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  #1  
Old March 16, 2005, 11:33 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Default Thoughts on civil disobedience

The morality of civil disobedience

Many remain in genuine doubt about the moral justifiability of deliberately unlawful protest.

The wrong protested may be a thousand times more harmful than the wrong of illegal protest; is that justification enough? The end may be worthy, but does that justify any means?

Civil disobedience, its nature and justification, takes us directly to the core of some of the hardest and most important philosophical quesitons regarding social life: What are the limits of state authority? When, if ever, a man justified in defying that authority? And on what grounds should that jusstification be based? What do we mean by the "rule of law" and how high in our catalogue of values must it remain?

Does the rule of law has an intrinsic value apart from moral ends?

Obedience to law, and the order it promotes, is only one great value, and must sometimes be measured against others with which it may come into conflict - economic justice, human liberty, international peace.

Those who elevate the rule of law to an absolute, and who find every case of civil disobedience unjustifiable simply because it does break the law, and because breaking the law is always wrong, must suffer from serious moral blindness, and must have a cramped and distorted view of history and their own times.

But it is not right/wise to conclude from this that, apart from the benefits achieved by specific good laws, there is no general moral obligation to obey the law. There is. It is a universal and a very weighty obligation upon every citizen stemming from the universal need to live in a society in which one can have reasonable expectations concerning the conduct (and the limitations upon conduct) of one's fellow human beings. In that sense the rule of law in both noble and practical, and it is a value of high moral import, apart from the particular content of individual laws. It is for this reason one does have a "moral" obligation to obey the law even if he is quite convinced the law is bad.

However, it does not follow from the fact that there is a moral obligation to obey the law that such an obligation can never be overridden. It can. It is in such circumstances precisely that civil disobedience may prove justifiable or even obligatory.

But what kinds of circumstances might these be?

Should the person who commits civil disobedience must accept his punishment as right?

Civil disobedience can be roughly categorized into two kinds.

Direct disobedience: the law broken is the very law protested.

Indirect disobedience: the law is broken in some other way, symbolically or conventionally, relevant to issues of the rigthness of protest.

This distinction is importantly relevant to the rightness of punishment in question.

Normally the civil disobedient is not a rebel, but a dedicated reformer within a larger system he is determined both to accept and to improve. So, normally, he does expect to be punished for his deliberately unlawful act.

Should he accept his punishment as right? That depends on what he did, on what kind of law he broke.

If he deliberately disobeyed a law he thought immoral in itself, he can fight punishment in every reasonable way, chiefly through the courts and seek to have the bad law struck down. If he loses in the end, he is likely to accept the punishment, not as "right" but as a painful price he helps to pay for a law-governed community. If the law is genuinely immoral, then the legal system will have done an injustice, but miscarriages of justice do not, in themselves, justify the abandonment of a legal system.

If the disobedient deliberately breaks what he considers a good law to protest some other evil, it is right for him to be punished, not because he is a bad man but because accepting punishment in such cases of indirect obedience is an essential part of the act of protest itself. Indirect protest cannot be as if the system is entirely disregarded. The beauty of this kind of protest lies in the fact that , though the law is broken, the system of laws is respected. To evade the punishment, therefore, is to emascualte the protest.

Edited on, March 17, 2005, 4:35 AM GMT, by Arnab.
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  #2  
Old March 17, 2005, 02:39 PM
couger couger is offline
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It is not wise, neither is it productive to exhaust your last means first. Civil disobedience or any such act should pretty much be the last resort.
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  #3  
Old March 19, 2005, 12:59 AM
shujan shujan is offline
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Quote:
If the disobedient deliberately breaks what he considers a good law to protest some other evil, it is right for him to be punished, not because he is a bad man but because accepting punishment in such cases of indirect obedience is an essential part of the act of protest itself. Indirect protest cannot be as if the system is entirely disregarded. The beauty of this kind of protest lies in the fact that , though the law is broken, the system of laws is respected. To evade the punishment, therefore, is to emascualte the protest.
To make change through civil disobedience, there are couple of precursor that need to be satisfied:

a) Person need to be obedient first and foremost. An obedient person is respectable and righteous. If that person become disobedient then the question is raised why? Thus an obedient person can make a point to the society of the shortfall by doing something out of norm to grab societies attention. On the other hand a person who is always disobedient he is just disobedient by nature.

b) Disobediencee must be shown with good intention.

c) Disobedience should be effective by nature and voluntary.
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  #4  
Old March 19, 2005, 07:33 AM
oracle oracle is offline
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Quote:
Obedience to law, and the order it promotes, is only one great value, and must sometimes be measured against others with which it may come into conflict - economic justice, human liberty, international peace.
personally, if you want to look at this topic let's look at the most influential proponent of the idea of civil disobedience in 'modern" time-Thoreau. I stress modern times because conditions of life in our era have another dimension and angle . Yes, civil disobedience spoken in terms of human rights and human laws, as pointed above in your statement , is only one value. So i think that you can only be justified to promote it fully if you have a wider agenda that encompasses and values everything else- the very resources that are squandered and abused by man .

Thoreau's wider agenda was environmental concern and right living, a concern that I think outweighs "civil obedience" as generally understood.
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  #5  
Old March 21, 2005, 05:05 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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civil and disobedience.

Mutually exclusive words unless you are Gandhi.
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  #6  
Old March 22, 2005, 06:39 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fazal
civil and disobedience.

Mutually exclusive words unless you are Gandhi.
And we always need WAY more Gandhis.
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  #7  
Old March 22, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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Too many of them may have WAY more negative than having none.
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  #8  
Old March 22, 2005, 02:25 PM
Tintin Tintin is offline
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Quote:
civil and disobedience.

Mutually exclusive words unless you are Gandhi.
From
http://www.markshep.com/nonviolence/Myths.html

Quote:
We also tend to lay stress differently than Gandhi on the phases of civil disobedience. We tend to think breaking the law is the core of it. But to Gandhi, the core of it was going to prison. Breaking the law was mostly just a way to get there.

.... He just wanted to make a statement. He wanted to say, “I care so deeply about this matter that I’m willing to take on the legal penalties, to sit in this prison cell, to sacrifice my freedom, in order to show you how deeply I care. Because when you see the depth of my concern, and how ‘civil’ I am in going about this, you’re bound to change your mind about me, to abandon your rigid, unjust position, and to let me help you see the truth of my cause.”

Quote:
Let me give a general description of what seems really to have happened when Gandhi and his followers committed civil disobedience:

Gandhi and followers break a law—politely. Public leader has them arrested, tried, put in prison. Gandhi and followers cheerfully accept it all. Members of the public are impressed by the protest, public sympathy is aroused for the protesters and their cause. Members of the public put pressure on public leader to negotiate with Gandhi. As cycles of civil disobedience recur, public pressure grows stronger. Finally, public leader gives in to pressure from his constituency, negotiates with Gandhi.

That’s the general outline. Notice that there is a “change of heart,” but it’s more in the public than in the opponent.

Quote:
Gandhi set out a number of rules for the practice of civil disobedience. These rules often baffle his critics, and often even his admirers set them aside as nonessential.

One rule was that only specific, unjust laws were to be broken. Civil disobedience didn’t mean flouting all law.

In fact, Gandhi said that only people with a high regard for the law were qualified for civil disobedience. Only action by such people could convey the depth of their concern and win respect. No one thinks much of it when the law is broken by those who care nothing for it anyway.

Other rules: Gandhi ruled out direct coercion, such as trying to physically block someone. Hostile language was banned. Destroying property was forbidden. Not even secrecy was allowed.
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  #9  
Old March 22, 2005, 04:56 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fazal
Too many of them may have WAY more negative than having none.
Not in the case of Gandhi. We have far too few.
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  #10  
Old March 27, 2005, 08:30 PM
Tarek Tarek is offline
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No chinta ....RaB hain na....
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  #11  
Old September 11, 2018, 06:30 PM
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Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Bumping this due to recent Caepernick saga.

I don't fully agree with OP's assertion. I know it is like going after a dead guy, but... the problem with OP's framework is that he holds Hammurabiesque-man-made-code to be some supreme form of higher authority.

Personally I always felt that civil disobedience should stem from one's internal ideal and values. I think justifying to the Cosmic Game is far more important.

For instance, let us put Colin on stand.

Why are you doing this?
Genuinely of course.
Are you suuuureeee?
Yes.
Not for any ulterior motive. Because only you know your intent.


The thing of viewing everything from advaita lens is that you get to judge from Godly p.o.v and question everyone.

Everyone's got some dirt. No one is clean. No one is saint. Only Colin himself KNOWS his true ideal and has to justify to a higher cosmic power - in my opinion - to hark personal metaphysics.

Now he didn't break any legal or moral or ethical code per se. But if he is intent or conscience is not pure Light ..lol... or Clear, then by that token he's transgressing natural law.

See, Arnab. How do YOU derive your law? Your notions of morality, axiology, good vs bad, ethics... pretty tad sure they are derived from axiomatic bootstrappin' of yer upbringing, fine tuned highly mechanized education, your natural gift and intelligence and every bulls-- fed by society, authority, Mosque- cuz let's face it we all babies had it- and every known derivatives from the cosmic echochamber.

When you peel those layers like onion and look at your self -real Self- kensho what remains? What is the empty cup? What gives?

Do you calculate your way out to if, should, or must, stall to cut someone in half who 'bouttah murdah your family? Or do you act instinctively? Automatic.

In Zen this is spontaneity.

Intelligence has boundaries and blindspot. Humanity, compassion, values, spirit and willpower and etcetera abstract notions are limitless, so called.

The last is an adjective that defines the term abstract.


Baiting yo! Come back....whoooo hoooo (ghost signs) come back (whooo hooo hoooo).



*dangles the red pill*
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  #12  
Old September 11, 2018, 06:38 PM
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Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Human beings created laws out of their self-necessitated frame of legal mode. And hence... ergo the vicious and nasty ol' Ourboros.

Am I right, Ashfaque?
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  #13  
Old September 11, 2018, 06:41 PM
iDumb iDumb is offline
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It is against forum decorum to be digging up more than a decade old thread . One can open new threads of similar topics . While I don't advocate restrictions but sometimes it makes for poor forum environment and reading . My opinion.
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  #14  
Old September 11, 2018, 07:25 PM
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Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iDumb
It is against forum decorum to be digging up more than a decade old thread . One can open new threads of similar topics . While I don't advocate restrictions but sometimes it makes for poor forum environment and reading . My opinion.
I disagree!

It is against forum decorum to be making similar threads! It makes things clumsier. My opinion. Sorry if it has brought you back bad memories.
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  #15  
Old September 11, 2018, 07:26 PM
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Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Plus it was highly relevant and not willy-nilly bump. Let's keep that in mind kindly before we get our badge out.

Oh look! I made a connection!
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