Professor Steven Best is an associate Professor of philosophy at the University of Texas El Paso. He fancies himself a strong animal rights activist, but he is someone who has a relatively heavy record when it comes to extremist activity. In 2004, he co-founded a media arm for organizations like the Animal Liberation Front called the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. In 2005, he was banned from entering the United Kingdom over security concerns cited by the U.K. government.
The U.K. seems to have had a fairly good reason for doing so. Professor Best is an advocate of what many, including ourselves, would consider terrorist tactics.
SoCawlege was recently tipped off to a piece of Best’s writing from November 2009, published on the Animal Liberation Front’s website. The title of the piece is “Manifesto for Radical Abolitionism: By Any Means“
The article is a critique of people who he calls “Franciombes” – those who follow the work of another animal rights Professor named Gary Francione. His problem with Francione’s ideas? They are too pacifist, and they follow a general trend of corporatization and slow moving education to advance the animal rights movement. In short, he is upset that mainstream animal rights activists like many liberal vegans and the Humane Society, settle for anything less than total liberation. A sample:
“In the last decade, for instance, PETA pressured McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC to increase cage size and adopt ‘less cruel and more profitable’ slaughter methods, while HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] aggressively campaigned for ‘humane meat’ and ‘cage-free eggs.’ These groups ultimately serve corporate exploiters’ interests and champion capitalist principles generally. …HSUS has been a bureaucratic welfare group since its inception in 1954, it consistently denounces the ALF, and has always capitulated to carnivorous culture as it barely gives support even for vegetarianism.”
Maybe HSUS denounces the ALF because they’re terrorists? The Animal Liberation Front is an extremist organization found in many countries that will break into/destroy property, such as research labs, for the sake of freeing animals. The ALF has also been accused of attempting to harm humans, and as we will show in a moment, Steven Best holds them in very high regard.
The group fits the literal definition of terrorism: “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” From the ALF Wiki page linked above (sources in numbered hyperlinks):
Monaghan writes that, around 1982, there was a noticeable shift in the non-violent position, and not one approved by everyone in the movement. Some activists began to make personal threats against individuals, followed by letter bombs and threats to contaminate food, the latter representing yet another shift to threatening the general public, rather than specific targets.
“In 1982, letter bombs were sent to all four major party leaders in the UK, including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The first major food scare happened in November 1984, with the ALF claiming to the media that it had contaminated Mars Bars as part of a campaign to force the Mars company to stop conducting tooth decay tests on monkeys. On November 17, the Sunday Mirror received a call from the ALF saying it had injected Mars Bars in stores throughout the country with rat poison. The call was followed by a letter containing a Mars Bar, presumed to be contaminated, and the claim that these were on sale in London, Leeds, York, Southampton, and Coventry. Millions of bars were removed from shelves and Mars halted production, at a cost to the company of $4.5 million. The ALF admitted the claims had been a hoax. Similar contamination claims were later made against L’Oréal and Lucozade 
But it gets worse.
Here’s more of what Professor Best has to say:
“According to the pacifist party line, militant direct action (MDA) tactics such as economic sabotage are ALWAYS wrong and NEVER effective. Excusing themselves from the work of analyzing the complexities and unique specific situations, Franciombes fashion a handy a priori ‘truth’ and apply it mechanically to every action that has happened or will happen. Their ignorance of history is matched only by their mental rigidity. For over three decades, in dozens of countries throughout the world, in countless thousands of actions, liberators and saboteurs have freed hundreds of thousands of captive nonhuman animals; permanently shut down numerous breeders, ‘fur farmers,’ and vivisectors; and convinced countless numbers of individuals to find gainful employment in careers other than nonhuman animal exploitation, while inspiring people worldwide to join the animal liberation movement.
In all this, Franciombes see no value or gain and, despite operations closed forever, they can only repeat the baseless claim that all damaged property is rebuilt and all liberated nonhuman animals are ‘replaced.’ This may happen in some cases, but in light of the many operations shut down for good, this clearly is a false claim; even when animals are replaced and property rebuilt and restored, rising insurance costs are enough to weaken and jeopardize the viability of small and moderate operations at least. Whereas dogmatic pacifists hide under the cover of ignorance and denial, corporate exploiters themselves have testified to the effectiveness of ALF actions.”
Yup, we have a college professor advocating for the destruction of property, and claiming pacifist activism is the wrong route to achieve political objectives. I wonder who the University of Texas El Paso has teaching theology, a member of the Taliban?
“By vilifying sabotage tactics as ‘violent,’ and by conflating attacks on property with assaults on people, Franciombes adopt the reactionary discourse and position of the FBI and the corporate-state-media complex. They needlessly and divisively pit education in opposition to illegal tactics (even open rescues), as if the two tactics were irreconcilably opposed rather than complimentary aspects of a revolutionary process.”
Education and illegal tactics are complimentary aspects of revolution? Here’s some closing hits from the piece:
Thus, we need education and agitation, mainstream and militant tactics, peaceful resistance and confrontation and sabotage, and aboveground/legal and underground/illegal means of weakening speciesist capitalism.
While we support the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, and defend the importance of economic sabotage, we also recognize that property destruction is only a rear-guard and minor means of resistance that has to yield to a broad social movement. Still, it remains an important ‘sometimes seemingly the only ‘means of resistance against the capitalist property system, and merits support as we simultaneously work toward building political alliances on a global scale and in an unprecedentedly broad and inclusive way.
It abandons single-issue fetishism and the complacency of class and racial privilege in favor of diversity, solidarity, and bridge-building with those most economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized. Only in this way, can the profound importance of veganism and animal rights be recognized and respected by a social majority; only in alliance with other struggles can its revolutionary potential be realized.
We endorse a form of abolition that (1) defends the use of high-pressure direct action tactics, along with illegal raids, rescues, and sabotage attacks; (2) views capitalism as an inherently irrational, exploitative, and destructive system, and sees the state as a corrupt tool whose function is to advance the economic and military interests of the corporate domination system and to repress opposition to its agenda; (3) has a broad, critical understanding of how different forms of oppression are interrelated, seeing human animal, nonhuman animal, and earth liberation as inseparable projects; and, thus, (4) promotes an anti-capitalist alliance politics with other rights, justice, and liberation movements who share the common goal of dismantling all systems of hierarchical domination and rebuilding societies through decentralization and democratization processes.
Like with other lefties, it’s all about hating capitalism at the end of the day. All I can say is bravo academia, you sure have a lot of talented individuals in your ranks.