Uniting Our Struggles: Where Animal Liberation and Anti-Oppression Meet

by liz gurley flynn

VGKids Sticker TemplateDays ago, a supporter of the Animal Liberation Front issued a communique calling for movement support and action in dismantling the fur industry. At first glance, that this call was delivered to the Earth First! Journal Collective may seem peculiar. The North American Animal Liberation Press Office would be the predictable recipient. Or perhaps Bite Back Magazine. The caricature of animal liberation as a single-issue cause would dictate that the intended audience need only be the choir. So why aim this message of sabotage at an aboveground, mainstream “environmental” movement, currently embroiled in various head-on confrontations with the titans of extractive industry? Because our struggle is one!

This applies not simply to earth (on one side) and animal (on the other side) “issues.” Be it the sexual violence of patriarchy, the racial terror of white supremacy, or the continued genocide against indigenous cultures, lands and peoples; whether the prisoner is locked behind bars for freeing animals, destroying GE fields or engaging in class warfare, our fights are one. To be sure, the paths which will ultimately lead to collective liberation are as varied as the seeming differences in what we’re fighting for (and against). What works to combat imperialism will differ from what works to defend forests. But the need to dispose of lip-service solidarity is urgent.

In recent years, the Earth First! movement has begun shifting focus and embracing anti-oppressive politics, taking steps toward recognizing the roles of privilege and power in the world, and within our own movement, while continuing to pose an uncompromising threat to Power. Though EF! has far from perfected this task, that we are discussing and creating dialogues toward anti-oppressive action is important. But until we truly (honestly, deeply, and with heartfelt deliberation) embrace all methods of resistance, on all fronts, against the wide array of tentacles consistently endeavoring to strangle ALL of us, our movement will fail.

Our ranks must include Puerto Rican independentistas and Black liberationists currently in their third and fourth decades of imprisonment for struggling for their peoples, just as much as Earth First!ers hoisted in trees in defense of our last remaining wild areas. We must acknowledge the bonds we share with those locking their bodies down, whether in opposition to deportation, “resource” extraction or vivisection. Our methods may differ, but our focus is similar. To combat racism, sexism, animal abuse and more, we must adequately confront global capitalism. For it is this behemoth which allows the militarization of law enforcement, the continued use of police violence against targeted communities, the perpetual pillage of this continent and all others at the hands of amerikan imperialism and ecocidal conquest.

There is no easy monilith to which we can lay siege which will suddenly alter our present circumstances. But the roots inherent in our abuses are universal: they are of exploitation, oppression and unadulterated power. To continue this sectarianism at the expense of collective action is a major hurdle toward our freedom. (And let’s be clear: what happens on fur farms is exploitation and power in their simplest, purest and sickest forms.)

Which brings us to the task of dismantling the fur industry. As a supporter of the ALF, I understand the liberation of animals to be inextricably linked with our overarching goal(s): to heal our bodies, minds, and the land from the traumas within us, as survivors of this civilization.

So in the vain of our most recent call to action, we must take it upon ourselves to not only organize, educate and agitate our communities toward restoring justice to this planet, but to physically dismantle the concrete pieces of our repression. Tear down the infrastructure, in your mind and in this life, of the frackers, vivisectors and debt collectors. Lend your hand (not as a metaphor, but as an action) in the disruption of this machine.

We have much to learn from our respective movement histories. The police repression of Black and Native warriors in the 1960s and 1970s mirrors law enforcement actions against Earth and Animal warriors today; or perhaps there are strategies to glean from victories achieved by campaigns with seemingly little to do with eco-defense.

What matters is that we utilize our time and privileges toward fighting effectively against the many forces seeking to destroy us. Maybe, just maybe, you can begin with a night spent opening cages on your nearest fur farm.

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