The Philosophy of Protest
Fighting for Justice without Going to War
Jennifer Kling, Megan Mitchell
Protest is a critical part of the contemporary political landscape. However, much philosophical theorizing about protest does not consider it as it is actually practiced, and instead focuses on how it should look in the ideal case. We take up the question of how to think about protest in the face of serious, substantial, ongoing injustices. In short, we propose a theory of protest for our world. What can or must protest include? What, if anything, must it avoid? We argue, contrary to popular opinion, that suitably constrained violent political protest is sometimes justified, when it is necessary to send a message about the nature of the injustice at stake. However, violent protests may only target those who are liable for the relevant injustice, and protesters must take care to ensure that their violent actions are not wanton, but are constrained so as to be both effective and communicative. Violent political protest, we contend, is not simply revolution by another name: rather, it is sometimes a last-ditch effort to remedy injustice without going to war.