|Born||December 1955 (age 57–58)|
|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|
|Notable work(s)||(ed.) Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004)|
Steven Best (born December 1955) is an American animal rights advocate, author, and associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso. A writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education described him in 2005 as "one of the leading scholarly voices on animal rights."
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 sexual 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).
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. He came to public attention in 2005, when the British Home Office told him it intended to use counter-terrorist measures adopted in light of the July 2005 London bombings to prevent him from addressing an animal rights rally in the UK. Best responded by alleging that Britain was becoming a police state.
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 has written several books exploring postmodernism and its challenges to science. He takes a moderate approach in seeing benefits and flaws in both modernism and postmodernism. He has also produced papers on contemporary culture such as the film RoboCop, hiphop music, and H.G. Wells. His most recent book is Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex (2010), co-edited with Peter McLaren and Anthony J. Nocella II.
Best sits on the advisory board of the International Journal of Inclusive Democracy. Often writing alongside Douglas Kellner, Best relates his animal rights and environmental advocacy to issues of democracy, socialism and human rights. He is a supporter of direct democracy, as are most editors of the journal.
Best was threatened with a ban on entering Britain in 2004, when he planned to attend an animal rights conference, but he was able to argue successfully that banning him from arguing in favor of property destruction in certain circumstances would be akin to banning Peter Singer for supporting euthanasia and infanticide.
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."
He has written about this experience.
- Best, Steven and Nocella, Anthony J. The Animal Liberation Front: A Political and Philosophical Analysis. Lantern Books, 2011.
- Best, Steven, Nocella, Anthony J., & McLaren, Peter Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex , AK Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-904859-98-7
- Best, Steven and Nocella, Anthony J. Igniting A Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth, AK Press, 2006. ISBN 1-904859-56-9
- Best, Steven, and Nocella, Anthony J. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. Lantern Books, 2004. ISBN 1-59056-054-X
- Steven Best and Douglas Kellner. The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium. Guilford, June 2001. ISBN 978-1-57230-665-3
- Best, Steven. The Politics of Historical Vision: Marx, Foucault, Habermas. Guilford 1995. ISBN 978-1-57230-145-0
- Best, Steven and Kellner, Douglas. Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. Guilford 1991. ISBN 978-0-89862-412-0
- Best, Steven and Kellner, Douglas. The Postmodern Turn. Guilford 1991. ISBN 978-0-89862-412-0
Essays & articles
- Steven Best, "The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education," State of Nature (summer 2009).
- Steven Best, "Minding the Animals: Ethology and the Obsolescence of Left Humanism," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 2009).
- Steven Best, "Crisis Culture and the Waning of Revolutionary Politics," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 3, No. 4 (October 2007). [This article is a pre-publication from Global Capitalism and the Demise of the Left: Renewing Radicalism through Inclusive Democracy; An abridged version of this article was published in Volume 3 No 2 of this journal.]
- Steven Best, "The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act: New, Improved, and ACLU Approved," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 3, No. 3 (July 2007).
- Steven Best, "Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol.2, No.3 (June 2006).
- Kellner, Douglas and Best, Steven, "Dawns,Twilights, and Transitions: Postmodern Theories, Politics, and Challenges", Democracy & Nature: The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 7, No. 1 (March 2001).
- Smallwood, Scott. "Speaking for the Animals, or the Terrorists?", The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2005.
- 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.
- Curriculum vitae, drstevebest.org, accessed February 5, 2012.
- "Robocop: The Crisis of Subjectivity"
- "Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference"
- "H.G. Wells, Biotechnology, and Genetic Engineering: A Dystopic Vision"
- Political Media Review PMR
- "The Superior Human?" Official Movie Website
- Blog of Dr Steven Best
- Blog of Professor Emeritus Marc Bekoff
- The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy: Editorial and Advisory Board
- "Banned in the UK! Home Office says 'Home!' to US Animal Rights Activists", drstevebest.org.