Do Not Support the Animal Liberation Front
Message to ALF supporters from “an anonymous liberator”.
This week I received an anonymous article, which I am posting below. It is signed “an anonymous liberator”. There is no way to verify the authenticity of the author as being a “liberator” or ever having carried out an Animal Liberation Front action. However there is a tenor to this article that is hard to fake.
This article calls out a particular type of person: those who exploit the risk and sacrifices of the ALF (and others) to increase their social status. Specifically, a subculture of keyboard gangsters who build a social identity around ‘supporting’ the ALF – motivated only by the image it builds and the social benefits of appearing “radical”.
This takes many forms, from ALF t-shirt-wearing by those who have never lifted a finger to help animals to “militant” blogs written by those who leave their computers only to go to restaurants or anarchist meetings.
The message of this article is long overdue: There is no such thing as “supporting the ALF”. The ALF doesn’t need “support” – it needs participation.
Unfortunately many will misread this critique of “support” as including support of ALF prisoners. I did not take that from this article at all. Instead, I read it as a call for a redirection of “support” – specifically, less cultivation of the image of militancy for social gain, and more actual action.
This is the article, in full:
DO NOT SUPPORT THE ANIMAL LIBERATION FRONT
by one anonymous liberator
The Animal Liberation Front is in desperate need of fewer supporters. It has far, far too many, and the madness has to stop somewhere.
The supporters are legion in their black t-shirts – tapping away at laptops, surfing crowds at shows, bussing tables at the local vegan eatery, distributing zines. Thousands of them share their support every day on Facebook and Tumblr. They post and re-post, like and comment. They are ever proliferating.
But, sadly, while all of this reaches new heights in the frenzy of the internet, the underground is largely at a standstill in the real world. ALF support, at one point a recruiting mechanism subservient to the action that it helped empower, has now become the main event. So, since it no longer serves its purpose, it is kindly but firmly requested that you abandon your support.
Take off your t-shirts – here is the wake up call. If you are able-bodied and you have built an entire social identity around ‘supporting’ sabotage and liberation, you are now required to go out and do those things. Your support will not be missed. You will no longer be able to hold on to the comfortable fiction that it ever mattered in the first place. And you will not be able to speak about your nighttime activities, so you will miss out on scene points.
But you will be able to relish accomplishments far more meaningful than anything you could ever do on Instagram or at a show. When you are old and your tattoos have faded, these memories will still be clear. You will be able to make a true and direct impact in the midst of a cold and vast system. And you will be able to look a creature in the eyes and save her life. For those who truly believe, it will be no sacrifice to change roles and take risks in order to keep alive this thing they hold so dear. It takes no specialized skill, only common sense and courage.
Perhaps, as a community, it is time for us to start changing our lifestyles through a new collective paradigm. If you are a self-identified ‘radical’ who spends their life going to work and watching movies with friends, the only thing currently separating you from the average American is ideas. This must no longer be acceptable.
We cannot explicitly speak about, and thus cannot socially reinforce, a culture of underground activity. However, we certainly can build a “culture of crime,” whereby we encourage not only disrespect (easy and functionally irrelevant) but disregard for the law. Jaywalk, shoplift, trespass, whatever – get acquainted with ignoring the rules as a way of life. Start in an area where you feel comfortable, get your friends doing it, and then put what you learn to use in the dead of night.
Accompany this with a culture of institutional privacy – encryption for casual conversation, proxy web surfing, releasing ourselves from the need to share every move we make on social media. While it is most important that individuals take action, these collective steps might be useful.
As for those who do not change, who continue to post their blogs or write their songs, they should not be given the respect or recognition that they seek. It is not respectable to align oneself in words with a phenomenon based on action. And when one gains social clout from doing so, it is parasitic, or at the very least cowardly. It contributes to an activist culture where such inaction is somehow a reasonable, even honorable, manner of behavior.
While others offer liberation and risk prison time, these individuals offer ‘support’ and risk too many high-fives. But those whose support is only as good as their own comfort can keep both.
Press officers, convicted operatives, and the disabled can continue to speak up for the ALF. If actions surge to an all-time high, but no one is sharing the news on Facebook, the animals won’t mind. They do not care about our theories, ideas, beliefs, or our drama. They are in desperate need of fewer supporters and more actors.
If your support for the Animal Liberation Front is genuine, it will end tonight.