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. http://books.google.com/books?id=WdU_AQAAQBAJ&pg=PT138&lpg=PT138&dq=alasdair+macintyre+civil+disobedience&source=bl&ots=DmHQ3TSyRA&sig=-lDhfe1htmvTdAixEa1NPOqcgt8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=v7CrUrLnI8OayQGm3YGwBw&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=alasdair%20macintyre%20civil%20disobedience&f=false. 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. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/WALDEN/Essays/civil.html. Accessed December 13, 2013.