Best, 07 – Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso (Steven, 2007, “Commonalities of Oppression: Speciesism, Racism, and Sexism”, KONTOPOULOS) Word Doc
A Tale of Two Holocausts “We have been at war with the other creatures of this earth ever since the first human hunter set forth with spear into the primeval forest. Human imperialism has everywhere enslaved, oppressed, murdered, and mutilated the animal peoples. All around us lie the slave camps we have built for our fellow creatures, factory farms and vivisection laboratories, Dachaus and Buchenwalds for the conquered species. We slaughter animals for our food, force them to perform silly tricks for our delectation, gun them down and stick hooks in them in the name of sport. We have torn up the wild places where once they made their homes. Speciesism is more deeply entrenched within us even than sexism, and that is deep enough.” Ronnie Lee, founder of the Animal Liberation Front Patterson argues that the US roots of German Nazism grew not only through the widespread influence of eugenics, but also through the industrialized slaughter of animals. Both ideologically (racism and eugenics) and technologically (mass production/destruction models), Nazis took their inspiration from the US, such that “the road to Auschwitz traveled through America” and ultimately “begins at the slaughterhouse.”[xii] More than anyone else in the US, automobile mogul Henry Ford helped paved the way to Auschwitz and Dachau. Ford was a rabid anti-Semite who began in 1920 to publish screeds against the Jews through his weekly newspaper. Ford organized his columns as a book and The International Jew sold a half-million copies in the US and Europe and “became the bible of the postwar anti-Semitic movement.”[xiii] Hitler extolled Ford’s book and disseminated it widely among officers and troops. Hitler regarded Ford as a pioneer, visionary, and comrade, declaring that “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration” – so much so that he even kept a life-size portrait of Ford in his office.[xiv] Ford proudly received the honors bestowed on him, and a Ford subsidiary company was a major supplier of vehicles for the German army. In addition to his virulent anti-Semitism, Ford helped to incubate German Nazism in another key way through the development of industrial technology methods. The same techniques that Ford pioneered for the mass production of automobiles were used by Nazis for the administration of mass killing. A crucial but little-known fact, however, is that these techniques were first developed in the slaughterhouses for the kind of streamlined killing and disassembly of animal bodies such as were required to satisfy growing consumer demand for meat. In 1865, amidst the colossal stockyards of Chicago, meatpackers introduced the conveyor belt to increase the speed and efficiency of the killing. Slaughterhouses pioneered the division of labor techniques – whereby a grisly team of “knockers,” “splitters,” “boners,” and “trimmers” specialized in different tasks --used for all subsequent forms of mass production.Ford’s visit to a Chicago slaughterhouse inspired his adaptation of assembly line and division of labor techniques to churn out an endless procession of identical automobiles. But the technological grafting did not end there. “As the twentieth century would demonstrate,” Patterson observes, “it was but one step from the industrialized killing of American slaughterhouses to Nazi Germany’s assembly-line mass murder.”[xv] Thus, historians should look not to Henry Ford as the innovator of mass production, but rather to meatpacking giants Gustavus Swift and Philip Armour.[xvi] To facilitate their brutal butchery, Nazis aimed to make killing people seem like slaughtering animals. The “Might is Right” ideology that humans employ to justify their brutality against animals was central to Nazi ideology, for, as Hitler stated: “Man owes everything that is of importance of the principle of struggle and to one race [Aryan race] which has carried itself forward successfully. Take away the Nordic Germans and nothing remains but the dance of apes.”[xvii] Hitler’s basic outlook was that nature is ruled by the law of struggle, and he summarized his worldview in this way: “He who does not possess power loses the right to life.”[xviii] In the rationalized production systems of Chicago and Auschwitz, the goal is speed, efficiency, and maximized killing, and the process unfolds through a division of labor with workers specializing in different tasks. Similarly, from transportation to gassing, by way of a gigantic social production line, Nazis tried to keep the movement of prisoners constant, such that as quickly and smoothly as possible one group followed another to their doom. As with slaughterhouses, the sick and lame were cleared away. Both animals and humans were crammed together and transported in mass in rail cars to their final destination. The Nazis shipped Jews to their death in cattle cars, they temporarily unloaded them in slaughterhouses where they were confined in animal pens, and then dispatched them to their death through the same rail lines paths used to transport and slaughter animals.