The Climate Movement Must Disrupt the Normal Flows of Fossil Capital

by Andreas Malm

The science is eminently clear. Because so much valuable, irretrievable time has been lost, assets have to be stranded. Investments must be written off too early for capitalist taste; on one estimate, the instant suspension of every project in the pipeline would make 2°C achievable only if accompanied by the decommissioning of one-fifth of all power plants running on fossil fuels. That is a lot of already sunk capital.

Now one reason why climate stabilization appears such a frightfully daunting challenge is that no state seems prepared to even float this idea, because capitalist property has the status of the ultimate sacred realm. Who dares to throw it on the scrap heap? What government is willing to send in its forces to ensure the forfeiture of this amount of profit?

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We must accept that property destruction is violence, insofar as it intentionally exerts physical force to inflict injury on a thing owned by someone who does not want it to happen. But in the very same breath, we must insist on it being different in kind from the violence that hits a human (or an animal) in the face: one cannot treat a car cruelly or make it cry.

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