The apocalyptic animal of late capitalism / by Laura Elaine Hudson
Includes bibliographical references (p. 264-271)
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Our society suffers from a moral schizophrenia regarding animals. Our moral schizophrenia regarding animals is a reflection of the increasingly schizophrenic society in which we live. The growing power of the animal rights movement in the political realm and the emergence of new theoretical work concerning the role of animals in human society are both responses to this moral schizophrenia that affects not merely animals, but human beings as well. The debate over the place of animals in modern society, and what duties we owe them is played out against increasingly abstract concepts of humanness. Animals appear as representatives of the concrete natural world that is being consumed by the abstraction of human systems of value. Though the debate appears to be about animals, it reproduces the categories of capital that structure our understanding of both ourselves and the natural world. This relationship is overdetermined by the split between concrete use value and abstract exchange value. The separation between the human and the animal that forms the basis of the concept of humanness is mirrored in the constitutive separation between the historical and the natural. If we seem increasingly aware of the need to reevaluate our ideas and our relationships with animals and the natural world, this reevaluation necessitates a simultaneous reevaluation of the social and historical world as well. Animal rights and poststructural theories of the animal both reify animals by either regarding animals as innocent subjects that are fundamentally the same as human beings in those features that initiate moral responsibility, or by regarding animals as representations of the absolutely other that bound any conception of the human. This dissertation is divided into four chapters. The first addresses the issue of animal rights in relation to poststructuralism. The second focuses on the Holocaust and Nazi animal welfare reforms. The third analyzes the children's film Babe to demonstrate how these ideas circulate. The fourth engages with the popular Matrix trilogy as the prime example of the emptiness of the categories of the human and the animal, and the growing sense that history has already ended.
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