UCL Uncovering Politics

The Ethics of Violent Protest

Episode Summary

In this episode we’re focusing on violent protest. Can it ever be morally justified?

Episode Notes

The coming week sees the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. His killing by a white police officer in the American city of Minneapolis, sparked a global wave of protests. The vast majority of these were peaceful. But some were not. It’s estimated that, in the United States, acts of rioting, arson, and looting in the weeks that followed caused over a billion dollars-worth of damage – the highest recorded damage from civil disorder in US history.

So can such violent protests ever be justified? Much public and political opinion says no. Here in the UK, even last year’s toppling of the inanimate statue of a seventeenth-century slave trader was condemned across much of the political spectrum.

But one of our colleagues here at the UCL Department of Political Science argues differently. Dr Avia Pasternak, who is Associate Professor in Political Theory here, argues that, sometimes, violent protests are morally justified.

Political Rioting: A Moral Assessment

Host: Dr Alan Renwick

Dr Avia Pasternak