Interview with the Assembly for Antispeciesist Action, Athens, by comrades in Spain (Fiera)

The following interview was given by the Assembly for the Antispeciesist Action in May 2013 and published by comrades in Spain in October, in the 2nd volume of the anarchist animal liberation zine “Fiera”.

In which context did the Assembly for the Antispeciesist Action in Athens arise? Which are your goals and what are the difficulties you are facing in realizing these goals?

The Assembly for the Antispeciesist Action was formed in 2010 on an individual initiative. We are an anarchist collective whose goal is to spread the word on total liberation. We feel it is important to note that by using the term “total liberation” we do not only refer to the struggle against any form of domination upon humans. We do not recognize any form of human superiority against other species and therefore the struggle for animal self-determination is an integral part of our political identity, as well as the struggle against nature’s exploitation. Our enemy is not only the core of the state mechanism but also the whole technological-industrial complex that considers human, animals and nature to be nothing more than raw material and production resources.

If we could summarize the main obstacles for our struggle, these would be: state repression either generalized or targeted. The deep roots –religious or otherwise- of meat-eating in Greek society’s culture. The indifference and apathy on behalf of the biggest part of anarchists in Greece when it comes to animal-related issues. Furthermore, these last years in the name of overcoming the economic crisis there is a systematic effort by the state to reinforce the primary production, providing all kinds of motives and financial support to individuals and enterprises that aim to profit through animal exploitation and the destruction of nature (such as the fur industry, meat and milk industry, mining etc.).

On which topics are you working now? Actually, are you involved in any campaign right now?

We are active throughout the whole spectrum of the struggle against human/animal/nature exploitation. In the past we have initiated protests against the fur industry, animal experimentation, pet-shops etc.

Currently we are making some efforts to establish a more systematic communication with ALF/ELF political prisoners around the world.

In Spain we get a few news about the struggle for animal liberation in Greece. We remember some actions like the liberations of thousands of minks in the middle of 2008 or the liberation of some rats from a university laboratory. The feeling we had here is that growth of the struggle for animal liberation is linked with the anarchist/antiauthoritarian movement but, which is the path that the struggle has followed there?

In Greece, whatever analysis exists concerning total liberation comes exclusively from anarchists or anarchist collectives. There is no other organized effort. Of course, there are some initiatives from individuals or associations but in most -if not all- cases they fail to address these issues in their totality and they act in cooperation with the state mechanisms.

How does the antispeciesist and animal liberation struggle fit into the rest of the antiauthoritarian struggles? Is this connection smooth or has it been the target of reticence and criticism from anarchists/anti-authoritarians?

At first, we should note that veganism among Greek anarchists is neither self-evident nor widespread, in contrast with what happens in many other countries. As a result veganism is being criticized very often. As an indication of that, in many anarchist squats you may see people eating meat on the occasion of religious events (e.g. roasting lambs on Easter Sunday or making barbeques on Tsiknopempti – that is the last Thursday before Easter fasting).

Moreover almost all of the collective kitchens contain meat. Anarchists in Greece consider meat consumption as “normal”. Animal Liberation issues most of the times are considered as a joke or at best as something of secondary importance. Something that will be addressed in a post-revolutionary world (sometimes, the same stance may someone see on other similar matters such as sexism). That is why we are not surprised to see so few people coming to the protests that we initiate (e.g. against fur).

In Europe and around the world there are a lot of campaigns (SHAC, KLM-Air France etc.) and projects like IARG (International Animal Rights Gathering). Have you heard of them? In that case, which is your assessment of these strategies and projects?

All actions both “aboveground” and “underground” are positive. However our struggle aims to destroy all forms of domination and cannot be contained by or fall within other types of struggle that call for reforms instead of fighting against the state.

As far as the IARG is concerned we think that meeting other people with similar beliefs, communicating and discussing with them is very useful.

Some of the reports and news that were translated into Spanish were from demonstrations made in Athens and ended with clashes with the police, with high combativity from your side. This is not really common in these kind of demos and sometimes it is being criticized by people from the animal rights and animal liberation surroundings. Do you think that this police brutality aims to silence another front of the struggle that is growing and getting stronger? Or do you think that it is simply a consequence of the repressive moment that Greece is going through these days, and especially against anarchists?

Both are valid. Of course this growing repression is part of a generalized effort to mute every single form of reaction (squat evictions, muting of counter-information networks, special forces inside prisons, prisoners’ hunger strikes etc.). However, as far as our demonstrations are concerned, we also had similar incidents of police brutality in the past despite the fact that the consequences of the economic crisis where not that obvious back then.

Is it possible to remain vegan in Greek prisons?

Generally, vegan diet is not facilitated in Greek prisons. This can only be possible if a prisoner has people on the outside to provide support on this issue by sending in vegan food.

What do you think about the continuous attempts to integrate the term “animal rights” into the animal liberation struggle?

For us the struggle for animal liberation is an integral part of the anarchist struggle. Therefore we reject both the content and the use of the term “animal rights” and the general notion of “rights” itself. It is clear that a legal right could not exist without the state. Legal rights exist only because there is a mechanism that creates them -a mechanism that has always been a part of the hard core of the state- and which distributes them. Legal rights come with obligations and with a bunch of “protective” mechanisms: cops, prosecutors and the whole judicial system. Accepting a legal right means recognition of the authority that puts limits on our life. We fight for freedom, not just parts of it.

As far as the non-human animals are concerned, it is obvious that the whole “animal rights” issue embodies strong anthropocentric elements. Among others it confirms some kind of superiority for human species over the others. Of course, given the extent of violence and exploitation that non-human animals suffer, some “victories” in the legal field are welcomed, but they still remain fragmented. And they are always limited within national borders. A struggle which does not go beyond that, a struggle which does not reject anthropocentrism, a struggle which does not attack the same existence of the dominant structures contains a serious danger: it becomes a struggle for the embellishment of a situation where humans, non-humans and nature are being treated as disposable industrial feedstock and as commodities. Asking for “rights” is not a struggle – it is negotiation and capitulation in a fight that has already been lost.

To finalize this interview, the animal liberation movement takes an increasingly activist and “professional” nature. Associations and hierarchical organizations that work on similar patterns like NGOs are deepening, neglecting the self-organization, combativity, horizontality… Does this happen in Greece? Do you think we can trust and rely on such schemes?

As anarchists fighting for total liberation we reject all kinds of struggle that might embody any type of hierarchical elements. In Greece we do have similar cases, the overwhelming majority of which tend to cooperate fully with the state mechanisms. We are clearly negative towards any such cooperation.


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This entry was posted on Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 12:05 pm and is filed under Interviews.