Dear Mr Magdoff, Dear Mr Foster,
Thank you for writing What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism. I have just finished it and it stimulated my thinking. I do believe you are right and that our present system is part and parcel of the problem, and that we need to rethink it, into a totally different system. I will look, in my own work and life, how I can take your message to heart.
But please allow me to make an attempt at stimulating your thinking. I do not want to take any moral high ground. It’s just that we all have our pet social issues that lie closest to our hearts, and I found that you treat mine with a bit less creativity than I would have hoped for. That seemed to me to be in contrast to the emphasis you put on “new conceptions”, on out of the box thinking, on overhauling systems and practices instead of polishing them up or painting them green.
A couple of times in your book you briefly talk about our food system. In passing, you mention animal agriculture, and state that this system needs to change too. You talk e.g. about raising animals on the same farms that produce their feed. But why be so conservative? My concept of a fair and just world is one that is fair not only for humans, but for all sentient beings. Why prolong the system of our exploitation of other species? Just as you believe the greening of our economy is not a sufficient solution to achieve fairness for all, I believe that making animal agriculture more humane or sustainable is insufficient to achieve fairness. On the very last page of your book you quote Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s refrain “what – about – the people?” You write: if there is to be any hope of significantly improving the conditions of the vast number of the world’s inhabitants – many of whom are living hopelessly under the most severe conditions – while also preserving the earth as a livable planet, we need a system that constantly asks “what about the people (..) instead of how much money can I make?” What if we read the word “inhabitants” with non-human animals in mind? What if we would add the need for the question “’and what about other living beings’ instead of ‘how can I make sure I can keep satisfying my taste buds with dead animals’”?
In my opinion, if we want to be and act *really* fair, we might want to question whether we can still justify the killing and eating of animals while (at least in the west) there are enough cruelty-free, environmentally friendlier and healthier options available. It is a tough question and not one that I expect everyone to ask at this point, but it is one that, in all humility, I hope to be allowed to expect from idealist out of the box thinkers like yourselves.
Perhaps, like many other people, at some point you may ask yourselves this question too. Even if you don’t, thank you anyway for writing your wonderful book. And thanks for reading.