Essay by Eric Worrall
According to British Academics, Eco-terrorism “… creates a contrast between a “reasonable” mainstream with a “radical” flank in a way that can be conducive to change.”.
Climate activism has so far been fairly peaceful: here’s why that might change
Rob Jubb, University of Reading
Alex McLaughlin, University of Cambridge
Published: July 7, 2022 1.35pm BST
In fact, the climate movement so far has been strikingly peaceful. The school climate strikes, for example, involved a series of peaceful mass demonstrations, with an estimated 1.7 million people taking part globally in 2019. XR also makes nonviolence central to its strategy, referring to influential research by political scientists Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan on the effectiveness of peaceful protest.
A radical flank
Climate protest in the future, however, might not be so committed to nonviolence. In his provocatively titled book How to Blow Up a Pipeline, geographer Andreas Malm argues that the climate movement must diversify its tactics to encompass more confrontational forms of action, including sabotaging parts of the fossil fuel economy.
A closer look shows that peaceful protests hailed as producing political change tend to coincide with more direct and sometimes violent tactics fighting for the same outcome. This creates a contrast between a “reasonable” mainstream with a “radical” flank in a way that can be conducive to change.
For example, the civil rights protests during the 1950s and 1960s in the US deep south were extremely controversial at the time, partly due to the public disorder they caused. However, Martin Luther King Jr, their most prominent leader, was able to contrast his demands with those made by more radical figures. In his famous letter from a Birmingham jail, King suggested that negotiating with him was necessary to avoid confrontation with them.
Uncivil disobedience of the sort Malm suggests cannot be considered terrorism, or equivalent to it. Terrorism involves the threat of serious physical harm. Deflating the tyres of an SUV is not the same thing as setting it on fire.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/amp/climate-activism-has-so-far-been-fairly-peaceful-heres-why-that-might-change-185625
What are we supposed to conclude from this opinion piece? Are politics students at the University of Reading graded on how quickly they conclude that blowing up oil executives or pipelines is the only way to solve the climate crisis? Do students at Cambridge get into trouble if they suggest it is wrong to hurt people, to reduce the global carbon footprint?
In my opinion these university academics are sowing a lot of poisonous ideas into the minds of impressionable late teen to early 20 year old students who look to them for guidance. These academics appear to be teaching Martin Luther King Jr succeeded because violent radicals had his back. This twisted historical interpretation appears to be their rationale for violent eco-activism.
Their example of non-violent eco-terrorism, deflating the tyres on a SUV, is an act of reckless endangerment which could lead to loss of life. The SUV owner and other drivers or passengers could die if they don’t notice their tyres have been sabotaged.
In my opinion the actions of eco-terrorists like Tyre Extinguishers, deflating tyres and hoping nobody gets hurt, are no different to planting a bomb, then phoning a warning to police and hoping the police clear the area in time to prevent casualties. Both kinds of perpetrators could argue they didn’t actually want people to die – but their actions endanger multiple lives in the name of a political cause.
The truth is nobody needs to commit violence to reduce carbon emissions, all that is needed is for greens to support a few zero carbon nuclear power plants. France proved this in the 1970s, by converting most of their fossil fuel plants to nuclear. The excuses for rejecting nuclear don’t make sense, in the face of the French nuclear success, and the total failure of renewables to deliver value.
This reality won’t stop impressionable youths from being radicalised into perpetrating atrocities, because the likes of these academics incited them to murderous hatred in the name of saving the world. McLaughlin and Jubb might have personally stepped carefully around actually inciting their followers to commit murder, though their tyre deflation example comes close, but in my opinion murder is where such thinking will lead, once green radicals realise lesser tactics have failed to produce the outcomes they want.