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One-off publications

Counter Friction

03.14.11

Counter Friction #1 (1998, Bloomington, IN. USA)

By the late 90s, it was becoming apparent that despite the commitment and energy of the militant grassroots, little was being accomplished for non-humans. A lack of focus on a single target, and minimal regional or national coordination had left the movement with few gains, frustrated organizers, and many participants drifting away. One early attempt at correcting the problem was a drive by members of the Animal Defense Leagues and CAFT to unify their efforts by publishing a joint newsletter called Counter Friction.

Counter Friction was well intentioned, but upon its release it had little impact. First and foremost, if anything the magazine served to highlight the overly diverse targets and lack of framework within the groups. Some groups were focused on fur, some on fundraising, some on vegan outreach, and despite JP Goodwin’s call for unified action, everywhere else in the magazine there was a sense of not knowing what to do next. Second, the publication came out during a time period of intense turmoil and lower participation caused by the conflict between supporters of Freeman Wicklund’s ill fated strategic non-violence plan, and more traditional grassroots militants who supported underground activity. Third, the articles were written by organizers who might be proficient at putting together a protest but miserable at composing a few paragraphs about it. With few exceptions the content was poorly written. Finally, there was an unintentional conflict in the mission for the newsletter: On the one hand it was meant to start creating a centralized clearinghouse for CAFT and ADL, but the other purpose was to drive people towards local chapters. ¬†Subscribers were told to contact local groups for subscriptions, to send submissions to the central group, to contact CAFT for merchandise, to contact ADL for literature, and in the end confusion abounded.

By the time managing editor Rachael Astachan requested that chapters send in articles and updates for the second issue the steam had run out for many of the ADL’s and CAFT affiliates. In a frustrated e-mail to the ADL group e-mail list she left the project, and it was never revived.

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