I hadn’t intended to update this again, but I mentioned in what was intended to be the last blog post that I’d spent quite a bit of time in and around Manchester, where the vegetarian movement originated of course. Since the atrocity on Monday night, numerous people, slebs among them, have had their say, including the most outspoken Mancunian vegetarian, who has long since moved to Los Angeles. Kevin Godley, another Mancunian vegetarian, who has lived in Dublin for several years, and who is one of my favourite musicians, described the violence as ‘mindless’; but it wasn’t, it was specifically targeted. The cultural background of the man who perpetrated mass-murder in Manchester, deliberately targeting an event popular with young girls, is similar to that of those men who raped numerous girls in Rochdale, amongst other towns. We all know this but we are not supposed to say it. As always, the feminist response will be worse than useless – yes Caroline Lucas, that means you.
I don’t really have the time to maintain a blog, or the inclination to spend so much of my own time sat in front of a screen, when I do more than enough of it for a living. I’ve been wondering whether to do a summary, to tie up some loose ends, for this blog. I’ve tried to keep political, with a capital ‘P’, stuff elsewhere, so it can be found on links in the sidebar on a couple of separate blogs; politics will intrude onto this post, including via links to the more recent of those blogs.
Backtracking, the first post on this blog summarised how the vegan and ecology movements do not necessarily have the same goals. The ‘small is beautiful’ world-view of the ecology movement ought to be compatible with veganism, if we can overcome the use of animals, as well as humans, as production units; ie expendable ‘resources’. Where I do agree with the ecology movement and the now defunct Ecology Party (the origin of which is mentioned in the previous blog post) is that of society being structured from the bottom-up, not the top-down; of democracy existing at the lowest level.
The Green Party, which succeeded the Ecology Party, has betrayed this democratic principle, through its support of political decisions being made by an unaccountable supranational bureaucracy. Until about a decade ago, the Green Party was at most ambivalent about the European Union, but under the influence of its leadership, the ‘Greens’ have become fully-fledged Euro-whores. It is difficult to know what the Green Party stands for nowadays other then idiotic ‘intersectional’ identity politics, which includes certain people who identify as ‘vegan’ solely because they like to be part of as many ‘oppressed’ groups as possible; such people are as shallow as slebs.
Why the Green Party has changed is not that difficult to ascertain, as it has become part of the political establishment and in doing so ditched its principles in favour of a focus-group driven approach; its target demographic being those who cling to a contrived ‘European’ identity which has been forged by large-scale international human migration. This is environmentally unsustainable, all the more so given that it has been significantly facilitated by budget air travel. To put it bluntly, the ‘Greens’ look to attract the votes of those who are too young to remember the world as it was before Easyjet and Ryanair; and who take for granted being able to use these to travel to and from Continental Europe, treating them a bus service.
By contrast, the Trumpkins and their hero jumped on the ‘Brexit’ bandwagon, in order to present themselves as ‘anti-establishment’; fairly ludicrous given the political party he represents and now that he has shown himself to be just as much a warmonger as his presidential predecessors, Republican and Democrat alike. The reason for ‘Brexit’ has nothing to do with Trump, though he wants to take the credit for it. ‘Brexit’ is based on there never having been a vote for ‘Brentry’, with the consequence that the longer a vote on the issue was deferred the more likely a ‘Leave’ outcome would become, summarised here. I’m not going to condemn the ‘millennials’ who sulked at the result, but nor do I empathise with those among them who genuinely and arrogantly believe that their votes should be more heavily weighted than those of us who are older.
However the root cause of ‘Brexit’ dates right back to the 1960’s when our French neighbours twice vetoed British membership of what was then the European Economic Community, because they considered that we Britons were not fully European as we tend to look beyond Europe to the outside world. The vegan movement is strongest in the Anglosphere but that doesn’t mean that we should abandon it in those countries where it faces stronger challenges, France most obviously – with the exception of Brigitte Bardot as a role model – where adherence to animal welfare, let alone animal rights, has never been as strong as here in Britain. I met some animal rights activists in Toulouse fifteen years ago; they have to change their country from within and hopefully they are succeeding, but we can’t change it for them; the French tend to be protectionist against the English-speaking world, something which I have summarised in a link to the right, which shows a photo of French farmer José Bové.
In dietary terms, veganism is still viewed in an eccentric light by most people, which is hardly surpising when a well-known vlogger advocates shoving thirty bananas down her cakehole every day. There’s nothing wrong with emphasising physical fitness as a benefit of a vegan diet, but that certainly isn’t it! Probably the world’s best known ‘bikini body’ belongs to her fellow Aussie, a vegan fashion and fitness model, whose ads for dietary supplements of dubious benefit, have now been banned in London by the mayor, though not because said adverts are misleading; for cultural reasons he wants a cover-up and has succeeded where feminists failed. Ironic that said feminists complained about ‘body shaming’ whilst practicing it, as well as being bitchy towards a career woman making her own choices in life, including her own branded swimwear.
Anyway, on other matters totally unrelated, since I last updated this blog my fiftieth birthday has been and gone; I could have called it a ‘veganniversary’, but it wasn’t, though I did celebrate with a week of abstinence: no e-mails, phone calls, meetings or driving to and from meetings. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and around Manchester and visited the Unicorn Vegan Grocery Co-op in Chorlton for the first time, the nearest thing to an entirely vegan supermarket that I have been to, though I think it has too much emphasis on ‘organic’ (ie expensive) which restricts its demographic catchment. I tend to think of South Manchester as Morrisseyland, which inspired me to type this: The World Won’t Listen. Thanks for reading.
The ‘butter mountains’ and ‘wine lakes’ of Europe have long been a standing joke, the result of subsidies for the production of more of these commodities than there will ever be the demand for them to be consumed. These are results of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), by which targets for the production of various foodstuffs are decided by the European Commission in Brussels with the monies for their production apportioned to different member states. If this sounds reminiscent of Soviet-style ‘five year plans’, then it is more than a coincidence. The CAP is a political tool to bind member states to the ‘centre’ of the European Union (EU). Taxpayers’ money flows into Brussels and the unelected Commissioners then decide where it goes. In a normal market economy the supply of any foodstuff would follow the demand for it, so if the demand for butter for example were to fall then so would the production of it; but not in the EU, hence these ‘mountains’ and ‘lakes’.
The CAP pre-dates the transformation of the European Economic Community (EEC) into the European Union and was used as a means of integrating the agricultural economies of the member states in preparation for eventual political union. France has always received the largest individual slice of the CAP cake and French livestock farmers are renowned for their militancy in opposing cuts to their subsidies and/or low prices for their goods. The real reason that subsidies could be cut, but rarely are, is more meat being produced than will ever be eaten, as farmers have been subsidised to breed too many animals. This oversupply in meat production results in low prices. But the farmers want to have it both ways, to breed too many animals and to be paid a high price for their carrion.
However it is not that the complaints of livestock and dairy farmers in other countries are any more ‘justified’, it is just that they tend not to be as militant in their methods. Irish farmers have been known to bring Dublin to a standstill, whilst British farmers being British grumble but don’t do much else. British dairy farmers complain about the low prices for cows’ milk that they receive from the supermarkets, whom they blame for exploiting them. This is very rich, since it is the farmers themselves who are exploiting the cows and who receive subsidies for doing so. The real reason for the low price of cows’ milk is that there is oversupply as a result of these subsidies, yet the farmers don’t complain about that. Rather, what they want are government price controls. The low prices which dairy farmers receive for cows’ milk is an example of the market economy working in spite of, rather than because of, the CAP.
To summarise thus far, the industrialisation of farm animals forms a significant part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is itself a foundation stone of the European Union (EU). Until recently, the Green Party, which claims to support animal rights, advocated British withdrawl from the EU if the CAP were not abolished (this was specifically stated in its 1999 Manifesto). Well, the CAP hasn’t been abolished and there is no sign that it will be, but the Green Party has now betrayed this promise at the very time when it would have been most popular! The Green Party may naively believe that the CAP and the EU itself can be ‘reformed’ from within; alternatively it may have embraced the ‘globalisation’ that it has always claimed to oppose.
The European Union itself will in due course collapse under the weight of its own centralised bureaucracy as the Soviet Union did before it. It is likely however that most of the national governments of European countries, regaining their independence, would continue the industrialisation of farm animals, as farmers form powerful political lobby groups. For the electorates of these countries there should be more democratic accountability, which is say to that there should be some, as presently there is none.
All of this begs a question, would the CAP be acceptable if it did not include the industrialisation of farm animals? Furthermore, if the CAP were entirely vegan, so only arable agriculture and companies selling foodstuffs of vegan origins were subsidised? We’d continue to subsidise the owners of French, German and Italian vineyards to grow poor quality grapes; the low-grade wine fermented from these could be then distilled into a form of biofuel. We could pay the Greeks to produce millions of litres of Ouzo every year to help to rescue their economy. Maybe the Eurocrats could reward us all with an annual Ouzo allowance? It might even be enough to change Boris Johnson’s mind about Brexit. So we need to look at the bigger picture to decide whether or not a ‘vegan’ CAP would be acceptable …
Agricultural surpluses are either stored indefinitely, in ‘lakes’ and ‘mountains’, destroyed, or just dumped onto developing countries, undercutting their own economies, which are more dependent on agriculture, than are those of the developed economies of Europe. Heavily subsidised European farmers are able to undercut African farmers, destroying the livelihoods of the latter and keeping their countries in a state of post-colonial dependency on Europe. This is the real reason for the continued poverty of African countries, which in turn drives mass migration from Africa into Europe (which has been going on for well over a decade and is unconnected to more recent immigration into Europe from the Middle East). Concomitant with this, the EU imposes stringent import duties on agricultural products from outside the EU. This is a distinctly French economic model, of which former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the friend of post-colonial African dictators, would be proud: a policy of protectionism at home whilst preaching ‘free trade’ elsewhere.
Examining this, the support given by the Guardian-reading British ‘liberal left’ for the EU is not merely distasteful, it is disgusting. From a British perspective, the debate over continued membership of the EU has focused on unrestricted immigration and the downward pressure that this has had on living standards, in addition to the high level of British net contribution to the EU. There has been little if any media coverage, least of all from the so-called ‘liberal left’, that the high rate of immigration is partly attributable to the poverty in developing countries caused by the CAP. The cost to humans and animals of the CAP as well as the budgetary one should be a major electoral issue, but it has disappeared off the radar. Because the CAP benefits large agri-business and other wealthy landowners, the mainstream media and most Eurosceptic politicans have deliberately ignored it. The Green Party should be the political vehicle for opposition to the CAP, but the Green Party’s new-found support for the EU, because it is frightened to be identified as ‘right-wing’ or ‘nationalistic’, means that it is no longer a credible opponent of the CAP.