Is infrastructure sabotage deemed ecocidal productive or counterproductive? The need to repair the damage at an even greater cost to the planet marks these acts as imbued with crass stupidity. However, before concluding, let’s look at the debate between two ecologists, George Monbiot, British journalist, and Andreas Malm, Swedish geographer author of ‘How to sabotage a pipeline’. Monbiot sharply criticizes Malm’s eco-terrorist apology in The Guardian, whose response is translated in Socialter, a french radical magazine.
The difficulty of a reform when everything has to be changed
For Monbiot, the revolt against ecological collapse is a revolt against the whole system. It is not only directed against fossil fuels, but against industrial capitalism as a whole. Suppose all oil pipelines, coal mines and SUVs are dismantled. This would be followed by the discovery that “we are still doomed to extinction” because “we would still have to tackle land degradation, freshwater scarcity, ocean dysbiosis, habitat destruction, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals, each problem comparable in scale and severity to climate collapse.” We are not struggling here with fossil capital alone, but with the whole capitalist system. Therefore, sabotages against fossil mining are futile and counterproductive.
No real counter-arguments in Malm, who uses the well-known rhetoric of the slippery slope. He extends Monbiot’s list, adding that we must “dismantle all the trawlers, bulldozers, pesticide factories and find out that we are still being guided straight to extinction. Just think of the 10,000 nuclear warheads stored on Earth. They do not evacuate the misfortunes and worries that should be tackled. Palestine remains occupied. Exploitation in sweatshops will be more widespread than ever. Extraction in the Congo is based on slavery-like conditions, and so on” And so for Malm you have to start somewhere… ie breaking the pipeline, the SUV, the private jet.
I do not dwell on the rest of his argument, which sounds so empty and because the essential is not said, as we will see. Note, amazed, that Socialter publishes without censorship signed articles advocating the destruction of other people’s property, public infrastructure, and “legitimate civil disobedience”. At least our little revolutionaries cannot complain about a restriction of their freedom of expression…
The slippery slope leads us to mass euthanasia
A private jet is what Malm’s mind reminds me of, ironically. Thoughts swirling around twenty seats… Why does this closed eco-terrorist have no chance of seeing his hopes come true? Because Malm is making a crucial mistake. He convinced himself that only spectacular violence is capable of awakening consciences, and that everyone will rush into the breach he has created. For this he postulates that his contemporaries share a desperate opinion on ecology as the sans-culottes shared the same misery during the Revolution of 1789. But it is the opposite. People are not hungry but concerned to preserve their comfort, which many already consider to be poor. Degrowth is popular with a small number of Gaia worshipers whose profile makes them unlikely to be severely affected by deprivation. For those most dependent on assistance and collective services, on the other hand, life will become even more precarious.
The current economic system is certainly not free from criticism, but it is the only one that has made it possible to bring the human population to eight billion. Terrible gossip of the eco-radicals on this subject, who have no realistic alternative system and do not dare to say that their policy would require us to drastically reduce our number to save vital resources. Are you a candidate for therapeutic euthanasia to save Gaia, Mr. Malm? Do you believe that the wealthy want to shed their consumption, or that the poor are just waiting for an opportunity to consume more?
The ultras are few emulators
Believing that everyone thinks like themselves and is just waiting for a pat on the back to express it? It is having a very narrow mind. This is why political ecology has remained marginal until now. It does not seek to understand how people think, but on the contrary braces itself on an idealistic vision of how they should think, which must be imposed if necessary. Eco-terrorism is unfortunately a foil against the climate cause, expelling activists in parcels of territory like radical deputies find themselves vituperating in a fringe of the Assembly. Read about it ‘When the ultra-left invests the Millevaches plateau’ in Le Point this week (in french). What happens when militants move into an area? Healthy emulation? No, the reverse. Tensions. The immediate gap between the city dweller who arrives with her settled theories and the locals who know their land.
If there is a movement capable of reversing the trend, it is rather ecopacifism, preaching it by example and not the aggression of others, even by focusing it on the haves, because the dream is them and not the painful life of a peasant of past centuries, which not many people today could endure.
If we have to stop dreaming, let’s not make a show of it
Ecoterrorist sells spectacle but not dreams! This is also another of their inconsistencies: using the weapon of the spectacle, so ubiquitous and well-honed in the society they seeks to transform. How can they be expected to beat capitalism at its own game by continuing to use the vector that has perverted all contemporary minds? Debort and the Deconstructors must be turning in their graves.