Animal Protection > Activist Index

Diversity in the AR movement
By Dietrich

Question: The animal rights movement is very diverse, with so many different organizations. It seems impossible at times for all of us to ever have focus. When will there ever be any real victory?

Answer: Civil rights weren't won overnight. But the AR organizations could be more professional.

We are anything but professional. We have enough people, enough resources, enough energy, and enough money to be an enormous force on the political agenda. But we consist, not of one solid block, but of a few million strong-minded individuals, everyone of whom believes to know exactly how this fight for the hearts and minds of the public should be waged. And that's why we make little headway.

We do circuses, rodeos, whales, wolves in Alska, turtles in shrimp nets. We do fur farms, primate research, pet theft, deer hunting in state parks, leghold trap bans. We do elephants, seals, Hawaiian pigs, rooster pulls, beavers, Canada geese, humane mouse traps, prairie dog shoots, pigeon shoots, zoos, dog fights, canned hunts, classroom dissection, Premarin, vivisection in the military, xeno-transplants, cloning, no-kill shelters, feral cats, sled dog racing, horse slaughter, veal production, battery chickens, downer legislation, vegetarianism, cruelty-free cosmetics, Animal Welfare Act amendments, lobsters, pot-bellied pigs, ostriches and emus, dogs and cats, vegetarian pet food. We do ... why fill more space? (I've done every one of these.)

We call for boycotts of AAA, American Airlines, American Express, Ayerst, Anheuser Bush, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Disney, Sears, and 50 or 100 other companies. (It would be easier to list those nobody wants to boycott just now.)

I said "We" do these things. But it's not "we" collectively, and that's the trouble. If there are twenty of us in one group, pretty soon we split up because Betty says that Bill just doesn't get it, and another new group is added to the 1,200 or so now listed in BHG. Because everyone one of us seems to know exactly which project is most important and what tactics will succeed.

"Grassroots" is always the key word. The nasty national organizations are bloated, bureaucratic and corrupt. Who needs them! (It's interesting that not one single person here has raised the question what came out of the recent "Summit" Conference, where the heads of the nationals meet every year.)

I would add this: It needn't be a long time. But as long as 1,000 people are trying to knock down 500 different doors, all doors will stay shut. Only when we all push at one door at a time, will they open, one at a time. As I said before, we do have the collective strength. But we don't have the wisdom to subordinate our strong views to those who know more than we do about how movements ought to be operating in order to succeed. There are such people in our movement. You won't find them on the internet mailing lists or newsgroups.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not arguing against single-focus organizations. I'm glad that we have those who work just on primates, or on poultry, or on pigs. But we don't really have a "movement", one that's taken seriously in Washington, appears on TV, gets into the schools, and breaks through the molds of traditional life styles, unless it's professionally organized and directed.

We need such strategic planning more than other movements, because no other movement is up against so many vested interests and so many traditional personal habits. Taking them on all at once is futile. To succeed, each of us should stop saying, "I want to do XYZ - who wants to join me?", and instead ask, "where is my energy needed at this time for maximum leverage?"

That's how I see it. Most people apparently don't. And so we'll muddle along, and ten years from now people will continue to ask on the internet email list:

Link to Diversity 2 I absolutely LOVE the ar movement, it's certainly a VERY worthy cause, it's just a shame it's not progressing very well. -- Dietrich Von Haugwitz

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,