The right strategy at the right time

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Red and White target with three arrowThere are endless discussions about which strategies (actions, approaches) are the best for animal liberation (as well as for any other social issue). Many people answer the question as follows: we need a bit of everything. That’s certainly true to a certain extent. Different individuals and different groups of people may require separate approaches. Still, it is not an excuse to avoid the strategy debate altogether. As we have limited means, it is worth trying to find the most efficient strategy. Also, while some strategies may be succesful in attracting certain people, we always need to take into account the amount of people the strategy might possibly turn off.

The point I want to make here though, is that which strategies to use is also a matter of timing. I mean: the time in the history of our movement. I can very well imagine that any strategy may be the best strategy at some point in time. Let me make this more concrete. I do not think this is the best time to go out and shout “meat is murder” and accuse people who eat meat and make them feel guilty. But at some point in the future, when vegetarian eating is much closer to being the norm, it might very well be. Just like today everyone should feel comfortable in calling out racism when they see it.

We’re not there yet. Too many people are still eating animals for society to support true radicalism (let’s not bickle about how we will define the term). We are still too dependent on our use of animals. That’s why I think a good strategy in this phase of our movement is to try to decrease our dependence on animals. A great example is what Hampton Creek foods does in coming up with substitutes for eggs and egg products. They are close to developping the perfect product, marketable because it’s cheaper, healthier, more convenenient than chicken eggs. Imagine how, at that point when there’s no longer much interest in using real eggs, the openness to talk about the rights of chickens – now to most still an absurdity – would grow.

It’s easy to be a philosopher and say true things about the rights of animals. It’s much harder to do the right things at the right time and to truly make a difference. That, indeed, is the art of activsm.

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