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Finding food: Libertarian thoughts

When people speak of libertarianism, the words ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are usually used to describe the party’s philosophy on politics and life in general.  Freedom of choice is a cornerstone of the libertarian philosophy, and is triumphed in many ways by the party: lassiez faire economics triumphs economic freedom, hands-off government policies and civil libertarianism triumph social freedom, and non-intervention policies triumph the freedom and self-determination of other countries.  What then, can libertarianism say about the problem of finding a food source?

When confronted with a problem, libertarian Penn Jillette usually asks himself this scintillating question: “Is it possible we can solve [this problem] with more freedom instead of less?”  Applying Penn’s logic to the problem of finding a food source, we are confronted with this question: “How can we solve the problem of finding a food source that protects the freedom of both the eater and the eaten?”  Freedom is all about consent.  Without consent, any act can be seen as unjust and hindering to the cause of freedom and liberty.  In libertarian circles, this principal is called the non-aggression axiom.  It states that the use of force is illegitimate and defines force (or aggression) as an unsolicited action taken against a person or their property, using violence or the threat of violence to accomplish this end. Love given freely is love, but forced love is rape.  Because animals cannot give consent to their death as a food source, the only ethical food source becomes vegetable matter.

Animals are more like humans than we are ready to admit.  Animals feel pain and pleasure just like us.  Anyone who has a pet well knows that animals are completely capable of emotions like joy, sorrow, anger, boredom, curiosity, and the whole spectrum of feelings.  How can we deny this fact?  Humans and animals, and the rest of the living and creatures on this planet, have descended from one common ancestor.  Humans just won the lottery of evolution, if you could even say that.  Chimpanzees use tools just like us.  Dolphins have brains that are very similar to ours.  The list goes on.  To say that animals are fundamentally different from humans is a laughable joke.  Animals do not give consent to be killed and eaten, and do not reap any benefits from their forced, premature death.

With these facts evident, how can we continue to slaughter animals as if they were only objects?  To look at this problem a different way, imagine if a super-advanced alien race came to Earth and began to slaughter the human race for a source of food.  Would you consent to yourself and your loved ones being killed just because these aliens are ‘more intelligent’ than us?  I should think not.  The same logic applies to animals.

Conversely, plants and vegetative matter give consent to being eaten by their very nature.  Seeds have evolved to withstand the digestive effects of animal stomachs and intestines.  In fact, it is by this method that many plants varieties spread, through the efforts of birds and other woodland creatures.  Fruits and vegetables have evolved to posses bright colors and sweet or savory flavors in order to attract the palate of the animal kingdom.  Plants inherently give consent by their nature and also reap immediate, physical benefits from being eaten.

I do not mean to speak for every libertarian when I assert that vegetarianism is the only ethical choice as an answer to our problem of finding a food source.  Many libertarians would sooner champion freedom of choice for the eater, rather than the eaten, because the libertarian cause focuses mostly on the behavior of humans, not animals.  I do not mean to discredit anything they have to say, I am simply stating the truth as I see it.

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