We received a very elocuent submission writing about the current anti vivisection campaign hitting the UK and about the history of social change as well as specifically the history of anti vivisection. It is a fantastic read and we think you should give it ten minutes of your time!
“How inspiring it is to the see the wave of activists who have spent more than fifty continuous days so far trying to free the MBR Beagles. Sure, some correct-discourse “anti-speciesist” literature would tell you there are more important fights in the struggle for animal liberation. And clearly my feelings are tinged by a personal history and my love of collective community based spikey grass roots direct action. But this is an historic opportunity for the animal rights movement, and it provides us with a vital component for social change: momentum.
Previously, the hunger strikers, blanket men and women and political prisoners of Long Kesh and Armagh held my inspiration. The example that the prison cell, and the sacrifice of a gaol sentence, can be turned on it´s oppressors and used to heighten political conscience and militant action. When I found myself in a lonely prison cell, I remembered the thinking of such prisoners: “The first priority was escape, after that was education.” With my relatively short sentence escape was unrealistic but education was a privileged use of my time. Where else can people afford the time, lack of distraction and clarity of mind to study in the UK these days anyway? Through the prison library and correspondence from those amazing people that write to animal liberation prisoners I became somewhat evangelistic about education. University followed prison and as for my dissertation I researched the history of the animal rights movement, looking at campaigning against vivisection and in particular the emergence of radical and popular but planned, organised and intelligent direct action. Whilst my research into such a grand and glorious history is finite, I formed the opinion that in the late 1960s and early 1970s a core group of people emerged inspired by third-world and post-colonial liberation struggles. With a mother´s love for the animals and unstoppable desire akin to a revolutionary´s spirit – they were serious about helping those trapped in such unimaginable circuits of torture. Richard Ryder´s Animal Revolution documents elements of this history quite well, but only the original 1989 edition, as the millennial reprint did´t survive censorship.
These activists had an idea about what they wanted to achieve, and they were committed to realising that goal. It was one of the most noblest apologies a human can make to animal – to liberate them from the miserable enslavement humanity has inflicted upon them. This was their goal, and they never lost sight of it. Whether this could happen in our current social media dominated world is a question for the historians. But political activism in the social-media age can appear to be so based on slogans, attention or reaction, devoid of the principled, heart-pulling beliefs and pure empathetic feelings of solidarity that are essential for realising the goal of animal liberation. Remember the war; loose lips sink ships, walls have ears and I´ll keep mum! These activists hit their targets, and they hit their targets hard and often. They gained press coverage, and they engaged with that press coverage on their own terms. They provided a reasoned and rational explanation for their actions, in which their so-called “crimes” against property were contrasted against such an endless catalogue of human-on-animal violence. They used it to get across their message, not appeal for whatever support that floats by with the clouds or build relationships with politicos that would have lead them down the garden path. They were unapologetic and spoke from the heart. And they gained support.
When they first started to get persecuted by the law and imprisoned for defending the voiceless they understood it for the victory it was. Sure, they were imprisoned and there would be smug grins from petty men in grubby suits, but the movement blossomed. They inspired people to take action. They inspired the press to discuss the long ignored issue of institutionalised and systematic murderous scientific curiosity. And they made animal rights and animal liberation a serious, political and social issue once and for good. There will be no going back. It was not the philosophers in the university, or the social media influences with their theories and commentaries. It was the people in the streets, in the fields, getting ridden down by horses and bashed over the head by bumpkin scum, getting pushed around by odious police officers at the docks as babies were being freighted off to their continental death, getting strip searched and spat on in police stations up and down the country, and it was the anonymous, often talked about but rarely seen, moving around and hitting those people where it really fucking hurt. Animal liberationists could no longer be dismissed as hippie cranks or sentimental old women, middle-class liberals, weak, soft or overly sentimental. They were out there in the streets, they were getting arrested and imprisoned and they were disrupting the public consciousness and the official narratives on human-animal societal relationships. They were placing the importance of animal liberation among the most important life decisions a human can make. They were making trouble like all those glorious troubles makers who made history in making the world a better, kinder, more empathetic and intuitive world. They were serious, sincere, credible political activists for a righteous cause – and they became this because of the actions and experiences they were prepared to go through.
As I said it is so inspiring to see the development of this new campaign, and what an incredible thing to see a group of mostly women, presumably from different communities across the country, act so obstinately dignified in the face of scumbag-moron-cops. But be sure for sure, as I write, the state and industry, with a big shit-fingered poke from the police are calculating long winded and carefully planned strategies to eradicate your campaign, not to mention the side attractions of bad press publicity, scandal and gossip which can´t help but draw the attention away from your goal and gain the commentors and rubber-neckers who suck the life out of action like a leach sucks blood from the body. But remember this, you have rightness and justice on your side. Your fight is just, you are in the right and as long as you remember that, then you can withstand anything and you can achieve anything. The grass roots animal rights movement has the power to finish this disgusting business. In fact, it is the only force that can do it.
15 AUGUST 2021“
Photos: FIELDS OF LIGHT PHTOGRAPHY.