Vegetarians, Nazis for Animal Rights, Blitzkrieg of the Ungulates

The vegetarians and Hitler now enter the story.

With the surge in meat-eating associated with industrial capitalism came-particularly from city-dwellers-a swelling of the vegetarian cause, hitherto confined to a relatively few Pythagoreans, radicals and eccentrics. Compassion for animals also surged, particularly in Britain where Queen Victoria lent her name to the issue and where anti-vivisection movements drew increasing adherents, as they did in Germany and France. [23]

The ideological groundwork had been prepared as early as the first century ad with Seneca, and the third century, in the writings of the neo-Platonist Porphyry. By the seventeenth century there were vociferous advocates of the view that consumption of animal flesh was aesthetically repulsive, productive of spiritual grossness and unhealthy besides. (Even earlier, Shakespeare caused Thersites to deride Ajax as ‘thou mongrel beef-witted lord.’) In the seventeenth century, Thomas Tryon rejected flesh-eating in part because he was against ‘killing and oppressing his fellow creatures,’ in part because flesh gave man ‘a wolfish, doggist nature.’ (Both Shakespeare and Tryon were themselves being doggist here, in modern usage.) When Adam and Eve began to eat their fellow creatures after expulsion from Eden, quarrelling and war among humanity began. Tryon was also against slavery, ill-treatment of the insane and discrimination against left-handed people. The eighteenth century continued to produce an array of arguments in favor of vegetarianism. Scientists argued that man was not made to be carnivorous, given the arrangement of teeth and intestines. Moralists continued to invoke the violence done by animal slaughter to the traits of benevolence and compassion. Butchers were the subject of rebuke, as the poet John Gay urged pedestrians:

To shun the surly butcher’s greasy tray, Butchers, whose hands are dy’d with blood’s foul stain, And always foremost in the hangman’s train.

British Royal Commissioners a century later found work in abattoirs to be a particularly demoralized trade. The historian Keith Thomas remarks that in the 1790s vegetarianism had radical, even millennial overtones. John Oswald was a radical Scotsman who acquired the vegetarian habit from Hindus while serving in a Highland regiment in India. He wrote The Cry of Nature and died fighting for the Jacobins against the Chouans in the Vendée. In Salford, the Bible Christians were founded by William Cowherd as a breakaway sect from the Swedenborgians. Vegetarianism was a condition of entry, and three hundred members mustered in support of health, gnosticism and the tempered life. Cowherd’s disciple William Metcalfe led a group of Bible Christians to Philadelphia, where Metcalfe converted Sylvester Graham in 1830, who became a renowned advocate of temperance, vegetarianism and unbolted flour and who drew on work by the London doctor William Lamb. The latter’s patient John Frank Newton wrote The Return to Nature, which much influenced the poet Shelley’s 1812 book, Vindication of Natural Diet. [24]
Nazi Squeamishness

But it would be cowardly to accentuate the utopian timbre to much vegetarian thought without also considering the association of vegetarian habit and of solicitude for animals with the Nazis. In April 1933, soon after they had come to power, the Nazis passed laws regulating the slaughter of animals. Later that year Herman Goering announced an end to the ‘unbearable torture and suffering in animal experiments’and-in an extremely unusual admission of the existence of such institutions, threatened to ‘commit to concentration camps those who still think they can continue to treat animals as inanimate property.’ Bans on vivisection were issued-though later partly rescinded-in Bavaria and Prussia. Horses, cats and apes were singled out for special protection. In 1936, a special law was passed regarding the correct way of dispatching lobsters and crabs and thus mitigating their terminal agonies. Crustaceans were to be thrown into rapidly boiling water. Bureaucrats at the Nazi Ministry of the Interior had produced learned research papers on the kindest method of killing. [25]

Laws protecting wildlife were also passed, under somewhat eugenic protocols: ‘The duty of a true hunter is not only to hunt but also to nurture and protect wild animals in order that a more varied, stronger and healthier breed shall emerge and be preserved.’ The Nazis were much concerned about endangered species, and Goering set up nature reserves to protect elk, bison, bears and wild horses. (Goering called forests ‘God’s cathedrals,’ thus echoing the idiom of John Muir, one of the fathers of the American national-park movement, and a despiser of Indians.) The aim of the Law for the Protection of Animals was-as the preamble stated, ‘to awaken and strengthen compassion as one of the highest moral values of the German people.’ Animals were to be protected for their own sake rather than as appendages to the human moral and material condition. This was hailed as a new moral concept. In 1934, an international conference in Berlin on the topic of animal protection saw the podium festooned with swastikas and crowned by a banner declaring, ‘Entire epochs of love will be needed to repay animals for their value and service.’

Nazi leaders were noted for love of their pets and for certain animals, notably apex predators like the wolf and the lion. Hitler, a vegetarian and hater of hunting, adored dogs and spent some of his final hours in the company of Blondi, whom he would take for walks outside the bunker at some danger to himself. He had a particular enthusiasm for birds and most of all for wolves. His cover name was Herr Wolf. Many of his interim headquarters had ‘Wolf’ as a prefix, as in Wolfschanze in East Prussia, of which Hitler said ‘I am the wolf and this is my den.’ He also liked to whistle the tune of ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ from Walt Disney’s movie of the Depression, about the Three Pigs. Goebbels said, famously, ‘The only real friend one has in the end is the dog. . .The more I get to know the human species, the more I care for my Benno.’ Goebbels also agreed with Hitler that ‘meat eating is a perversion in our human nature,’ and that Christianity was a ‘symptom of decay’, since it did not urge vegetarianism. Rudolf Hess was another affectionate pet owner.

On the one hand, monsters of cruelty towards their fellow humans; on the other, kind to animals and zealous in their interest. In their very fine essay on such contradictions, Arnold Arluke and Boria Sax offer three observations. One, as just noted, many Nazi leaders harboured affection towards animals but antipathy to humans. Hitler was given films by a maharaja which displayed animals killing people. The Fuehrer watched with equanimity. Another film showed humans killing animals. Hitler covered his eyes and begged to be told when the slaughter was over. In the same passage in his diary from the 1920s quoted above, Goebbels wrote, ‘As soon as I am with a person for three days, I don’t like him any longer. . .I have learned to despise the human being from the bottom of my soul.’

Second, animal protection measures ‘may have been a legal veil to level an attack on the Jews. In making this attack, the Nazis allied themselves with animals since both were portrayed as victims of “oppressors” such as Jews.’ Central to this equation was the composer Richard Wagner, an ardent vegetarian who urged attacks on laboratories and physical assault on vivisectionists, whom he associated with Jews-presumably because of kosher killing methods. Identifying vivisectors as the enemy, Wagner wrote that vivisection of frogs was ‘the curse of our civilization’. Those who failed to untruss and liberate frogs were ‘enemies of the state’.

Vivisection, in Wagner’s view, stood for mechanistic science, extrusion of a rationalist intellectualism that assailed the unity of nature, of which man is a part. He believed the purity of Aryans had been compromised by meat eating, and mixing of the races. A non-meat diet plus the Eucharist would engender a return to the original uncorrupted state of affairs. Wagner borrowed from the Viennese monk, Adolf Lanze, who held that in the beginning there were Aryans and Apes, with Germans closest to the former and Jews to the latter. The core enterprise was to perfect the breed and purge the coarser element. This went for animals too, in an unremitting process of genetic purification.

Finally, as Arluke and Sax put it, ‘the Nazis abolished moral distinctions between animals and people by viewing people as animals. The result was that animals could be considered ‘higher’ than some people.’ The blond Aryan beast of Nietzsche represented animality at the highest available grade, at one with wild nature. But spirituality could be associated with animals destined for the table, as in this piece of German farm propaganda:

The Nordic peoples accord the pig the highest possible honor. . .in the cult of the Germans the pig occupies the first place and is the first among the domestic animals. . .The predominance of the pig, the sacred animal destined to sacrifices among the Nordic peoples, has drawn its originality from the great trees of the German forest. The Semites do not understand the pig, they reject the pig, whereas this animal occupies the first place in the cult of the Nordic people.’

Aryans and animals were allied in a struggle against the contaminators, the vivisectors, the under-creatures. ‘The Fuehrer,’ Goebbels wrote ‘is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race. . .Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end they will be destroyed. The Fuehrer is a convinced vegetarian on principle.’

Race purification was often seen in terms of farm improvement, eliminating poor stock and improving the herd. Martin Bormann had been an agricultural student and manager of a large farm. Himmler had been a chicken breeder. Medical researchers in the Third Reich, Arluke and Sax write, ‘also approached Germans as livestock. For instance, those familiar with Mengele’s concentration camp experiments believed that his thoughtlessness about the suffering of his victims stemmed from his passion about creating a genetically pure super-race, as though you were breeding horses.’ Those contaminating Aryan stock were ‘lower animals’ and should be dispatched. Seeing such people as low and coarse animal forms allowed their production-line slaughter. Hoss, the Auschwitz commandant, was a great lover of animals, particularly horses, and after a hard day’s work in the death camp liked to stroll about the stables. ‘Nazi German identity,’ Arluke and Sax conclude, ‘relied on the blurring of boundaries between humans and animals and the constructing of a unique phylogenetic hierarchy that altered conventional human­animal distinctions and imperatives. . .As part of the natural order, Germans of Aryan stock were to be bred like farm stock, while “lower animals” or “subhumans”, such as the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, were to be exterminated like vermin as testament to the new “natural” and biological order conceived under the Third Reich.’

Animal-rights advocates and vegetarians often fidget under jeers that it was Nazis who banned vivisection. In fact vivisection continued during the Third Reich. The British journal The Lancet commented on the Nazis’ animal experimentation laws of 1933 that ‘it will be seen from the text of these regulations that those restrictions imposed [in Germany] follow rather closely those enforced in [England].’ The moral is not that there is something inherently Nazi-like in campaigning against vivisection or deploring the eating of animal meat or reviling the cruelties of the feedlot and the abattoir. The moral is that ideologies of nature imbued with corrupt race theory and a degraded romanticism can lead people up the wrong path, one whose terminus was an abattoir for ‘unhealthy’ humans, constructed as a reverse image of the death camp for (supposedly) healthy animals to be consumed by humans. For the Nazis their death camps were, in a way, romanticism’s revenge for the abattoirs and the hogsqueal of the universe as echoing from the Union Stockyards in Chicago. [26]
Earth felt the wound, wrote Milton of the Fall.

Intensive meat production-these days mostly of beef, veal, pork and chicken-is an act of violence: primarily of course an act of violence against the creatures involved. But also violence against nature and against poor people.

Soon after the Spanish conquerors overwhelmed the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in 1521, the colonist-pastoralists began to take over agricultural lands for sheep and cattle. Among such lands was what later became named the Valle de Mezquital, in highland central Mexico, centered on the Tula and Moctezuma river drainages in what is now the state of Hidalgo. In the early sixteenth century, the Valle was the site of intensive irrigation agriculture by the Otomi Indians, with such crops as maize, chiles, maguey, nopal, squash and beans. The soils were good and vegetative cover on the hills rich enough to catch the sparse rainwater and keep the water table high enough to feed the springs and irrigation systems. There were forests of oak and pine. [27]

Old World grazing animals entered the Valle in the late 1520s, in the form of cattle, horses, pigs and goats. By the 1540s there were forty-one flocks of sheep of around a thousand head each. With them came African slaves as their shepherds. Soon Indians were complaining about damage done by the alien stock to their lands and crops. The Spanish governor banned cattle and horses from the densely populated central regions, but with the competition for forage thus diminished, the sheep population erupted. By 1565 there were two million sheep in the Valle. Meanwhile the Otomi were dying. Through the century, the population fell by as much as 90 per cent. The Great Cocoliste epidemic of 1576­81 was the coup de grâce. Sheep began to take over from people, as the Spanish increased their stocking rates to as much as 20,000 head of sheep perstation.

This profusion of animals rapidly changed the terrain. Vegetation diminished and often only bare soil remained. Fields went to pasture. Forests were chopped down for more pasture, also for use in the Spanish mines. During the last quarter of the century, semi-arid species such as mesquite, cardon, yucca, thorn scrub, lechuguilla maguey started to take over. The fallow lands of the decimated Indians and the pastures of the colonists were now covered in mesquite bush and thistles. With less and less to eat, the sheep population dropped sharply. The weight of sheep killed for meat dropped too. ‘By 1600’, Elinor Melville writes in her excellent account of these ecological consequences of pastoral colonization, ‘sheet erosion scarred the hillsides and covered the flat and sloping lands with slope-wash debris. In a final blow to irrigation agriculture, springs were dying out in many parts of the region. By the end of the sixteenth century the landscape was the eroded and gullied mesquite desert traditionally associated with the Valle de Mezquital.’

One hundred years later, the Valle finally received its modern name, ‘the place where mesquite grows,’ and became the Mexican symbol for arid poverty, a symbolism it retains even though today the region receives Mexico City’s effluent, which renders it the site of intensive agriculture. Those who do not know the history ascribe its present fertility to modern technology and the sewage of Mexico City. But, as Melville says, it is not an indigenous landscape, it is a conquest landscape.
Bovine Empire

David Hamilton Wright, a biologist at the University of Georgia, once wrote that ‘an alien ecologist observing. . .earth might conclude that cattle is the dominant species in our biosphere.’ [28] The modern livestock economy and the passion for meat have radically altered the look of the planet. Today, across huge swaths of the globe, from Australia to the western plains of the United States, one sees the conquest landscapes of the European mass-meat producers and their herds of ungulates. Because of romantic ideas of ‘timeless landscapes’ it is hard to grasp the rapidity of this process, with spans as short as thirty-five years between the irruption of a herd onto virgin terrain, over-grazing, soil erosion, crash and eventual stabilization, with the plant communities finally levelling out, though reduced in richness and variety, and the land altered forever.

By 1795, nearly 112,000 cattle were grazing the ranges of Tamaulipas, along the Mexican Gulf coast. These herds-plus no less than 130,000 horses-inflicted major environmental damage on the native grasses. The grasslands began to give way to thorn bushes. By the 1930s the pastures had been so overgrazed and degraded that forty acres were required for each cow. [29] Starting around 1825, these Spanish cattle, along with herds coming from the east, through Louisiana, formed the basis of the Texas ranching system, which took the following half century to collapse, wiped out by ecological maladaptation, otherwise known as cold and drought. By the 1880s, in Terry Jordan’s words, free grass ‘greatly encouraged over-stocking, as did a serious misreading of the pastoral capacity of the fragile short-grass plains and the speculation-fueled, hyper-commercialized cattle boom of the early 1880s. The resulting cattle glut both severely damaged the ranges and, by 1886, led to a crash in beef prices. Livestock dumped on the market because the depleted pastures could no longer support them further depressed prices. Even so, thousands of additional cattle died due to the deteriorated condition of the ranges.’ The terrible winters of 1886 and 1887-the worst in recorded memory-finished off the boom. Millions of cattle died, and the pastures savagely degraded. Across the years, the cattle grazed on the tall grasses-big and little bluestem, particularly where ranchers fenced off the water-courses and springs from their competitors. Ironweed and goldenrod invaded, along with Kentucky bluegrass. Short grasses and annual weeds took over.

In the late eighteenth century, when the first cattle herds arrived in what the Spanish colonists called Alta California, the region presented itself as a Mediterranean landscape, but of a sort that had been extinguished in Europe for many centuries. There were meadows with perennial bunchgrasses, beardless wild rye, oat grass, perennial forbs: 22 million acres of such prairie, and 500,000 acres of marsh grass. Beyond this, there were eight million acres of live oak woodlands, and park-like forests. Beyond and above these, the chaparral.

By the 1860s, in the wake of the gold rush, some three million cattle were grazing California’s open ranges and the degradation was rapid, particularly as ranchers had been over-stocking to cash in on the cattle boom. Floods and drought between 1862 and 1865 consummated the ecological crisis. In the spring of 1863, 97,000 cattle were grazing in parched Santa Barbara County. Two years later, only 12,100 remained. By the mid-1860s, in Terry Jordan’s words, ‘many ranges stood virtually denuded of palatable vegetation’. In less than a century, California’s pastoral utopia had been destroyed; the ranchers moved east of the Sierra into the Great Basin, or north, to colder and dryer terrain.

These days, travellers heading north through California’s Central Valley can gaze at mile upon mile of environmental wreckage: arid land except where irrigated by water brought in from the north, absurdly dedicated to producing cotton. Some two hundred miles north of Los Angeles fierce stench and clouds of dust herald the Harris Beef feedlot. On the east side of the Interstate several thousand steers are penned, occasionally doused by water sprays. After a few minutes of this Dantesque spectacle the barren landscape resumes, with one of California’s state prisons at Coalinga-unlike the beef feedlot, secluded from view-lying just over the horizon to the west.
Exchanging Petrol for Water

California is one of America’s largest dairy states and livestock agriculture uses almost one third of all irrigation water. It takes 360 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef-irrigation for grain, trough-water for stock-which is why, further east in the feedlot states of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas along with the Texas panhandle, the Oglalla aquifer has been so severely depleted. (California’s Central Valley itself faces increasing problems of salty water from excessive use of groundwater.) Deep-drilling for water came as response to the Dustbowl disaster of the 1930s, itself produced by farming ill-adapted to the natural conditions. Intensive pumping of the High Plains aquifer began after the Second World War. By 1978 there were 170,000 wells drawing off 23 million acre feet of water each year. (An acre-foot represents the amount of water required to cover one acre with water one foot deep.) This is what is needed to support a livestock industry worth $10 billion a year, from grain fields to slaughterhouses such as the Holcomb abattoir of the Iowa Beef Co., covering fourteen acres. [30]

The gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas and electricity required to pump the water up several hundred feet from the shrinking aquifer are as finite as the water itself, and sometime in the next century the High Plains will be forced back to dryland farming, with such descendants of the present population as remain facing other environmental disasters: poisoning of the remaining groundwater by herbicides, fertilizer and vast amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from the manure excreted day by day in the feedlots. Some of the latter ends up in the air as gaseous ammonia. At the end of the 1980s, Frank and Deborah Popper of Rutgers University began arguing that an era of agricultural ‘pullback’ lay ahead, and the future of the Plains might hold-though later they said that it was more a metaphor than a concrete proposal-a ‘buffalo commons’ in which native animals such as the buffalo would roam over federally-owned grasslands once more.

Unsustainable grazing and ranching sacrifice drylands, forests and wild species. Brazil’s military dictators who came to power in the early 1960s hoped to convert their nation’s Amazonian rainforests, which cover more than 60 per cent of the country, to cattle pasture and thus make Brazil a major beef producer on the world market. A speculative frenzy ensued, with big companies acquiring million-acre spreads which they promptly stripped of trees in order to get tax write-offs and kindred subsidies from the junta. Big ranchers, rather than the peasant settler-pyromaniacs of song and story, accounted for most of the destruction. Within a decade or so, degraded scrubland had yielded money to the corporations but few cattle, and none of these could be sold on the world market because they were diseased. Indeed the Amazon is a net beef-importing region. Meanwhile many of the two or three million people who lived in the rainforest have been evicted with each encroachment of the burning season. [31] Such are the assaults on the environment and on the poor, whether in the Amazon basin or in the Republic of Turkmenia, where the Soviet leadership sank 3,500 wells for cattle use, which in turn produced arid rings of desert as much as a mile wide, as cattle stripped the land round the wells clean of vegetation. [32] By 1990 about half of all American rangeland was severely degraded, with the narrow-stream bank habitats the worst in memory. Australian pastures show the same pattern. In the drylands of South Africa, overgrazing has made over seven million acres useless for cattle and thirty-five million acres of savanna are rapidly becoming equally useless as overgrazing takes its toll.

Humans are essentially vegetarian as a species and insatiate meat-eating brings its familiar toll of heart disease, stroke, cancer. The enthusiasm for meat also produces its paradox: hunger. A people living on cereals and legumes for protein need to grow far less than a people eating creatures that have been fed by cereals. For years Western journalists described in mournful tones the scrawny and costly pieces of meat available in Moscow’s shops, associating the lack with backwardness and the failure of communism. But from 1950 meat consumption in the Soviet Union tripled. By 1964 grain for livestock feed outstripped grain for bread and by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, livestock were eating three times as much grain as humans, all of which required greater and greater imports of grain until this use of precious foreign exchange made the Soviet Union the world’s second largest grain importer, while a dietary ‘pattern’ based on excellent bread was vanishing.

Governments-prodded by the World Bank-plunged into schemes for intensive grain-based meat production, which favours large, rich producers and penalizes small subsistence farming. In Mexico the share of crop land growing feed and fodder for animals went from 5 per cent in 1960 to 23 per cent in 1980. Sorghum, used for animal feed, is now Mexico’s second largest crop by area. At the same time, the area of land producing the staples of poor folk in Mexico-corn, rice, wheat and beans-has fallen relentlessly. Mexico is now a net corn importer, with imports from rich countries such as Canada and the us wiping out millions of subsistence farmers who have to migrate to the cities or to El Norte. Mexico feeds 30 per cent of its grain to livestock-pork and chickens for urban eaters-and 22 per cent of the population suffers from malnutrition.

Multiply this baneful pattern across the world. Meanwhile, the classic pastoralists who have historically provided most of the meat in Africa from grazing systems closely adapted to varying environments are being marginalized by privatization, closing off of access rights, and plans by governments to shift them to settled farming and prevent their wandering ways. Elsewhere, small farmers are similarly marginalized. Grain-based livestock production inexorably leads to larger and larger units and economies of scale.

Tomorrow: Final part, Cutting Up Mochie

This essay appears as part of Dead Meat, presenting Sue Coe’s record, in the form of paintings and diaries, of slaughterhouses in the United States. Dead Meat is published by Four Walls Eight Windows Press, in New York, and paintings in it may be seen at the St. Etienne Gallery, 20 West 57th St, New York.


[23] On anti-vivisection, see two entries from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910­11. The anti-vivisection movement was very strong at that time, and the editors felt it necessary to print a six-page, 9,000-word defence of vivisection, by Stephen Paget, frcs, Surgeon to the Throat and Ear Department of Middlesex hospital and honorary secretary of the Research Defence Society. ‘It may be interesting,’ Paget writes at one point, ‘to compare the pain, or death, or discomfort among 86,277 animals used for experiments in Great Britain in 1909, with the pain, or death, or discomfort of an equal number of the same kinds of animals, either in a state of nature, or kept for sport, or used for the service of human profit or amusement. But it would be outside the purpose of this article to describe the cruelties which are inseparable from sport, and the killing of animals for food, and from fashion; neither is this the place to describe the millions of mutilations which are practised on domestic animals by farmers and breeders. As one of the Royal Commissioners recently said, the farmyards, at certain times of the year, simply “seethe with vivisection” . The number of animals wounded in sport, or in traps, cannot be guessed. Against this vast amount of suffering we have to put an estimate of the condition of 86,277 animals used for medical science. Ninety-five per cent of them were used for inoculation. In many of these inoculations the result was negative: the animal did not take any disease, and thus did not suffer any pain. In many more, e.g. cancer in mice, tubercle in guinea pigs, the pain or discomfort, if any, may fairly be called trivial or inconsiderable. It could hardly be said that these small animals suffer much more than an equal number of the same kind of animals kept in little cages to amuse children. . .’

The equally lengthy essay on furs, by Walter Parker, deputy chairman of the fur section of the London Chamber of Commerce, had this detailing of sales at what was the headquarters of the fine fur market, the public auction sales in London. The figures are, for the year ending on 31 March 1906, total number of skins in each category:

The chief exceptions to this list were the Persian and Astrachan lambs, also ermine and Russian squirrels. These were processed and sold in Russia and Germany. All told, about 24 million creatures. The maximum from an elephant’s tusk was eight ivory billiard balls, so in that same period, many thousands of the mighty pachyderm went down each year.

[24] For material about Tryon, Oswald, Cowherd etc., see Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World. On squeamishness, see William Hazlitt, in 1826: ‘Animals that are to be made use of as food should either be so small as to be imperceptible or else we should not leave the form standing to reproach us with our gluttony and cruelty. I hate to see a rabbit trussed or a hare brought to the table in the form it occupied while living.’

[25] For material on the Nazis and their attitude to animals, vegetarianism, vivisection, see the essay by Arnold Arluke and Boria Sax, ‘Understanding Nazi Animal Protection and the Holocaust,’ in Anthrozoos, vol. 5, no. 1, 1992, also correspondence in the following year. Arluke and Sax review a wide variety of material on these themes. Anthrozoos is put out by the excellent Delta Society, based in Renton, Washington. The Society encourages the match-up of old or disabled folk with appropriate dogs.

[26] For a different, and in my opinion, somewhat superficial view, see Adorno and Horkheimer: ‘When industrial magnates and Fascist leaders want to have pets around them, their choice falls not on terriers but on Great Danes and lion cubs. These are intended to add spice to power through the terror they inspire. The murderous Fascist colossus stands so blindly before nature that he sees animals only as a means of humiliating men. It is he who deserves the criticism unjustly leveled by Nietzsche at Schopenhauer and Voltaire that they “knew how to mask their hate of certain men and things as compassion for animals.” The Fascist’s passionate interest in animals, nature, and children is rooted in the lust to persecute. The significance of the hand negligently stroking a child’s head, or an animal’s back, is that it could just as easily destroy them. One victim is fondly stroked shortly before the other is struck down, and the choice made has nothing to do with the victim’s guilt. The petting demonstrates that all are equal in the presence of power, that none is a being in its own right. A creature is merely material for the master’s bloody purposes. Thus the Fuehrer takes the innocent into his service, picking them out regardless of merit just as, for no apparent reason, they may be slaughtered. Nature is so much filth. Only the cunning power that knows how to survive has any right on its side.’ ‘Man and Animal’ in Dialectic of Enlightenment.

[27] This account of the Valle de Mezquital is drawn from Elinor Melville’s impressive work, A Plague of Sheep. Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico, Cambridge 1994.

[28] Quoted in Alan Durning and Holly Brough, ‘Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment,’ Worldwatch Paper 103, July 1991; a very useful essay, with much data on raising and consumption of livestock, and good discussion of environmental consequences.

[29] See Terry Jordan, North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers.

[30] For an account of the exploitation of the Oglalla aquifer, see Donald Worster, An Unsettled Country, particularly the chapter, ‘The Warming of the West.’ All predictions of global warming should be treated with reserve, caution increasing with the supposed precision of the forecasts.

[31] There is an extended discussion of Amazonian deforestation and its causes in Susanna Hecht and ALEXANDER COCKBURN, The Fate of the Forest. Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon, Verso, London 1989.

[32] This and following examples from During and Brough’s ‘Taking Stock’.


















Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined!, A Colossal Wreck and An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents are available from CounterPunch.