A Little Bit Goes A Long Way
Starting Small and Working Up
from No Compromise Issue 27

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the news that another animal abuse enterprise has been reduced to ashes. I delight in poring over images of dairy trucks aglow, the charred skeletons of slaughterhouses, or land where fur industry warehouses used to be.

Arson is glorified by magazines, websites and individuals who support illegal direct action-- and rightly so. It is inspiring and effective. But for those without commitment, know-how, and the willingness to sacrifice the rest of their lives in prison, it can be the beginning of the end. The end of their freedom, the end of their direct action careers, and all too often, the end of their dignity and courage, should they decide to roll over on a fellow activist.

Every year individuals are arrested for these types of actions who were not experienced, not prepared, not fully committed and not ready to go the distance. Many of these individuals share a name: snitch. The rest languish in prisons serving out long sentences. Regardless of the result, one thing is certain: All individuals attempting such actions would benefit from starting out with small, simple, low-consequence actions and working their way up.

Starting small serves many purposes. These actions are a training ground. With minimal risk, underground activists can learn what it takes to operate anonymously, effectively and without getting caught. It is better to develop these skills while risking a year in prison than it is while risking thirty years.

Low-consequence actions are also an opportunity for individuals to find out whom they work well with and whom they should avoid. Groups of committed activists have an opportunity to gel into cohesive, well-oiled partnerships while the stakes are relatively low. Each team member's strengths and weaknesses can be assessed so that operations can be carried out smoothly and quickly. This will be particularly important if these teams go on to take on riskier and more complicated actions.

This time will also give each individual involved an opportunity to assess his or her ability and desire to carry on with what they have been doing. With experience, they will learn to evaluate risks honestly and leave their egos behind when deciding if they are willing to accept the consequences of their actions. Some may realize that they either are not fully committed or are more suited to playing supportive roles. It is vital that no person ever engage in any activity whose risks exceed the level of sacrifice they are willing to make.

Just because an action carries low consequences and is simple to pull off does not mean that it cannot be effective. Many fur stores have been put out of business after repeatedly suffering broken windows, glued locks and painted walls. Numerous companies and individuals have decided to dissociate themselves from animal abuse after their vehicles and homes have been smashed up. Fur farms have shut down permanently after watching their captives scamper off to freedom.

Big things can come in small packages. The important thing is to think strategically, be smart, stay safe and just get out there and do it!