Friday, September 18, 2009

Further excerpts from “Shall We Eat Flesh?” Rational Living Library, B. Liber 1934

Radicals or revolutionists who believe in justice for men and who exclude the animals are only half-enlightened. The meat habit, handed down from a reactionary past, is being encouraged by interested capitalists. But progressive people and intelligent proletarians ought to break down all such cruelties inherited from a dark antiquity. A new world will need new modes of living.


Vegetarism is not merely a cranky or narrow food theory. It is a philosophy and its scope is as wide as the world. Its principals may be applied all through life and shape our personal conduct in all our affairs and relations with other people as well as the duties of society toward the individual. A thinker will apply his food thoughts to the rights of his mate and child, to those of his fellowmen and fellow animals.

A thinker should not be indifferent to the origin of the food which is going into his flesh and blood and upon which his physical strength and even his mental make-up will depend.


Of course, a vegetarian is against war. But not necessarily so and I am not certain whether all vegetarians will say that this is an absolute. I am convinced that a worker who is class-conscious will not oppose class war when necessary, even if he is a vegetarian. At any rate, if a vegetarian does oppose war, let him not hide away behind an excuse. If at all possible, he should openly refuse service and take the consequences. Even the “red cross” chapter during war time belongs to war and is an unsuitable work for vegetarians who are objectors.


True vegetarians cannot be religious. All important religions have been and are cruel and have encouraged killing and meat-eating and slave-driving and economic exploitation and “untouchability” of pariahs---and have sided with the oppressors.


Vegetarism has nothing to do with religion, except to be opposed to it and to its great harm. If a divinity had ordered me to abstain from meat, that would be vegetarism by force. The true vegetarian needs no commands. He is convinced both by reason and by sentiment.

The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.” But that never meant not to kill animals---and most Jews and Christians and most believers in the Bible are meat-eaters. It did not even mean not to kill man---during war time. “Jehovah is a warrior,” says the same book, which is full of all sorts of horrible cruelties. And does not the Bible and do not other related books prescribe just how to kill the animals for food and sacrifice to the God of the same Bible?


We---the cranks? We---the fanatics?


There are no worse cranks than the meat-eaters in spite of the fact that they are in the majority. Particularly those who are informed from practical experience, and from scientific work that flesh is unnecessary and still fear not to be sufficiently nourished on a vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian diet and think they must have meat food.

Fanatics are those who in our times of technical progress, when animal food is no longer a necessity, continue to insist, under more or less “logical” excuses, on sacrificing life for eating purposes, just the same as their poor, ignorant, helpless, non-civilized, primitive ancestors did.

"Shall We Eat Flesh?" Rational Living Library, B. Liber 1934
Benzion Liber, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at New York. Born in 1875, Liber was a Romanian Jewish Socialist, nicknamed "The People's Doctor" who worked at the Polyclinic Hospital and was a practicing physician in New York since 1904.

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