The Selfish Gene
If we examine humanity throughout history, we can see that in places where people had to choose between acting morally and acting selfishly, they chose (generally speaking) the latter. It is a hard task finding a case in which society chose to act against their self-interest and in favor of another's, a weaker society. And it makes sense, because all species, including the human species, are inherently selfish.
Sadly, it is much worse than mere selfishness. When humans (again, generally speaking) are given the power to control and trample others for personal benefit, they usually will use it. Therefore, it should not surprise us that:
- When the Spanish conquerors came to America, they enslaved and massacred the native Indians.
- The white people in America enslaved and abused the black people.
- The Nazis slaughtered the Jews and managed to gather so many home land supporters.
- There are genocides all around the world (The Ottoman government on the Armenians, the Rwandan genocide, in which the Tutsis was slaughtered by the Hutus, the genocide in Cambodia by the Khmers rouges, and so on).
- The less restrictions and control people have, the more crime we see on any layer of society.
" The disease is selfishness, greed, arrogance, and a lack of compassion. As Lord Acton told us, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Human history demonstrates that whenever a system (economic, political, religious, whatever) is installed that is designed to end, or at least ameliorate, human oppression, it is fairly quickly corrupted into a new mechanism for the same old oppression. "
One of the best examples for this phenomenon is the Stanford prison experiment. After reading about this experiment, ask yourself how people with no
criminal background towards other humans, people who throughout their lives have been educated on human rights, can so quickly develop
a tyrannical personality and exhibit sadistic tendencies.
Speaking of prison, the reason laws and prisons were initially created was not to protect weaker human beings, but rather to ensure the status quo remains, and society will function effectively. Without getting into discussion on the necessity of laws, they do restrict many people from acting unethically. For most males, for example, the interest not to be imprisoned overcomes the interest to rape. So in the case of murder and theft for the average person, it is no coincidence that there are many rape and theft incidents when this conflict of interests does not exist (during war times, for example).
In regards to vegan education, we will argue that (generally speaking):
- People behave in accordance with their own self-interest (and then find a way to rationalize their behavior).
- Morality/rationalism is not a significant factor in people decisions.
- Health is not a significant factor in people's choices (it usually becomes significant only after doctor's advice when someone gets old). People drink alcohol, smoke, eat snacks, drive cars, use cell phones etc.
So in order to provide people with reasons to willingly give up animal products, the focus needs to be on the taste/pleasure and the cost factors. Promoting meat, egg & dairy alternatives (especially cultured meat) is a way to do so.
Another significant phenomenon related to this topic is that the less interest people have in resisting the idea of Animal Rights, the greater the chances of them accepting it. In other words, the less a person exploits non humans in their personal life (and eating animal products takes a great deal in one's exploitation), the more chances of them being willing to accept that using them as property is wrong. Tangible evidence for this phenomenon are, for example, animal testing and the use of nonhumans in circuses.
Looking at it objectively, it is not hard to understand animal testing is a horrible and immoral practice under any circumstances. Nevertheless, in one area of this practice (medical research) the public accepts the horror, while in another area (cosmetics), this practice is considered to be wrong/unnecessary by the majority of the public, and will be partially banned in many Western countries within a few years. The crucial factor that separates between an educational failure and educational success in this case is the public's self-interest. In one area, the public wants it to continue because it "can help to save lives", while on the other area, the public knows that banning it will not affect its quality of life a bit.
Same for using nonhumans in circuses; the crucial factor in the success of some Animal Rights groups in banning this practice is not vegan education, but rather the public's lack of self-interest. In today's Western society, there are countless entertainment options which the public finds more attractive than taking the children to see tigers jumping through burning hoops.
When the self-interest is not there, the chances of Animal Rights groups to educate others are much higher; because then only, the public (generally speaking) manages to view moral issues in a fair and objective way. Otherwise, moral or rational considerations are nowhere to be found and the repression mechanism works overtime.
We hope that one day vegan education will be the most effective way to promote abolition of animal exploitation. That time has yet to come; first, we need to make sure there is no conflict of interests between the public and those whose interest does not count.
- Words of wisdom by other thinkers and philosophers.
- A Declaration of War - Killing People To Save Animals And The Environment / Screaming Wolf
- Video: The Century Of The Self - Happiness Machines
- Future Food: Success Criteria
- Three projects focus on the acceptance of meat alternatives by the consumer.
- Milgram experiment (Wikipedia)
- Milgram Experiment (video: part 1 of 5)
- Stanford prison experiment
- The Third Wave
- Will four days with pigs in a pen make Richard da Costa give up on meat?
- Until there are no beings whom we still define as "other" (a private email exchange between Norm Phelps and Steven Best)