For a Happy Marriage: Socialist/Animalist Perspectives
By, Kris Forkasiewicz, Managing Editor of CNS
Despite growing joint presence in specialist literature, the coming together of animalist and socialist concerns is a fresh affair. The space where animalism—the term still needs to settle into a firm meaning, and is therefore, in a sense, up for grabs—meets the socialist tradition promises to sprout fruitful insights. But if we attempt a mechanical juxtaposition of animalist and socialist perspectives, we are going to inflame potential antagonism between the two traditions.
Rather, the task of those of us interested in issues of species and class ought to be to shed some light on how the two have long been interpenetrated in social practice. This relationship deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far.
Beyond some fortunate compatibility between animalism and socialism, the discussion of which discussion will take up the first part of the paper, animalism is also possibly the greatest challenge to the persistent anthropocentrist orientation of historical socialisms. The challenge is not only to look into the factors whereby the lives of other animals are broken and drained, and not just to emancipate labor from the chains of capitalism. It is to make room for a full-blown, disalienated animality to arise.
The paper goes on to show how animalism can enrich the socialist imaginary with a critique of Marxist rationalism, productivism, its emphasis on self-determination, and its tendency to subsume lived reality under statistical calculations and abstract categories. On all these counts an animalist perspective, some aspects of which I try to elaborate, could provide a significant corrective.
If a livable world awaits around one of future’s corners, it is a world in which animal freedom makes free anthropic sociality and respectful relations with other animals possible.