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Insulate Britain, The History Of Civil Disobedience & The Purpose Of Protesting

Drivers in the UK have had a tough time of it lately. Warnings of petrol shortages led to scuffles at the station and if you were lucky enough to make it out unscathed, Insulate Britain could make all that effort obsolete. I’m sure most of us have seen clips of members of the climate change action group being dragged by their fronts – don’t worry Caribbean people, not literally. Reactions to the group campaigning to force the government to insulate Britain’s leaky homes have ranged from annoyed to enraged. The general sentiment seems to be: right message, wrong audience. With growing conversation on the tactics being used by Insulate Britain I began thinking about the purpose of protests. Are Insulate Britain just Extinction Rebellion outcasts ostracising the public or is there some method to the madness ?

Protests come in all shapes and sizes, from violent to non-violent, revolts to sit-ins, there is no one way to attempt to get your voice heard. One such tactic is ‘civil disobedience’. Henry David Thoreau’s essay of the same name is credited by Martin Luther King as his first contact with theories of non-violent resistance. Though Thoreau put it in more eloquent terms, the general gist of the essay is that if the government is playing in our faces, i.e. not doing their jobs, that we as citizens have the right to make their jobs ten times harder. There are a number of ways to do this: boycotts, picketing, sitting in a restaurant that refuses to sell to black people, or even sitting in the middle of the M25. With the primary goal being disruption, economic and otherwise, protesting has never been popular amongst those who are on the receiving end of the inconvenience.