The Instigator
isaiah589
Con (against)
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The Contender
Kenneth_Stokes
Pro (for)
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Civil Disobedience should not be used as a form of political change

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,471 times Debate No: 32107
Debate Rounds (4)
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isaiah589

Con

I am against the statement that civil disobedience should not be used as a form of political change.
Round 1- Acceptance
Round 2- Opening Arguments
Round 3- Rebuts
Round 4- Closing Arguments
Have fun!
Kenneth_Stokes

Pro

I accept the debate against not using civil disobedience as a form of politicol change.
Debate Round No. 1
isaiah589

Con

I am against that statement that Civil Disobedience should not be used as a form of political change and that civil disobedience has helped America greatly.

There are a few major points that I would like to address, but first I would like to try to put in place a good definition of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is : refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government. http://www.merriam-webster.com...

First of all, usually when people look at civil disobedience, they think of violence. Usually people would think of civil disobedience as when the Bolsheviks had their revolution and took over Russia. This is not what civil disobedience has to be. Civil disobedience can be an extremely peaceful means of helping out the government. Take a look at Gandhi. He transformed the country of India peacefully through civil disobedience and if he hadn"t, who knows how they might have ended up.

Another major point is that the world is ever changing. Laws that are in place now, might need to be changed in the future. We most likely will need future laws to be put in place but we don"t know them yet. Lets take a look back at the early 1900"s. Women didn"t have the right to vote. They protested and protested and the eventually got their wish. Laws always need to be changed because the laws we have now may not matter in the future or we might need new laws in the future. We live in an ever changing world and with new times come new laws and regulations.

Another point I would like to make what occurred in early American history. The Revolutionary War against Britain was a major case of civil disobedience in American history. They went against British rule and law in order to gain their Independence and freedoms that the British just weren't giving them. If this civil disobedience did not occur, then America would still be under British control.

Now, many can argue that okay and that laws do need to be changed, but can"t the government just handle that, why do we need civil disobedience? Sometimes, letting the government handle it takes far too long. Do you know how long it takes to get a Supreme Court case? Most likely many years. Also, as we all know, there are laws that just are not morally right. Is it right to segregate against blacks or women? Government officials during the black civil rights era were too stubborn and big headed to change the laws without civil disobedience. It is unfortunate, but the people we elect into office do not always do what is right, and more importantly, they do not always reflect the views of the people. Our government is for the people right? I mean lets put a scenario in place here. Let"s say we elect a congress and a president, which we do. These people we elect say they are going to do all this great stuff, but lets say in reality, they make some laws that ban all professional football. Are you telling me that people will just sit back and say "Oh okay, well we elected them so, that's cool with me." NO. Government officials are not always correct and people need to fight for what is right. You can"t tell me that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were wrong for what they did can you? Civil disobedience NEEDS to happen in order to keep the government in line because the government does not ALWAYS reflect the view of the people and the people are everything in a democracy.

Finally and most importantly, my last major point that I would like to make is that ALL forms of government are FLAWED including democracy. If there was a perfect government everyone would have it. There is a reason that many countries have many different types of governments. No government is perfect. No government officials are perfect. Everything needs to be constantly changed. We get this idea in our minds that Democracy is the greatest thing ever, yet when you look at US history with civil disobedience all over the place, we can see that Democracy has many flaws. Therefore civil disobedience needs to happen. We cannot just sit back and do nothing, we need to constantly change this flawed form of government that we call great. Remember the statement, "Civil Disobedience should not be used as a form of political change." More often than not, we need civil disobedience, or we might as well just go to communism where the government controls everything and anything. You can see the world around us change, new technology, new transportation, new everything. With all these changes, we need laws to change as well and we cannot always trust the government officials to do it for us. We need civil disobedience.
Kenneth_Stokes

Pro

I support the statement that civil disobedience should not be used as a form of political change and that civil disobedience has not not truly helped America or any other society as much as one would think.

I accept your definition of civil disobedience. May I also clarify that just because civil disobedience as a thought may be of that without violence, does not mean that the act of civil disobedience will lead not lead to violence and worst political situations.

May I begin by saying that it is foolish to encourage civil disobedience based upon a few dozen successful rebellions against the hundreds of thousands that have failed and ended with or prolong mass killings. Take modern day Syria for example. What begin as a peaceful protest inspired by the works of Gene Sharp has now exploded into something much worse than a civil war. Although the Syrian regime was oppressive and immoral, it was nothing compared to what it is now. Let's examine the current state of the country. You having people fleeing by the hundreds of thousands each month, mass killing and inhumane activities by all factions (FSA, Syrian army, etc), jobs are almost nonexistent, buildings and homes being destroyed, children being used as cannon fodder, the economy is in shambles and much, much more. And to make situations worse, multiple foreign countries are using mercenaries against Syria, for they can have a political edge in their government. And what of the factions? Surely Islamist factions or foreign factions will not accept the establishment of the FSA and the FSA won't accept them. Meaning that even after Assad loses power, they will be fighting among themselves forever; constantly backed by foreign powers. It is safe to say that the "civil disobedience" used for change has not only backfired, but doomed both sides for eternity into a proxy war state.

There are many, many more examples around the world, yet my opponent chooses to focus on the relative few.

May I also state that what you believe to be civil disobedience is in fact inner-civil rebellion in most cases. Where the non conservative side of society (B) rebels against the social regulations and implementations of the conservative society (A) in which cases the government either supports or excuses the implementations of A, thus causing B to revolt against not necessarily the government--even if they believe they are--but another aspect of their own civil society. Whether it be the right for the black man to vote or for the women's rights.

Furthermore, civil disobedience, successful or not, has a toll on social stability and economical stability as well. Whether it be striking for better pay (loss of jobs and income, thus causing a loss of revenue and business), marching in the street against a war (which does nothing, i.e. Vietnam and Iraq), and other non-direct factors only irritate the government and society A, which can cause violent clashes with Society A and the law enforcement against society B. If the government truly wants something to be, then there will be no changes. That applies for both democracies and dictatorships.

Finally and most importantly, simply because you are the majority, and simply because a small minority of people assembles together to cause a commotion, DOES NOT mean that their objectives and intentions are justified and should be implemented into all of society. For example, if 90% of the population stopped working and began marching in the streets unannounced and causing chaos because they wanted murder to be legal, should they get what they want? No. A pure democracies are immoral and unjust. The 51% should not have the authority over the 49%.

There are many alternatives to civil disobedience, but keep in mind that sometimes--very few--it is needed. And if you were to tally all the actions of civil disobedience, you will find that it does more harm than good.

"More often than not, we need civil disobedience, or we might as well just go to communism where the government controls everything and anything."

I know this isn't the rebuttal round yet but where the hell did Communism come from? Also, one should know that true Communism neutralizes the state, meaning government has little to no power. Communism has never controlled everything, has it is in the hands of the people. The distorted view of Communism you have is not Communism, but an autocratic dictatorship; Stalinist totalitarianism.


Debate Round No. 2
isaiah589

Con

Thanks for accepting by the way.

First off I would like to state I never meant to encourage civil disobedience, I simply stated it was needed in order for the United States to be what it is today. I cannot argue against the issues in Syria, for this is simply a case where "civil disobedience" has not worked. Yet if you look at the entire United States history, civil disobedience has helped create the country that we live in as I said before. Once again, if we had not been disobedient against the British, the United States wouldn't be a country. There was no peaceful or lawful way of starting a new country away from the British without civil disobedience.

In some cases you are right that it may take a toll on social stability and economical stability, but sometimes in order to get rid of laws that are immoral or unjust and to achieve certain freedoms civil disobedience is the only tool in the box so to say.

A democracy is for the people. You need to listen to the people. 90% of the people would never want murder to be legal, it is just illogical to put that scenario into place. But if 90% of the people wanted anything, the government should listen. If 90% of the people in the country are not getting their say (which would be why they would be marching) then clearly the government should give the 90% percent what they want. A democracy is for the people.

There are indeed many alternatives to civil disobedience, yet there are not many cases in which any of these have helped out a country to as big an extent as civil disobedience has to India with Gandhi or the United States. "And if you were to tally all the actions of civil disobedience, you will find that it does more harm than good." Civil disobedience may have not worked out in more cases than it worked, yet the times it did work, the results changed everything, almost every time for the better of the people. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement clearly was worth the deaths of some of the people that died. It was for the better of the people in the end. Civil disobedience might come with a cost, but the importance of the outcome is all that matters. You are correct in saying that it can cause trouble, but if civil disobedience is used correctly it can be a great help to the government officials, who are sometimes blind. The purpose of a democracy is to reflect the views of the people and best serve the interests of the people. Since Democracy is flawed and government officials might not reflect the people, the people sometimes need to used civil disobedience. I am not saying it is something that should be encouraged, but if a majority of people in the country have an issue that is not being answered by the government in which they elected and nothing else can be done, what other choice do they have?
Kenneth_Stokes

Pro

It seems I have already won this debate for my opponent is inconsistent with his objective. First he describes civil disobedience as peaceful and non violent, then he uses examples such as the American revolution and black civil rights as example. Then he goes to say that he is not advocating civil rights, yet the debate objective the he chose is should civil rights be used as a form of political change. Then he dismisses his example involving India and Ghandi and substitutes it for the U.S. alone. "...I would like to state I never meant to encourage civil disobedience, I simply stated it was needed in order for the United States to be what it is today." And your theory that the United States would have never been a country if there was no civil disobedience is highly debatable, as there are many other scenarios that could have taken place. But such a subject is not fit for this debate--I just wish for you to know that such a claim is not entirely credible.

"...but sometimes in order to get rid of laws that are immoral or unjust and to achieve certain freedoms civil disobedience is the only tool in the box so to say."

The above claim double-sided. Take my society A vs society B example into consideration. What is unjust to A is justifiable to B. With that said, if both sides (A and B) decide to use civil disobedience to get what they want, violence will be the end result. And whatever new law emerges will be based upon the acts of violence that was shown instead of the acts of logic and rationale, as it should be.

"90% of the people would never want murder to be legal, it is just illogical to put that scenario into place."

Oh, really? What about in Islamist nations, where the majority calls for the death of non-Muslims or secular establishments? Surely by your logic those deaths are justified, right? Once again, and I stress what I am about to say, the U.S. is not Democracy, it is a Republic. There are no pure democracies that currently exist. It is immoral to enforce the rules of the masses against the minority. In substitute, a compromise must be established. But since civil disobedience is action instead of logic, such compromises won't be established by the majority until the majority feels it is losing by individual numbers and political power.

"There are indeed many alternatives to civil disobedience, yet there are not many cases in which any of these have helped out a country to as big an extent as civil disobedience has to India with Gandhi or the United States."

Such a claim is void, as there is no way to truly know whether or not things could have been better or worse if another method of political activity was used. Nor have those alternative methods of negotiation been widely explored. Again, you and I both agree that sometimes civil disobedience is necessary, but I have proved that, because of its negative history, it should not be utilitarianly used or encouraged, especially over diplomacy.

"I am not saying it is something that should be encouraged, but if a majority of people in the country have an issue that is not being answered by the government in which they elected and nothing else can be done, what other choice do they have?"

Perhaps if "Civil disobedience should be used for an issue that is not being answered." was your debate topic, then perhaps you may have a point. But speaking generally, as you have admitted yourself, the bad outweighs the good in both individual incidences and human rights. With that said, unless a group of people know for a fact that their disobedience will end with little to no blood being shed, then it should not be considered. The Salt March of India was a rare case in a rare setting against a liberal government. Ghandi's method of peace only worked because the government (The British) did not truly want total order, for if they did, then, well... refer to my Syrian example.
Debate Round No. 3
isaiah589

Con

isaiah589 forfeited this round.
Kenneth_Stokes

Pro

Vote Pro (me).
Debate Round No. 4
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