Sabotage? Good behaviour? Workers’ action? Seeking a strategy to tackle climate change

May 13, 2021

A review by LARS HENRIKSSON of How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to fight in a World on Fire, by Andreas Malm (Verso, 2021)

What should we do when airy political promises amount to little more than excuses for business as usual, and when the friendly climate protests have not prevented the world from heading towards a burning inferno? Submissively accept doom or take the climate struggle to a new level?

That Andreas Malm does not preach resignation will come as no surprise to those who know the author – activist and socialist since childhood and today well-known in the radical section of international academia. For those unfamiliar with him, the book’s title should dispel all doubt.

To stoically wait for doom is not an option for most of us, even if some claim to have drawn that conclusion. The book’s final section is a reckoning with intellectuals such as Roy Scranton and Jonathan Franzen who flirt with that standpoint.

For the rest of us, who either try to do something, or wish we knew how to do something, the question is: what do we do now? It is this question to which Malm devotes most of his book.

Protest at the Swedgas LNG terminal site at Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo from fossilgasfallan

The attention given to the book ahead of publication has mostly concerned the question of sabotage as a method in the climate struggle. Despite the book’s provocative title, this is far from an anarchist cookbook but a thought-through – albeit impatient – contribution to the debate about strategy and tactics in the climate movement.

Malm raises a question posed by the British author John Lanchester: Why has the climate movement not resorted to violence? Given what is at stake is humanity’s survival, it is strange that nobody has started blowing up petrol stations or at least started scratching the paint on city jeeps, Lanchester states, in what Malm refers to as Lanchester’s paradox.

In the latter case, the effort is very small and would make these gas guzzling monster cars almost impossible to own in a city like London.

Read the rest of this entry »

May Day greetings to all

May 1, 2021

Greetings on May Day – the day of international working-class solidarity. Here in the UK, spring has arrived.

This photo, and more, are on People & Nature’s instagram account. Please follow on there, if you don’t already. Or on twitter … or telegram … or whatsapp. Or email peoplenature[at]yahoo.com, and I’ll send you email updates.  

Facebook is still blocking links to People & Nature. I have protested, and so have many friends, to no avail so far. You can share this linktree on facebook, which links directly to the latest post on this site.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rage against the machines

November 11, 2020

Plenty of lies on facebook. Donald Trump’s lying page is working fine. And Breitbart News’s. And Fox news presenter Tucker Carlson’s. And Trump’s former press secretary’s Kayleigh McEnany’s. And Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon’s (although, to be fair, facebook has stopped him adding posts, after he called for the execution of Anthony Fauci, the White House medical science adviser).

But facebook has blocked anyone from posting links to peoplenature[dot]org, my humble web site where I write about socialism, ecology, the labour movement in eastern European countries and stuff like that.

It’s certainly a computer that decided to block me (for “breaching community standards” – as if!!). I’ve complained to the computer. And the computer may eventually notice its mistake. Or not …

So if you usually follow peoplenature[dot]org on facebook – as many of you lovely people do – please let’s use alternatives:

■ Join the whatsapp group to get updates.

■ Follow @peoplenature on twitter.

■ Drop an email to peoplenature[at]yahoo.com, and get updates that way.

And please circulate this message to friends. Thanks for your support.

Keep raging against the machines!


Lugansk: authorities cough up miners’ unpaid wages, but activists still under arrest

June 14, 2020

Mineworkers have ended an underground occupation in separatist-controlled territory in Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, after bosses paid most of the wages they were owed. But 14 trade union activists are still under arrest by the authorities of the Russian-supported “people’s republic”.

The sit-in by 119 mineworkers at the Komsomolskaya mine in the city of Antratsit, which started on Friday 5 June, ended in the early hours of Saturday 13 June. They were paid a large part of the wages they were owed, promised the rest by this week, and assured that there would be no more arrests.

On Friday, about 100 people gathered in the town square at Antratsit to support the miners. Pavel Lisyansky, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman in the area and a long-standing trade union activist, said in a facebook post:

I have been informed that the final decision to accede to the protesting mineworkers’ demands was made on account of the solidarity protest by people in Antratsit. The Russian federation’s occupation administration feared that this protest would spread, especially since international trade union organisations had begun to speak out about the strike.

Lisyansky said on Saturday that an electronic and transport blockade of Antratsit, and the

Demonstrators in Antratsit on Friday. Photo: ok.ru/vgorodeant, via MK

Dubovsky area around the mine, continued, and the fate of activists arrested last week was unknown. The internet was blocked, although Whatsapp and similar services worked.

Aleksandr Vaskovsky of the Independent Miners Union of Donbass said, in an interview with News.ru, that 21 activists – based in Krasnodon, Rovenki, Krasnyi Luch and Belorechensk, as well as Antratsit – had been detained last week. Some had been tortured.

According to News.ru, Azamatkhan Karimov, an activist of the Workers Control group, had reported that seven of these 21 were released on 9 June. Karimov said that the detainees Read the rest of this entry »


Happy birthday Azat! #freeAzat

March 20, 2020

On 21 March (Saturday) Azat Miftakhov, a graduate maths student at Moscow State University, will celebrate his birthday in prison.

He has been locked up for 14 months on charges arising from a broken window at an

“The thirst for knowledge is stronger than repression”. A solitary picket supporting Azat Miftakhov at Moscow State University

office of Russia’s ruling United Russia political party.

Azat is a political prisoner. Wherever you are, please participate in the on-line event to support him: write “Free Azat” on a placard, take a photo, and put it on line with the #freeAzat hashtag. There’s more information about the event here on facebook.

Azat was detained on 1 February 2019, held at first on suspicion of manufacturing explosives, and tortured by the police and the Federal Security Service. In the first few days of Azat’s detention, the security forces concealed his location from his lawyer.

Azat had just started his mathematical career: his first paper, “On weak convergence of Read the rest of this entry »


Disaster environmentalism 2: roads to a post-growth economy

December 5, 2019

The disaster environmentalists’ hopes for the future rest not only on “deep adaptation”, but on acceptance that we need to live in a “post growth world”. Rupert Read writes:

It is crucial that we resist growthism, the very widespread drive to keep the economy ‘growing’. For (perpetual) growthism is a perpetual obstacle to collective sanity, to facing the reality of [ecological and social] limits. […] And green growthism is merely a subset of growthism.[1] […]

Society can not afford more growth, Read argues; progress towards understanding this is “glacially slow”. And so:

It still seems, tragically, far more likely that growth will end because of collapse than because of informed decision.

Yes and no, in my view. “Economic growth”, as manifested by global capitalism, is completely unsustainable. “Green growth”, or “socialist growth”, are no substitutes. Our challenge to the

Symptom of growth: a traffic jam in the USA

economic system must open the way for a society based on human happiness and fulfilment, values completely at odds with – and distorted and defaced by – the rich-country consumerist ideology that helps to justify ever-expanding material production. But, unlike Read, I believe that the way “growth” ends is still to play for.

In my view (not new, from a socialist), all this means challenging capitalism, along with the state and political structures that protect its interests. On that, the disaster environmentalists are agnostic. They talk up the need for systemic change, but combine this with tame, almost naïve, claims about how to challenge the system.

A really thoughtful article by Richard McNeill Douglas, in a book put together by the disaster environmentalists, poses a crucial question: “Could capitalism survive the transition to a post- Read the rest of this entry »


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