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Friday, July 5, 2013

Essay on Civil Disobedience

INSTRUCTIONS:  Write an expository/argumentative essay in which you use any of the expository models we�ve discussed or the ones outlined below. This prompt includes the following two expository patterns: definition, exemplification. You may choose to write a paper using any of the six
patterns [division and analysis, process, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, definition, exemplification]. The essay, like the preceding, will require that you make a formal �structural� choice [one of the expository modes], establish a thesis [or controlling idea], develop that thesis/CI in the body of the paper.  Following is a brief breakdown of definition and exemplification writing, the last two modes.

paper idea:1.   Discuss Thoreau�s idea in Civil Disobedience: �Action from principle, the perception and performance of right, changes things and relations. It is essentially revolutionary��

Essay on Civil Disobedience
            Henry Thoreau’s disgust over slavery and the Mexican-American war sparked his interest to discuss comprehensively the idea of civil disobedience. According to Thoreau, governments are generally more harmful than helpful; hence their existence could not be justified. He asserted that democracy has no remedy to this reality because the majority has not acquired the needed virtues of wisdom and justice. Thoreau further added that, “it is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.” 

            The words of Thoreau have served as motivation for several forms of civil disobedience. Indeed, when a government is corrupt, people will eventually take actions. But the governing laws have considered civil disobedience as borderline criminal act. Given this limitations, several people have searched for loopholes to justify their act of disobedience. Over time, the perceived benefits of civil disobedience were used to justify such act. 

Civil disobedience should not be punished because it is committed by people who have proven to suffer from injustice. These people are motivated enough to commit such act and are willing to accept responsibility. The issues being raised by a disobeying individual or group is socially relevant and at least deserves the ear of a reasonable audience. Also, in most cases, any act of civil disobedience involves perceived intelligent people who have clear justification of their case. The act of disobedience must not cause any damage especially to innocent parties. Most important civil disobedience has to foster future on issues that are being raised. There is no need to resort into any activities that would further destroy the morale of the citizens. The goal is to establish as avenue to find sustainable and lasting solutions to problems in the community.

Because of the advent of technology, activists have found another medium to pursue their causes of showing the government the pressing issues in the society. Using computers to undertake civil disobedience has been the trend during the past years. A common example would be activists hacking a website of a government agency and indicating their message to the concerned individuals. The first traces of electronic civil disobedience were observed during the 1980s. “Electronic civil disobedience was coined from the Critical Art Ensemble, which is in the context of nomadic conceptions of capital and resistance. CF uses temporary - and nomadic -"autonomous zones" as the launch pads from where electronic civil disobedience is activated (for example, temporary websites that announce the ECD action.”

According to Manion and Goodum (2000), “In order to determine the motivations of hacktivists, one place to look is what hacktivists themselves say is their motivation. In June of 1998 the hacktivists group “MilwOrm” hacked India’s Bhabba Atomic Research Centre to protest against recent nuclear tests. Later, in July of that year, “MilwOrm” and the group “Astray Lumberjacks,” orchestrated an unprecedented mass hack of more than 300 sites around the world, replacing web pages with an anti-nuclear statements and images of mushroom clouds. Not surprisingly, the published slogan of MilwOrm is: Putting the power back in the hands of people.” There have been claims that hacktivism is not the same as civil disobedience based on the elements provided previously.

Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience has become a powerful mechanism that helped elevate the most pressing issues to concerned leaders. The view of Thoreau that the government is more harmful than beneficial has been proven by several historical events.  But there are good leaders that have shaped governments into becoming more aware of the needs to the population. Civil disobedience has been used as a tool to remind the government of its true role.


Critical Art Ensemble. Electronic Civil Disobedience: and Other Unpopular Ideas. New York:
Autonomedia. 1996.
“Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.” National Endowment for the Humanities. 5 July
2013. <>
Manion, M. and A. Godrum. “Terrorism or civil disobedience: toward a hacktivist ethic.”
Computers and Society. 2000: 14-19.

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