Call for a Multispecies Left Movement

[Against] Animal Capitalism calls for an abolitionist multispecies left movement that recognizes: the exploitation of nonhuman animals as fundamental to capitalism and as a central driver of climate crises; the working class as a multispecies subject both historically and today; the biological reproduction of all birthing beings as a perpetual source of accumulation; and which fights for the demolition of all infrastructures of animalization and for an end to Animal Capitalism.

[Against] Animal Capitalism asserts that animality as a category of dispensable, killable, nonhuman and subhuman bodies is materially constructed by capitalism and its infrastructures. It recognizes the fact that humans are (also) animals, and that investing in controlling, possessing and extracting from the capacities of the animal being is a core function of capitalist economy. 

[Against] Animal Capitalism acknowledges nonhuman animals as part of the working class. It supports practices that expose and critique the anthropocentrism that underlies notions of labor, freedom, value and alienation (among other key concepts of Marxist anticapitalist critique) in the leftist lexicon, and that propose constructive revisions of socialist terminology and theory to represent a multispecies reality.

[Against] Animal Capitalism acknowledges that species-wide blanket concepts such as “humanity” are inadequate and misleading, because they confuse a species category, “homo sapiens”, with the category of social recognition (“human”; “person”). Accordingly, [Against] Animal Capitalism asserts that a critique of “speciesism” or “human exceptionalism” is an insufficient framework for addressing the oppression of animal bodies in capitalism, because communal belonging and recognition have never been demarcated simply along species lines. “Human exceptionalism” does not accurately describe the perpetually shifting bio- and necropolitical divides generated by capitalism, and thus neither human rights nor nonhuman rights can be a complete solution to multispecies oppression.

Instead, [Against] Animal Capitalism views capitalism as a social system based on an anthropocentric class hierarchy in which the governing elite represents the human proper, and everyone else is consigned to different degrees of less-than-human. Emerging from the Western world order and the enlightenment, this anthropocentrism is entangled with white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity. As critical race theory has long articulated, the markers of humanity and non-humanity are not essentialist or fixed on phenotypes, but instead are under constant negotiation. Similarly, the belonging and status of nonhuman animals is also under constant negotiation. [Against] Animal Capitalism asserts that these hierarchies are constructed and upheld by economic power, and reinforced by law and ideology that makes and unmakes (legal) persons. Consequently a historical materialist analysis is the most efficient tool not only for describing but also for explaining the exploitation of human and nonhuman animals. [Against] Animal Capitalism views the history and prehistory of capitalism as a multispecies project in which rights, obligations, privileges and protections are defined more on the basis of power relations than on the basis of species solidarity or sameness/difference. 

[Against] Animal Capitalism is intersectional: in dialogue with ecofeminism, post-colonial theory and other critiques of structural oppression it examines how racial, colonial and patriarchal capitalism impacts both human and nonhuman beings, while creating differences between groups. While important differences between human and nonhuman animals exist, both on the level of species life and in the way in which power is exerted on and captures bodies conscripting them into the service of production, the animal abilities to reproduce, to labor, and to reason to different extents are all characteristics shared across species.

It is feminist in drawing parallels with the right to bodily integrity, with reproductive violence and with the dismissal of both nonhuman animals’ labor and domestic labor as not being work proper. “Economy presupposes livestock”; and inherent in livestock is reproductive violence committed in the service of productivity. Thus all birthing beings are in danger of being reduced to factories that produce more beings, more labor power, more muscle mass, and more fleshy matter.

It is anti-racist in addressing how the human-animal binary functions in the mechanisms of racialization, and how industries that make animal products rely on the exploitation of a racialized workforce. It views propertied bodies as a fundamental mechanism of European imperialism and the forced introduction of (abstract) property relations and (concrete) domestic animals into colonized territories as colonial warfare.

It is anti-essentialist: it does not flatten out the differences between the exploitation of human and nonhuman beings, or their different modes of suffering, but focuses on the practical and ideological mechanisms that render any body expendable and killable. Instead of focusing on the capacities of different beings (rationality, ability to suffer, autonomy) as a source of their rights or lack thereof, it views their relationship to bonds (i.e., labor, cages, debt) as a source of their status as human/protected vs animal/dispensable. Dismantling these bonds is necessary for multispecies liberation.

It is critical of the state apparatus as a structure necessary for maintaining and constructing human/nonhuman/subhuman/person/nonperson identities and property relations in the service of production. Personhood status does not protect human subjects from exploitation, and most mass-scale violence towards both human and nonhuman animals is perpetrated with impunity under legal exceptions. While [Against] Animal Capitalism supports dismantling property relations between all beings, it is also aware that law and the liberal rights framework cannot alone solve the question of multispecies exploitation.

[Against] Animal Capitalism is abolitionist, and views nonhuman animal captivity as a facet of carceral capitalism that is based on animalization and propertied bodies. Since the enclosure of the commons, caging has been a key device for expanding capitalist exploitation and for creating a divide between the free and the unfree, the privileged and the dispensable. Therefore [Against] Animal Capitalism stands against criminalization and carceral policies as a solution to the abuse of nonhuman or human animals, and instead calls for the abolition of all cages and for restoration of consensual relations between beings. 

[Against] Animal Capitalism acknowledges that nonhuman animals are in ongoing resistance against their exploitation. Therefore resistance to oppression must come from below and aim at dismantling the material conditions of oppression through a multispecies class uprising. It stands in solidarity with resisting nonhuman laborers, and seeks ways to support them and join them in their resistance. It encourages sabotage, strikes, unionization, walk outs and ultimately self defense at any cost as tactics for building collective power and ultimately freedom.