On recent Leftist British blogs there has been a recurring theme that red and green cannot come together. Green, the narrative goes, is nothing other than the ruling class imposing upon the working poor. Movements centred around ethics are mystifying discourses that attempt to obscure class antagonisms. Furthermore there are further instances of the stubbornness of Western imperialism. It must be said that these British Leftists, and aside from one they can only be given the vague title of Leftist for there is no party or organization for them to truly call themselves Communists or Socialists, are sadly unimaginative and while appearing quite resolute in their perpetuation of class warfare they offer nothing really constructive to the topics.
Perhaps there is something to the famed British common sense that leads them to posit little more than an either/or between the two or perhaps there is just something more satisfying about sticking it to those who are “sentimental” for the lives of animals at the expense of human hardship. I don’t really know. What I do find troubling is that the British Leftists seem to think any concern with the environment or animal welfare is essentially bourgeois ethics. If Marxism or Socialist philosophy cannot find some way of responding to the environmental crisis then it is does not give us a politics worthy of this century. Most of the economic and political problems of the next century will largely depend upon the environmental limits to production of capital. Issues of class will continue to determine the access to nutrition but the unsustainability of farming practices will exacerbate this to the point where I wonder if cheap eggs dependent will continue to be available. And what does a British Leftist make of poor people who do voluntarily make certain ascetic choices with regard to animal welfare and the environment? Is it any less paternal to suggest that they should wake up to the mystification of bourgeois ethics?
Perhaps the real task is not to agitate against the ethical food movements, but to find a way forward that is both Socialist and ecologically sound (which includes changing the very conditions of our relationships with non-human nature and animals). Calling for a tax upon the rich to make the cost of free range eggs more reasonable for poorer people is more radical than fighting for the right of poor people to eat shit.