Anarcho-Capitalists Don’t Give a Fuck About Animals?
I have recently made the transition to anarchism. I still believe there would be several issues within such a society and still hold the view that animal rights would be one of them. That being said, government has not exactly addressed this issue (just look at the injustices committed against pets, wildlife and livestock daily), and keeping a government alive due to the imperfections of a better system (or non system) is not a solution. My hope remains that more anarchists talk about this issue and show that they are not apathetic to it.
I'm still a Libertarian. I have not fully crossed over to anarcho-capitalism; I admit I am Boromir! This is because there are several things anarcho-capitalism has not provided a solution for. I unrstand that no philosophy is perfect, but with Libertyism there can be accountability when it comes to animal cruelty.
In an anarcho-capitalist society there is no tax funded police force or courts; everything is privatized. So the issue is what happens when someone tortures an animal? Well if the animal is someone's property – like a et cat – they can use the private system to sue the asshole who tortured their cat. The problem is that this is only possible because the cat is considered property, and the non-agression principle only protects the right to human life and property. These rights are not extended to animals. The reasoning is arbitrary: animals cannot argue for their rights or sign contracts (neither can fetuses, young children, the severely mentally disabled, but I'll save these concerns for another post). When it comes to animals, this distinction basically means "haha we're human and you're not."
There seems to be an overall apathy for the well-being of animals in the anarcho-capitalist community. Stefan Molyneux (one of the prominent figures of modern anarcho-capitalist thought) has complete disregard for the fact that we share earth with millions of species. He recently did a speech on DDT at "Liberty Now" where he stated that wiping out the entire species of bald eagle is completely justifiable because we can save thousands of human lives. And I though freedom lovers aren't suppose to be Utilitarian? Isn't "for the greater good" something the State likes to say?
The problem with many of anarcho-capitalist convictions is that they are absolute. The reality is, our world is much more complex than that. It is very difficult to draw a line between which living things have rights and which don't. I don't expect to find a solution to such a subjective moral question so I'll keep it simple. Torture is bad. Not being tortured is univesally preferable (thanks UPB). Why does this not extend to animals? They feel complex emotions and pain. If the answer is becausthey are not human, they cannot sign a contract or they cannot argue, I am not convinced. One of the things that does set humans apart is that we have empathy; let's use it.
What I want is a system that will hold cruel individuals acountable. Our society still does not do this. We allow inhumane slaughterhouse and animal farming practices, cruel trade in exotic pets and animal parts, and people are rarely held accountable for torturing their own pets.
I am not in favor of brining animals to the same level as humans in the eye of law and justice. I'm not a vegetarian. I've killed animals with my own two hands for food in a hane, quick way. I acknowledge that there's a huge moral difference between killing a baby rabbit and murdering a human child. Why? I would argue because humans do function at a higher level than animals in many respects (now you can accuse me or making arbitrary distinctions). But this is besides the point. I am not interested in debating who belongs to the best species and why. I am trying to tackle the specific issue of animal torture and asking what solution would an anarcho-capitaist propose?
I love the idea of a free society and fully agree with its ideals when it comes to economics, but answer me this question in a non-arbitrary way: what happens to a man who cruelly tortures a stray cat, or a wild animal in a free society? Who can hold him responsible and how? If your view is that this is a non-issue nd it needs not to be solved (a nice way of saying you don't give a fuck) then do not participate in this conversation.
The best answer I've gotten so far was "yes this is a hole in anarcho-capitalism and I have no idea how to approach it at this point." I agree, and look forard to a possible resolution.
Some helpful links for the undcided:
Not exactly the issue I'm addressing but worth a watch- Why Aren't Libertarians More Vegetarian?