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It's Not Humans, It's Animal Capital!

The Capitalist Commodification of Animals

ISBN: 978-1-83982-681-8, eISBN: 978-1-83982-680-1

Publication date: 30 November 2020


It is widely accepted among critical human–animal scholars that an absolute ontological distinction between humans and animals, the human–animal dualism, is an ideological construction. However, even some of the most radical animalists make use of a softer version of it when they explain animal exploitation and domination in capitalism. By criticizing the reintroduction of the human–animal dualism through the back door, I reopen the terrain for a historical–materialist explanation of bourgeois animal exploitation and domination that does not conceptualize them as a matter of species in the first place. Rather, with reference and in analogy to ecosocialist arguments on the greenhouse effect, it is demonstrated that a specific faction of capital – animal capital – which uses animals and animal products as means of production, is the root cause, key agent, and main profiteer of animal exploitation and domination in the current mode of production. Thus, the reworked concept of animal capital presented here differs from the original, postoperaist notion introduced by Nicole Shukin since it is based on a classic sociorelational and value theoretical understanding of capitalism. According to this approach, animals are integrated socioeconomically into the capitalist class society via a relation of superexploitation to capital, which can be called the capital–animal relation.




I would like to thank André Krebber for his comments on and corrections of earlier versions of this chapter.


Stache, C. (2020), "It's Not Humans, It's Animal Capital!", Clark, B. and Wilson, T.D. (Ed.) The Capitalist Commodification of Animals (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 9-31.



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