No Compromise #18-19 (2001-2002. Santa Cruz, CA.)
If you have been following our posting of the complete No Compromise than you have read along as the new, 1990s militant grassroots took its first steps, stumbling along an exciting, and at times error filled path towards animal liberation. Those early years saw a lot of dedication and courage, but sadly little in the way of new tactics or intelligent planning.
That all changed in 2001 with the arrival of the anti-HLS campaign in the United States. The focus suddenly shifted from scattershot regional targeting to a single, international pressure point and the results were encouraging.
2001 wasn’t just about the fight against Huntingdon. The tactics developing in that one small struggle were inspiring activists globally to step up the fight against all areas of animal abuse, and sadly, some of our friends ended up in prison as a result. The support of these jailed comrades was inspiring, but our movement was dealt a terrible blow as Barry Horne died on Hungerstrike. That was not the only tragedy we would witness in these 12 months. Jeff Luers was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison for an act of sabotage which harmed no one. Animal liberationists had been a strong force in the growing movement against globalization of capitalism, and at the 2001 G8 summit we watched as protestors and media were brutalized and bloodied in the lead up to the police murder of Carlo Giuliani. And of course, non-humans continued to be slaughtered in endless, unfathomable numbers. The tone of these two issues of No Compromise may have been optimistic, even cocky, but those of us on the ground knew that times were tough and getting tougher.
Why You Gotta Bring Up Old Shit?
Yesterday Humane Watch, an industry AstroTurf front monitoring HSUS, posted a piece linking to our archive of Do Not Consider Yourself Free. In their typically comical fashion the group attempts to tie Pat Kwan, the Humane Society’s New York director, to “terrorism” based on his work with Animal Defense League New York and an old arrest in Massachusetts. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Kwan was not convicted in the Mass case, that his activism with ADL NYC took place in his early teenage years, or that the change of heart he had with his later activism was criticized by the very radicals that Humane Watch attempts to tie him to. Similar obfuscations are peppered throughout the blog, but such behavior can be expected of people who publicly defend un-anesthetized castration, intensive confinement, debeaking, and other acts of brutality against non-humans.
Because this article made the rounds on social media and stirred up a fair amount of commentary the staff of TALON would like to respond to some of the points raised by our friends in the movement.
First, some readers of the article were upset that TALON makes such material available to begin with, others have asked that we remove it. For the record, TALON will never omit a piece of our movement’s history from it’s archives. The changing path taken by some activists is an important part of our struggle, and it can inform current and future tactical choices. While a person may not remain forever proud of the politics of their youth you cannot remake the past by simply erasing old articles. A better path would be to explain the reasons you altered your course, and if anything the Humane Watch article gives apologetic ex-militants the perfect opportunity to do so. Our opponents will call those explanations insincere, but they will call you whatever they are paid to regardless of the truth.
Second, a few people mocked what they saw as the “selling out” of 90s era grassroots radicals who now work for groups like PETA and HSUS. Those of us who have been around for a while have seen the departure of hundreds and hundreds of once staunchly aggressive activists who now do nothing at all for non-humans. That is selling out. Our friends who carry on the fight, even when we don’t see eye to eye on tactics, should be admired for their longevity instead of harangued for thinking differently. The staff of TALON believe that there is a need for underground, illegal strategies in furtherance of animal liberation, but we are not a cult. Our strength lies in a diversity of thought, action and scale, not in the lockstep marching of cloned henchmen. We find it regrettable that some good activists now disapprove of groups like the Animal Liberation Front, but we love our comrades regardless and recognize them as dedicated allies in this struggle.
Our cause is already weakened by deep factionalism, to let groups like Humane Watch drive further wedges between us is counter productive to the goal that we all share regardless of group affiliation or tactical preference: an end to domination of all life on earth by a single species. Reaching that goal will require a broadening of our coalitions and a minimizing of internal conflict.