Friday, April 6, 2012

Will Potter interviewed about repression of animal rights movement

Here are a couple of highly insightful responses from a brief interview with a Spanish collective:
...As you know, here in Spain some activists have been charged with animal liberation related stuff. They are (or were) all involved with legal campaigning. The comparison with the SHAC 7 or the Austrian activists case is inevitable. Do you think laws like the AETA can have some “copycat” laws in other countries?

Absolutely. Spain, Austria, Finland, and elsewhere are experienc[ing] similar copycat prosecutions. The corporate-led campaigns to demonize animal rights and environmental activists as “eco-terrorists” have indeed become international in scope. I would argue that this is an example of how these tactics are not “state repression,” as leftists generally describe it, but “corporate repression.” The state may be carrying out these tactics, but only because corporations are seeking to protect their profits around the world.

Which are, in your opinion, the “low points” of the movement which make it vulnerable to repressive attacks like the green scare, the AETA…?

The strategy behind the government’s tactics is fragmentation. In discussing this, I think it’s helpful to visualize social movements as having a “horizontal” and “vertical” component. The intention is to separate these movements horizontally, and create rifts between them and the broader left. Animal rights activists and environmentalists are therefore depicted as ideological extremists who, if they have their way, will stop you from eating meat and driving cars and having pets. There are of course already tensions between these movements and the more traditional left, but campaigns by corporations and politicians intend to exacerbate them. If these movements are not seen as part of a broader social justice struggle, it is easier for other leftist and progressive groups to turn their backs on their repression.

Similarly, there is a campaign to fragment these movements vertically. Aboveground lawful groups are told that they must condemn underground groups, and if they do not they will also be treated as terrorists. This two-prong strategy — breaking these movements away from other social movements, and breaking the aboveground away from the underground — isolates those who are being targeted and intensifies the repression.

So, to answer your question more directly, the most effective tactic for repressing these movements has been to turn the activists against each other, either by pressuring them to become informants or by pressuring them to publicly condemn each other....

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