Christopher Hitchens on Animal Rights, Our Human Hubris, and the Lesser Appreciated Moral of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”


Christopher Hitchens on Animal Rights, Our Human Hubris, and the Lesser Appreciated Moral of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

We call the natural world beyond us our environment — a term I find troubling in its connotation of that which surrounds us and revolves around us: It exudes the hubristic ecological Ptolemism that has long placed us — misplaced us, rather — at the center of all life. Only in the second half of the twentieth century, thanks to scientists like Jane Goodall who have revolutionized our understanding of non-human animals and illuminated the rich consciousnesses of other minds, have we begun to recalibrate our place in nature not as central and supreme but as merely one element in a vast, complex, and interdependent ecosystem of beings. The poet Campbell McGrath captured this slow-simmering revolution perfectly in his tribute to Goodall, in which he wrote:

What makes us human
makes us fellow creatures, creeping things,
fauna of a fragile terrestrial biosphere,
neither more nor less. All lives are consequential…

Christopher Hitchens (Photograph: Brooks Kraft)

This…

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