NYT Climate Action Book Review: “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Climate Depot; No doubt Twitter and Facebook will ban the author, Amazon, the New York Times and other reviewers and book sellers any minute now, for saying nice things about inflammatory material which promotes violence and terrorism.

From NYT;

Three Books Offer New Ways to Think About Environmental Disaster

By Tatiana Schlossberg
Jan. 22, 2021

HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE
By Andreas Malm 
200 pp. Verso. Paper, $19.95.

In September 2019, millions of people around the world participated in nonviolent demonstrations demanding action on climate change.

“To say that the signals have fallen on the deaf ears of the ruling classes of this world would be an understatement. If these classes ever had any senses, they have lost them all,” writes Malm, a Swedish professor of human ecology and climate change activist, in his compelling but frustrating treatise.

A proportionate and rational response, Malm argues, should be to target fossil fuel infrastructure: Destroy fences around a power plant; occupy pipeline routes, as protesters did for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; at coal mines or similar sites, set up climate camps, which Malm believes are effective as laboratories for activism and for shutting things down by putting bodies on the line.

So Malm wants us to fight back (though I should add that there aren’t any actual instructions here about how to blow anything up).

He argues that there should be room for tactics other than strict nonviolence and peaceful demonstrations — indeed, he is a bit contemptuous of those who offer strategic pacifism as a solution — and notes that fetishizing nonviolence in past protest movements sanitizes history, removing agency from the people who fought, sometimes violently, for justice, freedom and equality.

Sure. But the problem with violence, even if it’s meant only to destroy “fossil capital,” is that ultimately it’s impossible to control.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/22/books/review/scorched-earth-emmanuel-kreike-how-to-prepare-for-climate-change-david-pogue-how-to-blow-up-a-pipeline-andreas-malm.html

OK, not a complete endorsement of violence, but in my opinion NYT Tatiana Schlossberg’s review doesn’t exactly read like a categorical rejection of use of violence to deprive people of access to a legal product.

The official book website also makes it very clear what is being advocated;

How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Learning to Fight in a World on Fire

by Andreas Malm

Why resisting climate change means combatting the fossil fuel industry

The science on climate change has been clear for a very long time now. Yet despite decades of appeals, mass street protests, petition campaigns, and peaceful demonstrations, we are still facing a booming fossil fuel industry, rising seas, rising emission levels, and a rising temperature. With the stakes so high, why haven’t we moved beyond peaceful protest?

In this lyrical manifesto, noted climate scholar (and saboteur of SUV tires and coal mines) Andreas Malm makes an impassioned call for the climate movement to escalate its tactics in the face of ecological collapse. We need, he argues, to force fossil fuel extraction to stop—with our actions, with our bodies, and by defusing and destroying its tools. We need, in short, to start blowing up some oil pipelines.

Offering a counter-history of how mass popular change has occurred, from the democratic revolutions overthrowing dictators to the movement against apartheid and for women’s suffrage, Malm argues that the strategic acceptance of property destruction and violence has been the only route for revolutionary change. In a braided narrative that moves from the forests of Germany and the streets of London to the deserts of Iraq, Malm offers us an incisive discussion of the politics and ethics of pacifism and violence, democracy and social change, strategy and tactics, and a movement compelled by both the heart and the mind. Here is how we fight in a world on fire.

Read more: https://www.versobooks.com/books/3665-how-to-blow-up-a-pipeline

I never received my reviewers copy, so I haven’t read the book, but I think we get the idea.

Fossil fuel production only exists because people buy fossil fuel products. Oil production could be stopped overnight, by say giving the Green Party a supermajority. Or people could choose of their own free will to stop purchasing gasoline.

The author of this savage call to arms must know there is no chance of convincing ordinary people to give up the comforts of modern civilisation, so he advocates depriving people of said comforts by violence and unlawful destruction of property.

In this sense, the real targets of the violence which is being advocated in this nasty call to arms are ordinary people, who choose of their own free will to purchase the products of our fossil fuel powered civilisation. Ordinary people who would be badly inconvenienced or worse were those products forcefully withdrawn by eco-crazies inspired by this ugly manifesto.

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January 26, 2021 at 08:51PM

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