We write as publishers from Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Greece, France, Denmark, Canada, Netherlands and the UK and US who have all published Andreas Malm’s book How to Blow Up a Pipeline. We may have disagreements with the theses of the book on specific points but we all agree that the text is an important and legitimate contribution to the deepening debate in the ecological movement about what is to be done, in a context of the oncoming train of climate change that is hurtling towards us. Malm draws on the experience of more than 200 years of movements for equality and emancipation – the suffragettes, anticolonialism, Civil Rights and so on – to show that all have had to face turning points in the face of the intransigence of the ruling powers. Debates erupt within the movements about how to go forward, how to make a bigger impact and exert more pressure. Often, this results in decisions to escalate tactics, up to and including the use of force against institutions, direct action and so on, and this has frequently resulted in major victories and social change (the choice, by a small minority, of terrorism against individuals or groups has generally been an impasse that feeds a vicious circle of intensified repression, violence and counter-violence).
The movements against climate change and ecocide are now at such a turning point. The international conferences, the mass demonstrations, the work on hearts and minds and so on have all been for naught. The temperature continues to rise consistently, the climatic disorders pile up, the limits are being overshot. We are not on the threshold of a disaster – the disaster is already here. Malm’s book takes the measure of this situation and tries to move this urgent debate on.
So far, so predictable – the job of writers and publishers is to stimulate the public conversations, stir the pot of controversy, deepen the analyses. But we are horrified to see that the French state does not see things this way. Engaged in a spiral of authoritarian and repressive measures more widely, the Macron government most recently has chosen to ban a network of ecologist activists, the Soulèvements de la Terre that has organized some high profile and successful demonstrations. To justify this spiteful lashing out, the French government has tipped over into full-scale conspiracy theory (reminiscent of a previous delirious attack on another book, The Coming Insurrection): according to the recent dissolution decree, the shadowy figure who has orchestrated and inspired “extremist violence against the police” is none other than Andreas Malm.
It is not difficult to see this as yet another attack against freedom of expression and speech. Indeed, a worldwide momentum in this direction has been clearly observable for the last few years. But it is deeply shocking that such an attempt to incriminate an author for thought crime should take place in a country that sees itself as the exemplary case of freedom of expression. If the French government does not change course immediately, we trust that French citizens will hold them to account in their traditionally combative manner.
La Fabrique éditions (France
Verso (UK & USA)
Matthes & Seitz (Germany)
Errata Naturae (Spain)
Starfish Books (Netherlands)
Ponte alle Grazie (Italy)
Éditions de la rue Dorion (Canada)