View RSS Feed

Memories of the 28th Century

On Civil Disobedience

Rate this Entry
Today I started thinking about the people planning a march in Washington in regard to the attack on the Houses of Congress. The Duty of Civil Disobedience implies the opposite, when that is appropriate, and that would include non-governmental action against people attacking the country and its institutions.

I have no trouble imagining citizens of the U.S.A. being unhappy with some actions of the government, but I canít understand people attacking the process of elections and asserting that the people counting votes were doing anything deceitful or false. I have known people who counted votes in elections, and they are as incorruptible as people can be. Not only do they not cheat, but they donít even pay attention to the results, until they are complete.

Similarly, while I disagree with nearly all of the people in Congress, I would not attack their fundamental honesty. Most of them think that they are trying to improve the country. They may be deluded, but that is their motive and desire.

On the other hand, I believe that Donald Trump made the government act to his personal advantage, when he could, and his assertion that the election was stolen was an attempt to gain advantage for himself. I canít tell for sure, but I believe that many of Trumps supporters actually know that he was lying, and the election was better than most, but I fear that some of Trumps supporters do not have the analytical ability to tell that he was lying. I feel sorry for such people, but there isnít much I can do about it.

There are moral and cognitive problems behind the demonstration of January 6 and the demonstration of September 18. There is a very large distance between civil disobedience and a violent attack. If some people try to defend the attack of Jan. 6 as a legitimate expression of political opinions, then they will have to find a way to erase the forced entry into the Senate and House chambers, destruction and theft of materials, and so on.

There is no sign of a serious attempt to defend the attackers of Jan. 6, and several of the people indicted for their actions have pled guilty. As an observer, I see some people acting as if they deserve special treatment, but we see no sign of a popular uprising demanding that those attackers be found guilty of treason and treated suitably, but it was an attack on the country and on all of the citizens. If they simply wanted to bring attention to a situation that needed to be changed, then they would have been better off marching in the streets. Violence and attacks usually make most people unhappy with the people doing the attacking, and that happened to Trumps supporters and to Trump himself. Todayís demonstration looks quite dull, but itís early.

The other side of civil disobedience is doing what is right to oppose those who are trying to ignore the law or otherwise act in ways that are counter to the basic needs of the country. That usually would amount to simply pointing out that the Trumpsters or other anti-government people were wrong, and it would be best if that were as far as it went, but Trump and his followers filed many dilatory legal actions that were dismissed, so it might be a good idea to find substantial legal problems that could be attacked in court, rather than in the streets. It is always a better idea to avoid stooping to the level of those that one opposes.

Thoreauís The Duty of Civil Disobedience