Out with the old, in with the new…

The turning of one year into another usually leads to the casting of one’s mind back over the previous 12 months and to looking forward as well. Eight months ago, on 1 May, this blog went online with the aim of spreading anarchist ideas within the animal rights movement and animal rights with the anarchist movement.

In my first post I said “animal rights needs libertarian ideas more than ever before” due to increasing state and corporate repression, the threat of far right infiltration and efforts to push the grassroots movement in a statist electoral direction.” This is as true now as it was then.

There has been no let up in the state crackdown and as a result SHAC announced it was disbanding due to “an onslaught of government repression” in August. This was confirmed when the SOCPA 7 appeared in court in October, charged with conspiracy to commit sections 145 and 146 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. This law targets anti-vivisection campaigns such as SHAC.

Fortunately no-one was sent to prison due to a plea bargain, however the judge made it clear he thought the protests were unlawful due to  SHAC’s campaign of “intimidation and harassment”. In other words the protesters weren’t guilty because of their own actions – which were mild to say the least – but instead for what had happened over the last 15 years!

Repression has also led to low morale and a decrease in the number of activists and this in turn has caused a crisis in the movement’s very identity and the rise of a faction which believes so-called “human issues” do not matter. This means racists and fascists should not be excluded from groups as long as they say they care about animals.

In my first post I said “As elections loom nearer, politicians start crawling out of the woodwork to make promises on which they won’t deliver.” A couple of months ago Animal Aid’s magazine Outrage was already talking about the election and the nearer we get to 7th May, the more discussions on social media are dominated by which party has the best policies or has promised to do this and that for animals.

The radical wing of the animal rights movement has taken a battering from the state in the last 10 years. Many activists have been sent to prison, others have given up and left or just do their own thing helping animals as best they can. Others though are saying the answer lies in the political system itself, that it can be reformed, that politicians should be trusted.

I see no evidence to support this claim. The state, governments, political parties, politicians have not changed. In fact if anything the situation is now worse as under the guise of austerity they have unleashed an unprecedented onslaught on the living standards of ordinary people. In the current parliament government spending has been slashed by £35bn and the plan is to chop another £55bn by 2019.

There is little doubt the plight of animals will be very low down the list of concerns of the major parties – including the Greens – when they contest the election. The major issues will be the economy, immigration, the NHS, etc. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that a vast number of people will not vote at all as they rightly believe that the political system is inherently unfair, corrupt and does not represent them.

Real politics, that is grassroots resistance and alternatives to capitalism and the state, will continue of course. As the effects of austerity worsen, people will fight back. The fastest growing social movement in the UK is the anti-fracking campaign which currently has around 170 groups based in local communities and several more forming each week.

In terms of animal rights, the badger cull campaign will continue to dominate the agenda. This year hundreds of people will again sabotage the cull if it goes ahead.  All neutral observers are convinced they have failed and the government has lost the propaganda war. It only says it will carry on in order not to lose face.

This proves that when people organise themselves and take direct action they can still be effective. During 2015 this blog will continue to report and comment on the fightback against tyranny and exploitation and show how if we can take control of our lives, we can build a world based on equality, justice and compassion.