Other activists have pointed out that if judicial review is one of the features of American democracy which is supposed to make civil disobedience unnecessary, then it ironically subverts this goal; for to obtain standing to bring an unjust statute to court for review, often a plaintiff must be arrested for violating it.
Objection: Even if civil disobedience is sometimes justified in a democracy, activists must first exhaust the legal channels of change and turn to disobedience only as a last resort.
While civil disobedience in a broad sense is as old as the Hebrew midwives' defiance of Pharaoh, most of the moral and legal theory surrounding it, as well as most of the instances in the street, have been inspired by Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.
If they are open in theory, but closed or unfairly obstructed in practice, then the system is not democratic in the way needed to make civil disobedience unnecessary.
Other Ideas Discussed
Lead by Example:
People who employed Civil Disobedience to Achieve Change:
Civil Rights Activists; Martin Luther King
Women's Rights Activists
-I agree with a lot of his ideas.
The purpose of civil disobedience can be to publicize an unjust law or a just cause; to appeal to the conscience of the public; to force negotiation with recalcitrant officials; to "clog the machine" (in Thoreau's phrase) with political prisoners; to get into court where one can challenge the constitutionality of a law; to exculpate oneself, or to put an end to one's personal complicity in the injustice which flows from obedience to unjust law or some combination of these.
Today, it's a lot more controversial.
-I wish he would've discussed the lack of women's rights during the time period.
-I admire his passionate spirit and the courage he had to speak out against injustice.
Henry David Thoreau
Allusions to Shakespeare, religion (Christianity), history, poets such as Charles Wolfe, etc.
Similes -example: "All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right or wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it."
Personification -example: "Truth is always in harmony with herself."
contribute to his eloquent yet clear, concise style/help provide relevant examples as support for his argument
"That government is best which governs not at all."
It's not the government that achieves what we need; it's the people.
In Kant's language again, universalizability fails if the maxim of the action is "disobey a law whenever you disapprove of it," but it can succeed if instead the maxim is, "disobey when obedience would cause more harm than disobedience," or "disobey when a law is unjust in the following specific ways...." And it must be said, virtually all activists who practice civil disobedience follow criteria which endorse some, but not all, disobedience.
One direct response, then, to the descriptive version held by Waldman and Storing comes from Rawls, who argued that civil disobedience can actually help to stabilize a community.
The appeal of civil disobedience in the North grew in the wake of the Compromise of 1850, which included the hated Fugitive Slave Law, requiring all citizens to aid in the return of escaped slaves to their owners. Though civil disobedience is usually associated with passive resistance, Thoreau came to endorse the more direct action of John Brown, whose ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, was intended to incite a slave insurrection.
Thoreau's essay has had a profound influence on reformers worldwide, from Tolstoy in Russia and Gandhi in South Africa and India; to Martin Luther King, Jr's civil rights movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War in the United States; to recent demonstrations for civil rights in the former Soviet Union and China.
The national magistrate, whatever hisprivate religious views, operates under the rubrics of the civil religion aslong as he is in his official capacity, as we have already seen in the case ofKennedy.
Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the “Duty of Submission to Civil Government,” resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that “so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God… that the established government be obeyed — and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other.” Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.