Animal Rights 2006 Gathering in southeast England, 23-26 June

A four day gathering for activists near Tonbridge in Kent. Loads of workshops, acitivities, socialising, etc. Marquees, a healing area, a football tournament, vegan refreshments, showers, camping. And it's completely free (donations needed!). http://www.ar2006.info/index.html

The AR2006 International Gathering begins on Friday 23 June and lasts until Monday 26 June. It will take place near Tonbridge Kent, southeast England, with Paddock Wood station as the assembly point.

There will be a huge number of workshops over the weekend on a wide range of topics including practical skills such as mapreading and legal briefings as well as campaigning issues like promoting veganism, setting up local groups and fighting the fur trade.

There will be vegan refreshments provided by the Anarchist Teapot,a healing area, a marquee showing films, and a music tent and bar. Also, an 'AR 2006 World Cup Football Tournament' will be held each day.

Of particular interest to people on this list may be the following two workshops:

'Beasts of Burden: animals, capitalism and anarchism'. This workshop will take as its starting point the ideas raised in the pamphlet, 'Beasts of Burden', first published in 1999 and reprinted in 2004. It is also available online at: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3909/beasts/index.html
The workshop will ask why mass industrialised animal abuse occurs: accident, freak of nature, human wickedness? It will contend that it is an inevitable outcome of capitalism and any strategy that does not recognise this will be found wanting.

There will also be discussion on why the animal rights movement and the libertarian left seem further apart than ever - in Britain at least - and what can be done to rectify this situation.

The words behind the actions: animal liberation and its symbolic struggle (a critical theoretical foundation of animal liberation)

This workshop challenges the often heard slogan "actions mean everything, words mean nothing" and the like. Not only is this absurd - because it is itself based on a theoretical assumption (on words) -, but it overlooks that successful actions against oppression of animals as well as against repression by corporate capitalism and its accomplices against the animal rights/animal liberation movement need a critical theory.

This workshop takes the following quote as a starting point: "Any change in consciousness involves an uphill symbolic struggle since every regime has some legitimating frame that provides the citizenry with a reason to be quiescent (...). It is not through force or coercion that a regime maintains itself but through its ability to shape our worldview." (Gamson 1992, 65).

Taking this into account, the animal rights/animal liberation movement has to win more than single actions or campaigns alone, but - additionally, or better at the same time - has to win the symbolic struggle, has to break down the current worldview that makes animal (as well as human) individuals wares, resources for destructive ends.

This demands a critical theory of society which implies the negation of the exploitative economic-political system and of the repressive cultural system as a whole and calls for a "new sensibility" (Herbert Marcuse) - an aesthetic taste for freedom - which becomes practice: liberation (of course includes this practice actions which have the force to fight the destructive system and which are part of a revolution).

Then the workshop is going to question if the present animal rights/animal liberation movement is able to successfully transform suppressive reality into a free society - and with it into the liberation of animals - or if it only reproduces repressive structures and values which have conditioned them.

There may be one or two changes or additions over the next week or so, so keep an eye on the website. Also if you are planning to attend, please read the rest of the website carefully, especially the guidelines and directions pages.

Please let us know soon if you are planning to turn up and how many of you there are. Contact details are on the website below.

http://www.ar2006.info/index.html