The Hunt and the Anti-Hunt (1982, London, England)
“It is not difficult to understand why animals are treated so indifferently in a society where the powerful minority holds the majority in similar contempt.” Philip Windeatt
Grounded firmly in a traditional British left-socialist critique, The Hunt and the Anti-Hunt is Philip Windeatt’s classic treatise on opposition to bloodsports. Written shortly after the author worked as a researcher on The Animals Film, each page drips with anger at both the act of sport hunting and the economic class that perpetuates it.
Anyone seeking a better understanding of the history of the animal liberation movement would do well to read this short book. Tracing bloodsports back to the domestication of canines for hunting purposes, the book continues by describing the founding of early animal welfare societies and the eventual emergence of the Hunt Saboteurs Association and Animal Liberation Front. Along the way expect a refreshing analysis of the pillaging of public lands, human alienation from wilderness, corporate governance, and many other subjects that were too often missing from the animal lib literature of the 1980s.
Rage And Reason (First edition publication date and location unknown. AK Press edition: 1998, San Francisco, CA)
Despite assurances from Ingrid Newkirk and Steven Seagal to the contrary, this book just isn’t all that good. Marketed as an animal rights revenge novel (complete with former Special Forces commandos skinning furriers) Rage and Reason was banned in some countries upon its initial release. The hype over these bans fueled great curiosity among those of us in North America who were having a difficult time obtaining a copy. In 1998 AK Press produced a new edition which immediately landed with a dull thud in the movement. We all bought and read R&R at the same time, and a few days later one could feel the collective disappointment.
I will not ruin the “surprise” for those of you have have yet to read the book, but… well, shit. Let’s just say that if you find yourself enjoying the story, brace yourself for the cop out coming in the final pages. Also: non-vegan protagonists in an animal liberation murder story? Yeah, they’ve got the dedication to risk life sentences for beheading CEO’s of agri-businesses, but they just can’t stop eating yogurt! Pfft!
Earth Liberation Front 1997-2002 (2003. Second printing with new dedication and layout 2007. Portland, OR)
Leslie James Pickering grew up in Buffalo, NY. In the mid 90s he became involved in the local hardcore music scene. While attending shows in the surrounding area, he began reading the literature distributed there by local animal rights groups. Zines such as Holocaust (published by Animal Defense League founder Kris Qua) were his introduction to radical politics and support for underground direct action.
Like most kids who grow up in smaller cities, Leslie James left Buffalo as soon as he had the means. After a brief stint skateboarding in San Francisco (during which time he filmed for the underground skate video rarity “Heat Zone”) Pickering landed in Portland, OR. There, he met Craig Rosebraugh, and after a few years the two of them began publishing a newspaper called Resistance with other members of a group called Liberation Collective. At this same time, a group calling themselves the Earth Liberation Front began a series of arson attacks against companies involved in logging and other environmentally harmful practices. They sent their first media statement to Liberation Collective, and the rest of the story is what Pickering documents in Earth Liberation Front 97-02.
Consisting of reprints, interviews, and some original material, Earth Liberation Front 97-02 is a must read for those who wish to understand the beginnings of the Green Scare.
Unfinished Manuscript (Early to mid 1980s, England)
A few months ago we contacted our friend Robin Webb to borrow some of his animal liberation publications for scanning. Robin cheerily agreed to send us a package, and when it arrived it included some of the rarest publications we have yet received. We gingerly pulled one gem after another from the box, and just when we thought we couldn’t be more excited we found this unfinished history of the ALF written by Ronnie Lee.
Drafted almost thirty years ago, this publication spent decades in police custody before ending up in the possession of the ALF Press Office. After its trip through the evidence room the manuscript is missing over a hundred pages, but still bristles with history.
We are still investigating the story behind this document, but felt it would be unfair to our readers to keep it out of circulation any longer. Here, distributed to the public for the first time, is the story of the Animal Liberation Front as told by one its founders.
Green Rage: Radical environmentalism and the unmaking of civilization (1990, Boston, MA.)
One of the first books I bought about radical wilderness defense was Green Rage. It is an excellent investigation of the origins of (western) environmental radicalism, and I recommend that you read it cover to cover.
Speaking of covers, you might notice that this particular copy of Green Rage is a little ragged. The reason for that is because this is my copy, and after reading the book I took it’s message to heart. Several years ago in Oregon, a small group of activists from around the region were protesting at a breeding facility that supplied rabbits to the vivisection industry. When we arrived the farms owners were not present, and neither were any law enforcement. Not coincidentally I quickly found myself living with some critters who liked to chew on everything in our humble home. I hope you will enjoy Green Rage as much as they did!
The Mothercage (2004, Wolverhampton, England)
“Those who carry out direct action in the cause of animal liberation are,
indeed, doing something extraordinary, but they are not super-beings, just
ordinary people who care sufficiently to risk their own liberty in bringing
freedom to other creatures. But ordinary people have their differences,
their frailties, their loves and hates and their fears…”
Ronnie Lee, from the introduction.
Maire ni Bhradaig’s The Mothercage is a fictional portrayal of an Animal Liberation Front raid. Originally published in England, it was never widely available outside of Europe. Although it is written for young adults, the characters are complex enough to hold the interest of older readers. The author’s knowledge of militant AR culture makes the story a realistic representation of how activists might interact, and unlike Rage and Reason and Animal Rites, there are no former green berets running around with machine guns.
The strength of this book is Bhradaig’s willingness to present the people behind the mask as plainly, painfully human. Outside of Paul Chadwick’s Concrete: Think Like A Mountain you will not find a more accurate portrayal of a group of radicals. While some of the book’s cast are wonderful people, others are bigots, adventurists, or cowards hiding their flaws behind a balaclava.
The grassroots animal and wilderness liberation movements indulge in far too much hero worship, a tendency that has led us to embrace some very shady characters over the years- characters who often harm our credibility in the long term. The Mothercage serves as a reminder that the masked figures we so admire are not always so admirable, and more importantly, that improving ourselves increases our effectiveness as activists.
Against All Odds (1986, London, England.)
Editors note: The TALON Conspiracy endeavors to archive the best, most complete copies available of all publications in our collection. Although Against All Odds had previously been posted on March 14, 2011, we have since found a higher quality copy from the original publisher. Our first posting had been a Canadian reprint with bad generation loss that was also missing several photos printed in the British edition. The Canadian version can still be found here.
Originally published in England as a book 25 years ago, Against All Odds was regularly distributed in North America as a low cost zine. It remains one of the best publications documenting the rise of the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Leagues in England.
In many ways, the 1980s was the high water mark of the Animal Liberation movement. In 1984, thousands of people in England participated in direct action against vivisection, staging large scale raids against six labs. Multitudes of people would overwhelm security in broad daylight and remove the oppressed creatures inside, often causing minor damage along the way and taking out valuable footage which was used to grow the movement. Many dozens of arrests followed these raids, but it is arguable that police response was not the cause of death of this mass militant movement taking shape in the UK.
Around this same time we saw the emergence of groups such as the Hunt Retribution Squad and Animal Rights Militia. Rather than rejecting the idea that animal rights activists were fanatics, HRS and ARM embraced that term and seemingly reveled in the negative imagery presented by the media. The Hunt Retribution Squad went so far as to release images of masked activists wielding clubs, chainsaws, and even pavement cutters. The front pages of newspapers widely reported on threats made by HRS to harm hunters if they attacked human opponents of hunting. In the end these counter-assaults never took place, but the damage was done. This type of macho posturing was repellant to many in the movement, and it provided great fodder for the police, courts, and conservative PR teams to use in the war against direct action. Certainly, the few acts of violence taken by the Animal Rights Militia could not outweigh the value of the mass raids and rising public consciousness taking place in England at the time and largely contributed to the recession of a growing struggle for non-human emancipation.
Written in accessible language and unafraid of nuance, its tactical analysis and historical documentation remain valuable to this day. Against All Odds is essential reading for the modern animal liberationist.
War At Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists And What We Can Do About It (1989, Boston, MA.)
During the advent of illegal animal liberations in the United States the FBI had very little in the way of actionable intelligence on those responsible. That all changed when a mentally ill-former activist with a history of violence and stalking began speaking with the Bureau. His name was Bill Ferguson, and while he is best known as the activist who shot Last Chance for Animals founder Chris DeRose in the back, his legacy as the first North American super snitch is far more obscure. Once he began cooperating grand juries sprung up all over the country, homes were raided, and the dirty tricks experienced by other movements began entering the militant vegan arena. In response many grassroots animal organizations began to distribute Brian Glick’s excellent booklet, War At Home.
Clocking in at under 100 pages, War at Home covers all of the most important moments in the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence program, (Better known as COINTELPRO) including the events which occurred after COINTELPRO was supposedly shut down. In plain language and with surprising detail Glick discusses the means and aims of the FBI’s attempts at ending domestic dissent. More than a must read on past abuses, War At Home is also an invaluable handbook on security culture and support for those targeted by law enforcement harassment campaigns. The current wave of crackdowns on the Occupy movement make the free distribution of this booklet more important than ever- please share it with your friends.
Animal Liberation: A Graphic Guide (1987, London, England.)
Published twelve years after Singer’s groundbreaking book, Animal Liberation, this graphic guide is lesser known but still influential. Part of the reason why it is lesser known is that this book is not known for the commentary provided by Prof Singer, or even Prof. Gruen, but instead it’s influence can almost solely be charted to the breath taking artwork done by David Hine.
Although the images in this book have been reprinted countless times, in publications all over the world, little attention in animal liberation circles has ever been paid to Hine the illustrator. Hine was commissioned to do the guide in 1987, alongside another publication critical of the “Space Wars” (Space Wars: A Graphic Guide). The career that Hine would go on to have after 1987 is interesting to say the least. Hine is now considered an iconic British comic artist – with an impressive thirty year independent publication career alongside drawing and/or writing for household name comic series such as; Transformers, X-Men, Spiderman, Spawn and Batman and Robin. Recently, Hine has also made waves in the comic book industry by introducing an Algerian Muslim super hero figure, Nightrunner, in his Dark Knight series that was set in France.
Hine’s impressive career explains the comic-book esque structure of the guide as well as the absolutely amazing skills on display. Twenty four years later and there is simply no comprehensive visual rival to the work of this guide. Conflict Gypsy is beyond excited to host this publication here, to trace and celebrate it’s influence, and to hopefully inspire all of those illustrators/designers/drawists out there currently fighting for animal liberation.
The Black Cat Sabotage Handbook, 3rd edition (1996, Eugene, OR.)
When I was a kid the world didn’t have the sort of instant gratification now expected for all transactions, and thank goodness. You can really appreciate the value of something more once you’ve clipped five proof of purchases, put them into an envelope, mailed them away, and waited 6 to 8 weeks for your Zartan action figure to arrive. Distribution for the Black Cat Sabotage book worked the same way – you clipped an ad out of a zine and mailed it in along with concealed cash. A few months later a copy showed up in a nondescript envelope. I still remember when mine was delivered…
My first copy of Black Cat left me feeling like I was involved in some sort of conspiracy just turning the pages. Sure, most of it was reprints that I had already seen before, but the layout, the graphics, and the text all seemed to carry the message that action was urgent and that the enemy was watching. (Of course, we were all sending envelopes with our return addresses to the same damn PO Box in Eugene, so if anyone was watching they already knew who we were!) At the time I didn’t know who was publishing or distributing it, but rumors eventually surfaced in the mid 2000’s that the book was compiled by Bill Rogers, an accused Earth Liberation Front member who took his own life behind bars in 2005. In his suicide note he said that his death was a “Jail break,” and as he slowly suffocated himself with a plastic bag he gripped one hand into a fist, and with the other, extended his middle finger.
I only met Bill one or two times and did not get to know him well, but since his death I have heard many complicated things about him. From what I gather he was at times heroic, but had some serious, perhaps unforgivable flaws that should not be ignored. In that respect he is like the book that he was rumored to have clipped together and sent out anonymously. The Black Cat Sabotage Handbook contains some good bits of information, some serious inspiration, and some decent arguments for the use of sabotage and even violence. Likewise, it also contains some foolhardy nonsense that could get someone jailed or killed for little positive gain. The cover shouts, “BEWARE!” and smart readers will heed that advice.
In closing, here is to Bill. He was a man I can best respect by keeping off a pedestal. I can not deny that many of the stories about him are disconcerting, but I also can not deny the beauty of his attempts to spark a revolution against industrialism. As his friends sat shivering and complaining in a car, it was Bill who trekked alone through snow, uphill and burdened with the weight of gallons of fuel to set a fire that would announce to millions the existence of the Earth Liberation Front. That speaks volumes about his fighting spirit, and his wild drive to right the wrongs our species has perpetrated. His death saddens me, but something tells me that someone so intent on freeing others would not have done well spending decades behind bars- perhaps in that sense his “jail break” really was a form of escape. He will be remembered as a warrior.