Everyone Who Is Not Clearly Supporting Violent Direct Action Supports the
State's Terrorist Oppression
By Kostas Alexiou, the Greek anti-speciesist
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. —Jack Kerouac (SPEAK demo – Oct 2006)
So here we are, waiting for the debate between Steve Best and Gary Francione. But the real problem with Francione and everyone who opposes violence or disagrees with Dr. Best’s defense of effective militant direct action is not just about their ideas on animal rights or animal liberation or neo-abolitionism; it’s about their idea of Freedom and the struggle to see it realized. Arguing that violence for animal causes is unjustified is like saying that all the illegal violent animal liberators are evil and should go to jail. In these times of the Patriot Act and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, in these times when corporate-state oppression is expanding globally, in these times when the liberation of a cow/pig/dog/chicken from a concentration camp is considered terrorism and the liberator subject to criminal penalties, whoever does not stand proudly to support this so called “terrorism” is against Freedom and is the enemy of the animal liberation movement. State repression is increasingly harsh, which requires fierce resistance.
So here are the questions: What do Francione’s pacifists believe about ALF prisoners? Are they guilty? What do they think about animal liberators and property destroyers? Should they be in prison? Are they a threat to society?
ALF prisoners are people inside the movement who went one step further (and got caught), risking their lives and freedom just to take the cause of Animal Liberation a step further. It is a duty to those who are a part of this movement to stand proudly on behalf of nonhuman animal liberators. Now more than ever, silence is complicity and everyone who is not clearly supporting violent direct action supports the state’s terrorist oppression.
What do all the peace promoters think about the Warsaw Ghetto? Or about the American Civil War for the liberation of slaves? Or about the struggle to break the back of Apartheid? What would the peace fetishists do if their family members were tortured, mutilated and tragically killed, just because someone considered them commodities? Would they try to educate the murderers? Well, all the imprisoned nonhuman animals ARE our brothers and sisters, and it’s our responsibility to free them by any means necessary, or at least to support those who do. If people argue that violence on behalf of people is justified but that violence on behalf of nonhuman animals is taboo, they are speciesists.
It is illegal to do a peaceful demo outside the house of a vivisectionist puppy killer. Philosophers are considered dangerous to the public and are banned from entering countries for lectures. There are animal liberation advocates imprisoned for just running a web site for fucks sake! It is clear that the global corporate state complex recognizes that its interests are threatened and that it is not willing negotiate on its “right” to exploit nonhuman animals to attain its bloody lucre.
So why are Francione and his dogmatic pacifist followers unwilling to accept that underground militant direct action is advancing the cause of animal liberation? If vegan outreach alone was effective, it would have been proclaimed illegal a long time ago. It seems that the Austrian 10 example wasn’t understood at all. Animal liberation is not only about going illegal; it is about being effective. The Austrians became effective while being legal and aboveground (and even “welfarist” according to Francione, although their “welfarism” has achieved much more than his so-called abolitionism) and we all witnessed what happened to them.
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world (and are the ones who actually do so) — the ones who push the human race forward — they are at the front lines in the war to free nonhuman animals. Anybody who is not shouting out his/her full support for their actions should be ashamed.
Steve Best in his excellent essay The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education, emphasizes the pitiful reality of the academic theoreticians who live in an insulated world, shielded from reality. The academic pacifists are only proving Best’s writings 100% correct. Francione claims that contrary to the violence that was waged on behalf of human slaves, violence on behalf of animals has no cultural meaning. This is something very strange for someone to say. He adds that this kind of violence doesn’t mean anything to most people because unlike human slavery, there is little opposition to animal oppression. That’s another strange thing to say. The hundreds of serious AR organizations around the world (and thousands of other silly animal organizations) are proving exactly the opposite — that there is a very powerful opposition to nonhuman animal exploitation. In addition, the deaths of Barry Horne, Jill Phipps, Mike Hill and others and the imprisonment of hundreds of activists around the world (as a visit to the daily updated Bite Back website illustrates) are proof that a potent resistance exists and demonstrate how far this resistance is willing to go.
Animal liberation issues are gaining publicity in the papers everyday, so how can one talk about violent direct action leading to marginalization of the movement? And of course many people became involved with animal rights issues because they were inspired by animal liberators and property destroyers! How could anyone with connections in the movement honestly deny that? It may not be so inside the bourgeois and careerist academic bubble in which Francione floats, but people in the real world truly do get inspired by the actions of groups like the ALF and the Animal Rights Militia. The cause of animal liberation is gaining strength and momentum within society. This is another fact. If someone is too cowardly to participate in this conflict, the least they should do is to shut up and step aside rather than boosting their ego and enhancing their academic career by attacking those who engage in militant direct action on behalf of nonhuman animals.
Francione asserts that animal exploitation exists solely because of consumer demand, which relives the exploitative and oppressive system of corporatism of all responsibility and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of individual “consumers.” Then I suppose he has a logical explanation for the perpetuation of bullfighting in Spain, despite the fact that 75% of Spain’s citizens want it banned. He probably also has a good reason why there are lingering presences of U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that the majority of American citizens want the troops home. The examples of situations like these are nearly infinite. We would all like to hear a cogent explanation of this phenomenon.
Further, Francione uses words like consumers, demand, and supply. The problem here is in the base. He just fails to realize that revolutions (he used the word) do not happen by reforming (his word again, probably one of his favorite ones), but by sedition. In addition, he fails to realize the complexity of the capitalist system. He presents this system as an autonomous, just, and benevolent system, which is something like an assay balance, in which you pick up from the one side some “demand” and then see some “torture” disappearing from the other side.
Well, unfortunately things are not like that. I like to present capitalism as thousands of communicating vessels with thousands of safety valves between them. In the middle there are aid grants, corporate interests, bribes, clandestine deals. In modern capitalism, just reducing the demand of a product means nothing.
Francione also seems to believe that every human is autonomous, like a being who is looking for the truth, who is smart enough not to be deceived, and who knows his own good and will look passionately for it. Yeah, right. Who are these people? The people who voted for Bush and Obama? The people who are feeding their children cow-milk? The Republicans maybe? The redneck patriots? Or even the liberal capitalists? To be honest, I believe that groups like these have given the word “autonomous” a whole new meaning.
Francione then asks who is the target of the AR violence and if the meat eaters should be a target. Well, maybe it’s wrong to focus on omnivores, but this doesn’t really mean that we should congratulate them for their murderous disgusting diet. We don’t “attack” them for two reasons. First, they are not the source of the problem—the corporate systemic institutions are and these are what we should target. Second, at this time we don’t have the numbers and strength to go toe to toe against “meat” eaters. But, just as a woman in a fur coat might provoke an attack in a society that largely frowns upon such a cruel fashion statement, when meat eaters are no longer tolerated by our culture, they too will come to fear displaying their murderous habits for the entire world to see.
And here is another mistake that Francione makes. Whenever he mentions violence and destruction on behalf of animals, he almost always mentions the allegedly negative impact these actions have on public opinion. He misses the point that property destruction is not about scoring PR points – it is about inflicting damages, creating a climate of fear amongst exploiters, and obliterating the hell holes it targets.
Francione often claims that if an institution gets destroyed, another one will take its place. Oh, really? What happened to Hillgrove in England? What happened to dozens of raided fur farms around the US? What is happening to HLS now? HLS sooner or later will be out of business. It would be ludicrous for someone to really believe that there will be any corporation willing to go through what HLS is experiencing right now.
Still not convinced about the effectiveness of militant direct action? This is a war, and every opened cage, every burned meat truck and every damaged vivisection lab is a battle we have won. While propaganda is an important component of a war, we can’t let fear of public disapproval determine our tactics. Our war is about saving lives here and now, and doing whatever we can to prevent future deaths.
Francione often mentions Gandhi’s words: nothing is more powerful than non-violence. Nobody would expect something different from the man who during World War II was asking the Jews to willingly sacrifice themselves to the Nazi atrocity so that they would not create any further resistance than already existed. Francione, with his fetishist pacifism, earns the neo-Ghandhism award for 2010. Congratulations Gary, you won the prize. But you lost the true meaning of Freedom…
Kostas Alexiou, TPC’s European Editor of Total Liberation, is based in Athens. He is opposed to any kind of authority and oppression. He supports direct action on behalf of both nonhuman and human animals and radical approaches in general. He is a student of Forestry and Natural Environment Management. He blogs in Greek at Antispeciesist Action and is committed to integrating all liberation struggles.
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