Martin Luther King once insisted that 'a riot is the language of the unheard.' Since 2011 swathes of protest, rebellion, and rioting have covered the globe. A new, disenfranchised generation is fighting for its voice as once again scores of police line the streets and pop icons demand a political revolution.
Challenging us to consider arson attacks against empty buildings, black bloc street-fighting tactics, and industrial sabotage, amongst an array of other militant action, philosopher Stephen D'Arcy asks if it is ever acceptable to use or threaten to use armed force. Drawing a clear line between justifiable and unjustifiable militancy, Languages of the Unheard shows that the crucial contrast is between democratic and undemocratic action, rather than violence and non-violence.
Both a consideration of the ethics and politics of militant protest and the story of dissidents and their actions post 1968, this book argues that militancy is not a danger to democratic norms of consensus-building. Instead, it is a legitimate remedy for elite intransigence and unresponsive systems of power that ignore, or silence, the people.
Stephen D'Arcy is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Huron University College, at Western University, in London, Ontario. He teaches courses in moral and political philosophy, and publishes in the areas of democratic theory and practical ethics. He is a long-time social activist and protest organizer.
Introduction: Militancy as a Civic Virtue Part I: A Standard of Sound Militancy 1. The Militant's Vocation 2. The Liberal Objection 3. The Democratic Standard Part II: Applications 4. Civil Disobedience 5. Disruptive Direct Action 6. Sabotage 7. The Black Bloc 8. Rioting 9. Armed Struggle