While TALON co-founder Josh Harper has been in Europe finding publications for the site, he has also been speaking to audiences about his analysis of our movement’s history and future. His speech in Malmö was filmed and seems to be resonating with animal rights activists around the world. Give it a watch!
N.A.L.L. Newsletter – Summer 1985, Spring News 1985 (1985, Manchester, England)
Every time we receive a NALL related donation everyone at TALON can’t wait to read it, even if it is just a small newsletter or leaflet. Our fascination with the group stems from their early socialism, their insistence that mass-militancy trumps individual direct-action, and their acts of solidarity with other movements. While their publications don’t always touch on those factors, fans of the Leagues will not be disappointed with these two issues of the NALL Newsletter, especially the Spring News, which comments on the unstrategic militarism happening at the time, specifically the Mars bar poisoning hoax and publicity stunts of groups like the Hunt Retribution Squad.
The excitement doesn’t end there, however! Despite the poor editing, these volumes contain many clues as to the organizing model, rhetoric, history, and strategies employed by NALL- and then there are the small tidbits that will make you love them even more! An embracing of ecological politics, a tendency towards anonymity for the sake of rejecting the big egos that cause so much damage to movements, the fact that NALL was originally called Manchester Animal Liberators, the mention of a cafe run by three NALL members… If you are as fascinated with this classic organization as we are you will absolutely love these two dispatches!
Heart of the Matter: South East Animal Liberation League (1984. London, England)
Recently the South London Flying Column YouTube channel has been posting video of old news coverage of animal rights related direct action. There are many, many gems on there, but we were particularly enamored of this piece, a 20 minute episode of the program Heart of the Matter. Besides containing never before seen footage of raids carried out by SEALL, it also contains unbelievable footage of an unmasked ALF planning session! And if you find yourself disliking the SEALL spokesperson, it’s okay. He didn’t actually turn out all that well…
BUAV Liberator (1986. London, England)
“Although the BUAV as a limited company can only organize legal activity, we aim to complement and support direct action whenever possible.” BUAV editorial, April-May 1986
Frequent readers of the site will be aware that TALON’s volunteers are big fans of the BUAV Liberator. Not only do its old pulp pages bleed with animal lib history, but the politics represented by BUAV at that time were among the most progressive (and occasionally radical) of any major national non-profit working for non-humans.
During this era the British Union to Abolish Vivisection supported any direct action which did not include pre-meditated violence towards a human, and proudly advocated a broad array of strategies and tactics. From letter writing to sabotage, legislation to arson, the BUAV gave coverage to nearly all of the activism in England at the time- and that is only a small part of what makes these papers so great.
Year after year, each volume of the Liberator gives us clues as to the mood within the movement. In 1986 for example, we see a somber tone set over the movement as the Liberation League’s began to fold, the government passed legislation expanding vivisection, and dozens of activists began prison sentences over lab raids. This blow to activist morale in 1986 was perhaps most visible in the actions of Robert Blackman, a young man who entered the Colchester cattle market and self immolated to protest the sell of living beings. His mother later said that “He gave his life because he thought the cruelty would never stop.”
Interestingly, 1986 was also a year filled with inspiring actions for animals. Issue after issue details labs shut down, vivisectors ending their careers, a dramatic rise in veganism and vegetarianism among the general public, and non-humans having their first taste of freedom. It is only within the context of the meteoric rise of animal rights in the earlier part of the 1980s could this year be seen as any kind of a failure. Indeed, if the level of activism in these issues were to occur today morale would sky rocket and great breakthroughs could be made- and all of us should take that as a challenge!
N.A.L.L. Newsletters – Issues 7-8 (1983, Manchester, England)
In the history of our movement there is no group that inspires me more than the Northern Animal Liberation League. They had broad politics, bold tactics, a unique take on direct action, and an appreciation for solidarity with other revolutionary groups that was ahead of their time.
Their newsletter, unfortunately, wasn’t on par quality wise with the rest of their organization. Constrained by time and money, this photocopied mail out is unattractive and devoid of the analysis that made NALL so great. That isn’t to say that it isn’t an absolute joy for fans of animal liberation history though! While I would love to see more of NALL’s radical socialist and anti-authoritarian roots in these pages, I can not deny the simple pleasures of reading about daylight raids, hunt sabotage, and the wholesale ruining of vivisectors lives in England’s north. Even NALL’s hokey and ill-informed embrace of pseudo-science bunk like homeopathy has a certain charm and helps to flesh out the group’s character for those of us who missed the glory days.
TALON is always on the lookout for anything related to the Animal Liberation Leagues. If you have other newsletters, copies of TARGET, leaflets, or anything put out by the Leagues please contact us HERE.
TURNING POINT – Issues 5-6 (1986-1987, Oxford, UK)
After a brief run as “Black Beast,” Turning Point emerged as England’s foremost animal rights publication in 1986. Featuring first hand accounts of direct action, a decent analysis of systemic animal abuse, and a willingness to be controversial, Turning Point documented all of the major animal liberation events of its era.
Issues #5 and #6 give coverage to mainstream media distortions of AR activism, CALL’s brilliant raids of Park Farm, ALF strikes across England (Including the liberation of three otters!) and so much more. There is even a brief mention of the Farm Freedom Fighters, the first group to raid a factory farm in the United States. Interestingly, their media relations were handled by none other than Farm Sanctuary.
These two volumes are markedly better than the Black Beast issues that preceded them, and all of us at TALON are excited to finally preserve them in our archive.
BLACK BEAST – Issue 1 (1985, Oxford, UK)
Black Beast (A nod to the French term “bête noire,”) ran for three issues before becoming Turning Point in late 1986. The first issue differed from the rest of the series by containing some attempted humor and by naming the editors, a practice that ended with issue #2. Articles leaned heavily towards the direct action oriented grassroots, but also contained a defense of traditional campaigning methods.
There are some very good bits of movement history in this magazine, but my favorite might be the advertisement for Green Anarchist magazine on the back cover. Good stuff all around…
The other two issues of Black Beast are available HERE.
BLACK BEAST – Issues 2 & 3 (1985-1986, Oxford, UK)
Taking it’s name from the french term “bête noire,” Black Beast ran for 3 issues before changing it’s title to Turning Point.
Black Beast covered all aspects of animal liberation protest and resistance, from sign holding demonstrations, to lab raids, alongside investigations into various abuses of non-humans. It’s politics were pro-direct action, but anti-militarism, and editorials inside criticized groups like the Animal Rights Militia. Articles were published without bylines, and every aspect of the magazine was anonymous. This made it an attractive forum for groups like the Central Animal Liberation League, who sent in a first hand account of the infamous Park Farm raid at Oxford that freed 32 dogs. One issue even contains an interview with a pre-off-the-deep-end Gary Francione detailing his support for the Animal Liberation Front!
The magazine was well written, nicely produced, and also very rare! TALON is seeking a copy of issue #1. If you can share one with us, please contact us HERE.
BUAV Liberator (1984. London, England)
As our holiday gift to you we present the complete 1984 volume of BUAV’s Liberator. This classic publication comes from an optimistic time in our movement when national non-profits were still working with radicals, articles about legislative efforts ran alongside tales of lab break ins, and the struggle for non-human liberation was growing by leaps and bounds. We love this newspaper, and hope that it reminds all of you in the trenches that we are strongest when we work together.
(Editor’s note: When we originally published this post we mistakenly missed the December 84/ January 85 edition. We apologize for the error and have now included the missing issue in our archive.)
Up Against The Law (1987 – London, England)
Long before the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act or the advent of Ag-Gag laws, western governments were using other means to protect the profits of animal abusers. Through methods legislative and extra-legal, the British government was particularly skilled in disrupting the efforts of animal liberationists. By the late 1980s these attacks had become so commonplace and effective that J.J. Roberts of ARC Print (Publisher of the excellent Against All Odds) wrote Up Against the Law as an effort to give activists knowledge of repressive legislation and a means to fight back.
Up Against the Law is crucial reading for those who want to understand the history of public order laws, their use against activists, and how our movement has coped with past attacks on our abilities to protest.