In Ralph Nader's New Book, Animals Speak for Themselves

In "Animal Envy" animals hold "The Great Talkout" and tell us what they need

Posted Nov 14, 2016

If we could talk with the animals what would they tell us? Learn more in Mr. Nader's book when the animals hold "The Great Talkout"

When Ralph Nader's publisher contacted me and asked if I would write an endorsement for his book called Animal Envy: A Fable, my first thought was that there must be another Ralph Nader rather than the Ralph Nader most of us know. I was wrong. It was the Ralph Nader and I asked to see the book. I'm thrilled they asked and I'm thrilled that I had a sneak preview of his excellent book. The book's description reads:

With permission of the publisher
Source: With permission of the publisher

Ralph Nader's newest work of the imagination, Animal Envy, is a fable about the kinds of intelligences that are all around us in other animals. What would animals tell us—about themselves, about us—if there were a common language among all animal species? A bracingly simple idea, one that has been used before in books like George Orwell's Animal Farm and E. B. White's Charlotte's Web among others, but never like this. In Animal Envy, Ralph Nader proposes, quite plausibly, that a programmer has created a "digital translation" app whereby animals of different species, from insects to whales, can speak to one another, and through a "hyper-advanced converter" these animals can then also speak, both collectively and individually, to humans. It is decided that there will be a global assembly. It will be called "The Great Talkout." Humans are persuaded to reserve 100 hours of network coverage so The Great Talkout may begin and will be viewed by humans everywhere, in all human languages, as well as all animal languages.     
The narrative that ensues is deeply felt and powerfully informed. Just as he did when he wrote Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, Nader shows here that his visionary genius knows no limits.

The endorsement I sent to the publisher reads: 

Ralph Nader's Animal Envy is a stimulating, wide-ranging, and forward-looking book. By using a digitally converted language that is understandable across species, diverse nonhuman animals—from insects to whales—are able to communicate with one another and also with human animals. In an ensuing global assembly called 'The Great Talkout,' a panoply of animals not only tells us who they really are and what they want and need to flourish, but also shows how they can be of great benefit to us—a win-win for all. Along the way we meet many fascinating beings, including the insect triad—the Earthworm, the Monarch Butterfly, and the Honey Bee—who plea for the end of pesticides. Using results from research on the cognitive and emotional lives of animals, Mr. Nader weaves in plausible stories of what we can learn about their agenda if we take the time to talk with and listen carefully to them. All in all, Animal Envy is a highly original and visionary book that made me think deeply about human-animal relationships and how they must change as other animals plea for less violence and appeal for compassionate coexistence in the Anthropocene, an epoch that truly has become the rage of humanity.

Renowned philosopher, Peter Singer, wrote: "It's good to see Ralph Nader turning his attention to the way we treat animals.  Whether you love or hate the unusual framework he has chosen, the ideas he presents are important and demand our attention."

"The Great Talkout": The importance of thinking out of the box and not being arrogant

I was thrilled when Mr. Nader was able to take the time for me to interview him. Here is what he has to say about Animal Envy

Why did you write Animal Envy?

Because as a Fable with a basis in fact and science, it was another way of communicating the intensifying dependencies of humans and the animal kingdom on each other. If we continue with the centuries-long hubris of “conquering nature” with ever more powerful technologies, we will be conquering ourselves. Letting nonhuman animals speak to humans before a global TV audience allows candor its free range.”

How and when did you get interested in nonhuman animals?

As a boy I felt repelled by mistreatment—really torture—of local fauna and domesticated animals. As an adult, I was into exposing the brutal industrial agriculture —massing of pigs, chickens and cattle—as bad for them and bad for us (antibiotics, hormones and more). 

Who is your intended audience? 

Everybody of all ages, backgrounds, here and abroad. The Fable, translated, enables such a universal audience. However, as you can see, most of the geographically described events are more in and around the U.S. Still, the “presentations” could be from anywhere—as with the elephant, the owl and the dolphin.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new book?

Getting people who are not up to date regarding recent findings about nonhuman animals’ multiple intelligences, their capacity for compassion, empathy, sorrow and their common “needs” with humans. Above all, getting people to think outside their box, including youngsters.

Are you hopeful for a future when humans and nonhumans will be able to coexist (more) peacefully?

Yes, first values are changing; there is more awareness of zoonotic diseases transmitted to humans (e.g. from China’s agriculture), growing ethical and safety issues related to cloning and the use of animal organs and tissues in humans, and the radiating consequences of species’ extinctions. 

Are there any messages in Animal Envy that can be applied to humans? 

Yes, among many—stop being so arrogant (which leads directly to cruelty) because we’re way behind nonhuman animals in some very important ways (e.g. we start organized wars, we soil our own nest and we do the opposite often of what we solidly know). Also, look what we’re starting to learn about their astonishing physical characteristics.

What are your current projects?

Many—starting with increasing the left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state— treated in my recent book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate. Given what happened on November 8, 2016, a left-right alliance back in the Congressional districts is the most potent available force to defend and advance the public interest.

I’m also committed to educating people about the law of wrongful injury to defend their safety, freedom and environment. Toward that end I founded the first law museum of any kind in the world called The American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. It has proven to be a transformative experience for the visitors from our country and around the world.

Finally, I want to convey to millions of people that breaking through unjust power is easier than we think. I wrote about this in my recent book: Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your audience?

I would also like this fable to be selected by as many of the thousands of neighborhood book clubs as possible and have these book clubs donate copies to local libraries. It is a very easy read that leads to self-developing deliberations and wonder. Very funny in parts as well. Thank you, Marc!

Thank you, Ralph! I hope that Animal Envy enjoys a broad global audience. It is essential to allow nonhumans animals to speak for themselves in a language we all understand so they can tell us what they want and need in an increasingly human-dominated world, a topic we covered in your interview with me about Jessica Pierce and my forthcoming book The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age. 

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation, Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, and The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson). The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce) will be published in early 2017.