Do Or Die #1-10 (1993-2003, Brighton, England.)
A few years ago a friend asked me if I had a complete set of Do or Die, the British Earth First! publication that inspired and incited eco-warriors throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. At one time I did have them, but they had long since been stolen by a Joint Terrorism Task Force.
After a brief discussion, we decided that Do or Die was too important to fade into obscurity. We began tracking down each issue, and decided that while we were at it we ought to archive some other publications as well. That effort is how this web site began, and now, thanks to 56a infoshop of South London and Tim @ NEDS Northampton, we can finally share the very rare issue #2. This completes our collection, and our original mission as well.
When read as a set, Do or Die is a chronicle of people from across the globe counter-striking capitalism, ecocide, and the state. Each issue is better than the last, but more importantly, each page is a spark licking at the fuse of the bomb that is your heart. Once lit, you’ll know that these pages are not mere history, but a reminder that we can explode onto the world stage like the fighters before us have. Do or die, now is the time to rise.
Animal Liberation Through Direct Action – (Date of publication unknown, likely 1998. Country of origin unknown, likely England)
Animal Liberation Through Direct Action was one of the better primers available in the 1990s. Designed for activists who had never before participated in illegal actions, the pamphlet discusses the basic security, surveillance, and planning necessary to carry out liberations and economic sabotage. It also includes a brief history of the movement, a first hand account of a mink farm raid, and statements from various ALF cells.
S.A.R.P. Newsletter #6-11 (1992 – Northampton, England)
One of the big frustrations of working on the TALON site is that the materials we archive contain so much information it becomes difficult to organize and contextualize it all. Our posting of the Barry Horne SARP newsletter revival has made this sense of frustration more distinct than ever.
1992 was an eventful year for the movement: Mike Hill was murdered by hunter Alan Summersgill, the Doddlestone six were arrested protesting that murder, in North America Darren Thurston was arrested, Ronnie Lee was released, Kieth Mann was on remand and just about to escape from prison… This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the significant events that took place over twelve long months twenty one years passed. We could spend pages discussing how these incidents shaped the future, how recent revelations about police informants in the UK have changed our understanding of old arrests, and so on. Unfortunately there is no time to pull at all of these strings- but the SARP newsletters certainly will provide inquisitive readers with many threads of their own to pull. From details of Operation Fox to “Laugh Along with the ALF,” each newsletter if filled with intriguing bits of our collective history.
Supporters Group Newsletter No.1 (1987 – London, England)
After the original Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group newsletter was repressed out of existence, an attempt was made at a second volume that could survive government harassment. Steps were taken to clear each article with attorneys and the majority of the content was reposted from mainstream news articles. Calls to action were kept out of editorials written by the SG (Although they still appeared in the many first hand accounts and communications sent from those underground) and, in general, the tone was far less militaristic than the final issues of Volume 1.
Sadly, this didn’t save the SG’s volunteers from further political prosecutions.
During this time British security services estimated that up to four hundred direct actions were happening every day in the United Kingdom, with more financial damage being incurred by animal abusers than the British government faced at the hands of the IRA in Northern Ireland. The state was not willing to risk these actions spreading no matter how legal the efforts of those publicising them. So, after a single, wonderful issue, the SG newsletter was once again put out of business. At least they went down fighting! This newsletter features inspiring reports, hilariously snarky editorials, and some of our favorite images from the frontlines of the fight against speciesism. It is truly a must read, and we are proud that, despite the efforts of Scotland Yard and other British law enforcement, The SG is still available here at TALON.
The ALF Supporters Group Newsletter #1-19 (1982-1986. Nottingham / London, England)
When this archive project was founded two years ago, a list was made of the ten publications that we “had to have.” Number one was a complete set of the first volume of “The SG.” This was a tall order, and we knew it. First off, the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group must be one of the most raided entities in England, and its members were frequently raided themselves! The result was that many copies of the magazine ended up in police custody both before and after distribution, never to be seen again. Second, it was a relatively old newsletter, and since the first issues were mimeographed on cheap paper, finding intact copies was going to be difficult. We persevered though, and now these rare pieces of movement history are preserved digitally and online for everyone to read and learn from.
Started by Dave Nicholls in 1982, the ALF Supporters Group was an effort to do two things: 1.) To raise funds for people arrested for animal related direct actions. 2.) To create a broader base of support for the Animal Liberation Front inside the movement. Both goals were met quickly. Within two weeks of their founding, the Supporters Group hit the number of members they had set as their long term goal. Through direct donations, memberships, fundraising events, and sales of merchandise, the SG was able to contribute towards the sizable legal costs of activists being arrested across England.
The newsletter itself went through varying degrees of quality in writing, layout, and value to the movement. The early days of the Nicholls run may have had a drab interior, but the hand illustrated covers were sometimes gorgeous, and the rhetoric had not yet strayed into the more-militant-than-thou nonsense which came later. Eventually the writing would border on the cultish, but there is scarcely an issue of the magazine that doesn’t have some redeeming value. When read critically and as a whole body of work, this magazine follows the rise and spread of underground action for animals across the globe, illustrates the value of coalition building, and provides solid examples of extremism to be avoided through coverage of groups like the Animal Rights Militia. It also provides many historical details found nowhere else!
“The SG” has gone through several incarnations since British Law enforcement shut this one down in 1986. (While carrying out the investigation for the notorious Sheffield trial that sent Ronnie Lee to prison for 10 years, the police raided the SG and charged it’s editors with incitement. Everything published by the SG afterwords had to be run past a lawyer first, but this didn’t stop further raids, arrests, and convictions of those involved in the newsletter.) It is still being published today, copies can be ordered from www.alfsg.org.uk.
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.
The Beast #1-#10 (1979-1981. London, England.)
On the 5th of November of 1947 a baby lowland gorilla, stolen from his home and family in West Africa, arrived at the London Zoo. As it was Guy Fawkes day, this newest prisoner was named in his honor. Guy the Gorilla went on to become one of the biggest money makers for his captors, and thousands of visitors would gawk at him, occasionally throwing him sweets to eat. Eventually the candies rotted his teeth, and during a surgery to repair them, he had a heart attack. The budding animal liberation movement in the UK took notice, and a group of people began producing buttons with Guy’s face on them. As the buttons grew in popularity, this small group decided to make a newspaper, and soon The Beast became an insert in International Times. After two such inserts the editors struck out on their own, and soon this beautiful publication was on newsstand racks in England and abroad. It was produced for two short years, and remains one of the best animal liberation (and anti-nuke!) publications of all time.
The Beast began it’s run during a time of global social and political decay. As the voters of the west fell under the spell of charismatic and brutal conservatives, a broad coalition of anti-nuke, anti-fascist, union, conservationist, environmentalist, and animal lib activists entrenched themselves to fight back. As things “hotted up” in the streets, the staff of the magazine followed the action and ideas of an astonishing number of people and groups. The tone in the early issues is optimistic, brave, and intelligent, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of activists during the era.
The history covered is equally incredible. Articles offer the story of the first animal liberation raid in the United States, the origins of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, and the early days of the Animal Liberation Front. Lost figures, like OG U.S. Hunt Sab and eco-prisoner John Walker, come back to life in these old pages. Important thinkers, such as Henry Spira, Peter Singer, Richard Adams, and Paul Watson were regular contributors. Then, there are the images! Between the full color, glossy covers are amazing pictures of early raids, movement legends, and epic moments on our movement’s timeline. One such photograph, taken in 1980 and shown in issue #10, captures a small group of Animal Liberation League activists standing with banners in a field, bandannas covering their faces, fists in the air. More than 30 years later young people still show that same spark of rebellion and hope, and with our archiving of this magazine, perhaps they will now better understand the revolutionaries who came before them.
When we started Conflict Gypsy one of our dreams was to obtain a complete set of The Beast. After just one year of existence, we have met this goal. As our birthday gift to you we offer the Complete Newsstand Collection of The Beast, perhaps our most important single posting so far…
No Compromise #9, 10, 11 (1998, Caldwell, NJ.)
After the shakeup caused by Freeman Wicklund’s departure, one might have expected No Compromise to slow it’s publishing schedule while it re-grouped. Instead, they had one of their most productive years, reporting on everything from the first daylight raid in the US, to the murder of Earth First! activist David “Gypsy” Chain. The volume of important articles in these issues is too great to summarize in a tiny blog post, so instead we would just like to encourage you to read each edition thoroughly. Truly, this is one of our favorite posts on Conflict Gypsy so far as it highlights so many significant events in the movement at the end of the 1990s.
X Ultra-Militance X #1, 3-5 (2003 – 2004. Bursledon, Hants, England)
(Editors note: Our original posting of this series contained information about the author that was incorrect. While we do our utmost to fact check everything that we post, at times our only source materials are mainstream media articles, and in this instance those articles were wrong. We sincerely regret the error.)
In the mid-2000’s a young, straight edge activist was arrested and convicted for acts of sabotage against companies involved with the research firm Huntingdon Life Sciences. Prior to his capture and conviction he also anonymously published a zine named after a song by the band Earth Crisis. It’s contents covered the usual ground expected from a periodical with X’s on either side of the title- living a drug free life, veganism, interviews with hardcore bands, and exhortations for the reader to take direct action. His writings also confronted areas of oppression not generally discussed by the firestorm crowd, including the war in Iraq, genetic manipulation of plants, and support for resistance movements ranging from the American Indian Movement to the Black Panther Party. While the militaristic rhetoric of these articles is tired and posturing, there is also at times a wonderful sense of urgency and a yearning for justice that one cannot help but sympathize with.
Conflict Gypsy has tracked down four out of six known issues of XUltra-MilitanceX. We are still seeking issue number two and six. If you can help add them to our collection, please contact us at conflictgypsy ((at)) gmail.com
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.