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The Labor Process: How the Underdog is Kept Under

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"Marxism and the Underdog" is an impressive paper. It usefully outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the Marxist (what I would prefer to term "historical materialist") perspective on animals. As the paper rightly suggests, much of Marx's own work was predicated on the opposition between humans and animals other than humans. Yet, as the paper also points out, many of his concepts and critiques are useful for addressing contemporary concerns. Among the most important recent examples is Benton's critique of liberal and individualist "animal rights." It is a perspective on Marx and his assertion that much human rights discourse offers little or no fundamental challenge to the patterns of economic, social, and political power that pervade capitalist society. There is little point in allocating rights to humans (and to animals) if the kind of society in which they live systematically denies the realization of these rights. I mention Benton here because his important perspective on animal rights is not fully explained in the paper under review here.

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