Viewpoint: Shoreham showdown

Animal rights and revolutionary violence

UNBEKNOWN TO the public the pacifist animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming, has been picketing Shoreham docks against the export of live animals for the past two months. Their peaceful tryst was rudely shattered on January 4 when a forceful mob arrived, damaged a truck, frightened the animals (does ‘Better frightened than dead’ apply to animals or not?) and stopped the trade in its tracks.

The pacifists withdrew in horror. Forgetting that killing animals is more violent than breaking windows, they called the animal liberationists ‘hooligans’, preferring to be on the same side of the law as the trade which thrives on the slaughter of the dumb critters. The new mob in town pointed out that they had made the issue of crate rearing front page news.

The following day a thousand police turned up and business has resumed. Protests continue and are succeeding in halving the throughput. William Waldegrave, cabinet minister and dairy farmer, put his finger on the main issue when he admitted that the export of calves was essential to the profitability of the dairy industry. Obviously the 1990 ban on the trade in Britain was pure hogwash. Those who make law make their own loopholes. Hypocritical rightwing forces are making jingoistic noises that cruel foreigners, not lust for profit, are to blame.

The rainbow coalition of single issue groups that the Criminal Justice Act has brought into being has passion and commitment on its side. It has the ability to win public sympathy and it raises important issues. But these groups cannot win their struggles because they lack class consciousness. I do not mean they should all work in factories. You can do that and just be a wage slave. Classes are built in struggle and these are people in struggle.

Just because there are more important matters, this does not mean that animal welfare is a trivial issue. To be a ruling class you must be able to raise the cultural level of society. These people have no ambitions of power, so they will be defeated by the present ruling class.

Phil Kent