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How to Blow Up a Pipeline: A letter from the Editor

“What is remarkable about Andreas’s writing, to me, is that in reading this book, it’s immediately clear that destruction, sabotage, and occupation are acts of love.”

Jessie Kindig, editor

Originally published by Verso Books.

“Do you think it’s too extreme to call the book How to Blow Up a Pipeline?” Andreas asked me when we were editing the manuscript.

The book was originally called How to Defuse a Pipeline, but in the course of writing the book and readying it for publication—in a year when much of the western United States was choked in wildfire smoke and the zoonotic epidemic of Covid-19 had gripped all of us, everywhere, in a year when it’s predicted that Arctic ice melt will remap all of our coastlines in the coming decades—that title seemed too paltry a directive for what was at stake. And this book is a directive: for the climate movement to move beyond the politics of non-violence, beyond the slow and partial process of legislation, beyond just trying to enforce the Paris Agreement, and force fuel extraction to stop. It’s an argument to start blowing up oil pipelines, occupying coal mines, sabotaging SUVs.

What is remarkable about Andreas’s writing, to me, is that in reading this book, it’s immediately clear that destruction, sabotage, and occupation are acts of love. As he considers the moral and political arguments the climate movement levies against direct action and property destruction, in favor of passive moral witness, he argues that these are, ultimately, misguided—and that the particular politics of climate despair are wholly in bad faith. As activists from the deserts of Iraq to the tar sands of Canada to the plains of the Dakotas have shown, sabotage and destruction are powerful protections of community, life, ecology. This is a book that mixes desperate anger at capitalism and fossil fuel extraction with always evident care for what must be protected.

This is a way of saying that Andreas’s writing is always infused with a kind of hope, and that he shows us how militant action is, in fact, hope in its purest form.

Jessie Kindig

New York City 2020

How to Blow Up a Pipeline Learning to Fight in a World on Fire – by Andreas Malm

Originally published by Verso Books

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.

You can order the book here.

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1 thought on “How to Blow Up a Pipeline: A letter from the Editor

  1. […] The latest episode of the podcast Politics Theory Other, with guest Andreas Malm, author of How to Blow Up a Pipeline. […]

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