Civil disobedience

Civil disobedience

Overview

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

. It is one form of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. In one view (in India, known as ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

 or satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

) it could be said that it is compassion
Compassion
Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.There is an aspect of...

 in the form of respectful disagreement.

One of its earliest massive implementations was brought about by Egyptians against the British occupation in the 1919 Revolution
Egyptian Revolution of 1919
The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 was a countrywide revolution against the British occupation of Egypt and Sudan. It was carried out by Egyptians and Sudanese from different walks of life in the wake of the British-ordered exile of revolutionary leader Saad Zaghlul, and other members of the Wafd...

.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with non-retaliatory acceptance of repression from one's opponents is active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth.

Mohandas Gandhi

The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.

Hannah Arendt, "Civil Disobedience", Crisis of the Republic, (1972)

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison...the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.

Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)|Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Civil disobedience is still disobedience.

Maddox
Encyclopedia

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

. It is one form of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. In one view (in India, known as ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

 or satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

) it could be said that it is compassion
Compassion
Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.There is an aspect of...

 in the form of respectful disagreement.

Overview


One of its earliest massive implementations was brought about by Egyptians against the British occupation in the 1919 Revolution
Egyptian Revolution of 1919
The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 was a countrywide revolution against the British occupation of Egypt and Sudan. It was carried out by Egyptians and Sudanese from different walks of life in the wake of the British-ordered exile of revolutionary leader Saad Zaghlul, and other members of the Wafd...

. Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against what they deem to be unfair laws. It has been used in many nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

 movements in India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 (Gandhi's campaigns for independence
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 from the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

), in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

's Velvet Revolution
Velvet Revolution
The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that took place from November 17 – December 29, 1989...

 and in East Germany to oust their communist governments, in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 in the fight against apartheid, in the American Civil Rights Movement, in the Singing Revolution
Singing Revolution
The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania...

 to bring independence to the Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, recently with the 2003 Rose Revolution
Rose Revolution
The "Revolution of Roses" was a change of power in Georgia in November 2003, which took place after having widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections...

 in Georgia and the 2004 Orange Revolution
Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter...

 in Ukraine, among other various movements worldwide.

One of the oldest depictions of civil disobedience is in Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

' play Antigone
Antigone
In Greek mythology, Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, Oedipus' mother. The name may be taken to mean "unbending", coming from "anti-" and "-gon / -gony" , but has also been suggested to mean "opposed to motherhood", "in place of a mother", or "anti-generative", based from the root...

, in which Antigone, one of the daughters of former King of Thebes
Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...

, Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

, defies Creon
Creon
Creon is a figure in Greek mythology best known as the ruler of Thebes in the legend of Oedipus. He had two children with his wife, Eurydice: Megareus and Haemon...

, the current King of Thebes, who is trying to stop her from giving her brother Polynices
Polynices
In Greek mythology, Polynices or Polyneices was the son of Oedipus and Jocasta. His wife was Argea. His father, Oedipus, was discovered to have killed his father and married his mother, and was expelled from Thebes, leaving his sons Eteocles and Polynices to rule...

 a proper burial. She gives a stirring speech in which she tells him that she must obey her conscience rather than human law. She is not at all afraid of the death he threatens her with (and eventually carries out), but she is afraid of how her conscience will smite her if she does not do this.

Following the Peterloo massacre
Peterloo Massacre
The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 that had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation....

 of 1819, poet Percy Shelley wrote the political poem The Mask of Anarchy later that year, that begins with the images of what he thought to be the unjust forms of authority of his time—and then imagines the stirrings of a new form of social action. It is perhaps the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent protest. A version was taken up by the author Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

 in his essay Civil Disobedience
Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)
Civil Disobedience is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849...

, and later by Gandhi in his doctrine of Satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

. Gandhi's Satyagraha was partially influenced and inspired by Shelley's nonviolence in protest and political action. In particular, it is known that Gandhi would often quote Shelley's Masque of Anarchy to vast audiences during the campaign for a free India.

Thoreau's 1848 essay Civil Disobedience
Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)
Civil Disobedience is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849...

, originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government", has had a wide influence on many later practitioners of civil disobedience. The driving idea behind the essay is that citizens are morally responsible for their support of aggressors, even when such support is required by law. In the essay, Thoreau explained his reasons for having refused to pay taxes
Tax resistance
Tax resistance is the refusal to pay tax because of opposition to the government that is imposing the tax or to government policy.Tax resistance is a form of civil disobedience and direct action...

 as an act of protest
Protest
A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

 against slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and against the Mexican-American War. He writes, "If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, 'I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico; — see if I would go'; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute."

Etymology



Thoreau's 1849 essay "Resistance to Civil Government" was eventually renamed "Essay on Civil Disobedience." After his landmark lectures were published in 1866, the term began to appear in numerous sermons and lectures relating to slavery and the war in Mexico. Thus, by the time Thoreau's lectures were first published under the title "Civil Disobedience," in 1866, four years after his death, the term had achieved fairly widespread usage.

It has been argued that the term "civil disobedience" has always suffered from ambiguity and in modern times, become utterly debased. Marshall Cohen notes, "It has been used to describe everything from bringing a test-case in the federal courts to taking aim at a federal official. Indeed, for Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 Agnew
Spiro Agnew
Spiro Theodore Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the United States , serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland...

 it has become a code-word describing the activities of muggers
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

, arson
Arson
Arson is the crime of intentionally or maliciously setting fire to structures or wildland areas. It may be distinguished from other causes such as spontaneous combustion and natural wildfires...

ists, draft evaders, campaign hecklers, campus militants, anti-war demonstrators, juvenile delinquents and political assassins."

LeGrande writes that "the formulation of a single all-encompassing definition of the term is extremely difficult, if not impossible. In reviewing the voluminous literature on the subject, the student of civil disobedience rapidly finds himself surrounded by a maze of semantical problems and grammatical niceties. Like Alice in Wonderland, he often finds that specific terminology has no more (or no less) meaning than the individual orator intends it to have." He encourages a distinction between lawful protest demonstration, nonviolent civil disobedience, and violent civil disobedience.

In a letter to P.K.Rao, dated September 10, 1935, Gandhi disputes that his idea of civil disobedience was derived from the writings of Thoreau:

Theories


In seeking an active form of civil disobedience, one may choose to deliberately break certain laws, such as by forming a peaceful blockade or occupying a facility illegally, though sometimes violence has been known to occur. Protesters practice this non-violent form of civil disorder
Civil disorder
Civil disorder, also known as civil unrest or civil strife, is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of disturbance caused by a group of people. Civil disturbance is typically a symptom of, and a form of protest against, major socio-political problems;...

 with the expectation that they will be arrested. Others also expect to be attacked or even beaten by the authorities. Protesters often undergo training in advance on how to react to arrest or to attack, so that they will do so in a manner that quietly or limply resists without threatening the authorities.

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

 outlined several rules for civil resisters (or satyagrahi
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

) in the time when he was leading India in the struggle for Independence from the British Empire. For instance, they were to express no anger, never retaliate, submit to the opponent's orders and assaults, submit to arrest by the authorities, surrender personal property when confiscated by the authorities but refuse to surrender property held in trust, refrain from swearing and insults (which are contrary to ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

), refrain from saluting the Union flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

, and protect officials from insults and assaults even at the risk of the resister's own life.

Civil disobedience is usually defined as pertaining to a citizen's relation to the state and its laws, as distinguished from a constitutional impasse in which two public agencies, especially two equally sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

 branches of government, conflict. For instance, if the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 of a country were to refuse to enforce a decision of that country's highest court, it would not be civil disobedience, since the head of government would be acting in his capacity as public official rather than private citizen.

Ronald Dworkin
Ronald Dworkin
Ronald Myles Dworkin, QC, FBA is an American philosopher and scholar of constitutional law. He is Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University and Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London, and has taught previously at Yale Law School and the...

 held that there are three types of civil disobedience:
  • "Integrity-based" civil disobedience occurs when a citizen disobeys a law he feels is immoral, as in the case of northerners disobeying the fugitive slave laws
    Fugitive slave laws
    The fugitive slave laws were laws passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850 to provide for the return of slaves who escaped from one state into another state or territory.-Pre-colonial and Colonial eras:...

     by refusing to turn over escaped slaves to authorities.
  • "Justice-based" civil disobedience occurs when a citizen disobeys laws in order to lay claim to some right denied to him, as when blacks illegally protested during the Civil Rights Movement
    Civil rights movement
    The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

    .
  • "Policy-based" civil disobedience occurs when a person breaks the law in order to change a policy (s)he believes is dangerously wrong.


Some theories of civil disobedience hold that civil disobedience is only justified against governmental entities. Brownlee argues that disobedience in opposition to the decisions of non-governmental agencies such as trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s, bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

s, and private universities can be justified if it reflects "a larger challenge to the legal system that permits those decisions to be taken". The same principle, she argues, applies to breaches of law in protest against international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

s and foreign governments.

It is usually recognized that lawbreaking, if it is not done publicly, at least must be publicly announced in order to constitute civil disobedience. But Stephen Eilmann argues that if it is necessary to disobey rules that conflict with morality, we might ask why disobedience should take the form of public civil disobedience rather than simply covert lawbreaking. If a lawyer wishes to help a client overcome legal obstacles to securing his natural rights, he might, for instance, find that assisting in fabricating evidence or committing perjury
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

 is more effective than open disobedience. This assumes that common morality does not have a prohibition on deceit in such situations. The Fully Informed Jury Association
Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association is a United States national jury education organization, incorporated in the state of Montana as a 501 not-for-profit organization. FIJA works to educate all citizens on their authority when they serve as jurors...

's publication "A Primer for Prospective Jurors" notes, "Think of the dilemma faced by German citizens when Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's secret police
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 demanded to know if they were hiding a Jew in their house." By this definition, civil disobedience could be traced back to the Book of Exodus, where Shiphrah
Shiphrah
Shiphrah was one of two midwives who helped prevent the genocide of Hebrew children by the Egyptians, according to Exodus 1:15-21.The name is found in a list of slaves in Egypt during the reign of Sobekhotep III. This list is on Brooklyn 35.1446, a papyrus scroll kept in the Brooklyn Museum. The...

 and Puah
Puah
Puah is a name given to two persons in the Bible:* One of the two midwives who feared God, and helped prevent the genocide of Hebrew male children by the Egyptians, according to Exodus 1:15-21. Her colleague was Shiphrah....

 refused a direct order of Pharaoh but misrepresented how they did it. (Exodus 1: 15-19)

Violent vs. nonviolent


There has been some debate as to whether civil disobedience need be non-violent. Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs and court opinions and has been cited as a secondary legal authority in many U.S...

 includes nonviolence in its definition of civil disobedience. Christian Bay's encyclopedia article states that civil disobedience requires "carefully chosen and legitimate means," but holds that they do not have to be nonviolent. It has been argued that, while both civil disobedience and civil rebellion are justified by appeal to constitutional defects, rebellion is much more destructive; therefore, the defects justifying rebellion must be much more serious than those justifying disobedience, and if one cannot justify civil rebellion, then one cannot justify a civil disobedients' use of force and violence and refusal to submit to arrest. Civil disobedients' refraining from violence is also said to help preserve society's tolerance of civil disobedience. But McCloskey argues that "if violent, intimidatory, coercive disobedience is more effective, it is, other things being equal, more justified than less effective, nonviolent disobedience."

Revolutionary vs. nonrevolutionary


Non-revolutionary civil disobedience is a simple disobedience of laws on the grounds that they are judged "wrong" by an individual conscience, or as part of an effort to render certain laws ineffective, to cause their repeal, or to exert pressure to get one's political wishes on some other issue. Revolutionary civil disobedience is more of an active attempt to overthrow a government. Gandhi's acts have been described as revolutionary civil disobedience. It has been claimed that the Hungarians under Ferenc Deák
Ferenc Deák
Ferenc Deák de Kehida , , was a Hungarian statesman and Minister of Justice. He was known as "The Wise Man of the Nation".-Early life and law career:...

 directed revolutionary civil disobedience against the Austrian government. Thoreau also wrote of civil disobedience accomplishing "peaceable revolution."

Collective vs. solitary


The earliest recorded incidents of collective civil disobedience took place during the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Unarmed Jews gathered in the streets to prevent the installation of pagan images in the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

. In modern times, some activists who commit civil disobedience as a group collectively refuse to sign bail until certain demands are met, such as favorable bail conditions, or the release of all the activists. This is a form of jail solidarity
Jail solidarity
Jail solidarity is unity of purpose of those incarcerated or imprisoned. In some mass arrest situations, the activists decide to use solidarity tactics to secure the same plea bargain for everyone...

. There have also been many instances of solitary civil disobedience, such as that committed by Thoreau, but these sometimes go unnoticed. Thoreau, at the time of his arrest, was not yet a well-known author, and his arrest was not covered in any newspapers in the days, weeks and months after it happened. The tax collector who arrested him rose to higher political office, and Thoreau's essay was not published until after the end of the Mexican War.

Choice of specific act


Civil disobedients have chosen a variety of different illegal acts. Bedau writes, "There is a whole class of acts, undertaken in the name of civil disobedience, which, even if they were widely practiced, would in themselves constitute hardly more than a nuisance (e.g. trespassing at a nuclear-missile installation)...[S]uch acts are often just a harassment and, at least to the bystander, somewhat inane...[T]he remoteness of the connection between the disobedient act and the objectionable law lays such acts open to the charge of ineffectiveness and absurdity." Bedau also notes, though, that the very harmlessness of such entirely symbolic illegal protests toward public policy
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

 goals may serve a propaganda purpose. Some civil disobedients, such as the proprietors of illegal medical cannabis dispensaries and Voice in the Wilderness, which brought medicine to Iraq without the permission of the U.S. Government, directly achieve a desired social goal (such as the provision of medication to the sick) while openly breaking the law. Julia Butterfly Hill
Julia Butterfly Hill
Julia Butterfly Hill is an American activist and environmentalist. Hill is best known for living in a -tall, roughly 1500-year-old California Redwood tree for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999...

 lived in Luna
Luna (Redwood Tree)
Luna is the American name given to a coast redwood tree in October 1997. This tree has also been referred to as the 'Stafford Giant.' The tree is between 600 and 1000 years old and lives in an old growth forest--Headwaters Forest, in Humboldt County, California near the small community of...

, a 180 feet (54.9 m)-tall, 600-year-old California Redwood tree for 738 days, successfully preventing it from being cut down.

In cases where the criminalized behavior is pure speech
Pure speech
Pure speech in United States law is the communication of ideas through spoken or written words or through conduct limited in form to that necessary to convey the idea. It is distinguished from symbolic speech or "speech plus," which involves conveying an idea or message through behavior. Pure...

, civil disobedience can consist simply of engaging in the forbidden speech. An example would be WBAI
WBAI
WBAI, a part of the Pacifica Radio Network, is a non-commercial, listener-supported radio station, broadcasting at 99.5 FM in New York City.Its programming is leftist/progressive, and a mixture of political news and opinion from a leftist perspective, tinged with aspects of its complex and varied...

's broadcasting the track "Filthy Words" from a George Carlin
George Carlin
George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor and author, who won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums....

 comedy album, which eventually led to the 1978 Supreme Court case of FCC v. Pacifica Foundation. Threatening government officials is another classic way of expressing defiance toward the government and unwillingness to stand for its policies. For example, Joseph Haas was arrested for allegedly sending an email to the Lebanon, New Hampshire
Lebanon, New Hampshire
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,568 people, 5,500 households, and 3,178 families residing in the city. The population density was 311.4 people per square mile . There were 5,707 housing units at an average density of 141.4 per square mile...

 city councilors stating, "Wise up or die."

More generally, protesters of particular victimless crimes often see fit to openly commit that crime. Laws against public nudity
Public nudity
Public nudity or nude in public refers to nudity not in an entirely private context. It refers to a person appearing nude in a public place or to be seen from a public place. It also includes nudity in a semi-public place, where the general public is free to enter, such as a shopping mall...

, for instance, have been protested
Nudity and protest
Public nudity has sometimes been used to attract more attention to a public protest, a tactic used by the Doukhobors in the early 20th century, and later used more widely...

 by going naked in public, and laws against cannabis consumption have been protested by openly possessing it and using it at cannabis rallies.

Some forms of civil disobedience, such as illegal boycotts, refusals to pay taxes, draft dodging, distributed denial-of-service attack
Denial-of-service attack
A denial-of-service attack or distributed denial-of-service attack is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users...

s, and sit-in
Sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

s, make it more difficult for a system to function. In this way, they might be considered coercive. Brownlee notes that "although civil disobedients are constrained in their use of coercion by their conscientious aim to engage in moral dialogue, nevertheless they may find it necessary to employ limited coercion in order to get their issue onto the table." The Plowshares organization temporarily closed GCSB Waihopai
GCSB Waihopai
New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau operates what it describes as a satellite communications monitoring facility in the Waihopai Valley...

 by padlocking the gates and using sickles to deflate one of the large domes covering two satellite dishes.

Electronic civil disobedience
Electronic civil disobedience
Electronic civil disobedience, also known as ECD or cyber civil disobedience, can refer to any type of civil disobedience in which the participants use information technology to carry out their actions. Electronic civil disobedience often involves the computers and/or the Internet and may also be...

 can include web site defacements, redirect
URL redirection
URL redirection, also called URL forwarding and the very similar technique domain redirection also called domain forwarding, are techniques on the World Wide Web for making a web page available under many URLs.- Similar domain names :...

s, denial-of-service attack
Denial-of-service attack
A denial-of-service attack or distributed denial-of-service attack is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users...

s, information theft, illegal web site parodies
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

, virtual sit-in
Virtual sit-in
A virtual sit-in is a form of electronic civil disobedience deriving its name from the sit-ins popular during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The virtual sit-in attempts to recreate that same action digitally using a distributed denial-of-service attack. During a virtual sit-in, hundreds of...

s, and virtual sabotage. It is distinct from other kinds of hacktivism
Hacktivism
Hacktivism is the use of computers and computer networks as a means of protest to promote political ends. The term was first coined in 1994 by a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective named Omega...

 in that the perpetrator openly reveals his identity. Virtual actions rarely succeed in completely shutting down their targets, but they often generate significant media attention.

Cooperation with authorities



Some disciplines of civil disobedience hold that the protestor must submit to arrest and cooperate with the authorities. Others advocate falling limp or otherwise resisting arrest
Resisting arrest
Resisting arrest is a term used to describe a criminal charge against an individual who has committed, depending on the jurisdiction, at least one of the following acts:* threatening a police officer with physical violence while being arrested...

, especially when it will hinder the police from effectively responding to a mass protest. A possible disadvantage of going limp, for those who wish to communicate with the arresting officer about their ideals, is that it may be difficult to do so while being dragged across the ground.

Many of the same decisions and principles that apply in other criminal investigations and arrests arise also in civil disobedience cases. For example, the suspect may need to decide whether or not to grant a consent search of his property, and whether or not to talk to police officers. It is generally agreed within the legal community, and is often believed within the activist community, that a suspect's talking to criminal investigators can serve no useful purpose, and may be harmful. However, some civil disobedients have nonetheless found it hard to resist responding to investigators' questions, sometimes due to a lack of understanding of the legal ramifications, or due to a fear of seeming rude. Also, some civil disobedients seek to use the arrest as an opportunity to make an impression on the officers. Thoreau wrote, "My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with--for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel--and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action."

Some civil disobedients feel it is incumbent upon them to accept punishment because of their belief in the validity of the social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

, which is held to bind all to obey the laws that a government meeting certain standards of legitimacy has established, or else suffer the penalties set out in the law. Other civil disobedients who favor the existence of government still don't believe in the legitimacy of their particular government, or don't believe in the legitimacy of a particular law it has enacted. And still other civil disobedients, being anarchists, don't believe in the legitimacy of any government, and therefore see no need to accept punishment for a violation of criminal law that does not infringe the rights of others.

Choice of plea


An important decision for civil disobedients is whether or not to plead guilty. There is much debate on this point, as some believe that it is a civil disobedient's duty to submit to the punishment prescribed by law, while others believe that defending oneself in court will increase the possibility of changing the unjust law. It has also been argued that either choice is compatible with the spirit of civil disobedience. ACT-UP's Civil Disobedience Training handbook states that a civil disobedient who pleads guilty is essentially stating, "Yes, I committed the act of which you accuse me. I don't deny it; in fact, I am proud of it. I feel I did the right thing by violating this particular law; I am guilty as charged," but that pleading not guilty sends a message of, "Guilt implies wrong-doing. I feel I have done no wrong. I may have violated some specific laws, but I am guilty of doing no wrong. I therefore plead not guilty." A plea of no contest
Nolo contendere
is a legal term that comes from the Latin for "I do not wish to contend." It is also referred to as a plea of no contest.In criminal trials, and in some common law jurisdictions, it is a plea where the defendant neither admits nor disputes a charge, serving as an alternative to a pleading of...

 is sometimes regarded as a compromise between the two. One defendant accused of illegally protesting nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

, when asked to enter his plea, stated, "I plead for the beauty that surrounds us"; this is known as a "creative plea," and will usually be interpreted as a plea of not guilty.

When the Committeee for Non-Violent Action sponsored a protest in August, 1957, at the Camp Mercury nuclear test site near Las Vegas, Nevada, 13 of the protesters attempted to enter the test site knowing that they faced arrest. At a pre-arranged announced time, one at a time they stepped across the "line" and were immediately arrested. They were put on a bus and taken to the Nye County seat of Tonopah, Nevada, and arraigned for trial before the local Justice of the Peace, that afternoon. A well known civil rights attorney, Francis Heisler, had volunteered to defend the arrested persons, advising them to plead "no lo contendre", as an alternative to pleading either guilty or not-guilty. The arrested persons were found "guilty," nevertheless, and given suspended sentences, conditional on their not reentering the test site grounds.

Paul Flower writes, "There may be many times when protesters choose to go to jail, as a way of continuing their protest, as a way of reminding their countrymen of injustice. But that is different than the notion that they must go to jail as part of a rule connected with civil disobedience. The key point is that the spirit of protest should be maintained all the way, whether it is done by remaining in jail, or by evading it. To accept jail penitently as an accession to 'the rules' is to switch suddenly to a spirit of subservience, to demean the seriousness of the protest...In particular, the neo-conservative insistence on a guilty plea should be eliminated."

Sometimes the prosecution proposes a plea bargain
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

 to civil disobedients, as in the case of the Camden 28, in which the defendants were offered an opportunity to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count and receive no jail time. In some mass arrest
Mass arrest
A mass arrest occurs when the police apprehend large numbers of suspects at once. This sometimes occurs at illegal protests. Some mass arrests are also used in an effort combat gang activity. This is sometimes controversial, and lawsuits sometimes result...

 situations, the activists decide to use solidarity
Solidarity
Solidarity is a Polish trade union federation that emerged on August 31, 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. It was the first non-communist party-controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. Solidarity reached 9.5 million members before its September 1981 congress...

 tactics to secure the same plea bargain for everyone. But some activists have opted to enter a blind plea, pleading guilty without any plea agreement in place. Mohandas Gandhi pleaded guilty and told the court, "I am here to . . . submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen."

Legal implications of civil disobedience


Barkan writes that if defendants plead not guilty, "they must decide whether their primary goal will be to win an acquittal and avoid imprisonment or a fine, or to use the proceedings as a forum to inform the jury and the public of the political circumstances surrounding the case and their reasons for breaking the law via civil disobedience." A technical defense
Technical defense
A technical defense is one used by a defendant to seek acquittal based on the technicalities of the law. It is in contrast to a political defense which seeks to use political arguments to persuade a jury to nullify. Sometimes the desire to convince a jury on political and moral grounds is so strong...

 may enhance the chances for acquittal but make for more boring proceedings and reduced press coverage. During the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 era, the Chicago Eight used a political defense
Political defense
A political defense is one used by a defendant that relies on political arguments for acquittal. The necessity defense can sometimes be used for this purpose, and shadow defenses are also sometimes used. In countries that have jury trials, the defendant may seek jury nullification....

, while Benjamin Spock used a technical defense. In countries such as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 whose laws guarantee the right to a jury trial
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

 but do not excuse lawbreaking for political purposes, some civil disobedients seek jury nullification
Jury nullification
Jury nullification occurs in a trial when a jury reaches a verdict contrary to the judge's instructions as to the law.A jury verdict contrary to the letter of the law pertains only to the particular case before it; however, if a pattern of acquittals develops in response to repeated attempts to...

. Over the years, this has been made more difficult by court decisions such as Sparf v. United States
Sparf v. United States
Sparf v. United States, 156 U.S. 51 , was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that federal judges were not required to inform jurors of their inherent ability to judge the law in a case. The decision asserted that the court could mislead jurors and inform them that they...

, which held that the judge need not inform jurors of their nullification prerogative, and United States v. Dougherty
United States v. Dougherty
United States v. Dougherty was a 1972 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in which the court ruled that members of the D.C...

, which held that the judge need not allow defendants to openly seek jury nullification.

Governments have generally not recognized the legitimacy of civil disobedience or viewed political objectives as an excuse for breaking the law. Specifically, the law usually distinguishes between criminal motive and criminal intent; the offender's motives or purposes may be admirable and praiseworthy, but his intent may still be criminal. Hence the saying that "if there is any possible justification of civil disobedience it must come from outside the legal system."

One theory is that, while disobedience may be helpful, any great amount of it would undermine the law by encouraging general disobedience which is neither conscientious nor of social benefit. Therefore, conscientious lawbreakers must be punished. Michael Bayles argues that if a person violates a law in order to create a test case
Test case
A test case in software engineering is a set of conditions or variables under which a tester will determine whether an application or software system is working correctly or not. The mechanism for determining whether a software program or system has passed or failed such a test is known as a test...

 as to the constitutionality
Constitutionality
Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

 of a law, and then wins his case, then that act did not constitute civil disobedience. It has also been argued that breaking the law for self-gratification, as in the case of a homosexual or cannabis
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

 user who does not direct his act at securing the repeal of amendment of the law, is not civil disobedience. Likewise, a protestor who attempts to escape punishment by committing the crime covertly and avoiding attribution, or by denying having committed the crime, or by fleeing the jurisdiction, is generally viewed as not being a civil disobedient.

Courts have distinguished between two types of civil disobedience: "Indirect civil disobedience involves violating a law which is not, itself, the object of protest, whereas direct civil disobedience involves protesting the existence of a particular law by breaking that law." During the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, courts typically refused to excuse the perpetrators of illegal protests from punishment on the basis of their challenging the legality of the Vietnam War
Legality of the Vietnam War
The legality of the Vietnam War refers to the lawfulness of the 1965-1975 U.S. military activity that occurred in Vietnam.-U.S. law:The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed in 1964, authorized U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson to use military force in Southeast Asia. The Resolution was repealed in...

; the courts ruled it was a political question
Political question
In American Constitutional law, the political question doctrine is closely linked to the concept of justiciability, as it comes down to a question of whether or not the court system is an appropriate forum in which to hear the case. This is because the court system only has authority to hear and...

. The necessity defense has sometimes been used as a shadow defense
Shadow defense
A shadow defense is a legal defense that cannot be sustained on its own merits, but which opens the door to introducing evidence that will assist in seeking jury nullification, and gives the jury an excuse to acquit...

 by civil disobedients to deny guilt without denouncing their politically motivated acts, and to present their political beliefs in the courtroom. However, court cases such as U.S. v. Schoon have greatly curtailed the availability of the political necessity defense. Likewise, when Carter Wentworth was charged for his role in the Clamshell Alliance
Clamshell Alliance
The Clamshell Alliance is an anti-nuclear organization co-founded by Paul Gunter, Howie Hawkins, Harvey Wasserman, Guy Chichester and other activists in 1976. The alliance's coalescence began in 1975 as New England activists and organizations began to respond to U.S...

's 1977 illegal occupation of the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant
Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant
The Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, more commonly known as Seabrook Station, is a nuclear power plant located in Seabrook, New Hampshire, approximately north of Boston and south of Portsmouth. Two units were planned, but the second unit was never completed due to construction delays, cost overruns...

, the judge instructed the jury to disregard his competing harms
Competing harms
Competing harms is a legal doctrine in certain U.S. states, particularly in New England. For example, the Maine Criminal Code holds that "Conduct that the person believes to be necessary to avoid imminent physical harm to that person or another is justifiable if the desirability and urgency of...

 defense, and he was found guilty. Fully Informed Jury Association
Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association is a United States national jury education organization, incorporated in the state of Montana as a 501 not-for-profit organization. FIJA works to educate all citizens on their authority when they serve as jurors...

 activists have sometimes handed out educational leaflets inside courthouses despite admonitions not to; according to FIJA, many of them have escaped prosecution because "prosecutors have reasoned (correctly) that if they arrest fully informed jury leafleters, the leaflets will have to be given to the leafleter's own jury as evidence."

Along with giving the offender his just deserts
Retributive justice
Retributive justice is a theory of justice that considers that punishment, if proportionate, is a morally acceptable response to crime, with an eye to the satisfaction and psychological benefits it can bestow to the aggrieved party, its intimates and society....

, achieving crime control
Crime control
Crime control refers to methods taken to reduce crime in a society. Penology often focuses on the use of criminal penalties as a means of deterring people from committing crimes and temporarily or permanently incapacitating those who have already committed crimes from re-offending...

 via incapacitation and deterrence is a major goal of criminal punishment. Brownee argues, "Bringing in deterrence at the level of justification detracts from the law’s engagement in a moral dialogue with the offender as a rational person because it focuses attention on the threat of punishment and not the moral reasons to follow this law." Leonard Hubert Hoffmann writes, "In deciding whether or not to impose punishment, the most important consideration would be whether it would do more harm than good. This means that the objector has no right not to be punished. It is a matter for the state (including the judges) to decide on utilitarian grounds whether to do so or not."

It has been noted that the poor may have more to lose than the middle class from engagement in civil disobedience. The poor often receive government benefits that could be jeopardized by an arrest, and have prior criminal convictions that could result in harsher punishment. As a result, sometimes the participants in illegal demonstrations against government policies deemed to harm poverty-stricken minorities are predominantly white and middle class.

See also


Ideas
  • Civil resistance
    Civil resistance
    The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

  • Conscientious objection
  • Direct action
    Direct action
    Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

  • Draft resistance
  • Examples of civil disobedience
    Examples of civil disobedience
    The following are examples of civil disobedience from around the world.- China :In the 2000s, forms of civil disobedience such as tax resistance, rural protests and work stoppages were on the rise in China.-Cuba:...

  • Insubordination
    Insubordination
    Insubordination is the act of willfully disobeying an authority. Refusing to perform an action that is unethical or illegal is not insubordination; neither is refusing to perform an action that is not within the scope of authority of the person issuing the order.Insubordination is typically a...

  • Nonconformism
    Nonconformism
    Nonconformity is the refusal to "conform" to, or follow, the governance and usages of the Church of England by the Protestant Christians of England and Wales.- Origins and use:...

  • Nonviolence
    Nonviolence
    Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

  • Nonviolent resistance
    Nonviolent resistance
    Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

  • Tax resistance
    Tax resistance
    Tax resistance is the refusal to pay tax because of opposition to the government that is imposing the tax or to government policy.Tax resistance is a form of civil disobedience and direct action...

  • Tree sitting
    Tree sitting
    Tree sitting is a form of environmentalist civil disobedience in which a protester sits in a tree, usually on a small platform built for the purpose, to protect it from being cut down...

  • Hunt sabotage
    Hunt saboteur
    Hunt sabotage is the direct action that animal rights or animal welfare activists undertake to interfere with hunting activity.Anti-hunting campaigners are divided into those who believe in direct intervention and those who watch the hunt to monitor for cruelty and report violations of animal...



Groups
  • Committee of 100 (United Kingdom)
  • Abalone Alliance
    Abalone alliance
    The Abalone Alliance was a nonviolent civil disobedience group formed to shut down the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo on the central California coast in the United States...

     and Clamshell Alliance
    Clamshell Alliance
    The Clamshell Alliance is an anti-nuclear organization co-founded by Paul Gunter, Howie Hawkins, Harvey Wasserman, Guy Chichester and other activists in 1976. The alliance's coalescence began in 1975 as New England activists and organizations began to respond to U.S...

    , anti-nuclear power groups
  • Righteous Among the Nations
    Righteous Among the Nations
    Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

    • Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
      Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
      Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in south-central France.Primarily a Huguenot town, it became a haven for Jews fleeing from the Nazis during World War II.-World War II:...

      , French bread town
  • The White Rose
  • Trident Ploughshares
    Trident Ploughshares
    Trident Ploughshares is an activist anti-nuclear weapons group, founded in 1998 with the aim of "beating swords into ploughshares" . This is specifically by attempting to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system, in a non-violent manner...

    , anti-nuclear weapons group
  • Defiance Campaign
    Defiance Campaign
    The Defiance Campaign against Unjust Laws was presented by the African National Congress at a conference held in Bloemfontein, South Africa in December 1951....

    , anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa.


People
  • Mohandas Gandhi
    • Satyagraha
      Satyagraha
      Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

  • Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

    • Letter from Birmingham Jail
      Letter from Birmingham Jail
      The Letter from Birmingham Jail or Letter from Birmingham City Jail, also known as The Negro Is Your Brother, is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr., an American civil rights leader...

  • John Lennon
    John Lennon
    John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

  • Rosa Parks
    Rosa Parks
    Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement"....

    , "mother of the civil rights movement"
  • James Bevel
    James Bevel
    James L. Bevel was an American minister and leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era:...

    , the Strategist of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement
  • Dalai Lama
    Dalai Lama
    The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

  • Henry David Thoreau
    Henry David Thoreau
    Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

  • Lech Wałęsa
    Lech Wałęsa
    Lech Wałęsa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity , the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 95.Wałęsa was an electrician...

  • Dorothy Day
    Dorothy Day
    Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist and devout Catholic convert; she advocated the Catholic economic theory of Distributism. She was also considered to be an anarchist, and did not hesitate to use the term...

     co-founder of Catholic Worker Movement
  • Philip Berrigan
    Philip Berrigan
    Philip Francis Berrigan was an internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest...

     former Josephite priest and nonviolent activist
  • Daniel Berrigan
    Daniel Berrigan
    Daniel Berrigan, SJ is an American Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet. Daniel and his brother Philip were for a time on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for their involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam war....

     Jesuit priest and nonviolent activist
  • Sousveillance
    Sousveillance
    Sousveillance refers to the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity typically by way of small wearable or portable personal technologies.Sousveillance has also been described as "inverse surveillance", i.e...

    , passive campaign against surveillance
    Surveillance
    Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

  • Václav Havel
    Václav Havel
    Václav Havel is a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic . He has written over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally...

  • Anna Hazare
    Anna Hazare
    Kisan Baburao Hazare , popularly known as Anna Hazare is an Indian social activist and a prominent leader in the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi...

    , 2011 Civil Disobedience in India for Jan Lokpal Bill
    Jan Lokpal Bill
    The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill, is a proposed independent anti-corruption law in India. Anti-corruption social activists proposed it as a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal bill, which is currently being proposed by the Government of India.The...

    (Citizen's ombudsman Bill)

External links