Archive for December, 2010

by Dr. Steven Best

The crisis is upon us, an evolutionary crossroads, and everyone is asleep and numbed by alienated labor and the mass media spectacle-sphere. We’re a failed species, we won’t make it, and will die with a long, slow, horrid whimper not a bang.

I’m in it to help those I can and leave something behind for the poor fucks who are the future generations, as they try to come to grips with our utter failures to wake up and respond to this omnicide and holocaust, and fight a hard but intelligent fight, rather that chant for peace and spread veganism to more white elites.

The world will go vegan, but not because of our movement, rather because of the massive crash, resource wars, scarcity and brutal global wars on the horizon. The global social and ecological system is unraveling before our eyes, and all the “go vegan” platitudes don’t amount to a damn thing without being attached to a fierce and implacable global resistance movement for total liberation.

The real spectacle is the raw obscenity of the failure of Homo sapiens and this “movement” which is so tethered to the machines of destruction, it is a lubricant not a friction. It’s revolution or ravage, and revolutions are not pretty or peaceful, and when push comes to shove and an ascending force tackles a decadent descending power.

But thanks to the passivists and the omnipresent Stockholm Syndrome mentality that has this movement captive, aided by cults and Kool-Aid drinking podpeople, we don’t have to worry about much bloodshed, people are marching quietly to planetary doom. Social and ecological collapse, the sixth great species extinction, extreme hunger, poverty, and suffering; capitalist commandeering of the planet….. and there’s not even anger. But I am consumed with rage, a fire of fury that fuels what little I myself can do.

Ahimsa, Namaste, Peace, Love, and Prozac: fuck these tranquilizers, rage against the machine…. and the dying of the light ..

by Dr. Steven Best
Proceedings of the 2nd International Meeting for Environmental Ethics in Athens, 2010
(watch video of presentation HERE)

Prologue to a Problem

We are winning many battles in the fight for freedom, rights, democracy, compassionate ethics, peace, interspecies justice, and ecology.

But we are losing the war.

The war against greed, violence, plunder, profits, and domination. The war against transnational corporations, world banks, the US Empire, and Western military machines. The war against metastasizing systems of economic growth, technological development, overproduction, overconsumption, and overpopulation.

Despite recent decades of intense social and environmental struggles, we are nevertheless losing ground in the battle for democracy and ecology.

In the last two decades, neoliberalism and globalization have destroyed social democracies, widened gaps between rich and poor, dispossessed farmers, and marketized the entire world. Alongside good-old fashioned imperialism and resource extraction, people now confront genetic engineering, biopiracy, the patenting of genes, and the control of the seed supply. McDonaldization swallows up diversity as agribusiness engulfs the world’s farmers. Corporate power is growing as people power is shrinking.

Signs of ecological distress are everywhere, from shrinking forests and depleted fisheries to vanishing wilderness and rising sea levels. Throughout history, societies have devastated local environments, but only in the last two decades has humanity upset the planetary ecology to bring about global climate change. Moreover, we now live in the era of the sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet, the last one occurring 65 million years ago in the age of the dinosaurs. Unlike the last five, this one is caused by human activity; we are the meteor crashing into the earth. Conservation biologists predict one third to one half of the world’s plant and animal species might vanish in the next few decades. By 2050, the world’s population will be nine billion, and the meat consumption in China will double; the spike in global meat consumption has prompted the United Nations to write that the only viable path for a sustainable future is a global shift toward a vegan diet.[i]

The global capitalist world system is inherently destructive to people, animals, and nature. It is unsustainable and the bills for three centuries of industrialization and market-growth are now due. This system cannot be humanized, civilized, or made green-friendly; rather, it must be transcended through revolution at all levels—economic, political, legal, cultural, technological, moral, and conceptual.

In the last three decades, there has been growing awareness that environmentalism cannot succeed without social justice and social justice cannot be realized without environmentalism. This wisdom informed the emergence of the US environmental justice movement, Earth First! alliances with timber workers, Zapatista coalition building, and the 1999 Battle of Seattle that united workers and environmentalists.

But something is still missing, the equation remains unbalanced, the strategy cannot work. The interests of one species alone are represented and millions of others go unrecognized except as resources to be preserved for human use. But in the last three decades a new social movement has emerged — animal liberation. The power and potential of the entire animal advocacy movement has yet to be understood, but it deserves equal representation in the politics of the 21st century. Despite its numerous limitations, moreover, it has revolutionary potential that must be grasped and integrated into the project of social transformation.

Progressives fighting for peace, justice, democracy, autonomy, and ecology must acknowledge the validity of and need for the animal liberation movement for two reasons. First, on a moral level, the brutalization, exploitation, and suffering of animals is so great, so massive in degree and scope, that it demands a profound moral and political response from anyone with pretence to values of compassion, justice, rights, and nonviolence. Every year humans butcher 70 billion land and marine animals for food; millions more die in experimental laboratories, fur farm, hunting preserves, and countless other killing zones.

Second, on a strategic level, the animal liberation movement is essential for the human and earth liberation movements. In numerous key ways, the domination of humans over animals underlies the domination of human over human and propels the global ecological crisis. There cannot be revolutionary changes in ethics, psychology, society, and ecology without engaging animal liberation.

It is becoming increasingly clear that human, animal, and earth liberation movements are inseparably linked, such that none can be free until all are free. This is not a new insight, but rather a lost wisdom and truth. Recall the words of Pythagoras, who 2500 years ago proclaimed: “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” A vital task of our time is to understand the full import of this insight.

Given their symbiotic, holistic, and interlocking relationship, it is imperative that we no longer speak of human liberation, animal liberation, or earth liberation as if they were independent struggles; rather, we need to speak of total liberation. By “total liberation” I do not mean a metaphysical utopia where all sentient beings reach a perfect state of freedom and happiness in their lives, Rather, I refer to the theoretical process of holistically understanding movements in relation to one another, to capitalism, and to other modes of oppression, and to the political process of synthetically forming alliances against common oppressors, across class, racial, gender, and national boundaries, as we link democracy to ecology and social justice to animal rights.

And while I speak of the “liberation” of the earth metaphorically, I mean it quite literally for nonhuman animals, for they are the oldest, largest, most exploited, and most neglected of all exploited groups and slave classes. Like their human counterparts, nonhuman animals are sentient, conscious, feeling, and thinking beings endowed with wills, desires, interests, and more. They have abilities and potentialities that demand satisfaction, and complex physical, psychological, and social needs that can only be fulfilled in their natural settings, apart from human interference. Nonhuman animals can and must be free from systems of human domination and exploitation — as unjustifiable in principle as they are destructive in consequence — in order to be free to live out their lives as the complex beings they have become over the course of natural evolution.

Continue reading

In July 2010, Steve Best visited Greece and spoke about the animal standpoint, total liberation, and revolution in the 21st century. This discussion took place at the Second International Meeting on Environmental Ethics at the University of Athens:

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Here is a secret fur farmers don’t want you to know: how to get a close look at a mink farm – legally.

by Peter Young (Voice of the Voiceless)

There is an odd trend among the small number of fur farms left in the U.S.: several of them are also cut-your-own Christmas tree farms.

These tree farms invite members of the public onto their property to find the perfect Christmas tree. This invitation could offer the prospective Christmas tree buyer a glimpse of  a fur farm rarely experienced outside of Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) raids.

One such fur farm is the Gengel Mink Farm. A recent article on Christmas tree farms in the Chicago area stated:

“A mink farm year-round, the 60-acre Gengel site was first planted with evergreen trees in 1964 and has been known to sell up to 500 trees annually.”

The Blueprint fur farm list categorizes the Gengel Mink Farm as being an open, active mink farm.

By their nature, Christmas tree farms encourage exploration of the property to find the perfect tree, offering an otherwise impossible opportunity to see a mink farm up close.

The website for the another tree farm – the Ide Christmas Tree Farm – invites visitors to explore:

“Hike as much or little as it takes to find the ‘Perfect Tree’ for your family.”

What the website doesn’t say is that this tree farm is on the same property as the Charles Ide Jr. fur farm in Downer’s Grove, Illinois. This fur farm is rumored to be closed, but this has never been confirmed. Going tree shopping at this farm would allow anyone to get close to the sheds and confirm its status once and for all.

A third fur farm – Mildbrand Mink Ranch in Medford, Wisconsin – also operates a Christmas tree farm. While this farm appears to be located around the corner from the mink sheds, this would still be one place to not buy a tree this year.

For the others, this is one opportunity that cannot be passed up: mink farmers inviting the public onto their property.

Christmas tree shoppers are invited to send their reports to Voice of the Voiceless.

Editorial Note: People who spread rumors (e.g., alleged sexual involvement, personal disparagement, etc.) or make false accusations against other activists (e.g.,Francione alleging death threats or ALF involvement) should be viewed as potential plants and infiltrators. At the very least, they should be understood to be counter-revolutionary and to be doing the work of the FBI and the state.

by Will Potter (Green is the New Red)

The FBI and a previously-unknown informant in the animal rights movement discussed, among other topics, how to disrupt political activism, according to FBI documents. The topics discussed echo COINTELPRO-era tactics of the 1960s, including the possibility of discrediting activists through planting rumors.

The FBI file is dated May 12, 2005, by the FBI’s Johnson City Resident Agency, which is part of the Knoxville  field office. It is based on conversations between an FBI agent and “Source,” who is only identified as someone who was involved in “direct actions” and is willing to share information with the government in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The result is an FBI agent’s notes that offer a rare glimpse of how the government is targeting its “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

Spreading Rumors

Of particular interest to the FBI agent was how the animal rights movement has responded to the government’s use of informants. I have reported here previously about the FBI infiltrating vegan potlucks, and much more serious cases involving an informant named “Anna,” Brandon Darby, and Jacob Ferguson, among others.

These high-profile cases have made activists fearful of FBI spying. According to the FBI agents’ notes, the informant reported that fear alone of such infiltration can be enough to sabotage political activity:

“The Animal Rights Movement does little research on newcomers into the movement and basically goes with its gut instinct as to whether a person is an informant or not. Organizers of the Animal Rights Movement can be discredited and removed from the scene by planting rumors that they are plants and/or informants.” [emphasis added]

The potential for such tactics appears to be validated in the mind of the FBI agent, who notes that there is “no risk of violence to these persons about whom these false rumors may be started as most of the animal rights people are also strict advocates of nonviolence against human persons.”

Weak Links in Security Culture

A common term in activist circles is “security culture,” which means being aware of government surveillance and taking reasonable steps to protect your privacy, and the privacy of others. One aspect of security culture, for instance, includes email encryption via PGP.

Activists who have had homes raided by the FBI or been harassed through grand jury witch hunts have learned the importance of protecting their privacy, and making it less easy for the FBI to snoop into their political activity. “Security culture” has been cited in court cases and Congressional hearings as a source of frustration for FBI agents.

In this document, the FBI agent notes “the day of those strict rules may be passing. Source believes that many of the younger activists do not subscribe to these strict requirements as they are extremely inconvenient.”

A Century of Similar Efforts

This FBI document was provided to me by Ryan Shapiro, who is a PhD candidate at MIT. Shapiro, a historian of science, is researching conflicts over animal experimentation and national security. This document surfaced in one of his Freedom of Information Act requests.

Shapiro’s research is a ground-breaking investigation of early campaigns to exploit national security fears in order to  fight animal rights activists. As he told me:

“Politicians, industry, and law enforcement have long employed the rhetoric and apparatus of national security to counter animal advocacy. Today’s Green Scare actually stands on the shoulders of a century of similar efforts to marginalize animal protectionists as threats to American security.”

COINTELPRO Tactics Resurface

Throughout U.S. history, there have been government campaigns against progressive social movements. This document reveals a continuation of that trend, not only in terms of the ideological motivations, but in terms of the specific tactics used by law enforcement.

One of the most notorious eras of FBI spying in recent memory was dubbed COINTELPRO. According to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO aimed to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” radical social movements in the 1960s, using any means at their disposal.

The tactics discussed in this document, including the details about spying, informants, and rumor-spreading, are direct parallels to those used in COINTELPRO. The Church Committee hearings in the 1970s ostensibly put an end to those operations, reining in rogue police operations. This is yet another example of how the COINTELPRO legacy has been institutionalized, and continues to endure.

Manufacturing the Threat

The FBI agent’s notes, no matter how disturbing, are actually quite astute throughout the document. That is, except for a final section on the potential threat posed by animal rights activists:

“The Animal Rights Movement activists will not resort to violence as a source of funding. By that, source means that activists will not become bank robbers or armed robbers and commit crimes of that nature in order to fund their movement.”

To anyone familiar with the animal rights movement (such as the informant), the thought of this is quite odd. Animal activists have not robbed banks. They have not taken up arms. Judging by the structure of the document, though, and the accompanying material, it is clear that these transcribed comments were the informant’s response to direct questions by the FBI agent.

In other words, the FBI agent was seriously questioning the informant about the feasibility of animal rights activists and “eco-terrorists” building a true guerilla-style revolutionary movement.

In many ways, this is the most revealing segment of the entire file. The animal rights movement has never injured a single human being in the name of protecting animals, let alone in the name of money. For the FBI to entertain the possibility, and press an informant for further information, is another reflection of how much the bureau has lost touch with reality.

As I have discussed on this website at length, the creation of animal rights and environmental activists as the “number one domestic terrorism threat” has been a coordinated campaign by corporations and the politicians who represent them. As we see here, the rhetoric has taken on a life of its own; even the most far-fetched ploys are discussed straight-faced, business as usual, and the scare-mongering has been institutionalized into national security operations.