Thanks to donors of the Sustainability Fund, the libraries can continue to co-sponsor Paperbark Magazine created by UMass students. Below are excerpts from Issue 3—a poem and a book review.
Paperbark contains poetry, short stories, art, and essays, with themes related to sustainability.
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
(Verso Books 2021)
Reviewed by Danielle Bradley
Andreas Malm’s How to Blow Up a Pipeline is more of a manifesto-type critique of the mainstream climate movement’s non-violence than a direct guide to what its title promises. The work in total, however, certainly delivers on something: creating a resolve in the reader to get up now, to act now. Broken into three parts, “Learning from Past Struggles,” “Breaking the Spell,” and “Fighting Despair,” the book covers historical background and context, both concerning the climate movement and other liberation movements, questions of the morality of violent acts (and the violence that flows from non-violence or inaction), and individual and collective empowerment.
Malm makes a compelling argument against the pacifism of the mainstream climate movement by first comparing to past liberation movements such as those in Iran, Haiti, and the United States; each of which relied on, to some extent, violent means to bring about social and political change. He poses the bold rhetorical question to “locate even one minimally relevant analogue to the climate struggle that has not contained some violence.” By surveying history in this way, Malm discredits the argument of non-violence as a historical virtue. He also addresses moral pacifism and strategic pacifism, questioning their current application in the climate movement and rendering their respective readings of history incorrect and inconsistent with the philosophy they each seek to espouse.
Malm then moves to the call of the book, violence through strategic property destruction, which he sets forth as the sole reasonable response to the climate crisis. He advocates for pointed property destruction (i.e., blowing up pipelines) as a way to both disrupt business-as-usual and discourage further development. He looks, in part, to the Global South and provides examples of similar violent actions against property taken in recent history in Iraq, Colombia, and Nigeria. Malm builds up significant momentum and provides fruitful examples of the power of violent dissidence, perhaps spending too much time focusing on the private property of the wealthy, including his own participation in deflating the tires of SUVs.
The urgent tone of How to Blow Up a Pipeline is enhanced by the book’s back cover which states simply: Property will cost us the earth. Malm believes it to be true and his book does an inciting job of making us do the same.
The Trees will releaf
by Sean Cho A.
so for now trust history.
I know it’s hard.
The world is bad.
When you or i walk
through the forest
the truth doesn’t matter.
We all know the story:
a tree falls. But this time
This time when the tree falls
i was busy admiring its leave-spaces:
how the branches were naked
without shame: not waiting
to dress in spring green again,
not fearing December
or the lonely of the birds leaving
for ever-warm. And remember dear,
you were there too.
The tree creaking as you climbed
its limbs in search of something
forgotten: the cuckoo birdlet
we’d mistake for a sparrow,
that looked at me and saw
home. You said
earthworms had no mouthparts,
most forest berries lack poison,
and we’d be okay here too.