We can no longer afford to deny how unfair and irresponsible our society is: our habits are dangerous and harmful, and the future of anything under humanity’s influence is uncertain. Unfortunately, many people still ignore these damning facts, or fall victim to propaganda intended to maintain the status quo, and doubt whether change is even possible. But business as usual is no longer an option, and change is inevitable.
Our vision is what drives us as an organisation. It’s not a formal document, but is (re)written by each new chairman to envelop en expound the ethos of our society.
Sentience of animals
We consider it evident that humans are not the only beings capable of experiencing feelings like pain, loneliness and pleasure. Suffering that can’t be justified shouldn’t be tolerated, and that too does not just apply to humans.
The conviction that follows from this is that our current society, in which unjustifiable suffering has become commonplace, must swiftly and drastically change. The endless cycle of generational genocide to which many defenseless species have been condemned is as indefensible as the use of child or slave labor. We are not the first generation to have to admit, at the expense of her economy, that her way of life cannot be condoned, and that it will one day be considered abhorrent by all.
The inherent rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness, once granted to each man by Thomas Jefferson, are not predicated on manliness or humanity , but are rather a direct consequence of our understanding of what it means to be sentient. We have the capacity neither to reduce nor to deny that understanding, and thus we must also grant those rights, which are its direct consequence, to individuals of other species. We cannot allow these rights to be ignored, simply because human compassion is too limited to be affected by their suffering, or because of general ignorance about the stupendous scale of suffering.
- 640 million animals were slaughtered in the Nederlands in 2017 (source, Dutch)
- 430 million kilo's of (shell)fish, and crustacians were caught by Dutch fishermen in 2016 (source, Dutch)
- More than 63 billion land animals were slaughtered worldwide in 2014 (source, German)
- 1 to 2.7 billion fish are caught yearly (source)
- 2500 studies were included in a review that demonstrates the sentience of non-human animals (source)
- 2012 was the year that the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was written (source)
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?
It is a proven fact that the biosphere of our planet, the habitat of every individual known to us, is undergoing potentially catastrophic changes as a result of our way of living. It is only the capacity of oceans to absorb carbon dioxide that has given us brief respite from the disastrous warming we are inducing, but this has resulted in their acidification, and so the death of coral reefs – which were for a long time the most abundant and biologically diverse habitats on the planet – and other negative consequences we can neither oversee nor conceive of.
Ocean acidification, rising sea levels, deforestation, desertification, global warming, loss of biodiversity, the emergence and growth of trash vortices and the increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics are manifestations of the truly disastrous consequences of our current lifestyles, in which instant material gain is considered preferable to a desirable future, and in which a scale of exploitation of the planet’s resources is allowed that it simply cannot cope with.
Climate change is no longer a problem of the future, and certainly not one that only presently unborn generations will die as a result of.
- 286 gigatons of ice is lost by Greenland every year (source)
- 97% consensus of scientists about global warming due to human activity (source)
- 400.000 years since the CO2 level was as high as it is now (source)
- 70 to 80% of the reduction of the Amazon is due to agriculture and cattle (source)
- Huge contribution to global warming by cattle and other livestock
(18% according to Rapport FAO, 2006)
(51% according to Worldwatch, 2009)
- In 2015, meat was pointed to as the primary cause for the loss of biodiversity (source)
- 75% of the world's coral reefs are threatened (source)
- By 2048 all wild fish could have been taken from the oceans (source)
The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed.
NB – Though still a powerful quote, it must be noted that Gandhi died in 1948, when the world population was not yet a third of what it is today.
There is a point at which our finite planet can’t support everyone’s needs anymore, even if it’s healthy. We may well have reached it.
Our lost democracy
Our world is complex, and most people don’t have the time to make sure they fully comprehend matters that policy is concerned with. That’s why an indirect democracy, where the people choose representatives to take over the tasks of governing and legislating, is not just more efficient than a direct democracy – it should also be expected to lead to more considered policy.
Yet it’s becoming ever more obvious that this current form of democracy doesn’t work on a large scale either. Large states and unions are so complex that even their leaders don’t adequately understand them, and have only a limited and distorted view of the region they govern. Besides, those leaders often hold on to simplistic models for measuring success. One obvious example is economic growth, which is used as an indicator of general societal progress, without any critical thought going into the sense behind this supposed equivalence. Large groups of people do not feel they are represented, despite politicians’ good intentions.
Large corporations can afford to make sure they get attention, and thus buy influence. The further politicians are removed from the populace, the harder it is for them to feel responsible for the individuals they represent, and the easier they are to influence. At the same time, politicians with authority over a greater area have more power, and so are more worth influencing. Money begins to influence policy more and more, and democracy becomes plutocracy. This has become apparent in Brussels, and to a lesser extent in the Hague. It needs to be reversed. Politicians are there to serve the populace.
- 61,1% of Dutch voters voted against the Ukraine-European Association Agreement in a referendum (source, Dutch), without any effect (source, Dutch)
- A small majority of voters voted against the Law on the Intelligence and Security Agencies in 2018, without any effect (source, Dutch)
- Polls showed 59% of Dutch citizens were in favour of maintaining the consultative referendum (source, Dutch), but this did not lead to a reconsideration of its abolition
- Polls from 2016 showed 67% of Dutch citizens think that the needs of the citizenry are inadequately looked after by politicians (source, Dutch)
Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.
Our broken educational system
Our current educational system has fundamental problems. It mainly serves to take children and mold them into conformity for the benefit of our econocentric society. Most Dutch schools are like learning factories where youngsters are made to learn things irrespective of what they want and whether they understand if and how it will enrich their lives. They are made to perform under stressful conditions, not to maximize their own happiness and insight, but to be at the service of society.
The future we should be preparing our youngsters for will hold many challenges and see huge changes. It’s our responsibility, without unduly frightening them, to help them understand the drastic actions that the government will eventually be forced to take to keep the planet livable.
Education is not just there to help pupils acquire knowledge, but also to help them develop skills and ways of thinking which will help them make the most of their lives, and let them and others enjoy it to the fullest.
Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.
Live out your ideals
Acknowledgment is an important step, but utterly useless if it doesn’t lead to subsequent action. We strive to create a society in which people consider themselves citizens first and foremost, rather than consumers. Humanity has been paralyzed by its addiction to entertainment. People who are rightfully outraged by the injustice our world is drenched in are sufficiently distracted by media to be convinced they are too busy to fight for a better world. Our movement wants to include and involve all youngsters who recognize the existential and moral crises of our world; who want to experience (or keep experiencing) how fulfilling it is to strive for a better tomorrow; and for whom compassion, sustainability, individual freedom and personal responsibility – the pillars of the Party for the Animals – are fundamental values. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re powerless, because together we aren’t.
- 0.8% of the world population owns 45% of the wealth, as of 2018 (source)