dog

Has there been a Marxist critique of dogs? Hopefully not.

Any dog trainer will tell you that dogs are bourgeois wolves. Their wolf-nature remains, barely hidden below a reluctant concession to social norms, tenuously imposed by human authority. The hunter instinct, the killer bite, is still there. They chase anything that moves. Look at the stats for dog-bites-man.

Dog Marxism, however, would require dog-nature to be a blank canvas, an unformed lump of clay that society can mould in its own image. Dog Marxism would ignore "dog as dog": if dogs bite, it would the fault of false consciousness, of oppressive culture. If only society was radically changed... dogs would be transformed into true self-fulfilled bite-free beings, raptured into an eschatological caninotopia, etc.

Or something like that. Problem is... dog society has radically changed. The primeval dog-eat-dog jungle is incomparable to the domestic bliss of the human family home. And guess what - irrespective of whether or not this doggy embourgeoisement itself constitutes "oppression" - underneath it all the family mutt is still a potential wolf. I have a French relative, a smallholder, whose flock of twenty sheep were all killed one sunny afternoon by the neighbour's two normally-friendly Labradors. My aunt's calm Ridgeback once escaped into a forest and killed a deer. (End of anecdotal evidence.)

Marxism is a demonisation of the bourgeoisie. Yet the measure of success of a society is surely the extent to which it produces - and expands - its middle class (in the British sense of the term). What else should the poor aspire to... endless class struggle? What kind of wolf would you rather live amongst... the rapacious, or the tamed?

(Added: old Turkish proverb: "If you must choose between two wolves, a wolf that has eaten and a wolf that is hungry, choose the wolf that has eaten.")