Report: Animal Rights Conference – Part 3

Welcome to the third part of my report on the Animal Rights Conference 2008, that took part in Washington DC (well Virginia actually, but within the DC Metro system) on 15th-18th August 2008. Check back to read Part 1 and 2.

I was still working my way through the first day of the conference when I left you in Part 2. I had been “discovered” as “the kid from Pro-Test in the UK“, having seen talks from Camille Hankins and Matt Rossell among others. So I entered my next session:

Confronting Corporate Threats. The three speakers were Debra Erenberg (RAN – Rainforest Action Network), Harold Brown (Farm Kind) and Camille Hankins (WAR – Win Animal Rights). Erenberg talked about the problems of dealing with corporate PR in the logging industry. Harold Brown extended this PR-fear to a conspiratorial art form – “These PR companies have taken down governments in Central and South America. They’ve taken down governments folks“. “You don’t fight the corporations head to head, because their big and they’ve got people, they have corporate hitmen that work at government levels“. By the end of his talk he had quit talking about farming and animals, and moved onto a rant against free-market capitalism and globalization. The final speaker was Camille Hankins – if you want more information check out Part 1, where we have recordings of her supporting the actions of grave robbers and arsonists. Hankins spoke about her efforts against HLS, protesting against Andrew Baker, and working to attack their banking links. After making her own complaints against PR companies, Hankins decided to do a bit of PR work of her own by urging fellow activists to rebrand the “Pharmaceutical” industry/companies as the “Drug” industry/companies.

The most interesting part of this session came in the Q and A at the end, when an individual in the audience made the comment:
This whole system of private ownership is rotten to the core. That a few people owning and controlling all the wealth, and the means of making more wealth is totally upside down. … [We need] to link up with all the hundreds of thousands of other groups, and millions of people worldwide, who are fighting corporations and the whole corporate system and working towards a whole new world where all the people own and control everything and share the wealth
This brief foray into aspects of Neo-Marxism gets to the heart of the corporate-government conspiracy theory which becomes required to uphold many of their beliefs. In another talk someone suggested that pharmaceuticals were trying actively not to create cures to cancer because then they wouldn’t be able to sell their other treatments (if a scientist found the ultimate cure to cancer you can be sure he’d find someone to mass-produce it) – it is this kind of belief that requires a massive conspiracy against the activists, and this is perhaps why you find many activists poking their heads up on a multiple left-wing issues.

Saturday 16th August

I can probably sum up the three sessions (Running Campaigns, Engaging Businesses, and Activist Support) in a few words (repetetive and irritating?) by saying that the same conspiracy theories involving government and multi-million dollar corporations were repeated by various speakers (I was waiting for the words “military industrial complex”, but alas the conspiracies never quite stooped to that level). Hankins rambled about the dangers of the police – “Trust me, they are not your friends”, as well as the importance of having good security culture. Activists have become smart, they know that the police are watching them (although they seem surprised at this – some AR activists commit crimes, police fight crime, police watch suspected activists to see if they do crime… ) and thus are developing effective security to combat this – Hankins mentioned how she often wrote physical letters and encrypted her emails, Peter Young always warned people to talk of direct action from a hypotheitcal perspective (his fur farm raids and prison sentence were more of a reality).

I did not stay long enough on Saturday to see “R. Nixon” give a talk on “engaging politicians”, but was left wondering if political espionage would be mentioned. Check back to see the concluding part to my report on the Animal Rights Conference.

Leaflet of the Day – Kicking the Cops Out

I don’t even need to comment on this one, it speaks for itself. It also runs “nicely” alongside their government-police-corporate conspiracy theories. I picked this leaflet up from the ALPO (Animal Liberation North American Press Officeo) stall (manned by spokesman Jerry Vlasak) pictures below.

Kicking the Cops Out

There can be no illusions about the purpose of the police. They are just another instrument of the racist ruling class to keep the rest of society from threatening their power. They are NOT a neutral force and do not exist to protect us. The police are NOT for our benefits. They are tools of the state, essential in keeping power in the hands of white, male, corporate Amerika.

Cheers

Tom

p.s. Check back later this week for Part 4

2 responses to “Report: Animal Rights Conference – Part 3

  1. Interesting that there is this bundle of beliefs (anti-corporate, anti-globalization) that goes along with being anti-animal research. You’ll probably find the same people opposed to biotech in food as well. The next thing looming is for the same people to get steamed about nanotechnology. It’s a sort of utopian agrarian marxism.

    On the other hand, the people who oppose stem cell research, while they can be just as anti-science, tend to come from a very different ideological background growing out of the anti-abortion movement.

  2. Andy, I think you’re right to an extent but the picture is a little more complicated than that. If you look at some anti-science movements you’ll find quite a lot of folk who are from the right of the political spectrum as well as the far left that we tend to associate with anti-vivisection. The anti-vaccination movement is a prime example of this where there is significant involvement of groups such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (a kind of right-wing equivalent to the anti-vivisectionist PCRM).

    There is of course considerable overlap between the anti-vaccination movement and the anti-vivisection movement that goes back at least to the days of Dr. Walter Hadwen, the second chairman of the BUAV in the UK who also campaigned against germ theory and vaccination.

    That said I think it’s fair to say there are probably more anti-corporate anti-vivisectionists, but there are also those for whom rejection of animal research is part of a more general rejection of what they would see as materialist, even atheist, science. The “alternative” medicine industry is another area where viewpoint from the extremes of right and left seem to coexist quite happily.

    Finally I had to laugh at Hankins attempt to rebrand the pharmaceutical industry as the “drug industry”, presumably at some point in her life she has been to a drugstore!