Civil Disobedience Quotes

Quotes tagged as "civil-disobedience" Showing 1-30 of 62
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonya GJ Prince
“You don't manage an oppressor or dictator.

You don't love people out of being controlling or abusive.

You come up with a plan to secure whatever is most important to you before they kill you.”
Tonya GJ Prince, Speak, and End Child Sexual Abuse

William Lloyd Garrison
“That which is not just is not law.”
William Lloyd Garrison

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

Diane Kalen-Sukra
“A government of the people, a democracy, has room for peaceful civil disobedience—a practice that appeals to the humanity and sense of justice of the opposition (not defined as the 'enemy') and insists that we do all, in fact, belong to the beloved community.”
Diane Kalen-Sukra, Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What to Do about It

“No doubt you’ve heard the phrase 'ignorance of the law is no excuse’, and are probably familiar with the statist meaning of that phrase: Being ignorant of a law is no excuse for breaking it. However 'ignorance of the law is no excuse' also has a less-well-known libertarian meaning: This is an ignorant law and there’s no excuse for it!”
Starchild

Gary Snyder
“It means using such means as civil disobedience,
outspoken criticism, protest, pacifism, voluntary poverty and even gentle violence if it comes to a matter of restraining some impetuous redneck.”
Gary Snyder, Earth House Hold

Howard Zinn
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.”
Howard Zinn

“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them? Or shall we endeavor to amend them and obey them until we have succeeded? Or shall we transgress them at once? — 1849 Essay on Civil Disobedience.”
Henry David Thoreau'

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