Introducing Animal Think Tank

We are all building a mass movement for animal liberation.

Within one generation animals will have their rights to life, liberty and security of person protected in law and respected by society.

In a world where trillions of animals are tortured and killed every year, our goal might seem idealistic to many.

But history tells us it is absolutely possible.

Just looking over the last one hundred years, we have seen masses of people rise up to overthrow dictators, secure rights for oppressed and marginalised groups, and fundamentally change their societies for the better.

With every social movement that takes place around the world, humanity learns more about the art and science of revolution.

Organising today, those of us in the Animal Justice Movement stands on the shoulders of giants.

We can study successful past and present social movements, learn their strategies for mass movement building and nonviolent civil resistance, and slow down to reflect, strategise and plan our way forward.

In colonial India, Gandhi spent ten years in an Ashram working out a strategic plan to gain Indian Independence. Inspired by the ideas of Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau, he developed incredible programmes of nonviolent civil resistance which continue to inspire social movements today. Particularly remembered is the salt march, marching with thousands of people to collect salt in symbolic defiance of colonial law.

Salt March

In the 1950s an African American man called James Lawson travelled to India and spent 3 years learning Gandhi’s methods to help inform the building of the Civil Rights Movement. He returned to the United States and played a key role in training up young people in the theory and practice of nonviolence. He spent four months training a group of students in nonviolent resistance, then supported them as they organised the Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-ins. In this campaign black students entered into segregated spaces to eat their lunch again and again and again, facing violence and arrest, inspiring and mobilising the whole community and ending this form of segregation. The campaign was expertly designed and was widely regarded as the model of effective campaigning in the Civil Rights Movement inspiring much of the disruptive campaigns leading up to the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1965.

Nashville Lunch-Counter Sitins

In the late 90s, a group of young students who had been organising for democracy in Serbia took a year’s break to reflect and evaluate their campaigning methods. They took lessons from successful nonviolent social movements and developed a strategy to overthrow Milosevic, a Brutal Dictator. Otpor! was launched and within three years they had organised with millions of people and instituted parliamentary democracy in Serbia.

Otpor!

Today these techniques are being applied to great effect. In the UK Rising Up and Radical Think Tank spent years learning the history of social movements, wrote PhDs on the subject, trialled and experimented with campaign design to learn what is most effective. All of this learning informed the design of the global Extinction Rebellion Movement, which is shifting political discourse and building a global movement for action on climate breakdown, species extinction and global justice.

Extinction Rebellion Blocked 5 Bridges in London November 2018

The Animal Justice Movement needs to follow in the footsteps of these historic movements. This is why we have formed the Animal Think Tank Collective to slow down and do this essential work in solidarity with animals.

Animal Think Tank’s mission is to support the building of a broad-based anti-speciesist movement that has the power and resilience to ensure all individual animals have their rights to life, liberty and security of person protected in law and respected by society. We aim to achieve this by developing the strategic direction, capacity and innovation of the individuals, groups and organisations working for animal justice in their diverse ways.

Our main areas of work include:

Movement Building and Unity

How do we build social movements that sustain over the long term? How does a social movement grow, what are the patterns in activity? How do different organisations and groups work together effectively? What are the different roles and functions required to make this movement a success?

Strategy

How do we get from where we are today to a passing of a law that bans animal farming, experimentation and other forms of animal exploitation? What are the key battleground issues we should be tackling? How do we most successfully bring the issue of animal rights into public consciousness and shift public opinion? If we identify a campaign goal, how do we work most effectively to achieve it? What is the range of tactics at our disposal and when are they most appropriately used?

Framing

How do we frame the goals of our movement? What language and messaging should we use? What values should we be appealing to? What stories appeal to different sectors of the population? Should we focus on asking people to ‘go vegan’ or should we be working to ‘end animal farming’ and other industries? Should we speak about the abuse animals face, or the fact that we use them at all?

Organising Structures

How do we build volunteer-led organisations and networks that will eventually enable hundreds of thousands of people to work autonomously towards a shared goal in a unified manner? What can we learn from open source software, decentralised companies, grassroots political parties and other organisations to help us design organisational structures? What processes are required to enable these structures to work effectively?

Culture

How do we build a movement that is inclusive of people with various backgrounds and identities? How do we create an environment where people’s natural creativity, collaboration and compassion can flourish? How do we take care of one another in the movement and hold each other accountable? How do we confront those doing harm whilst being empathetic and nonviolent in our approach? How do we build a movement that is innovative and is willing to take action ranging from educational and peaceful to bold and disruptive? Once we settle on a positive culture, how do we ensure that this spreads within our groups and organisations?

Anti-Speciesism

In what ways do we individually and as a movement continue to reproduce speciesism? How can we learn to unpack our internalised domination and live in equality with animals? What is the role of a human in the animal liberation movement? How do we centre animals more in their movement?

Leadership Development

How do we support people from all backgrounds and communities to develop and grow into empowered leaders in the movement for animal liberation? What does a good leader look like, and how do we mentor and support as many people to develop leadership skills?

Training

What kind of training do people need to be effective campaigners and advocates for social change? What are the best methods for delivering this training? How can we create a system where the knowledge and skills to deliver this training gets passed down, so we can have a whole network of volunteer trainers spreading essential knowledge to thousands of people in our movement?


We will be doing this deep work and developing training courses as we move into the future, please do get in touch with us if you are interested in this project. We would love to connect and be in touch. You can contact us via our website, our email or our Facebook page. Also, do consider coming along to the following events:

We will be sharing some of our thinking at the Movement Building stream of workshops and talks at Brighton Vegfest 2019 on 23/24 March.

Each evening after Brighton Vegfest we’ll be hosting a gathering to tell people about our project and to connect with like-minded people.

We are excited to be facilitating a Free Movement Building Training course on 10/11 August 2019.

A brief description reads: This training is for people in the animal justice movement who want to think big and get inspired. Drawn from cutting-edge research on mass movements and civil disobedience, this training will introduce some key concepts, principles and strategies for building a powerful mass movement that can achieve transformative change for other animals.

The deadline for applications is May 1st.

Subscribe to our occasional mailing list to hear about our upcoming trainings, events and news.
And be sure to follow us on Facebook for more regular updates!

If you’ve read this far and want to know more about us, then check out our website.