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Strategy

Cultivating Relationships and Building a Strong Movement

Cultivating Relationships and Building a Strong Movement 

by Priya Sawhney

 

Movement building is the most promising tool we activists have in order to achieve our goals. Strong movements need strong leaders, and strong leaders come into being when ordinary people with high character dedicate themselves to doing good. In Direct Action Everywhere’s growing network, we have had the opportunity to work with some of these dedicated leaders who have the vision of creating a strong movement, a movement that will ultimately lead to Animal Liberation.

Last weekend, activists with DxE in Southern California-- Missy Freeland, Nicholas Shaw-mcminn, and Lola Kay visited us. Besides the glowing warmth and high energy they bring, Missy, Nick, and Lola all came with stories to share and a curiosity with which to listen and learn. In my first conversation with Missy and Nick—a loving couple who work together in running a small property management business—I told them, “You both have such a strong work ethic.” They must work to do right by their clients who are often undermined by others in the business.

In a very short time period, Missy and Nick have started to build a promising community in their hometown of Riverside, California. “We have to make people feel welcome. Building a strong community is the most important aspect of activism,” Nick told me.” During a busy weekend with many newcomers, I saw Nick and Missy welcome people into a home where they themselves were supposed to be guests. Their welcoming spirits inspired me to become a better community member myself.

Besides being a dear friend of mine, Lola Kay is someone whose perseverance and resilience have personally encouraged me to move past difficult situations and carry on in organizing protests and speaking up for the animals. No matter how difficult the situation may be, Lola always has the faith, confidence, and humility required to move past challenges and troubles we are bound to come across. Lola has come across many hurdles while organizing in L.A. However, she has always dealt with situations constructively.

The most inspiring part about Lola, Nick, and Missy’s visit was seeing their enthusiasm and willingness for doing actions. On their way back home, three of them stopped by a grocery store and did a disruption at its dairy aisle, accepting the #disruptspeciesism challenge. For the first time, both Missy and Lola had their banners ripped from them, but they maintained their composure, shared their truth, and left.

The power of creating a global network of Animal Rights Activists is strongest when we can learn from one another, exchange feedback, share ideas, collaborate on how to problem solve, and inspire one another. Perhaps most importantly, the way we can most benefit from cultivating such relationships is when we can inspire and remind one another that, though the path to creating a strong movement may be tough at times, it’s absolutely worth it to push harder and keep moving forward. 

Learning and Connecting (East Coast Tour - Part 3)

Learning and Connecting

by Wayne Hsiung

(This is the third in a multi-part series about DxE's East Coast Speaking Tour. Read all the blog posts from the tour here.)

Wandering through a dark castle filled with piles of seeming rubble. Arguing with a secretly wealthy man who donates almost all of his money to help others, still lives with his mother, and refuses to wear shoes. And being inspired by the enthusiastic support of a few animal rights celebrities… but, even more importantly, the humble and good-hearted souls who comprise the animal rights movement in the Northeast.

Things could hardly get better.

But first, an apology. I meant to post short updates to the blog on a near-daily basis. But various problems and projects have gotten in the way. So blogging time has been hard to come by. The craziest moments, however, are hopefully behind us. So I hope to catch up a bit, now.  Let’s start with some early reflections.

Boston

We flew in on the red eye, and neither Ronnie or I got much, if any sleep. This was unfortunate because our first two meetings were with two of the smartest and most impressive people we’ll meet on the trip.

First up was my friend Alice, an enterprising Harvard Law School student who, after training to play the viola at conservatory, switched to a legal career and was as successful as a paralegal and law school applicant as she was as a musician. Alice is part of an incredibly smart and provocative group of young climate activists at Harvard who are pushing the school to divest from fossil fuels. And, in many ways, their campaign is not unlike DxE’s. For one, the ultimate end goal is social normative, rather than economic. There is a recognition that even Harvard, for all its seeming economic might, is just a flea compared to the fossil fuel industry. So the goal in the divestment campaign is not to deny Big Oil Harvard’s dollars but rather its intellectual, social, and moral credibility.

The thinking goes something like this: if we can convince the Harvards of the world to be so ashamed of fossil fuels that they will no longer invest, it could create a cultural cascade that spreads through our entire society. Alice and her colleagues are using Harvard -- sterling reputation and all -- as a lens through which we can understand the bigger problem: catastrophic damage to our climate. And as I talked to Alice about the Harvard campaign, I could not help but think of Chipotle.

We talked a lot about the similarities in strategy. The divestment campaign, like DxE, has many autonomous groups around the country working toward the same objective. Like DxE, it has pushed traditionally passive activists into bolder and more disruptive action. (A Harvard student was arrested during a civil disobedience for the first time in recent history.) Like DxE, it is focused on creating cascades of social and moral influence. There will be much to learn and share in the weeks and months to come, and I’m hoping that I can stay in touch with Alice as she and her group continue working hard to save our planet.

That evening, we had our second gathering with Jeff Kaufman, our host for the evening. Jeff is a prominent figure in a movement called Effective Altruism (EA). Spawned from the work of Peter Singer, especially his famous call to combat global poverty, Famine, Affluence, and Morality (which has become such a significant paper that it has its own acronym -- FAM), EAs use evidence to determine the most effective methods to make the world a better place. While many EAs I had discussed of late have fanciful (and I think non-falsifiable) beliefs about so-called x-risk -- risks to the existence of the human race, or life itself (everything from evil artificial intelligence to nanotech triggered grey goo) -- there has been increasing attention given to animal rights within the EA community.

Jeff, as a prominent blogger, community leader, and role model for EAs everywhere, has had an influential voice in trying to understand the most effective tactics for animal advocacy. But strangely, he’s not himself an animal advocate.

“I’m interested for methodogical reasons,” he told me. “I want to promote good thinking on these issues.”

And good thinking, Jeff suggests, has been in short supply.

This is not a problem unique to animal rights. Indeed, even in Jeff’s priority cause -- alleviating global poverty -- there is shockingly little evidence suggesting that our collective solutions have had much positive effect. But animal rights seems unhinged from the broader literature on development. Insights and concepts that are part of the common parlance in development -- e.g. the importance of institutions, the difficulty of social prediction, the power of inertia, the necessity for skepticism -- are still missing in our discussions of animal advocacy. Jeff is helping us change that with provocative posts like this one: Pay other people to go vegetarian for you?

No shoes. No worries. 

No shoes. No worries. 

This comes despite the fact that he views animals as morally insignificant. And yes, he eats animals. To some, this might be reason to condemn Jeff as a monstrous and selfish person. But this can’t possibly be right. By any objective standard, Jeff and his wonderful wife Julia are among the most selfless people in the world. Jeff, a high paid engineer at Google’s Boston office, donates 50% of his income to charity, still lives with his mother, father, and two sisters, and is famous for often refusing to wear shoes. Julia, in turn, matches Jeff's donation rate, and is a social worker who has written beautifully about our obligations to the poor… about how many of the things that we take for granted as belonging to us are, in fact, granted to us only by the hands of fate.

Words that she shared with Jeff, many years ago, have resonated with me strongly since I first read them on Jeff's blog. 

It's easy for me to buy a milkshake at Bev's if I'm in Carytown. But if I were living in Bolivia and that two or three dollars could help my little sister pay school fees, would I still buy the milkshake? Of course not. At the end of the year that two dollars goes to Save the Children instead. The hardest thing is remembering the kids in Bolivia when I'm in Carytown. It always makes me feel like yelling or crying when my roommate tries to talk me into going with her to the ballet or opera, because I don't know how to explain to her that the money for that ticket isn't really mine—it should really belong to someone who needs it, and I have to give it to them.

This sort of compassion is uncanny -- and is exactly the sort of sentiment we need more of in the world. But the cause of animals, to many people, remains sadly remote. Jeff doubts the consciousness of animals. Julia, in turn, recently posted her worries that a too-aggressive form of veganism -- the dominant framing for animal rights -- is necessarily exclusionary and classist. We spoke into the late hours of the night on these and other issues. And while I could sense increasing sympathy for what we at DxE (and the animal rights movement generally) are trying to accomplish, there was no epiphany moment.

Instead, I went to bed with two important lessons. First, to make any headway, we need to make a real place for ourselves in the modern Left. Even among the most passionate do-gooders in the world -- indeed, perhaps especially among such people -- animal rights is a cause that is, at best, not understood, and, at worst, openly derided as ridiculous, trivial, or even oppressive. There is not a single strategy for us to change that perception, but, as I have suggested previously, (1) increasing our message strength and confidence and (2) our movement’s diversity are key.

Second, though -- and this is just as important -- Jeff and Julia are examples of why we must proceed with humility. Though neither is particularly interested in animals, they are fiercely devoted to making the world a better place -- and have made far greater commitments than the vast majority of the social justice community. In short, far from being bad people, they are two of our planet’s best people.

Of course, doing one good, or even great, deed does not excuse other bad ones. And I would never suggest that we should back down from our belief that every animal has the right to be free from harm. After all, it is one of the basic ideas of this tour that our movement needs to inspire the strength to say what it truly means: that every bite of meat is an act of discriminatory violence.

But we should not, and cannot, go about our work with a sense of superiority, entitlement, or (worst of all) power over those around us. Far from it, especially when our message itself is confrontational, it is important for us to proceed with humility and even generosity towards others. Let’s speak honestly and directly when we feel our animal brethren’s lives and bodies are being disrespected, physically torn to pieces right before our eyes. But let’s come to that position from a place of love and nonviolence.

If you’ve had a confrontation about speciesism, offer to buy someone a meal afterwards. Acknowledge areas where your interlocutor may, in fact, be better than you (as both Jeff and Julia are, in so many different dimensions). And above all, don’t give up hope.

Perhaps by far the most inspiring aspect of our tour after all, is how, in city after city, the idea of animal liberation is bubbling up to the surface. It’s still largely unnoticed by the mainstream. It needs time and nurturing to develop. But it is an idea that has been independently discovered by communities, cities, and even entire nations. And when progressives all over the world are converging on the same basic set of beliefs, it is a powerful sign that the writing is on the wall. That is reason, not just for hope, but confidence. The world is changing faster than we think. 

 

"You're too militant," the broken record plays.

"You're too militant," the broken record plays. (by Kelly)

Men tried to shame Emmeline Pankhurst into less confrontational approaches, but she recognized anything short of her "militancy" as acquiescence that allowed the suffragette's cause to remain unaddressed. Who does history remember, her, or the ladies who politely asked men to hear their voices while those men made patronizing jokes about them?

When the Greensboro Four defiantly sat at the "Whites Only" counter of the cafeteria, a black waitress said to them, "Fellows like you make our race look bad." But who got that cafeteria desegregated? Who sprung up a movement of civil disobediences that forced the issue of white supremacist tyranny onto the front page of newspapers everywhere and into the public discussion that is necessary for public change?

The activists with ACT UP who disrupted the mass at a homophobic cathedral were condemned by other members of the LGBT community for being “disrespectful” and “militant” (with the negative connotations that term only has for those inclined to give oppressive authorities the subservience they demand). Who brought the gay rights movement to where it is today? Do we really believe it wasn't the people who took the risk of pushing open that closet door and slamming it in the faces of the heterosexists holding it down on them?*

Enough with the "you're too militant" nonsense. People have said it every time, and every time they've been wrong. The oppressors have always tried to use that "warning" (that the rebel's message won't be received if they aren't nice and quiet??) to subdue the allies of the oppressed, and too many allies let it deter them from doing exactly what it turned out they should have. Look at history. Confrontation needs to happen. Dramatizing the issue is what gets people moving. Maybe you personally do not feel comfortable raising your voice for the silenced and if so, I hope we can empower you to choose justice over comfort, but if not, and if you will insist that some forms and levels of accommodation are important (though I question how influenced that position is by both risk-aversiveness and speciesism), then fine, if that's how it is that's how it is. But stop trying to gag those who push harder, unless you can demonstrate that major social upheaval has ever happened through saying nothing but "please." We're just trying to make our cousins' voices heard. Stop helping the oppressors silence the oppressed.

*I'm going to point out here both that the above-ground disruptions that DxE does are hardly "militant" given the reaches activism can go to, and, more significantly, we humans are not even in the oppressed class of the animal liberation fight - opening that door, sitting at that counter and leading that march are actions of essentially no risk for us (and look like nothing at all next to what the animals will go through if we don't take these "risks"), with (as we can gather from the history of direct action) huge potential gains for nonhumans.

The Mystical Song

The music in our action videos is vital -- and carefully chosen. 

The Mystical Song

by Wayne Hsiung

I blogged a while back on the science of musical inspiration -- and what we can learn from it as social justice activists. What we can learn about the importance of contrast. Tension. And disruption. 

But in listening to hundreds of potential songs in anticipation of our next video release, it really struck me that so much of what makes a powerful song is mystical. There are plenty of songs with contrast, tension, and disruption that are boring, annoying, or just plain ridiculous. What makes for a powerful song takes a mixture of creativity, insight, and flat out luck that is impossible to measure or predict. Science can tell us what makes a song great. But it can't make a great song. 

Songwriters such as Pete Seeger have always been a powerful force for social justice. 

Songwriters such as Pete Seeger have always been a powerful force for social justice. 

This is in line with a broader strand of research that shows the limits of algorithms and data. One of my former professors at MIT recently wrote, for example, about how computers are now surprisingly good at comparing the viral potential of two separate tweets -- but terrible at generating them. One of the fundamental problems? Computers, in general, are bad at novelty. Yet novelty is part of what moves us to inspiration... and action. 

Rarity and novelty often contribute to interestingness — or at the least to drawing attention. But once an algorithm finds those things that draw attention and starts exploiting them, their value erodes. When few people do something, it catches the eye; when everyone does it, it is ho-hum. 

There are lessons for us as activists. We can describe some of the general elements of moving and inspirational activism. Contrast. Tension. Disruption. But the magic of a powerful movement is something that will never be captured -- or predicted -- by data. So be creative. Take risks. And don't be afraid to fail. It is only through such creative risk-taking that we will be able to move the masses for animals. 
 

Portrait Banners

Portrait Banners

We have just started making a series of banners for our (and your!) actions, that feature dignified portraits of nonhumans, of various species of people who are exploited by humans for a variety of purposes.

Why make a series with “dignified,” portrait-like photos that have no indication of the violence? It's a similar motivation to the "Someone, Not Something" images we make and share on our Facebook page, and the placards we printed for our Stories of Liberation action: We want to challenge speciesism and demonstrate these beings' personhoods. In nonhuman advocacy, we habitually see images of these animals being victimized, and we think we should also be showing them how they should be, to share a story of how things could be. We also think it is important to contrast the prevalence of images of "what is" with such images of "what could be" in order to not normalize images of their subjugation, which may reinforce notions of the human-supremacy hierarchy if no alternative vision is posed. Further, in our confrontation of speciesism, we want to very clearly signal our own respect for these beings, to encourage other humans to do the same, by sharing representations of them as they want to be -- by showing images of animals who are not (at least in the moment of the photo) being subjugated and degraded.

I (Kelly here) also think of it like this: We humans who use photographs of ourselves typically want to present ourselves to others as a respectable, unique and personality-rich individuals. So as an exercise in nonspeciesism, if these animals had Facebook pages (just hear me out), judging by the kinds of images that we humans post of ourselves, it seems reasonable to assume that we’d be more likely to see images like these as their profile photos, as opposed to images of the individuals suffering and being dominated and demeaned -- the kind of image we tend to choose to not share of our own selves. Since we know these animals prefer respect and equality to degradation and subjugation, we should present images of them as they want to be seen by those who currently see them otherwise and oppress them because of that perception.

This is not to say that images of the violence are not valuable. (When they are not just a horrifying graphic scene, that is, but images that clearly show the personhood and emotional experience of the victim.) We just want to make sure that we also show these animals as they want to be seen, and as they want to be, could be, and will be at the end of our story. To bring about species equality, we have to make it clear to people that our nonhuman sisters and brothers are people too.

So, here they are! If you follow our Organizing Principles, you are free to use any materials we create. Direct Action Everywhere is YOU!

What Animal Rights Activists Can Learn from the Failures of the War on Poverty

What Animal Rights Activists Can Learn from the Failures of the War on Poverty

by Wayne Hsiung

download.jpg

We have seen massive economic growth, globally, in the past 50 years. Yet, for the poorest and most oppressed, little seems to have changed. As Thomas Pogge, Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, points out, this is especially galling because those of us in the developed world would have to shift such a tiny amount of our income, 2.7%, to totally alleviate severe poverty. 

But despite significant attempts by do-gooders to increase, and make more effective, charitable donations, the long-term problems remain unsolved. Why? Pogge offers an answer:

[A]id on its own cannot overcome the powerful headwind generated by a supranational institutional order designed by the rich for the rich... Only by changing the rules that generate and maintain vast global inequality can we actually realize the proclaimed ambition of our political leaders to end severe poverty by 2030. We must address its root causes, rather than treating its symptoms under the guise of charity.

Aid that goes to the poor, in a world where the rules of the game are skewed against them, ends up getting swallowed up by inefficient bureaucracies, corrupt dictators, or impossible on-the-ground problems (e.g. saving a child from malaria only to have her die the next day from cholera). Without an effort to change rules -- the many forms of which social scientists call "institutions" -- even promising symptomatic interventions are doomed to fail. 

There are lessons here for animal rights activists. Too often, we focus on symptomatic efforts -- changing one person, reforming one form of abuse for one particular species -- without thinking about the root causes -- political, social, and cultural -- of species oppression.

And there are tensions between systemic and symptomatic interventions, not only because resources spent on symptoms cannot go to cures, but because the very way we frame a problem will influence our conception of what it means to find a cure. A physicist will find answers that sound in physics -- she will look at the interaction of atoms and molecules, the operation of basic forces of physical science -- even if the right answer can only be found by looking to biology. 

Similarly, a vegan consumerist will find solutions only in vegan consumerism, even if the right answer can only be found by looking to animal liberation. If we focus too much on individual-level interactions (How do I create an individual vegan?), we may miss out on other variables of our system -- so-called emergent properties -- that are more important if we are to create real and permanent change (How do I create legal, moral, and social rules that condemn violence against animals?). The strategies, messaging, and tactics to affect these latter variables, in turn, might be very different from what we would seek if we were focused only on individual-level change. 

The upshot? As with the war on poverty, creating real and permanent change for animals will require us to change, not just individuals, but the rules under which those individuals operate. And that effort requires far more creativity, strategy, and yes, even radicalism than the mainstream animal rights movement currently acknowledges. 

 

Empty the Tanks - How Corporate Spin Reframes Captivity

Dispelling SeaWorld's corporate spin with events such as Empty the Tanks is key to the push for genuine change. 

Dispelling SeaWorld's corporate spin with events such as Empty the Tanks is key to the push for genuine change. 

Empty the Tanks - How Corporate Spin Reframes Captivity

by Wayne Hsiung

SeaWorld and other marine animal prisons enslave and abuse animals. It is a truth that was aptly demonstrated by the movie Blackfish, and that activists will unite to say on May 24, at the Empty the Tanks Worldwide day of action. In the Bay Area, the tireless defender of marine animals and Taiji Cove Guardian, Lisa Robles, is taking the lead in taking on Six Flags (with support from the newly formed Citizens for an Animal-Free Six Flags). In San Diego, the remarkable activist and DxE organizer Ellen Ericksen is expecting 1000 to protest SeaWorld. And hundreds more activists all over the world will be converging at marine animal prisons behind a simple message: animals are not ours to use.

But if you listen to the industry, they are doing great things for animals. SeaWorld, for example, glows about how it is "leading the way" in animal rescue and rehab and shares inspiring stores of saving baby dolphins from drowning in the tangle of a fishing net. They even went so far as to hire Bindi Irwin, daughter of the famous conservationist, as their Youth Ambassador. 

What is an animal activist to do? 

The first thing to note is that SeaWorld's motivations -- indeed, its legal obligation -- is to make profit for its shareholders. Whatever actions it takes are for that purpose, and, since the company has a fundamental financial interest in marine animal captivity, whatever "rescue and release" programs it involves itself in must, as a matter of legal requirement, serve their abusive reason for existence: profiting off of animals in captivity. 

The second is that SeaWorld's response is identical to virtually every other corporation challenged for animal abuse. "But we take care of animals!" Animal welfare is, in fact, a centuries-long tradition, and deft corporations always try to reframe criticism of their industry into praise for animal welfare. But the animal welfare dialogue, even if a sign of progress, is not enough. As we have seen in our own campaign against humane meat (where sales have often doubled after corporations begin to use humane marketing), the rhetoric of welfare is often used, not to encourage genuine and long-term improvements even in animal welfare (much less liberation), but to encourage greater public and consumer support for the practice at issue. We cannot allow ourselves to be duped by this marketing spin. 

The third is that if we don't provide a compelling response, SeaWorld's corporate spin will succeed. The history of animal industry is replete with examples of industry deftly diverting public outrage into meaningless reforms. Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1958 that, if you went by mail alone, you'd think the entire country were only concerned about humane slaughter. But in the decades since, animal killing has not only increased, but the horrific cruelty of slaughter has continued unabated. The reason? Inertia. The status quo has a natural gravitational force that makes incremental progress hard to sustain. 

So while the protest on May 24 is an inspiring and powerful event -- one that we should do everything we can to support -- let's not forget that the story doesn't end with one day of action. If we want every tank to be empty, and every animal to be free, we have to recognize corporate spin, devise a compelling response, and continue our challenge to even the existence of these abusive industries. 

There is no such thing as a "good" way to hold animals captive. And if we can maintain the integrity of that message, we will see our vision become a reality. 

Is there a way to execute "humanely"?

Nearly as many prisoners are killed at this location in Texas than the rest of the country combined. 

Nearly as many prisoners are killed at this location in Texas than the rest of the country combined. 

Is there a way to execute "humanely"? 

by Wayne Hsiung

I got my start as an activist many years ago as an anti-racism and capital punishment activist. Journalism students at Northwestern University had identified multiple prisoners on death row in Illinois who, after cursory examination, were plainly innocent of their crimes. And Illinois ultimately issued a moratorium on executions because of the outcry. (The moratorium has subsequently turned into complete abolition.) My participation was relatively trivial -- attending rallies, workshops, and protests -- but I was struck by the moral confidence of the movement's message. There was no discussion of compromise or reform in our campaigns. Innocents were about to be killed, after all, so we were not afraid to demand what we believed was right: the absolute end to a brutal and bigoted practice. 

One of the things that strikes me about the debate on capital punishment, even looking on things 15 years later, is that defenders of the status quo use the same tactics that they always have in the face of progressive activists. Defenders suggest that a fundamentally corrupt practice or institution can be reformed. This is as true of human rights causes as animal rights, as the recent uproar over a terribly botched execution in Oklahoma shows. A blown line caused the prisoner to writhe and gasp as poisons flowed through his body. He woke up from what was supposed to be an unconscious state and moaned "Oh man" while doctors struggled to kill him. (What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath? "First, do no harm.") And yet defenders of state killing gave the same line: "The problem is not the practice. It's the way it was implemented!" While deceptively appealing to many members of the public, the New York Times also shows us the result of accepting this dialogue: the ruthless efficiency of Texas's killing machine. Administrators from other states literally travel to Texas to learn how to kill. 

What this example shows me is that movements that succeed must frame the debate strongly on their own terms. Getting sucked into the dialogue of reform can reinforce the legitimacy of oppression and violence. And while particularly graphic examples of "botched" implementation can be powerful, as in the case of the wrongly convicted Illinois inmates, those examples have to be used on behalf of a strong demand and message if we are to achieve robust and long-term change. We can't lose the forest for the trees. We can't forget about strategy as we refine our tactics. 

That is precisely what DxE hopes to do for the animal rights movement. And while our It's not Food, It's Violence campaign is the most prominent example, to date, of our attempts to reinvigorate our movement behind a stronger message, we -- and the other remarkable activists in our network -- have many more things to come. Stay tuned.... 

How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped DxE

PALS (Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad) interviews Wayne Hsiung on the Origins of DxE, Creative Disruption, and How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped the DxE Model

by DxE

PALS organizer Saryta Rodriguez is writing a book about the animal rights movement. But she recently published a sneak preview of an interview about DxE.

In the interview, Saryta explores the origins of DxE, the importance of "disrupting business as usual", and the influence of two Nobel Laureates in establishing DxE's model of activism. 

Here's an excerpt: 

SR: What inspired you to start this particular coalition? Why not just join any of the many pre-existing animal liberation organizations out there? What did you hope to bring to the table that others perhaps do not?

WH: There are a million animal groups out there; but what makes us different is primarily that we are squarely focused on movement building. Most animal rights groups attempt to shift particular actors (whether corporate or state) or the public. While we don’t neglect those objectives, we also are keenly aware of the importance of building a stronger and more robust movement to effect real change. I was influenced in this by my studies of intervention into human rights causes. It turns out that most attempts to fix problems have little to no effect. The reason, as Nobel Prize winner Douglass North found, is that institutions—particularly “soft” institutions, such as culture and trust—are the ultimate cause of (and solution for) most social ills.

Check out the full interview here

RGB Vegan Interviews Ronnie Rose on DxE's Origins, the Dangers of Corporate "Values Integration," and Advice for New Vegans

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie Rose on RGB Vegan

by DxE

Ronnie Rose, co-founding organizer of DxE, is not a name you'll necessarily know. But he did the remarkable video work that launched DxE into the world, with a splash, in early 2013. And it was conversations with Ronnie that shaped, and created the momentum for, the formation of our grassroots network. 

Since that time, Ronnie has been, in many ways, the theoretical voice of DxE. You might have read his powerful piece, The Soul of the Animal Rights Movement is Up for Grabs, or heard about DxE's graphic images study, which we commissioned in part because of a relationship Ronnie struck up with the brilliant political scientist Tim Pachirat. But in more ways than one, Ronnie has continued to be a key contributor to not just DxE's growth but, perhaps even more important, its anti-speciesist integrity. Ronnie has helped us maintain our strong commitment to animal liberation -- in our words, in our practices, and (especially) in our tactics and strategy. 

Ronnie recently had the opportunity to give a wonderful talk about the It's not Food, It's Violence campaign with our Phoenix chapter, PALS. And afterwards, one of the attendees, Joshua at RGB Vegan, was so impressed that he interviewed him for his podcast. In the interview, you'll hear about: 

- DxE's founding story
- the sinister marketing strategy -- "values integration" -- used by Chipotle and other humane washers to twist popular values in favor of eating animals
- some simple advice for new vegans. 

Check it out, and make sure you subscribe to RGB Vegan on iTunes