On Direct Action and the FBI
Because not everyone follows the comments, I wanted to reprint a passage from yesterday where I quoted pattrice jones‘ "Mothers with Monkeywrenches: Feminist Imperatives and the ALF" in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?
"Direct action includes only activist tactics that, like boycotts and sabotage, are intended to have an immediate impact on a problem or its causes. In contrast, indirect action aims for future change through more circuitous routes, such as education, legislation, and symbolic demonstrations of opinion. . . . Ideally, direct action will illustrate or illuminate the problem at the same time as it interferes with its causes or effects. The very best direct action contributes to a long-term strategy for future change even as it offers tangible results in the here and now. . . . People who have integrated segregated lunch counters, put their bodies int he paths of troop transport trains, distributed illegal clean needles or birth control devices, boycotted chocolate or Coca-Cola, staged rent strikes, or built ‘tent cities’ for the homeless have all taken direct action against one or another form of oppression. Direct action for animals is similarly diverse" (137-8).
In addition,the ALF considers its actions to be nonviolent (they don’t consider property damage to be violence), and because it’s not as if I’m a spokesperson, I recommend exploring the site yourself and deciding where you stand based on what they say. Note that in the guidelines is: "TO take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human." I also recommend an examination of the history of direct action (and also violence) in social justice movements. You’ll find that it isn’t necessarily true that violence begets violence.
With all of that said, I still feel uncomfortable with violence, and I do realize that might make me sound like a hypocrite (hi Joseph!) and a speciesist as I always come back to this: If we were talking about humans being bred and slaughtered by the billions (and remember it was military might that defeated the Nazis), would we be writing letters, circulating petitions and using education as our first line of defense? The question’s been asked many, many times (as I’m sure you all know), and I still don’t feel satisfied with an answer that doesn’t make me sound like a speciesist.
I’d be thrilled if someone could provide me with an answer that helped them feel better about this particular issue.
And finally, when Colleen sent me "Moles Wanted," about the FBI soliciting informants for vegan potlucks and such, I thought, "Oh, this is what Will Potter wrote about a couple of weeks ago." And it was, except it was a different story about the topic.
Here’s the set-up: FBI tracks down a college sophomore (whom we’ll call Carroll) who had spray-painted the interior of a campus elevator and then turned himself in to the police.
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”
Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.
“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.
Check out the article (and note the part about how those who infiltrate might be responsible for inciting violence), and of course Will Potter’s and his commentary.