Civil Disobedience Quotes

Quotes tagged as "civil-disobedience" Showing 1-30 of 68
Martin Luther King Jr.
“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Howard Zinn
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”
Howard Zinn

Aristotle
“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”
Aristotle, Selected Writings From The Nicomachean Ethics And Politics

Martin Luther King Jr.
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Henry David Thoreau
“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Arundhati Roy
“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ”
Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire

Martin Luther King Jr.
“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Henry David Thoreau
“If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man.”
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Henry David Thoreau
“I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.”
Henry David Thoreau

Tariq Ali
“It was civil disobedience that won them their civil rights.”
Tariq Ali, The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

Michelle Templet
“If you're not going to use your free speech to criticize your own government, then what the hell is the point of having it?”
Michel Templet

Mahatma Gandhi
“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”
Mahatma Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War 1942-49

Martin Luther King Jr.
“One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Howard Zinn
“Civil disobedience, as I put it to the audience, was not the problem, despite the warnings of some that it threatened social stability, that it led to anarchy. The greatest danger, I argued, was civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience led to the horrors we saw in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it led to the public's acceptance of war whenever the so-called democratic government decided on it...

In such a world, the rule of law maintains things as they are. Therefore, to begin the process of change, to stop a war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern black did, as antiwar protesters did.”
Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

Tarrin P. Lupo
“When EVIL men make bad laws, righteous men disobey them."
Pastor Butch Paugh”
Tarrin P. Lupo

Mahatma Gandhi
“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Chris Hedges
“if we don’t rebel, if we’re not physically in an active rebellion, then it’s spiritual death.”
Chris Hedges

Harriet Beecher Stowe
“But now what? Why, now comes my master, takes me right away from my work, and my friends, and all I like, and grinds me down into the very dirt! And why? Because, he says, I forgot who I was; he says, to teach me that I am only a nigger! After all, and last of all, he comes between me and my wife, and says I shall give her up, and live with another woman. And all this your laws give him power to do, in spite of God or man. Mr. Wilson, look at it! There isn't one of all these things, that have broken the hearts of my mother and my sister, and my wife and myself, but your laws allow, and give every man power to do, in Kentucky, and none can say to him nay! Do you call these the laws of my country? Sir, I haven't any country, anymore than I have any father. But I'm going to have one. I don't want anything of your country, except to be let alone,--to go peaceably out of it; and when I get to Canada, where the laws will own me and protect me, that shall be my country, and its laws I will obey. But if any man tries to stop me, let him take care, for I am desperate. I'll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe. You say your fathers did it; if it was right for them, it is right for me!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

David T. Dellinger
“There is a heady sense of manhood that comes from advancing from apathy to commitment, from timidity to courage, from passivity to aggressiveness. There is an intoxication that comes from standing up to the police at last.”
David T. Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter

Douglas Coop
“New concepts should be introduced by the power of imagery.”
Douglas Coop

George F. Kennan
“If you accept a democratic system, this means that you are prepared to put up with those of its workings, legislative or administrative, with which you do not agree as well as with those that meet with your concurrence. This willingness to accept, in principle, the workings of a system based on the will of the majority, even when you yourself are in the minority, is simply the essence of democracy. Without it there could be no system of representative self-government at all. When you attempt to alter the workings of the system by means of violence or civil disobedience, this, it seems to me, can have only one of two implications; either you do not believe in democracy at all and consider that society ought to be governed by enlightened minorities such as the one to which you, of course, belong; or you consider that the present system is so imperfect that it is not truly representative, that it no longer serves adequately as a vehicle for the will of the majority, and that this leaves to the unsatisfied no adequate means of self-expression other than the primitive one of calling attention to themselves and their emotions by mass demonstrations and mass defiance of established authority.”
George F. Kennan

Plutarch
“[Theseus] soon found himself involved in factions and troubles; those who long had hated him had now added to their hatred contempt; and the minds of the people were so generally corrupted, that, instead of obeying commands with silence, they expected to be flattered into their duty.”
Plutarch, Plutarch's Lives: Volume I

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Let us put it generally: if a regime is immoral, its subjects are free from all obligations to it.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books V-VII

John Howard Griffin
“DESEGREGATE THE BUSES WITH THIS 7 POINT PROGRAM:

1. Pray for guidance.
2. Be courteous and friendly.
3. Be neat and clean.
4. Avoid loud talk.
5. Do not argue.
6. Report incidents immediately.
7. Overcome evil with good.
Sponsored by Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance
Rev. A. L. Davis, Pres.
Rev. J. E. Poindexter, Secretary”
John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me

Mahatma Gandhi
“A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which unjust and iniquitous. Only then does the right accrue to him of the civil disobedience of certain laws in well defined circumstances.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth: An Autobiography

“Only the truly evil do not believe in civil disobedience under any circumstance. If you refuse to disobey when the government demands that you commit atrocities, you are devoid of values. Every man with a conscience has some line in the sand over which the Government may not pass!”
Dennis Kreiss, Survival Guide: Living Boldly in Trying Times

Howard Zinn
“And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem.... Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem.”
Howard Zinn, The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy

“Civil disobedience is urged not to destroy the United States but because the government is now poorly organized to achieve democracy. The aim of such a movement always will be to improve the nature of the government, to urge and counsel resistance to military Jim Crow in the interest of a higher law--the principle of equality and justice upon which real community and security depend.”
Bayard Rustin, Down The Line

Albert Einstein
“The timid may say, “What is the use? We shall be sent to prison.” To them I would reply: Even if only two percent of those assigned to perform military service should announce their refusal to fight, as well as urge means other than war of settling international disputes, governments would be powerless, they would not dare send such a large number of people to jail.”
Albert Einstein

Sol Luckman
“If engaging in peaceful protests makes you a terrorist, then, yeah, he’s a terrorist.”
Sol Luckman, Cali the Destroyer

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