In Butjadingen, Germany, there exists a farm unlike any nearby. It has animals commonly found on farms—cows, chickens, pigs, geese and dogs. However, the farm exists more to serve the animals than to contribute to the food supply.
Hof Butenland, as the place is called, is an animal sanctuary, a kind of retirement home. The farm owners brag that their cows don’t have to produce milk and pigs can sleep late. No animal serves humans, and all co-exist as equals. All the animals have to do is live peacefully in their final years.
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At the same time, the farm makes a political and ecological statement about how food is produced. Neighboring farmers see the experiment’s philosophy as a threat to their livelihood. Jan Gerdes and partner Karin Mück, the farm’s legal owners, make no secret that they see their policy of total egalitarianism for all species as a revolutionary move that will help save the planet. They would like to see all farms modeled on theirs.
Animal Farm 2.0
The place is revolutionary. A New York Times feature article paints a glowing picture of life on the farm. The farm takes the scenario in George Orwell’s Animal Farm a step further. The animals have not revolted and taken over the farm, expelling all humans. Instead, the animals are in charge, with humans doing their bidding.
The socialist framework has also been changed and updated. These animals are no longer engaged in the revolutionary struggle. They have advanced to live in a socialist utopia where everything is provided to them. Animals are free to roam the 100-acre farm and live in its red brick barns built in 1841. There are no pigs that dominate the other animals as in Orwell’s story. Everyone gets along in perfect harmony.
The animals in the Butjadingen eco-equal paradise do not have to worry about supporting themselves. Like their eco-socialist human counterparts, they live off other people’s money. The farm survives due to the generosity of rich human outsiders who donate to the enterprise. The funds allow free veterinary care for all while a wind turbine supplies the electricity.
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Visitors come to marvel at this pastoral scene of peace and love. They might later send care packages with hand-written notes addressed to a favorite cow or pig, all of which are curiously given human names.
Not All Animals Are Equal
Not every animal can live in Hof Butenland as space is limited. Nor does this carefully fenced-in sanctuary boast of open borders or a mass migration policy. Its privileged occupants are old farm pets, rescue dogs, and abandoned or research animals. The latter enjoy a special status. Indeed, in her violent activist days, farm-owner Karin Mück spent some weeks in solitary confinement in 1985 after breaking into a laboratory to “liberate” its test animals.
However, as in Animal Farm, not all are equal. One species is especially exploited. The humans are constantly working to make sure the animals do not have to work. The land is no idyllic paradise where everything naturally takes care of itself. Two full-time employees are needed to make sure the animals have food, protection and water. When the animals get old, they arrange to have them duly euthanized.
In addition, animal equality at Butjadingen is carefully choreographed. Some animals need not apply. The inescapable reality is that not all animals get along. Some will eat others if given a chance. Thus, no retiring circus lions or worn-out wolves make it to Hof Butenland. The diet is strictly and by necessity vegan…
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Unnatural Egalitarian Schemes
Hof Butenland is an example of unreal egalitarian schemes. Despite being a farm, it highlights all the leftist themes: political, ecological, or metaphysical. And like all socialist experiments, the farm is an artificial development detached from reality. It survives by living off the economic system it seeks to undermine.
The problem with the farm is not the animals. They are the victims of artificial constructs that seek to put them in human contexts. Such delusional schemes eventually fail because everything against nature fails. Left to itself, the system will fall apart and revert to the savage ways of the wild. The animals at Animal Farm 2.0 could eventually suffer a tyranny far worse than those in George Orwell’s original tale.
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