Everyone has the right to protest and no one has the right to rebel.
This was an angle I recently pursued for my article for ethics. This is a view where I must admit defeat. For when I was writing this I traversed a narrow path that dealt only with issues in Britain, after all compared to many other countries life is just peachy here.
But if I broaden my perspective, if I look at the wider world I must back down and abandon this idea. The Libyan rebels and the people of Egypt if they turned their backs on rebellion their life would have remained miserable and their leaders would still be men who care not for their country but for the state of the treasury.
Those rebellions hailed a much-needed turning point in the histories of their countries and has helped others question the authorities that clutch power to their bosom and protect and coddle it much like a mother would a child. Except in the case of the former the reasons are selfish, the reasons are archaic.
Syria appears to be the next country in line for rebellion, details seem to be a bit vague but it seems to be something Britain might support. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has met with the leaders of the rebel group.
But what is the difference between protest and rebellion?
Well, protests are peaceful, much like the student protests that took place in America, much like the student march that happened in London.
Rebellion is not. Rebellion intends to overthrow, to dismantle and to disrupt. In a mild sense the student protests in London last year turned to rebellion, the riots this year sort of were, but they were without cause, and I think that is something that protests and rebellion have in common.
They both have a cause.
What was the cause in Libya? To overthrow a regime that was damaging the country and its people. What was the cause in Egypt? Pretty much the same thing.
But when does rebellion become a right? When do deaths and damage and violence become a necessity? Perhaps when there is no other option, perhaps when the damage caused in the process is outweighed by the greater good that comes at the end.
I think this is why the way Britain has been acting annoys me. We have no reason to rebel, things might be bad but they are worse elsewhere. There’s no cause in the violence that happened and there’s no cause in the strikes that will happen next week.
Maybe my line of questioning should have been everyone has the right to protest and no one has the right to rebel without cause.
Mindless violence will never do any good, but if it’s a last resort, if it’s reluctant maybe that will limit the damage done and hopefully bring about a better future for the oppressed people.