What Is Civil Disobedience, What Does It Mean?June 28, 2021
The grounds on which the criminals are punished are always moral grounds.
But is it also possible to be morally acceptable to break a law? Civil disobedience is a special type of breaking the law in which it is justified on moral grounds.
Some people think that breaking the law can never be justified: if you are dissatisfied with the law, you can campaign to change it, write letters, etc. You must seek legal alternatives. However, there are many cases where such legal objections are completely useless. In such circumstances there is a tradition of breaking the law known as civil disobedience. Civil disobedience occurs when people see themselves being asked to obey the law or government policies that they find unjust.
Civil disobedience has led to significant changes in law and government policy. A famous example of this is the women’s suffrage movement in England. Likewise, this movement succeeded in nationalizing its aim of gaining the right to vote for women through a campaign of civil disobedience, which included the chaining of activists to train tracks. Limited emancipation was achieved in 1918, partly as a result of the social impact of the First World War, when women aged thirty and over were finally granted the right to vote. Still, this movement, which advocated that women should be given the right to vote, played an important role in changing the unjust law that prohibited women from participating in so-called democratic elections.
Both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. They have been ardent advocates of civil disobedience. Gandhi was instrumental in securing India’s independence through nonviolent illegal acts that ultimately resulted in the withdrawal of British Sovereignty. Martin Luther King Jr.’s challenging racial prejudices in the same way helped black people in the southern states of America gain basic human rights.
Another example of civil disobedience is the refusal of some Americans to fight during the Vietnam War, despite their conscription. Some did this because they believed that any form of killing was morally wrong, and therefore they preferred breaking the law to fighting and possibly killing other people. Others, who did not object to all wars, felt that the war in Vietnam was an unjust war that put civilians in great danger for no good reason. The growing backlash against the ongoing war in Vietnam ultimately led to the withdrawal of the United States.
Civil disobedience is a tradition of nonviolent and public breaking of the law, designed to draw attention to unjust laws or government policies. Those who act in the tradition of civil disobedience do not break the law for purely personal gain; they do this to draw attention to an unjust law or morally objectionable government policies and to increase the visibility of their cause. This is why civil disobedience often takes place publicly and in the public sphere, preferably in the presence of journalists, photographers and broadcasters. For example, an American soldier who tore up his draft certificate during the Vietnam War and hid from the army for fear of fighting and dying would not have committed an act of civil disobedience. His action is simply an act of self-preservation. If he does the same act secretly, not because he fears his personal safety is in danger, but on moral grounds, and does not bring publicity and publicity to his purpose, his act will still not be enough to be an act of civil disobedience. By contrast, an American soldier who, while viewed by television cameras, expresses his opinion as to why he considers the American intervention in Vietnam immoral, and then publicly burns the drafting document, would be in an act of civil disobedience.
The main goal of civil disobedience is ultimately not to completely destroy the foundations of the rule of law, but to change certain laws or government policies. Those who act in the tradition of civil disobedience generally shun all forms of violence. And they do this not only because their purpose would be diminished by encouraging retaliation, and therefore conflict, but mainly because their grounds for breaking the law were raised on moral grounds.
Indeed, most moral principles allow harming other people only in special circumstances, such as in self-defense. Terrorists or freedom fighters (whichever you use depends on how close you are to their aims) resort to acts of violence to achieve political ends. These groups also engage in acts of civil disobedience.