I have an op-ed up at The Conversation were I talk about protests that the environmental movement engage in:
I’m going to take as my starting point that protest is legitimised by the rule of law. The kind of acceptable behaviour that one might observe in a liberal democracy is very different from that in a dictatorship.
Another way of stating the case is to argue that the social licence to protest varies in time and place.
Many protesters, however, are of the view that they have unlimited licence to protest. That once their intentions are self-declared to be noble that there can be no limit on their behaviour.
I then run through some examples that will incense the luvvies.
The bottom line is this:
The thing is this: however noble “saving the planet” might be, in a liberal democracy, under the rule of law, protest must be conducted through both non-violent and non-coercive means.
Restricting violence and coercion is a legitimate function of government. As the great liberal economist Ludwig von Mises indicated:
One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.
We might want to believe that environmental activists should be able to issue false media releases, or even conspire to overthrow the democratically elected government without interference from the authorities. But the proper way to do so is to campaign for those changes at the ballot box.
Hardly conroversial I would have thought – but the comments thread over at The Conversation is being heavily moderated as the locals go into meltdown.