When did the civil disobedience movement take place?

Protest and participation

Andrea Pabst

To person

M.A .; doctoral thesis on physicality and street protest; c / o Martin Endreß, University of Trier, Department IV - Sociology, Universitätsring 15, 54286 Trier. [email protected]

Civil disobedience has experienced a renaissance in recent years, especially in German-speaking countries. This does not mean the act of disobedience - it has always existed - but the use of the term civil disobedience for current forms of protest. Civil disobedience not only denotes a seemingly confusing multitude of political struggles, but has always been a politically contested term itself: It applies both as the moral blackmail of the majority by a minority, as a “civic duty” and “reformist striving for cosmetic corrections within the existing one Systems "as well as radical transformation potential. [1] Since the term itself is already a political issue, it is - contrary to what is often suggested - not suitable as an analytical term. The present article is an attempt at systematization and an overview of what is understood by civil disobedience. Accordingly, there is neither the beginning nor the end the one Definition of civil disobedience.

The history of the term is outlined below. It becomes clear that it is closely linked to the respective political-activist forms of civil disobedience. Then various aspects of civil disobedience are presented and reference is made to current discussions in German-speaking countries.

In philosophical discussions about the question of the duty of obedience to state authority, historical references go back to Socrates. This extensive, above all legal and political-philosophical discourse is not systematically traced in the following. [2] It should be emphasized that the term used therein is in many ways closely linked to political disputes, and there are numerous references such as Hannah Arendt's statement that no one has the right to obey. [3]

The history of the term more civil Disobedience mostly begins with Henry David Thoreau's (1817–1862) essay from 1849, which his publisher named "Civil Disobedience" (in German: "On the duty to disobey the state"). [4] Thoreau refused to pay taxes out of criticism of slavery and the war against Mexico that the United States was waging at the time.

Probably the best known activist theorists of civil disobedience are Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi (1869–1948) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968). Like Thoreau, they not only reflected on and demanded civil disobedience in speeches and writings, but also practiced it themselves - unlike Thoreau, however, collectively. Gandhi made civil disobedience towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century a mass-compatible concept of resistance against apartheid in South Africa and the British colonial power in India. From the 1950s onwards, King became the mouthpiece of the Afro-American civil rights movement in the USA. Both became known worldwide during their lifetime and their writings were received. [5] The list of activist theorists could easily be continued to the present day. In addition, there are more academic-philosophical or legal debates about civil disobedience (such as in the case of Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas).