'll give us a fairer share of the profits gained from waging war on nature.

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

I don't know why anyone would cling to the institution of work. Marxists are like abused wives who stick with their scumbag husbands.

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

The premise underlining this is that individual choices to consume according to the values (dogma) of a subculture are an effective way to change markets, let alone society. In fact, one might be excused for reading into this that you think that this is a good, or even the best way of doing this.

As I've tried to say, this is a central idea of neoliberalism, really a textbook example of it. I think it is factually untrue that this type of praxis creates widespread change, and arguing in favor of this praxis is really difficult to do without eliding the difference between consumer choices and collective action.

Practically speaking, this ideology creates in-groups and out-groups. Is that the goal here? To shame others for their consumption? To celebrate others for their lack of it? Is that how one builds a collective movement for revolutionary purposes? Or is this just how you construct a conception of the self? Is this borrowed from monotheism & ascetic philosophies? In my opinion most importantly, is this sociality actually getting us where we want to go? I think the only honest answer I can give to that is partly, but not even halfway.

My argument isn't about waiting for a revolution, this is about making one, same as you. To do that, we have to have positive relationships with others, which pull people toward the new kind of society. The attitude that individual consumption choices, even refusing to consume, are how we change society is one that anchors us in the present moment, and sets a horizon beyond which we cannot really see.

There is, I think, a danger in identifying choices which seek to build social relationships in the process of revolution, with choices which are basically limited to the individual or a small in-group. Nothing is a perfect dichotomy, and many direct action types of things are going to blur the lines a bit, but what I'm saying is it's very easy (especially with the diet stuff) to confuse choices that are clearly individual with those that are partaken with others, for the purpose of enacting a shared vision. What's more, there's an even huger difference between those two types of actions (individual vs. small committed group), and agency which is enacted with people who are significantly different from you in lifestyles, but with whom you share some important common ground.

A similar thing has happened with the concept of direct action-- there's this elision, a slipperyness to our understanding of the terms we use. If you ask a lot of people, going to a protest is a direct action. But it's not, really. At what (US) protest that happened recently, has the action directly solved a problem? Have any reports that cops died, or even resigned? Were the rivers of capital reshaped or obstructed in any lasting way? Are the police slowing their murder sprees, is the deportation machine meaningfully interrupted? No, street actions against the establishment can't really do such things, at least not for long. What they are really useful for is 1. building morale & community, 2. engaging with symbolic discourse ("wow, there sure are a lot of people angry about what the cops did, Steve") and 3. very temporary interruptions of business as usual, for limited financial and/or property damage to targets. But that's just about it, as far as I can tell. Even in non-US contexts, the removal of one government usually just invites in a military dictatorship, which is not really our goal right? If we're talking about direct action, it looks a lot more like defending & building communities to confront the everyday dangers, than in what you buy or don't buy, or which marches you go to. That can be part of it, but there has to be something significantly more substantial paired with it in order to build political leverage, not to mention something worth struggling and sacrificing for. And the moment that this subcultural stuff impedes collective action to solve the everyday problems, to build the framework, I think that's the moment that it starts being baggage.

Once again, I am a vegan, I organize collectively, I go to actions, I am similar to many of the people on this forum in terms of the practical application. I'm all about that political harm reduction. But it is ridiculous to assume this is how social & culture transformation happens. Anarchist movements have hit a roadblock for decades now, mired in a youth culture which is as exclusive as it can be toxic. That's not to say there haven't been successes, but they are limited, and this is the main limitation that I see. If we are going to seriously create a political movement, it can't be based largely around lifestyles and end-consumer politics, because not only is that depressing and a dead end, it's also a way to guarantee that anarchism continues to be associated with youth, naivete, and a quixotic neuroticism-- all criticisms I would never levy against someone else, without having it apply to myself too.

I think it's important to confront this reality (well, to me it is the reality) in order to actually make ourselves more effective at achieving the shit we want.

But, you know, I've certainly been wrong about a lot of things, so I look forward to the replies and the perspectives that you will bring to challenge mine.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

Practically speaking, this ideology creates in-groups and out-groups.

Personal choices and actions isn't an ideology. Ideology creates in groups and out groups. This is just people being people.

Is that the goal here? To shame others for their consumption? To celebrate others for their lack of it?

No, being a vegan or a dumpster diver or a forager or a self-sufficient farmer has nothing to do with punishing other people. It's simply the way someone chooses to live their life for a multitude of reasons - both ethical and for the pursuit of the happiness that every human desires.

An individual anarchist's decision to live more ethically is not some kind of circlejerk the way you imagine it. All anarchists have different motivations and different ethics. We live in this world and we can't just pretend there's some grand global monogenous revolution around the corner that's going to save us. We can either choose to take action to resist the violent system on an individual and on a local level or we can live and die waiting for the system to go away worldwide while participating in it fully and thus increasing its growth.

Is that how one builds a collective movement for revolutionary purposes?

No. It's got nothing to do with a collective revolution. Me being a vegan who lives off the land is about me. There's nothing stopping someone from making personal ethics-based choices in their life and also organising collective action. But they'd be sorely disappointed if they thought global collective revolution were attainable.

We can't see 7 billion people that have wildly different ideas of what life should be as one entity because they're not one entity. Collectivising them as one group in our minds makes no logical sense.

People from different places have different needs. Marxism deals with this by seperating people into classes and telling us to only concern ourselves with the worker classes and to hell with the peasant classes and land-owner classes. This is a recipe for colonialism and genocide and it's far more out-group-forming than individuals who avoid consuming and live deliberately; apart from the system.

Constructing a homogenous group; a worker collective, and telling them they need to kill everyone outside their group so they can seize power and take an equal share of industry's spoils is not something that has ever led to anything good. It gave us the Soviet Kazakh genocide, the Chinese great leap forward genocide, the Soviet Holodomor genocide, etc. And it ultimately gave us collectivist capitalism like we see now in China - the most destructive form of capitalism there is.

Communism creates as big an in group / out group divide as capitalism. The power just shifts to the producers rather than the owners. And its just as brutal in its treatment of the out-groups. Anyone that doesn't want to be part of the industrial system, like the Kazakh nomadic herders, is basically fucked. You dissent, you die.

Communism views the entire world through a Western industrial worker-serf lense. But the whole world isn't organized like the industrial West.

Indigenous farmers in post-colonized places are treated as pariahs; 'kulaks', and murdered for having 'owned' the ancestral land they sustain themselves with under capitalist definitions. Just because the poor in industrialised capitalist nations don't own the land they work, doesn't mean the poor in other parts of the world where there is no lord-serf system in place are bad.

A garden that you and your family / tribe tend to and depend on to survive is personal property, but communism has always treated it like private property. Like producing your own food is reactionary. The USSR even banned people from planting gardens at home so they'd be forced to depend on the collective for food.

Nomadic herders and roaming hunter-gatherers are likewise criminalised and starved out because there can be no room for people that don't submit to the industrial work system under communism. They're grouped as "individualists" and punished for resisting collectivisation.

These aren't things that serve my interests as an indigenous substinence farmer and forager. This collective you want me to embrace would be the death of me.

is this sociality actually getting us where we want to go?

Your needs aren't my needs. I don't want to go where you want to take me. My lifestyle and my ancestors' lifestyle is nothing like yours and we shouldn't be treated as one homogenous entity just because we're both poor.

My argument isn't about waiting for a revolution, this is about making one, same as you. To do that, we have to have positive relationships with others

Setting up living, breathing alternatives to the industrial system like self-sufficient food forests does this better than unionism and other workerist pursuits that only further ingrain us in the system and make us dependent on it. And then if we do manage a revolution, we just reproduce the capitalist system again because it's all we know.

The only revolution I'm interested in is one that removes dependence on artificial manmade structures. I want to be liberated from the system, not become the system.

direct action, protests

I agree that protests aren't direct action. Protesting is just another cog in the democracy machine. The illusion of choice.

Once again, I am a vegan, I organize collectively, I go to actions, I am similar to many of the people on this forum in terms of the practical application. I'm all about that political harm reduction. But it is ridiculous to assume this is how social & culture transformation happens.

This whole debate started because someone asked if we should avoid consuming things built by workers who are especially exploited - I guess because it's more ethical to buy locally produced things where workplace health and safety standards are adhered to and more environmental regulations exist. I don't think anyone in the thread suggested buying local products instead of Chinese imports would transform the culture. But planting food forests and building other "lifestylist" alternatives to capitalism can.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

I really feel that you're making assumptions about my perspective here. All the stuff about workerism, your ancestors, Marxism, it doesn't (in my perspective) relate directly to what I'm saying-- I feel like I'm in someone else's conversation. It's not like I'm...defending the Soviet Union's treatment of ethnic minorities? Perhaps this is coming from another conversation you had, maybe on reddit or something like you mentioned? By the way, I promise, I'm passionate about my views but I'm not talking to you in bad faith or trying to attack you as a person.

There's a lot to respond to in your comments, and I'm sorry I am not responding to it all specifically, I would just kind of like to recenter the conversation on what I see as the most interesting & broad questions raised here.

So based on some things you have said, it seems to me like you are not really interested in sharing the struggles of people who are outside of your direct experience or your own individual desires, which is just a very different kind of politics than I have. Is this a fair or unfair characterization of what you believe? (Genuine question, there is no sarcasm in this post)

if you're gonna delve into this individualist construction of meaning, your ethics, any of that, that's fine for you, and me, and whoever else wants to indulge this anarchist subculture. However we are not going to make an actual difference in the material world we both share unless we are willing to work with other people, and we definitely are not going to contest the conditions of oppression without linking up with people who have different values & experiences on what common ground we have and building from there.

Example. You want to plant a food forest? That's fantastic. It's also a collective endeavor. You aren't gonna do that too easily alone, or even with your close comrades, not when there are whole industries built around colonizing the land. Even if you were blessed with the resources and free time to do so, it would be odd to marshal that...in isolation?

Now if you're doing that as a project with other people, that seems way more feasible to me. But if it's a project you are sharing with those other folks, in order to prefigure a desirable goal & solve some immediate community needs, who could really call that lifestyleist?

What my posts have been responding to is not your ideas about food forests, or other cool projects, which is something you only brought up recently. It is, instead, to push back on this incessant moral navel gazing which happens not only on raddle, but IRL, and IRL it is actually a big problem which alienates people and breaks up shared projects.

Unfortunately, and this is just my experience but, those in the anarchist scene IRL who have been the most into the vegan idpol tend to be some of the most privileged people in the scenes they inhabit, and these people have used this privilege in shady ways (talking down to people, insisting others not cook their food in communal spaces, using finances to manipulate compliance with their values). It'd be one thing if it was just quirky and occasionally annoying, but it actively sabotages collective space for the purpose of social capital, or even more often this weird narcissism about the importance of an individual's own ethical illusions.

Having seen that happen, I am just very skeptical when people talk about the need to "take responsibility for your choices" in what one consumes, or how "if we all just chose to consume differently, things would be different". Fundamentally, these sayings are highly similar to conservative & neoliberal rhetoric, respectively. And more than that, it just does not appear very useful, to me, to focus on creating hierarchies of more and less harmful actions within a systemic framework that we all agree is suuuuper fucked. I would rather focus my own attention on how to build networks that will challenge that circumstance and change it for the future, rather than dwelling on my own atomized sense of self and morality. But hey, as long as we can count on each other to contest powers arrayed against us when it counts, it doesn't really matter to me what other peoples' feelings about individuality are. Let's just not lose perspective on what oppresses us, and our shared stake in each others' liberation

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

I really feel that you're making assumptions about my perspective here.

Your comment that sparked my post was in relation to Chinese electronics but it could just as easily be about veganism or any other choice to not consume certain things. I don't really understand the distinction between avoiding products made by workers in miserable conditions and avoiding meat. They're the same in my mind - An individual's personal choice to not consume the most unethical products.

But my arguments were also addressed to selver's comments in that thread, and comments in a recent f/vegan thread. I think it's all related since it's all the same argument; "there's no ethical consumption so stop caring."

It's not like I'm...defending the Soviet Union's treatment of ethnic minorities?

You're making the same collectivist argument all communists make; that only the collective matters and anything else is a distraction. I couldn't care less about the collective. The collective isn't my master. The collective is just another state, however nicely you package it.

it seems to me like you are not really interested in sharing the struggles of people who are outside of your direct experience or your own individual desires

There's no way we can affect conditions globally politically. We can really only impact our own community. Trying to save the whole world leads to rapid burnout.

But of course I share the struggles of all workers since I'm a worker. And I share the struggles of all indigenous peoples because I'm indigenous. And I share the struggles of all post-colonial people because I'm from a post-colonial place.

All I can do though to show solidarity is choose to avoid supporting e.g. China's abuse of its people by only buying used electronics and keeping them until they stop working. Trying to organize someone else's struggle makes no sense to me - it sorta feels like colonialism. Only they know what their community needs and only they can fight their battles.

Now if you're doing that as a project with other people, that seems way more feasible to me.

I can't force people to pick up a shovel. Very few people are interested in rewilding, finding someone in my area that would share that interest is virtually impossible, especially since it's a sparsely populated island. It would also make no difference - planting a tree takes a few minutes. I can plant as many as I can get my hands on, having more hands wouldn't get me more trees. I posted a link yesterday about an individual who planted millions of trees. This is one of the things you can absolutely do on your own.

It's also a collective endeavor. You aren't gonna do that too easily alone

Think how many trees a single person can plant in their lifetime if they take the initiative. There's no reason me doing it alone should be diminished when future generations will no doubt benefit from my work. It's an individual action with collective consequences that will reverberate for hundreds of years. These ecosystems I rebuild are much more permanent and impactful than e.g. joining a union or a coop.

But if it's a project you are sharing with those other folks, in order to prefigure a desirable goal & solve some immediate community needs, who could really call that lifestyleist?

Not sharing it with anyone. Labor like this is thankless and it always will be. Depending on others to do work that you can easily do yourself is futile. Civilized people expect the state to do everything for them but the state only plants trees on the roadsides around cities where taxpayers can see them. Rural places are left bare or planted with pine monocultures that degrade the land further and create pine deserts.

My actions are absolutely individualist; lifestylist. It shouldn't be a dirty word but collectivists have made it that way.

in order to prefigure a desirable goal

Nope. I'm just rewilding the land because I want to. It will benefit others since desertification has horrible consequences for all life, but that's not prefiguration. I'm not doing it to aid some kind of utopian revolution I'm waiting for.

those in the anarchist scene IRL who have been the most into the vegan idpol tend to be some of the most privileged people in the scenes they inhabit

I think there's a big difference between a liberal vegan an an anarchist vegan, and I think a lot of anarchists are liberals who appropriate anarchist terminology to feel important. I'm a lifelong vegan but I would never identify as a 'veganarchist' or frame my anarchy through my diet. My being vegan is relatively inconsequential to my anarchy and just one of the many, many ways I avoid oppressive constructs. I don't think it's even helpful to refer to these privileged authoritarians as anarchists just because they label themselves as such.

Having seen that happen, I am just very skeptical when people talk about the need to "take responsibility for your choices" in what one consumes

If you don't take responsibility for the harm you do, no one will. There's no rapture-like revolution coming to wipe out capitalism's sins and absolve you of any guilt for your part in it because "no ethical consumption". There's only this life you're living and your choices absolutely matter. They shape who you are and the impact you make on your environment and culture. If you just keep doing harm and blame your actions on capitalism, you're no different than any CEO dumping toxic waste in a river in China. Harm reduction in your community is something you have direct control over. You can choose to not dump that waste. Or you can dump it and justify it to yourself by saying "it's okay because capitalism did it".

Killing human children for pleasure is something no anarchist would support, but somehow when it comes to killing other animals for pleasure, it gets justified as just being "consumption". The entire "no ethical consumption" argument is just an excuse to justify oppression that "anarchists" want to keep engaging in for deeply selfish reasons.

Which of us is the true individualist? Me caring about all life and my effect on everything I come into contact with, or the "collectivist" who laughs at vegans for being "lifestylists" and chows down on a leg of lamb and orders a new iphone, a new macbook pro, a new ipad and a new apple watch from Amazon and a bunch of disposable furniture from Ikea while parroting the "no ethical consumption" catchphrase?

It's a scapegoat, same as the word "lifestylism" and the notion that any anarchist that works alone on anything is a liberal. Some of us will always be alone, surrounded by a sea of apathetic bootlickers. That's no reason to disparage us or the work we do.

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

If you just keep doing harm and blame your actions on capitalism, you're no different than any CEO dumping toxic waste in a river in China

See this is why I think people who share your perspective on this subject tend to be anti-materialist. Let me explain:

Obviously there is a difference between a worker and a CEO, a shareholder and a homeless person, even a middle class professional (college teacher, for example) and the billionaire class.

In saying this, you are basically equivocating the actions, even though there is this enormous difference in the scale of political power of these individuals over the questions of damage to the environment.

You say, take some responsibility! But in order to take full responsibility, we need to take power, and we cannot do that solely alone-- not on a lot of key issues, and I'm unwilling to cede those issues as unapproachable.

Don't get me wrong, some individuals have the capacity to do a lot of good praxis totally alone. And that's great, but there are limits to fetishizing either collectivism or individualism, and both those roads lead squarely back to liberalism.

The collective is just another state

I'm sorry that's been your experience. I really disagree tho. For example, the state exercises political power through surveillance, incarceration, basically forms of violence against its members and targeted out-groups. The kind of egalitarian collectivities that are participated in by anarchists, however, almost universally take a lot of pains to avoid setting up those kind of structures, and it doesn't seem at all reasonable to me to term that a state, or even something in the same category as that horrific institution. Even when anarchist collectivities use violence to resist fascism, institutional oppression, or even interpersonal violence within the group, there is a huge difference between the behavior, attitudes, goals, discourse, processes & outcomes of anarchist collectivities and any state in history.

Like you gotta admit...you're painting with a broad brush, no? Even though other anarchists can be frustrating to deal with, JFC they're not the government. Except for the informants ^_______________________^

The entire "no ethical consumption" argument is just an excuse to justify oppression that "anarchists" want to keep engaging in for deeply selfish reasons.

No, it's an acknowledgement that our consumption literally has a negligble impact on the world we share with others, since the forces of production and waste operate beyond our political power, and thus it is a refocusing of priorities on sharing that world with others over spending energy on cultivating a sense of individual purity. For many anarchists, this is the most reasonable choice, because we have the opportunity to connect with others and do anarchy together. If you are isolated from everyone, and there is no other option...maybe move, if at all possible? That sounds fucking miserable imo, and I'm clinically depressed or something.

But if this is a self-imposed isolation, because you just don't value collective politics, then that's sort of different isn't it? You'd be opting out of collective action because of bad experiences, woven into an ideology that elevates individual praxis over collective praxis, because you'd think the problems with collective praxis are intractable. That's fine if that's the case, it's understandable and I really empathize, but to be clear that's not going to get most people or creatures to the kind of world that we all really need.

Which of us is the true individualist? Me caring about all life and my effect on everything I come into contact with, or the "collectivist" who laughs at vegans for being "lifestylists" and chows down on a leg of lamb and orders a new iphone, a new macbook pro, a new ipad and a new apple watch from Amazon and a bunch of disposable furniture from Ikea while parroting the "no ethical consumption" catchphrase?

This is a ridiculous strawman argument, come on ziq...

Food forests will be planted alone

I really don't think that's going to work very well. Even a million seeds will not make a forest if they are scattered around disaggregated areas geographically, a bunch are uprooted by developments, the soil is contaminated with poisons, and there aren't a community of species living together symbiotically-- I'm sure you'd agree with that, right?

You may do your best to concentrate on one area, but if there's human activity that comes through it can disrupt what you've started. You can try to get your hands on the complementary plants & fungi, even animals, but that can be pretty costly or at least time-consuming for a single person. You can try to clean up the poisoned land, but ultimately there are certain fields where nothing will grow from the lead, mercury, and other metals in the soil. And nobody's going to move a strip mall parking lot by themselves, not without some heavy machinery.

These are all challenges with making food forests which are definitely best solved in cooperation, not as a single person. What is difficult, is making a kind of group sociality which is not just tolerant or even respectful of individual autonomy, but which enables that autonomy to be maximized in tandem.

This, in the void left by the collapse of the feudal mode of politics, is the fundamental contradiction of liberalism, the question it is never able to answer satisfyingly. Fascism or other reactionary ideologies could be defined as the rejection of this question entirely and the reassertion of the ancient hierarchies. Revolutionary ideologies (including socialism, communism, anarchism) are basically trying to give an alternative way for people to interact with each other as opposed to both liberal capitalism, and the ancient regime: hopefully, one more functional egalitarian than either of its predecessors. But we all, even individualist anarchists, hold in our heads a way for people to interact socially without allowing hierarchies to emerge or reassert themselves. The problem is if you don't address this problem directly, it is really easy to fall back on liberal tropes.

We're social creatures. Human beings have physiological responses to being socially isolated, to feeling that they have no broader community that we feel truly part of, and that's why a lot of queer people, trans people, anarchists, POC who are in isolating or alienating environments take their own lives. There is a poverty in forced individuality, I hate to say it but it's just emotionally & experientially undeniable for so many of us!

It's a scapegoat, same as the word "lifestylism" and the notion that any anarchist that works alone on anything is a liberal. Some of us will always be alone, surrounded by a sea of apathetic bootlickers. That's no reason to disparage us or the work we do.

As an anarchist who was politically isolated for over a decade, I have to point out that the goal of the state with regards to radical political tendencies is to isolate us in order to render our efforts less effective, and to get people to spiral into purism, cultivate misanthropy, and eventually burn out.

And it works. :(

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

Obviously there is a difference between a worker and a CEO

The people that live in the villages near me all drive to the top of the hill above my house and dump their trash over the edge. It's a literal mountain of their trash. Methane buids up over the years and it keeps catching fire so every tree on that hill has burned up.

These are regular workers and poor farmers. They'll beat up anyone that stands in their way and they couldn't care less that I live at the bottom of the hill, they dump their trash right in front of me.

They also keep cutting down trees in the night to sell as firewood. They also shoot dead literally every animal that moves, including my pets and at the end of hunting season they abandon their hunting dogs in the woods so they don't have to feed them, and buy new dogs next hunting season. The floor of the forest is permanently covered in plastic shotgun shells.

Some of the hunters also put down poisoned meat several times a year to kill other hunter's dogs so they have less competition. The poison gets eaten by hundreds of hedgehogs, foxes and birds of prey and then the woods are littered with dead animals.

Oh, and people set fire to the wildlife reserves every year to force the animals out onto the hunting grounds where they can legally shoot them. The fires burn down thousands of trees and kill countless animals, and sometimes people. Literally every year, multiple people set fire to multiple reserves.

Regular workers are not holy and sacred and blameless. A regular worker can do plenty of harm to the ecosystem.

The kind of egalitarian collectivities that are participated in by anarchists

We're not talking about a small affinity group of anarchists, we're talking about a collectivized society.

When you give a majority group legitamized power over minorities, they always use it to oppress them. All power corrupts. Collectivism breeds hierarchy because the interests of the dominant group e.g. factory workers aren't the same interests as minoriry groups e.g. peasants or indigenous herders or queer folk or sex workers.

If you think workers are going to suddenly become enlightened when you give them the power of direct democracy, you haven't been paying close attention to the world around you.

Even when anarchist collectivities use violence to resist fascism

You're misusing the word collective. Antifa aren't a collective. They're a disparate bunch coming together to engage in direct action and then dispersing after it's done. When you try to turn that loose common interest into a society; that's when hierarchies pop up everywhere eventually resulting in a state.

Even though other anarchists can be frustrating to deal with, JFC they're not the government. 

The vast majority of people aren't anarchists. Even among people who call themselves anarchists. A collective includes everyone - you can't make people take an anarchy test before you let them join society.

Individualists form small communes of likeminded anarchists. That's not collectivism - it's literally lifestylism. Collectivists (plan to) form big collective societies that include everyone. The majority of people today are authoritarian-minded. Addicted to materialism. These people, as a clear majority, will then harness the power of the collective to dictate policy. They will be a state in everything but name.

I don't want the majority population to make my life choices for me. The majority population live completely different lives to me.

No, it's an acknowledgement that our consumption literally has a negligble impact on the world we share with others,

It's easy to say something like this when you live in sterile concrete bubble where the effects of consumption are swept away by gov workers every morning. But when you live in nature and have to watch as workers dump their mattresses, spent engine oil and tires at your feet, you feel the impact of their consumption in a very real way.

spending energy on cultivating a sense of individual purity.

Today I learned everything I do is meaningless because an elitist collectivist on the other side of the world says so.

This is a ridiculous strawman argument, come on ziq...

It's not a strawman, it's a valid critique of Bookchin's bullshit hateful "lifestylist vs collectivist" strawman that you've attached yourself to.

maybe move

You can't move to anarchy. Anarchy is wherever you make it. Joining a Kropotkin reading club in some settler-police-state because a rando on the internet thinks your anarchy isn't real enough won't change anything.

I really don't think that's going to work very well.

My eyes don't seem to be lying to me but I guess you know better.

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rot wrote

There is no purely ethical consumption under capitalism as all workers are treated unethically and more often that not social and ecological impacts are ignored for the sake of profit.

That being said, yes there are more ethical products and behaviors; (vegan vs omnivore, cloths made by a unionized factory vs in a sweatshop)

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

Some more examples: VOC-free paint instead of lead paint that can contaminate the environment for ages. Nature sanctuaries instead of zoos. A Raspberry PI instead of a 1350W gaming PC power-hog. Whitewashed buildings and windows with good airflow instead of A/C.

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chakarera wrote (edited )

I love this post, I'm liking this place more than r/anarchism already. There they throw around "no ethical consumption" and accusations of "lifestylism" as insults, as if trying to live out revolutionary values is somehow a bad thing. The opposite is true, if you're not making radical changes in your own life, in how you live and relate to others and the environment, there's no way you're working towards any genuine change in the world.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

That place is filled with snarky elitist armchair brocialists posing as anarchists. I linked this thread there and it got mass downvoted instantly and I got called a lifestylist capitalist.

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[deleted] wrote

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ziq OP wrote

When I go there to promote raddle I feel constant anxiety and like I'm surrounded by angry energy.

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

as if trying to live out revolutionary values is somehow a bad thing

So having values is reactionary, according to reddit leftists, lol.

The opposite is true, if you're not making radical changes in your own life, in how you live and relate to others and the environment, there's no way you're working towards any genuine change in the world.

Yes! All change starts on an individual level, if you won't set an example yourself by living your life according to your own supposed values, why would anyone else bother to adopt those values?

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conseil wrote

When someone chooses to not e.g. eat cows, that directly creates less demand for cow meat.

This feels like a weak point; the march of capital continues regardless, and industries like coal and meat are artificially upheld to keep profits flowing.

Overall, I hate the 'no ethical consumption' argument, but I don't sincerely believe it will change things so much as be a good step in self-control and shit for the future.

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TheLegendaryBirdMonster wrote

"artificially upheld to keep profits flowing": vegan "meat" is a goldmine for industials, and it's intersting that they only see it now. We're gonna have a hardcore push for vegan/vegetarian foods soon: they're that much cheaper to produce with higher price markup.

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ziq OP wrote

It's not that they didn't see it, it's that the cattle cartels were stronger than the veg cartels.

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edmund_the_destroyer wrote (edited )

I'm coming to understand that these cartels are self-defeating because of how they work. The Exxons of the world could have used their money to invest in being the leaders in renewable energy, in theory. But they never did, and they probably didn't do it because the investment would have caused friction with the contractors and equipment suppliers and other items related to the petroleum business.

Likewise there is nothing financially stopping the cattle cartels from also being the veg cartels. But the ranchers and factory farmers and slaughterhouse partners would have raised hell if Tyson started selling meatless burgers.

And I just learned something that might be obvious to a lot of people but was news to me. The real reason the US automakers ignored electric cars wasn't any secret partnership with the petroleum industry. It was the fact that car dealerships make most of their profits in vehicle maintenance and electric cars have lower maintenance requirements. (Edit: so in other words, shifting to electric cars would have put the automakers in a fight with their own dealerships).

In all three cases the enormous size brought on by their success makes it harder for them to adapt. And if we didn't care about the environment or human suffering that would be fine, but since we do it makes their resistance to change deepen their terrible impact.

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

But the ranchers and factory farmers and slaughterhouse partners would have raised hell if Tyson started selling meatless burgers.

For sure, I've seen this first hand. The company I work for tried to start selling a new product that one of our customer's also sold and he flipped out and we had to pull the product from the market to keep him as a customer.

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ziq OP wrote

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/biggest-drop-in-swedens-meat-consumption-since-1990

Sweden showed a significant decrease in meat consumption in 2017 - a shift which has been accredited in part to the vegan movement. Statistics from the The Swedish Board of Agriculture showed the nation's largest annual decrease in animal consumption since 1990 - a drop of 2.2kg per capita.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/trump-cant-save-coal

Trump Can’t Save Coal: More Capacity Closed in 2018 Than First Three Years of Obama Administration

The United Kingdom announced in January that it would close all its remaining coal plants by 2025, with most already headed for shutdown. Germany followed suit this month. China is also working to wean itself off its cornerstone fuel.

These are all clearly quantifiable metrics.

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Alex wrote

hell yeah

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videl wrote

agreed. just wanna note some people choose less ethical decisions more out of coercion. it's not always much of a choice.
still it seems most Americans at least do not put much effort into living more ethical lives.

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BuffyTheFascistSlayer wrote

Seriously, the car culture alone is like nothing I've seen elsewhere in the world.

Some people have no choice, but a lot of people do and still choose the oppressive route for convenience.

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[deleted] wrote

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ziq OP wrote

Raddle is ethical consumption. Prove me wrong.

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KentTheramine wrote

I always by my meat from Butcher Coops who source their meat from a Unionized Collective farm

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ziq OP wrote

My meat comes straight from the master bedroom of the nearest mansion. Now that's ethical consumption.

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