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However, my intention here is not to say that all we need to do is extend the realm of human rights to include animals, to bring them into the human universe—this is basically the agenda of animal rights defenders, which is totally fine.But if these changes were implemented within the existing capitalist regime, we would end up with something like animal citizenship, with related attributes like border control, dealing with illegal animals trying to reach happy European fields from forests on the global periphery, and so on.First of all, let’s see how the Revolution dealt with animals and other nonhumans, or with those who were “not human enough.” After the October Revolution of 1917, the idea of a “revolution in nature” and even of a “struggle against nature” was continuously advanced in all spheres of the nascent Soviet society.
The title of this essay paraphrases the famous expression “Socialism with a human face,” which refers back to 1968, to the events in Czechoslovakia known as the Prague Spring, but also to the Soviet 1980s, the time of the late Soviet Union prior to perestroika, when the idea of changing the very nature of so-called “really existing socialism” from the inside according to human/democratic values was still popular among dissidents.
Apparently, it was not a renewed and more refined socialism, but a good old capitalism which entered this space under the mask of the human.
If this concrete biped is recognized as human, regardless of his or her gender, race, or ethnicity, then this individual must have documents and the right to vote, the right to life, the right to property, and so on.
He or she pays taxes to the state to which he or she is attached as a citizen, so that this state will provide for his or her security.
I would rather like to claim that the class struggle has to be carried forward by those who appear as nonhumans, or even as unhuman monsters, like the Hollywood aliens that symbolized communism during the Cold War. It goes beyond the human and human rights, towards animality.
This idea was perfectly drawn by Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky in his “Ode to Revolution”: “You send sailors / To the sinking cruiser / there / where a forgotten kitten was mewing.” This image of revolution is striking and powerful. There is something absurd and irrational in the excessive generosity of the revolutionary gesture depicted by Mayakovsky—imagine how crazy an army commander would have to be to send a battalion of sailors, adult armed men, to risk their lives for the sake of some forgotten, tiny, politically insignificant creature.
They are living in the streets, in the basements of houses, and in slums, even as they enable the prosperity and economic growth of these glorious states through their low-paid or unpaid labor.
The institutions of human rights and citizen rights are based on the exclusion of nonhumans and noncitizens.
It is not a matter of the predominance and superiority of one species over the other, but a matter of taking everything into account.
As long as inequality remains untouched at the interspecies level, equality of people, too, can never be realized.