Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coda on my last post on biopolitics in Pollan and Haraway

My last post was rather harsh in many ways. And I stand beside the analysis, completely. However, it is sometimes hard advancing critiques against people who are partial allies. Donna Haraway obviously feels a great deal of emotional confusion over her flesh eating practices. What is odd to me is that she feels we all should feel equally confused, and call that confusion political practice. I have trouble buying that.
Michael Pollan's justifications for meat eating rubs me to wrong way because he not only is trying to make meat-eating practices ethically okay, but also ethically superior to vegan/vegetarian practices. That requires some obvious push back. Also, I have frequently meet people who are former vegetarians and cite Pollan's work as the intellectual justification for their switching to flesh eating. That also bothers me. However, Pollan's work has re-invigorated arguments over the treatment of animals, government subsidies towards CAFOs, et cetera. And just as there are former vegetarians who now eat flesh, there are people who try to avoid factory farmed animal flesh who wouldn't otherwise. And I believe that the factory farm is a unique evil (even if that word is out of fashion). So, if there are people who wish to fight the factory farm I welcome them, even if I don't understand or share Haraway's moral confusion or Pollan's strange psycho-sexual desire for flesh eating*. I recognize that in the hard work of coalition building, they are allies more than opponents.

* I know that calling Pollan's arguments psycho-sexual may seem a little off, but I present this strange paragraph from "An Animal's Place"

Surely this is one of the odder paradoxes of animal rights doctrine. It asks us to recognize all that we share with animals and then demands that we act toward them in a most unanimalistic way. Whether or not this is a good idea, we should at least acknowledge that our desire to eat meat is not a trivial matter, no mere ''gastronomic preference.'' We might as well call sex -- also now technically unnecessary -- a mere ''recreational preference.'' Whatever else it is, our meat eating is something very deep indeed.