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The exhibit area at the annual national animal rights conference is always somewhat surreal. There you are in the icy ballroom of a fancy hotel, brushing shoulders with a tatooed anarchist whose tshirt is emblazoned with a pair of bolt-cutters. The anarchist stands next to a conservatively attired humane educator exchanging contact information with a black-clad member of the Sea Shepherd crew. All four of you are female, as are most of the people in the room. Look left, and you might see festive vegan cupcakes. Himplasia 30 tablet packet $224.00 look right, and you might see a photo of a vivisected monkey in excruciating pain. Suddenly a booming male voice from a slight young man cupping his hands to shout above the crowd: "The people of color caucus will be meeting in five minutes! The people of color caucus will be meeting in five minutes!" The Asian-Pacific woman from Hawaii with whom you've been chatting about cockfighting asks, "People of color? I've always wondered: What does that mean?" Welcome to the most diverse of the animal advocacy conferences, where people from very different places -- physical and political -- come together in often surprising configurations to learn from, try to understand, and figure out how to work with (or at least not against) each other. Many animal liberationists come to the movement, as I did, from other progressive movements, bringing with us a comprehensive analysis of race-class-sex oppression within the context of environmental and animal exploitation. For others, animal liberation is their first foray into activism. Some come in as disaffected youth already mistrustful of authority. Others come in as otherwise satisfied citizens for whom the abuse of animals is the first glimpse of a violent algebra of exploitation that they would rather not see. All share the unselfishness implicit in the willingness to give up something -- himplasia 30 tablet packet $224.00 time, money, pleasure, power -- in the service of freedom or fairness for beings that are not even of your own species, much less your own identity group. But the differences -- of privilege, of perspective, of political orientation -- are often profound. It's not always pretty, but it's always dynamic, which is exactly what social change movements need to be if they expect to effect social change. (It's always ironic to me when people who want to create change refuse to change. ) In the years that I've attended the annual AR conference (this was the seventh), I've seen the animal liberation struggle to change in response to both internal and external critiques. This is as it should be, as it must be. All movements seem to start out with a relatively narrow focus which then widens in response to the recognition of the interconnectedness of oppression. All movements struggle with the tendency for societal imbalances in power and privilege to reproduce themselves within groups. The feminist movement has struggled, is still struggling, with challenges associated with race and class. The antiracist movement has struggled, is still struggling, with challenges associated with gender. The labor and environmental movements have struggled, are still struggling, with challenges associated with race and gender. Etc. Etc. At present, many animal advocates are working hard to integrate a race/sex/class/etc analysis into their theory and practice. Unfortunately, other social change movements have [himplasia 30 tablet packet $224.00] not yet begun to reciprocate by incorporating, or even deigning to think about, the challenges put forward to their movements by animal advocates. These range from highly theoretical ideas about the linkages between speciesism and sexism to profoundly practical facts about the many ways that meat eating and other forms of animal exploitation end up hurting disadvantaged people. So, I was thrilled to see that two organizations that do not have animals as their primary focus chose to have tables at AR2007. Besides expressing solidarity with the animal liberation movement, those tables helped to educate the animal activists at the conference about other movements. I just about jumped for joy when I saw that the had a booth in the exhibit hall. If you're not familiar with this multifaceted anarchist project, go to their website right now. Why do I love CrimethInc? Let me count the reasons. Because their publications are filled with ideas for DIY liberation expressed with equal parts of the love, rage, and humor we all need to survive. Because they put those ideas into action and help others to do so. Because their integrated analyses of oppression always include people, animals, and environment and never exclude anybody by being arrogant, abstruse, or overly abstract. Because, when the talk at the conference turned to the question of whether women ought to sexually objectify their own bodies in order to sell the idea of animal rights, the young man at the CrimethInc table was ready with a handout that said:
They MUTILATE WOMEN and then sell their images to us so that women forever HATE THEMSELVES and men forever lust for AN OBJECT THAT DOESN'T EVEN EXIST. The end result is domestic VIOLENCE, oppressive gender roles, low self-esteem, billions of dollars spent every year on cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, a slew of eating disorders, and a desperate desire to maintain an appearance INVENTED IN THE MINDS OF WEALTHY MEN that ISN'T NATURAL or even humanly possible! Why? So they can make a greasy dollar and reinforce their omnipresent power over women and men. That's why we need to smash the fucking state, renounce convention and strive for a community of love and understanding!Go to their website. Read their books. Download and distribute their posters. Join the collective and contribute your own stickers and handouts. It's never too late to take back your life. also had a table at the conference, which I was happy to see lots of animal advocates visiting. I remember being very impressed by RAN back in the 1980s but then they kind of dropped off my radar for some reason. Turns out they've been doing incredible work while I wasn't looking. Lucky for me, RAN representative Debra Erenberg was on several of the conference panels on which I was also speaking, so I got a good education on what RAN's been up to lately. At the panel on engaging other movements, Debra explained that "movement building" or "solidarity work" is built into RAN's strategic plan and that RAN will offer resources to other movements even when they are working on issues that do not seem to directly intersect with RAN's primary focus. This is because RAN understands that all progressive organizations, whatever their focus, are served by having a strong, vocal, vital opposition to the powers that be. And RAN knows how to be a good ally. As Debra said himplasia 30 tablet packet $224.00, "Iâ€™ve been part of other organizations that say they want to reach out to other movements, but I didnâ€™t realize until I came to RAN that they were getting it all wrong. They were only approaching other movements when they saw a potential gain -- when they had something to ask for. The real key is to engage when you have something to give and you donâ€™t want anything. " Yah, RAN gets it. Go to their website too. Were you impressed by my ability to quote another speaker so precisely? Don't be. I asked Debra for a copy of her talk and she kindly provided it to me. I wonder if SuperWeed readers would like me to do something similar. I can't say the exact words that I said in my presentations, since I talk from a rough outline rather than from a manuscript, but I could use my notes to summarize the key points. Lemme know if you'd like me to do that.