Demythologizing Barry Horne

Barry Horne died in prison on 5 November 2001, while serving an 18 year sentence for arson  against companies involved in animal abuse. It is still the longest sentence ever given to an animal rights campaigner but Barry will always be remembered for his three hunger strikes.

The first thing to say about Barry – and this is often overlooked – is that we was an ordinary working class bloke. Animal rights tends to be the domain of the middle classes yet he was a dustman and road sweeper who, so the story goes, went to an animal rights meeting in Northampton which changed his life for good.

Barry had been involved in left wing politics – one famous photo of him was taken at an anti-fascist protest – but henceforth he focused on animal liberation. In 1988 he and three others were convicted of “stealing” a bottlenose dolphin named Rocky from Marineland in Morecombe, Lancashire. Barry was fined £500 and given a six month suspended sentence.

He and others then set up a campaign to free Rocky and after attendances plummeted at Marineland, Rocky was released to spend the rest of his life in freedom. There are now no captive dolphins in the UK.

In 1991 Barry started producing the Support Animal Rights Prisoners (SARP) bulletins. As well as prisoner lists they became a vehicle for tactical views. He condemned older activists for their “petty jealousies and divisions… who have forgotten what the movement was all about”, in contrast to “newer recruits” who “understand only too well that it should be about the animals alone”.

Even after he received three years for possessing incendiary devices, Barry still managed to edit SARP from prison (imagine that today!). His belief was that the movement had lost the radical edge it had in the eighties and in the final edition of the newsletter in June 1993 he said:

“The animals continue to die and the torture goes on in greater and greater measure. People’s answer to this? More vegeburgers, more Special Brew, and more apathy. There is no longer any animal liberation movement. That died long ago. All that is left is a very few activists who care, who understand and who act. For some of us animal liberation IS a war that we intend to win… the tears are real, our hearts really do break and we ARE prepared to die for it, not just chant for it.”

After his release in 1994 Barry decided to do all he could to put his views into action. He began working as a one-man ALF cell and over the course of the next two years there were arson attacks against Boots the chemist, cancer charities which funded animal testing and shops that sold fur and leather. Eventually Barry was arrested in Bristol in June 1996.

In January 1997 while on remand he began his first hunger strike to demand the government stop funding vivisection within five years. There was an upsurge in activism including major demos at Harlan, Consort and Hillgrove lab animal breeders where large amounts of damage were caused and animals liberated.

Barry started eating again after 35 days due to receiving encouraging messages from the soon-to be Labour government, such as animal welfare spokesperson Elliot Morley, who wrote: “Labour is committed to a reduction and an eventual end to vivisection.”

Labour had published a glossy pamphlet called “New Labour New Life for Animals”, which promised much, but Barry began his second hunger strike on 12 August with the aim of ensuring the new Labour government withdrew all animal testing licences within an agreed timeframe. Another massive upsurge in activism ensued, with major demos against Hillgrove and Shamrock Farms and Wickham Laboratories, as well as pickets of Labour’s HQ and Jack Straw’s home. A protest camp was also set up outside the infamous Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratory.

The pressure became so intense that the government was forced into action. The Home Office Minister, Lord Williams of Mostyn, contacted Barry’s supporters with an offer of dialogue. On 26 September, he called off his hunger strike after 46 days.

In November 1997 Barry stood trial for attempted arson in Bristol, but denied involvement in earlier attacks on the Isle of Wight which caused £3m damage. Although there was no direct evidence to link him to those attacks he was convicted on all charges and sentenced to 18 years.

The third hunger strike began on 6 October 1998. Another wave of demonstrations and direct action occurred in the UK and abroad and as Barry’s health worsened the world’s media took notice. After 44 days there was another meeting with the Home Office but Barry chose to carry on with the simplified demand of a royal commission on vivisection.

On 24 November, a banner was dropped to support Barry in front of the Queen’s limousine as it drove towards the opening of Parliament. Two activists parked their car at the end of Downing St, slashed the tyres and used D-Locks to fasten their necks to the steering wheel. It took police an hour to remove them.

The same day Barry worsened and was transferred to hospital. Over the next three weeks – with media coverage at fever pitch – there were various overtures from the Home Office and politicians but Barry was increasingly unable to comprehend their proposals.

Though he was close to dying, on 9 December the authorities decided to move Barry back to prison. According to his support website, “It was at best a cynical and callous act perpetrated by a cowardly government terrified of the consequences of an Animal Liberation prisoner dying in custody.”

He was no longer able to focus, would sometimes forget he was on hunger strike, and was incapable of making decisions about the proposals on offer. Finally on day 68 he agreed to resume eating and was rushed back to hospital.

Barry never fully recovered from the third hunger strike and he went on countless more in prison “without any cohesive strategy and with little support”. His final fast began on 21 October 2001 and he died 15 days later of liver failure, after signing a directive refusing medical treatment

Although there had been some sympathetic media coverage of the hunger strikes, the reports on his death were uniformly hostile with The Guardian describing him as “the first true martyr of the most successful terrorist group Britain has ever known, the animal rights movement”.

Barry died as animal rights activism was on the rise and many in the movement did regard him as a hero and a martyr. In 2001 HLS came within a whisker of closure and by then several lab animal breeders had met their demise. In the course of the next three years there were further victories and it appeared the militancy he espoused would triumph.

However we now know different. The sort of dedicated, unswerving belief in animal liberation that Barry epitomised seems to belong to a different age to the pacified and subdued movement that currently exists in the UK.

What would he thought of the state of affairs that exists today? This is the man who argued the movement had lost its way in the nineties and yet what passes for activism now is – with odd exceptions such as the badger cull campaign – a pale shadow of the past.

Perhaps it’s time Barry was taken off his pedestal and made to bear some responsibility for what has gone on. His brand of do or die activism set the movement on a collision course with the state and capitalism. It could be argued that this would have happened anyway but in hindsight it was a battle that those in animal rights were singularly ill equipped to win.

Barry believed the way forward was through ever greater militancy by the “very few activists who care, who understand and who act” and he tried to use himself as an example to haul everyone else over the line with him.

But in the end what he didn’t understand – or refused to acknowledge – was that the animal rights movement alone could not achieve the end of vivisection. That will only arise when the vast majority of people – the working class – determinedly build a society based on production for need, not profit.

Anarchism provides an ideological framework by which this can happen. It is not a blueprint – revolutions aren’t planned and concocted, they happen with a will of their own – but at its core of working class self organisation without hierarchies, it does give an understanding of how to change the world.

Animal rights or liberation, by contrast, is not a political ideology. Activism by itself is not a substitute for class struggle and overthrowing capitalism. Barry and many others thought it was and that the animal rights movement would be able to liberate all laboratory animals, either through direct action or by pressuring a Labour government into action.

Behind the myth of the indefatigable activist and martyr there was a strong willed, determined man who deserves to be remembered for bravely fighting for animals. Yet Barry Horne was a fallible human being too.


  1. “I’ve never denied or hidden apologising to McDonald’s in 1991 after they sued me for libel. I followed legal advice that was wrong.”

    Paul, don’t you think there is a big contradiction between the action above and your critical approach towards everything? You encountered the system and you “followed a legal advice”. As far as I know, anarchists don’t follow legal advices.

  2. Paul

    My problem is that the way you have tried to make an example out of Barry is confused. You give a praise-worthy biography of him, and then use him as a tool to mediate your wider criticism through. That’s what its about – hijacking the anniversary of his death to reiterated your often voiced, yet rarely attentive, political ideology.

    And I think that’s wrong. I think its wrong to use the anniversary of the man’s death to make cheap political points that really bare little relationship to him. You haven’t explained or demonstrated how Barry is mythologised. A few people on Facebook sharing his picture? A few odd chickens liberated in mainland Europe? A march you went on three or four years ago? Barry is remembered – and rightly so, and at the time of his anniversary, to try and detract from that for your own political agenda is low. “Barry Horne was a fallible human being too.” – show my one example which contests this?

    Barry, AT CERTAIN TIMES held viewpoints that are ten a penny within the movement; depression at the sheer scale of atrocities non-humans face, frustration at the lack of activity and change, hostility to conventional politics – be them the electoral system or the dull clichés of working-class revolution, revulsion at people who sit on the sidelines and criticise – I don’t understand why you’re making an example out of him for this, holding him up as some notable political strategist off the back of a quote from a newsletter, when you could trace the ‘all or nothing’ philosophy (which I dispute really exists – there’s no cult of militancy in the movement – its more a belief of careerists, welfarists and detractors) back to the mid-1980s and all those nonsense threats of shooting vivisectors. It was his attempt at making sense of the overwhelming and incomprehensible problems the animals suffer – a much more common and popular reaction within the movement than your universalising revolutionary fantasies. Never forget, he was a man part of and supported by the larger multifaceted animal liberation movement. He wasn’t an anti-vivisectionist per-se, but an animal liberationist.

    Consider it a personal attack on yourself if you want, but as explained in my last post, what lies behind your article is a question of personalities, an in-particular your ego. And hey, if its any consolation, at least you’re in a position to defend yourself. My point was a question of praxis – about how politics and ideologies are materialised in the real world, outside of writing in the blogosphere. That’s perhaps the crux of all this – a sound, logical but undemonstrated and therefore unproven political ideology might be most valuable to you but I’ll always judge people by there ability to actually put what they believe into practice, and realise or at least attempt to realise their dreams. Walking the walk is just as important as talking the talk. You might be waiting, but for me, “real fundamental change” and “times of social upheaval” are there for the making.

    Now I’m not interested in having a debate with you about politics or strategy really – its what your article should have been about in the first place, instead of trying to undermined the actions, commitment and sacrifice of Barry. “Everyone who knew him says he really cared about animals” – what a condescending thing to say – of course he cared, he gave his life up for the animals, he risked arrest and rescued animal after animal from confinement, on hearing a friend’s dog had died he rung them from prison to offer his condolences and he raised the spirit and profile of the movement – and agree or not with his tactics, or the strategy behind them – he was and still is an inspiration.

    I’m not interested in having a debate with you about politics or strategy because as explained last post, I don’t think you’ve got anything of substance to contribute, and the value of your opinion has drastically diminished because of the cheap, petty manner in which you express it. This is not to say that politics, ideology or strategy are not there – but to be honest, you’ve never been privy to such discussions because you’ve never demonstrated that you have anything to offer. Of course it suites your agenda to portray the movement as some thoughtless, reactionary and undisciplined beast against which you can portray yourself as one of the few critical thinkers whose above it all but if you were as much as a political strategist as you profess to be you’d engage with the on-going debates on such issues, instead of trying to hijack situations for your own agenda.

    This has never been about politics and strategy, otherwise you wouldn’t contradict yourself by bringing in examples like the NALL. How long did they last? How many people ended up in gaol off the back of their strategy? But its not such fine details that matter – its that they were good comrades who understood the party line. The problem with solely basing your ideas on a political ideology is that it becomes a trap, a mantra, a self-fulfilling prophecy that blinds you to developing events and dynamics, and stops you from utilising such things.

    “Anarchism provides an ideological framework by which this can happen… it does give an understanding of how to change the world.” … but “Anarchism doesn’t offer easy solutions or blueprints for an ideal society”… but “The most effective way to fight back is to build a mass movement of the working class.” – As I said, its an intellectual game and the contradictions are inherent as they are obvious. “If we aren’t healthy then we can’t be useful activists” – another bit of dogma and example of how alienating such politics are to those actually dealing with existing social hierarchies. I don’t want nothing to do with your social revolution that marginalises the contributions of the ill-healthed and disabled.

    As for the gathering – when I said the “last national gathering” – I meant the one this year, not two years ago. As you well know, I was there for that one, and I did a talk for it, you came to it and asked a question. Not that I’m much of a fan of public speaking and meetings in general (though AR are usually the better of the ones I’ve attended.) – we’re all different and I’ve found such things appeal to certain types of people, but hey, each to their own – I won’t criticise people for trying! But thanks for the suggestion about organising workshops/gatherings – not like I haven’t been involved with organising countless numbers of ones before, both here in the UK and abroad (then again, I’ve mostly done the work so befitting to a person of my class, so its no surprise its gone unnoticed by such a champion of the power of the proletariat as yourself) – but, in the true spirit of anarchist self-responsibility, I won’t be asking others to do things for me, I’ll be doing it myself.

    • For somebody who says “getting out there and getting it done” is what matters you sure spend a long time on the keyboard, don’t you Lewis? This is your second long reply and it’s mainly a rehash of the first with another dollop of personal bile thrown in. If you think I don’t have “anything of substance to contribute” why are you spending so much time on my blog?!
      I’m not wasting time going over old ground because I gave my views in my last post. I put forward my beliefs on how the movement can progress. They may be wrong but they are sincerely held and based on experience. You rubbished them but provided no coherent alternative except to talk about “action” and “getting out there”. The trouble is there’s precious little of that going on, especially to do with vivisection, and you haven’t expressed any ideas on how to rectify it.
      I’m not going to try having a civil and rational debate with you because all you want to do is trade cheap insults. This will be my last post regardless of whether you reply but I finish by making two points in response to what you said.
      First the gathering I was referring to was this year’s one, not the one you were at two year’s ago. This years did have the workshops I mentioned and was very good.
      Second, ill-health and useful activism. People with ill health can be good activists that’s true, and sometimes it can inspire activism. But there comes a point when it also becomes an impediment and if it’s due to someone not understanding vegan nutrition then that’s obviously a very bad thing for the person and the movement.
      Finally, I don’t believe the whole of AR is a “thoughtless, reactionary and undisciplined beast” as you say (funny use of the noun “beast” there, a little bit of speciesist language creeping in?)There are certain sections of it which at times make me wonder though, such as those who are welcoming of the far right.
      Also when people say “Work hard and keep working hard and you’ll get there in the end” as an answer to the crisis, it doesn’t sound very convincing.
      But as ever, time will tell. Hopefully the slump AR is in will be turned round. Id like nothing more than to see a vibrant and strong movement again in the UK. That’s all I have to say.

  3. Paul,

    Your article doesn’t argue a point. You give us an up-beat bio of Barry, collated from easily accessible sources which adds nothing new. Despite getting nicked trying to rescue a dolphin, the animal got released, Barry continued to carry out many actions, and there were very promising noises from the polity at the time. There was “[a]nother massive upsurge in activism” against vivisection, and by the time Barry passes away the movement is on a high with the break-throughs it was making with Huntingdon.

    There’s certainly no mythologising of Barry, I would say he is very under-remembered, and the movement could make more out of the anniversary of his death, and the way he is remembered is as human, with his own frailties and fallibilities. Its not a contentious point to critique the logic of his hunger strike.

    This point of a decline in the movement, a theme you’ve repeatedly explored trying to argue a cause or reason, if it does exist (and lets not mention a grass-roots direct action group having their own television show, or a high-street company steadily channelling tens of thousands of pounds into grass-roots direct action groups) is arguably from a letter period, 2004 onwards, so simply, I don’t get why you’re bringing Barry into all of this? Those unreferenced halcyon days that you hark back to (when were they precisely? The 1980s? The 1990s?) were built by people like Barry himself. I wasn’t around then, but I know the history of campaigns like those against Boots being founded after his liberations, and I can only imagine the excitement when the news broke that 82 dogs were liberated from Interfauna. In fact, when I talk to people of an older generation than myself here in the progressive city of Brighton (people I would describe as sympathisers; they eat meat or dairy, they wear leather, but they see animal lib as a positive thing) about my background a common response is to remember the image of the laboratory raider in the balaclava.

    You could explore other reasons for this so called ‘decline’. One could be psychoanalysis – that the dearth in militant direct action has created a pessimistic and defeatist attitude within the movement, as traditionally militant direct action has been a way to empower ourselves in the face of the overwhelming and unimaginable problems that the animals in the world face. Another could be – from the mid 2000’s onwards – the increasing interest within the movement of the politics of the anarcho-ghetto, the so called ‘total liberation’ philosophy, as activists reach out and try to build links with a political ideology that has never really been much more than a hobby in this country, and has pretty much existed only in meetings and literature that appeal to an educated elite (outside of a few notably examples). The last national gathering was a wash-out I heard. I looked at the time-table for it, and thought “BORING!” Discussions about safer-space policies, talks finding the interconnection of hierarchical oppression or whatever. Where was the talks about how to liberate animals? How to run successful campaigns? How to develop skills? Now don’t get me wrong, in the spirit of the Chartists I know that education is deeply important, but there’s a point of taking it too far, when you’ve lost sight and sense about what you’re about and the path you’re taking. People too busy organising their thoughts to organise anything else.

    Perhaps its the very direction you’re trying to influence the movement in that is the source of this so-called ‘decline’? As your particular politics, more precisely the ways you go about expressing them, are so alienating to so many in this country. Politics that have so fetishised the working class that it makes those actually dealing with the day in day out reality of economic exploitation and alienation feel used and dirty, as if they’ve been groomed by a sex-case.

    But, this so-called ‘decline’ also has its benefits for some. For a start, its given you a space to profer your views. And that’s what this is all about – squabbling over ‘leader beans’, clashes of personalities with others, and petty jealously – the same problems that have characterise left-wing politics throughout history. Its about establishing yourself as an authority, not actually doing anything that helps changed the lived experiences of animals in the here and now, or instigating a fundamental challenge to the paradigm that causes so much misery and exploitation to such creatures.

    Thats why there’s no substance is your argument, this appeal to working class, mass movement revolutionary anarchist other-throw of capitalism. The problem with your solution is that it is never enacted or even imagine how it can be – its vague, fantasised, idealised and made up of generalised, homogeneous examples. And that’s the con of it all – it offers us all the answers to the multitude of problems we and society face, without actually solving a single one – and as nothing changes the solution remains the same. Its an intellectual game that has no part in a movement for action.

    The Animal Liberation movement has always been one built on action – those that get out there and get on with it are the ones that lead the movement, make things happen, gain influence and effect change. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes mistakes are made, and sometimes it goes wrong, but hey, that’s the nature of grass-roots popular politics in all its chaotic beauty. Those that set the path of the movement are those that lead from the front.

    When evil itself, capitalism personified; McDonald’s; with its devastation of the environment, industrialised murder of animals, abuse of workers rights, degradation of the human experience – in short, the totalising commodification of all life – knocked on your door – did you choose to stand by your politics and make history like Helen Steel and Dave Morris or did you capitulate and apologise to the very same people you now criticise Martin Balluch for encouraging veganism to? Contrast that to Barry Horne, man who was considered a bit of a grumpy sod, who was a terrible cook, who used to put bricks through butcher shop windows whilst pissed on the way home from the pub, a man who might not have had all the answer; but who went out there TIME AND TIME AGAIN and LIBERATED COUNTLESS NUMBERS OF IMPRISONED ANIMALS, who disrupted the killing of wildlife on the hunting field, who erased off the map infrastructure used to exploit animals, and when the state came for him and tried to make an example out of him, HE TURNED IT ON ITS HEAD AND HELD THEM TO ACCOUNT, making the ultimate sacrifice, and proving the value of their word and their level of respect for life, be it human or non-human.

    When barely the sun has set on the anniversary of his death, you have the audacity to say that Barry is the cause of problems with the movement, and that we shouldn’t remember him. I suggest if you’re genuinely concerned with addressing such problems you start looking a lot closer to home.

    • Lewis, your statement is both a discussion on tactics and a personal attack on me (something which you falsely accuse me of doing to Barry and say is wrong).

      This blog isn’t about personalities so I won’t delve into the personal attacks except to say I’ve never denied or hidden apologising to McDonald’s in 1991 after they sued me for libel. I followed legal advice that was wrong. I did support Dave and Helen afterwards though through the McLibel Support Campaign and as a defence witness in court.

      As for the tactics and Barry. First I never criticised him for doing what he did at the time, I never said he was the cause of all the movement’s problems and I never said we shouldn’t remember him. I always remember the day he died and three years ago I went on the march to HLS to commemorate the 10th anniversary.

      Second, as to “halcyon days”, I never said that either. I’m not a believer in the good old days or the bad old days either. It was Barry himself who said the movement had lost its cutting edge in the nineties and the article has a quote from him to that effect.

      I do say he shares some responsibility (but not blame) for what’s happened since he died. Why? Because his view was the AR movement should embark on all out war and confrontation with the state and corporations that abused animals. He thought AR activists could by and large achieve this on their own. He did not think that the movement should reach out and find common cause with other liberation struggles as this would dilute it. For example a well known activist once told me Barry criticised him for mentioning roads protests in the SG newsletter he edited because it was nothing to do with the animals.

      What happened in the nineties was certain influential figures began turning activism into an ideology. Prior to that most radical AR groups had an anarchist or socialist viewpoint (if you’ve seen The Animals Film you may recall the very last scene is a masked member of NALL saying he understands socialist groups who say animal rights can’t be achieved under capitalism).

      The fetishization of activism in the nineties was to some degree at the expense of political ideology. of course if people want to go out and rescue animals and cause economic sabotage that’s fine by me. But the animals and infrastructure are usually replaced and the animal abuse industries go on. The period when the anti-vivisection movement was at its most militant was also one when animals used in experiments began rising yearly (with one exception). This has continued.

      It’s all very well saying the movement is built on action and “getting out there and getting on with it” but unless there’s a political ideology to explain why things happen and the best way forward, we have people doing stuff over and over again because they’re dealing with symptoms, not causes.

      What often happens then is tiredness sets in and burnout. People are disillusioned because all the effort they’ve made has not made much tangible difference. There has always been a high turnover in AR. I once heard that on average people stay 4-5 years.

      Nowadays (or say the last 10 years) the movement has definitely shrunk and one reason might be there has been a lack of new activists to replenish the old ones. There is definitely a feeling of inertia now, especially in the anti-vivisection wing which used to be the spearhead of the movement.

      So the reason I bring Barry into it, as you say, is not to condemn what he did. At the time it made sense and I didn’t criticise him for doing it. I had misgivings about his hunger strikes but only because I didn’t want him to die. I did realise it was up to him though and I could understand how he didn’t want to spend 18 years behind bars. So if I said what he did then was wrong I’d be a hypocrite but I do think it’s legitimate to analyse the strategy he used and how the sort of militant anti-vivisectionism it led to is no longer with us in the UK.

      It’s getting late and I’m tired but two quick points. First your rant on anarchism which you say “offers us all the answers to the multitude of problems we and society face, without actually solving a single one.” Anarchism doesn’t offer easy solutions or blueprints for an ideal society – that’s socialism. A few utopian dreamers have dreamt up ideal futures but most anarchists believe the form of the future, liberated world emerges through the struggle for it.

      Anarchism emphasizes the importance of non-hierarchical organisation to build a society based on equality and freedom. A tiny number of people – the ruling class have all the power, money and control. The most effective way to fight back is to build a mass movement of the working class. Real fundamental change will occur only when the vast majority want it. I know that doesn’t look likely right now but the future is unwritten…

      In the meantime anarchists work in all sorts of groups and ways. Some do local community politics, others do trades union stuff, still more get involved in groups like Boycott Workfare, UK Uncut and Occupy. I’ve done all sorts of stuff, mainly AR, as an anarchist for over 30 years.

      In my view the importance of AR and veganism is to keep the flame burning so that if ever a revolutionary situation develops, then those ideas can be added to the mix. Times of social upheaval always give rise to a ferment of new and radical ideas and anti-speciesism should be part of that.

      But even if the revolution’s a long time coming, being involved at a grassroots level – I’m a great believer in local groups – is a good way of getting the AR/veganism message and small gains and victories are vital too. Seeing loads of people come to a vegan event like the one I helped organise last week is great for morale.

      You say the reason for the decline in AR may have been due to “the politics of the anarchist ghetto” or Total Liberation as some call it. This isn’t true because those ideas only emerged after the wave of oppression had set in and led to low morale. This was also tied up the rise of social media like Facebook which really kicked in around 2010/11.

      I don’t like the term Total Liberation but it’s a response to views that animals should come before people and for example fascists should be welcomed in if they say they believe in AR.

      As for the 2012 gathering, I’ve looked at the workshops and there were ones on the badger cull, vivisection, vegan campaigning and even using the political system to end animal abuse. So real bread and butter stuff. True there were others on fracking and land struggles but I went to them and it was clear they are animal rights issues as well. There was also a legal talk and even a very informative workshop on vegan nutrition by Stephen Walsh (if we aren’t healthy then we can’t be useful activists).

      So I thought it was a good gathering with a wide range of informative workshops. There was a clear sense of purpose about it and I think your problem appears to be it didn’t have enough of the “get out there and get at them” about it.

      If there’s a gathering next year perhaps you should ask the organisers if you can do a workshop about it?!

  4. Zek pretty much summed up what I have to say on this subject. Barry did what he believed in – whether or not he chose a different path was up to him. I’d rather die fighting for change, then to sit on my sofa wondering if I should go down path a or b or c and contemplating my navel. There are many roads to changes – what crap to say there is only one and that one is the right one…things don’t change like that.

  5. Who is? Do you think the Guardian would approve of this article? Barry put himself forward as a figurehead with a strategy others should follow and therefore it’s justifiable to analyse that strategy.
    His character isn’t in question; everyone who knew him says he really cared about animals. But we are entitled to ask whether what he proposed was achievable. Would the state and the ruling class have given the animal rights movement what it asked for? if not, how could we have won our demands?
    Barry’s hunger strikes were designed to bring about the end of vivisection or at least a reduction in the number of animals used and I’m sure he (or anyone else around then) wouldn’t have believed how terrible the situation is for laboratory animals right now.
    In trying to understand how we reached this state, it’s perfectly legitimate to look at the role he played, whilst at the same time recognising his strength of character and dedication.
    As for of anarchism being idiolised (do you mean idealised, idolized or both?), there are examples of working class anarchist movements in many countries, although it’s true that anarchism has appealed to others too.
    I certainly don’t idolize the working class but neither do I believe that animal liberation is possible within capitalism or that the animal rights movement can bring it about on its own.

  6. Its a bad historian who limits their sources to one or two choice quotes made under uncomfortable circumstances, persuambly ones they’ve never experienced, to judge a man’s life, character and work.

    The problem with the article though, is that its demostrates the achivements of militancy – the strong campaigns against the animal breeders, and the government pledges and promises – (made by, I must note, a party set up to represent the interests of the working class.) yet gives a rather subtanceless answer to a vague and unclear criticism.

    Whats the solution to the problem? Some idiolised anarchist revolution perpetuated by some imagined working class. Perhaps you could tell us why, outside of the example of catalonia an epoch ago and indigenious peasant communities of latin america, anarchism has never really appealled to the working class? Much less so than animal rights.

    You said it yourself, Barry was a working class man, from a background in left-wing politics, and he believed in militant direct action for the animals. That’s good enough for me, but then i’m not looking for praise from the fucking Guardian.

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