This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (May 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Steven Best (born December 1955) is an award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist with 30 years work in diverse social movements. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, species extinction, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media and culture, globalization, and capitalist domination. He is Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso. Best has published 13 books and over 200 articles and reviews (translated into numerous languages), spoken in nearly two dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and in 2007 was voted by VegNewsas one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” From Romania to Russia, from Poland to Paris, and from Slovenia to South Africa, Best inspires at a global level and shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.
|Born||December 1955 (age 63)|
|Education||PhD in philosophy (1993)|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin|
|Occupation||Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso|
|Known for||Co-founder of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office|
|(ed.) Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004)|
He is co-author (with UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner) of an award-winning trilogy of postmodern studies (Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogation; The Postmodern Turn: Paradigms Shifts in Art, Theory, and Science; and The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium (Guilford Press, 1991, 1997, 2001). More recently, he introduced and co-edited four groundbreaking and bridge-building anthologies: Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books, 2004); Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (AK Press, 2006); Academic Repression: Reflections on the Academic-Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2010); and The Global Industrial Complex: Systems of Domination (Rowman & Littlefield 2011). His most recent book is entitled: The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).
Best’s research and teachings on the crucial topics of the day, along with his controversial positions and high-profile activism has earned him multiple awards, including selection by VegNews Magazine as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” But his passionate advocacy of “total liberation” (integrating struggles to emancipate humans, animals, and the earth into a comprehensive movement for systemic change) has put him under heavy fire as well. Best exemplifies the role of the engaged academic and public intellectual. He has lectured throughout the world, interviewed with global media, and appeared or was featured in numerous documentaries. From Romania to Russia, Poland to Paris, and Slovenia to South Africa, Best inspires and agitates at a global level and shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.
After attending high school in Chicago, Best took casual jobs in factories and drove a truck for a few years. He attended the College of DuPage (Illinois) from 1977 to 1979, where he completed an associate degree in film and theater. He then studied philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1979 to 1983, where he received a bachelor's degree with distinction; at the University of Chicago from 1985 to 1987 where he obtained his master's degree; and at the University of Texas at Austin from 1989 to 1993, where he obtained his PhD.
In 1993, he began as an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso promoted to Associate Professor in 1999, and was Chair of the Philosophy Department 2002–2005.
Best is co-founder of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS), formerly known as the Center on Animal Liberation Affairs (CALA). His academic interests are continental philosophy, postmodernism, and environmental philosophy. He is known for his post-structuralist notions of revolution, based equally in animal rights and total liberation. He is the editor, with Anthony J. Nocella, of Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), which has a foreword by Ward Churchill, and the companion volume on revolutionary environmentalism, Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (2006).
Best co-authored with Douglas Kellner a critically acclaimed trilogy of texts on postmodern theory and cultural studies – Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations (1991), The Postmodern Turn (1997), and The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium (2001).
Animal Liberation Press OfficeEdit
In December 2004, Best co-founded the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which acts as a media office for a number of animal rights groups, including the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), though he has said that he is not himself an ALF activist.
Views on civil disobedience and violenceEdit
Best has made posts to target others in the animal-rights movement who do not agree with violence, who he refers to as "Franciombes" after Gary Francione who believes in pursuing animal rights only through peaceful means.
Best has explained a justification for civil disobedience in the essay Beyond Animal Liberation.
Ban from entering the United KingdomEdit
In 2005, Best planned to attend a rally to celebrate the closure—as a result of protests from the animal rights movement—of Newchurch Farm, where guinea pigs were being bred for research purposes. Charles Clarke, the British Home Secretary, said he would rely on new Home Office rules preventing people from enter the UK if they "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in further of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts." In a letter to Best dated August 24, 2005, Clarke cited a comment by Best quoted by The Daily Telegraph: "We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically. Our power is not in the right to vote but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win." Best is also alleged to have said that the animal rights movement did not want to "reform" vivisectionists but to "wipe them off the face of the earth."
The letter from the Home Secretary said: "In expressing such views, it is considered that you are fomenting and justifying terrorist violence and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts and fomenting other serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts." The letter was dated the same day that the Home Office published its new list of behaviors that would see people banned from the UK. Under the list, people who write, speak, run a website, or use their positions as teachers to express views that "foment, justify, or glorify violence in furtherance of particular beliefs" will be banned or deported. The British government called the new measures part of its "ongoing work to tackle terrorism and extremism." Best responded by saying it didn't surprise him. He told the Chronicle of Higher Education: "It was only a matter of time, especially after the July 7, 2005 London bombings. The climate in Britain is totally unbelievable. It's very fascist. It's becoming a police state."
- Curriculum vitae, drstevebest.org, accessed February 5, 2012.
- Smallwood, Scott. "Speaking for the Animals, or the Terrorists?", The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2005.
- "Intellectual Biography Statement Dr. Steven Best".
- ”Contributors,” Democracy & Nature, Vol. 6, No. 3 (November 2000). Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- Political Media Review PMR
- ANIMAL RIGHTS EXTREMIST CAMILLE MARINO CALLS FOR VIOLENCE, Southern Poverty Law Centre, 1 March 2012
- Steve Best, Beyond Animal Liberation, The Anarchist Library
- MacLeod, Donald. "Britain uses hate law to ban animal rights campaigner", The Guardian, August 31, 2005.
- Smallwood, Scott. "Britain Bans American Professor Who Speaks on Behalf of Animal Liberation Front", The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 29, 2005.