How to Blow up a Pipeline

Paperback, 208 pages

English language

Published Jan. 25, 2020 by Verso Books.

ISBN:
978-1-83976-025-9
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4 stars (39 reviews)

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 …

3 editions

Maybe better suited to newcomers

2 stars

My number one critique of this book is that it had so many opportunities to share and relate revolutionary movements throughout history to the climate movement, and it did not. Even worse, there were parts of the book that critiqued attacks on oil pipelines in the SWANA region that were connected to local anti-imperialist movements, without drawing the connection between anti imperialism and the climate movement (embarrassing, frankly).

That said, I think the book is a fine introduction to the idea that violence in the form of property destruction is a legitimate action to take, although I wish the book made a stronger case to the idea of armed resistance in the pursuit of national democracy and socialism. I also think the last chapter of the book was the strongest, since it offered good critiques of climate doomerism.

Anyway, I shouldn't be surprised lol, but whatever, it was fine.

Review of 'How to Blow up a Pipeline' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

Misleading title: The author explains nowhere in the book how to blow up a pipeline.

It is instead a detailed discussion of the pros and cons as well as the implications of using violence fighting the climate catastrophe. The book ends with a passionate argument against despair 

frustrating

2 stars

There's a bunch of other criticism of this book and I don't think I can do any better, but a few notes:

1) This book is way too writerly and the author is way too in love with their flourishes of speech. I almost noped out several times because the author wrote pages and pages of totally frustrating bullshit just to counter it later. 2) The author's clear struggles with the notion that violence might be able to accomplish a goal are understandable but exhausting. I'm honestly not sure that they agree with the premise of their own book. There's so much moralizing and prevaricating about it that I'm not convinced they do. 3) There's an undertone of casual racism throughout the book. I was pretty creeped out by the description of activists sneaking through a dark neighborhood while they deflated tires as a bunch of Indian warriors, There's also …

Brutally bleak subject matter, but inspirational in its drive toward radical agency amidst despair and doomerism

5 stars

This book is not a how-to guide for eco-terrorism. It is a theoretical analysis of the tactics that have been utilized by the climate movement thus far. The author chose a catchy title to suggest that violence against property is something that he thinks is necessary.

Also, I have zero intention of ever becoming an 'eco-terrorist' just because I found parts of this book inspiring. I have no intention of committing acts of criminal violence against property or risking my freedom by doing anything similar. I have a 6-month old kiddo who needs his dad to not be in jail or on the lam.

Having said that, this book is one that I think everyone involved in the climate movement ought to read, even/especially if you don't agree with the central premise of this book: that non-violent pacifism in not, by itself, enough to move the needle on meaningful action …

Energizing, brutally honest, and aggressively hopeful

5 stars

How to Blow Up a Pipeline is probably the most thought-provoking and crucial piece of political philosophy that I’ve read since Social Death by Lisa Marie Cacho.

In three long essays Malm fist dismantles the myths and extremely selective histories told by strategically pacifist climate movements like XR (Extinction Rebellion), then describes specific material actions and practical examples on how to disrupt fossil fuel combustion effectively and towards the end takes climate fatalism to task in a radically hopeful finale.

This book is as important as it is approachable, not at all a dense academic work but a pragmatic guide for the real world.

Review of 'How to Blow up a Pipeline' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

Perhaps I took the title too literally, but it was disappointing to discover how little of this book is concerned with articulating actual tactics for violent climate resistance. It is predominantly an argument for the necessity of violence, a position I agree with having bought a book called "How To Blow Up A Pipeline," but which ends up feeling as late and ineffectual as the doomerism that spurred writing it.

The last chapter dedicated to rebuking climate defeatism is the most engaging (if shockingly bleak). It seems an altogether more difficult challenge to pull people back from the ledge of accepted annihilation, which Malm does a commendable (if brief) job of. I just can't help feeling like I am no closer to actualizing any of the goals that have been hazely waved before me. The anger and restlessness is already here, what's left is the difficult task of directing it.

I'm forced to reflect on my own history of peacebuiding

3 stars

Andreas Malm has a simple thesis - that property violence is both necessary and justified in the struggle to end fossil fuels. Much of the book is spent critiquing Gandhi as well as Chenoweth and Stephan, heroes of my youth and my early peacebuilding career, respectively.

Malm argues that a violent wing to a broader movement is critical for that movement to achieve its objectives - that every Martin needs his Malcolm, etc. And he actively disputes the research and thesis of Chenoweth and Stephan's signature text, "Why Civil Resistance Works". He characterizes insistence on non-violence as the stance of the privileged who will bear the least of the burden as we descend into climate chaos.

As I write this, the U.S. Congress has passed an historic climate bill, investing $369 billion to overhaul our energy and transportation sectors. Through a combination of carrots and regulatory sticks, analysts predict that …

Review of 'How to Blow up a Pipeline' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

Everyone should read this; not necessarily because everyone should start blowing up pipelines, but because when you read a headline about those who do have the moral courage to blow up pipelines, you should put it in the proper context—as morally laudable and strategically important work. Which is not something you’re going to hear nearly enough.

a book with all the right pieces and some very weird conclusions

2 stars

for a book i should ostensibly agree with on all points i found this deeply dull and fairly insipid. it goes to great lengths to categorize property damage as violence, dedicating only a few paragraphs around page 100 to the "ridiculous" idea that inanimate property maybe can't be subject to violence in the same way that living things can. it then uses this framework of property damage as violence to argue for the necessity of violence in protest, but jumps through incredible hoops to advocate for some sort of violence scale, from damaging luxury vehicles on one side to murder on the other, and is vehement that although the climate movement needs violence to achieve results (it argues against pacifism for almost half the book, albeit it itself is more pacifist than it knows), this can only mean - to malm- damage to fossil fuel infrastructure and luxury goods. it …

Excellent at What It Does

4 stars

Firstly, this book is really good at what it sets out to do, mainly explain when and why property destruction can be adopted as a tactic for environmental preservation, and avoiding climate despair. For the most part, I agree with other criticisms of it listed here, namely that the title is misleading as it gives no instructions on practically how to blow up a pipeline, and does neglect care work and support infrastructure in doing revolution. However, I don't think that these are massive strikes against it, as it's not trying to be the What is to be Done of the 21st century. It's merely trying to advocate that property destruction is a legitimate tactic at this point in the climate crisis, and I think it does that well. While it is certainly preferable to abolish the state rather than pressure it into passing anemic climate legislation, these tactics, as …

rethinking malm

2 stars

i've read the book two months ago - initially i've been pretty convinced by it (with the exception of apporving eco-leninism) esp because i think he's generally right with the case of property destruction. however, as somebody already pointed out, he does not give any information on how to do that. additionally, while he aims to critizise overly moralistc arguments for liberal peacefulness, he's pretty moralistic himself. prperty destruction alone won't make a revolution. he also never acknowledges that the climate movement in europe already faces state repression, and in other parts of the world even more so. he doesn't ever speak of the nessecity of support systems and care structres. his focus on property destruction alone, while ignoring everything else, stinks of having patriachal hero figures in movements which undervalue care work even more (bc you know, that's liberal pacifism /sarcasm). there should be an realistic approach to property …

should be titled "Why Blow Up a Pipeline"

4 stars

This is a nice book. The author gives the rundown of climate movements of the past few years, focusing on Ende Gelände, Extinction Rebellion, and Fridays for Future. He's clearly actually been part of a lot of those actions and, as far as I can tell, he gets them pretty right. The tone is hopeful all in all and the central idea – that there should be a more militant flank focused on destruction of fossil fuel emitting devices like SUVs and pipelines – is made well, in particular the clear but charitable case against ideologues of pacifism in activism.

However, and this bugs me deeply, the author does not actually answer the question posed in the title. Nowhere in the book is there any kind of guideline of tactical advice or even finger-point to resources on how to go about this. There is no map of pipelines in Europe, …

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