Aidan Kankyoku

135Joined Oct 2022


I have often heard this worry that confrontational/attention-grabbing tactics might be counter-productive at an early stage in the movement. Interestingly, in the wake of Just Stop Oil's soup-throwing, @James Ozden shared with me a twitter thread from a leading academic of social movement strategies arguing basically the opposite: that controversy is most productive in a movement's early stage, when it needs to raise awareness, compared to a later stage when it needs to win over skeptical late adopters.

I don't think this is necessarily a question of inside vs. outside, but rather that outside game strategies look different at different points in the movement. And indeed the most controversy-oriented tactics might fit best at the beginning, though I'm not necessarily arguing that.

Looks great! And to be nitpicky here's an alternative third paragraph:

Based on this, they suggest reframing messaging to focus on how we as a society / species are always evolving and progressive forwards, and that evolving beyond animal farming is something we can do, should do, and already are doing. They also suggest refocusing strategy around this - eg. focusing on advocacy for pro-animal policies, as opposed to asking consumers to make individual changes to their food choices.

That's a good point about tactics vs. demands. It's interesting because in theory, we might think that radical tactics could be effectively paired with moderate demands and vice versa. That is, if you're asking for something most people agree with, more people would support using radical tactics to win it, whereas if you're asking for a fringe goal, you'd want to avoid alienating people further. Yet this is the opposite of what has happened in (at least) the U.S. animal and environmental movements in the last couple decades. Groups like XR and DxE pair radical demands with radical tactics, while HSUS/THL and the Sierra Club are more moderate on both fronts. But I suppose I'm conflating outside with radical and inside with moderate which isn't actually what I was trying to say in the post. I'll need to think about your point a bit more!

Great piece! You've put words to an idea that I imagine a lot of us (but at least myself) have had vaguely bouncing around in our heads for a while, namely that a strategic emphasis on the animals killed most numerously in the food system doesn't take human psychology into account. I'd love to see more research on the cow-chicken-fish elimination process (or see research that already exists) but like you, I've heard lots of anecdotal evidence suggesting this is true.

There's a real possibility the best way to help future farmed shrimp and insects is to try to expand society's moral circle to cows as fast as possible, on the way to further expansion to chickens and eventually shrimp and insects.

Another question I'd have for further research would be how quickly we can introduce concern for invertebrates once an individual or social group has opened up to concern for cows. A hunch would be that the process of moral circle expansion is subject to the basic principles of momentum: that once we overcome inertia on cows, each subsequent expansion gets easier and easier as long as we sustain momentum.