An Unnatural Order
“My own view is that the primal worldview, updated by a scientific understanding of the living world, offers the best hope for a human spirituality. Life on earth is the miracle, the sacred. The dynamic living world is the creator, the First Being, the sustainer, and the final resting place for all living beings — humans included. We humans evolved with other living beings; their lives informed our lives. They provided models for our existence; they shaped our minds and culture. With dominionism out of the way, we could enjoy a deep sense of kinship with the other animals, which would give us a deep sense of belonging to our living world. Then, once again, we could feel for this world. We could feel included in the awesome family of living beings. We could feel our continuum with the living world. We could, once again, feel a genuine sense of the sacred in the world.” — Jim Mason
An Unnatural Order is a provocative search for the basic beliefs of Western culture that feed racism, sexism, animal exploitation, and domination of the natural world.
Nature writer Jim Mason begins this search nearly 10,000 years ago when plants and animals were first domesticated — or brought under human control. Until this time, people saw themselves as members of the natural world. They saw animals as kindred beings and the living world as full of ensouled powers.
The main theme of the book is that animals are much more important than we think. Under our current worldview, animals are trivial — except when they are useful. They are inferior beings and, we think, they could not be important to human society except as food and slaves. But for hundreds of millenia, animals have been very much on the human mind. Animals have fed the mind and the imagination — especially our ideas about the living world — for a very long time.
Then about 8,000 B.C. the first agriculture started in the ancient Middle East. Very slowly at first, farming began to replace foraging throughout the ancient world. Gradually, as population, cities, and human demands swelled, farming intensified — that is, farmers increased their control over animals and nature. As they did so, they had to tear down the very old beliefs in the sanctity and ensouled powers of the living world. In their place, farming societies built the myth of human supremacy and with it the idea of the need to dominate the living world. In time, values on domination, control, and hierarchy became ingrained in agrarian culture and the agrarian worldview became the modern worldview.
Our cultural heritage, then, is one that alienates us from the living world, one that regards it as a slave. This stunts human empathy and crushes any sense of kinship with other life. Moreover, our nature-dominating worldview causes some dominant people to regard women, people of color, and others as inferior, as closer to nature than to humanity. It also causes us to regard as inferior the physical, emotional, sexual and other “animal” aspects of human life, for these remind us of our closeness to animals and nature.
Mason contends that these dominionist views are at the bottom of society’s ever-deepening social and ecological crises. It is vital, he believes, to revive that long-lost sense of kinship with animals and nature.
The surest way to start working against factory farming is to stop consuming its products. You can refuse to eat ‘milk-fed’ veal, factory eggs, feedlot beef and other factory-farmed animal products. Of course, you can stop consuming animal products altogether, as is recommended by an increasing number of health experts. In either event, consumer demand can make a difference in that it will encourage independent farmers to seek the safest, most humane methods in animal production lest they destroy their markets.
Individual dietary changes will not be enough, however. While you get your food shopping, preparation and eating habits under control, you should work actively toward broader changes in agriculture and food policy. Since consumer demand affects food production, we should begin by making the following demands:
- Demand the prohibition of the use of antibiotics, growth pro-motants and other feed additives in animal agriculture. The Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to ban or regulate these drugs are under way, but they are being stymied by drug and agribusiness corporations. Without these shortcuts to genuine animal care and health, animal losses in crowded factories would be so great that factory systems and methods would not be profitable.
- Demand an end to the public subsidies that prop up factory farming. If society is to subsidize agriculture, it could make much better choices about the kinds of production to be supported and the kinds of food to be produced.
- Demand an end to tax-supported research and technological development of factory systems. The present funding scheme is one big boondoggle for drug and equipment manufacturers. Demand that this money and expertise be directed instead to work on farming methods that farmers can afford and manage, and ones that give consumers safe, wholesome food.
- Demand local markets and food co-operatives where farmers and consumers can trade directly. Every community has a square or park where space could be set aside for outdoor markets. Find the food co-operative in your community; if there is none, start one.
- Demand meatless meals and non-factory farm products from restaurants, hotels, airlines, caterers, school lunch services and all other public food outlets. Let them know that you are aware of where food comes from and that you are worried about food produced by factory methods.
- Demand labelling laws that will ensure the marking of all factory-produced animal products. (Don’t settle for a statement to the effect that the farming systems have been approved by an animal welfare organization; there are some that will rubber-stamp anythingjust to get their names around.)
- Demand that supermarkets and other food outlets separate factory and non-factory foods. (In the USA there is a precedent for this in state laws regulating the labelling and display of kosher foods and, in some states, ‘organic’ or chemical-free foods.)
- Demand a tax on meat and animal products that would provide funding to subsidize the production of other crops. This would be no more absurd than our present policy of subsidizing the production of what are essentially luxury foods. If people want to continue to prop up costly, risky animal production, they should have to pay a premium, and the premium could be channelled towards the support of better foods and production methods.
- Demand an end to meat industry propaganda in local schools; demand to know how nutrition is being taught to your children.
- Demand a change of government policy so that it puts good food and farm livelihood first. The present prevailing pro-agribusiness bias is a scandal that has driven millions of farmers from the land and has saturated consumers with junk food.
- Demand land reforms and zoning laws that would bring small, diversified farms closer to populated areas. Too large a proportion of the cost of food is attributable to transport, handling and profiteering as food moves from the farm to the consumer.
- Demand that food products be labelled to carry the name of the corporation that owns the brand line. This would expose the monopolism behind the myth of a competitive food industry — and the lie that your ham, eggs, milk, etc., come from good old Farmer Jones down on the farm.
- Demand an end to the animal products industries’ ‘check-offs’, which charge consumers and small farmers for advertising that props up our diet which is wasteful and weighted towards animal products.
Some think that human society seems to be steadily going insane. They note the ridiculous hatreds that keep us nearly constantly at war with each other. They see that we are fouling our global nest, wiping out much of the planet’s life and making life more and more miserable for ourselves.
I don’t think we are going insane; I think we have just not learned to look deeply enough into the causes of our current social and environmental problems.
I believe with a growing number of others that these problems began several millennia ago when our ancestors took up farming and broke the primal bonds with the living world and put human beings above all other life. Because of this we have no sense of kinship with other life on this planet, hence no good sense of belonging here. Our tradition is one of arrogance toward the living world around us; it is a thing beneath us — to be either used up or kept at bay. We are, as intellectuals say, alienated from nature.
The price of our supremacy is a very deep break in our relationship with the living world around us. Many know this and would like to fix it. They ask: What is the fitting role for humankind in the scheme of life on earth? In intellectual circles this has been called the Nature Question. It is time to bring this question into popular discussion, and I hope this book is a start.
The central idea in this book is that we must heal our blind spot for animals. Only a handful of intellectuals seem to understand how essential animals are to human beings, how they are the most vital beings in nature — the soul and the moving parts of nature. Animals represent and symbolize the various features and forces of nature. They have always fed the human mind and culture; they have given us the means of understanding the cosmos. When seen as kin, as they once were, animals gave us a crucial bond and a sense of belonging to the living world. Currently, however, the animal part of the Nature Question is kept on the back burner through ridicule and trivialization as well as open hostility toward those who raise it. The Animal Question is regarded as peripheral, a silly distraction for the efforts to address what environmental heavyweights think is the more important Nature Question.
I submit that the Animal Question is central and fundamental to the Nature Question. We simply will not be able to come to terms with nature unless we come to terms with animals and animality, because, for the human mind and culture, animals are the most important part of nature.
A dictionary says that the word dominion means “a supremacy in determining and directing the actions of others … the exercise of such supremacy.” This fairly describes Western peoples’ proud, basic view of the world and our most sacred, fundamental policy on how to live on it. In regard to nature — the world, its living beings, forces and processes — then, our culture, our outlook, and our ways of thinking are dominionist.
Genesis, then, tells the sacred story of how we came to have dominion over all of nature. These passages are referred to throughout history as the Law, the Word, and they are given a sanctity that is beyond challenge or rebuttal. Three times God expressly grants human beings dominion over creation; very clearly, human mastery over nature is God’s will. This, then, is the most basic of all the beliefs in Western religion, for the story of Genesis is included in each of the West’s sacred books: the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an. If the West’s religions are likened to the legs of a three-legged stool, dominionism is the seat.
Essentially, stewardship advocates are apologists for dominionism, for they argue that dominion does not mean what people have thought it has meant over the past several thousand years. Now they tell us it was never supposed to have meant that humans should behave as ruthless lords over nature. They argue that the meaning of dominion has been distorted and mistranslated over the ages. They argue that we are supposed to act as gentle, humane shepherds and gardeners — tending, pruning fertilizing, and cultivating the other life on earth. All that would be very nice, but it is too late. The dominionist dirty deeds have already been done.
In fact, dominion means just exactly what it has been taken to mean all these thousands of years: a license for boundless human exploitation of the rest of the living world. The task today is to get away from it now that we see how it destroys not only the living world but our quality of life within it.
We can take some comfort in the fact that the devastation of a nuclear war has not yet happened. It is a shocking kind of destruction to think about, but it is still only a potential — a dangerous potential. Destruction of the living world though normal, day-to-day human activities, on the other hand, is well under way. It is not the dramatic, sudden kind of killing and destruction as that of an all-out nuclear war, but it is killing and destroying slowly, silently, insidiously.
It is killing mostly nonhuman life, but more and more it is killing human beings as well. It is occurring simply because we are overrunning the planet with our numbers and our consumer demands. We are destroying nonhuman beings and their habitat in a futile effort to produce more to feed and supply human life. We are turning prairies, rain forests, and marshes into deserts and wastelands. In taking over more and more of nature for human life, we are, ironically, destroying more and more of the quality of human life. In our exploitation of the living world we find the same irony that I noted above in our struggle for “security” using nuclear weapons: We wrestled nature to get ahead, but in the process we got locked into dominionist thinking with all of its obsessions and habits. Now these are about to ruin the earth that feeds and sustains. Us.
On the eve of agriculture 10,000 years ago, the global human population ranged, by various estimates, from 5 to 10 million people. By the eve of Christianity, it had increased to about 250 million. It grew slowly but steadily, reaching a billion people with the arrival of the industrial age after 1800. Over the last two centuries, the human population has shot up to about 5.4 billion [Note: 7 billion as of July 2012] people worldwide. Experts predict that it should stabilize at between 10 and 12 billion people by the year 2100. A hundred centuries of agriculture have brought nearly a 1,000-fold increase in the human population on the planet.
To make matters worse, our toll on the earth is not just a matter of human numbers. Each person today uses many times more material and energy in a lifetime than did a typical forager before agriculture. Taking into account all the buildings, machines, highways, and other products used, the typical American, for example, probably drains more material and energy from the environment in a week than a Paleolithic forager did in a year. Let’s call the use of energy and material person-demand, for it gives us a measure of actual human toll on the planet. If we take an average of person-demand in all the nations of the world, from the richest to the poorest, we can get some idea of how much more a human being in the world today uses than one did 10,000 years ago.
Biologists and population experts Anne and Paul Ehrlich have compared person-demand in America to that in the world’s poorest nations. The average American has, for example, roughly fifty times the environmental impact of an average Bangladeshi. And, the Ehrlichs say, the American causes seventy times the environmental damage of a Ugandan or Laotian. Yet even poor Bangladeshi, Ugandans, and Laotians use more material and energy than did Paleolithic foragers. By conservative estimates, then, the average American uses probably a hundred times as much material and energy as did a forager before agriculture. Let us strike a mean among rich nations and poor nations, and guesstimate that the average human in today’s world has fifty times the person-demand of a Paleolithic forager.
If we apply this factor to current human population numbers, we get a more telling figure for the huge increase in our burden on the planet. Looked at in these terms, the human impact on the planet today is the product of a 1,000-fold increase in numbers and a 50-fold increase in person-demand.
In other words, the impact on the planet today of Homo sapiens is 50,000 times greater than it was on the eve of agriculture.
Let’s express it another way: A human being today uses fifty times more material and energy than did an ancient forager. Thus, with the world human population today at 5.4 [7, now] billion, we use as much as 270 [350, now] billion Paleolithic foragers. As far as the living world in concerned, then, there are over a quarter [third, now] of a trillion of us human foragers.
It will be half [two-thirds of] a trillion in another century.
Once it became capable of thought, imagination, and rich expression, the budding human mind beheld the world around it and was fascinated. Eyes and ears received almost constant sensation, which, channeled to the mindful brain, produced constant wondering, thinking, and imagining. The world out there was full of things to behold, to watch, to listen to, to tell about.
These things would appear in dreams now that the new human brain was capable, even in sleep, of a greater kind of consciousness. And these things would take on names, now that the brain was capable of speech. All the watching, listening, dreaming, naming, and storytelling made the world of our first fully human ancestors all the more mysterious, all the more powerful. Being human, their minds needed to describe, explain, and understand this world. Mythologist Joseph Campbell called this stage of human evolution, “the awakening of awe” and anthropologists see it as the beginning of human culture. It was also the birth stage of myth — our attempts to understand the world through stories and religions.
The awakening of awe occurred, according to experts, when the human mind became conscious of death. I think it is likely, however, that the budding human mind was first awed by the life in the world, especially the movement and habits of the other animals around it. Of all the things in the environment, only these moved about, and, like humans, they had eyes, ears, blood, and entrails. They copulated, defecated, urinated, and bore young — all activities well known to human beings of the time, which would make them all the more wonderful and mysterious, that is to say, subjects of awe.
Because these and other aspects of animals’ existence were so very much like their own, primal people regarded them not as inferior beings as we now do, but as other kinds of people with village and languages of their own. Under the current dominionist mindset, their straightforward, unadulterated, very primal view of animals is virtually impossible to accept or to understand because our emotional loading about animals is so very much different today.
At the same time, animals intrigued human beings with their size, speed, strength, habits, and other features. They were believed to have powers that humans did not have. For primal humans — especially those with the suddenly flowering mind, consciousness and culture of modern Homo sapiens about 45,000 years ago — the animals in their foraging lands were the most impressive, the most fascinating living beings in the world. Measured in terms of the amount of human wonder they caused, animals were the most wonderful things out there in the world. We see, for example, that the earliest known human art, painted nearly 20,000 years ago on cave walls in France, consists largely of animal figures. In his groundbreaking book, Thinking Animals, biologist Paul Shepard notes that in these static images, the animals manifest “that invisible otherness.” The animals are very much like us, yet different, and this puzzled primal people and goaded questions, such as Who are they? Who are we? Shepard notes, by the way, that these caves were the first “churches” or temples — that is, places of mystery where people celebrated power greater than themselves.
I am suggesting something touchy, something sure to raise hackles: Men took up hunting, in part, to enhance their own status in the group. We have seen how women’s roles in procreation and food provision gave them a sense of embeddedness in the group, which gave them a sense of security and identity that men lacked. These roles, as author and anthropologist Peggy Sanday and other have said, gave females in primal society an automatically defined gender identity and status. Male identity and status, on the other hand, had to be built through some sort of work or activity. While women had natural power in primal times, men had to contrive theirs.
In the jargon of psychology, then, primal men had feelings of gender insecurity and lack of status in the group because of their societies’ general awe of the female powers. Males needed some means of compensating for the power imbalance. I believe that their primary means of compensation was hunting — especially the hunting of large, powerful animals.
The hunt, in other words, was not so much about nutrition as it was about acquiring power — the animal’s power. Taking the carcass back and eating it with one’s family and kinfolk enabled the whole group to share in the taking of the animal’s power. Their attitude was probably similar to that of cannibals, who eat the flesh of their enemies and heroes to acquire their power, not their protein.
I have tried to explain how people, when they lived in nature, held the living world in awe. Although they did not have a word or concept for nature as we do today, they knew it and loved it better than we may ever know. They didn’t sit around reflecting on nature in the way Henry David Thoreau or Aldo Leopold did. The living world was not a thing or an abstraction to them. Neither was it a warehouse full of “resources,” as we see it today. Nature, the world out there, was alive, full of beings and souls … and powers.
From this worldview, other living beings, especially animals, were regarded simply as other kinds of being with lives and spirits of their own. And power of their own.
In primal culture, the deities — the powerful spirits or the sacred — were in and of the natural world. They dwelled in it. On occasion, they could take the form of an animal, plant, or other thing in nature. Under this view of the world, then, things seen as close to nature shared the powers and were given considerable status and respect.
Because animals shaped our minds as a species, they shape our minds as individuals today. They are so basic to human thought processes that we would probably not be able to learn speech or thought without them.
Unfortunately, too few human beings fully understand this. Biologist Paul Shepard thoroughly explained it in his 1978 book, Thinking Animals: Animals and the Development of Human Intelligence. “There is a profound, inescapable need for animals that is in all people everywhere,” he wrote; as shaper of human mind and thought, there is “no substitute” for them.
From childhood on, animals give the human mind a frame of reference to the rest of the living world. Yale University’s Dr. Stephen Kellert, for example, uses surveys of people’s attitudes about animals as indicators of their attitudes about nature and the environment in general. Kellert says that attitudes about animals serve as a sort of “index” to attitudes about the natural world in general.
As movers of the mind, thought, and feeling, animals are very strong stuff to human beings. No wonder our ancestors believed they had souls and powers.
The West’s agrarian culture, more than any other, subjugated animals and exalted humankind. It required a view of animals that left them little authority to teach morality and spirituality — unless, of course, they were rather obvious stand-ins for human foibles, as in the bestiaries. There they are human characters in animal form. However reduced they are from intrinsically valuable, autonomous beings, they nevertheless carry the code that works best on the developing human mind. Psychically, at least, animals are dynamic, spirited.
This forces Western culture to try to have it both ways: Animals are to be down, inferior, and insignificant, yet they are to be handy, potent, and significant when we need them to enliven the message in our art, language, and religion. Our dominionist culture denigrates animals, yet our brain/mind needs them as fertilizer. There is a clash here, and we all grow up with it, on it. It probably affects human development in ways we have not yet bothered to try to understand. We try to reconcile this fundamental with various mental or cultural tricks. Or we simply put it away somehow, out of mind. But these may not be doing the job adequately. The very fundamentality of the clash makes it one of the biggest, earliest cracks in our psyche. How, it might be helpful to know, does it affect the people and culture of the West?
Buried under the demands and devices of dominionist culture, the need for animals — as companions, as exercisers of human empathy and nurturance, as kindred beings in the unity of creation, as feeders and informers of the psyche — is hard to see. Their importance in these ways is not (to use computer-ese again) easily called up on our screens. Our “software” today is dominionist and utilitarian, and it calls up only the value of animals as resources or tools. Nevertheless, the animal presence is well embedded in art, mythology, folklore, literature, children’s games, and the rest of our culture.
Throughout our evolution, animals have made us wonder and have helped us come to terms with the world around us. When we were forgers with earth-bound religions, animals were the First Beings, world-shapers, and the teachers of human lifeways. Their patters of living and behaving were familiar (family, familial) and offered human beings a sense of continuum, of belonging, in the sprawl and chaos of the living world.
About 13,000 years ago the earth’s most recent great glacial ice cap was melting away because of a warming trend. No one know for sure exactly how and why, but by about 10,000 years ago human groups at scattered locations from northern Africa eastward to India and Southeast Asia were gathering wild plant seeds, sowing them, tending their growth, and harvesting them. At about the same time some of them were also beginning to tend herds of wild sheep and goats, and before long, pigs, cattle and other animals.
Over time, a group’s familiarity with its herd of animals taught them some revolutionary things about the facts of life. As hunters, they already knew a lot about the habits and movements of each species, but now they were living much more closely and constantly with one herd. They were around the same animals day after day. Now it was possible to become familiar with individual animals and to watch them behave and change over their lifetimes. From such closeness and familiarity, herding people gradually learned about the end-results of copulation, about the respective roles of males and females in procreation, and about estrous, gestation, and birth cycles.
The usual account of the early history of Western civilization boasts of the glories and benefits of settled farming society. It is an all-good-news account, usually. But we know that life during the change from foraging to farming was not so rosy. In this transitional period, farming’s pace was one step forward, two steps back. The new breeds of plants and animals were not very reliable providers of food and materials. Their genetic base narrowed by selection and grown in monocultures, domestic species were vulnerable to diseases and pests. Farming methods were crude and not very productive. Some years they brought good harvests, but just as often they brought on problems, shocks and setbacks.
Once farming got started in the early Middle East, the situation was one of growing populations in an ecologically restricted space. Under pressure, people took on new strategies for survival. One was intensification — that is, increased agricultural production, which led to surpluses and notions of property and wealth, which in turn led to the emergence of subordinate classes of people ruled by rich, powerful elites. Another strategy was expansionism, which led to militarism, which, in turn, led to slavery, subordinate classes, and the rule of the rich and powerful few.
Again, we usually marvel at the art and architecture — the material wealth — created by the early agrarian city states. They had a grand style, all right. But their social side was something else. Warfare, too, took on a grand style: It grew bigger and it lasted longer than ever before. Forager society had warfare and warriors, of course, but in agrarian society war became an institution and warriors became heads of state.
As agriculture spread throughout the Middle East, some of these capitals of agrarian wealth, military power, and regional influence began to rival each other. In a world where everything was expanding, they were bound to come into conflict with each other over ownership of croplands, rivers, and domestic animals, but also over trade practices and religious beliefs. There were neither national laws nor treaties yet, and it fell to the kings, priests, and military leaders to resolve conflicts. A lot depended on the views and values of the ruling elites. If they were warlike and expansionist, they tended to prevail in most disputes. Some of these most domineering city-states rode herd over a wide region and grew into the capitals of early civilization in Mesopotamia. Marvin Harris calls these primary states, and they mark the beginnings of royal dynasties, taxation, standing armies, bureaucracies, and the other trappings of government.
In the same region, secondary states arose as people joined forces against the more domineering primary state…. Other secondary states were established by nomadic people, usually herds-keepers, who took up raiding their wealthy, settled neighbors — first probably for pasture, water, or freedom of travel, but eventually for slaves, booty, and other things. Turks, Mongols, Huns, Hebrews, Manchus, Arabs and many other herding peoples built their states out of years of warfare and raiding against more settled and powerful primary states.
Why is the Middle East/Western tradition so aggressive, so domineering? I’ll give you a short, straight answer: large animal domestication. The hunting, then the herding, and finally the enslavement of large, powerful animals, especially cattle and horses, put Western culture on a power trip that continues full force today.
The Middle East was the epicenter of large animal domestication — specifically cattle, horses, camels, goats, and sheep. It originated there, not in any of the other agricultural centers…. First, this put a unique ingredient into the development of Western culture from the very start. As Alfred Crosby says in his book Ecological Imperialism, “The most important contrast between the Sumerians and their heirs, on the one hand, and the rest of humanity, on the other, involves the matter of livestock.”
Second, this ingredient created huge repercussions — results that are, as we shall see, way out of proportion to the beginnings. Like yeast, large animal domestication exploded the West’s agrarian cultural dough into some very large, crusty loaves. As German sociologist and zoologist Richard Lewinsohn said in Animals, Men, and Myths, “the specific variations produced by domestication may be small in a zoological sense but they are enormous from the sociological point of view, for they have effected deep-reaching transformation in the history of both human beings and animals.”
Anthropologists, of course, abhor generalizations, but even they would have to admit that herds people — pastoralists, they call them — the world over have some basic traits in common. They are obsessed with their sheep, goats, cattle, camels, or horses, as the case may be, for the animals are both their tribal identity and their livelihood. The herd is everything to the pastoralists, and nothing gets between it and the best pasture and water. If anything does, single-mindedness easily turns to ruthlessness, defiance to violence. In Thinking Animals, Paul Shepard ticks off the mainstays of herder cultures the world over: “Aggressive hostility to outsiders, the armed family, feuding and raiding in a male-centered hierarchical organization, the substitution of war for hunting, elaborate arts of sacrifice, monomaniacal pride and suspicion.” These same attitudes were cataloged among tribes of the Middle East by Charles M. Doughty in Deserta Arabia.
The herder culture created patriarchy — the primacy and rule of men in human affairs. According to anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, animal husbandry and herdskeeping were mainly men’s occupations. Societies that depended on herds, she says, tended to be patriarchal with generally male-dominant cultures. Such societies proliferated in the Middle East where most of the agricultural species were domesticated. Male-dominant, patriarchal herdskeeping culture, then, was prevalent throughout the region where Western history and civilization begin with the agrarian city-states.
Control and manipulation of animals — their numbers, sizes, and shapes — became almost an obsession in herding cultures. In time, control came to be valued in and of itself. It was the way of the Good Shepherd, a patriarchal model for the guilt-free exploitation of animals and natural processes.
These shepherd values, grew into a religion, of course. Generations of prophets, philosophers, poets, and preachers filled out, refined, and updated the model and some went down in history as the great men of our civilization.
Jim Mason has broken new ground… —Jeremy Rifkin
A wonderful and important book…. an outstanding contribution. —John Robbins
Visionary… brilliant. —Dr. Michael W. Fox
Vivid and disturbing… a poignant, not preachy, work. —Ingrid Newkirk
A painstakingly researched and beautifully written book… a ‘must read’. —Gary Francione
A rare gift… at once scholarly and accessible. —Tom Regan
Jim Mason is a visionary on par with Henry Salt. —Vegetarian Voice
Both wide and deep… chatty, easy to read… accessible. —Feminists for Animal Rights
A great gift for compassionate people. —The Toronto Star
An eloquent, important plea for a total rethinking of our relationship to the animal world. —Publishers Weekly
This book has reordered my sense of myself in the world.
The most important book I have encountered in half a century of reading.
A beautifully written book; you have that gift of making intellectual complexities seem simple and accessible.
Outstanding, compelling, significant… important scholarly and spiritual work.
Mason has written words of revolution and redemption. He appeals to the best in us.
Your book is a constant source of inspiration. I will recommend this book to everyone.
Well-researched, so easy to read. I felt like you were there having a conversation with me.
Revealing. It certainly raised my consciousness many fold and put into words many of the things and ways I feel. Thank you for writing this book.
Reading your book was one of those rare, illuminating experiences. Books like yours renew my faith that we can change our world. Thank you for an extremely well-written and readable book.
An Unnatural Order
Book (paperback); Lantern Books; February 2005
6 x 9 inches; 320 Pages; $19.95