Human life is made up of paradoxes. Perhaps even the world, in general, is made of paradoxes, but I care little about the world in general without first analyzing human life, since it is from there that I observe the rest. How many times (per day, I would add) the most intense passions do not touch hatred, or how many times are the most brilliant scientists in everyone’s eyes ashamed of their profound ignorance?
Attention, that the paradox is constituted exactly by the fact that it is not an alternation. The two lovers do not hate each other “sometimes”, nor does the scientist have any breaches of trust “sometimes”. No. They are simultaneous. It is precisely because of the excess of passion that hatred burns, as it is because of knowing so much, that ignorance is discovered. Attention, too, that the paradox is not an inconsistency. No. It is exactly the coherent attempt to live the passion that generates hatred, just as it is through intellectual coherence that self-ignorance is reached. In this case, it is useless to discuss whether it is good or bad, just know that it is so.
Well, so does Reason. Reason, the free debate of ideas, the best mechanism that Humanity invented to escape blind dogmatism is, paradoxically, founded on truths considered dogmatic. Scientific thought, for example, dogmatically assumes that the world exists, is governed by constant laws over time, that these laws are within the reach of our intelligence and that we are improving their understanding by confronting different views.
For all these reasons, Democracy, being part of human life, and, in particular, Liberal Democracy, born from the Enlightenment values that favor the debate of ideas, inherits the need to, paradoxically, have its roots in dogmas, or absolute principles , which the Western world after World War II fixed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This means that the people, through the democratic process, can decide what they want as long as they maintain a certain level of respect for the individual. It is in this paradigm that they were written: that of the individual.
Not being an expert in history or law, I think I can say that the entire process that culminated in UDHR, from Classical Antiquity to the Magna Carta and the French and American revolutions, constituted an evolution in the understanding that each human being has value in itself, that is, that human life should be valued regardless of the context of birth (be it temporal, ethnic, social or economic) and the decisions taken (whether religious, sexual or political).
Each society must have made its contribution to History and that of Modern Western Civilization was, without a doubt, the Individual. To question the intrinsic value of each human being, be it in the form of overvaluing the class, as communists do, of ethnicity, as racists do, or for the undervaluing of species, as animalists do, is to call Western Civilization into question. yourself. Perhaps, one might think that an exaggeration when joining the last three groups, since the first two were responsible for the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century and the last one wants only “the good of animals”. But it is a question of coherence of argument and of assessing the practical (political) consequence of each other’s ideas, all of which are opposed to those of Humanism.
The animalist theory, under which, in the Portuguese political panorama, the PAN is inscribed, is one that says that humans, being just another animal species, have no more value than the rest. Harmless? And when this leads the State to spend resources on tax benefits for those who have domestic animals or on any type of animal SNS (both measures that became famous in the PAN electoral program for the last legislative ones), is it still harmless? Perhaps not so much, given that, in a country with limited resources, having a party with the previous proposals is, simultaneously, having a party that chose not to allocate these resources in tax benefits for families with more children (human, for pro-PAN minds) ) or a strengthening of the (human) SNS.
What is happening is a cultural revolution and a paradigm shift. There are more and more people who would save their dog instead of a (un) known neighbor from drowning. Humanism is in bankruptcy not because it is wrong, but because it has failed to recognize in Animalism a fatal enemy. It is up to each one to decide which world he prefers.
Equidistantly, it is also possible to find a hybrid mentality, typical of times of transition between paradigms, of those who call themselves humanist, but which already embraces some animalistic themes. They are those who defend that the State should be focused on each person and, at the same time, see bullfighting and / or meat consumption as an act of cruelty towards animals. It is not possible, in my opinion, to maintain such a position, as if trying to have the best of both perspectives. It’s because?
First, because these hybrids are purely arbitrary. If it is possible to have a vegan diet (even if there is a base of supplements), eating meat is nowadays a mere luxury, so there is no reason for anyone to eat meat if they are opposed to the animal suffering of bullfighting, horseback riding or hunting. Likewise, it is purely arbitrary, almost schizophrenic, to defend, simultaneously, that there is no reason to consider human beings superior to other species and that the State should give priority to people when it manages its resources.
Secondly, because “the best of both perspectives” is, in fact, in Humanism, which, recognizing the human being as unique by its intrinsic value, decides the value of everything by its relationship with the human being. Thus, Amazonian trees have absolutely no value in themselves: it is their role in the lives of future generations that gives them value and makes their preservation necessary. Evidently, the same reasoning gives value to the oceans, the atmosphere, animal life and etc. … A mature Humanism is necessarily responsible from an ecological and environmental point of view. It does not do so only because of the sacredness of the sister-tree or the brother-dog, but because it recognizes the crucial importance of caring for the environment and the preservation of complex ecosystems for future human lives.
Of course, the world we live in has flaws, so dialogue about new paradigms is always useful. My only concern is that, wanting to plug some holes, we will see each other with Swiss cheese. Note that between saying that humans are as valuable as any other species and concluding that humans are the cause of greatest destruction on Earth and, therefore, for the sake of other species, if they should be extinguished, only goes the very logical step of lose shame. Although they are not widely discussed in Portugal, these are themes with followers in the Anglo-Saxon world and with projections in movements such as the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
How, then, should Western civilized thought position itself on animal violence? Well, emphasizing its humanistic essence, as I mentioned earlier, by its relationship with humans. If, absurdly, animals did not have any kind of relationship or impact on human life (be it food, affective …) animal violence would be a non-issue, as is violence against glass bottles. However, it is not so simple. Our relationship with the animal world is as old as our own species and often marks us on an emotional level, being able to heal and traumatize, sustain and kill us. The answer cannot, therefore, be exhaustive, running all the problems with the same solution. If that were the case and we chose the solution that it is not lawful to cause animal suffering in any situation, we would be immediately paralyzed, each one dying in the place where we found ourselves, not of age, but of inertia, since each step we take affects an infinity of beings. In that case, once again, we could not draw arbitrary lines that showed mercy for a cow, a dog or a cat, but were blind to germs, spiders and mice.
This criterion of the relationship with humans is what makes me say that natural habitats must be preserved and that poaching of endangered species must be criminalized, but also that laws that define minimum sizes for long-term livestock cages distances are absurd, inasmuch as this does not contribute to the quality of said livestock as human food. That is, if it is possible to take more chickens in a truck without affecting their quality as a source of food, then let us not stop thinking about the comfort of these chickens, increasing the cost of feeding human populations. Likewise, dog or cockfights are highly reprehensible as creators of violent human environments, but hunting foxes in good British fashion raises no objection because it has always been an activity experienced as a civilized sport.
This is where the real question lies: why do we humans do it and what is its impact on future humans? Humanist thinking can never allow the harmful animalistic question of compassion for animals for all the reasons I have tried to explain above, related to arbitrariness and the harmful consequences for modern Western civilization.
This whole framework was necessary to be able, now, to discuss the legitimacy of bullfights. It is important to start by saying that bullfighting meets the criterion of impact on humans: there is no statistical reason (ideological there is always) to believe that watching a …