Problems with In-Fighting

Activism, Community


In-Fighting Hurts the Movement

If you are active with an animal liberation group, you have probably witnessed in-fighting. Strategic differences or personality clashes that lead to a group disbanding, lead to animal rights groups gossiping about one another, and lead to people leaving the movement. The problem with in-fighting is that it accomplishes nothing. Instead, it:

  • Creates divides
  • Detracts from action
  • Pushes people out of the movement
  • Weakens the movement overall
  • Creates environments of hostility
  • Leads to higher rates of activist burnout

Governments, police, and evil corporations have historically used infighting as a strategic tool to take down revolutionary action. They facilitate the conditions that create tension and conflict. One of the reasons why this tool is used is because it is so effective. Activists squash themselves. Infighting has hindered and destroyed countless social movements and it’s far too common in the animal rights/animal liberation movement.

Constant infighting is not helping animals. It gets in the way of action when we allow personal conflicts and egos to detract from revolutionary work. As long as animal exploitation and oppressive governments exist, attacking other activists is a complete waste of time.

Possible Solutions:

  • Create spaces centered around friendship and support.
  • Recognize that movements need a diversity of voices, tactics, strategies, and approaches (even if you don’t agree with them).
  • If you think an activist or group is approaching an issue in the wrong way, do it better. Focus on your activism and don’t waste your time criticizing. Lead by example and create a model that others can replicate.
  • Don’t push anyone out. Our movement needs as many people as possible. None of us have the right to excise someone from the movement because of personal disagreements.
  • Seek out mediation. Activist communities rarely bring in mediators, even though this is an extremely effective way to address conflict. A mediator can provide an objective analysis of the situation, can help facilitate difficult conversations, can help ensure that no one feels excluded, and can suggest possible paths forward. Email for free mediation services.
  • Set out group guidelines so that everyone is on same page regarding what is acceptable and what isn’t.
  • Remember that arguments are pacifying and destructive. Focus on action and using your time as efficiently as possible.

*In-fighting is not the same as philosophical/tactical disagreements. Differing opinions add to the diversity of our movement and debates about different issues (ie. welfarism & abolitionism) can make us better advocates. Even academic debates, though, can detract from effective action. Activists who dedicate more time to bickering than to actual activism are doing something wrong.

Animal Advocate Support and the Canadian Animal Liberation Movement (CALM Action) provide free mediation services, training around safe(r) spaces, and activist mentors. If you or your group could use a bit of help, send us an email: 

If you’re dealing with in-fighting and need support, we’re here.  Text 416-699-7720 (Canada) & 818-960-3929 (USA), email, or chat with us online