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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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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“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”.

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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