In his frontispiece, which roots the idea borrowed in his main title, he quotes, as follows, former slave and leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation,...want rain without thunder and lightning.
After the first sentence, Douglass' fuller statement actually said:
Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, or people who want crops without plowing the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.
Also entertaining is that Francione's omissions from Douglass' actual statement blot out, among other things, the reference to growing crops. This makes the entire rain without thunder idea confoundingly confusing and utterly obscure. It is also so ironic that Francione leans on this quote. The truth is, my form of abolitionism demands far more from power than Francione's approach. My style of pragmatist demands changes for animals to relieve their torture NOW. Francione, in relation to factory farming, is dozing at the legislative switch. PETA and other groups such as the Farm Sanctuary, by contrast, are creating thunderation throughout the whole established way of things, making matters better for real, live animals, and those who will inevitably come into being. They do this through the power of the law, upon which organized citizens can have a deep impact. These pragmatists also demand an animal rights society just as much as anyone else.
The Francionists truly neglect animals legislatively. So it is a propos to consider the words neglected by Francione that are to be found in Douglass' fuller statement. Francione again leaves out Douglass' demands that we not neglect ploughing the ground in order to yield our crops. That is hard work. Francione and his followers patently shirk many much-needed incremental moves in the battle-arenas of the legislatures. Indeed, that is any moves at all. Unless, that is, we will be legislating animal rights in Francione's lifetime. He has effectively given himself a lifelong vacation from matters legislative, apart from some sputtering side-talk. There is also an emphatic, second reference to "struggle" in the original words that is left out by Francione. The pragmatists really struggle with the legislators to make progress for animals. This is beautifully metaphorized by Douglass in the idea of the roar of the ocean. And the Francionists? They frankly can't be bothered in this anti-cruelty aspect of opposing the millenia-long oppression of animals. He also neglects the part about making demands. PETA makes infinitely more demands of the legal system than the ABANDONITIONISTS. (I only wish I could remember who crafted that ever-so-apt label!) Francione's approach is unworthy of Douglass' fine rhetoric.
The Francionists these days propose leaving factory farming legally alone--or rather, to the "animal industrialists"--due to a tangle of feeble rationalizations, as I have discussed on my site and in this blog. Such measures--or rather anti-measures--are more like a series of brain farts than any serious sort of "thunder". Oh, I don't know. Maybe subjectively, in their own minds, that sounds somewhat like thunder. But no one is stealing Gary's thunder here. He never had it going on in the first place. Demanding long-term animal rights laws is certainly no "thunder" in the present-day legislative realm. First, it is no distinctive thunder, since virtually all animal rights people call for it. But second, calls for vegan laws are by no means now so very "thunderous". Calling for a long-distant utopia of the law is in the idle pastures of a quiet dreamy-land. It is hardly anything that resembles fiercely flashing and mightily cracking storm-clouds. For regardless, and so unfortunately, the dozey legal establishment is not yet shook up from its "dogmatic slumbers", to use a phrase borrowed from the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant.
But that is all the Francionists ask for with regard to the law, unlike the animal law processes now underway by pragmatists that are really moving and shaking the world as it is now, and in the near-future too. Francione's rhetorical flourishes may dampen practices such as factory farming a little bit. And just as quickly it all dries up, because when all of his speeches come to an end, factory farming remains just the same. But forget about the thunder. It's not happening for either this guy or his colleagues. And as for lightning? The Francionist indoctrination truly resembles an "endarkenment" far more than any enlightenment!
This is a note to ward off those who might misinterpret these remarks. Notice that I am talking about the law here. Hence I wrote: "Demanding long-term animal rights laws is certainly no 'thunder' in the present-day legislative realm." [emphasis added] Now promoting veganism apart from legislation is having a somewhat major impact on society, although it needs to be much greater. I hope it will not be assumed that I am missing the obvious fact that pro-veganism profoundly shakes up individual lives, and to some extent, commercial practices. But anyone who thinks that we are quaking the laws in a vegan manner is really living in Dreamland. Hence the justifiability of these remarks. One day we might well see "thunderation" shaking up the legal establishment in a thoroughly animal rights way. But on that day, all animal rightists will be playing a part in that societal arousal as I have already indicated--not just the anti-incrementalists.
FURTHER READING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS INCREMENTALISM
A Selection of Related Articles
Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.
Short version of "Animal Rights Law".
Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".
Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".
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