When is civil disobedience justified?

A viewer asked this question on 6/1/2000:

Is resistance to state power ever justifiable, and if so, is it easier justified in some political systems than others? Why obey the law?

madpol gave this response on 6/1/2000:

Let's start with the last question 1st.

The purpose of the Law is to preserve the Peace and Good Order, Protect the Public Safety, and Promote a vigorous Commerce and General Prosperity. That, in and of itself, is a good enough reason to obey most laws.

A law that goes beyond those mandates, or militates against them can be justifiably resisted. This is a basic Human Right, and for citizens of Democracies, an obligation.

But the ends don't justify the means. Such resistance should, whenever possible, be conducted in a lawful manner.

Most systems institutionalize some form of resistance, (elections, lawsuits, boycotts, strikes, etc.)As a check on abuse and a means to reform. But the difference is a matter of the ease of resistance, not the justification or necessity.

morrisonhimself gave this response on 6/1/2000:

It is not only justifiable, it is required.
The reason tyranny won in such places as Germany in the 1930s was the non-resistance of the people.
The reason governments get away with such murderous actions in this country as Waco and Ruby Ridge and uncounted home invasions by DEA and local police in the insane "War on Drugs," and such atrocities -- though so far not fatal -- as the Miami home invasion to take a child at gunpoint (Elian Gonzalez) and mass roadblocks to check "your papers" is non-resistance.
Almost all the Founding Fathers signed their names to such statements as "It is not only the right but the duty of the people to overthrow tyrannical government."
Even today, various state constitutions say, almost quoting Abraham Lincoln, "The people have not only a right but a duty to get rid of a government that is abusing their rights."
Only acquiescence to tyranny is
* not* justifiable.
If I am not clear, or if you have further questions on this line, please ask.
Thank you.
Michael Morrison

JesseGordon responded:


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