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The Argument Against Civil Disobedience

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Law and order, as far as most westernized intellectuals are concerned, is the absolute protector of rights. Every advanced democracy subscribes to the continuing presence of law and order, and it’s hard to argue with the results seen and enjoyed today. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Let every man remember that to violate the law is… to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty.” While this sentiment is deeply relevant, it trivializes legitimate grievances citizens have against the legal system. Many of these issues can, indeed, be worked out within the system, and permanent change is achievable. Despite this, it is irresponsible to assume all cleavages can be worked out in a court of law, and to deny the necessity of civil disobedience…show more content…
In The Case Against Civil Disobedience, Storing goes as far as to state that “civil disobedience is obsolete”, and that involvement in the political process is the only way a citizen should bring about change. Civil disobedience, he argues, makes a mockery of the open society established. After all, if citizens had a problem with a democratic regime, shouldn't they take it up with the government through the voice they legally have? Why instigate cynicism about the system by ignoring the laws created by it? Liebman’s article Civil Disobedience: A Threat to Our Society leaves no reader surprised by its argument that laws should be followed “whether we agree with the particular statute or we don’t”. The resolution? Laws must be followed because they have been created under a free and democratic system. When the people who are affected by laws negatively have the ability to legally fight against them, they should under no circumstance disobey the current laws. While this argument is valid in an ideal society, the reason nonviolent resistance occurs is because of the improbability that change will happen legally. All movements in American history - the labor movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the LGBT rights movement - have brought about real legal change via illegal measures. These movements are inseparable from the…show more content…
When either fail, it is up to the citizen to take on the role of the court, as long as true justice is the end goal. Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who released evidence of government surveillance on domestic as well as international allied civilians, saw an issue with the current system and wanted to create awareness of the dishonesty. While the leaking of the information was illegal, Snowden is not an inherently bad citizen for breaking a law protecting the government’s possibly unconstitutional actions. This modern occurrence of civil disobedience highlights the importance of peaceful resistance, as the power should ultimately reside in the hands of the people. When this belief is challenged, it is the responsibility of all citizens to take up against the system, in order to promote and maintain the open society so important for all. In the words of Howard Zinn, “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to
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