Activists + > Literature > Non-Fiction
Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights

Jan 08
[Infoshop News]
Review by Bob Torres

"The centrality of classifying animals as property should not be underestimated when it comes to considering the depths of animal exploitation woven into our society and economy. Having animals categorized as property gives us the ability to exploit them as a resource for even minor human wants."

Anarchists disagree on a lot of issues but agree on others. Most would agree that hierarchy in this world--forced upon us at birth and ingrained through every aspect of culture is unacceptable. Most would agree society reinforces hierarchy through its many institutions, and that hand-in-hand with hierarchy comes unequal wealth and power distribution. And again, most anarchists would agree that capitalism has a huge role in oppressing and exploiting people; domination and hierarchy thrive in the fertile ground of an economic system that views people as units for production. But just how do animals fit into the capitalist equation? That's a question asked by social anarchist Bob Torres in the book, Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights. Torres takes a fresh and fascinating look at the way we treat animals, and in presenting his argument that animals are just as much a part of the corporate machine as humans, he argues that with a "baseline" of veganism:

"As a needless and unnecessary form of hierarchy, anarchists should reject the consumption, enslavement, and subjugation of animals for human ends, and identify it as yet another oppressive aspect of the relations of capital and a needless form of domination."


full story:

Newswise -- A new book by a St. Lawrence University sociology professor explores the intersections between human and animal oppressions in relation to "the exploitative dynamics of capitalism."

"Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights," by Assistant Professor of Sociology Robert J. Torres, is published by AK Press and is due out in November 2007. ...
Torres is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, with a master's degree and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is the co-author, with St. Lawrence Director of the Language Resource Center/Instructor of Modern Languages Jenna Torres, of the popular book "Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World" and is co-editor of the forthcoming book "Nanotechnology, Social Change and the Environment."

full story:

Making a Killing is a rare and powerful example of first-rate scholarship, a searing critique, and lively declaration of the rights of animals and humans. You will walk away from this book with a clear understanding as to why social justice movements for people must take animal rights seriously, and vice versa. Bob Torres has forever deepened my thinking about these relationships."--David Naguib Pellow, vegetarian, animal rights and anti-racist activist, and Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego; and author of "Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago" and "Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice"

Challenging Conventional Anti-Capitalist Thinking

Suggest to the average leftist that animals should be part of broader liberation struggles and--once they stop laughing--you'll find yourself casually dismissed. With a focus on labor, property, and the life of commodities, Making a Killing contains key insights into the broad nature of domination, power, and hierarchy. It explores the intersections between human and animal oppressions and their relation to the exploitative dynamics of capitalism. Combining nuts and bolts Marxist political economy, a pluralistic anarchist critique, as well as a searing assessment of the animal rights movement, Bob Torres challenges conventional anti-capitalist thinking and convincingly advocates for the abolition of animals in industry--and on the dinner plate.

Why I Wrote Making A Killing

The Left needs animal liberation, and animal liberation needs the Left. The struggle for social justice cannot be a complete project if we ignore the suffering of the least and most voiceless among us. Similarly, the animal rights movement cannot truly argue for justice for animals if it doesn't care about justice for humans. My hope is that this book will generate a discussion on the nature of hierarchy and domination within capitalism, and encourage us all to think beyond the confines that have defined our activism so far.

Exploring Overlapping Oppressions

Making A Killing queries the linkages between the exploitation of humans and animals under capitalism, using a framework rooted in---but not constrained by--Marxist political economy. Working from key social anarchist insights on domination, oppression, and hierarchy, Making A Killing calls for a new kind of activism, a holistic approach to social justice, and a realistic consideration of the flaws of both the Left and the animal rights movement.

Table of Contents

1: Taking Equality Seriously
2: Chained Commodities
3: Property, Violence, and the Roots of Oppression
4: Animal Rights and Wrongs
5: You Cannot Buy the Revolution
Fully footnoted and indexed, Making A Killing can serve as a jumping-off point for more reading in political economy, social anarchist theory, the animal rights movement, and the commoditization of animals as property.

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,