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Blowing Things Up To Save The Planet
Eco-terrorism or justifiable sabotage? The New Yorker gives a would-be pipeline bomber a chance to make his case.
Late last Saturday night, I ran across a New Yorker podcast entitled “Should the Climate Movement Embrace Sabotage?” The podcast included an interview with Professor Andreas Malm, a Swedish author and lecturer at Lund University. The podcast description described Malm as someone “who studies the relationship between climate change and capitalism, insists that the environmental movement reconsider its roots in nonviolence.” To that end, Malm has written a book: “How to Blow up a Pipeline.”
My initial response was incredulity, but quickly it became clear this was not hyperbole or symbolic language, but a literal call to action to destroy property in the name of saving the planet:
It did not take long for reactions to begin blowing up my Twitter feed, and, while many shared my repulsion, a significant proportion of the responses enthusiastically supported Malm’s position.
What follows is a sampling from across the spectrum, beginning with those opposed to Malm and his ideas:
Malm’s radical plans resonated with others. [Note: For those unfamiliar (as I was) with the term “based,” Dictionary.com says it means “being yourself and not caring what others think of you.” Although it goes on to say that the term was “appropriated by the alt-right online as a general term of praise,” clearly some on the left are down with it also. Consider yourself educated now.]
First up: Jacob Silverman, Staff Writer, New Republic:
Edward Ongweso Jr, Writer for VICE News:
Aaminah Khan, Freelance Journalist (including Huffington Post):
Natalie Weizenbaum, Design/Developer, Google (Also a Member of Alphabet Workers Union):
BenDavid Grabinski, Hollywood Screenwriter:
NYT Bestselling author Lauren Hough:
Emily Gorcenski, Data Scientist:
Walker Bragman, Journalist at The Daily Poster (a left-wing "reader-supported investigative journalism project" led by David Sirota):
C.J. Thorpe-Tracey, Substack author:
Although on the podcast, Malm is coy about his own past actions and plans, not wishing to alert potential targets (or the authorities), he made clear nonviolence has had its chance to work, and while conventional opposition should continue, physical sabotage is now necessary and justified. While the free exchange of ideas is vital and a foundational principle for a liberal society, explicit calls for violence are generally considered beyond the pale.
While Malm’s violent intentions and the New Yorker’s boost caused something of a stir among right-leaning media outlets, the broader media have yawned or ignored them. Were Malm’s potential targets abortion clinics, it seems reasonable to assume the response would be considerably different.