But Public Enemy Number One on Pacelle’s list are the dozen or so companies that gamed the system and usurped the means of production in America. Fifty years ago, before the coming of giants, this country’s cows, pigs and poultry were mostly raised outdoors and sold, for whatever the spot market bore, at livestock auctions for cash. Then Tyson, Perdue and others set about gobbling up feed lots, van lines, slaughterhouses and hatcheries, ran them, top-down, via corporate committees, and turned farmers into wage slaves on their lands, owners of nothing but the mortgages on their barns. With the craven consent of the Department of Agriculture (then, as now, a revolving door for executives in the big-farm sector), they devoured smaller companies, corraled much of the nation’s livestock and began treating animals as production units, not living, feeling creatures with basic rights. Their motto: maximum profit for minimum input, meaning far fewer workers tending vastly larger stocks, and animals confined in tight, dark spaces for the ease and convenience of staff.
The infuriating thing is that I think there might be. We could write articles acknowledging that certain conversations can exacerbate crippling guilt and self-loathing, particularly for people with anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses that make them fixate on their own perceived worthlessness. We could really, truly, not-just-lip-service integrate concern for those people into our activism. We could acknowledge how common this experience is and have resources to help people. We could stop misidentifying anguish as entitlement, and stop acting like anguish that does have entitlement at its root is deserved or desirable or hilarious.