Ford’s Attempts to Moderate the CORE of the Civil Rights Movement

By Nick Pendergrast


I recently heard a great podcast episode on the Black Panther Party by Revolutionary Left Radio. Some of the issues raised on the show reminded me of research I did for my PhD thesis that never made it into the final edit. This research was on different factions within the civil rights movement and attempts from outside of the movement to moderate it. My thesis focused on the animal advocacy movement but in looking into the role of financial considerations in shaping animal advocacy, I looked into research on financial considerations and moderation in a wide range of social movements, including the civil rights movement. I am by no means (anywhere near!) an expert on this topic but it was something that was just at the “edge” of my research and I found what I read on this issue really interesting, so thought I’d share my writing summarising some key points from these texts. I believe the issues raised in these texts are very relevant to debates and tensions going on in a wide range of social movements today. See the references at the end if you’d like to look further into the sources yourself.


This article is mostly based on information from this book – see below for an online link to it.

Foundations and Social Movements

In the book The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-profit Industrial Complex, Andrea Smith (2007) outlines the historic and contemporary role of foundations set up by millionaires and corporations, and their moderating influence on social movement organisations and social movements generally. The first such foundation in the United States was established in 1907 and since then there has been a continual increase in foundations, non-profits, and donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. These foundations initially acted as a tax shelter for corporations, but also quickly focussed on moderating movements for social change. While these foundations supported measures to ameliorate social problems, the instigators wanted them done in a manner that did not challenge capitalism. For example, amid strikes by Colorado miners in 1913, the Rockefeller foundation worked to reduce the social and political unrest by giving relief to individual workers, but saw workers organising through unions as a threat to society. It was feared that these developments could lead to more fundamental changes. After World War Two, many foundations moved beyond merely philanthropic giving and began to try to engineer social change and influence social justice movements (Smith, 2007, p. 4-5).


The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

A particularly good illustration of how this can work in practice is the way the Ford Foundation and others actively attempted to steer the civil rights movement in a more conservative direction (Smith, 2007, p. 5). The Ford Foundation did this through directly funding the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) with $175 000 and also through giving $500 000 to the Metropolitan Applied Research Centre (MARC) (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, p. 55). CORE’s outside funding rose from $4 604 in 1952, to $130 609 in 1960, to $694 588 in 1964. There were also huge increases in the outside funding of the civil rights movement generally at this time (Haines, 1984, p. 36). According to a text by Robert L. Allen (2007, first published 1969, p. 55), the Ford Foundation was able to not only directly influence the activities of CORE through funding that organisation, but they also indirectly influenced CORE through funding MARC. This funding was used to create civil rights fellowships, where the fellows (including the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and many leaders from CORE) received a salary to a level roughly equivalent to those they were then receiving from their organisations or private employment.

MARC was headed by the psychology professor Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, whose strategy was to get large corporations involved in the ghettos of American cities. He argued that ‘business and industry are our last hope…they are the most realistic elements in our society’ (cited in Allen, 2007, first published 1969, p. 55). MARC set about trying to calm Cleveland’s racial tension, which the Ford Foundation had been attempting to do for years (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, pp. 55-56). The Ford Foundation made a donation of $175 000 to the Cleveland chapter of CORE, which was to be used for ‘training of Cleveland youth and adult community workers, voter registration efforts, exploration of economic-development programs, and attempts to improve program planning among civil rights groups’ (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, p. 56). CORE was perfect for the Ford Foundation because their militant rhetoric meant that they appealed to discontented African-American people (unlike “old-style” moderate leaders), but their ambiguous and reformist definition of black power as simply black control over black communities differentiated them from “genuine” black radicals who the foundation saw as too dangerous. Similarly, funding from the foundation appealed to CORE because before it received this funding it was several thousand dollars in debt. CORE had struggled financially as its promotion of black power scared away potential financial supporters (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, pp. 55-57).


The Ford grant to CORE was a success in the eyes of the foundation – there was no rebellion in the summer of 1967 (serious riots had occurred in 1966 and the early spring of 1967) and tension was further eased when Carl Stokes became the first African-American mayor of a major American city in November 1967. The voter registration drive and voter education program initiated by CORE (and funded by the Ford Foundation) played a significant role in this election (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, pp. 55-57). King and his associates in many organisations advocating for civil rights ‘were increasingly defined as moderate or, at the very least, as “responsible” militants’ (Haines, 1984, p. 34).


Both CORE and MARC attempted to negotiate with the power structure on behalf of African-Americans and the poor. They were seeking more government and private aid, and, rather than challenging the existing economic and political structure of US society, they pushed for the poor to be included in this structure. Floyd McKissick, who was the second CORE official to get a MARC scholarship, criticised capitalism but not in a fundamental manner: it was not that capitalism itself was wrong, the problem was that black people were not able to fully participate in it at the time. CORE had no intention of tampering with the “free enterprise system” beyond increasing black involvement in this system, with black power increasingly being equated with the power of black business and black capitalism. Partly due to indirect control and manipulation from the Ford Foundation (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, pp. 60-62), ‘far from aiding in the achievement of black liberation and freedom from exploitation, [CORE] would instead weld the black communities more firmly into the structure of American corporate capitalism’ (Allen, 2007, first published 1969, p. 62). Most in the civil rights movement ended up calling for reform rather than revolution (Haines, 1984, p. 33).



Allen, R. L. 2007, first published 1969. From Black Awakening in Capitalist America. In The Revolution will not be Funded: Beyond the Non-profit Industrial Complex, ed. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, 53-62. Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.: South End Press.

Haines, H. H. 1984. Black Radicalization and the Funding of Civil Rights: 1957-1970. Social Problems 32 (1): 31-43.

Smith, A. 2007. Introduction: The Revolution will not be Funded. In The Revolution will not be Funded: Beyond the Non-profit Industrial Complex, ed. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, 1-20. Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.: South End Press.


The Silence of the Lambs: My Interview with an Australian Slaughterhouse Worker

By Nick Pendergrast

I did the following interview with an anonymous Halal slaughterhouse worker in Western Australia and it was published years ago in the magazine Vegan Voice, which is no longer in operation. Since being published in the magazine it has showed up and disappeared in various places online. It’s great that it has been shared around online and I encourage people to put it up wherever they like. But I thought it’d also be worth posting it here, just in case it disappears from the other places online at some point, as I think the worker I interviewed gives a frank and insightful perspective on this industry that is mostly hidden from public view. While this workers’ story is unique, it is also interesting to see a remarkable amount of overlap between their account and the experiences of other slaughterhouse workers that I have read about – see the links at the end for some larger-scale studies of slaughterhouse work. At the time of publishing this, the interview is available online here in the magazine version that was originally published, with pictures etc, if people would rather read the information that way.

A content warning that the interview contains frequent and some graphic descriptions of violence and harm to animals.

How did you become a slaughterhouse worker?

Lack of any other job in the country, really. I was either picking vegetables which a lot of times you got to have machine tickets for, or you had to just go get a manual labouring job and the meatworks were always hiring and they pay pretty good. So it was just, you know, random chance. I know after talking to some of my friends on the weekend that the beef abattoirs are now paying 45 dollars an hour. The demand is there for workers and they really do pay pretty well, and a lot of other places just can’t compete with that sort of money. So it was greed, unfortunately.

How long did you work there?

Four months. I was there for a month, didn’t like it, went on to do some labouring. I just wasn’t earning enough to cover my bills, so I had to go back.

How did the experience of working in a slaughterhouse compare with your expectations of what it would be like?

A lot messier, a lot more violent, a lot more brutal. I didn’t expect the sort of conditions and cruelty that I seen there. And I thought, because we had quality control experts there and a veterinarian on staff ‘ But they really didn’t seem to care. They were there for the money just like we were. And they just kept putting the product through — that’s all they were worried about.

Can you describe each stage of the process of turning a live animal into food on the public’s plate?

Well, the goats are rounded up with choppers, shotguns, explosives — things like that so they’re scared — and herded onto trucks. The trucks come in and I think the worst day was 25 dead animals off the truck just from sheer overloading. Then they’re put in the marshalling yards and left to starve for a couple of days so they clean their stomach out. Because you’re not allowed to, well, I’m not sure if you’re not allowed to, but our practice was you don’t slaughter an animal with a full stomach because there’s more chance of inexperienced workers bursting the stomach, tainting the meat and not being able to use it.

After being in the marshalling yards anywhere from a day to a week, they’re brought up into holding pens, again using loud noises to scare the animals. A lot of the goats we dealt with were feral and we were like the second or third human they’d ever seen in their entire existence.

They’re kept in very small pens, crammed in there so you don’t have to go and get them out of the marshalling yards as often. Then they’re herded in up a race, then up a conveyor belt and electro-stun to the back of the head. When the animals are wet, the electro-charge doesn’t distribute across the brain properly, so a lot of the time you’d have to do it two or three times. And you’re not trained in it; they just sort of say, ‘Well, you point it in that direction and you put the electrodes there.’

You hear the animals scream, their eyes will roll back in their head, their tails will curl up, they’ll piss and shit blood. The conveyor belt was a series of paddles and a lot of times their skin would get caught in that and get torn open. So the animal was in constant suffering from the time it’s herded, to put on a truck, to the electro-stun.

Then, because it was a halal slaughterhouse, the Muslim cleric would say his prayer dedicated to Allah and slit the animal’s throat. Then it was supposed to be left to bleed out for 20 minutes. Generally they’d be left for about five minutes, if that. A lot of times the animal would still be kicking, still be alive, when its head and tail were removed, which is the next stage.

They’d be hung out inverted, so they’d bleed out and drain out. You’d cut the tail off. You’d then have to snap the neck and cut the head off. A lot of the times when you’re doing that the animal was still alive. People used to get kicked by the animals, so they’d punch them back. I mean, the animals, you know, are dying — what’s the point in hitting a creature suffering that much?

Then the hooves would get cut off. Meanwhile, you could still see the animal visibly twitching, you could still see the life in the meat. And I’ve gone through all stages and even to the point where they’d go in the chillers, they’d still be twitching. There’d still be ‘ you could tell there was some sign of life or activity going on there.

But before they’d cut the hooves they’d use a bio-saw to cut through the brisket. Then they’d cut the top hooves off, turn them upside down, cut the bottom hooves off. Then the gutter would open up the stomach through a small incision where the bowel is, put his knife in with the blade facing outwards and slide that down so all the stomach would spill open (well, without actually bursting the intestines). Then the gutter would have to hold the stomach with all his weight and run the knife down both sides of the backbone, separating the stomach and the intestines and the organs.

They’d get chucked down a chute, and most of the time they’d burst and spill on the floor. Our meat inspector was supposed to check the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys for disease, but a lot of times he wouldn’t bother.

After the stomach came out it was up to the trimmers to trim off all the excess bits of fur and faeces and milk, stuff like that. And then it would go straight into the chillers. This would take anywhere from, I reckon, 10—15 minutes, from the time the animal was killed until it got into the chillers.

So you found that halal wasn’t any more humane than standard practice.

No, well, they said that Allah forbids an animal being bashed on the head, no animal fighting, no unclean animals — it’s supposed to be a lot nicer and happier for the animal. But, you know, when the electro-stun didn’t work and they’d go through the chute a lot of them had their throats slit while they were still alive, still kicking. The idea is that it’s supposed to distribute the charge over the brain so they don’t feel any pain, but generally it would just immobilise them because they’d still be screaming, they’d still be kicking and twitching — still trying to run while they’re laying there sideways having their throat slit. And it’s this sort of thing that sticks with you, this sort of thing that you remember for a very long time. Can you still hear the lambs screaming, Clarice? Can you still hear the lambs? That sort of thing.


Image from:

Which sections of the slaughterhouse did you work in?

I worked from one end to the other because I was a good worker. I even used to work out the back trimming, salting and stacking the skins. I just learnt quick, I suppose, either that or I was terrible at every job and they couldn’t figure out where to put me. [Laughs.] But no, I used to try and do my job to the best of my ability. I got a few cuts and bruises to prove it. But yeah, every process, every single part of it, you know, is just turning life into a machine. That’s all it is. Get the product out, get the product out. Who cares? You gotta do what you gotta do.

The animals in the cages are whipped and beaten. There’d be the stockman out the back and when an animal would fight back, you know, they’d take chains and crowbars to them, like, beat them into submission. A lot of the time when I was trimming the skins you could see the foot or knuckle bruises where people had punched into the animals when they were alive. As I say, when people were chopping off the tails and they’d get a kick in the chin, they’d lay into the animal. And it’s laying there dying, it’s its last moments. What are you going to prove, you know? I saw it as a defence mechanism, because a lot of people didn’t want to accept it: it’s not me, it’s the animal. And that comes down to psychology, but I don’t know enough about that to comment on it. I’m just speaking from experience.

Unfortunately I’m still a carnivore — or omnivore, I should say — but there has got to be better ways of doing it than that. And like I say, even when I’d voice problems, or anyone else would voice a problem, it would take days before anything got fixed. Sheep and goats aren’t meant to be transported when they’re pregnant, but nearly every second mutton that we’d do would have a foetus in it, anywhere from a tiny little lamb like this big [motions a size of about 10cm x 10cm] to full grown, ready-to-fall. If they gave birth in the marshalling yard while they were waiting, well, the animal technically didn’t belong to anyone, so it would have to be put down.

When it would get really cold at night the animals would huddle together and a lot of them would get crushed. Again, that was from overloading of the pens. The pens would be this deep [motions approximately 30cm] in faeces and mud, so a lot of the time — like when sheep slip over and stay on their side too long, they get like a toxic shock — poisons get released from their stomach or their muscles, and it would ruin their balance centre in their brain and they wouldn’t be able to walk any more.

The process was supposed to be that you’d do a ‘dead run’ first thing in the morning — basically any animal that’s in pain you’d have to kill. Now sometimes these animals, they’d either die on their own or they’d lay there till three or four in the afternoon and we’d start killing at six. Other animals would come through with big canker sores and maggots and wounds, like, whole legs ballooned up with maggots, and they’d just be left in a pen until somebody could be bothered coming over to shoot them. And every time somebody would voice an opinion, say something should be done, it would just be, ‘Yeah, we’ll get the product through, we’ll deal with that tomorrow, we’ll deal with that tomorrow.’

They never bothered shutting the plant down until major machines broke down, like the day the conveyor belt from the race broke down, you know, we shut down for a week until they fixed it. Then when they fixed it, it was actually pulling more chunks of skin and doing more damage to the animal. They said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, the chain will stretch, it will wear in.’ There was no consideration at all, it was just a matter of product, product, product. That’s all they cared about.

How many animals do you estimate were killed each day at the slaughterhouse where you worked?

Anywhere from 650 to 800. I think our biggest day was 820. We used to get a bonus for killing more than 700. If we killed more than 750 animals a day, for a certain amount a day you were over, you got 10 cents or 20 cents bonus per head. So basically they’re paying you to push it through quicker, they’re giving you more money to ignore the bleeding time, to ignore stunning, ignore best practice. Nobody’s taught proper animal husbandry. I actually had to ask the vet the best way to pick up a sheep.

Were there many cases of disease and other conditions among the animals at the slaughterhouse?

Many of them had the scap [diarrhoea] — their back legs would be covered in it. The marshalling pens, like the fences, were in real bad disrepair and they’d actually lose eyes because they’d be that overloaded. We had animals being attacked by crows and foxes, losing eyes. Foxes would eat their way in through the anus, then in through the intestines, whereas crows would start at the eyeballs and peck at the brain — and a lot of these animals would still be alive.

If the vet deemed it was, like, 90 per cent good, he’d still put it through — just cut this off, just cut that off. The incidence of disease ‘ I’d have to say about 50 per cent. A lot of the time they would have some form of large cyst on them, or maggot-infested dags or wounds or canker sores, or lack of iron, or a crippled leg due to overloading or the handling techniques. Yeah, at least 50 per cent of the animals would have some form of injury or illness, quite easily.

And when they were diseased the whole thing wasn’t thrown out — they’d just cut around it? The rest was used?

There were ones that would come through ‘ there was what was basically an arthritis and they’d get put in the chiller and they’d get blown out because the gases and the juices in the joints that cause the arthritis would swell up and taint the meat. So they’d just cut it out as quickly as possible. I got taught to take the skeleton out of a sheep, while it was still hanging up, and yeah, it was literally just cut that chunk out, keep the rest, you know. And the practice of putting them down was only in extreme cases where the animal was fully diseased or fully messed up or they’d been crushed or they’d laid down too long and they couldn’t get up and the toxins had actually gone through the meat.

How would you rate the hygiene at the slaughterhouse?

On a scale of one to ten, probably about negative five. In the marshalling yards the animals would be standing almost knee-deep in their own waste. Hay would be thrown out to them when they were disabled or weak and they’d literally be eating out of their own crap. Stomachs would get burst; the idea was there was supposed to be zero tolerance for faeces on the floor, but it would be everywhere.

The holding pens were under cover, but even so it took a long time before they realised that you gotta clean those pens out. They were on crates about this high off the ground, approximately two inches [5cm], so the waste matter would fall through and you could smell the urea, the ammonia from their waste, festering there. We were supposed to clean those out once every two weeks, one pen at a time, but they’d get left. I think about five weeks was the biggest record I seen while I was there, until they actually started filling up through the crate and then you’d have to lift the crates up and shovel it out. And then it would just get dumped around the yard for flies to breed in, which would then go reinfest the sheep that are being held, and, you know, the cycle of disease just kept going and going.

Did you notice any changes in the mentality or behaviour of the workers the longer they worked there?

Yeah, there was a definite change. A lot of people ‘ there was heavy drug use, alcohol use. A lot of that seemed to be compensating because as soon as people knocked off it was a matter of getting blind, forget about what you’ve done for that day, you know. Or you’d get the other side of it where people would snap and just start getting really brutal. It was either denial or the extreme acceptance of ‘well, I’m going to kill kill kill’.

Do you think that doing this job affected workers outside work hours, such as in the way they treated humans or other animals?

Oh, a lot of them had their own pets but they’d go out hunting and they wouldn’t have any consideration. I mean, you’d hit a kangaroo on the side of the road or hit a kangaroo on your way to work and you’d be joking about it. You know, no one would care about the animal you’ve just killed. That realisation even got me one day when I hit a roo, but I did do the right thing and had to take the hatchet out of the back of my car and cut his head off. It was either that or leave the animal there kicking and bleeding.

But a lot of people just, yeah, they treated other animals that weren’t socially accepted pets as fair game, open sport. People used to go out pig hunting because there’s a lot of feral pigs around the area. And they’d let their dog sic onto them for something to do and let the dogs attack and maul them for five minutes before they decided to shoot them. I don’t know if that was a direct consequence of working at the meatworks, but it’s a pretty big coincidence.

Lamb and Dog

Image from:

You mentioned alcohol and drug use — that was quite widespread, was it?

If it wasn’t for marijuana, amphetamines and alcohol that place couldn’t function.

And so that’s while they’re working as well, not just afterwards to forget about it?
While they were working there were a few people drinking on the job, which I always wondered about, it being a Muslim slaughterhouse. Alcohol should have been banned because it’s against their religion, but a lot of people would be drinking, though not the Muslims themselves. But a lot of the other workers were heavily using amphetamines, smoking dope on their lunch breaks and stuff, and a lot of that was, I’d say, to compensate for what they were doing. That’s the way it felt.

Do you think workers at the slaughterhouse could freely express their concerns without feeling as though their jobs were under threat?

No, you can’t. If you scream too loudly you will get the sack, and that’s a lot of the reason why I left because things I was saying were getting ignored. I knew that if you demanded you’d be out the door and in such a small community there’s not many jobs. That was the reason why I was there to begin with.

The head of the meatworks was an accountant, he was a bean counter. All he worried about was money. Like, he was an accountant as a profession, and that’s all it was to him. It was a numbers game. You know, this many animals versus this much to fix it — are we going to get more animals through if we fix it or do we just put up with it the way it is and ignore everyone’s comments.

The quality control officers were powerless or ignorant or in denial, and the vet — there was the two vets there, who I believe were also supposed to be RSPCA officers — just ignored it, put up with it. That’s the meatworks, everyone just thinks that’s what it’s supposed to be. They don’t know any better, they don’t wanna know any better. And yeah, you can’t, like I say, make any demands, otherwise you’ll be out the door.

How did you feel while you were working and did your work affect you outside working hours?

My drinking and marijuana use steadily increased. I did become a lot more withdrawn and antisocial. I found I could only hang out with other meatworkers, because [we were] in the same mental state, I suppose, same social scene. Also, in a country town there’s not too many outlets for sociability. But the meatworkers were treated with a kind of respect and fear because everyone knew that they were crazy. [Laughs.] You know, they had their own corner in the pub, and yeah, you were treated a little differently because of it and you treated others a little differently because of it.

Do you think that the violence inflicted on animals in the slaughterhouse spilled over to violence among workers during work or outside work?

I seen many arguments on the slaughter floor where people would throw their knives on the ground and go out the back and punch on, over voicing concerns about safety or he’s not doing his job and why should I have to cover him. Yes, there was a great deal of violence, as well as a lot of dangerous practical jokes and things like that. Yeah, and if you couldn’t take it, if you couldn’t hack it — you’re a girl, you’re a wuss, you know, you were treated like shit. You weren’t one of the boys, basically.

Are there any memories of the slaughterhouse that have particularly stuck with you?

The scream of the goats. It would sound like a child being tortured. And they would scream a lot of times when you didn’t electro-stun them properly — they’d scream and they’d jump and they’d bark. They’d bash their heads on the side of the race and open up wounds. And seeing other people, as I say, take crowbars and chains to animals. It’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life. But particularly the screams of the animals — it sounds too human.

You know they know it’s not right and you know within yourself it’s not right. But in pursuit of the almighty dollar many people will do many things.



For more information on slaughterhouse work, I recommend:

The Psychological Damage of Slaughterhouse Work’ in PTSD Journal (short article based on academic research).

Meatworkers, especially women, prone to violence: study’ by Danielle Bowling (short article based on academic research).

Caught in the Gears: The Dangers of Slaughterhouse Work’ by Faunalytics (summary of a study by Human Rights Watch).

Slaughterhouse Workers’ by Food Empowerment Project (shortish overview of research on the topic).

Slaughterhouses and Increased Crime Rates’ by Amy J. Fitzgerald, Linda Kalof, Thomas Dietz (academic journal article).

Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry’ by Gail A. Eisnitz (book).

Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

By Katie



Image from Bernhard Staehli / shutterstock


Jennifer Ludden has recently published an article asking the question: Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

My answer? No.

Read the scientific predictions for climate change. Consider what future your child will have. I’m scared about what the world will be like when I’m 40, but at least I will have had 39 years to live a ‘normal’ life, pre-climate change disaster.

My privileged Western kid will produce far more emissions than a kid in Burundi. (Yes, even if they are vegan and an amazing ethical eco person! Vegans and ethical people – you don’t get a free pass at breeding!) But ultimately who will suffer the most under climate change? The kid in Burundi. And my kid will help to add more suffering through their environmental impact.



Image from The Weather Channel on Youtube


So, no. No good reason to choose to bring a kid into this world. You do it for your own selfish reasons, to propagate your DNA and have a little version of you that you believe is a special snowflake and not something that cost you half a mil and shits on you (literally!).

That’s not even to mention what kind of world they would be living in if the climate doesn’t continue to go to hell. I’m not bringing a girl into this world. Knowing she has a 1/3 chance of experiencing violence? No. I will never have to come to the realisation that I could not protect my own child from family violence or sexual violence.

The worst part is being one of those childfree people that loves kids and fantasises about being able to have my own kids in a perfect world. So many childfree people hate kids. It’s so easy for them. But I have to watch others experience it, get all the adulation and recognition by our pro-breeding society, knowing that I am choosing to opt out and not experience being a parent. Because it’s in the best interest of the planet, the other animals we annihilate with our breeding, and that little kid in Burundi.



Image from

The Greens and the Myth of “Green” Capitalism

By Nick Pendergrast


green capitalism


We recently did a podcast episode where we explained how we’re voting this election. We got some feedback questioning why we’re voting for far-left parties like the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Greens in the Senate. This has a lot to do with the limitations of “green” capitalism.


We are anti-capitalists, so feel we have more in common with an anti-capitalist party like the Socialist Alliance than pro-capitalist parties like the Greens (even though we’re not state socialists). More specifically though, while we like and respect the Greens and think they have a lot of positive, progressive policies, we also acknowledge that they support (and are one of the biggest proponents of) the idea of “green” growth and “green” capitalism. They do not fundamentally challenge Turnbull’s “jobs and growth” mantra but simply tweak it to “green jobs and green growth”.


green jobs


We have done a whole episode challenging this idea of “green” capitalism, featuring sociologist Dr Caleb Goods, who did his PhD on the topic of “green” jobs and “green” capitalism generally. I thought a graph from his book Greening Auto Jobs: A Critical Analysis of the Green Jobs Solution, which we discussed on that episode and is displayed below, is particular telling. It shows that fossil fuel emissions have only ever gone down in times of economic downturn and up in times of economic growth. So for those concerned about the environment, it makes sense to challenge this idea of growth, which is an inherent part of capitalism.


growth graph


While we hope that the Greens get more votes than the two major parties, we are preferencing parties like the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Greens, to encourage the Greens to challenge growth. On episode 136, we discuss preferential voting and why it makes sense to preference parties taking the climate emergency more seriously than the Greens, for example by challenging growth. This can send a message to the Greens – just as the Greens encourage people to vote for them to send a message to Labor.



prefential voting


I hope that more people voting for parties like the Socialist Alliance who challenge economic growth will encourage the Greens to embrace the idea of degrowth. I believe that to take the climate emergency seriously, a move towards a degrowth economy is essential.

(Animal Justice) Party Poopers: Why we’re Not Voting for the Animal Justice Party, even though we’re Vegans

By Nick and Katie




Katie’s bit – the personalised, passionate part

For anyone assuming I would vote for the Animal “Justice” Party because I believe in animal rights and social justice, you’re wrong. This is the party that preferences the Liberal party. Their candidate attacked me and destroyed the animal rights group I was with, leaving me in a deep depression. One of their people said they would support homophobic legislation if it meant passing their animal welfare Bill. The worst kind of vegans are those who only care about animals and not any other social justice causes.


strange bedfellows

Image from – there were problems with the Animal Justice Party preferencing right-wing, racist, homophobic etc parties last election. Same again this time.


Nick’s bit – the impersonal, boring part

Preferencing the Liberal Party

The Animal Justice Party ‘supporting the re-election of Jason Wood [from the Liberal party] in the seat of La Trobe’ is a good example of their single issue, “it’s all about the animals” approach. They argue that they have done this because he supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies from hunting in Africa (hardly a controversial position in the West) and because he supported legislation to stop animal testing of cosmetics in Australia. This is despite the fact that Labor and the Greens also support this legislation along with the Liberal and National Coalition – it is going to get through anyway. Nevertheless, they ‘will preference him over his rivals’. This is because they argue that: ‘Any politician that supports decent treatment of animals, regardless of party, deserves our support’ (my italics).


This support is despite his atrocious voting record on human rights and social justice issues, which you’d expect from a Liberal party politician:

  • Voted very strongly against increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management.
  • Voted very strongly against implementing refugee and protection conventions.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing protection of Australia’s fresh water.
  • Voted very strongly for privatising government assets.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing funding for university education.
  • Voted very strongly against extending government benefits to same-sex couples.
  • Voted very strongly for decreasing availability of welfare payments.


I guess all of this is beside the point for a party that solely focuses on (non-human) animals – humans are animals too! These issues are not even raised as concerns for the Animal Justice Party, who focus solely on his attitudes towards non-human animals. Interestingly, Wood’s voting record also shows a complete disregard for the environment:

  • Voted very strongly against a carbon price.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing marine conservation.
  • Voted very strongly for unconventional gas mining.


Crossovers between Different Issues

Wood’s voting record on these policies affects not just the environment as a whole but non-human animals specifically, who are harmed and killed as a result of environmental impacts such as climate change and loss of habitat. This demonstrates the crossover between environmental and animal rights issues. Indeed, there are strong links between all social justice issues, including human rights issues as well.



We care deeply about non-human animals but unlike the Animal Justice Party, that is not our single focus. We also see how the oppression of non-human animals shares similarities with and intersects with other forms of oppression, which we also view as important issues in their own right. For more on why we support an intersectional approach to animal advocacy, which views other issues such as human rights and environmental issues as also important, you can hear our talk ‘Intersectionality in Practice’ or listen to episode 93 of our podcast, which includes this talk and further discussion on intersectionality:



Cartoon by


Policies Towards Non-Human Animals

Any party’s policies towards non-human animals are going to be limited within the current animal welfare framework, including the Animal Justice Party. They focus on ‘the phase out of factory farming’ and ‘the rapid phase out of live export and the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning for any reason; including religious beliefs’. So basically we’re left with the “humane” slaughter of animals, which we think is nowhere near enough to take the interests of non-human animals seriously – cutting their life short is a harm in itself. Their position on this is understandable, as no party will gain any traction calling for a complete end to animal slaughter. However, despite some important exceptions such as mentioning plant-based diets and opposing the kangaroo cull, their current policy for the vast majority of non-human animals who are killed by humans, which is for food, is the same as parties like the Greens – more “humane” slaughter.


The Animal Justice Party has (very slightly) better policies towards non-human animals than progressive parties like the Greens. However, it would only make sense for us to vote them if non-human animals were our singular focus. That is why we will be voting for progressive parties whose current policies towards non-human animals are inadequate (as are the Animal Justice Party’s), but who, unlike the Animal Justice Party, have strong positions on a wide range of other issues we care about, such as opposing the horrible treatment of refugees, addressing economic inequality and protecting the environment.


How We’re Voting This Election

1. Socialist Alliance
2. Australian Progressives
3. The Greens
4. Australian Sex Party
5. Pirate Party
6. Drug Law Reform


House of Representatives:
1. HODGINS-MAY Steph – The Greens
2. McKENZIE-KIRKBRIGHT Levi – Drug Law Reform
3. VON DOUSSA Henry – Marriage Equality
4. DANBY Michael – Australian Labor Party
5. SMYTH Robert Millen – Animal Justice Party
6. HOLLAND Peter – Independent
7. GUEST Owen – Liberal
8. MYERS John B – Independent


Why We’re Voting This Way

We discuss why we’ve ordered the parties in this way on episode 138 of our podcast:

The Importance of Veganism: A Historical Perspective*

By Nick Pendergrast

*This article was originally published on the 17th of March 2012, on the site This site is no longer active, which is why I’m adding the article here. If you’re new to veganism and would like to find out more, check out my articles on what is veganism? and why vegan for animals, the environment and health.


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Lately “veg*nism” seems to be everywhere. I see people talk about “veg*n” food when all the food is vegan, people encouraging others to support “veg*n” restaurants or businesses, and people saying it is pointless to talk to “veg*ns” about animal rights because it is “preaching to the converted.”

I also see many groups and individuals saying that if you’re already “veg” or “vego”, then try to convince others – as if there is nothing to be gained for non-human animals by avoiding other animal products beyond flesh.

It also seems common for people to be vegan at home and vegetarian when they eat out. At a vegetarian restaurant where I live in Perth, Australia, they even give away a free dairy bubble tea with any meal on Monday to congratulate people for supporting Meat Free Mondays.

free dairy drink on meat free mondays

Leave out the meat and get a dairy drink instead?

Animal Flesh as the “Ultimate Evil”

The idea that flesh is the “ultimate evil” rather than just one of many products that involve the exploitation of other animals is very dominant in the animal advocacy movement. But is this idea a valid one?

I believe that Leah Leneman’s article ‘No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 1909-1944‘ sheds some light on this. Back in 1847, when The Vegetarian Society was set up, they justified the consumption of dairy and eggs on the basis that it was not necessary for animals to be killed to produce these products.

This idea was challenged in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (The Vegetarian Society’s magazine) from 1909-1912, with many different people pointing out that dairy and egg products involve the slaughter of the males who cannot produce the desired product. Also explained was the slaughter inevitably waiting the females once they were no longer producing enough eggs or dairy to be profitable. Finally, others also pointed to the separation of the mother and her calf in the dairy industry – her calves will be stolen away and slaughtered for veal so she can be continually impregnated to produce dairy.


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In 1911 and 1912, there were a few vegetarians who attempted to challenge the idea that suffering and death were inherent to the dairy and egg industries in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review. However, after 1912, such arguments were not made in this magazine again.

Justifying Vegetarianism based on Practical Considerations

After this point, the Vegetarian Society justified the consumption of dairy and eggs based on practical, rather than ethical considerations. Veganism was seen as too difficult, so while the Vegetarian Society accepted that dairy and eggs could not be justified ethically, they argued that it was too difficult to give up all animal products and that vegetarianism was a transitional stage to a more humane, “pure vegetarian” diet that avoided dairy and eggs as well as flesh.

It has been about 100 years since the Vegetarian Society has attempted to justify consuming dairy and eggs ethically. So what about the argument that it is just too difficult to give up all animal products?

Referring back to Leneman’s article, the first vegan cookbook in Britain, No Animal Food, was written by C.W. Daniel and published in 1910. The review of this book by the editor of The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review explained that these recipes showed that it was ‘not at all impossible to obtain a variety of palatable dishes without recourse to either eggs or milk.’

In 1964, Eva Batt explained that ‘veganism is by no means concerned only with food; vegans deplore the slaughter or exploitation of any creature for any reason.’ She also explained some of the forms of exploitation that vegans avoid, including those involved in food, clothing, entertainment and household products. Batt explained that: ‘This may seem a formidable list…However, for all the above there are humane alternatives.’

In the same article, Batt went on to say that: ‘Putting  veganism  into  practice  will  require  a  little  patience,  some  knowledge  of nutrition (which is easily learned and is a most rewarding study) and perhaps a bit of help from other vegans who have acquired local knowledge about the availability in the  area  of  pure  foods,  humane  clothing  and  household  products.’ Keep in mind, this was in 1964.

eva batt

Eva Batt – image from

I recently published an article explaining the gains for veganism in 2011 alone, in terms of awareness of veganism and the reasons for becoming vegan, as well as increased vegan options in supermarkets and restaurants. Think of how far veganism has come since 1964.

The internet has made things so much easier now. Unlike in 1964, anyone with internet access can easily find numerous websites, podcasts and books on vegan nutrition. Humane clothingpersonal and household products are also easy to find. Vegan mentor programs and 30 day vegan challenge programs can provide support for people making the transition to veganism.

rise of veganism

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At What Point Will the “Transitional Phase” End?

In the early 1900s, the Vegetarian Society admitted the problems with dairy and eggs, however, saw vegetarianism as a practical step on the transition to a vegan diet. Unfortunately, this transition does not seem to have happened.

They continue to encourage people to give up flesh but not eggs and dairy, even speaking of the “virtues” of “free-range” eggs, which involve the slaughter of animals, while elsewhere on their website challenging the idea of “humane” slaughter.


Male chicks being killed in the egg industry, a standard practice because males do not lay eggs, so are not profitable to the industry. Image from Vegan Outreach.

But this prioritisation of flesh is quite arbitrary and unnecessary. Not only do dairy and eggs involve the slaughter of other animals, but dairy has the additional cruelty of the continual separation of mother and calf. In fact I’ve heard many people convincingly make the case that dairy actually involves more suffering than flesh.


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When I was vegetarian, I obviously gave up flesh, but increased my intake of dairy and eggs. As a result, I was possibly contributing to more animal suffering and death than before.

I won’t assume every vegetarian was the same as me – some may not increase their intake of dairy and eggs. However, if we accept that products like dairy are just as bad as flesh, then are vegans still “preaching to the converted” when talking to vegetarians?

If someone totally gave up dairy but continued to eat flesh and eggs, as well as wearing animal products like leather, and using household products that contain animal products and testing, would we think it would be pointless talking to this person about animal rights as we’re “preaching to the converted”? Of course not – but this is much the same as someone who does not eat flesh but is otherwise engaged in animal exploitation.

Of course individual vegetarians may refuse to consume leather and may avoid household products that are tested on animals. However, there is nothing inherent to vegetarianism that requires avoiding such exploitation – vegetarianism is a diet. This is contrast to veganism, which goes beyond diet and is about considering non-human animals in all of the choices that we make.

veg vegan

In 2012, with more vegan options than ever before, it is important that we advocate for veganism, which means advocating for all non-human animals. Not just those raised and slaughtered for their flesh, not just those used for food – but all non-human animals that are exploited by humans – whether for clothing, entertainment, or whatever other purpose.

When I interviewed Patty Mark from Animal Liberation Victoria for my PhD thesis, she explained that in the 1980s, they were concerned about using the word “vegetarian” because it might put people off and marginalise the organisation as too radical.

Now vegetarian is such a mainstream term – but this is only because people used the word, promoted vegetarianism, and demanded vegetarian options. We can do the same with veganism, and it has never been easier to do so.

If The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and the ABC are happy to talk about veganism – though they generally only focus on the dietary aspect – surely vegan animal advocates can also embrace the term, and encourage a fuller appreciation of it?

Let’s Promote Veganism, Not Veg*nism

The debate over whether animal products beyond flesh involve suffering and death to non-human animals was resolved by 1912. Vegans such as Donald Watson and Eva Batt also showed that it was very possible to live without animal products even decades and decades ago, meaning that there was never a need for the “transitional” phase of vegetarianism. With mainstream awareness of veganism and increasing vegan options, the argument that we are still in a “transitional” phase where animal products like dairy and eggs are not desirable ethically but are too difficult to avoid is even less convincing.

With all of this in mind, now has never been a better time to be vegan, and to promote veganism. This does not mean being hostile to vegetarians or anyone else who isn’t a vegan. Rather, veganism can be promoted in a positive way, highlighting the benefits of avoiding animal products, rather than dwelling on the animal products people are currently consuming – flesh or otherwise.

The problems with our relationship with other animals go well beyond the consumption of flesh. Being vegan, and promoting veganism rather than veg*nism, shows that avoiding animal products beyond flesh is a really important and positive step to take on behalf of non-human animals.

Opposing ALL Forms of Homophobia in Light of the Orlando Attack*

By Nick Pendergrast

It is horrible to hear what has happened in Orlando. This terrorist attack was inspired by homophobic outrage at seeing two men kissing. In order to address such extreme acts of violent homophobia, we have to tackle homophobia (and any form of queerphobia) all of the way along the spectrum of the ‘continuum  of violence’.

Continuum of violence (Hollomotz)

Image from Hollomotz (2013) in the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence.

Whether it is homophobic language, attacks on important programs that support queer youth like Safe Schools, or mass acts of violence like occurred in Orlando, they are all based on the same homophobic thinking and all have the same effect in terms of keeping queer people marginalised.

I have been watching Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the attack and it is not enough to just condemn this violence at the extreme end of the spectrum, while supporting the attacks on Safe Schools that address issues such as social exclusion and stigma. To meaningfully stand against this attack you have to stand against all homophobia and queerphobia.


*This post has since been expanded into an article on New Matilda. Please check out the article there and share it around, thanks!