The Meaning And Characteristics Of Civil Disobedience

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“No radical change on the plane of history is possible without crime.” quoted by Hermann Keyserling is just one of many statements that help to describe the meaning and true raw power of civil disobedience. But to truly grasp the meaning of civil disobedience, one would have to understand the definition and characteristics of civil disobedience itself. Civil Disobedience as defined by John Rawls (1971) is “a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies”. Theories on civil disobedience have been around for a long time. In fact, it was Henry David Thoreau, an American author who re-iterated the idea of civil disobedience to the people of American following the Mexican War in 1849. It was extremely controversial at that time as some people viewed it as an act of treason while others accepted it and think that it is necessary. Famous figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have also took up and preached their own theories of civil disobedience. Although both men fought for different causes, they do had a similar reason in which they saw that their people was being oppressed and treated unjustly. In the case of Mahatma Gandhi, he led the Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with a 400km Dandi Salt March in 1930 and he also led India to independence through the employment of non-violent civil disobedience. Meanwhile, Martin Luther King Jr wanted to stop the
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