Four good reasons not to allow fascists in our movement!

vaFThe recent announcement by the Hunt Saboteurs Association that they are affiliating with the Anti-Fascist Network has ruffled a few feathers in the animal liberation movement. There are those who claim that animal liberation is a “non-political” movement and that we should avoid aligning ourselves with “extreme left-wing ideologies” (yet make no mention of extreme right-wing ideologies). This all comes at a time of growing concern over attempts by the far-right to infiltrate the animal liberation movement in the UK, as they have done in other countries.

We at Baring Teeth hold a zero-tolerance policy for fascists. The animal liberation movement is a political movement, one that stands in firm opposition to oppression (not just the oppression of animals by humans). Because of this we believe that fascists and other people with extreme right-wing views should not be made welcome in our movement.

Not convinced? Here are 4 good reasons why we believe fascists should not be allowed in the animal liberation movement:

1. Fascism is an ideology built on oppression

Fascism is built on concept of one group of people ruling over another. Whether this be a particular race; nation; or class they believe that there are always superiors and inferiors. This runs in complete contradiction to animal liberation that believes that all sentient beings, human or non-human, deserve the same fundamental rights. Animal liberation is built upon opposition to speciesism, the belief that one species is more deserving of rights than another. How can we claim that all animals are equal yet allow people who believe in the superiority of their race or nationality? How is that any different to a human believing they are better than another animal?

2. Fascists divide the movement

Probably the most common claim thrown at us by fascist-apologists is that we are attempting to split the movement. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. The reality is that fascists seek to divide the movement by discriminating against people of different ethnic, national, racial, gender or sexual backgrounds. We understand that to create a movement capable of ending animal exploitation we need to work with people from all backgrounds. How can we remain open and inclusive to all these different people when we allow fascists to walk amongst our ranks spouting divisiveness and hatred?

3. Fascism supports capitalism

Despite their claims otherwise, fascists support capitalism and the current economic system. They may claim to want to remove capitalism and replace it with something different but like the so-called communists it is simply a trap to lure you. Once they gain power fascists protect the interest of the bosses while the rest of us continue to live in poverty. Meanwhile capitalism continues to kill billions of animals annually through factory farming, habitat destruction, global warming and other means. If we really want to create a world free-from animal exploitation then we need to do away with the system that perpetuates it: capitalism. Fascists are the foot soliders of the bosses, brought out to defend their privileges in times of crisis. This can be seen by their constant attacks on left wing and anti-capitalist meetings and activists.

4. Fascists have killed other activists

For a movement that prides itself on its non-violent tactics the animal liberation movement would do well to avoid fascism. Fascism is a violent ideology that seeks to use force to get its way. Anybody who stands in their way is considered a valid target. Just last June French anti-fascist and vegan, Clement Meric, was murdered by fascists in Paris. The anti-fascist rapper Killah P was stabbed to death in Athens by members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in September of last year and in Russia scores of left-wing activists have been beaten and killed by fascists. Do we really want to be welcoming to a group of people who are willing to murder anyone they disagree with? It would be almost hypocritical for a movement that deplores the murder of millions of sentient animals.

While those of us at Baring Teeth identify as anarchists, we do not think that everyone needs to be an anarchist in order to be involved in the animal liberation movement. We understand that there are a wealth of different thoughts and tendencies out there and it is this plurality that makes us strong. However fascism is a dangerous movement that seeks to gain control and enforce their will on others. It is for this reason that we believe that the animal liberation movement must take a firm anti-fascist stance and not allow fascists to infiltrate our movement.

We recommend that groups sign up to, and display the Animal Liberation Hallmarks, as a way of showing their opposition to fascism and all other forms of oppression. They might also consider affiliating to the Anti-Fascist Network as the HSA did. We need to stand united in the face of the fascist threat and show that our movement is not a safe space for those who discriminate against others!

National Disaster: Leading our own Movement

nonprofitindustrialcomplexI’m going to talk about something now that is probably going to get a lot of peoples’ backs up. I know this because whenever I discuss the idea with people who don’t share similar views to me it does exactly that. But it is not something I say in order to get that reaction, I say it because I honestly believe it, and that is that I don’t like the national groups. In fact I think they’re detrimental to the animal liberation movement.

Before I explain why I think we need a little clarification here because people always ask: “But what about this group or that group?” When I say “national group” I am specifically referring to organisations that: have paid employees; a centralised structure; are often NGOs or not-for-profits; have a supporter base from which they secure funds and are essentially in the business of “animal rights”.

Why do I dislike these groups so much? The simple answer is that I believe they ineffective and unable to bring about an end to animal exploitation due to the way they are funded and structured. I also believe that they draw energy and resources away from local grass-roots organisations who are more fit for purpose to achieving animal liberation.

National groups may have the animals’ best interests at hearts but they are essentially nothing more than animal welfare organisations. The reason they are nothing more than animal welfare organisations is because they have costs to cover: Rent for offices and staff to pay. Because of this they need to maintain a steady source of income, and that comes from donations. To achieve the maximum potential for cash donations they need to appeal to the lowest common denominator in order not to upset any potential donors.

This means being careful not to rock the boat too much. Which translates into easily winnable animal welfare campaigns that increase peoples’ trust in the organisation but doesn’t necessarily make any considerable gains for the animals. Anything more might risk losing donations, which means being unable to pay rent and wages, which means being unable to continue campaigning.

Thus national groups are sucked into this downward spiral where in order to continue functioning they must keep creating winnable campaigns that do not challenge the status quo, so that they can make enough money to carry on existing. To challenge the status quo would be to risk their livelihoods, I mean if animal exploitation were to be abolished, they would be out of a job!

RevolutionBecause of this constant need for donations animal rights groups like these often draw money and resources away from local grass-roots organisations working on the ground to achieve animal liberation. National groups are always more than happy to provide us with leaflets or campaign materials (sometimes for free!) but on the back of every leaflet is a donation form which encourages you to give so much a month to the group. We’re essentially doing their hard work for them.

This leaves local grass-roots organisations who are often (if not always) made up of volunteers organising their own fund raisers while the nationals rake in all the donations. Sometimes we can plead to them for a share of the wealth that we helped create and sometimes they’ll be generous enough to split their bounty. But they got costs to cover, like I mentioned, they can’t afford to give out money willy-nilly!

The tactics of the national groups often do not lend themselves to building a bigger, more effective animal liberation movement. In a time where the animal liberation movement is at a noticeable low we should be encouraging as many people as possible to get involved with their local groups and influence change directly. What is the national group line though? Join us! Become a member! Donate £5 a month and we’ll fix the problems for you!

Sometimes they might even encourage you to write a letter to your MP or sign a petition, if they’re feeling particularly passionate about a campaign.

What is the alternative though? We need the national groups don’t we? They’re the only ones with the resources to produce leaflets; carry out investigations… uh, what else do they do again?

The truth is the only reason they have those resources is because of the donations they receive thanks to the leaflets handed out by us. There are people within the movement right now with all the necessary skills to do what the national groups do (and more). There may not be one in every local group but that is why we need to pull together our resources.

If we began to communicate with one another about what we needed we’d suddenly find that we have the means to fulfil each other’s needs. Instead of waiting for the national groups to lead us let’s take matters into our own hands. We need a leaflet about an upcoming event? There is somebody in London who can design it; and somebody in Leeds who can print it; there are groups in Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff and Newcastle who can pay for it. You get the picture.

The national groups should answer to us, not the other way round. Its time we started calling the shots. Maybe we don’t need the national groups at all. If we can communicate with each other in a way that means we can achieve everything the national groups did (and more) we wouldn’t need them, we would of superseded them.

What if we created our own organisation: One that was led by the decisions of local grass-roots organisations; that pulled together the collective resources of the national animal liberation movement; that had no need for leaders or paid staff because work was shared out equally amongst its members; that would combine the collective strength of the thousands of animal liberation activists together; a group that was accountable to the grass-roots because it was the grass-roots.

Why would we even need the national groups then?#

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Vegan Outreach: A Radical Perspective

squashIn an earlier piece I critiqued Vegan Outreach (and mainstream veganism as a whole) for being too focused on capitalist consumption and offering no real solution to animal exploitation. At the end of the critique I touched on the idea of promoting ‘Radical Veganism’ as an alternative to consumption-based veganism. What I didn’t include in the solution were some examples of what form Radical Vegan Outreach could take, that is the point of this text.

Before I begin it is essential to reaffirm what I mean by ‘Radical Veganism’ and how it differs from consumption-based mainstream Veganism:

Mainstream Veganism focuses on individual consumer choices and posits these as the basis for animal exploitation. Because of this mainstream Veganism promotes an “cruelty-free” lifestyle which includes refraining from purchasing products that contain animal products or by-products and boycotting companies that profit either directly or indirectly from animal exploitation. Mainstream Vegans believe that by reducing their personal consumption habits they will reduce the demand for animal-based products and therefore reduce the number of animals killed, with the eventual goal of turning everybody Vegan and ending all animal exploitation.

Radical Veganism, by contrast, places the root cause for animal exploitation on humans’ domination over other animals (speciesism) as well as the systems which uphold this belief (capitalism). While Radical Vegans may promote a animal-free (as opposed to “cruelty-free” as Radical Vegans realise that anything produced under a capitalist system is inherently cruel) lifestyle they realise that consumer choices alone will not end animal exploitation. Radical Vegans also accept that not every person can adopt a animal-free diet due to various socio-economic and health reasons. Radical Veganism states that the only way to end animal exploitation is to end humans’ domination over other animals, a process which will require a social revolution to do away with the current system which upholds speciesism.

Though I would like to refer to Radical Veganism as simply “Veganism” as I believe that is what true Veganism actually is, it is essential to differentiate between Radical Veganism and mainstream Veganism – especially as mainstream Veganism moves further towards a more consumption-based (and therefore capitalist) solution to animal exploitation. For the remainder of this text I will continue to refer to Radical Veganism as such but will use the term Veganism to refer to mainstream Veganism.

On to the crux of the issue, what is Radical Vegan Outreach?

We all know what Vegan Outreach is; we’ve all stood on stalls in town centres handing out samples of home cooked or mass-produced Vegan food to members of the public hoping to sway their consumption patterns. We’ve all lectured our friends (and complete strangers) about the merits of a “cruelty-free” diet; about how it is better for your health, the planet and most importantly, the animals. We’ve no doubt been to a Vegan Fair, or two or three, or even organised one ourselves! We’ve waded through the stalls handing out free samples and urging you to pay £5 for a block of Vegan cheese that would of cost half the amount if it were made from cow’s milk. We’ve all celebrated when supermarkets start stocking our favourite brand of plant-based milk or a new branch of Holland & Barrett opens up on the high street!

That, sadly, is the state of Vegan Outreach today.

What is the alternative then? Surely there must be a better way? While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I will try to offer a couple of examples of practical Radical Vegan Outreach:


MegaphoneIt may seem obsolete to state it but activism is still the most effective form of Vegan Outreach both Radical and not. Activism directly challenges animals status as property which is an essential first step towards a Radical Vegan mindset. When we begin to challenge animal exploitation we begin to question the very foundations of our society – one that is built on animal industry and speciesism. Without questioning and eventually unlearning our ingrained human superiority we can never hope to create a world free of animal exploitation as any attempt to do so will be tainted by speciesism.

I am very much of the idea that activism breeds (Radical) Veganism rather than the other way round. Or at least it should. Veganism proclaims that we can end animal exploitation simply by changing our consumer habits. Such a statement is counterproductive to creating a thriving animal liberation movement as it makes people think that they are already doing everything they can to end animal suffering. It places Veganism as the height of animal activism and thus no other form of activism is necessary. Animals status as property goes unchallenged, capitalism is reinforced and speciesism continues unabetted.

Radical Vegan Outreach therefore switches that process around and encourages people to enter Veganism through the protest movement. People become activists because they want to end animal exploitation. As they enter the movement they begin to challenge animals’ status as property and the seeds of Radical Veganism are planted. They eventually start to alter their consumption habits, not because it is the most effective way to end animal exploitation, but because it is the logical extension of their newly found Vegan worldview.

Food Justice

51_Occupied_Territory.sizedFood justice is the radical idea that we should place control of our food in the hands of those who consume it. People do not, as it stands, have control over what they eat. Their diets are dictated to them by what is available to them and how much they can afford. Because Vegan food is often hard to come by, and when it is it is often more expensive than animal-based products, this means a lot of people have no choice but to continue consuming animals.

Those on a lower-income will often struggle to sustain a Vegan diet due to the costs involved in acquiring and purchasing animal-free products. This often leads people to label Veganism as a “middle-class” pursuit, often rightly so. By placing control of our food supply back in the hands of the community we can actively encourage a Radical Vegan lifestyle that is accessible to everyone.

Encouraging, promoting and actively engaging in guerrilla gardening; access to land; cooking skillshares; community gardens; gardening skillshares; food co-ops and veg box schemes; permaculture and other Food Justice tactics we can allow people to make a real choice about what they eat. That way, when we discuss the merits of a Radical Vegan lifestyle, we will be talking to people who have the freedom to adopt a real animal-free diet.


onefightSpeciesism does not exist in a vacuum. It is a form of oppression and like other forms of oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia etc.) speciesism is intimately connected to all other forms of oppression in a delicate balance. The presence of other forms of oppression allows others to grow. It is therefore essential that we broaden the struggle for animal liberation from a single-issue campaign into a mult-faceted battle against all forms of oppression.

Because speciesism relies on this delicate balance of oppressions to function it is important that Radical Veganism reflects this and takes a intersectional approach to anti-oppression politics. Focusing on speciesism alone will never be enough to end animal exploitation and allowing other forms of oppression to flourish within our movement only allows speciesism to become stronger.

Only by tackling all forms of oppression can we ever hope to end animal exploitation and obtain total liberation. Radical Veganism is the struggle for total liberation and therefore it must tackle these forms of oppression alongside speciesism. While it may be too much to ask for groups to focus their activism on these other forms of oppression we can at least insure that our activism reflects our desire for total liberation and does not enforce other forms of oppression.

By broadening our scope to encompass all forms of oppression we can begin to show solidarity with other movements. This solidarity must be rooted in a geniuine desire to end all oppressions, not as a recruitment drive or to increase the number of Vegans in other campaigns. While explaining the merits of a Radical Vegan outlook to other activists struggling for total liberation is important it is also vital that we learn lessons from them too.


I have outlined three forms of Radical Vegan Outreach above, but there are many more out there. As we begin to build a larger animal liberation movement build around the foundations of Radical Veganism we will begin to discover new tactics and be more effective in our older ones. It is important that we do not slip into old habits and simply continue to promote Veganism as it is today, for to do so would be inefficient and possibly even detrimental to the struggle for animal liberation. It is only by promoting Radical Veganism, not consumption-based mainstream Veganism, that we will ever achieve our goals.

I urge all involved in the struggle for animal liberation not to give up Vegan Outreach as some (myself included) have suggested in the past but to adapt it and use it to the animals’ advantage. Radical Veganism is still a powerful tool in the struggle against animal exploitation as speciesism is one of the foundations of our society and without actively challenging it in our day to day lives we can never hope to achieve total liberation.


Defining Direct Action for Animal Liberation

direct-action-bunnyWhen we talk about direct action for animal liberation the first thought that comes to most peoples mind is the image of a balaclava clad activist breaking into a vivisection laboratory and rescuing the animals trapped inside. This romanticized view of direct action is not only unrealistic (only a minority of actions carried out in the name of animal liberation involve live liberations) but damaging to the growth of the movement as a whole (by limiting the realm of ‘direct action’ to a narrow scope of live liberations or economic sabotage we are excluding large numbers of our movement and limiting ourselves to what we can and cannot do in the name of animal liberation).

Direct action is a broad term that encompasses a  wide range of actions, both physical and non-physical, both legal and illegal, with the one defining feature being that the action be direct (i.e. it tackles the problem at the root). This is the definition of radical which comes from the Latin for ‘root’. It means to grasp the problem at the root. This means addressing the issue where it arises and not asking somebody else (I.e. the Government) to solve it for us.

The term ’direct action’ has become synonymous in the animal rights movement with those taking physical action. You often here people talking about how they wish they could take direct action, but can’t because they are not physically or mentally up to the challenge, or cannot risk being arrested or sent to jail. To those people I say: You can take direct action! Everybody can take direct action to stop animal exploitation!

Leafleting; protesting; lock ons; communication blockades; protest camps; letter writing; talking to people; free food giveaways; street theatre; sit-ins; occupations; film screenings; hacktivism; these are all forms of direct action! If none of these seem feasible or appealing to you, then create your own form of direct action! There is no blueprint for how we will achieve animal liberation. It will require a diversity of tactics and new ideas are needed all the time. Only through our creativity and persistence can we win this battle for a better world.

When people are led to believe that they cannot participate in direct action that is when they turn to a higher authority for help. They start signing petitions; donating to charities; writing letters to their MPs or boycotting companies. They feel disempowered. Like they can’t get involved in the fight for animal liberation directly. The animal rights movement has left a lot of people feeling disempowered. We need to reclaim that power! Only we – the people – can bring about the radical change in society that we seek.

There is a cult of militancy surrounding direct action that likes to make people think that their form of direct action (I.e. illegal, physical direct action) is the only form of action that will achieve animal liberation. These people are lost in a fantasy world fuelled by their own self-importance. A quick look at history will show you that any successful movement has required a diversity of tactics to achieve it’s goals. Whether it be the Suffragettes, the Abolition of Slavery, the Civil Rights Movement or even Indian Independence.

This view is put forward by websites like Bite Back who have a monopoly on the definition of direct action and only post actions that are physical and illegal in nature. While it is important to create a forum for these actions to be shared so they can inspire other activists the severe lack of discussion on websites like this around what constitutes direct action furthers that divide between the “can do” and the “can’t do”.

We must make sure our movement is as broad and welcoming as it possibly can be  to ensure the greatest number of people can get involved. This means moving away from the idea that ’direct action’ is limited to breaking into buildings, burning down meat trucks or chasing after hunts.  Direct action is the base level from which our movement grows. It is the foundation of any successful movement. Unless a majority of the population are engaged in direct action in some form or another we are destined to reformism not revolution and it is only a social revolution that will help us achieve animal liberation.

Pulling the Trigger on 269life

[TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of rape, sexual assault, self-harm, racism, abuse, assault]

Over the past few months 269life has gained a significant amount of attention from the animal rights movement, gaining many supporters but also attracting criticism of their use of racist, anti-choice and anti-human imagery/views, as well as their provocative publicity stunts.

The latest of which has shocked and disgusted many of us, leaving us no choice but to speak out against this so-called “activism”. The stunt, uploaded to YouTube (with no trigger warnings) – entitled “Women stripped naked and milked in Israel – 269life”, depicts a woman and her baby (yes, a real baby), being attacked near to a protest by a number of people dressed in black wearing balaclavas. The baby is then taken from the woman by one of the masked attackers and placed into a cage on the ground, before the woman is then partially stripped, forcibly milked and then thrown to the ground, while she screams, begging them to stop. This, 269life imply, is in solidarity with cows exploited by the dairy industry.

The blatant disregard for people who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, or rape who may have passed by this performance in a busy public spot in Israel, and for people coming across the video online, is horrendous. Trigger warnings cannot be applied in public to such stunts, and the potential effects this “action” may have had on numerous individuals viewing it is unimaginable. Similar concerns have also been raised over the public branding events, and certain images used by 269life, due to the potential for triggering those who have struggled with self-harm.
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Interview with Matt Miner (author of LIBERATOR)

We’re pleased to present to you our interview with Matt Miner, vegan, animal advocate, shelter worker and writer of the up-coming four-issue comic series: LIBERATOR. Matt has been very supportive of our project since the beginning and we’re excited to have had this chance to speak to him about his project, his work with animal sanctuaries and his plans for the future!

BT: Hello Matt! Thanks for doing this interview for us!

No, thank you guys – really love your mission, already a big fan.

BT: Could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself? What sort of activism have you been involved in? What has been some major events that has led you to where you are now?

Well I’ve been vegan for about a decade – I got curious as to why vegans boycotted all animal products, started wondering “is it really that bad?” and googled up animal cruelty videos one night. I’d always considered myself an “animal lover” because I’d loved my cats growing up, but that night’s when I made that connection.

So after what seemed like hours of watching these videos, everything from Meet Your Meat to the undercover investigations into Huntingdon Life Sciences to ALF videos, I went pescetarian immediately and less than a week after that I realized how ridiculously easy it was to give up most meat so I went vegan, which is also ridiculously easy to do.

I was pretty heavily involved in the Huntingdon Life Sciences campaign for many years, along with anti-fur campaigns like the ones against Escada and Max Mara, plus vegan outreach type stuff, circus campaigns, and the New York City horse carriage campaign. More recently I’ve been involved in animal rescue of abused dogs and cats – my wife and I work in a pretty sketchy area of NYC and so we rescue, foster, rehab and rehome animals.

Ever since learning of the ALF I always thought these folks were like superheroes for animals – I’ve always been a vocal supporter of the underground and have supported our prisoners, but I wanted to do more. These activists are labeled “terrorists” for helping animals and, being a lifelong comic book fan, I saw an opportunity to put a comic book into the mainstream market that accurately portrayed these masked vigilantes as the compassionate crusaders they are and didn’t sugarcoat the awful truth of what we do to animals.

Liberator_issue1cover-TimSeeleyBT: Which leads us nicely onto our next question: You’re writing a new 4-issue comic series called LIBERATOR, can you tell us about that? What do you hope to achieve with LIBERATOR?

LIBERATOR is a gritty anti-hero adventure story featuring two underground vigilantes who take action in defense of animals. Clearly it’s inspired by real events and actual people – the men and women who take to the night under the name ALF and rescue animals and destroy the profit motivation of abusers. I hope to achieve three things with LIBERATOR – I want to bring more people to comics, I want to use this non-preachy vengeance story to bring new eyes to animal issues and I want to help fund my continued animal rescue work in the Rockaways, New York.

BT: Apart from the obvious issues surrounding animal exploitation are there any other topics that you hope to discuss with LIBERATOR? How have you found promoting radical politics within the comics industry? The comics industry isn’t exactly known for it’s politics at the best of time, what are some of the major issues you see within the industry and comics in general?

In LIBERATOR we explore themes of sexism and misogyny as well – it’s well known that LIBERATOR_01_02_600_CMYK_2btthere are some issues within comics when it comes to the treatment of women both on and off the page and I want LIBERATOR to be a positive force for good for the people who pick the book up and give it a shot.

So you’re never going to see the female heroes of LIBERATOR posed in unnatural ways in order to provide the sexiest shots to the male reader, nor are the female characters there to be used as a prop or a “girlfriend” or sex interest. Our characters are all strong fully developed individuals with their own personalities, interests, goals and motivations.

BT: You mentioned your animal rescue work in the Rockaways, New York. Can you tell us a bit more about that? Can you tell us about why you think animal rescue work is important? Do you see it as a vital part of the struggle for animal liberation?

The Rockaways is the name given to a little peninsula of Queens, NYC that was nailed hard by Hurricane Sandy. When the storm came we stayed behind because we had animals, including fosters, that we weren’t about to abandon, and we knew that in the wake of the storm there would be animals who needed help. After the storm passed and we were rebuilding our house we found that a lot of abandoned houses were now being used to warehouse fighting dogs, plus the streets are crawling with house cats who were left behind when their despicable owners left town. So we’ve had our hands full.

I appreciate and respect anyone who works for animal liberation and there are many areas where the struggle needs help. For my wife and I, we’re both vegan and worked for years on aboveground animal rights campaigns – hell, we first met at a home demo outside the CEO of Huntingdon Life Sciences’ apartment, we were engaged at the national animal rights conference and married at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. While we’ve worked in other areas of this fight, we found that we couldn’t turn our backs on animals in need who are literally right in front of us as we walk down the street so our focus is on companion animal rescue at this time.

LIBERATOR_02_05_600_COLOR-btBT: It looks like you’re doing some really good work over there! We can’t wait to get our hands on the first issue of LIBERATOR either. When is it coming out? How can we get ourselves a copy?

Issue 1 is available for pre-order now! Pre-ordering for independent books is super  important because LIBERATOR is not BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN and shops will probably not order it if they don’t know there’s a demand. A lack of orders would result in  cancellation by the distributor, which would seriously suck.

All the info on how to snag yourself a copy is up at

BT: I know it is early days at the moment but do you have any future plans for LIBERATOR or any other comic series? Are there any other issues you’d like to raise in future comics?

Well I have LIBERATOR stories for years, so if the first series is well received I’d love to do another, possibly focusing on Jeanette, the co-hero who I’ve personally decided is way cooler and more badass than her male counterpart. I have a story in OCCUPY COMICS #3 coming out in August that recounts my own experiences in Hurricane Sandy, what we went through, and how Occupy Sandy really saved the day out here. All the profits from that series go back to the Occupy movement.

I’d also love to do non-politically charged stories – I have a lot of ideas for both creator-owned books and licensed characters and I’m super excited to take a shot at telling them!

BT: Thanks for talking with us! Anything else you’d like to add before you leave?

Find me on twitter @MattMinerXVX for regular updates on LIBERATOR and my other projects, and always adopt, never shop!

“Shut Up and Take Action!” No, Shut Up and Listen!

As someone who suffers from chronic health problems, I’m often left wondering if there is any kind of “effective” role I can play in the animal liberation movement. My ability to engage in physical action is limited, and there is commonly a huge focus on this type of activism, from demonstrations/marches to physical direct action (liberating animals, sabotage etc), with the latter usually held up as the holy grail of activism in the fight for liberation of all animals from exploitation.

There have been occasions where people have questioned why I wasn’t taking part in actions that require physically able participants, and I have felt pressured into explaining my health problems to people I barely knew to justify why I wasn’t able, for example, to go out and attempt to directly prevent an animal from being killed that day. I’ve also witnessed friends with disabilities sit out of discussions surrounding physical direct action because they felt they had no role to play.

Those who are able to and do involve themselves in physical action are often viewed as almost superior to those who don’t, and when we do this we’re creating an ableist hierarchy between activists. We often gloss over the incredibly important role people play in organising, fundraising, and other forms of support (including prisoner support) that allow others to carry out these actions. These people deserve just as much respect as those who go out and rescue animals from places of torture. While no one can deny that physical direct action is important, the near worship of activists who engage in these actions as the most “effective” activists discourages those who cannot; some may never even attempt to become involved in the movement because this focus gives the impression that there is no place for them.

If we’re going to build a strong, effective movement, we need to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of ability. Recognising that not everyone is physically or mentally able to directly involve themselves in every kind of action typically used in the animal liberation movement is important, and probably the first step we should be taking. Aggressive demands for everyone to stop talking and start taking physical action (a far too common occurrence in my opinion) are always going to exclude people. We should never dictate to people what form their activism should take based on assumptions we’ve made about their abilities. Activists with disabilities should always be given the opportunity to make suggestions about new tactics that suit their own abilities, rather than being told that they can sit behind an info stall or update blogs while everyone else gets on with the “real” activism, or that they simply can’t be involved at all.

On the Campaign Against “The Dog Meat Industry”

If you go on to any animal rights organisation’s page these days you’re sure to stumble across a petition against the dog meat industry in China. The recent expose by Animal Equality has once again brought this issue to surface and all the problems that come with it.

The disproportionate amount of attention paid to the dog meat industries in these countries is deeply problematic for various reasons:


When we focus on dogs and other companion animals we are reinforcing this idea that it is acceptable to exploit certain animals (cows, pigs, chickens etc.) over others. We do this without even beginning to think about how companion animals are exploited in our culture through the pet industry.

By focusing on the dog meat industry in particular we are normalizing the consumption of other animals. The dog meat industry is attacked because it is considered “strange” and “barbaric” by Western standards. When was the last time that you ever saw a petition against the cow or pig meat industry in China? Or the United Kingdom for that matter?


The campaign against the dog meat industry in China often simplifies the argument to the point where it becomes solely about nationality. The Chinese – they would argue – eat dogs therefore they are the enemy. They tar everybody with the same brush despite the existence of groups like the Chinese Companion Animal Protection Network (CCAPN) who actively campaign against the dog meat industry from within China itself.

These sort of campaigns open the floodgates for the racism and xenophobia that is hidden just below the surface of the animal rights movement (and society at large). You only have to take one look at Animal Equality’s Facebook page since the release of the expose to see the sort of stuff I’m talking about. Comments range from mildly xenophobic to outright racist hate speech aimed at the Chinese. These sort of comments are ignored or accepted. People are rarely called out for their racist views.


When you look at the campaign against the dog meat industry from another angle what you basically have is a group of white people in the west telling people in China how they should act. We are sitting here in our homes in the West telling people in far-away countries to change their ways and be more like us. We are assuming that Western culture is the only, and therefore the best culture, and all other cultures should just copy us.

How are we any different to the invading armies of the United States who claim to bring “peace and democracy” to the Middle East? The only difference is that we don’t have guns and our message is about “compassion”! We are replicating out-of-date colonial mindsets that lead us to believe that we are somehow superior to people in other countries, that we know best, and everyone else should follow our example because we’re oh so fucking perfect.

How then, should we move forward in the fight against the dog meat industry in China? For a start we should step back and hand over the reigns to the people in those countries who are fighting these battles on behalf of the animals there. We should show solidarity with those fighting for animal liberation in China and offer our support when they ask for it. We should never speak on behalf of them or act as if we know what’s best.

We should also involve ourselves with the struggle against animal exploitation in our own countries. Not just by going vegan or protesting against the animal agricultural industries. We need to look at how companion animals are abused by the pet industry. At the root of all these oppressions is the belief that humans are somehow superior to other animals. This belief allows humans to dominate other animals in countless ways. We need to unlearn this human-centric world view and spread a message of compassion that goes beyond what we do or do not buy.

Animal exploitation will only be stopped by the combined efforts of animal advocates across the globe working together for animal liberation. It will not be won by a small group of people in the west dictating to the rest of the world how to act. As the old saying goes: “Think Globally, Act Locally”.

Rights/Protection/Liberation: Some Notes on Terminology

As the movement to end animal exploitation has evolved throughout history so has the terminology surrounding our struggle: From the “animal welfare” of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to the development of “animal rights” by writers such as Lewis Gompertz and Edward Nicholson.

With the publication of his book of the same name in 1975, Peter Singer coined the term “animal liberation”. His usage of the word “speciesism” in this text led to it becoming an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1989 (though the term was created by Richard Ryder in 1970).

Since then other terms have sprung up to define different currents within the animal movement. The “Abolitionist” approach, as favoured by Gary Francione and Tom Regan, argues for an end to animal ownership, much in the same way Abolitionists fought against the Slave Trade in an attempt to end the ownership of Blacks by Whites.

“Protectionist” or “Animal Protection” has also cropped up as a new term to describe our movement though its usage dates back to as far as 1635 in Ireland with the passing of animal protection legislation that prohibited pulling wool off sheep, and the attaching of ploughs to horses’ tails. Modern Protectionists favour gradual change for the benefit of the animals with the end result being complete abolition.

We at Baring Teeth favour the term “Animal Liberation” as we feel it best describes our approach to tackling animal exploitation. We see parallels between the struggle for animal liberation and the fight for Black Liberation or Queer Liberation. We do not define Animal Liberation as merely the act of liberating animals from places of cruelty (as the Animal Liberation Front does) though we do not dismiss this as a vital tactic.

We see Animal Liberation as a philosophy that advocates for the end of animal use for human need (i.e. abolition) but also the rejection of the anthropocentric world-view that places humans above other animals and nature. It is the incorporation of humans into the struggle for animal liberation, because humans are animals too. It is the struggle against speciesism and all other forms of oppression. It is the understanding that all these oppressions are interlinked and therefore must be combated together if we are to ever achieve true liberation.

We aware that some people are worried that the term “Animal Liberation” may be seen as too “extreme” or have negative connotations but we argue that what we are advocating is extreme. We are fighting for the emancipation of all animals from exploitation. We are calling for a social revolution to remove the oppressive systems that dominate and control all life on this planet. If that’s not extreme, then I don’t know what is.

Vegan Outreach: Against Vegan Capitalism, Towards a (More) Radical Veganism

Vegan Outreach, according to some advocates, is the most powerful tool we have in the fight for animal liberation. They claim that we, as consumers, have the ability to “vote with our wallets” and end animal exploitation by simply refusing to purchase products made from animals. While  promoting veganism is a noble cause and one that should not be overlooked, the way that we as a movement choose to promote veganism is problematic.

Veganism as a consumer boycott is fundamentally flawed. Boycotts as a tactic do not work. The modern supply chain is so dense that it is impossible to avoid any company that trades in animal exploitation. Even vegan favourites like Alpro or Swedish Glace are owned by multinational corporations who exploit animals on a daily basis (Alpro is owned by Dean Foods Company the largest dairy company in the world; and Swedish Glace is owned by notorious animal testing company Unilever). If you are spending money on these products you are indirectly funding animal exploitation.

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