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(324) Polluela pintoja

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Kantian ethics: the Kantian prescription for ethical matters is to consider what would happen if your actions were generalised, if they became a universal law—and by the Kantian criteria, we find that Extinction Rebellion and the civil rights movement are both unethical. These movements are predicated on the idea that if you feel strongly—mostly feel, but think to an extent—that a law or laws are unjust that it is justified to break those laws (or adjacent laws, as in the case of Extinction Rebellion) so that those laws cannot be enforced; and, in the process, if you get beaten up by the police, who are obliged to enforce those laws, and become media victims then so much the better—for such public sympathy might aid in the overturn of those laws.

If everyone acted this way—if this particular action were generalised—it would be impossible to run a state, because multiple laws would be wilfully broken or laws in general (as in an Extinction Rebellion road blockade) and so the result would be, in effect, civil war. That is the state that exists when no laws can be enforced or when the citizens of a state are in general revolt against the government. Since civil war is held to be the worst fate that can befall a country—to see why, just consider Syria over the past decade—worse even than tyranny (Assad, however unjust, was better than civil war) it follows that actions that would cause a civil war to come about are the most unjust that can be conceived of in terms of political action.

Hence in Kantian terms, Martin Luther King (Jr) was an unjust man and so was the entire movement he led—and Extinction Rebellion is also unjust, as are all movements that use “non-violent direct action” (a euphemism that disguises both law-breaking and the fact that to, for example, block a road with your body is physical coercion, i.e. a form of violence).


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