Deconstruction, Inc.: Simon Critchley
I usually think of politics as being "what we want here and now, and how we're gonna get it." I don't know how useful that is for animal rights just yet. But this blog entry seems to be saying that animal rights should be made visible in political philosophy. As in, more mainstream philosophy than it has been thus far.Animals (and to some extent the activists who pursue their liberation) are visible-invisible subjects of the sort that Critchley describes here. It is common for people to say “I’m/we’re alone,” no matter how many animals are around. If animals become visible to us at all, it is only in certain very limited ways and contexts (the family dog is visible to us, but the animals on our plates or in our freezers come to us as stripped, cleaned, packaged and dismembered body parts scarcely recognizable as such). More importantly, I think Critchley’s idea of the work of politics being the production of visibility for new kinds of people/subjects is an important one for animal liberation activists to keep in mind.Also, rights are not things that are given in the heavens. Rather, they are levers for political articulations, which enables what was previously invisible to become visible. You know, things are invisible, even though we aren’t aware of the fact. All we can do is point to history. For example, I had a friend who grew up in apartheid South Africa and she was visited by a friend from England. This was, say, 40 years ago. They were walking down a city street and it was full of people, mainly black, but also some white people. The friend from England said “Oh, what a lot of people!,” to which my friend replied: “A lot of people? What do you mean? I don’t see that many.” Because the people, they weren’t really people. They were black, so they weren’t visible as people. Political subjects emerge into visibility in this way and this would be a constant activity of struggle around general claims of equality.
I like what it says about not seeing animals. It's kind of like going into a forest or jungle and not seeing anything but trees & vines. You need a PBS special to see all the animal life underneath the leaves and in the soil.