Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated, allied, aligned, or connected with the Transformative Studies Institute, the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Anthony Nocella II, or Richard Kahn. While I am a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office and am an associate of Jerry Vlasak and Steve Best, I am penning this piece independently of NAALPO and all of my allies. This essay is philosophical in nature and is not intended to incite or encourage illegal or violent acts.
Immersion in an emotionally intense experience impacts the human psyche in a poignant and profound way. Marginalized as we are by the war my fellow activists and I are waging against the dominant culture, it’s an elating and uplifting experience to meet and engage those fellow activists, comrades, and allies. My six days of nearly constant interaction with similar-minded individuals and the chanting, shouting, and raging at primate torturers and their enablers at the nexus of the UCLA vivisection wars in a raucous, vociferous, militant demonstration served both as a cathartic outlet and a source of potent spiritual and intellectual inspiration.
I’ve plenty of time to muse and contemplate as I journey home from those six days at the Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles, a city that is rife with animal liberationists and vegans—at least relative to my home in Kansas City. It’s a bit disheartening to be returning to that barren outpost that’s nestled in the heart of the Bible belt and farm country, riddled of course with fundamentalist Christian churches galore, techno-hells known as factory “farms,” and numerous “meat” purveying establishments that serve seared rotting flesh slathered in spicy sauce. Hardened speciesists, hunters, and a vast array of animal enslaving and exploiting business entities and individuals abound. Yet there I shall remain, at least for a few more years, to press forward with Bite Club of KC (http://biteclubkc.wordpress.com/), the grass roots activist group I founded. If we have a prayer of success with the animal liberation movement nearly every town needs at least a few zealots.
There’s little to do but reflect and bang out my thoughts on my laptop as the incessant droning of the plane’s jet engines reverberates in my ears, annoying in one sense and yet soothing in another, as the cicada-like hum provides reassurance that we’re surging toward our destination rather than hurtling toward a fiery and instantaneous death. Sifting and sorting through the collage of memories forged over the last week, it occurred to me that I’d seen, felt, heard, and generally experienced a pretty comprehensive cross-section of the groups and people whose goal it is to abolish the slavery of nonhuman animals–to liberate the billions of nonhuman animals who suffer excruciating agony at the hands of their self-absorbed, empathy deficient human exploiters and oppressors.
Most of the hundreds of people whom I met proclaimed to be passionate and dedicated vegan abolitionists. Yet despite enough professed love for nonhuman animals that Jesus and John Lennon would have experienced spasms of ecstasy simply from “feeling the vibes,” the debate over direct action and “how far is too far” raged throughout the conference. In my vernacular, love is a verb and this absurd debate was over before it started. If a bully is abusing the weak or defenseless, it’s morally laudable to knock the shit out of him—with a ball bat, a metal rod, or any weapon at hand if he’s a “bad ass.” Those of us who are truly committed to animal liberation need to employ, support, or, at the very least, respect militant direct action of virtually any kind. Billions of our nonhuman friends are shot, stabbed, eviscerated, beaten, starved, skinned alive, hunted, mutilated, electrocuted, boiled, raped, confined, cooked and eaten every year in a hideous speciesist greed and murder-fest–and those of us who claim to love them have a moral obligation to fight for them by any means necessary, “each according to his ability.”
Obviously the true enemy in this war is the system. The pitiless, soulless, murderous machine of capitalism and industrial civilization inculcates, indoctrinates, entices, bribes, and coerces nearly everyone to participate in its bloody, rapacious, and relentless assault on the Earth and its sentient inhabitants. Even those of us who recognize its malevolence and are struggling to skewer the heart of this wretched beast have to use the sociopathic master’s tools if we’ve a prayer of dismantling the master’s house of horrors.
Despite the fact that we need to direct most of our rage and actions against the system, there are those individuals within the system who are so sociopathic, such hardened speciesists, and so incorrigible that they are immune to education, persuasion, propaganda and polemics, political pressure, financial pressure, changes in laws, protests, boycotts, or any of the myriad other aboveground and legal actions that our movement utilizes. These are fine methods, and I’m not suggesting for a moment that we abandon them or that those who engage in them are wasting their time. It is essential that we wage this war holistically and contextually, but non-violent, legal means are not effective in every situation and they alone will not empty the cages and stop the intense suffering.
Philosophically speaking, if we love nonhuman animals enough and truly want to win their liberation—including their basic rights to live free of human-inflicted suffering, torture, exploitation, oppression, and murder—the most heinous and most culpable perpetrators of the nonhuman animal holocaust will need to start looking over their shoulders and fearing the wrath that nonhuman animals would rain down upon them if they had the means and the opportunity. Call it extensional self defense. Call it justifiable homicide. Call it vigilante justice. A rose is a rose by any other name and it’s time for that flower to blossom in the AR movement. One of the master’s principal tools to maintain power, domination, and affluence is violence or the threat of violence—be it physical, psychological, social, political, or economic. Why do we endow the master with the exclusive right to use one of the most powerful tools on the work bench?
Consider this. Hideous as their agenda may be to some of us, anti-abortionist activists love embryos and fetuses enough to utilize violence as a form of extensional self-defense on their behalf. The question isn’t, “Do we agree with their agenda?” The question is, “Have they been effective?” Their record speaks for itself. Assassinations of doctors who performed abortions have nearly eliminated the practice of late-term abortions in the US. Food for thought.
As a movement, we also need to give serious philosophical consideration to numerous other tactics which have been successfully implemented by radical social movements throughout history.
Hunting accidents are a beautiful manifestation of karma. Nearly every US citizen in the animal liberation movement has the same 2nd Amendment right to bear arms as hunters and probably loves the outdoors as much (if not more than) those who hunt. Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if there were a sudden epidemic of hunting accidents?
Corporate executives and politicians who are instrumental in the animal holocaust receive innocuous protest letters from animal rights protestors frequently. Presumably they smirk and casually toss them into their refuse bin, or if they’re “green” shred them for recycling. However, if said letters were contaminated with a biological warfare agent or some wicked poison like ricin, they would be much more difficult to blithely ignore.
Our beloved animal industrial complex hammers our collective psyche with the best propaganda money can buy to convince us of the safety and necessity of eating “meat,” drinking “milk,” and vivisecting nonhuman animals. Imagine the panic and economic backlash if someone countered their reprehensible mendacity with some major black propaganda. Widespread and effectively orchestrated rumors of massive quantities of BSE-infected “meat,” millions of gallons of “milk” tainted with melamine, thousands of people experiencing horrific side effects and dying as a result of taking the latest pharmaceutical that was deemed “safe” via animal testing…
Infrastructure is another vulnerability our movement could, in theory, heavily exploit. Cyber attacks on large corporate entities involved in the wholesale maiming and mutilation of our friends could put a much-deserved hurt on them. Frequent, coordinated strikes at multiple targets could seriously cripple these horrendous fiends, leaving them flailing helplessly like the “downers” they hoist into the slaughterhouses via forklift or the monkeys they bolt into chairs to “map” their brains. Flailing yet grasping for their bloody lucre to their dying gasp, much like HLS. Attacks on the utilities powering their butchery and bloodshed and on the communications systems enabling them to plot their maleficent strategies to wring more profit from the bloody carcasses of our nonhuman friends could also strike serious blows against these rotten-to-the-core serial abusers.
Lastly, but probably not least in terms of potential efficacy, a prominent figure in the animal exploitation complex in the hands of intelligent underground activists could probably fetch a significant ransom. Say perhaps the release and subsequent re-wilding (or provision for their humane guardianship) of all the nonhuman animals enslaved by the entity, or even the industry, which that person represented….
While these are hypotheticals wrested from the wandering mind of a militant vegan confined to a cramped commercial airliner full of speciesist necrovores for three hours, they could potentially become realities for our movement. Sometimes moving from the abstract to the real can be as simple as steeling one’s determination and taking Nike’s advice to “Just do it.”
As my little exercise in critical thinking unfolds here, I’m finding myself plagued and perplexed by a number of contradictions and inconsistencies that I’m struggling to reconcile.
For instance, what is preventing our movement from unifying in support of the underground direct action that is already taking place and why isn’t the animal liberation movement upping the ante in response to intensified animal exploitation?
Are we so afraid of “public perception” that we won’t engage the enemy on its own terms? As you read that question, thousands of those we profess to love so much were murdered. And we’re going to let the speciesist system have a monopoly on harming sentient beings AND imprison our fellow activists for chanting and chalking a side-walk? Maybe there’s some redneck mentality left in me, but where I come from that’s called being a pussy. Yes we’re vastly out-numbered, but that’s why those who currently engage in direct action do so anonymously and use asymmetrical tactics. Our friends in the cages, labs, and abattoirs certainly don’t give a fuck how the public perceives us–their defenders. And were they the moral agents and we the moral patients, I feel confident that they would take the fight to our abusers any way they could. My validation for this belief is that when I look into Chico’s eyes (he is the pit bull for whom I’m the guardian), I KNOW that he would die fighting for me.
Or perhaps we’re closet speciesists, thus able to psychologically minimize the overwhelmingly immense suffering our friends endure and the incalculable gallons of blood they spew? Maybe at some level of our psyches we reject our own rhetoric about the sanctity of nonhuman animal life. Do we truly believe in our own cause?
Or are we so repulsed by the dominant culture of death that we will “battle not with monsters, lest we become a monster?” How sane is it to give this concern a second thought when thus far speciesists have slaughtered trillions of our friends over the centuries and vegan militants have not killed a single sociopathic human animal?
Each of us who sincerely loves nonhuman animals and seeks their liberation needs to ask ourselves these questions and at least two others.
“In the face of unspeakable evil, is it even possible for me to go too far?”
And finally, “What am I willing to do to help stop those who are principally responsible for perpetuating the 10,000 year holocaust that has killed trillions of nonhuman sentient beings?”
Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, vegan straight edge, and animal liberationist. He is also the senior editor and founder of Thomas Paine’s Corner and the blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute.
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