The People’s Agenda (Random issues, 1992-1993, Washington, DC, USA)
The People’s Agenda was the official newsletter of Putting People First, an industry front group that pretended to represent good ol’ fashioned American animal abuse. In actuality, they were heavily funded by the industries they defended, from fur farmers to meat packers. Their PR angle involved the typical lies about caring for animal welfare, placing human rights above those of plants and animals, and conflating animal liberation philosophy alternately as a new age religion or an extension of Marxism. At times the articles contained herein make for hilarious examples of dirty journalism, and other times they provide us with lessons about how our actions can be spun and used against us. Interestingly, there are also underground actions reported in the People’s Agenda that are either hoaxes, or real actions gone wrong that never received coverage in AR publications.
Putting People First was one of many anti-animal rights organizations that prospered during the 80s and 90s. While many of these groups are still around, most notably the Center for Consumer Freedom, their heyday seems to have passed. It would be a mistake to believe that decline occurred because these groups lost the support of a large segment of our society. Actions taken in opposition to human supremacist politics are still widely opposed by those who enjoy the position of power that they hold over non-humans. The real reason that these groups are no longer as plentiful is that our movement isn’t the threat that it once was. As we come out of the chilling effect created by the SHAC 7 conviction, you can bet that publications like this will become popular once more. Combating their press and political strategy will be crucial to our progress, and familiarizing ourselves with their past actions will go a long way towards defeating them in the future.
Live Wild or Die # 1-3 (Published in various locations along the west coast of the United States, 1989-1990s?)
Edited by rotating teams of anarchists and espousing an anti-civilization perspective a decade before the rise of Eugene’s primitivists, Live Wild or Die was the most radical environmental journal of its time, and perhaps, of all time. Featuring articles with names like “The Eco-Fucker hit list,” which “wise use” guru Ron Arnold later erroneously claimed to have inspired Ted Kaczynski’s choice of targets, LWOD presented an uncompromising vision of a future without industrialism and domestication brought about by train hopping tree spikers, nomadic punk hunt saboteurs, and feral warriors. It was exciting, naive, inspiring, and sometimes a little bit stupid. Still, flipping through it’s over-sized, busily decorated pages you can not help but feel the optimistic spirit of that era. Earth First!ers and animal liberators, monkey wrenchers and black clad messengers run wild across the pulp, heralding a revolution to free the world of exploitation, drudgery, brutality and boredom. Cries for the destruction of corporate property vie for attention alongside snarky comic strips, screeds against new age pseudo resistance, and now un-distributable diagrams for building incendiary devices. The authors believed in their hearts that something better was on the horizon if they could fight hard enough to get there. That deep and passionate longing for utopia is all but dead nowadays, washed away by delusions of “Hope” and “Change” at the ballot box and a green consumerism that only takes us deeper into the pit of shallow lives and dying eco-systems. But somewhere out there I am betting that there are a few young people who pine for a planet that is joyous and just, and I hope they smile, conspiratorially, when they see what the generation who made LWOD was planning.
State of the Movement #1-3 (1986-1990, Tarzana, CA USA.)
If there was ever a zine series that I wish I could provide Cliff’s Notes for, it would be State of the Movement. SOTM wielded political cartooning the most way other people wield blades, and its editors stabbed at what they saw as hypocrisy and weakness in the movement’s personalities and philosophies. Many of the references made in these cartoons will be lost on younger activists, but we offer the following brief explanation.
The 1980s was a time of explosive popularity in the animal rights movement, and initially, that boom brought together some very unlikely people. Celebrities like Bob Barker held meetings where Rod Coronado would be seated next to the heads of welfare groups. Mass marches took place in cities all across the United States, with tens of thousands of people participating in demonstration on major days such as World Day for Animals in Laboratories and Fur Free Friday. But amidst all this activity, the con artists and career builders were lurking. The tremendous potential for fund raising also meant a corollary potential for salaries, and after a while, the mainstream groups had well-paid executives who wanted to do anything they could to avoid offending their donor base. The philosophy of the movement was weakened as calls for the abolition of vivisection became calls to stop using “pound seized pets” in experiments. Activists who had once loudly supported direct action began whispering supportive words to militants in one breath and then denouncing them to the media in another. Compromise spread like melted soy margarine and soon the whole movement was covered in the oily goo of half-assery!
Amidst this rush to mediocrity, State of the Movement mercilessly mocked those who were selling the animals futures down the drain. The events of the 1980s impact this movement still. We can not provide a comic by comic explanation, but we do hope that people will research this bygone period and learn from the mistakes of the failed movement “leadership” at that time.
Crimethunk poster (2001, Seattle, WA. USA)
By the late 1990s, it had become clear that many people were using the imagery of Crimethinc to appear tough while simultaneously using the selfishness-as-virtue doctrine of the group to justify doing nothing. Fed up with that trend, and all the young shoplifting hipsters in Carharrts who slept on my couch falling off the vegan wagon, I began my own group: The Crimethunk Ex-Posers Collective. This poster is all that remains of the controversial imagery I made attacking Crimethinc’s self indulgence masquerading as politics. The most controversial of those images was a sticker now lost to history which read, “The opposite of Evasion is confrontation.”