In his book How to Blog Up A Pipeline, Andreas Malm writes about the need for the climate movement to have a more radical wing (which would do things like blowing up pipelines, or other forms of property destruction). His view is that the climate movement is making a mistake by subscribing to radical forms of non-violence, since the climate crisis is getting worse year by year, while the tactics of the climate movement remain the same – and, in his view, have proven to be ineffective (or at least, insufficiently effective).

One of Malm’s targets is Extinction Rebellion (XR), one of the most visible groups within the climate movement. Local groups of XR are staging various forms of protest, but always non-violent; they do not destroy property. Malm argues that XR has a flawed understanding of how in the past movements operated who were fighting to abolish slavery or abolish apartheid in South Africa, or fighting for women’s political rights or equal civil rights in the US. They all first tried to reach their goals in a peaceful way, but at some point resorted to violence (against property, thereby doing their best to avoid hurting people). And that paid off, since it had the effect of making the claims of the non-violent part of the movement more acceptable to mainstream politics. Malm believes that what XR and other groups in the climate activist movement should learn from the history of the social justice movements, is to have a fraction or a wing in the movement that doesn’t shy away from destroying property. Hence the metaphor of blowing up a pipeline (in case anyone was wondering, Malm doesn’t tell his readers how to actually go about blowing up a pipeline).

This is a thought-provoking book, and I would recommend anyone interested in the future of life on our planet to read it. It is a much-needed book to stir up debate and get us into action, given the desperateness of the current climate situation and the lack of sufficiently effective action (which has been increasingly affecting my mood – as some of my posts here over the last months (one, two) probably revealed). But I don’t think Malm’s book will serve as a one-stop-answer to the question how to make the climate movement deliver results. Why not? [click to continue…]