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.
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.
Arkangel #10-11 (1993-1994. London, England.)
The early 1990s were a tumultuous time for the movement in England. Hunters began hiring professional security services to beat and harass saboteurs, the violence became so extreme that when Tom Worby was murdered by a hunt masters vehicle, the hunters nearby laughed and mocked his death. The hopefulness of the 1980s was fading away, and campaigners were becoming more hardened, which in turn led to a decline in public support as groups like the Justice Department began sending out small mail bombs. Many organizations were mired in infighting over strategy and issues of class and race. And then there was the problem of repression. Scotland Yard’s Animal Rights National Index had gathered detailed profiles on over 21,000 animal liberationists by 1990, and their spying on the movement was only set to intensify.
Through it all a dedicated core of individuals forged ahead and took animals from places of abuse, educated others about the plight of non-humans, and spread the message of compassionate action across oceans and artificial borders. Arkangel tells the story, and we are happy to continue our posting of the complete set here on TALON.
A Little is Enough: A zine by antarctic sailors (2012/2013. The Southern Ocean)
Although our site started as an effort to preserve animal and earth liberation history, we are slowly incorporating more contemporary DIY projects. One of our favorite zines from the last year was written by the crew members aboard the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Bob Barker. This is the side of Sea Shepherd that people do not see on Whale Wars: the dedicated crew members who see Animal Planet executives as “prodouchebags,” who discuss issues of race and gender with each other on long, icy nights, and who remain (or become) quite radical despite the mainstreaming of SSCS. Plus, SODUKU!
Do you make a zine about direct action for non-humans or wilderness defense? Tell us about it HERE.
Flesh and Blood #1-8 and 10 (1980-1992 – Hertfordshire, England)
Flesh and Blood was a long running, journal sized magazine with high production values. Each issue featured a color cover printed on heavy, full gloss cardstock, and brief articles with information about animal rights campaigns. It’s appearance and tone was quite mainstream, but many issues showed support for illegal direct action. This was, perhaps, Flesh and Blood’s greatest strength: it refused to split activists along standard radical / moderate / conservative lines, and instead showed measured support for everyone in the struggle.
We are seeking more information about this publication, including the number of issues published. We are also in need of issue #9, which relaunched the publication after its demise in the early 80s. If you can assist us, please use the contact form available HERE.
Green Rage: Radical environmentalism and the unmaking of civilization (1990, Boston, MA.)
One of the first books I bought about radical wilderness defense was Green Rage. It is an excellent investigation of the origins of (western) environmental radicalism, and I recommend that you read it cover to cover.
Speaking of covers, you might notice that this particular copy of Green Rage is a little ragged. The reason for that is because this is my copy, and after reading the book I took it’s message to heart. Several years ago in Oregon, a small group of activists from around the region were protesting at a breeding facility that supplied rabbits to the vivisection industry. When we arrived the farms owners were not present, and neither were any law enforcement. Not coincidentally I quickly found myself living with some critters who liked to chew on everything in our humble home. I hope you will enjoy Green Rage as much as they did!
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!
No Compromise #15,16, 17 (2000-2001, Santa Cruz, CA.)
I want to preface this post with this: The turn of the century was an epic time to be alive and fighting! Between the WTO riots, a huge upsurge in ALF attacks on the West Coast, some inspiring support of grand jury resisters, and the migration of the SHAC campaign to the United States, there were also thousands upon thousands of other actions across the planet. It was hard to keep up with all of the news because it seemed that people everywhere had finally taken enough and were beginning a counter strike for non-humans, wilderness, and human freedom. Luckily, No Compromise kept track of most of the action, and produced three excellent issues during this incredible year of revolt. Beyond the coverage of the latest direct actions, attention was also paid to our past successes and failures- and all animal activists would do well to read issue #16’s “Blast From The Past” article about lab raids in the 1980s.
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…
Arkangel #4,5,7 (1990-1991. London, England)
Our posting of the complete Arkangel continues into the 90s with issues 4, 5, and 7. The omission of issue 6 is not an oversight- it was never printed. Arkangel was founded by Ronnie Lee, who was serving a 10 year sentence during the magazines early years, and edited by Vivien Smith, who found herself in a jail cell by the time issue #6 was scheduled for release. Sensing the possibility of shutting down this crucial publication, law enforcement in England ransacked the Arkangel office just before the layout of issue #6. It was lost to the ages, and with Vivien facing serious charges a new team of interim editors anonymously produced Arkangel #7, causing a slight decline in the publication’s overall quality.
The history covered by these three issues is tremendous. The death of Mike Hill, Animal Aid’s disastrous labeling of direct action as “terrorism,” and the return of the ALF Press Office are all reported upon, along with updates from groups around the world. Amidst the columns reporting on the actual work of activists though is a disturbing amount of debate, much of it centered on whether animal rights groups should allow participation by racists, nationalists, and separatists. The back and forth articles from one issue to the next mostly fail to recognize the most offensive nature of the argument – that there should even be an argument! It boggles the mind that anyone could see a benefit to taking on the baggage of these far right lunatics and their disgusting politics. During a decade where skinhead violence claimed the lives and dignity of so many it is particularly disheartening that some in our movement saw fit to offer these thugs a place at our table.