Is Gary Francione and his “approach” to abolition still relevant to vegans today?
Or, as the world gets more complex, has our thinking changed?
Before We Begin
As you read this, you need to be aware of the following.
- Francione doesn’t consider himself part of the current animal advocacy movement
- “New Welfarist” is a term Gary Francione created to otherise those on the protectionist side of animal advocacy
- The approach only works for those who are of a particular social status.
- Nothing Team Francione publishes, shows you how to talk WITH people and not AT them
The original focus of this was going to be about the language that Gary Francione, and his followers use.
How this language is actually restricting veganism and animal rights from growing and becoming a legitimate social justice issue.
The more research I did, the more I discovered that Team Francione are no longer relevant.
For those who came in late, the recent focus of Team Francione has been on what they call intersectionality.
Kind of like a Claytons kind of thing.
They have gone to great extremes to convince us that they are “intersectionalists”.
Even implying that Francione was THE pioneer of intersectionality in animal advocacy.
Funny thing is, that this runs contrary to the language they use.
For example, the Francione catch phrase is “moral schizophrenia”.
This is offensive for a multitude of reasons.
- It mocks those who have a mental illness
- It excludes those who have a mental illness
- Implies that only those who are “mentally fit” can be vegan
- It turns veganism into a club of privilege and not a social justice movement
Even though, Camp Francione have had it pointed out to them they continue to use this and other ableist terms.
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Camp Francione went to great lengths to explain why use of that term ISN’T ableist.
As you will see in defence of their ableism, they actually use ablest terms.
Or even the recent “dictionary” meme created by the Grumpy Vegans and promoted by Francione.
Which leads us to believe that Camp Francione doesn’t understand what intersectionality is about.
Lack Of Relevance
One of the things that you will see Camp Francione preach is that going vegan is easy.
They have even reinforced this by the promotion of a diet book telling us that we can “eat vegan” for less than £1 per day.
This is fine, and quite possible for those who are in a place of privilege and power, have no children and view veganism as little more than a dietary choice.
For the rest of us, this is nothing more than a pipe dream.
All this does is further entrench veganism as being something for the privileged.
High Expectations. Some Of The Time
We have seen in the past people excommunicated from Camp Francione for minor transgressions.
That only happens if Camp Francione have no use for you.
Despite advertising things that are not “Francione approved” (abolitionist or vegan), the “World Vegan Summit and Expo” is still number 1
Linda McKenzie remains in the inner-circle, despite a youtube playlist featuring people Gary Francione doesn’t approve of.
The Ecorazzi crowd are back in his good books after kicking Lauren McGrath to the curb for daring to promote others above him. Coincidence or not, it is now a platform for Camp Francione to publish thinly veiled worship articles.
Disagree With Camp Francione. Prepare For An Onslaught
As we have seen recently with what happened to Lauren McGrath while she was at Ecorazzi, if Camp Francione find something that they don’t agree with, they will launch an unrelenting attack.
These attacks are claimed to be “critiques” or “discussions”, yet the truth is that they are nothing more than cyber-bullying.
Non-violent Claim Doesn’t Equal Safety
Camp Francione tout veganism as “non violence”. This would lead you to believe that the movement is safe place for the vulnerable or marginalised.
This isn’t true.
Gary Francione’s language, psychological bullying and stalking is as violent as the physical violence we see committed against others who are also vulnerable.
That he chooses a form of violence that is not as overt as others does not make his violence any less harmful or problematic.
Call out Camp Francione on what they are doing, and get labelled as being “obsessed” with Francione.
It is acceptable for Camp Francione to spread lies, untruths, or harass and denigrate others.
After all, they are “holding people accountable”.
Such as their treatment of Carolyn Bailey and ARZone, Casey Taft and Vegan Publishers and so on.
Francione’s Work Isn’t New
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the behaviour of Camp Francione is their belief that he was the first.
Tom Reagan was talking about this long before Francione thought about vegetarianism.
Lee Hall worked with Gary Francione in the early 2000’s.
Hall’s keen interest in injecting vegan history into the dialogue would have influenced Francione’s shift from the Rain without Thunder “criteria” into direct, express support for the work of the vegan movement.
A movement that, decades earlier, had denounced animal husbandry, no matter how accommodating its forms might be, for putting humans in the master role.
A role that “has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built” (1951).
You could also say that Peter Singer was the inspiration for his theory.
Not that he would ever admit it.
When all is said and done, veganism/animal rights needs to be fluid and dynamic.
As society becomes more aware and inclusive, so does the movement.
We can’t expect society to give other animals equal consideration while we are stuck in the 80’s or even the 90’s.
For this reason alone, Francione is no longer relevant.
In closing, I am reminded of a quote I once heard.
You either evolve or you dissolve.
Francione isn’t evolving with the society’s changes, which by default means he is dissolving.
Time for that to happen and regard him as a person who once wrote a few books…
Updated: 31 July 2017 – Fixed grammar and spelling. Changed formatting