Violence, Communication, and Civil Disobedience

Marcou, Andreas orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7311-1356 (2021) Violence, Communication, and Civil Disobedience. Jurisprudence, 12 (4). pp. 491-511. ISSN 2040-3313

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The proliferation of civil disobedience in recent times has prompted questions about violence and justified resistance. Non-violence has traditionally been associated with civil disobedience. If civil disobedience is a political exercise, there are good normative and pragmatic reasons for adhering to non-violence. But some violent actions may be compatible with civil disobedience. This paper defines violence as the application of force intending to cause or reckless about causing harm, and seeks to distinguish violent actions compatible with civil disobedience from conduct too violent to qualify. Whereas civil disobedience is irreconcilable with attacks against other human beings, some violence against property, targeted and symbolic, coheres with the communicative ends of civil disobedience. More intriguing questions arise when disobedience entails extensive attacks against property, such as activities of environmental groups against environmentally harmful practices (ecotage). Despite the extent of violence against property, such activities might still qualify as civil disobedience.

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