Insulate Britain, a new climate change campaign group, has been blocking major motorways around London in recent weeks. Its demands are simple: The UK government should fund the insulation of all social housing by 2025, as well as put forward a "legally-binding national plan" for insulating all homes in Britain by 2030.
But is this form of civil disobedience an effective way to gain the public’s sympathy and bring about public policy change? Or are the role models of non-violent resistance like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi over-romanticized and impossible to emulate?
Is more direct and violent action, like the blowing up of gas pipes, a more effective form of activism, one that gets to point? Or is the contempt for liberal democracy and its processes that such acts imply a dangerous authoritarian streak that requires caution.
And is it possible to respond to the climate emergency we are facing, while upholding our loyalty to our sluggish democratic processes?
William Scheuerman, James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at the University of Indiana, Bloomington and author of many books, including Civil Disobedience.
Bill's paper "Political Disobedience and the Climate Emergency".
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Artwork by Nick Halliday
Music by Rowan Mcilvride