Unbelievably, civil disobedience has a crucial part to play in the current way of doing things. The position it holds is precarious in any current political system. The philosophy entails the obligations beyond the law to compel the breaking of the same law. Consequently, civil disobedience would serve as a cabinet between the legal protest and rebellion. It provides a safety valve without resorting to extreme means in the process. The benefit of civil disobedience is that it broadly benefits the society by voicing the liberating views divergent from the status quo.
It is in the same manner as free speech in an aspect that the society is first democratic and will maximize the correction of its own mistakes. However, in order for civil disobedience to succeed in its own right, it has to retain a significantly high moral status such that society, as a whole, respects the place that it has in the entirety of a political order. This will not happen if civil disobedience loses the edge or clarity, or the sharp edges demarcating the fire loosen their distinction. Only then, civil disobedience will lose the force it has and go against the rule of law.
According to Thoreau, he looked at the process of voting as a sort of gaming strategy with a moral tinge. The players used the platforms of right and wrong to sway the voters. The politicians even use the wish that right should prevail to prove their good intentions and take the image of greed from power away from them. Some people classify violent acts of protest to be among the acts of civil disobedience. Theorists did not advocate for this, and thus to be specific: non-violent civil disobedience can be used to publicize unjust law or a just cause whereby the objective would be to appeal to the conscience of the public (Thoreau 5).
At the same time, it can be used to appeal to negligent officials and jolt them into action. It will have an effect on the political system of a state no matter how minute and irrelevant the effects may seem. The government will be forced to react in some way or another after a given period depending on the situation and the pressure applied by the international community as a result. Thoughts on civil disobedience were quite untested until Thoreau himself put them in a practical capacity; he took the non-violent strategy to try to change the authority of the state.
Advantage of personal values gave Thoreau a head start in order to bargain for adequate use of his thoughts instead of running with it for political office. This represents the thin line that can be broken at any time especially if the movement acquires numbers and changed objectives. Then, it would lose the initial meaning. However, this does not mean that his actions did not have consequences. In fact, he was arrested for his refusal to pay tax and jailed. He was not supposed to be released until he paid a fine, which he also refused to pay.
It so happened that the debt was settled without his knowledge and against his consent by his relatives. He went on to write the essay on civil disobedience. He commented that those who disapproved of the government’s motives and moves yet pled their allegiance to it are still the most conscientious people, and are the most serious obstacles to the reform agenda. In the past, civil disobedience was an idea related to anarchy and chaos whereby civil unrest and unrest appeared.
Further analysis and understanding has brought people to understand that this cannot be further from the truth. A steady culture of demonstration and protest against agendas against the better interests of the citizens of the state has made the difference. Thus, if unjust laws exist in a country then it should be given a chance to correct the injustice by its chosen means of doing so Thoreau was a bit different from his system of thought as compared to Hobbes in that he suggested that unjust laws might indeed exist in a society. A system of government had to have its moments of friction which may not do enough good to counter balance good and evil (Thoreau 5).
Hobbes Thoughts on Political Authority
In this case, if they did then one should not abide these laws if they went against personal values. Thomas Hobbes wrote a book called the leviathan (Hobbes 7). In this text, he stated that society needs a social contract and rule by a sovereign power. These situations identified as a state of civil war as a comparison of ‘war of all against all’. A strong central government setting that made sure there was a state of order could only avoid this. He denied any mode of rebellion against social contract in any fashion.
Hobbes did although discuss the possible dissolution of the state. The only case would be that since the social contract provided for peace and defense of the citizens themselves. This contract would become void in the first place if the government did not fulfill its obligation to the citizenry in this fashion. In this text, Hobbes began the doctrine on the foundation of societies and legitimate governments. Hobbes had other philosophies on the human condition including those concerning the human nature of reaction when it comes to fear and strength (Hobbes 7).
There are few things that could compare to the fear of death. If a man were to conquer this fear, he would have beaten all others using intelligence or brute force to defend themselves. According to the philosopher, self-defense against death is the highest human necessity. When one is threatened by the possibility of mortality, they cannot help but defend themselves in any way possible. The basis of the theory, which Hobbes developed, was based on Galileo’s thoughts on geometry. This involves breaking down matter into the original constituent elements. Applying this method would involve the transfer of natural science to political philosophy.
In this way, his priority was classified certain laws of human behavior or the laws of nature which provided the conditions under which a stable situation in the state was possible. The book aims to show why the political authority of the state as a whole should be concentrated in one sovereign body. This would be the government in this case or a monarchy. It does not matter as long as there is an answerable authority that acts as the central head. This idea relates to the fascist mode of thinking that suggests the state should be the overall authority.
In this sense, it should answer to no authority. The people do not count as individuals and only serve to be part of the state. They do not hold as much value as individual components as they do in the form of the state. He did not specify his ideas to this capacity but they hold similar weight in their ideologies. Thus, he comes off looking like a fascist in the sense that he adopts similar ideas to the Benito Mussolini regime. Nevertheless, he may disagrees with the viewpoint, he sounds totalitarian in his views and thus people are more likely going to support Thoreau.
Reactions to Each Other’s View Points
If the two of them were to talk about their views regarding the state, it would probably be a heated discussion with equally strong points from both directions. Thoreau would come from the angle that leaving the state with the enormous responsibility of being the overall judge answerable to no one in terms of policy would be a death nail. Power corrupts and absolute power would corrupt the state in an absolute manner. In other words, it would be handing the controls to a dormant beast.
Hobbes on the other hand, would come from the idea that power is not an object to be held by the individual. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. As much as people would hate to admit it, states that are led in this fashion tend to be more stable and formidable especially in a military situation. Thoreau gave an example using the military and the law enforcers. When they do their jobs, all sense of moral liability goes out the window. They become slaves to their orders and, in so doing, join a level with wood, machines and other implements (Thoreau 4).
Both of them would uncover various flaws in each other’s plans and systems. Hobbes would point out the instability that would be apparent if the individuals in the country were allowed to give their opinion in a fashion as to disrespect government policy. The government would lose the sovereign respect and become subject to attacks from every corner even using litigation. On the other hand, Thoreau would ask if anyone wanted to live in an area where his or her personal opinion did not count for anything.
Government is quite treacherous and expedient in failing the people (Thoreau 3).In the present time, Thoreau’s point of view would be quite favorable. This is because the more that the globe becomes a village, the more the people within become more and more individually oriented. The beliefs that most created about their countries or the various groups that they belong to due to geographical disposition. It makes people more probable to diversify in their culture. An example is the United States in this situation. The intense immigration has made the country quite the melting pot of societies. It is one of the countries at the forefront of globalization. This means the citizens are likely to care less about the power of the state unless it pertains to their security as a country.
Most non-violent protesters of civil disobedience would affirm that they are contesting a grievous affront to human values. However, the paradox is that if the government is bad why the protesters themselves think they will deter from their usual behavior to listen to their demands, unless it is under international pressure. Both of the theorists have equally important points. Hobbes would be guilty of implying a dictatorial mode of governance is the best way to go. If everyone questions the will of the state at every turn, nothing much will be done.
Too much time might be spent arguing on policies that would have gone a long way to develop the state. Thoreau is quite liberal but his policies are idealistic. There is no way one could advice current societies to follow certain regulations according to personal feelings on the issues. Some have personal feelings that murder is quite okay depending on the context in which it is put. They refuse to follow the regulation set by the law, and take it into their own hands. A society like this would invite a lot of chaos.