Saturday 16 January 2021

Questioning Green Non-Violence

Why did Black Lives Matter rapidly spread over the course of 2020? Because the protests against the extra-judicial killing of George Floyd immediately took a violent turn, and bust open the horizon of the possible. In his interview with Alex, Andreas Malm, author of How to Blow Up a Pipeline, argues the green and environmental movement have to learn from BLM and ditch its dogmatic adherence to non-violence. Such a strategic shift is not just about the severity of the climate crisis coming, but also the easy availability of targets for a militant green vandalism. Andreas suggests the infrastructure of fossil fuels is all around us, and as it is the rich who are driving climate change with their conspicuous consumption their property should be fair game. Ecology is class politics too.

Certainly an interesting and thought-provoking piece. Could the green movement here ever turn to the property destruction of The Monkey Wrench Gang?

As always, please check out the Politics Theory Other archive and help build new left media by putting pennies in Alex's piggy bank.

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Anonymous said...

The (checks notes) British left green non-violence? The British left are a laughing stock around the world cos of their lack of action.

The Brit left: 'Boohoo the capitalist papers are horrible to us. They should be nice like us'
ER: 'The press are shit. Lets close down their distribution'

The Brit left: 'We're really quite annoyed about this thing. Lets walk round London and have tea in the park listening to a nice middle class man tell us how right we are to be annoyed by this horrid thing'
ER: 'Fuk this traffic. Lets stop the roads'

The last time the Brit left managed anything was your poll tax party in Trafalgar. No sorry old boy I'm wrong. that was black bloc not the meek lefties.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Dat should have said The Brit left QUESTIONING Green non-violence??

I was too disbelieving the lack of self awareness to write proper.

Phil said...

Going by your comments, I'm guessing you haven't listened to the podcast.

Anonymous said...

No, I comment on your words in your blog. It already put me off listening.

Phil said...

If discussion of violence put you off, then your denunciation of the "Brit left" is just about the clearest case of projection seen here for quite some time.

BCFG said...

I did wonder if the recent scientific report on mass extinction and the alarm bells around ecological disaster would merit a mention between Trump bashing. I guess now Trump bashing is out of the way you can pay it some lip service until the next major issue surfaces. I mean for you the mass extinction happening as we speak is like the last item agenda on the news, equivalent of flippy the Dolphin learning to flip toast or Barry the badger doing a 360 spin.

One thing Extinction rebellion tried and then ditched was trying to inconvenience ‘ordinary’ people. For example, their attempts to disrupt the underground. They gave up because the ‘ordinary’ people behaved like thugs and beat them up! So you can’t blame them for ditching this tactic.

Many liberals/leftists and right wingers all said, how can extinction rebellion inconvenience the poor ‘ordinary’ people. My view is that inconveniencing the ‘ordinary’ people is absolutely the correct tactic and they should never have ditched it. Then again I wasn’t the one getting beat up.

And then herein lies the issue, strength of forces. BLM have gained traction not because the ‘ordinary’ people have seen the injustice of US society but because celebrities have jumped on board and the centrists see them as useful for their neo liberal ends. I think Millwall fans actually represented what a lot of ‘ordinary’ people were thinking by booing the footballers taking the knee. I don’t think they did this just because they are racist.

So I don’t think BLM are successful just because of tactics but also because of backing in some of the right places. It is an issue that doesn’t affect the fundamentals of the system but is more about capitalism and humanity growing up.

Anything that fundamentally threatens the stability of the system, like Donald Trump or inconveniencing the wage slaves in their wage slave roles will get short shrift. Although I admit that green issues are also high on the liberal/centrist agenda, it is just their agenda includes somehow keeping all the fundamentals of capitalism and somehow squaring this with the protection of the planet. Good luck with all that.

Blissex said...

«Although I admit that green issues are also high on the liberal/centrist agenda, it is just their agenda includes somehow keeping all the fundamentals of capitalism and somehow squaring this with the protection of the planet.»

The establishment logic about "carbon footprint" may be this:

* The supply of carbon based fuels is inelastic in the short term, and becoming more expensive as "low hanging fruit" cheap carbon sources get exhausted.

* Anything that induces the masses to consume less of carbon based fuels means less competition for the purchase of those and keeps them cheaper and available for longer for our private jets, Ferraris, 100m "yatches" (the same logic applies to the push for vegetable based meat substitutes).

If that is applicable, it means ecological cuts in consumption for the many, not the few.

BCFG said...

“cheaper and available for longer for our private jets, Ferraris, 100m "yatches"”

And therein lays the problem for reformism and redistribution within the system.

Add up all the yachts, the mansions, the jets of the richest people on the planet and compared to the billion or so middle classes, then the billionaires have next to nothing, at least nothing that can be meaningfully redistributed.

If we took the concentrated wealth of Jeff Bezos and spread it among the 4 billion poorest people they might just end up with a grain of rock each. Spread the assets and wealth of the Middle classes among the poorest and now you are talking.

The same goes for the environment, stop the wealthiest flying their jets and you hardly make a dent, stop the middle classes going on foreign holidays and you might just save the Maldives.

The point is there is no way out of this other by the end of exchange (i.e communism) and production based on need, a system where when someone asks can we build 100 new homes they respond, do we have enough bricks boys? Whereas in the exchange system they ask, do we have enough money chaps? And the reformist says, ha, we simply need to redistribute money and we have new houses, always forgetting about the bricks!

"If that is applicable, it means ecological cuts in consumption for the many, not the few."

It means, agreeing the production plan in line with science and principals, delivering that plan and sharing out the productive work based on abilities, with a component of the working life going toward community work, such as fruit picking, street cleaning. Another portion going toward voluntary work.

If the above sounds impractical or against human nature then humanity will descend into the abyss and quite frankly the sooner that happens the better for all concerned.

Kamo said...


There are two serious problems with ER disrupting 'ordinary people'; firstly, a political movement dominated by affluent, white people baiting a more diverse, often economically precarious group of people isn’t courting popular support. Disrupting early morning tubes at Canning Town is an expression of privilege not principle, that’s why they got beat up, stereotypical trustafarians who wonder why everyone can't 'go off grid' and start organic alpaca farms in Sussex were trying to fuck over minimum wage workers.

Secondly, disrupting public transport demonstrates a lack of coherent thought processes. It may be first rate grandstanding, but it’s stands in opposition to pragmatic environmentalism like encouraging people to use public transport. ER's fundamentalist approach is a self-imposed limit on what it can achieve, to remain fundamentalist it has to reject real world trade offs.

At very best, ER's role is to shift the Overton window of public discourse on climate change, it doesn't attempt to offer real world solutions. That is the major difference between ER and BLM; BLM can mix token gestures to raise awareness but it can also offering practical solutions and real world engagement.

BCFG said...

Kako, I have some sympathy with what you say.

The problem is the these 'affluent' white people are correct and these 'oppressed' commuters are wrong. Moreover the oppressed commuter is simply re-enforcing his precarious situation.

Two more points, I think the reason the left have made zero headway in over a century is that they offer nothing different but demand incredible sacrifices, no one accepts that deal. I claim if the left disrupt the normal life and offer something radically different then that will ultimately gain more traction. I also claim that deep down people know the necessity of the disruption.

This brings me to the second point. Just as the peasants needed to be dragged off the land and dragged out the feudalism, so the wage slave will need dragging out of the enterprise. The problem is that there was an agency to drag the peasants but that agency does not exist under capitalism. let's call disrupting the 'ordinary' folk part of that agency.