George Monbiot on Eco-terrorism: “I back saboteurs … but I won’t blow up a pipeline”

Essay by Eric Worrall

The problem with trying to justify terrorism in support of a political position is that door swings both ways.

I back saboteurs who have acted with courage and coherence, but I won’t blow up a pipeline. Here’s why

George Monbiot
Fri 28 Apr 2023 20.00 AEST

I understand the argument that our escalating climate crisis justifies direct action, but I can’t urge anyone to do things I wouldn’t do myself

I can see why How to Blow Up a Pipeline, the book by Andreas Malm which has inspired a new film with the same title, has captured imaginations. It offers a lively and persuasive retelling of the history of popular protest, showing how violence and sabotage have been essential components of most large and successful transformations, many of which have been mischaracterised by modern campaigners as entirely peaceful.

I cannot say that Malm is wrong, and that non-violent action is more likely to succeed. After all, none of us have been here before. But if you are pushing other people towards decades in prison while risking a backlash that would close down the last possibility of success, you need to be pretty confident that the strategy will work. I have no such confidence.

My own belief is that our best hope is to precipitate a social tipping: widening the concentric circles of those committed to systemic change until a critical threshold is reached, that flips the status quo. Observational and experimental evidence suggests the threshold is roughly 25% of the population. I find it hard to see how this could happen if we simultaneously engage in violent conflict with those we seek to swing. But I concede that our chances are diminishing, regardless of strategy.

In the meantime, I will support people who have already committed coherent and targeted acts of sabotage in defence of the living planet that do not endanger human life. But I won’t encourage anyone to do so, because I’m not prepared to do it myself. This, at least, is one clear line in a world where everything is blurred.

Read more:

Monbiot is exercising his green privilege. He wants us to believe there is a moral difference between supporting terrorists and advocating terrorism.

Imagine if a climate skeptic said “I will support people who have already committed coherent and targeted attacks“. They would have the police on their doorstep before they hit the “save” button – and rightly so.

WUWT certainly doesn’t advocate or support acts of violence, sabotage or terror. But if one side throws away the rule book and starts sabotaging energy infrastructure, its only a matter of time until some hothead is tempted to retaliate.

If you are that hothead, if you are or know someone who is thinking of taking such direct action, please don’t. Get a job as an energy infrastructure security guard if you feel you have to do something.

Because the only “retaliation” required to kill the green energy industry is to cancel all their subsidies and government loan guarantees, if necessary by tearing up contracts which were agreed by previous administrations.

Monbiot’s entire precious renewable industry is a government funded chimera. Like those expensive big leafed pot plants you see in government offices, the renewable energy industry will dry up and blow away, as soon as the government stops watering it.

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April 28, 2023 10:19 pm

Terrorism works for The State…
It has a history of using False Flags…
When dissidents use it, it actually strengthens The State…

Mind you, throwing a Spaniard into The Works
to slow-down, or stop The Machine
has some merits & supporters…

Reply to
April 28, 2023 10:49 pm

Which Spaniard did you have in mind?

Reply to  magesox
April 29, 2023 12:09 am

Don Quixote?

I thought he tilted at windmills?

Rich Davis
Reply to  magesox
April 29, 2023 4:30 am

Is it a pun based on ‘Throwing a spanner into the works’? (Translating to ‘Murcan English: Throwing a wrench into the machine)

But which Spaniard? Moonbat has a French name I think?

Now let me be clear—I support those who would tie George up, slather him in tar, coat him in feathers, and hoist him by his Fruit of the Looms on top of a windmill—but I wouldn’t do it myself!

Reply to  Rich Davis
April 29, 2023 4:34 am

“A Spaniard in the Works” was, I believe, the title of a humorous book by the late John Lennon.

Rich Davis
Reply to  atticman
April 29, 2023 4:45 am

Ah yes! The education to be had on this blog is truly boundless!

Reply to
April 29, 2023 2:33 am

Those Spaniards…..keep trying to trick me into giving them money by sending emails about sharing their I’ll gotten gains

Last edited 1 month ago by Duker
Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to
April 29, 2023 5:42 am

I thought it were Frenchmen who should be used.

Bryan A
April 28, 2023 10:55 pm

Mr Monbiot,
Legislation is unnecessary…
Violence is unnecessary…
Protesting is unnecessary…
Blocking pipeline construction is unnecessary…
All that IS necessary is for you and all your like minded comrades to install sufficient solar panels on your property to allow you all to (realize Coal mining was and is necessary to produce those solar panels)…
Sever all grid sourced energy from your life as it contains tainted electrons generated by FF
Rechargeable Powerwall batteries to power your house at night
Rechargeable additional Powerwall batteries to recharge your EVs on demand
…of course replace any and all ICE cars with EVs
Replace all water heaters, central heating and cooking appliances with electric
Allow oil and gas drilling for petrochemical stocks for those other 6000+ items you use
…(realizing that their costs will double or triple as the drilling cost isn’t offset by fuel sales)

Truly you and the like minded majority of Eco Warriors make up more than 50% of society such that your refusal to use FF would cause Oil Companies to go insolvent and file bankruptcy then Oil and Gas vanish without taxation or legislation

IF you truly believe that FF use is bad you should have already done ALL of this as should your Eco Comrades regardless of the
$60k solar cost
$30k Powerwall cost
$15K Water & Central heat and cooking
$150k for 2 EVs
$255K approx total cost

If not then you are simply a hypocrite

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
April 29, 2023 2:25 am

Moonbat types out his nonsense on a PC likely made in China from oil reliant products, whilst he doubtless wears synthetic fibre clothing as killing an animal for it’s pelt is just barbaric.

BTW, Moonbat hates sheep and want’s them eradicated from hillsides they allegedly destroy so shearing one for wool is out the question.

Martin Brumby
Reply to  HotScot
April 29, 2023 7:02 am

Moonbat is, of course, an archetypal terrorist.

He may realise that carrying haversacks of fertiliser into children’s pop concerts is unlikely to garner much support for his preposterous views.

But he scarcely ever misses an opportunity to lie and exaggerate his Climate Project Fear. Terrorising the scientifically illiterate and the gullible is Very Much his ‘thing’.

Chris Hanley
April 28, 2023 11:19 pm

our best hope is to precipitate a social tipping … Observational and experimental evidence suggests the threshold is roughly 25% of the population (Monbiot)

There could be something in that, where I live face masks started to disappear before any official relaxation of imposed rules when a sufficient number of people had enough.
Similarly a social tipping point will be reached when so-called renewables costs resultant ‘demand management’ and blackouts reach a level where the population have had enough.
Commuters in the UK have already demonstrated there is a social tipping point for tolerance of the antics of ‘extinction rebellion’ nutters.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris Hanley
April 28, 2023 11:24 pm

This, at least, is one clear line in a world where everything is blurred.

He supports past violence but not future violence. Future violence of course instantly becomes past violence once its been done. Once you get past the rationalization its easy to see the clear line…

April 29, 2023 12:01 am

Moonbat speaks:

“”I’m not prepared to do it myself. “”

What a surprise.

Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 11:30 am

He supports the movement, but only up to the point where he himself is inconvenienced.
What a patriot.

Right-Handed Shark
April 29, 2023 12:15 am

The ramblings of the moonbat. He thinks cows can turn grass into more carbon than it absorbed from the atmosphere in order to grow. Living proof that an IQ test can be failed.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
April 29, 2023 4:52 am

Like AOC, he had good news…his IQ test came back negative.

Uncle Mort
April 29, 2023 12:26 am

“In the meantime, I will support people who have already committed coherent and targeted acts of sabotage in defence of the living planet”

But definitely not in China – you forgot that caveat George.

April 29, 2023 12:43 am

The prase “in defence of the living planet” tells you all you need to know. How is blocking a few London roads once every month or so “defending the living planet”? How is it defending it, and in what relevant sense is the planet living?

Its simply emotive nonsense.

Monbiot’s position is that of religious fanatics, political extremists, those fomenting persecution of groups they dislike and militaristic madmen throughout history.

There is always some vague overriding but inspiring reason why its necessary to engage in some form of violent compulsion of the indifferent majority, or engage in mass murder of dissenters or outsiders.

In this case its to “defend the living planet”. We all know what it has been on other occasions in earlier times. The current protests will mostly fade away as the law is enforced. And some of the truly fanatical will turn to terrorism and end up either dead or in jail for life. This is the history of these things, at least in Europe.

As for Monbiot? He will just find something else to write self righteously about. As for the Guardian? It will carefully avoid taking any position. But its position will remain, lightly disguised, that the answer to every question is “Tory Bad”. Oh, and “because Climate Crisis”.

Reply to  michel
April 29, 2023 11:39 am

I had a young “environmentalist” tell me that just as you would kill someone who raping your mother, it’s justified for them to kill anyone who is “raping” mother earth.
Raping mother earth would constitute things like mining, forestry, over fishing, etc.

April 29, 2023 12:47 am

As Eric Worrall say above – the door swings both ways……

In London some are taking direct action against the eco zealotry….

There are also some actions digging up bollards to “low traffic neighbourhoods”

Reply to  altipueri
April 29, 2023 12:58 am

All U.K. vehicles over 3 years have an annual test – including emissions

Passing the MOT is not enough, TfL needs funds and public transport is being cut

Handy if we’re all supposed to be using it

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 29, 2023 1:15 am

Farage bottles it every time, Eric

The Tories are said to be lining up Judge Rinder as a Mayoral candidate

Last edited 1 month ago by strativarius
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 29, 2023 1:33 am

Eric, 60% of Londoners did not vote at the last election

A less than democratic 40% did. Not a valid result to my mind….

Jim Masterson
Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 1:41 am

I never understand people not voting. I’ve voted whenever I could. While on active duty, I only voted in Presidential elections.

Reply to  Jim Masterson
April 29, 2023 1:44 am

20 non entities posing for Mayor doesn’t help – especially when they are ALL net zero compliant

Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 2:41 am

That’s a fallacy.
Remember a political poll can represent the whole voting population by say 3000 voters , and be statistically valid but have a margin of error of say 3.5%
Poll 30,000 voters and the error will be only slightly better.
40% of the whole population is almost exactly the same result as 90% voted.
The only time to question a vote if the final result is ultra close. London mayor wasn’t even close.
Best news was the greens got only 7.5%

Reply to  Duker
April 29, 2023 3:20 am

Less than 50% turnout is not quorate by any stretch of the imagination

Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 4:37 am

Well, you know what they say: “If voting changed anything, they’d have banned it years ago…”

Rich Davis
Reply to  Duker
April 29, 2023 5:06 am

You assume that a RANDOM 40% of the population voted and were therefore a representative sample. Do you have any evidence to support that assumption?

A properly conducted opinion poll takes pains to assure a representative sample. It’s well known that there can be partisan enthusiasm gaps that lead to upset victories in elections.

Reply to  Rich Davis
April 29, 2023 11:42 am

It’s more likely that 60% of the population sees that nobody who is running represents them, so why bother.

ethical voter
Reply to  MarkW
April 29, 2023 2:32 pm

Correct. They represent the party. Alway have. Always will. Get rid of them.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Duker
April 29, 2023 2:56 pm

Wrong. A polling sample is pseudo random, and theoretically the margin of error scales with the inverse square root of sample size. A sample of 1,000 has an error of 1/sqrt(1,000) as a proportion – about 3%, while a sample of 10,000 has a theoretical error of 1%.

An actual vote is a poll of 100% of the population. If 60% don’t vote you cannot infer that they would have voted in proportion with those who did vote. NOTAs (none of the above) are increasingly the disenfranchised, and the reality is that democracy increasingly no longer works. They don’t vote because they don’t support any of the offered candidates. Candidates they might support are effectively prevented from running and campaigning if they are not part of a well established political party. NOTAs also probably have fairly diverse ideas about what they would support in place of the establishment candidates, so might no easily coalesce around a particular alternative.

Honest polling would sample and report on NOTAs. In practice, it tends not to sample them. NOTAs often refuse to answer polling questions, so they are inherently undersampled.

Looking at recent polling in various countries it is clear that the polling industry is in considerable difficulties. They are producing results that differ from each other by substantial margins – way beyond any theoretical error differences. They are also not proving to be good forecasts of actual votes. They are having difficulty establishing proper random samples and getting true answers from those polled. Perhaps the extent of push polling, where polls are designed to produce a “desired” result by questionnaire design and biassed sampling has left the public too sceptical of genuine attempts at polling. It’s the phenomenon that saw a census report that Jedi was now a big religion, or that trnasgenders number 262,000 in the UK, with big concentrations in the Muslim population.

ethical voter
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 29, 2023 2:28 pm

The problem is not what stripe a party is. The problem is the party. Any party.

Reply to  altipueri
April 29, 2023 2:40 am

Good on the Blade Runners. They are not threatening the safety of humans, unlike the environmental nutters who view humanity as a plague.

From the Daily Mail report:

In the last four years in London, 15,432 people have died whose deaths were attributable to man-made fine particulate matter from air pollution, according to Clean Air in London.

Across England for the same timeframe, that number is 125,000. 

This is just a blatant lie. One person in London had her death associated with pollution, a young child with chronic asthma. Her family lived on the North Circular road (from memory) and despite warnings about their daughters health, refused to move because they didn’t want to change jobs.

April 29, 2023 2:00 am

It is amazing how the Grauniad’s Monbiot lives in Wonderland.
The very governments that subsidize green energy also destroy pipelines :

Secret Team: The Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage Revisited

That is what it takes to blow up a pipeline, making Malm’s handbook activists look a complete joke.

By the way the glued-up XR activists uses a new glue requiring asphalt to be literally cut out of the road surface to free them! No idea what Monbiot says about that!

another ian
Reply to  bonbon
April 29, 2023 2:54 am

What an excuse to cut them free attached to a cubic yard of road construction!

Rich Davis
Reply to  another ian
April 29, 2023 5:11 am

In line with Moonbatian ethics, I support those who have just torn their flesh off the pavement—but I wouldn’t recommend it because I wouldn’t do it myself.

Reply to  bonbon
April 29, 2023 4:38 am

No wonder we’ve got so many potholes!

Peta of Newark
April 29, 2023 2:23 am

Moobio isn’t especially ugly – he’s no more than a cheap tart prostituting himself and has been for a long time.
iow: Cross his palm with silver and he’ll say or do anything you want

Grauniad should be ashamed of themselves for engaging & encouraging him.

But as we know, Grauniad has no shame because it’s little more than a cheap tart itself- hence the grovelling for money whenever you click on the place.

Unless, maybe there is method in then tarty madness ##, maybe Moobio wants the money to do some public service/goodness.
see attached pic

## Oh dear (somebody kick my shin) ‘cheap tart
Why am I reminded of Coronation Quiche at this juncture….

sigh: I just worked it out – its a device, containing all the spinach that it does, to turn Harry into Popeye
i.e. Somebody/thing likeable and useful
Hence why the delightful Megs is staying away.

Chuckles is A Dark Horse indeed

Adjust Your Nuts.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
April 29, 2023 2:37 am

“”Guardian columnist George Monbiot came to live in Mid Wales a while ago. We can’t have made him feel very welcome, as he has been campaigning non-stop against our sheep-farming way of life ever since.

He is fond of referring to sheep as ‘woolly maggots‘. He has described Britain’s countryside as being ‘sheep-wrecked‘. He has complained that the landscape of Dartmoor has been ‘comprehensively shagged’ by the ‘white plague’. I am tempted to ask: ‘Are you okay, George?’””

another ian
Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 3:02 am

If he’s so anti FF/ oil etc what does he wear when winter sets in then?

Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 9:51 am

Maybe Monbiot has a problem with this :
Shaun in SPACE! 🚀 Artemis 1 Mission Explained | Shaun the Sheep

the very first sheep to orbit the Moon! Collectors item if you can buy one!

Reply to  strativarius
April 29, 2023 11:48 am

He reminds me of people who move in next to an existing airport, then start to complaining to the city council about the noise.

Moonbat, the sheep were there long before you were. You knew what the area was like before you moved there. So suck it up and live with it you hockey puck.

April 29, 2023 2:52 am

Although he says that he wouldn’t do the deed himself, he still could be in breach of U.K. law, possibly supporting terrorism.
Terrorism is defined thus in our Terrorism Act:
Terrorism: interpretation.
In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—

the action falls within subsection (2),

the use or threat is designed to influence the government [F1or an international governmental organisation] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and

the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious [F2, racial] or ideological cause.

Action falls within this subsection if it—

involves serious violence against a person,

involves serious damage to property,

endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,

creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or

is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

In this section—

“action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,

a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,

a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and

“the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  JohnC
April 29, 2023 4:09 am

“Although he says that he wouldn’t do the deed himself, he still could be in breach of U.K. law, possibly supporting terrorism.”

That was the impression I got from him. He wouldn’t do it himself, but he didn’t seem to be discouraging others from doing so. If I were a potential climate terrorist, I wouldn’t be discouraged by his words. I would go read that book he recommended.

Tom Abbott
April 29, 2023 3:24 am

From the article: “I understand the argument that our escalating climate crisis justifies direct action”

There is no escalating climate crisis. There is no evidence the current climate is any different than the climate in the past.

George Monbiot is making claims that cannot be backed up by facts. He is assuming things not in evidence. He is a typical deluded, hysterical climate alarmist, making hysterical claims.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott
April 29, 2023 3:33 am

From the article: “Because the only “retaliation” required to kill the green energy industry is to cancel all their subsidies and government loan guarantees, if necessary by tearing up contracts which were agreed by previous administrations.”

A related topic: Public Service of Oklahoma (PSO) is an electrical power provider in Oklahoma.

Some time ago, the Oklahoma legislature stopped the State subsidy of any new “renewable” energy projects, saying to continue to do so would bankrupt the State.

So I was a little bit puzzled when I heard that PSO was wanting to add windmills and solar to their power generation capacity, considering they would not be getting any State subsidies from Oklahoma, but it turns out that PSO is not going to build the windmills and solar in Oklahoma, instead they are going to be built in Texas and Kansas, and supposedly the power they produce will be transferred to Oklahoma!

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission just approved this plan.

If I were a customer of PSO, I would oppose this plan and would tell PSO to build conventional power plants with their/our money.

But, at least, there won’t be any ugly windmills built in Oklahoma with this deal.

Windmills, defiling the beauty of the world.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 29, 2023 6:57 am

But isn’t that where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain? Then again, if they had their own windmills there’d be fewer hawks makin’ lazy circles in the sky..

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
April 29, 2023 11:27 am

dammit, forgot the link:

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
April 30, 2023 2:56 am

“But isn’t that where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain?”

That’s right, and we don’t want that wind slowed down by ugly windmills! 🙂

Joao Martins
April 29, 2023 3:45 am

“I back saboteurs … but I won’t blow up a pipeline”
Monbiot is an elitist, coward hypocrite.

Translated in plain English, what he says is:

“I want the benefits but not the burden to reach them” (i.e., hypocrisy).

“Let those useful idiots of the lower people do the dirty job …” (i.e., elitism).

“… I’ll pay lip-service to those untermenschen.” (cowardice).

April 29, 2023 4:13 am

Where are the public prosecutors?
It is illegal to promote a crime.
What Monbiot is writing is much the same as “I endorse torture of one person by another, but I stop short of killing the victim.”
Come on ,prosecutors, take Monbiot before a Court and let the applicable laws be ENFORCED.
Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 29, 2023 11:53 am

Even if the prosecutors did their jobs, it’s unlikely that British judges would do theirs.

Ed Zuiderwijk
April 29, 2023 5:41 am

Monbiot is a deluded idiot. The in environmental matters equally potty Guardian is the only outlet available to him. When the G goes bust, bye bye.

Joseph Zorzin
April 29, 2023 5:51 am

“violence and sabotage have been essential components of most large and successful transformations”

that’s not how India got its independence

Joseph Zorzin
April 29, 2023 5:52 am

“Observational and experimental evidence suggests the threshold is roughly 25% of the population.”

Clearly written by somebody who fails to understand democracy.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 29, 2023 11:54 am

When have socialists had any use for democracy?

ethical voter
Reply to  MarkW
April 29, 2023 2:45 pm

Even socialists use democracy to elect their leaders sort of. Democracy is not an absolute thing. It comes in many shape and forms and many degrees of quality. Democracy still has a long way to go.

Bob Johnston
April 29, 2023 6:21 am

This post inspired me to go troll Monbiot’s twitter page. That was fun.

Tom Halla
April 29, 2023 7:17 am

The notion that bombing or otherwise destroying property is not “violence” is pure logic chopping. Failure to use RICO against the supporters of eco-terrorism is the issue.
If several foundations and wealthy dilettantes found themselves bankrupt, and/or herding goats to control wildfire risks, they might stop smurfing their self indulgent virtue signaling.

April 29, 2023 11:25 am

He supports people who commit sabotage, but he won’t encourage anyone to commit sabotage, and would never do it himself.

What a schizophrenic position.

Gilbert K. Arnold
April 29, 2023 1:41 pm

There is a reason he is called “Moonbat”

ethical voter
April 29, 2023 2:22 pm

I think the people need to stop watering the government.

old cocky
Reply to  ethical voter
April 29, 2023 5:55 pm

There’s always the traditional way of watering lemon trees.

Rod Evans
April 29, 2023 11:50 pm

In case anyone has any doubts about how low Monbiot is and how gutter level his employer the Guardian will go. This link to a SKY News article regarding the anti-Semitic cartoon it commissioned and then had to remove, says it all.
NB never click on any article presented by the Guardian it just gives them click count.

Andy Pattullo
April 30, 2023 7:46 am

Well if GM is happy to live in a world where laws don’t apply to those with a grudge to settle, he should consider what stands between him and the millions of fellow Earth citizens whose lives he plans to destroy. Oblivious stupidity isn’t a strong enough description.

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