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Drgrafenbergmd's avatar

What is the most potent form of civil disobedience?

Asked by Drgrafenbergmd (382 points ) February 10th, 2010

What makes civil disobedience effective? Essentially, what is at the core of civil disobedience, the key aspect which makes it a catalyst of successful social change?

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21 Answers

Grisaille's avatar

I hope this isn’t homework.

Regardless, I’m going with education and knowledge.

Dr_C's avatar

A peaceful march with a great many people for the short term. As far as the long term I believe My buddy @Grisaille already hit the nail on the head.

Drgrafenbergmd's avatar

@Grisaille Others have said that, its not. Kinda makes me feel dumb when people say it.

ETpro's avatar

I was going to say open rebellion as in the American Revolution, but @Grisaille gave a much better answer.

Drgrafenbergmd's avatar

“What grade level homework do my questions sound like” my next question to fluther

lilikoi's avatar

I think the key is organization.

Drgrafenbergmd's avatar

@Kevbo I will check it out thanks

Arisztid's avatar

@kevbo Agreed. You have to get their attention, disrupt business as usual, in order for your protest to be seen.

Dr_C's avatar

@davidbetterman +10 for the M.A.S.H. reference

susanc's avatar

Ghandi got it figured out. “Passive resistance” is not at all passive, but neither is it violent.
(If you don’t want to read the books, just watch the superb movie from around 1982.) The protesters must be ready to accept physical harm without responding violently. The moral advantage is insuperable.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

When I first read this question, I had an instant idea as to answering due to its use of the word “potent”. However, when I continued to read the rest of the question’s description my elation fell. Based solely on the first sentence of the question, my answer would be to cause the extinction of our species. How could one possibly be more disobedient to every-and-any-one’s wishes than to prematurely end everyones’ lives and chance for progeny? However, the question goes on to use the word “effective”, which suggests the least amount of effort and resources for the most effect. Devising and carrying out a way to murder every individual on this planet would not fit this definition. So, sadly, I put away my socially taboo answer and chime in with “Look to Ghandi’s example. His revolution was incredibly effective.”.

Sincerely,
-Dan

john65pennington's avatar

As much as i hate to make the next statement, it is true and happened in my city.

Its civil riots by the people. in 1968, Nashville had a civil riot that almost destroyed our city. the issue was civil rights. police officers were injured and civillians were injured. was the outcome of the riots advantageous to both white and black people? yes. my city was stuck in a strictly “white people mode”. we still had separate restrooms for each race. blacks could not eat in many restaurants. the situation was a bomb ready to explode and it did.

I am happy to report that sometimes it takes civil disobedience to wake up the people for needed changes. all is great in my city now.

talljasperman's avatar

not filling your income tax or any forms at all…. bury all your Identification in a box and sleep until someone from the government wants something from you… and keep on sleeping… then avoid your court dates…. and when caught throw feces at the judge.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Pay for everything with cash. It will piss off the credit card companies and banks. Also, as others have said, make sure you are as educated as possible about politics and government.

Trillian's avatar

Ask Ghandi and MLK. I am assuming that when you say “Potent” you mean effective.

candide's avatar

why, what are you planning?

Smashley's avatar

There are many forms of civil disobedience, and I don’t think you can say that one is more effective than another, except in how they use the situation to create a critical mass of supporters, and weaken the opposition.

Ghandi’s non-violence was effective because it made it easy for the world to understand the moral issues at hand, and to rally support. People were inspired to align with his “good” cause, and those soldiers and citizens who found themselves against the movement, began to have a crisis of conscience. But could this work anywhere? Absolutely not. Had the population of Indians compared to British been much smaller, the movement would simply have been violently quashed. In other more extreme examples, with more extreme leaders, anyone and everyone involved in the non-violent resistance would simply be rounded up and shot. In this scenario, a violent solution might be much for effective.

There is no hard and fast rule to which forms of resistance will work, and which won’t. The key is capturing the hearts of enough people and bringing them onto your side with a belief that this is a cause worth fighting for and to create such a powerful force that the opposition loses the will or the ability to continue.

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