WILT combine old school metal and crust in a perfect hybrid that very few others have ever achieved. Prepare for a LP thats equal parts galloping d-beat crust reminiscent of bands like HELLSHOCK, and INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, meets old school death metal in the vein of BOLT THROWER, MEMORIAM (old) SEPULTURA.
Here is a track from the upcoming LP
“Sermon for the Bootlickers”
Despite the inculcation of helplessness within each there remains great power. Ill at ease with such makes us ill. Learn to see the hand that feeds for what it is. You’ve been fooled if you think you’ve got no power. Refuse to be reduced to a consumer you’re a human being. Define yourself by more than wealth. Define yourself as a human. You don’t need what you’re being sold. Bend your knee to no authority but your own mind. You have the power to avoid the gilded trap. Avarice is what you’re conditioned for. Break the mold discover what’s really valuable to you.
Wed, July 12 Hanover / Germany / Confirmed Thu, July 13 Bremen Fri, July 14 Mulhem / Germany / Confirmed Sat, July 15 Gent, Belgium / CrustPicnic / Confirmed Sun, July 16 Paris / France or Amsterdam / Nederland July 18 North-East France or West Germany July 19 Freiburg / Germany TBC July 20 Winterthur / Switzerland Fri, July 21 Zurich / Switzerland Sat, July 22 Biel / Switzerland July 23 Lausanne or Geneva / Switzerland
July 24 Geneva / Switzerland or Grenoble france
July 25 Treviso (or Milano or Bologna or Verona) / Italy
July 26 Ljubljana Slovenia Confirmed
July 27 No Sanctuary chilling day
Fri, July 28 NoSanctuary Confirmed
Sat, July 29 NoSanctuary Confirmed
July 30 Ilirska Bistrica/Slovenia or Vienna/Austria or Budapest/Hungary.
July 31 Wiena / Austrai or Budapest or / Slovakia
August 1 Brno / Czech Republic.
August 2 Prague / Czech Republic
August 3 Finsterwalde / Germany TBC
Fri, August 4 Leipzig / Germany TBC
Sat, August 5 Berlin / Germany / confirmed
August 6 Dresden
August 7 Wroclaw / Poland
August 8 Warsaw / Poland
August 9 Poznan / Poland
August 10 Szczecin/Poland TBC
Fri, August 11 Rostock / confirmed
Sat, August 12 Hamburg TBC
Brace yourself for one of the most uncompromising hard hitting and politically outspoken records of this era. STORM OF SEDITION are an anti-civilization anarchist crust punk band based out of Victoria BC. Sharing members with the mighty ISKRA you can definitely expect some serious blackened crust, and yes a huge metal influence is prevalent however STORM OF SEDITION are a bit more reminiscent of bands like CONTRAVENE & NAUSEA. “Decivilize” brings a heavy anarcho punk dynamic to the table combined with over the top blackened crust grind thats littered with blistering solo’s, insanely powerful drumbeats, and thought productive lyrics that challenge our current state of human civilization. All in all this is an absolute monster of a release!
Comes with a 12 page booklet containing lyrics, notes, and song explanations.
STORM OF SEDITION WILL TOURING THE WEST COAST THIS SUMMER!!!
Keep you eye’s peeled for a list of tour dates soon!
Listen to the song “Disconnect” here…
Living a domesticated existence Starves people of meaning in their lives Everyone feels the void beneath the surface Of everyday activities and routines
Miserable, exploited, mass populations Feeding the industrial systems endless hunger Treated like machines, living beings Enslaved and kept passive in a technological noose
We live in these cages Made of concrete, glass, and steel A functioning human made hell Complete with natural scenery
Yet there is no community Deprived of connection with real people Technology perpetuates alienation But promises to connect us
And fill the void in our lives In constant need of escape and distraction From this fucking ugly world Technology creeping into our lives
Pop culture, pacifying shit Endless distractions to curb dissent A society of lonely domesticated beings Attempting social interaction behind a digital screen
Clinging to the feeling of connectedness Personalized profiles, mass communication tools Monitored and funded by pigs Spying on people, on movements While corporations profit off government control Microsoft, apple, fedbook Endless lists of corporations Infiltrating our everyday lives The NSA, the CSE Databases created from what you share Information for incrimination Millions of people on terrorist watch lists Technology’s a weapon used against us
Its function is to propel their ability To efficiently exploit us and the natural world While doing so capitalizing off selling us Gadgets to distract us from the lives we live and hate
Turn off that shit, enter the real world You are not connected You are alone staring into a fucking a screen
Get outside, meet with real people! Even if we use these tools We must never forget
Technology is a system created by and for those in power And it will only exist with Division of labor, exploitation, and death
Becoming connected through technology Is a sick fucking joke
PROFANE EXISTENCE RECORDS – PO BOX 647 – HUNTINGTON WV – 25711 – UNITED STATES
Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
Punk bands tour the world singing anthems that promote militant direct action & activism, putting out albums with flaming Molotovs emblazoned across their covers, with militant messages; but few of us ever truly put those words into action. Walter Bond on the other hand has spent decades working tirelessly, whether leafleting at shows and in the streets, tabling at Pride events, protesting, or volunteering at animal sanctuaries before finally turning to the more militant tactics of the Animal Liberation Front. Walter is a proud anarchist, Vegan, of Latino heritage, who identifies as bisexual. He also is currently a prisoner in one of the most controversial and restrictive prisons in the USA today.
I have been writing to Walter in prison since he was first arrested 2 years ago, after his brother snitched him out. At the time of his arrest, Walter was living on the streets while attacking businesses that profit from animal exploitation.
PE: – You identified as an anarchist for most of your life. Can you tell us what being an anarchist means to you, and how it connects with Animal Liberation, and Total Liberation?
WALTER: When I was in 7th grade in 1989 I used to make all kinds of clip art fliers with my friends under the name ‘Anti-Statist Counter Culture’. We would distribute them mostly to local corporate businesses and churches in the area, mostly to agitate. By the end of 8th grade I had completely dropped out of school and was living this nihilist lifestyle and was just very reactionary and angry at the whole world, parents, school, everything! Back then I was dealing with a world of shit that was to much for me to handle. I turned to drug abuse and vandalism as an outlet. Anarchism back then was a personal vendetta I had about how my life and the world around me was and how I felt it should be.
I wasn’t alone. I had three other very close friends that felt the same. Two of them connected with some gutter punks in Boulder, Colorado and ran away to Hollywood, California. 25 years later one of them is a vocalist for a grind core band, and another is a bicycle maker that lives in a squat in New York City and gets harassed whenever he tries to leave the country because he has bee
n on federal watch lists since the 90’s.
Today anarchism is firmly connected to my activism. The Animal Liberation Front has been an anarchistic dis-organization since its inception. There is no way for business-as-usual and Animal Liberation to co-exist in any fashion that is effective for the goals and interests of either side. Business, consumerism and corporations ultimately care about whatever is profitable. Their raw materials are the blood and bones of Animals and the life’s’ blood and guts of the Earth, which is the fountain head of all life. It’s difficult to make this connection as just a foodie Vegan but once you spend some time in the activist world, it’s an unavoidable clash.
Anarchism is in opposition to State control, corporate domination, class privilege, oppression of one group by another. These are the identical ideals fought for by Animal Liberation abolitionists, just applied to different objectives. I think that anarchism and Animal liberation from the abolitionist or radical perspective are an organic pairing. What good would it do to establish a human society of free communities only to destroy the planet with a McDonalized diet or a mass addiction to industrialization? The reality is that there are billions of people on the planet! With or without government or state authority, industry is going to continue destroying the Earth. It doesn’t matter who turns on the machines everyday, because things are not made out of no things. And history has proven time and time again that if we do not remove the oppressions of the least defensible of us then the circle of abuse begins again with a brand new name.
PE: – You are an Animal Liberation POW, and you also hold anti-civ views, and have a critique of technology. I see a lot of overlap between the anarcho-primitivist critique of domestication, and mass society, with the views of Total Liberation. Do you feel there is a contradiction there? Or how do you see them fitting together?
WALTER: I definitely am not a fan of technologically advanced civilization. From the industrial age forward what we are really looking at is a lattice work infrastructure, put in place by governments of men to subjugate women, the poor, Animals, Earth, labor and each other according to Ethnicity, nationalism, class, gender and economics. Since the age of the machine and science; pain, suffering, war and murder have been greatly, incredibly and insanely quickened!
Despite all the promises of making things better we are blowing mountains in half to get at their coal. We are chopping down every forest on Earth. We are dropping bombs on civilians from remote control airplanes; we are mechanically murdering billions of Animals at the expense of the natural world. We are wasting mass amounts of crop, soil, and water, all euphemisms for Earth, so that we can eat cheap burgers. Thanks to constant technological crutches most adults cannot listen to, follow or remember simple directions. Meanwhile paranoia and random acts of violence are at an all time high!
It is time to stop pretending that we don’t see the writing on the wall. Technology kills! And that is most often its primary use. WE HAVE ENOUGH NUCLEAR WARHEADS ON THIS PLANET TO KILL ALL LIFE SEVERAL TIMES OVER, BUT WE CANNOT EVEN SAVE OUR OWN SPECIES ONCE. I used to build slaughterhouses for a living and I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s not physically possible to butcher tens of thousands of Animals a day without an abundance of mechanical aid. Just like it is not possible to destroy a forest without first building roads and inlets to get yellow death machines into the area.
art off Walter Bond support page
No machine is morally neutral when it’s sole design and intent is to eviscerate, vivisect, slash cut and transport the splintered, destroyed and devastated remains of the biosphere! The technologies we use to heal the sick and, lessen pain and suffering and generally make the human world a more comfortable place are scant in comparison to the damage done. But just like any alcoholic or drug addict we exaggerate the pay off we get while greatly ignoring the damage it takes to pay for it. And just as with any other addiction the truly terrible thing is how many other innocent lives have become ruined in the addicts wake.
Politics would have us believe the modes of production are neither beneficial nor harmful but only in the right or wrong hands. Yet time and time again his-story has shown that whether the factory is run by greedy capitalists or free thinking anarcho-communists, the machines still get turned on and the raw materials of industry are still the blood and guts of the Earth and her Animal Nations! In truth, who controls the means and modes of production is of concern to those who labor and profit by and for the machines, with little to no concern for the connectivity of all life, or the world.
As far as how I view the connectivity, or lack thereof of ideas like Total liberation and anarcho-primitivism I guess I view it as parallel. In my estimation Total Liberation should be making steps to unite various struggles in the real world against the common leviathan of government and towards the reality of free communities. Unfortunately, I don’t see much grassroots organization around Total Lib. it remains, thus far, in the world of ideas, of salutations of solidarity. I think the occupy movement started out with a truly unifying Total Liberation tactic and showed the tremendous power of coming together. But there has to be an escalation of tactics at the helm or else all is eventually kaput. I’m not trying to be smug here but where is Total Liberation physically? Ideally Total Liberation should be a bridge building movement to unite activists of all liberation struggles be they human, Earth or Animal. That is a huge amount of work. And honestly it’s an abundance of work I seldom see getting done. No one wants to yield or compromise enough to make a true united liberation front possible. Or as radicals we use total lib as a pretext to ideological recruitment of other radicals.
Anarcho-primitivism on the other hand is really against the entire foundation of what our modern ‘civilized’ oppressions are built upon. As such it’s not very activist friendly. I mean, you don’t protest civilization with a sign. The idea of a truly clean slate is far to radical for that. The only way to effectively protest technology, mass society, domestication and their ilk is for you yourself to become a wild child and destroy the machines. But Total Liberation and anarcho-primitivism are for ever united by the same objective. That being the complete escape from tyranny and oppression for as many lives, and ways of life as can exist without any oppressing the other. One is just dedicated to aligning forces in the here and now, while the other is looking at how we will have to not only get rid of the road we are on, but also get rid of the road.
PE: – It almost seems like there was a Class Warfare element to the choices you made when selecting your targets. Was this intentional?
WALTER:– You are the first person to ever ask me this question, and the answer is yes. There were a couple different messages to my arsons beyond Animal Liberation, one was classism. Every place I hit was not what society would try to justify as ‘necessary’ Animal cruelty. Each place in its own right was of service to the upper middle, to the rich echelon of society. Whether for fashion, hobby or delicacy I wasn’t going after stores in the hood or ethnic communities. I was after retailers that sold dead Animals’ broken bodies or skins purely for consumer pleasure.
Another thing I have heard grumbles about is why I went after soft targets instead of more strategic targeting. There was a subtle reason behind this as well. As an activist I often saw people pass the buck when it comes to Animal industries. The wholesalers and retailers always blame it on the public. If no one bought their products they wouldn’t sell them. Or since there is a demand someone is going to fill it whether them or someone else. The consumers always hide in numbers. They don’t feel responsible because there not buying anything that’s not being bought a million times over by others. The drop in the bucket syndrome. If you pick on them you will instantly be accused of targeting specific groups of people. And after all it’s really the evil corporations fault for putting such cruelly produced products on the market.
I burned three businesses right in the middle of major cities. I did not want to hide my ALF actions the way Animal cruelty is hidden. I wanted every retailer and consumer to see that when you deal in product of death you shouldn’t be surprised when retribution finds its way to your doorstep. Honestly, if I would have had more resources or help I would have done live Liberations unfortunately this was not a viable option. But the only good thing about living in a non-Vegan world is that if you want to combat cruelty you never have to go far. You don’t need to have a bunch of money or go to some clandestine trading camp to make an impact.
Most of the time people like to imagine that their heroes have all this expertise that they never could. It’s a convenient belief because otherwise they wouldn’t have any excuse for putting their own self-interest, fear and apathy above doing in their hearts what they know must be done. The truth is when it comes to Animal exploitation or the destruction of the Earth, no one is innocent. Not Vegans, or cadaver munchers. Not anarchists, or capitalists. Not me, or you. We are all shades of red as Screaming Wolf once wrote in the seminal book ‘Declaration of War’. We lessen our shade of red with our lifestyles and our actions. And this is our obligation if we have compassion. Not from some outside authority but from inside ourselves, our consciousness.
PE: – Recently you completely changed your position on abortion, what prompted this seemingly sudden shift?
WALTER:– What prompted this change of heart is a growing disenchantment with so-called conservative views. And the pompous attitudes that produce them. I have never been involved in any anti-abortion activism, just so people know. In the hundreds of pages that I have written in the last 3 years I have written approximately one paragraph about the ‘pro-life’ views I once held. I just want to set it straight from the beginning that I am not some reformed anti-abortion extremist. That said, I once held an obscure view on abortion that was part of a conservative clique within the Straight Edge movement of the 1990’s.
My limited comprehension of abortion as an issue was from this two dimensional idea that ‘if I am going to care deeply about the rights of shrimp, then I should care about the rights of a fetus’. This was a complete absent reference to the fact that this whole issue takes place inside a woman’s body and that there is a more complex issue of rights to be observed. Not just vegan hardline consistency.
I have recently begun to educate myself on feminism and in particular anarcha-feminism. The more I learn the more I feel like an ass for having displayed such an idiotic and disconnected view of abortion in the first place. From an Animal Liberation perspective which is more my field, it must be said that humanity is the cause of extreme amounts of suffering to billions of Animals annually, for food vivisection, entertainment and beyond. Ultra-consumpive societies like north America, china and now India are currently decimating the Earth like a cancer! In this war on nature humans are a tyrannical and abusive enemy. I stand on the side of the Animal Nations and Mother Earth, I am a species traitor. And human birth control is a relief to the planet!
But as I was saying, what prompted me to finally take a long look at my beliefs, not only on abortion but many of my moralist attitudes in general are my surroundings. For those that do not know I am a prisoner of war, inside a political prison, within a prison. On this unit of 40 men, I never leave, and I am housed here for an indefinite remainder of my prison sentence. Most of the men here are orthodox Muslims; with a sprinkling of those god bless America type of militia, Ron Paul weirdoes. It’s a super conservative and religious environment. I have learned first hand what dogma and so-called conservativism leads people too. Mainly, bigotry, homophobia, and close-mindedness.
PE: – When you held anti-abortion views, it seemed like most of your criticism was directed towards the medical industries. This brings up the question of herbal abortion as a non-medical alternative. Was this something you had considered?
WALTER:– No it was not. But I am not more for one method than another. It’s not my business how women decide to abort, control birth or exercise autonomy over their own bodies. As a man, I am not only never going to be in their position but I am never going to put a woman in that predicament either. I have no children, and the first thing I am going to do upon release, which is years from now, will be to go to the hospital and get myself fixed. Furthermore, no woman anywhere should feel ostracized or shamed for her decision to exercise her reproductive rights be it herbally, or in a clinic.
PE: – Author Peter Gelderloos once wrote that anarchy and colonialism need to be made completely incompatible. Cultural approbation of indigenous art, spirituality, and cultural traditions is a major problem in many subcultures today. I want to ask about your face tattoo. I know it means a lot to you, but is your tattoo an appropriation of Maori Moko?
WALTER:– I have a few supporters from New Zealand and have been questioned about this by a couple different Maori. One told me that the design I have would better be suited as part of a leg piece, and the other argued that it was a handsome piece for Moko, but wanted to know why I don’t have the rest of my face done. But the truth is that while I definitely used the style of traditional Maori, my tattoo artist and I made absolutely sure that we were not replicating any traditional or current Maori designs.
I have also been locked up with a Maori guy and several tanga, Samoa and Polynesian islanders. Everyone has been cool with it mainly because I am of Island descent. My mother is Taino. For those that don’t know these are the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. This coupled with the fact that I am in prison for fighting for a cause seem to have earned me the respect of other islanders. The general vibe I get is relief that I take warrior hood seriously and am not just trying to look hardcore for my white friends in the suburbs.
I plan on getting the rest of my face tattooed when I get out of prison along with the rest of my body. That said I never promote it as something others should do. Getting a large face tattoo is serious business and can have serious repercussions. And It has intense personal meaning to me. It was a life changing event, it literally changed my personality. Some would say pushed me over the edge.
And yes, appropriation of indigenous cultures is an epidemic problem. In many larger ways than a very few people getting face tats. Here in the United States every white person wants to pretend they are part native. Out of some feelings of white guilt. Instead of helping the decimated Indian population. They shove real natives onto reservations to starve and die while pretending to be the real deal. Honestly, this makes me sick
PE: – Most of the businesses you targeted reopened and continue to make profits even though you did extensive damage. In light of this do you think your actions were effective? Could you have been more strategic? If so how?
WALTER:– The way I look at it I could have spent everyday of my life standing in front of those businesses holding a sign and I would have never cost them one penny. Even when I used to volunteer my time helping actual Animals it would occur to me that I was still having a negative impact against the industries of Animal exploitation. Even with Veganism, I am one of the few Animal Liberation abolitionist Vegans you will hear admit that my diet is not saving 90 Animals a year. So there I was living as ethical as I could, helping Animals and talking with and educating people. All the while all I am seeing is negative impact. I have friends that have been holding signs and tabling for decades, negative impact. Why is activism always geared to just lessen our roll in the cruelty but never to fight it? Negative impact.
I got fed up with it. All the -more-Vegan-than-thou- conversations that I had at every coffee shop in Denver. Always playing supplicant to people. Practically begging people to care. Then I woke up one day and it hit me. I was a utopianist, I was deluded. I, as most overly idealistic people really believed that deep down everyone was like me. I was once one of them, hell; I even used to build slaughterhouses! If I can change, anyone can, right? Wrong.
I came to the conclusion that most people don’t want to change, most people don’t want to learn what’s going on with Animals because they don’t want to feel bad or responsible for it, and most people are not going to sacrifice their time energy or money to make a change. BAM! The facts, welcome to reality! All that was left in my life was to fight back on the Animals behalf of shut up because I was sick of the sound of my own voice.
And you know what I didn’t change the world. But I did something that I never was able to before. I cost the Animal abuse industries about two and a half million bucks, positive effect! And with every defiant step forward that I took, I inspired. By my count there were eight international underground acts of solidarity with my case. And now when I speak I really do have a voice. I mean look, we are having an interview. I have been saying all this same stuff for years before I became the ‘Lone Wolf’ but you would never know it because, no one ever listened.
As far as strategy, of course I could have done better. Unfortunately HOW I could have, or WHAT I would have done different I cannot discuss. Due to my current situation as an imprisoned and monitored man.
PE: -Let’s talk about your life on the inside. How do you spend your days? Do you get paid to work? What are the costs you have to spend money on? You have and mp3 player, how does that work?
WALTER:– Here in the CMU it is a very small world. I live day after day, month after month and over a year now in a single prison unit completely segregated from the rest of the penitentiary of Marion. The day I get released from the CMU to the general population of the prison it will feel like I got a parole. I am allowed two 15 minute phone calls a week and no visits. Every person I have tried to have put on my visiting list has been rejected. I have not hugged, touched or physically seen anyone I care about since the day off my arrest in the summer of 2010.
A typical day goes something like this. I wake up about nine in the morning. I walk to the top of the range and sit down at a computer. I log in and see if I have any emails. All my incoming and outgoing email is screened by the counter terrorism unit in Virginia to make sure I am not sending or receiving coded messages. They also can reject or approve any incoming or out going emails before I have the chance to send or receive them. They can also block me from communicating with anyone they want and they have done this with three of my contacts. When that happens I cannot snail mail, email or make telephone calls to these people ever again. In short, all communication is cut off permanently, and without explanation.
After I am done on the computer I go ‘outside’ which is a rectangle walkway that surrounds an island of three ‘recreation’ cages. The sky is completely obscured by chain link fence and razor wire. I walk in rectangles until lunch. Lunch is usually beans, rice or the occasional veggie burger. The food is terrible and unhealthy. It is worse than any other institution I have ever been in. After I eat I go back to my cell and write responses to letters from supporters and friends. At noon, I go to mail call and get any mail, books or magazines that have come in that day. After mail I watch the soaps on Spanish TV. I like ‘Amorcita Corazon’. When my soaps are over I go out to the cages and do body weight exercises or shoot hoops. I come back up to my cell and lock down for four O’ clock stand up count, and then I nap until dinner. After dinner I walk for another hour. then I study Spanish for one to two hours, after which I slam a couple cups of black tea and go back to my cell to read, write and draw until about one in the morning, or until I fall asleep. Then I wake up and do it again.
As far as work goes, on the other side of the cell house opposite the rec. cages is a ramp and a patch of grass that leads to the chow hall. My job is to clean the walkway and cut the grass. I make twenty dollars a month but they take all of that for restitution and court costs I owe. So in reality I get paid nothing. But I get to go on the only patch of Earth that we have in the CMU and it’s ‘out of bounds’ for everyone else.
As far as cost of living, everything I have shoes, shorts, Vegan food, toothpaste, paper, stamps, envelopes, music, and email (yes, I get charged to send and receive email) Is only because of money supporters send me. Without support funds I would literally have nothing. Recently the entire federal prison system got mp3 players. They installed the hardware and software on the computers. Songs cost a dollar and a half each, no discount for purchasing whole releases. They have some good music. I have downloaded Earth Crisis, Chumbawamba, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Augustin Lara, Napalm Death, Public Enemy and many, many more! With very little stimulation music is essential for mental health. I went overboard and spent all my money on music, which makes things tight for me but I don’t care I would rather listen to music than anything else in here.
The conversations and interactions I am subjected to in the CMU are repetitive and obsessive. There are the legal guys that just talk about law all day long, constantly and without end. There are the religious guys that just talk about god and scriptures and religious interpretation all day. And the institutionalized guys that just talk about every prison they have been at. Most of those guys have spent their entire lives in prison.
I quit talking to most people here because I don’t like to argue, it’s pointless and agitating. And outside of my circle of about 5 friends whose company I enjoy the rest of these guys can go flush themselves down the toilet, and go where ever the rest of the pieces of shit end up, for all I care!
I’ll tell you this, I still feel as hardcore about my beliefs as ever but I am completely over preaching to people that don’t want to hear them, protesting is different than proselytizing.
PE: – Recently you quit using the Muslim name you had been given. Have you completely given up on Islam? Religion altogether? Do you still maintain some type of spiritual beliefs?
WALTER: I am going to be honest about my feelings towards religion and much of what passes for spirituality. I don’t believe it. It’s a human shibboleth. Animals in a state of nature have no use for it and neither do I. I am part of something bigger than any religion, ‘god’ or hocus pocus, it’s called LIFE. When I die I will go back to the Earth. I will go back to where ALL life must, and I will not know where that is until the time comes and death is upon me.
I know god is not in books. I have read and studied most world religions and many obscure spiritualities. I have learned for certain that god is not in books. The only thing in books is words. The entire concept and production of a book is a human construct. It’s our way for the dead and absent to infect the thoughts and lives of the living, for good or ill.
I Got involved in Islam under adverse and incredible circumstances, which is the only way I would have gotten involved in any religion, let alone one so incredibly dogmatic. I won’t go into the entire sordid tale except to say that I once promised an old woman that meant the world to me that one day I would attempt, one day, to try and find god. And I gave it my all. Unfortunately, I do not make a very good submitter.
Did you know that the first time I was ever in trouble with the law was for breaking into a church and burning a huge pentacle star into the carpet directly in front of the preacher’s lectern? It was a Methodist church in a rich white neighborhood, across the street from the police station. I also have a 14 inch upside down crucifix for half of my tattoo sleeve. On that same sleeve I also have a tattoo of the pope, except this pope has goat horns and is standing in flames. All the things I love the most in life: face tattoos, sex, fire, Animals, music, Liberation and Veganism seem to all be completely against religion. Oh well, I guess that’s how ‘god’ made me!
When I got involved with religion it completely shifted my focus and the focus the movement around me. Everything started to become about my new name and beliefs etc. I didn’t like that. I remember one night I went to bed and it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about Animal lib, Straight Edge or resistance all day, just religion. That was the beginning of the end for me. I didn’t like that feeling of assimilation, like the Borg on that sci fi show ‘Star Trek the Next Generation’. It was a calming feeling but also creepy. Next thing you know you have that glazed doughnut look in your eyes, the one that super religious people get. No thanks, I’m already off in the head enough without any help from the land of make believe!
I also got tired of reading all the terrible stuff about god hating gays and stoning people to death, or chopping off people’s hands for stealing. This crap is in all the so-called ‘holy books’ of various religions; right their in black and white print. And if you believe it then you have to do a bunch of mental gymnastics to somehow make it all not, horrible!
All this said, I did learn a lot about Islamophobia and I am completely against it! the media promotes Islam to be a terrorist religion and that is just not accurate. Every religion has violent fringe elements but we don’t paint all their followers as ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist’. Look at those crazy evangelicals that drink poison or the ‘army of god’ psychopaths. Still the media doesn’t call them ‘Christian terrorists’. I learned along time ago that it’s not what people believe that makes them good or bad apples it’s the things they do and their capacitates for compassion, or cruelty. But as far as any more personal beliefs about ‘pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die’. I am a disbeliever, and will remain so.
PE: – About a year ago you put out a public statement saying you could no longer call yourself an anarchist, recently you have recanted, re-embracing anarchy. What was the reason for your change of heart? What brought you back to the dark side?
WALTER:– The reason with my disenchantment with anarchism was in reality a disenchantment with certain anarchists. I don’t like the concept of publicly battling with people and the spectacle it creates. It’s a mistake I have made in the past, and when I look back at those statements they just look egotistical and immature. That said, I will for the first time explain what was going on and what led up to not only that statement but also baseless rumors that have followed me since. I will be careful not to name drop or call anyone out, a courtesy that was not afforded to me by the anarcho-rumor mill.
At the time of my arrest in Colorado in the summer of 2010, the second letter I ever received was from a local anarchist group. They talked about supporting me and were even interested in being my official support team. Furthermore they had their own print shop. I was happy to have their support and planned to write extensively with them as the publishers. A visit was arranged and one of the collective came to visit me at the county jail in Golden. I was told by this person that there were rumors that I was an informant. I was taken back by this and said that ‘I was the only person on my case and no other arrests had been made so who exactly am I informing on?’ This person agreed, and from that moment support was forthcoming, for a whole four weeks anyways.
I gave my new support team my email address and password so that they could get another picture of me besides the mugshot the media had. I began writing articles about Animal Liberation from an anarchist perspective. I was calling the collective about twice a week. And then abruptly it all came to a screeching halt. Nothing I wrote ever got published or sent back to me. No one accepted my calls. No more visits. A couple weeks later I received a letter from the collective about some so called visit from my email account to a ‘homophobic YouTube video’. I was told I need to explain myself, defend myself and do it quick because ‘anarchists everywhere are calling to drop support for you’.
Words cannot describe how I felt. First I didn’t know what homophobic video they were talking about, and I still don’t. Second the only people that could be turning ‘anarchists everywhere’ against me were the self same people that were my support team, as I was newly arrested and they were the only anarchists I was in contact with. And third, I was not the only person with availability to that email. For all I know the FBI could have been in my email account trying to gather information or spread disinformation; which would make good sense from their end of things. In any event I have never to this day seen the homophobic YouTube video that was allegedly watched in connection with my email account. I haven’t seen it because it does not exist.
I was really pissed off about this for a couple of years because these rumors not only hurt elements of my support but also my feelings. Very, very few people know what it’s like to be in the position I was: In jail, on the news, facing federal prison as a ‘domestic terrorist’ and all the while using this as a platform to discuss Animal Liberation through my writings while facing rumors and tear down tactics from ‘anarchists’! I mean there I was in jail for being an ALF operative and I was being questioned as if I was a Nazi fascist in jail for queer bashing!
When people that do know me tried to post comments to this collectives website stating that I am in fact openly bi-sexual they would not post them. I know this because friends printed me those defenses and mailed them to me in jail along with printouts of their webpage and blogs showing what they were posting, the only comments they would let stand were the ones against me.
So after my court case was finished in Colorado I wrote that statement about not Identifying as an anarchist. I wrote that at a time when Animal Rights activists were being very supportive and at the same time I was getting a lot of accusative mail from anarchists primarily from the united states. It’s one thing when you don’t get along with a group of people in person you just hang out with others. But when you’re in imprisoned and people from several different states critique and sometimes ridicule you in letters there is a feeling of totality to it. So I thought, fine I will cut my losses with the anarchist community and stick with Animal Liberation and Straight Edge which is not hostile to me.
It must also be said that many anarchists such as yourself and the international anarchist community have unfailingly showed true support and solidarity since day one. Two things that have a profound effect on decision making is a lack of information and emotional distress. I have had my share of both since my arrest. But these days find me much more grounded and less erratic. Due in large part to being done with court and in the routine of my current surroundings. I am an anarchist, this has always been a foundation of who I am. Before I was the ALF lone wolf, before I was Straight Edge, before I was Vegan. I was an anarchist. I don’t have to drop one thing to become another. I am all this and more.
PE: – What would you say to people that have characterized you as ‘single issue’?
WALTER: Calling me or the ALF or the Animal Rights movement a ‘single issue’ cause is a little verbal slur that otherwise thinking and activist oriented people like to use on Vegans. Seriously, anyone that has read my book or the statements that I have been making from prison for years knows that I am concerned with more than one issue and I always have been.
But more importantly why the single issue snub when it comes to Animal Liberation?
I have personal met gay rights activists that act like the only thing wrong on the planet is that gay marriage isn’t recognized legally. I have never heard anyone tell them that their cause is less valid because it is a ‘single issue’. Factually it is incorrect to typecast Veganism or Animal Liberation in this way. A.R. issues have to do with several different species of life and often tie in with environmental concerns. Nearly every other Liberation struggle is only concerned with a fragment of one species, humans!
To those people that equate me or Veganism to being a one hit wonder, I would challenge back: Fine then tell me exactly what you are doing to liberate all life, everywhere! The fact is Total Liberation is the connecting of many different issues and tactics, and Animal and Earth Lib are a big part of that. One need not give up movement autonomy to be valid under the umbrella of Total Lib. I am an Animal person. I love Animals! I am a Vegan activist. These are clearly compassionate and selfless pursuits.
of course not every group or individual is going to click but slighting the A.R. community as if we are going a different direction than Total Lib is messed up! We can point that finger anywhere. I know plenty of anarchists that think that anarchism is strictly a political ideology, or theoretical idea. Or what about independence struggles like my own Puerto Rican peoples struggle for independence from los Estatos Unidos? They are definitely very concerned with their own movement autonomy and the single issue of independence. People will always say whatever they feel and that is great but remember this, it’s harder to build others up than to tear them down.
Thank you Comrade for this interview. I really wanted to have the opportunity engage in a question and answer session that not only brought these critiques out into the open but one that also allowed me to lay it all on the table with nothing held back. And now my friend……I rest my case…. Take care and I will do the same.
Total Liberation, Whatever It May Take!
500 animals per day die in the labs of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), one of the largest contract testing companies in the world. Beagles, primates, rabbits, mice, rats, cats and other species are burned, cut open, or injected with poisons all while alive to ensure products like Viagra and diet pills will make it to the shelves of stores around the world; as well as GMO crops, pesticides, fertilizers and house hold cleaners. A small handful of dedicated activists started a campaign that nearly brought the giant to its knees as over 500 companies quit doing business with HLS, including their insurance company. Activists also managed to get HLS dropped from the New York Stock Exchange, eventually stopping their stocks from being publicly traded altogether.
Jake Conroy was one of the activists involved in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign (SHAC) in the USA, helping to run the website, and lead demos. For this, Jake was sentenced to 4 years in jail.
PE: How did you get involved with animal activism, and more specially the SHAC campaign?
JAKE: I’ve always had strong feelings for the underdog throughout my life. It didn’t really occur to me until I was 19 that some of the biggest underdogs in the world were non-human animals. I had spent a long time thinking about the issues and reading books and pamphlets I picked up at hardcore/punk shows, and watching videos wherever I could find them (which actually was pretty hard to do in a pre-YouTube era). But I was somewhat on the fence about making that leap to get involved.
I was living in Seattle at the time, walking downtown to school, when I passed some folks protesting against the circus as they paraded the elephants for miles through the city. I passed them and didn’t say a word but it sat heavily in my mind that I should. So I turned around and walked back and asked what they were doing and who they were and how I could get in touch with them. They simply replied, “We’re in the Yellow Pages”. Sure enough, under Animal Rights, there was one listing – The Northwest Animal Rights Network. I called the number and listened to the info about the upcoming circus protests, and I went down that weekend by myself to join in.
The next 5 years I would participate in civil disobediences, run successful campaigns to close fur salons, help transform Seattle into one of the most animal-friendly cities in the country, and be arrested (with my current co-defendant Josh Harper) for engaging in the first whale hunt sabotage in US coastal waters by piloting a boat between whales and hunters.
In 2001 I had been working locally on the anti-HLS campaign in the Seattle area, when I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted to move out east for a few months to help start the office for this group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA. I had nothing else to do, so I packed up my belongings, put them in storage, and headed out to Philadelphia. I became so excited and inspired by our first 3 months that I never went back. I would spend the next 5 years helping run one of the most exciting campaigns of my life.
PE: What can people learn from SHAC, and from the repression you faced?
JAKE:I think the most important thing people can learn is that their activism needs to be strategic, smart, and creative, while being thoughtful, careful, and calculated. We shouldn’t rush in head first because that’s the way it’s always been done; rather prepare for all outcomes, be ready to accept them, and not fear them. We need to realize that we are under a microscope, so our actions need to be significant and have a focus on duration and long term strategy.
PE: What do you think made SHAC so successful?
JAKE: Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, once said that in order to be successful you have to capture the imagination of the people, and the anti-Huntingdon Life Sciences campaign and SHAC USA did just that. It began in North America at a time when national welfare organizations started to dangle paychecks in front of grassroots organizers, when they began shifting the debate away from liberation to welfarism, and when they made you feel like you were doing your part by voting every couple of years and sending in your donations to cover their expanding paychecks. They were disenfranchising the animal rights movement and getting folks to fall into line. But deep inside, we all wanted more.
SHAC USA sprang into action quickly and furiously. It said loudly and proudly that we weren’t going to sit back and accept bigger cages, and we were going to hold everyone and anyone accountable for their actions and support of animal cruelty, no matter when or where. We were happy to push the envelope and support radical ideas and tactics when others wouldn’t. We believed in people power, horizontal and autonomous organizing, and supporting and using every tool in the toolbox to enact change. Within months, we managed to gain victories as an all-volunteer organization of 4 where huge national organizations couldn’t. We captured the hearts and minds of activist communities and the general public, and we were off and running, bulldozing anyone that got in our way.
PE: SHAC centers on vivisection, specifically contract testing for consumer products like viagra and diet pills. Why focus on vivisection rather than fur, circuses, or the horrors of the pet industries, food/meat, or other areas of animal exploitation?
JAKE: There are so many atrocities perpetrated against the earth, and the animals, both human and non-human, that live on it. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of trying to save the entire planet all at once. But we need to be strategic about our campaigns and smart about how we go about them. There had been a campaign against HLS since the late 80’s, with some amazing actions, but it just wasn’t getting the job done. But the late 90s saw a perfect storm of sorts in England. Activists had closed Consort Beagle Breeder, Hillgrove Cat Farm, Regal Rabbits and they were closing in on Shamrock Primate Farm and Newchurch Guinea Pig Farm. Energy was extremely high and victories were coming in swiftly. Meanwhile, Huntingdon had two undercover investigations released against them in the UK and the US, and it had almost bankrupt them. They were a huge target, teetering on the brink of foreclosure, and they needed a firm kick to push them over the edge. It would be a gamble, but it was part of a larger overall campaign strategy that was proving to be successful. HLS is the third largest contract research organization in the world and they were on the brink of being brought to their knees by grassroots activists. The time was just right.
PE: Do you still think that the SHAC Campaign can succeed at this point? What is the relevance of the campaign today?
JAKE: Martin Luther King Jr said that the arc of the universe is long and bends towards justice. And to add a footnote by Becky Tarbotton, “sometimes we don’t see it bend, sometimes it feels like it flattening out. And other times we can see that arc perceptively bending towards justice.” We didn’t close down Huntingdon Life Sciences according to our timeline, but I still believe the campaign can and will be successful. It’s suffered some major blows to it’s infrastructure, but like all good things, it keeps moving forward, it continues to bend towards justice. People are still active all over the world in the quest to shut it down for good and HLS is still financially hemorrhaging.
I think the relevance of the campaign is that it represents the tenacity, passion, and drive we as a global movement has to see justice served, no matter how long that might take. The tactics the SHAC campaign used were innovative and powerful, and they continue to be replicated by a broad spectrum of movements around the world to fight back. That alone is a testament to the relevance of the campaign and how successful it was and continues to be, regardless of the outcome of our explicit goals.
PE: How can activists today become more effective?
JAKE: Effectiveness and success is going to come by studying our collective histories, working hard and being creative today, while keeping long term future strategies in mind.
As activists today we have a unique opportunity to still talk to and learn from some of the greatest revolutionaries of decades past. These folks are still involved decades later and they want to sit with you, to have you learn from their mistakes, and understand their successes. We need to take advantage of these opportunities any chance we get before it’s too late.
We need to recognize that we are living in one of the most oppressive times to be an activist. Our targets wield more power than ever before and are getting away with using every tool in the toolbox to silence and imprison us. We need to take their lead and fight back in kind. We as activists need to realize that perhaps our old ways and tactics aren’t going to work anymore and we need to start thinking outside the box; to be more creative and look for other ways around the blockades before us in order to reach our desired goal.
Finally, we need to be smart. We can no longer rush in head down, into brick walls. We need to pick our heads up and look forward and see how we can strategically plan not just for this year but the next generation. We need to look deeper and with more thoughtfulness into how we are making change and how we can make it lasting.
PE: Are you still involved with animal activism now that you are out of prison?
JAKE: I’m involved with animal activism as much as I can be. I am currently finishing my third year of probation (out of 3), which puts restrictive conditions on you and your actions. Your whereabouts, employment status and financial records are all monitored by the federal government. I have a list of 30 or so rules, some very specific, some very broad, that I am required to live by. If I violate any of these rules, the probation office has the right to yank me off of probation and put me back in prison. So while they can be lax about certain things, getting in trouble doing animal activism is a sure way to end back in prison.
However, I still do as much animal activism, prisoner support, and outreach that I can. I am also employed by a non-profit environmental organization that uses non-violent direct action and pressure campaigns against global corporate targets to affect change. In a sense it’s much like SHAC, minus the radical aggressiveness that landed us in prison.
PE: If we truly want to be effective in our activism, it seems like in today’s atmosphere we should get prepared for the very real possibility of prison. Do you have any advice on how to prepare or was there anything that helped you get trough it?
JAKE: While I think activists today need to be very aware of the repression going on around the globe and learn how they can fight back, I wouldn’t say that prison is a very real possibility for a large majority of us. In the grand scheme of things, very few of us have actually been imprisoned for the amount of actions and campaigns that have been going on. Unfortunately, while the number of folks in prison right now is rising, it doesn’t mean that we all are going to end up there some day.
The SHAC7 case was a perfect example of that. Thousands of people in North America alone participated in the campaign in their own way and it came down to a half dozen of us in court. The odds are in your favor.
If you are in the small minority of people facing prison time, I would highly suggest turning to those who have been or are currently incarcerated, for advice and counsel. Prison is a place like no other; nothing can possibly compare to it. It’s a place filled with bizarre rules and expectations and nothing can really prepare you for it outside of the experience of others. I spent a lot of time leading up to my incarceration writing friends that were serving time as political prisoners, asking them every thing I could possibly think of. We would write tomes back and forth. But ultimately nothing can fully prepare you for the experience.
Ultimately, prison is a dark and lonely and depressing place. And one of the few things that can put a smile on an inmate’s face is a letter. It is what makes the experience survivable. So I would encourage everyone to look through the lists of political prisoners and find a couple that resonate with you, and write them. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy diatribe on your political beliefs (its better that it’s not), rather, write them about your day, the last back packing trip you took, the last meal you made. Send a photo or a postcard. Anything will brighten their day. Take the time to foster a relationship with them and help them get through their experience. What may seem like an insignificant 20 minutes to you writing a letter, it can be a total life saver when on the receiving end while in prison.
PE: How much dose having a terrorist enhancement effect your life? And how do you feel about being considered a terrorist in the eyes of the government?
JAKE: Just to be clear, none of the SHAC 7 received a terrorist enhancement during sentencing. We were, however, classified by the Bureau of Prisons as domestic terrorists. This meant that during our stay in prison and our time on probation (and I’m sure afterwards), that label followed us around wherever we went. In prison, for me, that meant all of my phone calls were monitored and recorded, all of my incoming and outgoing mail was opened, read, and photocopied if they desired, and my ability to have my friends come visit me was drastically reduced. It also meant that I was put onto a ‘high visibility inmate’ watch list inside of the prison. I was one of 10 to 15 inmates that the administration said posed the biggest security threat to the institution, in a population of around 1300 inmates incarcerated for murder, rape, bank robbery, high-level gang activity, etc..
PE: Could you please recap what the charges against you were, and what you were accused of doing?
JAKE: Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazolla and I were found guilty of 6 charges based on our direct involvement and so-called “leadership” roles with SHAC USA. They were one count of conspiracy to violate the 1934 Telecommunications Harrassment Act, one count of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (now called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), one count of conspiring to commit interstate stalking, and 3 counts of interstate stalking.
Essentially we were found guilty of running a webpage that advertised and editorialized events, actions, and strategy; that published write-ups of those events and actions after the fact (much like an online newspaper); that shared ideas, and supported the thinking of controversial ideologies. By doing all of this online, we crossed state lines to enter into a conspiracy with essentially anyone who had ever used the internet. By simply publishing and editorializing ideas and actions, we were encouraging anyone who accessed our webpage to go out and do the same things.
It was a far-fetched (yet successful) attempt at criminalizing controversial, yet legal, forms of demonstrations, supporting radical and controversial ideologies like non-violent direct action, and the sharing of ideas.
PE: Can you talk about the role music & subcultures can play in Animal Liberation and other activism?
JAKE: Subcultures and music has played a very influential role in grassroots and radical movements. The first time I was introduced to the idea of black power and the Black Panther Movement was after buying the album Fight The Power by Public Enemy when I was in junior high. As a white, suburban kid growing up in New England, those radical ideas didn’t make it into our classrooms. Soon after I would be introduced to hardcore and punk rock, which would open the doors to a do-it-yourself subculture, the straightedge philosophy, and veganism. Bands, ‘zines, and literature acquired at record stores and shows filled my imagination and passion with big ideas about grassroots organizing and direct action; the idea that we didn’t need large organizations and governments to enact the change we wanted to see in the world. That change was something we could bring about on our own and on our own terms. This idea wasn’t just mine – this self-empowerment and introduction to direct action through music communities was shared by 5 of the 6 individuals in the SHAC7 case, and direct action legends like Rod Coronado and Keith Mann. It introduced a whole generation of young people in the mid 90’s to veganism, activism, and direct action, that would eventually shape the entire animal rights movement.
I am not suggesting that everyone everywhere in the world should be vegan, especially not in the case of Indigenous peoples living traditionally with a diet that ‘includes’sustenance hunting and direct relationship¹; but it really pisses me off when white folks (& other settlers²) use indigenous cultures and their traditions as a scapegoat excuse to continue eating factory farmed meat and cheese bought from a grocery store. Last I checked no traditional communities (Indigenous to Turtle Island or elsewhere) ever had factory farms as part of their traditional ways of life. Nor did they have ‘rape racks’ or ‘veal’ calves, which are both part and parcel of modern dairy farming.³ As ALF prisoner Walter Bond once said ” most often the person making the argument isn’t as concerned with protecting the rights of tribal people as much as they are trying to equate Veganism with racism.”
Similarly I don’ t buy most of the arguments about dumpster-diving meat, cause when I dumpster there is far more than enough variety of stuff to be picky. In fact, when I am regularly hitting the bins I get far more privilege to be picky, it is when I am having to pay for foods at a store that I struggle cause I can often only afford the cheap crap. Just seems like another excuse to rationalize a behavior rather than change it. If you are rationalizing something, it usually means you know there is something wrong with what you are doing that you feel guilty about. If someone is poor enough they are getting food from the soup kitchens, or food banks, then I have no judgments; sometimes you need to take what you can get. I get that. We all do the best we can in the context we are living in.
If you don’t believe that animals are sentient, or just don’t believe in veganism, than that’s a different discussion. I would rather if people just said “I don’t believe in that” rather than making bullshit excuses. If you are gonna eat factory farmed animal flesh, cheese, eggs, etc, don’t try to find excuses or rationalize it. Either own up to the fact you are putting money into systems that are based on animal exploitation, or change your behavior if you are not ok with being part of that.
Footnotes: ¹) I also am quite aware that there is far more to the relationship that many Indigenous cultures have to the animals they hunt as food and that many settlers never acknowledge the importance of giving thanks, or to the other spiritual elements. Often we hear from settlers how Indigenous people ‘use all the parts,’ which is often true, but from my limited understanding this was only one part of the acts of respect given in return for the animals life. Whether secular settlers, atheists, or others choose to acknowledged or dismiss the spiritual exchange and relationship that many Indigenous say is the most important part of that interaction, doesn’t change the fact that it is important.
²) Settler means people who are not Indigenous (originating from that piece of land or that place). The term Settler is used because there is many types of colonialism, and in the context of Turtle Island (which most settlers now call north America), the type of colonialism that primarily occurred was ‘settler colonialism’ meaning Europeans moved here to settle here. Nothing is completely dichotomous, there are people who don’t fit nicely into the Indigenous/Settler binary, such as Metis, or displaced people of Indigenous heritage, and of course decedents of the slave trade. None the less, many of us are settlers, and having a language to explain this can be useful, even if/when it is also problematic.
³) The dairy industry is far more exploitative than many people ever consider. Cattle are force impregnated often using a device referred to in industry lingo as a ‘rape rack.’ A Dairy cow will only produce milk for a period of time after calving (giving birth), so they keep the cows perpetually pregnant. Dairy cattle and beef cattle are different breeds, specifically bread for specific traits (such as producing more milk, or alliteratively the fat to muscle ratio in beef animals). Thus while the female dairy animals can look forward a life as pregnant milk machines, the males have little value because you only want 1 or 2 Bulls (adult males) per dairy heard (some farms don’t even keep bulls, preferring to buy sperm for mechanical insemination). So male calves from dairy breeds are sold to be used as veal calves, where they ore often locked into crates, or tethered in tiny shoots, to discourage the development of muscle. After a few weeks of force feeding, they are sent to slaughter. All this is to ensure the flesh will be ‘tender.’
Fuck Your Mustache! Fuck Movember! – by Comrade Black
Movember- the time of the year, where men try to show they have testicles by growing an ugly flap of hair over their top lip. On top of looking like a greasy douchebag-hipster, pedophile, and/or cop – you are helping to raise funds for a multi-billion dollar black hole of an industry that is notorious for cruel animal testing.
Straight up, it pisses me off to have to watch every year as well intentioned people help pave the golden road to the hell that is vivisection. The fact that these people are raising funds for a cause shows me they are probably not psychopaths, they are clearly able to have empathy for others. Now if we are to give the benefit of the doubt to these folks that the majority are unaware that the cancer industry is a cancer, that the money they raise will help torture animals for so called ‘science’, than perhaps we need to do more work in the direction of making those connections more explicit, and showing what is wrong with animals testing.
If people truly are concerned with stopping cancer, we should be encouraging people to make healthier lifestyle choices such as; quitting smoking, cutting meat, dairy, and processed foods out of their diet, as well as avoiding pharmasuiticals as much as possible (At least 50 drugs on the market cause cancer in lab animals. They are allowed because it is admitted that animal tests are not relevant.¹), and being more active. As well as working to stop the industrial pollutants and other known cancer causing agents from being produced in the first place. Fighting against industries like the Tar Sands, cell phone towers, or Monsanto’s monocropped franken-foods, is fighting against the spread of cancer (in more ways than one). Stopping corporations from dumping chemicals in our water supply, foods, and soil would do more towards stopping tumors than growing a fucking mustache. Of course that would involve actually doing work, organizing, and taking risks. Growing hair under your lips is far easier, and trendier.
Perhaps in response what those of us who care about animals could do is make this the month we dedicate to anti-vivisection work. Turn Movember into No-Vember, as in No to Vivisection! Increase our presence in the community; set up info-tables on the streets, at malls, universities, airports, or wherever. Organize demonstrations, including home demos, table at more events with explicitly anti-vivisection information, set up film screenings of Maximum Tolerated Dose², organize anti-vivisection teach ins or workshops, hand out leaflets, put up posters, graffiti, drop banners, make art, or whatever it is that you do to raise awareness. Or organize a fundraiser for anti-vivisection groups in your community. And of course for those able bodied warriors willing to truly risk their privilege there is the actions that make the most direct impact to the lives of lab animals, physically freeing them from cages under the cover of night.
There is so much more we can do than growing a patch of fucking hair.
A topic I’ve seen come up frequently on Tumblr and other social media sites lately is about privilege and veganism, which actually encompasses a broad spectrum of issues. Some of these are more clear-cut than others. While I think it’s valid and useful to talk about economic privilege and the relative accessibility of vegan foods, I will not be focusing on that here. I think there is another very pressing issue that gets less visibility that should be constantly on our minds: appropriation of human oppression to describe exploitation of nonhumans.
You’ve seen it before. Pictures of dying animals used for food crammed into slaughterhouses juxtaposed with an image of mass graves in concentration camps, or a picture of a lynching victim next to a pig suspended in the air by rope to help drain blood after the throat is cut. These are common, visceral, and almost always used as graphics with little or no context or description.
People who use graphics or arguments like these as part of their advocacy frequently say that people won’t understand the exploitation and abuse of nonhumans unless it’s described in simple terms, or that we should “call it like it is”. Moreover, they say the only people who have problems with such comparisons are speciesist themselves; that is, if the person in question were vegan and a supporter of animal liberation, then they wouldn’t have a problem with such tactics.
To all that I usually say: “wow”. But I can be more specific about why these tactics are problematic, and why dismissal of arguments or anger against them is exactly the kind of privilege we should seek to expose and root out.
It is unethical to hijack narratives or tap into the pain of historical trauma for your “education” project, as seriously as you may take it; you cannot use a story or experience as a point of comparison when that very experience is not taken seriously on its own terms. People of color, and more specifically, Black people, see their current and historical traumas used by a variety of movements as selling points or as “helpful illustrations”. The pain of racism and the violence and damage it causes is objectified as a rhetorical tool, and not understood on its own terms or respected for its uniqueness.
And what we’re really saying, again, is the sources of comparison are really unimportant in the context of nonhuman suffering. It’s just used as a stepping stone to get to an item on our agenda, rather than a separate serious concern that we work on simultaneously with nonhuman liberation struggles. Lynching and the Holocaust become illustrative and figurative; this is continuing the violence and delegitimization the survivors have to continue to experience by our privileged oversight.
We only feel comfortable bringing up lynching and the Holocaust and epidemic gender and sexual violence because they are easy tools to appropriate. It’s easy to be against them, but not so easy to understand the specific conditions that support them, or the implicit attitudes that continue to inform them even in people with the best intentions. It’s not a fair comparison not because nonhumans don’t suffer, but because erasure of difference is not taken seriously and that does significant damage.
Speciesism did not kill Emmett Till, racism did. To deny that root cause by a simplistic graphic you whipped up on publisher in 5 minutes is why we still don’t take racism seriously as a deadly and oppressive force with a history and contemporary record of killing Black people with impunity.
Activism: You’re Doing it Wrong
Solidarity does not require us all to be the same. By definition, it implies there is some piece that is inviolable, unique, and worth appreciating from a perspective that will never fully understand its effects or implications. We have the vision of building better coalitions when we rely on true solidarity, rather than doing what’s been done by the very oppressive structures we criticize.
Oppression of nonhumans has a history and quality that is all its own. We do a disservice to the nonhumans we advocate for when we erase their specific experiences in order to hang them on the scaffolding of human experience. We imply that the only meaningful way to talk about pain and suffering is through human terms, and then only those human terms we feel okay with constantly appropriating and co-opting. This is not a good framework for the non-speciesist society we wish to envision.
This really demonstrates, in action, what Breeze Harper describes as the whitewashing of the vegan movement. Whiteness that is by nature, reductionist, consuming, and gains power by co-opting and appropriation is why advocacy tools like these are so popular. Not only does this misrepresent our larger goals of total liberation, it silences PoC vegans and animal liberation advocates who are alienated by such rhetoric and aren’t taken seriously when they promote their own tactics and work.
I’m not saying comparisons or analogies are 100% never helpful. I am saying that they are frequently used without care, without self-reflection, and with the assumption that being anti-speciesist automatically comes with a pass freeing you from checking relevant racial, economic, and gender privilege. I am saying that more often than not, most examples alienate the people you are appropriating for your cause and that does damage to all of our goals. Nuanced examples require research and thoughtfulness that seems impossible to do in a simple graphic or a tweet. So their use following these guidelines would be well researched, vetted for accuracy, come from non-privileged folk, and be used sparingly.
It is not speciesist to ask that your historical and contemporary trauma be respected. It is not speciesist to ask that “abolitionist” not be used to describe anything other than as relevant to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (especially when the people appropriating the term frequently know next to nothing about actual abolitionists or racial struggles).
The atrocities that non-humans experience are bad enough (and we have the pictures and the language to capture this horror) without constantly appropriating the pain of others, especially when explicitly asked not to.
We have creative methods that are non-exploitive that deliver our message. Pushing ourselves to do more, rather than relying what’s been done before, seems to be the most effective route to take.