Earth First! Journal (1987, Issue #1-8. Tucson, AZ.)
Writing about Earth First! during its 1980s heyday is a delicate matter. I want to celebrate their best tendencies without ignoring their worst. 1987 is a particularly difficult year to do the former.
After the publication of an article called “Alien Nation” called for a closing of the US border to immigrants (strictly for environmental reasons we are told, not because EF! icon Ed Abbey advocated the use of the term “wetback” and used “cultural chauvinist” to describe his particular brand of racism) anarchists challenged the authors at a gathering in late 1986. So began a years worth of letters to the editor defending the piece. More than one missive in this volume praised AIDS as a positive development for the environment, and various racist, classist, and macho arguments bleed into many of the pages. Given these facts it feels callous to point to the positives that this volume also contains, so I will leave it to our readers to discover those for themselves.
Earth First! is a complex non-organization that has gone through many incarnations, changes in direction, and has never had a political consensus on any issue during the entirety of its history. If I can point out one mitigating factor for these eight issues it is that at least some Earth First!ers fought back in print and in person against the most backwards opinions of their peers, something still needed in the movement today.
No Compromise #27-28 (2005. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The volunteer staff of No Compromise may have only published two issues in 2005, but both were valuable sources of news and ideas from across the globe. As always, the reports inside are bitter sweet. Many animals were rescued, many abusers felt some heat, and many people rose up and fought back. Then, there was the backlash, the senate hearings, and the arrests. The movement has never stopped though, and No Comp always served as a reminder that come hell or high water we were all going to forge ahead, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker.
One unfortunate development in 2005 was the arrest and conviction of Chris “Dirt” McIntosh. Despite receiving movement support, Chris turned to Nazi groups in prison for advice and friendship. Soon, he counted himself among their ranks, and requested to be removed from animal lib prisoner lists. He would have been removed anyway though: there is never room in our struggle for a Nazi!
Luckily, other prisoners continued to show courage, dignity, and resolve from behind bars. Both 2005 issues of NC contain inspiring letters and interviews with jailed comrades. All in all, this is another must read year for the best animal liberation publication to come out of the United States.
Earth First! Journal Volume 7, Issue #1-8 (Tucson, AZ.)
One of our dreams here at Conflict Gypsy has been to build a complete collection of the Earth First! Journal, the radical environmental movement’s longest running periodical. While we are still missing some key issues, we have managed to gather enough of this classic publication to begin posting them one year at a time, starting with 1986.
The eight newspaper-format volumes printed by the Journal collective in 1986 are filled with fascinating tales of our eco-warrior progenitors, including Paul Watson’s epic telling of The Raid on Reykjavic in issue two. It is tempting to spend several paragraphs discussing the contents of these yellowing tomes, but perhaps it is more important to spend these words discussing the fact that the journal is still being produced- AND IT NEEDS OUR SUPPORT!
The Earth First! Journal has been documenting environmentally motivated direct action for more than 30 years, but it struggles to pay the bills these days as fewer and fewer people read print magazines. Here at CG we believe wholeheartedly that history should be “told from below,” that the words of our comrades are more important to our understanding of past events than the musings of academics and professional historians. The Journal is still the best source for this kind of news- the written accounts of actual participants in our struggle! Please do not let it disappear like so many other publications in the last decade. Subscribe to the Earth First! Journal by clicking here!