Civil Disobedience


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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 ?
As at least one judge has pointed out, however, the fact that the accused were engaged in civil disobedience can be both a mitigating and an aggravating factor.
Plaid Cymru's leader in the House of Commons, Elfyn Llwyd, dismissed the idea of civil disobedience.
He said the majority of people in these cities worked for the public sector and feared losing their jobs if they participated in civil disobedience.
The party went on to say that the civil disobedience should result in a "national elected assembly" that has sovereignty over a transitional period.
We think the call for civil disobedience and non-payment of utility bills is equal to destroying the national economy," they said.
Civil disobedience, which exists at the core of civil rights, resonates particularly with Aristotelian traditions, performance, and resistance.
The article is particularly interesting for questioning Berrigan's definition of civil disobedience by his becoming a fugitive after losing an appeal of the Catonsville Nine verdict.
Al-Nouba told Yemen Times that the armed wing of the Southern Movement, headed by the former president of the South, Ali Salem Al-Beidh, has called for civil disobedience in Southern governorates in order to escalate the situation.
PDSH does not want to give an official comment but unofficially it says that the party will look into the idea for civil disobedience and RDK shares a similar stance.
Ramadi / NINA / The civil disobedience called by the Organizing Committee for the sit-in of Anbar began since the dawn today 22, April.
At no point did members of staff from TPAS Cymru take part in, encourage, support or condone the acts of civil disobedience displayed in blocking Boulevard de Stuttgart.
Civil disobedience involves intentional violation of the law to achieve a result the law-breakers believe is in the public interest.

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