September 27, 2021
The New Yorker amplified calls for eco-terrorism in the name of sparking action on climate change last week by inviting Andreas Malm, the Swedish author of “How To Blow Up A Pipeline,” onto its podcast.
In the episode titled “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” Malm explains how it’s time for the climate change movement to “diversify its tactics and move away from an exclusive focus on polite, gentle, and perfectly peaceful civil disobedience.”
Malm stopped his recommendations short of “kidnapping oil workers” but said that “civil disobedience” ostensibly to save the planet should include mass acts of “intelligent sabotage” and property destruction, such as blowing up pipelines.
“I’m not saying we should stop strikes or square occupations or demonstrations of the usual kind. I’m all in favor of that. But I do think we need to step up because so little has changed and so many investments are still being poured into new fossil fuel projects,” Malm said. “So I am in favor of destroying machines, property — not harming people, that’s a very, very important distinction there. And I think property can be destroyed in all manner of ways, or it can be neutralized in a very gentle fashion as when we defeated the SUVs, or in a more spectacular fashion, as in potentially blowing up a pipeline that’s under construction. That’s something that people have done.”
“So you’re recommending blowing up a pipeline,” the host confirmed.
Malm justified such actions by claiming that the supposedly moral pros of combatting the “climate crisis” outweigh the cons.
“I don’t see how that property damage could be considered morally legitimate, given what we know of the consequences of such a project,” Malm said.
The author also pledged “to be part of any kind of action of the sort that I advocate in the book” before criticizing the climate change movement’s tendency toward nonviolent protest.
“This dogmatic commitment to nonviolence is based on a faulty history writing or understanding of social struggles over history because it’s based on the idea that the only thing that has ever worked for social movements is to stay completely peaceful and that just isn’t the case,” Malm argued.
Instead of acknowledging the criminal consequences of violence and domestic terrorism, Malm compared the climate movement to the riots that followed the death of George Floyd, which the host said was a false label for a cause that was “largely peaceful.”
“I don’t think that anyone could seriously argue that the BLM movement in 2020 would have achieved more if there had been no confrontations, no windows smashed, no police stations or cars burnt. That’s a fantasy scenario, in my view,” Malm said.
A few months ago, Vox co-founder Ezra Klein excused Malm’s suggestions for terrorist bombings of oil pipelines in a New York Times column titled “It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn.” When asked whether Klein’s worries that poor people would be harmed by ecoterrorism on infrastructure are founded, Malm once again claimed the ends justify the means.
“If you engage in property destruction that causes such disruption to prices, you run a risk of alienating people, but I think that if people go about this in a careful fashion, and if they time property disruption of this sort to moments when the impact of the climate crisis are being felt, there would be a decent chance to also gain popular support for these kind of actions,” he said.
The host then asked how Malm would avoid Fox News labeling his actions as eco-terrorism, to which the author replied, “Well, I don’t think that we should adapt our tactics after the enemy’s script.”