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Ronnie Lee (Page 2)

Arkangel 1-5, 7-11 (1989-1994. London, England)

Combat 1-2 (1990, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Unfinished Manuscript (Early to mid 1980s, England)

A few months ago we contacted our friend Robin Webb to borrow some of his animal liberation publications for scanning. Robin cheerily agreed to send us a package, and when it arrived it included some of the rarest publications we have yet received. We gingerly pulled one gem after another from the box, and just when we thought we couldn’t be more excited we found this unfinished history of the ALF written by Ronnie Lee.

Drafted almost thirty years ago, this publication spent decades in police custody before ending up in the possession of the ALF Press Office. After its trip through the evidence room the manuscript is missing over a hundred pages, but still bristles with history.

We are still investigating the story behind this document, but felt it would be unfair to our readers to keep it out of circulation any longer. Here, distributed to the public for the first time, is the story of the Animal Liberation Front as told by one its founders.

The Mothercage (2004, Wolverhampton, England)

“Those who carry out direct action in the cause of animal liberation are,
indeed, doing something extraordinary, but they are not super-beings, just
ordinary people who care sufficiently to risk their own liberty in bringing
freedom to other creatures. But ordinary people have their differences,
their frailties, their loves and hates and their fears…”
Ronnie Lee, from the introduction.

Maire ni Bhradaig’s The Mothercage is a fictional portrayal of an Animal Liberation Front raid. Originally published in England, it was never widely available outside of Europe. Although it is written for young adults, the characters are complex enough to hold the interest of older readers. The author’s knowledge of militant AR culture makes the story a realistic representation of how activists might interact, and unlike Rage and Reason and Animal Rites, there are no former green berets running around with machine guns.

The strength of this book is Bhradaig’s willingness to present the people behind the mask as plainly, painfully human. Outside of Paul Chadwick’s Concrete: Think Like A Mountain you will not find a more accurate portrayal of a group of radicals. While some of the book’s cast are wonderful people, others are bigots, adventurists, or cowards hiding their flaws behind a balaclava.

The grassroots animal and wilderness liberation movements indulge in far too much hero worship, a tendency that has led us to embrace some very shady characters over the years- characters who often harm our credibility in the long term. The Mothercage serves as a reminder that the masked figures we so admire are not always so admirable, and more importantly, that improving ourselves increases our effectiveness as activists.

Animal Warfare (1989, David Henshaw, London, England)

Based upon a television show of the same name, Animal Warfare was one of the first books written about the rise of animal liberation militancy. Its author, David Henshaw, is decidedly anti-animal rights, and at times his coverage is so unfair and deceitful that it’s tempting to write this publication off as mere tabloid journalism. That would be a mistake. While clearly written from the perspective of a person intent on smearing activists, this paperback also provides us with a look at our history less slanted by movement propagandizing and cheerleading. At times that picture is not pretty.

Authored during the rise of what some English activists called “the cult of militancy,” Animal Warfare takes the fodder provided by the most extreme actions of the early 80s and spins an ugly tale of car-bombs, poisoning hoaxes, graveyard desecration, and alliances with racist organizations such as the National Front. While there are plenty of grotesque distortions of facts, there are also valuable lessons to be learned about how the best tactical decisions consider our movement’s ability to survive backlash while building mass.

At a time when many modern activists seem intent on repeating the mistakes of the past, (or at least blogging as if they intend on repeating those mistakes), Animal Warfare contributes to our ability to learn about media falsification, the dangers of militaristic posturing, and the events which led to the weakening of England’s mass militant movement for animal liberation.

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