Civil Disobedience


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Civil Disobedience

A symbolic, non-violent violation of the law, done deliberately in protest against some form of perceived injustice. Mere dissent, protest, or disobedience of the law does not qualify. The act must be nonviolent, open and visible, illegal, performed for the moral purpose of protesting an injustice, and done with the expectation of being punished.

By peacefully and openly violating the law and submitting to punishment, those engaging in civil disobedience hope to draw attention to the law they hope to reform, the injustice they hope to stop, or the policy or practice they hope to end. By calling into question the justness, fairness, Equity, or propriety of the status quo, persons engaging in civil disobedience usually appeal to some form of higher law, whether it be the divine law of god, Natural Law, or some form of moral reasoning.

The philosophical underpinnings for civil disobedience can be found in New Testament writings which report on the teachings of Jesus. They also appear in works by Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and Thomas Jefferson. In a famous essay entitled "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau claimed that the individual is "a higher and independent power" from which the state obtains its authority. As individuals, people must not wait for the government to recognize injustice and instigate reform, Thoreau said, because the machinery of government moves too slowly. If individuals have right on their side, then they must do right by trying to peacefully and openly change society.Civil disobedience has been extensively employed around the world by nationalist movements (e.g., mohandas gandhi used civil disobedience to protest against British colonial rule in India), Civil Rights leaders (e.g., martin luther king jr. used civil disobedience to protest against racial Segregation laws in the United States), and anti-war protestors (e.g., Muhammad Ali used civil disobedience to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War), among others.

Cross-references

Civil Rights Movement; Protest.

References in periodicals archive ?
AV also asked a range of environmentalists for their perspectives on the utility and use of civil disobedience.
This is why, though few know I participated, I'm glad this one act of civil disobedience became a part of my journey.
Non-violence, as Lexier notes, is usually cited as a defining characteristic of civil disobedience.
In addition to full boycott of Parliament, as part of the scenario of activities of the opposition front, Crvenkovski announced Tuesday roadblocks in all major cities and civil disobedience.
Ambedkar emphatically stated the method of " civil disobedience, non- cooperation and satyagraha" as a means of protest should be abandoned after Independence but the debate also records the counter- view on the issue.
We call on Syrians to launch a general strike leading to mass civil disobedience," FSA spokesman in Syria Col.
Civil disobedience in protest at erosion of civil liberties and freedoms have a place in our history.
He said: "It runs in the veins of trade union movements to mobilise civil disobedience and resistance if workers come under attack.
Manila Leaders of the influential Catholic clergy warned of mounting a civil disobedience campaign as a showdown looms in the row between the Church and President Benigno Aquino over artificial birth control.
UNIONS last night warned of coordinated strikes and campaigns of civil disobedience to fight the Government's spending cuts amid revelations that more than 200,000 public sector jobs have already been axed or are at risk of being lost.
Summary: Unions have warned of coordinated strikes and campaigns of civil disobedience to fight the Government's planned spending cuts.
20, we will launch further protests, civil disobedience and a stone uprising and all these will be aimed at escalating our struggle to separate from the north," he said.

Full browser ?