Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Joshua Harper's Live ARZone Guest Chat

Transcript of Josh Harper’s ARZone Live Guest Chat

10 December 2011

5pm US Eastern Time

10pm UK Time

11 December 2011

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time

 

 

 

Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone is pleased to welcome Josh Harper as today’s LIve Chat Guest.

 

Josh Harper is an animal rights activist and anarchist, who has been vegan for 15 years, during which time he has advocated for the liberation of both human and other animals.

Josh was one of the defendants charged in the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC 7) case, which was one of the first cases in which defendants were charged under the infamous Animal Enterprises Terrorism Act. Josh subsequently spent three years in federal prison for the “crime” of making public speeches advocating for non-violent direct action against Huntington Life Sciences (HLS).

 

Josh is the founder of Conflict Gypsy, which is an attempt to catalogue and digitally distribute decades of animal liberation and environmentalism literature, to not just preserve and circulate pieces of the history of the movement, but to also help activists learn from and build on the successes and failures of the past.

 

Josh is also involved in podcasting with Vegan Threat, which is a radio broadcast which speaks on a range of topics regarding animal ethics and veganism, as well as featuring interviews with other advocates.

 

Josh welcomes the opportunity to engage ARZone members today on these topics and more. Would you please join with me in welcoming Josh to ARZone?

 

Welcome, Josh!

 

Tim Gier:

Hi Josh!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Welcome Josh! Thanks for being here.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Hello Josh! :-)

 

Roger Yates:

Hi Josh

 

Mangus O’Shales:

hello mr. harper

 

SMASH HLS:

Hi, Josh!

 

Sky:

Hello!

 

Josh Harper:

Hi everyone, thank you so much for having me today.

 

Lynne Yates:

Hi Josh!

 

Jesse Newman:

Hey!

 

Matt Bowen:

Hi Josh, thanks for being here!

 

Will:

hiya

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Josh will be responding to his pre-registered questions first, and then we’ll open the chat up for all members to engage him.

 

Please refrain from interrupting Josh during the first session, and feel free to send a private message to an admin if you wish to address him at any time. This can be done by clicking on their names and selecting “Private Chat”.

 

I’d now like to ask Brooke Cameron to ask Josh his first question for today. Thanks, Brooke.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Carolyn, welcome Josh!

 

Josh, Conflict Gypsy is an amazing resource. It seeks to make available so much of the history of our movement, which I think is incredibly valuable, particularly to newer and younger members of the animal advocacy community. I expect you would be quite reliant on others for their help in compiling such an amazing resource. How much help have you had from other activists, and for what purpose would you hope Conflict Gypsy would be used?

 

Josh Harper:

Thank you for the kind words about our project, Brooke. The idea initially came from my friend Sabrina after we'd had a conversation about all of the printed information that was disappearing forever due to activist turnover, police raids, and damage to the  fragile media that they were printed on. In the last 6 months we have posted hundreds of publications and now have two volunteer positions in the US, one in Canada, and one in England!

 

I want Conflict Gypsy to do a number of things, but my biggest hope is that it will increase young activists’ efficiency by removing the need for so much trial and error. If they follow the posts and become familiar with past victories and failures maybe we won't see such constant re-inventions of the wheel. We have had a fair amount of help from other activists, but we always need more! If you have old periodicals, especially rarities, please be in touch! Why leave those ideas on a shelf somewhere when other activists could be benefiting from them?

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Josh! May I ask a quick follow-up, please?

 

Josh Harper:

Of course.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks! How did you come up with the name “Conflict Gypsy”?

 

Josh Harper:

In the 1990's the Fur Commission USA used to refer to animal rights activists as "Conflict Gypsies.The term even managed to make it's way into some of their press releases .When we initially started the archive we wanted something that really captured the spirit of those times, traveling to protests, living a little like an outlaw, and scoffing at our opponents .So, Sabrina remembered the Fur Commision's old insult, and we decided to adopt it as our own.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Great story! Thanks, Josh! :-)

 

Josh Harper:

You are very welcome, Brooke!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Next up is Carolyn asking a question on behalf of Gary Smith.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Barbara! Gary's question is this: What strategies from the SHAC tool kit do you think would be effective in terms of addressing Big Ag and or the government?  My contention is that waiting for each of us to convert a few vegans per year won't bring about the kind of changes we wish to see. How can we apply some of the SHAC strategies towards a Smithfield, Tyson, et al.?

 

Josh Harper:

Hi Gary, thank you for the question! I agree that boycott politics and moral suasion will only get us so far, so this is an important question. I might not be the best person to answer it, but I will give it my best shot.

 

First off, SHAC didn't really have it's own tool box. Most of the tactics utilized by groups campaigning against Huntingdon Life Sciences were first honed by other movements, and while I was a part of the campaign I was far from our best strategist. When people think about the campaign they usually picture loud hailers and home demonstrations, but what made those tools effective was research. Our greatest victories came from knowing everything about our target, from staff members down to the legislation that governed their business.

 

I've spent enough lonely years in prison to know that I shouldn't recommend specific tactics, but I will say this: find information about your target utilizing every method at your disposal, including infiltration.  (Remember also that people tend to dislike their bosses, so look for insiders to befriend and find out what might motivate them to share secrets!) Once you know as much as you can about the business you want to dismantle, assemble a group of people and work around the clock.

 

Billionaires work over time and our opponents are in business 7 days a week, so be sure the people you ally with are hard workers. You will never shut down a corporation if you only fight them evenings and alternate weekends.  Tenacity is therefore as important as intelligence, but not a substitute for it.

 

Second, remember that capitalism is all about financial relationships. Know the relationships of your targets to other businesses, understand the function of those relationships, and do your best to disrupt that function. Relationships extend beyond trade in businesses- another important set of relationships involves skill sets.

 

Find out about the skills needed by your target, which employees have them, and how those employees could be persuaded to leave, causing a gap in the specialization needed for the company to run optimally.

 

Third, treat other activists well, even when you don't agree, and try to encourage people with different tactical ideas to work towards the same goal. It's hard, but a true diversity of tactics and participants will get you far.

 

The early days of the HLS campaign were amazing because the scale ranged from letter writing to sabotage, and everyone felt that they were welcome. Later on, as the rhetoric turned uglier and more exclusively geared to militants our broader base of support evaporated and we were easy for our opponents to isolate, plus, we lost the energy and creativity of a lot of good activists.

 

Finally, remember that the Empire always strikes back. Design your tactics and speech to minimize legal backlash while maximizing public sympathy, and get good lawyers long before you actually need them.

 

Jason Ward:

Next up with a question is Tim Gier - please go ahead when you are ready Tim man

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks! Hi Josh, In your interview posted at the Vegan Police website (http://theveganpolice.com/main/?p=704) you say that one of the things you “would do different is not use macho rhetoric.” Would you explain what you mean by that?

 

Josh Harper:

I'd be happy to, Tim!

First off, I want to say that I do not believe that the movement for non-humans will progress without equal parts militancy and education, and firmly believe that those two things can go together.

 

The culture of animal rights militancy has grown cultish and posturing, and so communications from underground groups often sacrifice reason and education in favor of appearing tough. Sadly, much of the potential gains for direct action are left behind because of the insistence on silly theatricality. I grew up very into comic books and role playing games, which meant that I was already very well versed in corny, overly dramatic speech making long before I became an activist!  After a life time of being a nerd I found it empowering to shout and say outrageous things. 

 

Sadly, I didn't understand that my rhetoric wasn't likely to recruit, inspire, or educate.  It is my sincere hope that young people will understand that mimicking hardcore lyrics can never take the place of rational argument.

 

Tim Gier:

May I ask a quick follow-up?

 

Josh Harper:

Please do, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks. I think you've made an important point. Can you describe what militancy without macho rhetoric or theatrics might look like?

 

Josh Harper:

Yes! Many of the communications and interviews from the early days of underground activity in the US provide a good example of how it would look. Press statements focused on facts, statistics, and the conditions that animals were kept in. The choice of tactics being used was explained in a rational manner.

 

And best of all, calls for public participation in activism against the target would be made. All of these things would be a marked improvement over modern communications that say, "Vivisectors are demons and scum. We will smite them from the earth!" That stuff is tired, kids.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Josh, that makes sense; I'll have to study that history. Next up is Roger Yates. Please go ahead when you're ready Prof. Yates!

 

Roger Yates:

Your interview in vol. 9(3) of Critical Animal Studies (2011) really rang a few bells for me. You were asked about the movement’s evolution from the 1970s onwards. You talked of a young hopeful movement, and then a radicalised one which eventually moderated with the set up of large organisations with long-term paid careerists at their head. Some social movement theory predicts this sort of development within movements. Even so, you are still rather giving in your assessment of groups like PeTA, whereas I believe the movement as a whole would benefit from PeTA being disbanded and its fortune distributed to the grassroots where it belongs. Do you still believe that there is a role for these expensive (trans)national corporations in the age of the internet and DIY culture?

 

Josh Harper:

You and I are in agreement that the movement would be served well by the collapse of the nationals and an infusion of  their wealth to the grassroots. To that end I am working to rebuild the once strong grassroots infrastructure in the United States, and I always criticize the nationals when I feel it is necessary.

 

Where we might diverge is believing that the nationals are going anywhere anytime soon. To use the old cliche, "Organize from where you are at, not where you wish you were."  PETA and HSUS are a political reality that we have to deal with in the United States. So long as they are here I don't mind pointing out the few things that they get done correctly, especially where no grassroots alternative currently exists.

 

For example, I love that HSUS has the finances and reputation to hire people who can write legislation - not because I believe a legislative cure exists to non-human slavery, but because the industries being targeted by the legislation end up spending millions to defeat these initiatives. It is another front in our attack, and one that most grassroots groups are simply not capable of at the current time.

 

PETA is largely an embarrassment to our movement, and their policies on a number of issues are shameful. But they have the staff, money, and reputation to follow concerts and reach hundreds of thousands of young people with literature and face to face interactions that just can not be currently replicated on the same scale by the grassroots. 

 

The non-profit industrial complex strangles movements. Ultimately we will need to find a solution, but at this stage in the game I feel that we are too weak to change the nationals and do not have the power necessary to replace the few good programs they have. I look very forward to seeing that change!

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Josh - me too

The next Q comes from Barbara Degrande -- Barb....

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks Roger. Josh, how do you assess the progress of the liberation movement? Do you think the attitudes of humans towards other animals is significantly changing?

 

Josh Harper:

This is the hardest question amongst those I received in advance, Barbara! My assessment of the animal liberation movement is that it does not live up to it's potential in most respects.

 

Yes, human attitudes towards the rest of life on the planet is changing, but at a pace that is dangerously slow given rates of extinction, the acceleration of global warming, and the coming police state that I think we will see as governments increase their technological and military superiority.

 

But I do have hope. The rise of grassroots animal liberation groups in Asia, Eastern Europe, and other corners of the globe is an interesting development, and then there is the creativity and determination of the young people of Spain. I am so inspired by the activists there, and while I do not believe that their model can be exported everywhere, I think that change will come rapidly to some parts of the world in the next decade.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks Josh. It helps to hear some positives. I also admire what is going on in Spain. Next up is Tim Gier. Tim, please proceed.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks! Would you talk about how the US government has characterized and prosecuted free speech as terrorism? –and-  Given that the animal rights movement is framed as a nonviolent one, has one result of government repression been to marginalize activists within the movement? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KkC3oFccXM

 

Josh Harper:

Prepare for a very looooong answer, Tim!

As to the first part of your question, the US government is an interesting and complex bureaucracy. It's primary function is to expand and protect it's own power, but many of the people it needs in order to do that must be elected. These people can not rely on a political message alone to get them elected, in the United States %94 of elected officials were simply the better fundraiser.

 

So, if elections are largely bought you have to have donors. Remember how I said earlier that capitalism is all about relationships? Well, wealthy corporations have an interesting relationship with the government. They give the donations that make it possible to get elected, but they want something in return. The animal liberation movement in this country was very much a threat before industry groups and professional-activist / careerists got it under control.

 

Here and there the embers left behind from the fire they put out flare up again though, and in the 90s a tremendous amount of direct action was taking place from coast to coast. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damages was being done, and the number of people withdrawing from participation in animal abuse was also climbing. Something had to be done. The PR groups hired by extraction and animal exploitation industries had been using the word "terrorist" to describe us for quite some time, but it took an organized effort and a fair amount of money and bribery to pass "The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act" into law. 

 

It isn't so much the legislation itself that makes speech into terrorism as it is case law from my understanding. When me and my co-defendants were put on trial the prosecution used a novel theory; the legislation held that a person was guilt of animal enterprise terrorism if they caused or intended to cause more than $10,000 worth of loss to an animal enterprise. Since it was our goal to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, that would cause more than $10,000 worth of loosely defined loss. From there, criminal behavior became somewhat irrelevant. We had organized, written articles, ran a website, or given speeches with the intent to shut down HLS, so we were guilty of terrorism.

 

The judge and the jury went for it, and we were convicted. Later, an appeals court had this to say, "Harper’s personal conduct does not cross the line of illegality;  to punish him simply on the basis of his political speeches would run afoul of the constitution. However, his conduct, as discussed infra, does provide circumstantial evidence from which a jury could  have reasonably inferred that Harper was involved in a conspiracy to violate the AEPA." So, in essence, I didn't break the law, but my speech was enough to make jurors believe I wanted to.

 

As for the second part of your question, the anti-HLS movement was certainly marginalized within the animal rights movement. Sometimes that was the fault of the PR efforts of our opponents, at other times it was conflicts with tactical dogmatists who didn't like our willingness to push the boundaries, but many times it was our own damned fault. We rarely took outside criticism seriously, and internal criticism was minimal. Some people who were seen as leaders were often accused of being arrogant, or of pushing others into dangerous situations without concern for their well being. There was some truth to that, and it harmed our standing with the rest of the movement and created divisions that we could have avoided.

 

I like that we were seldom apologetic for our choice of tactics, but I wish we had been kinder about explaining those choices and more responsive to reasonable critique. Instead, we often had an attitude of "all the real activists have already joined us, the rest of you need to get out of the way." All those burned bridges sure made it tough to gather support later when we really needed it.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Josh. It seems from your answer that advocates from all different walks of like can be guilty of thinking that their way is the *only* way.

 

Roger Yates:

Next up is Carolyn Bailey...

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Hi again, Josh! You’ve been trying to track down some of the older issues of “Action for Animals” and a number of other Australian publications from the ‘80’s. Have you had any luck with that, and how can Australian advocates help?

 

Josh Harper:

Hi Carolyn. For more information, I would recommend that people visit http://www.conflictgypsy.com/2011/08/how-to-speak-australian/ and see the issues that we have already scanned and posted, along with our call out for help finding other rare, Australian publications. 

 

The Action for Animals newsletters have a special place in my heart for an odd reason. I'd heard many years ago about a group of people who had been inspired by the early work of the Animal Liberation Front in Europe and wanted to start such a group in Australia. They were hesitant to use the term "Animal Liberation Front" though because of the confusion it might cause given Peter Singer's organization, Animal Liberation. They decided on "Action for Animals," but kept much of their iconography the same as the ALF's, for example, an anarchist circle a symbol with the letters AFA instead of ALF. 

 

For those who are familiar with groups in the US, a very anti-ALF group called Action for Animals is based right here in my city of Seattle, and I just love seeing their name and acronym gracing something so militant!  Australia has such an interesting place in our history, and if you read enough old publications one very encouraging sign is that the activists there seem to have some perseverance! 

 

For those who have been around a while, please look through your old publications and see if you have anything that we might be interested in. More and more I am thinking that we might have to do a special feature about Patty Mark too, so be in touch if you'd like to help with that. Patty is one of my heroes for sure,

 I'd love to see some of her old writings and early open rescue work preserved for the movement.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Patty is one of my heroes as well. She's an amazing woman and a wonderful advocate! She's (hopefully) doing an ARZone interview in the new year! Thanks, Josh!

Next up is a question from Belinda Morris which will be asked by Jason Ward, in her absence. Thanks, Jay!

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Carolyn. Hi Josh. Thank you for taking my question.In the context of the sea change currently sweeping the globe - via resistance struggles, including the Occupy movement, that are opposing cultural hegemony  - where, in your view, can the animal movement fit in? What relationship with these socio-political movements should our own movement strive for, if any, to bring about a transformation of society?

 

Josh Harper:

The first animal rights group that I really became immersed in was called Liberation Collective. It was based in Portland, OR, and it's motto was "Linking movements to end all oppression." 

 

From my early days I always wanted to participate in human liberation movements, and I think that animal liberationists do a disservice to non-humans by refusing to lend solidarity and   resources to our own species.

 

A society where free individuals’ basic needs can be met, where people can live without fear of violence or repression,  where ideas can be shared freely, and where communities determine their own destinies is exactly the type of society conducive to changing the relationship between humans and non-humans.

 

People without enough to eat, people facing genocide and poverty and forced labor, people who fear violence as a result of their gender identity, or sexual preference, or race, people who are marginalized and disenfranchised-  these are peoples who have desperate, immediate needs that may preclude them from ever considering the harm that they cause, often unintentionally, to animals. 

 

Creating a better world for humans also creates the conditions where animal liberation can prosper.  We fit into that struggle wherever we have the courage to join it, but it is also far past time that we see the politics of these other struggles brought into our own. I see a lot of my comrades having backwards attitudes and behaviors. We will become better animal liberationists by becoming better people in general.  Learn about the struggles of others, lose your own prejudices, and fight injustice wherever you see it.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks for that, Josh! Next up will be Jesse Newman with a question. Thanks, Jesse.

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you Carolyn! Josh, my question is: What do you mean when you say that we ought to reject tactical dogmatism?

 

Josh Harper:

Hi Jesse. What I mean is that tactics should be chosen based on their efficacy, not whether or not they fit into the correct ideological box or fulfill the sub-cultural requirements of one section or another of the movement.

 

When it comes to pacifists, I think everyone knows exactly what I am talking about, but people might be less familiar with my feelings on "the cult of militancy."  Some sections of the movement have a tendency towards proving how extreme they are, and how far they are willing to push things, regardless of benefit to animals. In England, for example, postal bombs and car bombs became a trend in the late 80s and early 90s.  These bombings accomplished little for the animals, but a small minority just kept loudly repeating militant buzzwords and sloganeering to justify the actions. Saying, "By any means necessary," over and over is not a substitute for a working strategy!

 

Jesse Newman:

A follow up please?

 

Josh Harper:

Absolutely.

 

Jesse Newman:

Thanks. You're not saying, though, are you, that the movement ought to be dogmatic in its condemnation of extreme actions such as car bombings?

 

Josh Harper:

No. The movement should always have the best interests of those we claim to be in solidarity with in mind: non-humans. We are not a religion or a cult, there is no doctrine to follow. Through a process of careful analysis and collaboration we should design each stage of our strategy to get us the furthest fastest.

 

Jesse Newman:

Okay, thank you.

 

Josh Harper:

Thank you, Jesse. Feel free to write if you want more nuance than a chat can provide!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Josh. Next up is part-time lecturer, Dr. Roger Yates. When you're ready, Roger, thanks.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks CB!! Hi Josh - I have a Conflict Gypsy question for you. This archive is a fascinating record, and it reveals that some ideas thought to be fairly new have a long pedigree, for example, in a publication about ALF press officers, Robin Lane, critical of single-issue fur campaigns, talked in 1991 about the neglected campaigning area of leather, while you reproduce a letter I wrote in 1985 questioning the value of national groups and also suggesting that there may one day be a place for “political campaigning” but it is not now (or then!).

[Perhaps I should accuse authors of books published more than a decade later suggesting a concentration on education rather than political engagement of plagiarism?] 

 

Are you happy with how the CG project is developing as a movement archive?

 

Josh Harper:

I am very happy with how it is developing as a movement archive! All of the volunteers put in a lot of time, and I think it shows. (Thank you so much, Dylan, Adam, and Charlie!) 

 

But we are limited in our scope due to available resources, and my ability to contextualize the posts is limited by my personal knowledge. My hope is that, over time, we won't be the only movement archive online. I'd love to see people who specialize in philosophy begin to post important texts in the field of animal rights theory, I'd love to see early movement historians posting the old texts of Victorian era welfarists and anti-vivisectionists, or an online library of acts of resistance carried out by non-humans.

 

At Conflict Gypsy we focus on what we know best- protest and direct action oriented publications and videos, but that is only one small part of the story. It's time that others step up to tell the rest! 

 

This reminds me, Roger - now that Charlie is in England with a large format scanner, I need to talk to you about getting some gems out of your collection. That old letter of yours in The SG is pure gold, and I bet it wasn't the only time you saw publication back then! 

 

Roger Yates:

Actually, I used lots of different names in the 1980s  John Hughes, Sarah Dean etc (Gary Francione was an early one I rejected). Some other infiltrator took that one!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Hah!

 

Josh Harper:

HA HA HA!

 

Wow! I've seen some of those! We should talk later, I'd love to know more about the continuity back then!

 

Roger Yates:

So, a follow up please?

 

Josh Harper:

Yes, sir.

 

Roger Yates:

I see you reproduce David Henshaw’s lovely book, Animal Warfare: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front, in the CG archive. Rather a work of fiction, this - there are four mentions of my name, for example, and none of the details are accurate, while a device made from two firelighters is described by Henshaw as a “store bomb.”  Perhaps there needs to be some warning to readers not to take this shallow journalistic account too seriously?

 

Josh Harper:

Thank you for the follow up, Roger. Animal Warfare is posted online in both our main library, and as a blog posting. The blog posting does warn readers to use a critical eye when reading, and in general we rely on the critical thinking skills of our readers to separate fact from fiction. The post on that book might need to be expanded to point out all the areas where attack journalism was at play.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Josh. Next up is Matt Bowen...

 

Matt Bowen:

Thanks. Josh, is the animal advocacy movement sufficiently aware of and involved with other movements for social justice such as LBGTQ, feminism and civil rights? Is the movement, on the whole, critical of patriarchy and capitalism in the ways that it should be?  Done, and thanks!

 

Josh Harper:

Excellent question Matt, and it gives me the opportunity to give a short answer for once: "No."

 

Matt Bowen:

:-)

 

Josh Harper:

Okay, I lied. I won't keep my answer short. I want to go to animal activists homes and talk about Puerto-Rican independence, or the limitations of seeing the black power movement in a national liberation context, or how industrialism can be sabotaged for benefit of eco-systems. 

 

I want animal liberationists to be armed with the ideas of past revolutionaries, and given that the majority of our movement is female, we would do well to read Emma Goldman, Elaine Brown,  Assata Shakur, Ann Hansen, Diana Block, Margaret Randall, Fukuda Hideko, and others.

 

As I said above, expanding our politics to embrace the whole of the worlds oppressed would serve the animals well, and knowledge of the history and current practice of other movements will greatly strengthen our own.

 

Matt Bowen:

Thanks, Josh!

 

Josh Harper:

You are very welcome, sir.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, again, Josh! For the last of our pre-registered questions for today, Tim Gier will address you next. If there are any further questions for Josh in the open session, please feel free to let myself or Roger or Barbara know. Thanks!

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Carolyn, and thank you Josh! You mention in your interview published in the Journal for Critical Animal Studies that you’ve had somewhat of a change of heart when it comes to animal welfare organizations.  Would you explain your thinking about that please? http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/5_Hochschartner_J_2011_INTERVIEW_JOSH_HARPER_Vol_IX_Issue_3_pp_83-96.pdf

 

Josh Harper:

Hi Tim. It's this damn obsession with history that changed my mind. I became really fascinated at one point with the Hunt Saboteurs in England, and with even earlier militants in the League Against Cruel Sports and the British Union Against Vivisection. Against the tide of history and human brutality towards non-humans, here were a number of groups of people willing to risk their safety and well being for a fox, or a dog, or a rat.

 

How did they develop the awareness to make that decision? They were not vegans, and given the attitudes of their era it is unlikely that many of them would have considered a rights based analysis, but they were disgusted by one area of animal abuse, and saw fit to attack it. That amazes me still. Welfare does not go far enough, not nearly.

 

But back to "organizing from where we are at," most of the world still is not ready to give animals rights. They benefit too greatly from the privilege that our species maintains at the expense of all other life. It is our job to change that. But in the meantime, I think welfare groups make inroads where rights groups can not, and furthermore I think that the same evolution that led radical welfarists to a rights based approach in the 60s and 70s is still occurring.

 

People who feel moved by the cruelty of gestation crates may never stop eating pigs, but some of them will, and some of them will provide numbers for our fight further down the line. I like that a fairly conservative ideology might be used for the benefit of a more radical one, and I really do think that HSUS and other similar groups can provide those of us with a better analysis ample opportunity for recruitment if we are smart. I think that the industry knows this, and are already scared of that happening. I think that covers it.

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you. I agree with you.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Josh! The first question for the open session will be asked by Barbara DeGrande, thanks, Barb.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Hi Josh. How do you maintain your sense of humor with everything you have been through?

 

Josh Harper:

Well, I don't always succeed in maintaining my humor, in fact, it may surprise you to learn that at times I am a seething ball of old man anger and frustration! But I don't want to be consumed by that side of me.

 

As activists we really do have to stare some harsh truths in the eye with a frequency that could drive a person mad. To maintain my own sanity I really do try to just relax and find joy where and when I can. Laughter keeps away the tears, I suppose!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you Josh!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

And pop music too? :-)

 

Josh Harper:

In moderation, Carolyn.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

:-)

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Next up is Loredana witih another open question.  Loredana, please go ahead!

 

Loredana Loy:

Thanks Carolyn...Hi Josh! I'm curious about the reasons why you think that the Spanish model would not work anywhere else (I'm assuming you're talking about Igualdad Animal). Also, why do you think they are so successful (indeed) there?

Josh Harper:

I didn't say that it wouldn't work anywhere else, I said that it won't work everywhere else. I think that their success is rooted in creativity and openness, and certain honesty and sincerity that their actions evokes in the public.

 

I also think that the collective houses in Spain are brilliant, and should at least be given a trial run elsewhere in the world. SHAC had shared houses in a few different countries, they allowed people to work around the clock, and also helped the sense of cameraderie and shared struggle.

 

Loredana Loy:

Thank you! Follow up please - just clarify what the collective houses are?

 

Josh Harper:

Sure, my understanding based on conversations with others is that many groups in Spain have houses where organizers all live together. A few people will work to support the financial side of things. They pay the rent and bills, buy groceries, etc. The others living there work full time on campaigning. And for the sake of fairness, I understand that this happens in a rotation. I hope I have represented this correctly!

 

Loredana Loy:

Thanks so much! :-)

 

Josh Harper:

You are very welcome.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Josh! Your responses have been incredibly helpful and educational! Ashleigh asked a question earlier but is away at the moment, so I'll repeat that for her now. "What advice do you have for activists who have to balance other responsibilities (school, work,or both)?"

 

Josh Harper:

I have to balance those things too, and it is difficult. I'd like if everyone could take a moment to think about the scale of animal abuse worldwide. The sheer volume of animals killed is tremendous. It certainly demands more effort than what many of us, myself included, give.

 

So, perhaps one way of balancing work, school, etc is to incorporate our resistance into these other parts of our lives. Get a job at a company you despise in order to filter information out to activist groups, study something that will increase your ability to resist the animal holocaust, or use the money you earn to support others that can use more of their time helping non-humans.

 

And then there is this hard bit of advice - At times our commitment to the movement may mean that we have to endure some hardships for the sake of saving others. I lived on rooftops in Berkely while working full time during the period that I was working on the coalition to save the langur Monkeys campaign. I showered at the YMCA everyday, bussed to work, microwaved my meals at a convenience store, and dedicated my funds and time to the campaign. Sorry, I know that this answer leaves a lot to be desired! But it's all that I have!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Josh. For the last question for today, Tim Gier would like to address you again. Thanks, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:
Thanks Carolyn, and thanks again Josh. I've enjoyed the chat.

 

In that same Vegan Police interview you talked about earlier, you say that the SHAC 7 case hasn’t resulted in much, if anything positive. Do you think now that it would have been better to do things differently? Do you regret your involvement?

 

Josh Harper:

Hi Tim, my thoughts on the case are complex. I should clarify that I am proud of most of my participation, and there is little that I would change about our activism. But I wasn't talking about the campaign when I answered that question, I was talking about the prosecution of me and my friends.

 

Much of the movement gave a rah-rah cheerleading answer to what happened to us. We heard that for each of us in prison 5 more would take our place, etc. We heard that the movement could not be jailed! But it is dishonest to say that our imprisonment didn't have an impact on the movement, and it certainly had an impact on me.

 

So, no, I don't believe that our case accomplished much. It didn't further entrench our side in the fight against HLS. It didn't serve as a catalyst for more actions, at least not on a meaningful scale. But our actions, the campaign that led to our charges - fraught with errors as it was, is one of the most beautiful things I have ever participated in.

 

Raining hell down on animal abusers for a living is the greatest feeling in the world, and the people I met in the trenches were amongst the most selfless I have ever known. I have few regrets about our actions, but I despise our trial and those who were responsible for our indictment. I hope that makes sense!

 

Tim Gier:

It does, Josh. It sounds as though whatever regrets you may have are about the lack of a response from the movement to see what you did as part of something like the Stonewall moment of gay liberation??

 

Josh Harper:

My hope was that the campaign would continue with the same vigor, and although many excellent people are still fighting with all of their might, it would be dishonest to say that we didn't lose valuable numbers and experience when the 6 of us went to prison.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Josh, I'd like to sincerely thank you for your time and much appreciated contribution to ARZone today. I've learned a load from you, and I really appreciate it!

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks so much for your insightful responses today Josh. This has been amazing!

 

Josh Harper:

Thank you, Carolyn!

 

Matt Bowen:

Thanks for being here dude! You ROCK Josh!

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you for your time tonight Josh.

 

Josh Harper:

Thank you too, Brooke.

 

Tim Gier:

Yes, thanks very much Josh.

 

Peter Keller:

Insightful as always Josh. Excellent job!

 

Josh Harper:

You are all very kind. Time for me to run for the bus though!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

It's been our pleasure, really! :-)

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks for your time Josh. Very interesting chat!!

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Josh

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Josh! See ya!

 

Jesse Newman:

Bye Josh, Thank you!

 

Sky:

Bye

 

Lynne Yates:

Thank you Josh!  Take care!

 

Josh Harper:

Good bye everyone!

 

Tim Gier:

Another great ARZone chat! Thanks everyone! Goodnight!

 

 

ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after “chats” by starting a forum discussion or making a point under a transcript.

 

 

Views: 475

Tags: Conflict-Gypsy, HLS, Interview, Josh-Harper, SHAC7, Transcript, Vegan-Police, animal, liberation, rights, More…welfare

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Animal Rights Zone to add comments!

Join Animal Rights Zone

Comment by red dog on December 18, 2011 at 18:46

Sorry I couldn't be there for the chat, but the transcript is very informative. Thanks to Josh and to everyone who helped make this valuable information available.

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

ARZone Podcasts!

Please visit this webpage to subscribe to ARZone podcasts using iTunes

or

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow ARZone!

Please follow ARZone on:

Twitter

Google+

Pinterest

Blog Posts

Occam's Razor and Veganism

Posted by Ben Malone on March 14, 2014 at 12:30 0 Comments

A place for animal advocates to gather and discuss issues, exchange ideas, and share information.

Creative Commons License
Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) by ARZone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.arzone.ning.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.arzone.ning.com.

Members

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) Disclaimer

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) is an animal rights site. As such, it is the position of ARZone that it is only by ending completely the use of other animal as things can we fulfill our moral obligations to them.

Please read the full site disclosure here.

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) Mission Statement

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) exists to help educate vegans and non-vegans alike about the obligations human beings have toward all other animals.

Please read the full mission statement here.

Badge

Loading…

© 2014   Created by Animal Rights Zone.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Google+