Most people in the industrialized world believe that the nonhuman animals they eat have lived happy lives. This belief is reinforced by media that portray chickens running freely around a farmyard, lambs and sheep frolicking in the field, and cows sauntering about in their herd. These images hide a horrific reality of the industrialized farming system in which nonhuman animal life is shaped by total suffering and repression. The caring farmer in the pristine fields has been supplanted by unfeeling machines, overworked and abused workers and the profit-motive of ‘agribusiness.’ As anarchists and Christians who are concerned with ending all forms domination and injustice, and who resist the logic of capitalism, the plight of the nonhuman animals that are consumed, work and used in our products cannot be overlooked.
The industrialization of “livestock production” is driven by a rapid global increase in nonhuman animal consumption and the technological advances that make mass produced goods possible. Americans alone consume billions of these creatures each year, 99% of which have been confined, neglected and otherwise abused from birth to the time of slaughter. Chickens, cows, pigs and other farmed animals live lives in which all their natural instincts are suppressed and their basic needs are denied. Their life spans are drastically reduced so that, for example, chickens that would naturally live for 9-12 years are completely exhausted and killed after 1 1/2 years. Sunlight, fresh air, grass, dirt, space, socializing–these are all “extras” that merely slow the production process in “Concentrated Animal Farming Operations”. All nonhuman animals endure similar conditions in this industrial system.
The root of the problem lies in the distinctly modern view that these creatures are “productive units,” created for human use and abuse rather than living, sentient beings that experience pain and pleasure, suffering and contentment (see also Speciesism). A typical example is Wall’s Meat Company’s statement that “the breeding sow should be thought of, and treated as, a valuable piece of machinery, whose function is to pump out baby pigs like a sausage machine.” Because industrial farming views animals as mere ‘machines,’ genetic manipulation is also a routine method for increasing their ‘productivity.’ Genetic engineering techniques like cloning and transgenics, and reproductive technologies from artificial insemination to selective breeding are realities in this system. For these and many other reasons, it is imperative to resist factory farming and other forms of nonhuman animal domination (see also Animal liberation and Veganism).