Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Animal Rebellion.
1. We are an anti-speciesist movement with a shared vision of change
Creating a world that protects beings of all species, for generations to come.
Speciesism is when animal individuals are treated differently depending on which species they are, even if their aversion to suffering (and desire to live) are equal. We stand against all forms of oppression, and that includes speciesism – we want to create a world where no suffering is inflicted on animals (including humans), where all oppressed individuals are liberated. Animal agriculture is the biggest perpetrator of animal cruelty and unwanted deaths, therefore we are working towards abolishing it on ethical grounds, as much as on environmental ones.
2. We focus on a system change, not individual change.
Understanding that an enormous shift in our society is needed and that this would bring us to our goals much quicker than relying on personal changes.
The change needed is huge and yet achievable. No regime in the 20th century managed to stand against an uprising which had the active participation of up to 3.5% of the population. In many countries this would mean mobilising millions of people in order to oversee a rapid change in food production methods and unpicking the systematic politics of speciesism, preventing vested interests from perpetuating self-enrichment at the cost of human and animal lives .
We can focus on symptoms of this toxic system, yet we also take opportunities to point out that full system change is needed. We also focus on the pillars that keep the current system of oppression in place:
- Lavish subsidising of ecologically destructive animal-based economics which is unfair to all beings.
- Continuous colonisation of those who are different.
- A media upholding the narrative of oppression.
3. We need a regenerative culture
Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.
A regenerative culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all beings. Regenerative culture means improvements year on year, taking small steps to heal and improve, and on all levels, including individuals, communities, soil, water and air. More than being a network of “activists”, we seek to find ways of being and doing that support positive change. This can include ceremony and prayer as ways to find inspiration from things bigger than ourselves. We need to reconnect with our love for ourselves, our planet as well as people, other animals and the natural world.
Regenerative culture includes a healthy focus on mutually supporting categories of:
- Self care – how we take care of our own needs and personal recovery from this toxic system
- Action care – how we take care of each other whilst we undertake direct actions and civil disobedience together
- Interpersonal care – how we take care of the relationships we have, being mindful of how we affect each other, taking charge of our side of relationships
- Community care – how we take care of our development as a network and community, strengthening our connections and adherence to these principles and values
- People and Planet care – how we look after our wider communities and the earth that sustains us all
It’s about relationships. Our relationships with ourselves and personal histories, our relationships with what we struggle against, our relationships with other individuals day to day, and our relationships as a group – these are completely interdependent. Self care is also about taking care of the parts of the self that respond instinctively to stressful situations with fight or flight or faint.
4. We openly challenge ourselves and our toxic system
Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.
We have a duty to disobey this system which kills billions of individuals of all species, destroys life on earth and is deeply unjust. Some of us will undertake open (“above ground*”) actions that risk arrest and charges. Evidence suggests that such open civil disobedience and direct action are crucial to change (See for example evidence in CounterPower by Tim Gee and This is an Uprising by Engler & Engler). It isn’t necessary or required that everyone do this, as for some there are good reasons not to (we ask everyone to take time to be clear on their own circumstances, fears and motivations here).
Importantly, our Animal Rebellion culture should support those of us willing to put ourselves on the line in this way – there are also many support roles that are useful and we need to enable at least 3% of the population to actively participate. We will practice a security culture to the extent that it enables actions to be planned without being intercepted before they are completed. However our civil disobedience and direct actions are in full public light, organisers accept the risks they are taking. We appreciate and admire those willing to take “below ground” or “covert” actions to fight for environment and social justice, within other settings. For clarity, and for the safety of those organising in Animal Rebellion it is important we are clear that all actions taken in the name of Animal Rebellion are “above ground,” i.e. that they are taken in the open and no below ground actions are taken as Animal Rebellion.
However we are not just about being out there and taking action, we must also resource all aspects of a regenerative culture and also take time to reflect on whether what we are doing is effective. We might find it challenging to keep a focus on some aspects of this work, including self-care and looking after each other. There can be a pull to do the next thing, to be “active”, but this can lead to burn-out.
For all of these challenges we ask for room, patience and willingness to try new things to see if they support our goals.
5. We value reflecting and learning
Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.
We don’t know how things will change so we are willing to experiment and learn from what we do. Through ongoing questioning, reflection and learning about what has worked elsewhere we will improve what we do and not get stuck in repetitive behaviour. This is an active and ongoing process, requiring time and input for individuals and groups to think about what has gone well and why, and what would be better to be done differently.
6. We welcome everyone and every part of everyone
Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.
As a movement we are committed to campaigning for the right to life, and for the future life of our children, animals and the planet. We recognise that in order to change the world, we must change the way we think about and form relationships with those we work and ally ourselves with. The world is currently defined by multiple hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. For those lower down these hierarchies, much of the world isn’t a safe space. To create safer spaces we need to work actively to continuously build understandings of how these hierarchies operate, so that we can challenge them and build inclusion through making our spaces more accessible. Therefore, for our movement to be safe for everyone, it needs to be safe for the most marginalised.
This principle includes a commitment to making safer spaces to support inclusivity. It is our goal that every individual is welcomed regardless of their background and identity. Every individual in the movement is responsible for creating and maintaining safer, compassionate and welcoming spaces. New people to the movement need to be explicitly welcomed. A simple starting point is adherence to these core principles.
Physical violence or the incitement of violence towards others is not accepted. Discriminatory behaviour, language or behaviour that exhibits any forms of oppression including in the language, is not accepted. We accept all people but not all behaviours.
We also recognise that we are complex beings and exhibit many different parts of ourselves at different times and in different circumstances. For example, sometimes we might be caring, at other times judgemental, and at other times carelessly reactive. Some of those parts are parts of us that we’re happy to bring, and some of those parts are parts that we’re struggling with, or perhaps not even aware they existed until they revealed themselves. With this knowledge, we approach each other from a place of compassion, and encourage each other to increase our own self-awareness.
7. We embrace collaborative power
Breaking down unfair hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.
Animal Rebellion is based on the relationships between its participants. We will work every day to build trust, respect and reciprocity among all of us. We assume all members have good intentions and will react against disrespectful behaviour. We use conflict resolution techniques to deal with conflict in a healthy way that will bring growth to our movement. We ground our work in dialogue, healing, collective transformation and justice. We won’t tolerate shaming of each other or bullying in any form. This requires us to be honest and clear with ourselves and each other; we all hold prejudices and biases, and these must be acknowledged rather than dwelled upon negatively. It is everyone’s responsibility to change destructive habits and behaviours.
We recognise that our world as it stands is currently structured by various intersecting hierarchies based on class, race, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, species and so on. As such each person’s experience is shaped by their position within these various social hierarchies.
In practical terms this means that we aim to:
- We weigh coordinating roles towards marginalised groups.
- Our media and messaging includes issues and voices that are normally ignored (e.g. the animals’ interests and impact of climate change on them, their families and their future).
- Accessibility is important (in terms of child care, wheelchair access, not speaking in technical jargon), both for meetings and actions.
- We recognise that oppressive behaviours are socially embedded within us, and privileged people are asked to commit to questioning their privilege and to be open to being challenged.
- We pass on skills and knowledge as well as roles so that power doesn’t get entrenched.
- We embed anti-oppressive practice into our training materials.
- Our strategy is focussed on doing the work it takes to forge genuine alliances with the grassroots movements of the people who are most marginalised.
- We also recognise that sometimes people make mistakes, misjudgements and missteps, and we seek to avoid humiliating exposure when it is clear that an issue needs to be raised and dealt with.
Thinking about these questions is encouraged: If you always do a role, is it possible to train someone else to do it? If someone else is taking leadership on a role, can you learn from them so that you can step in? Can you challenge yourself to take on a more upfront role if this is something you don’t usually do? Do you take time to learn about power and privilege? Do you have an understanding of how the power and privilege you hold has an effect on other people and the movement you are part of?
8. We avoid blaming and shaming
We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.
Blaming and shaming will not serve us in the long run. Whilst a specific campaign may seek to highlight the damaging role played by an institution, including individuals serving that institution, our starting point is that we live in a toxic system that has damaged everybody. We can point out behaviour that is unhelpful, exploitative or abusive, and we won’t tolerate such behaviour, yet we don’t hand away our love or power by blaming and shaming. This is also true in our interpersonal and group dynamics as well as our relationship to ourselves.
As stated in principle 2, we focus on system change and don’t shame or exclude people because of their personal choices. At the same time we recognise the importance of the hard work carried out by organisations focusing on personal outreach.
We embrace change that creates unity in diversity; we need to set right the relationships between us, avoiding the interpersonal traps that come from games we may inadvertently play and bringing awareness to the structures that would divide us. We accept that emotion sometimes needs to be expressed, that a period of venting can be necessary. We ask each other for good grace in how we share emotion and to return to a baseline of love, respect and co-existence. We need to be compassionate when mistakes are made. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. We look for ways to connect and understand. Listening deeply to each other is a powerful tool. We especially need to listen to those of us that come from groups whose voices tend to be silenced.
9. We are a non-violent network
Using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.
Non-violence keeps our movement alive. We use non-violence to reveal the true perpetrators of systemic violence that both humans and animals suffer from daily all over this world. It is our strategy to bring light to the injustice that too many suffer each day. We feel pain from the abuses of the police and others, and we will keep exposing their violence through our discipline. Non-violence has unequivocally been demonstrated to be an effective tool in mass mobilisations (see the work of Gene Sharp and Erica Chenoweth) and so we base a cornerstone of our movement on this.
At the same time we also recognise that many people and movements in the world face death, displacement and abuse in defending what is theirs. We will not condemn those who justly defend their families, communities and those who are disproportionately marginalised through the use of force, especially as we must also recognise that it is often our privilege which keeps us safe. We stand in solidarity with those who have no such privilege to protect them and therefore must protect themselves through violent means; this does not mean we condone all violence, just that we understand in some cases it may be justified.
10. We are based on autonomy and decentralisation
We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power.
We recognise that we can’t look to the government to solve the world’s problems. It tends to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a very privileged few, and often does not have the interests of humans, animals and the natural world at heart. We understand that we must self-organise to meet our own needs, which in the context of AnimalRebellion means that we are working to equalise power by disrupting the usual pillars of power that govern our lives. In so doing, our intention is to create access to the resources we need, such as democratic structures that ensure everyone has a voice or their interests are being represented or considered.
Any person or group can organise autonomously around the issues that feel most pressing for them, and take action in the name and spirit of Animal Rebellion – so long as the action fits within Animal Rebellion’s principles and values. In this way, power is decentralised, meaning that there is no need to ask for permission from a central group or authority. We promote the ideas of “holacracy” over consensus:
- That it may be agreed in a group for one or two people to do a specific task for the group. Those people are then fully empowered to do the task.
- They are best to seek advice and feedback but they don’t need anyone’s permission to complete the task.
- They are fully responsible for outcomes and should reflect on them and how to improve in future. If anything goes wrong they should help to “clean up”.