Cyrano Interviews Steve Best
When I started blogging two years ago, I was thought that campaigning for welfare reforms at least accomplished something, as my goal of a society that doesn’t use animals wasn’t going to see the light of day. I held a fundraiser for HSUS’ Legal Fund, I gave thousands to PeTA (despite not agreeing with their sexist tactics), and I was under the impression that the more we regulated animal use and the more "humane" it became, the closer we’d get to abolition.
I didn’t use those phrases exactly, but the sentiments are the same. Am I embarrassed? Not really, as learning can be a messy process, and personal evolution is just that–it doesn’t happen overnight. My arc was: vegetarian to vegan (welfarist) to (vegan) abolitionist to liberationist. The more deeply and broadly I thought, the more open I kept my mind, and the more rigorously I questioned my own beliefs, the more my personal ethic evolved.
Of course, I haven’t figured it all out yet. I call issues I’m ambivalent about Gray Matters, and they’ve included:
- Whether welfare reforms will lead to abolition (no–resolved).
- Whether there is such a thing as humane farming (no–resolved).
- Whether I will give to organizations that have programs I want to support, but also programs I don’t want to support (no–resolved).
- Whether vegetarianism and veganism have much to do with each other (not morally, but in practice, when most people are transitioning, yes–resolved).
- Whether God gave us animals to use (just kidding).
- Whether capitalism and liberation of animals can co-exist (yes and no–unresolved).
- Whether violence includes property damage, sabotage and intimidation (yes and no–unresolved).
Today’s post will refer to an interview on Cyrano’s Journal Online (Thomas Paine’s Corner) with Dr. Steve Best. Some of it is similar to Best and Anthony J. Nocella II’s Introduction to TERRORISTS OR FREEDOM FIGHTERS? and it will address the two unresolved issues. Here are some passages that were helpful to me:
- [T]he peaceniks regurgitate the repressive and speciesist discourse of the corporate-state complex and demonize the tough tactics all-too often needed to liberate an animal as “terrorist” or “violence.” But no sooner do they bray these platitudes of betrayal do they sink in the quicksand of hypocrisy and inconsistency. For any schoolchild knows that sometimes sabotage and even “violence” are necessary to stop evil.
- Whereas corporate society, the state, and mass media brand the liberationists as terrorists, the ALF has important similarities with some of the great freedom fighters of the past two centuries, and is akin to contemporary peace and justice movements in its quest to end bloodshed and violence toward life and to win justice for other species. . . . The ALF believes that there is a higher law than that created by and for the corporate-state complex, a moral law that transcends the corrupt and biased statues of the US political system. When the law is wrong, the right thing to do is to break it. This is often how moral progress is made in history, from the defiance of American slavery and Hitler’s anti-Semitism to sit-ins at “whites only” lunch counters in Alabama.
- I came out in favor of the ALF because after careful study of their history, arguments, and results, I concluded that their actions are effective, necessary, and just. Governments, animal exploitation industries, and most mass media characterize the ALF as violent terrorists, but I see them as freedom fighters and counter-terrorists. The ALF is a new justice movement defending innocent beings under attack and fighting the real terrorists who torture and kill animals without justification.
Breaking and entering locked buildings, smashing fur store windows, torching delivery trucks — it all sounds nothing short of vandalism or even terrorism. But I believe ALF actions are defensible because (1) what happens to animals is wrong, and (2) legal channels to stop it are blocked by speciesism and corrupt governments that support the property rights of industries over the moral rights of animals.
- I wish that legal methods of animal liberation were adequate to free animals from their oppressors, but unfortunately they are not. Governments are grotesquely corrupt and speciesist and serve their corporate masters. Animals are too important a resource and commodity for corporations to voluntarily free them, and so animal liberation requires militant tactics such as raids to rescue animals and property destruction to weaken, cripple, or eliminate oppressors.
- Unlike some brave warriors fighting Nazis, however, the ALF has never used physical violence against any animal exploiter. And like all contemporary movements fighting for peace, justice, and human rights, the ALF intends to help secure all these values for the most defenseless victims of all, the animals who are utterly dependent upon us for their liberation.
- People often say that animals are “the new slaves.” No, they were the first slaves. They’re the first beings human oppressors used to confine, torture, cage, chain down, auction, and sell for labor and profit. The domination of animals paved the way for the domination of humans. The sexual subjugation of women was modeled after the domestication of animals, such that men began to control women’s reproductive capacity, to enforce repressive sexual norms, and to rape them as they forced breeding in their animals. Slavery emerged in the same region of the Middle East that spawned agriculture, and, in fact, developed as an extension of animal domestication practices.
- A several paragraph critique of Gary Francione, including: While Francione tries to define himself as the “radical abolitionist” antithetical to the “new welfarist” capitulations and betrayals of a corporate suit such as Wayne Pacelle, in fact, he is Pacelle’s doppelganger in their shared vilification of the ALF and SHAC, and some of the most effective tactics ever developed in the history of this movement.
- In extreme crimes, in the face of extreme evil and violence, moderate positions don’t cut it, and one is forced to take extreme measures to stop extreme wrongs. The western environment and animal advocacy movements have advanced their causes for over three decades now, but we are nonetheless losing ground in the battle to preserve species, ecosystems, and wilderness.
- I define terrorism as any intentional act of violence toward an innocent sentient being in order to advance an ideological, political, and economic agenda. It is a strange kind of terrorist who has never injured a single person, who is compassionate toward the suffering of others, and who risks his or her own freedom to save another from harm, violence, and death. It is not the ALF who are violent terrorists, but rather the UK and US governments and war machines, global corporations raping and pillaging the world, vivisectors in their blood-stained coats, and all facets of the animal exploitation industry. They are terrorists on the grounds that they intentionally harm and kill innocent living beings for ideological, political, and economic goals.
- If violence is the intentional infliction of bodily harm against another person, then how can one “hurt,” “abuse,” or “injure” a nonsentient thing that does not feel pain or have awareness of any sort? How can one be “violent” toward a van or be a “terrorist” toward brick and mortar? How does one harm or terrorize a laboratory or fur farm with spray paint or a firebomb?
The comments comprise several distracting personal issues among readers, but there are some that do relate to the actual interview.
I’m interested to hear what you agree with and disagree with.