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.
SNARL! Handbook Of Leeds ALF (1985. Leeds, England)
One of the great things about punk music is also one of the worst things about it: anyone can do it. On the one hand this encourages kids to destroy the adulation of rockstars and to make music (as well as zines, clothes, art, etc) themselves. That accessibility has brought us the voices of people we never would have otherwise heard, which is wonderful. On the other hand, punk doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it came into being in a culture afflicted with bias and brutality, patriarchy, capitalism, and so on. Those elements are ingrained in many of the creators of punk and are, at times, reflected in the works they produce. Those messages are then carried on to those who consume that media.
It isn’t hard to make the leap from an analysis of punk to an analysis of leaderless resistance. Without a hierarchy or organized recruiting mechanism, the A.L.F. has often spread through the same means as punk rock- DIY media, the passion and anger of youth, and at times, sensationalized mainstream media stories. People have heard the call and picked and up the banner, acting on their own initiative to make change. The downside, of course, is that without a training component that goes beyond a few words in a zine about security culture, these newly active saboteurs aren’t always left with the skill set needed to safely or effectively undertake underground actions. They may end up making their own publications which repeat the mistakes of the ones they first read, and these will be passed on to the consumers of that media.
If I were 16 years old and living in Leeds in 1985, I would have loved SNARL. It speaks from a place of youthful (and righteous) rebelliousness, and although the tone can be a little dogmatic, nearly everything else about the “handbook” is just plain cool. I laughed out loud to see license plates, makes and models of undercover police vehicles listed, and was encouraged to see the inclusion of human liberation struggles. That said, the young folks who made this zine were reproducing some of the worst aspects of other publications from the era as far as security and theatrical militancy goes.
SNARL is an interesting product of it’s time, written and distributed by well meaning, hard-fighting folks who no doubt had the best interest of non-humans in their hearts. That said, I hope readers at the time were cautious in following the advice it contained, because much of it was outright dangerous. Looking at the prisoner listings from this period, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
No Compromise #29-30 (2006. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
The early days of my activism were so exciting. After a lifetime of feeling powerless I suddenly discovered that there was a community dedicated to fighting the good fight. Its members were in every major city and many smaller ones, and sometimes not living in any city at all, but in trees and encampments. The people involved were empowered to act for themselves in order to create a better world, and had abandoned all the false hope of political parties and their dead politics. Words meant little, action was what counted, and the sky was the limit. The internet was not yet in wide use, and thank goodness! That meant that we met each other in conference rooms, in squats, on the streets, and sometimes on the pages of No Compromise magazine.
No Compromise shaped who I am today. Each new issue contained articles that helped me and thousands of others to evolve our own style of resistance, and as our experience grew we were able to share our stories in the pages of the magazine.
After 30 issues, the steering committee of No Compromise decided to stop publishing in 2006. Their decision could not have come at a worse time. With the SHAC website and newsletter killed by the convictions of the SHAC 7, Bite Back being published only sporadically and with a limited focus, and the Earth First! Journal mired in its “Confronting Oppression Within” drama, the sudden absence of No Compromise meant that the primary sources for radical animal liberation news, opinion, and strategy were the twin sewers of online social networks and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. These were dark times for our movement, and we are only just beginning to recover.
The final issues of No Compromise were the best of the series, though! I was in prison when issue 30 was released, and it felt electric in my hands. I read it over and over, alternately laughing and crying. As I was putting this post together I decided to pull out that print copy. It gave me the same sense of awe I had when I read those first issues. More than that, it reminded me that there is still a community of people capable of changing the world through compassionate direct action and mutual aid. And you know what? We are going to win!
(The complete set of all past issues of No Compromise can be found HERE)
Do or Die #9 (2000, Brighton, England.)
We always write the same thing when we post an issue of Do or Die, so this time we will spare you the superlatives. This issue has worldwide ecological news, human freedom struggles, non-human direct action, and a radical history of football alongside a little bit of humor and many inspiring images. A must read, so click below and get to it!
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.
No Compromise #20-22 (2003. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, CA)
No Comp scored another great year in 2003, this time by going deeper into practical instructions for campaigning, and also by examining the smaller stories in greater detail. While the high profile victories of anti-HLS activists were given their due, inspirational figures who had passed on were also given touching coverage. Issue #20 features articles on early Band of Mercy and Animal Liberation Front founder Sue Smith, and Sweden’s animal lib die-hard, Ake Soderlund. Similar examinations of our past, and the courageous figures whose shoulders we stand upon, pepper the 2003 issues. Of particular note is the article on Henry Hutto in issue #21.
2003 was also the year that Rod Coronado finally got off of probation and was allowed to participate in the movement again. His writings for No Compromise were as subversive and inspiring as ever, and it is easy to see why the government considered him such a threat.
As the year progressed No Comp moved to a magazine format and tightened their graphic design skills in response to Jake Conroy’s work on the SHAC USA newsletter. These glossy issues were excellent contributions to the movement, and it is a shame that in only a few more years NC would cease to exist altogether. These information (and inspiration!) packed issues are worth reading again to inform and encourage our current actions.
Liberate! #1-7 (1996-1997 Birkenhead, New Zealand)
Liberate! was published by Auckland Animal Action, one of the dozens of militant organizations that suddenly coalesced in the mid-90s. While the activities of the group itself were fairly moderate, the visual direction and rhetoric of the magazine was quite extreme. In it’s era this was appropriate. In these modern days of soy milk in every cafe and vegan cheese in every supermarket, talking about cutting off the fingers of vivisectors is certainly going to frighten away an audience that is already coming around. It wasn’t very long ago, however, that the late 80’s trend of moderation in activism was a clear failure. Dialogue about violence and sabotage was a necessary component of moving forward, and it is important to note that these discussions, thankfully, didn’t result in any missing digits.
Liberate! was not particularly well written, but there are some stand out articles about the burgeoning pro-direct action grassroots, conflicts between environmentalists and animal liberationists, and some entertaining imagery as well. Also of interest, given the current Canadian “Marineland Animal Defense” campaign, are the details of New Zealand’s 90s campaign against their own Marineland.
Elaho Valley Anarchist Horde on the end of the 7Cs: A Journal of Sasquatchology (2001, Victoria, Canada)
“The sun shines brightly in the yard, the sky is clear, the air fresh and bracing. Now the last gate will be thrown open, and I shall be out of site of the guard, beyond the bars, – alone! How I have hungered for this hour, how often in the past years have I dreamed of this rapturous moment – to be alone, out in the open, away from the insolent eyes of my keepers! I’ll rush away from these walls and kneel on the warm sod, and kiss the soil, and embrace the trees, and with a song of joy give thanks to Nature for the blessings of sunshine and air.” Alexander Berkman, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist.
Upon my own release from prison I traveled to Seattle from Sheridan, Oregon to turn myself in to a halfway house. I too was an anarchist in the hands of the enemy, and while my incarceration was not as long or harsh as Berkman’s, his memoir contains long portions – sometimes entire pages – that feel so familiar it seems as though I wrote them myself. Several times in the final chapter he mentions a longing for wilderness, an urge to run from the dead cities of the northeast into the forests. On that ride from one lockup to another I knew why. Civilization is inherently confining, and even outside of the greybar hotel most of our lives consist of moving from one box to another in a continuous and agonizing march that we have little power to control. Looking out the windows of my friends car I wanted the passing sprawl to be sucked into the soil and replaced with life, beauty, and liberty.
The nature of incarceration can certainly make a person think about the incarceration of nature, but even those anarchists who have been lucky or smart enough to stay out of state custody often get it. If you are opposed to the artificial hierarchies of class, why support the equally arbitrary hierarchies based on species? If you think that forests have less worth than humans than I say you haven’t met enough cops! There isn’t one authority figure on earth I wouldn’t trade for a tree, and anyone who would argue the opposite is a moron. But forgive my rambling, I have written all the above because this wonderful DIY zine has sparked my sense of rebellion and wildness!
The end of the 90s and the early 2000s was a busy time for forest defenders, and across the globe direct action campaigns for wilderness were abundant and inspiring. There are many famous examples, and while Warner Creek and the anti-roads campaigns of England may have stolen the spotlight, one rugged crew in British Columbia carried on an overlooked battle that every activist should know about. If you like raging warrior grannies, sabotage, unlikely coalitions, and open revolt against corporations and their governmental subsidiaries, then you ought to read up on the history of actions in the Elaho, Squamish, and Simms valleys. This zine, written by members of the Elaho Valley Anarchist Horde as both a primer for new activists coming to the Elaho and a means of publicizing the campaign, is an excellent introduction.
Underground #17 (The rare ACTUAL final issue!) (2002, WIllowdale, ONT, Canada.)
Several months ago we posted Underground #16 along with the all caps tagline, “THE RARE FINAL ISSUE!” Boy, is our face red. The final issue of Underground is actually issue 17.
Much of what was said in our post about issue 16 is also true of 17- the news was late, the supporters groups was constantly dealing with the problems of rotating volunteers, and as print media was being challenged by the internet, Underground also seemed to be declining in quality. The final issue did contain some important bits of forgotten history though, like the joint resignation letter from ELF press officers Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie James Pickering, or the tiny article about Belgian animal liberation super-arsonist Geert Waegemans additional charges. There is also a wonderful transcription of Mirha-Soleil Ross’ radio interview with Rod Coronado, former ALF Press Officer (and current snitch apologist) David Barbarash’s 2001 Year End Direct Action Report, and a reprinting of the ever popular “Staying Free By Shutting the Fuck Up!”
War At Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists And What We Can Do About It (1989, Boston, MA.)
During the advent of illegal animal liberations in the United States the FBI had very little in the way of actionable intelligence on those responsible. That all changed when a mentally ill-former activist with a history of violence and stalking began speaking with the Bureau. His name was Bill Ferguson, and while he is best known as the activist who shot Last Chance for Animals founder Chris DeRose in the back, his legacy as the first North American super snitch is far more obscure. Once he began cooperating grand juries sprung up all over the country, homes were raided, and the dirty tricks experienced by other movements began entering the militant vegan arena. In response many grassroots animal organizations began to distribute Brian Glick’s excellent booklet, War At Home.
Clocking in at under 100 pages, War at Home covers all of the most important moments in the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence program, (Better known as COINTELPRO) including the events which occurred after COINTELPRO was supposedly shut down. In plain language and with surprising detail Glick discusses the means and aims of the FBI’s attempts at ending domestic dissent. More than a must read on past abuses, War At Home is also an invaluable handbook on security culture and support for those targeted by law enforcement harassment campaigns. The current wave of crackdowns on the Occupy movement make the free distribution of this booklet more important than ever- please share it with your friends.