DebateTaken hostage

Taken hostage

Reading time: 3:00 min | The picture on the left shows Patty Hearst, the daughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, at the moment of the robbery of Hibernia Bank (California, USA) on April 15, 1974. She earned fame as a victim of hostage-taking (her father openly refused to pay the ransom), who in the process befriended her tormentors and became part of the gang.

Stockholm briefly hit the headlines worldwide on 23 August 1973 when 32-year-old Jan-Erik Olsson carried out a bank robbery at Svenska Kreditbanken. As is not uncommon in the bank robbery business, hostages were taken. In this case, to free a buddy from prison. However, the hostage-taking did not develop as planned. Due to high pressure from the police, it became a life-and-death endeavour over 6 days in a confined space. What was supposedly new was that the hostages became friends with the hostage-takers. They identified with the kidnappers, became part of the bank robbery enterprise, and resisted being rescued. The Stockholm police psychologist Nils Bejerot gave the phenomenon the name Stockholm Syndrome.

One of the notable Stockholm syndromes of the Western world is the so-called carnism. First described and conceptualised by the American psychologist Melanie Joy in her book “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism”, she exemplarily asks: why do we eat pigs but not dogs?

This cultural imprint on eating behaviour originated when farmers bred pigs as calorie-providing rubbish bins and improved their field’s energy balance with the pig’s manure. Dogs, on the other hand, were great alarm systems and game finders on the hunt.

Today, in our modern high-tech society, this concept is no longer necessary. But we torture violently more animals than ever. Extensive farming destroys our environment at an unprecedented nightmarish pace. We kill insects and other animals with chemical-based industrial agriculture to a never seen extent. We destruct our environment until it’s dead because we need all the crops for the pigs we breed for our gusto (more than 60 million in Germany alone).

These meat-induced worldwide growing agricultural deserts pollute the climate with CO2, methane gas and nitrous oxide more severely than ever.

Many of the population and all politics are aware of these connections. But we follow this madness unreflectively and gladly because we are hostages in a Stockholm syndrome scheme.

The hostage-takers are father, mother, friends, school, etc., but also the economy, which knows how to productively use this brainwashing for many trillion-dollar businesses and, of course, promotes it where it can. People who favour a diet low in animal products are allowed as a somewhat impossible alternative — just as it is decent for a modern society not to burn atheists on the stakes as heretics. But if one follows the mainstream press, this tolerance is graciously given, never without the hint that everyone may eat what she or he wants.

The hostages of carnism, about 90% of the population, will do anything to avoid being freed. Like the hostages in Stockholm, they stab common sense in the back wherever they can. The level of education does not seem to play a significant role. University teachers with doctorates and deep roots in the Enlightenment, abiding by facts and reason, are just as many victims of carnism as people who cannot read or write.

Because carnism is a psychological condition based on culture and identity, the vast majority of the population cannot muster the will and strength to contemplate facts and reason for a moment. This is not a matter of try and choice. This is a religious matter of belief with a clear no.

No matter how damning the argumentation, the last argument always is this: I like meat, and no one can forbid me to eat it. Then a quick look to the right and left for approval, hoping that the swarm will protect and support.

In the end, the Stockholm syndrome wins out. The hostages fight their liberators where they can — even if they betray their ideals such as non-violence, facts, and their children’s secure future. Donald Trump, the hostage-taker-in-chief and himself a lost hostage, would have tweeted: beautiful meat! Bon appétit!