Patriotism and People Who Commit Acts of Civil Disobedience

analytical Essay
2103 words
2103 words

Today’s government is more powerful than ever. Between Supreme Court rulings that uphold sovereign immunity to the power of law enforcement to disperse Occupy Wall Street protests, it seems as if the citizens have no right to disobey laws that they know to be unjust. Yet by this measure, the heroes of the past such as the American colonists, abolitionists, women’s suffragists, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela would be little more than common criminals. All of these heroes broke the law in the name of a greater justice, and today all of them are revered as being the most patriotic of all people. The attribution of patriotism to people who commit acts of civil disobedience is lawful and just, because civil disobedience, or dissent are a vital part of a liberal democracy, and a free nation of rights. Definition of Civil Disobedience Taking the two components of the term separately, ‘civil’ refers to matters involving the populace or citizens while ‘disobedience’ refers to breaches of the law (Brownlee). This brief analysis hardly does the term justice, however, for its political, individual, and social implications. The political philosopher John Rawls defined it as “a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies” (Brownlee). As such, the key components of an act of civil disobedience are: the breach of the law, the non-violent nature of the breach, the public forum in which the breach occurs, and the intention of changing a law or policy. Beyond this definition, the most influential insight into civil disobedience can be found in the transcendentalist writer Henry Thoreau’s article by the same title. In ... ... middle of paper ... ...reat.htm. Accessed December 13, 2013. Lumsden, Linda J. Rampant Women: Suffragists and the Right of Assembly. Nashville, TN: University of Tennessee, 1997. McCullough, David. 1776. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Perry, Lewis. Civil Disobedience: An American Tradition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009. Accessed December 13, 2013. Simpson, Peter. Vices, Virtues, and Consequences: Essays in Moral and Political Philosophy. US: CUA Press, 2001. Thoreau, Henry. “Civil Disobedience.” 1849. Accessed December 13, 2013.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that today's government is more powerful than ever. civil disobedience, or dissent, are vital to a liberal democracy.
  • Analyzes how hobbes and locke looked to nature as the basis for how social and political systems should be understood.
  • Analyzes how locke argues that citizens have a duty to follow the law only so far as they have accepted to enter the social contract with their government.
  • Explains that american history is rife with examples of civil disobedience that created positive change in society and the government.
  • States that dittmer, john, local people: the struggle for civil rights in mississippi, champaign-urbana, il, university of illinois press, 1995.
  • Explains that civil disobedience is defined as a public, non-violent, and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about change in laws or government policies.
  • Analyzes how thoreau defends a highly individualistic view of the relationship between the law, the government, and the citizen based on the notion from political theory that locke espoused.
  • Explains that the abolitionist movement and the underground railroad are examples of civil disobedience in the 19th century.
  • Explains that nelson mandela, anti-apartheid icon and father of modern south africa, dies. locke, john. chapter xviii: of tyranny.
  • States perry, lewis, and simpson, peter. civil disobedience: an american tradition. new haven, ct: yale university press, 2009.
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