The concept of non-violent protest or civil disobedience is based on the premise of using non-violent means to effect socio-political change. The concept of civil disobedience has its roots in the philosophical writings of Henry David Thoreau and in 1848, Thoreau gave an infamous lecture entitled The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government advocating the principle of civil disobedience.
Thoreau's civil disobedience model has continued to influence political leaders in contemporary history and prime examples include Dr Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, who adopted Thoreau's philosophy to effect significant social and political change (Powers et al, 1997, p.360).
[...] Additionally, the central objective of Gandhi's non-violent protest philosophy was to turn the Indian masses against the British government to end British rule in India, which mirrors Thoreau's arguments of using civil disobedience towards implementing an effective government for the masses. On the other hand, King wanted non violent tactics to liberate African Americans as opposed to undermining the US government as such (Nojeim p.85). Accordingly, this highlights the point that whilst Both Gandhi and King respected and adopted Thoreau's teachings, their leadership style and differing objectives resulted in variations of the application of civil disobedience. [...]
[...] Garcia comments that “Chavez believed that if you gave every man and woman their sense of self, built up their self esteem, built up their self responsibility, they could then rise to the level of leadership” (Garcia, 1997). A prime example of this was the fact that Chavez became a member of the Latino self-help Community Service Organization where he rose to national director. However, he wanted to particularly address the need to build up self esteem and self sufficiency in farm workers. [...]
[...] This in turn lends itself to a justifiable foundation for challenging government authority to affect social change to preserve the civil liberties and freedom of the masses; a philosophy that has been instrumental in the non-violent methods utilized by Gandhi, Dr King and Chavez Gandhi, Dr King and Chavez As highlighted above, the Gandhi, Dr King and Chavez were seminal leaders in effecting significant social change in the twentieth century and were all influenced by the Civil disobedience model (Powers et al, 1997). [...]
[...] Moreover, in considering the government model, Thoreau referred to the government system at the time and highlighted the fact that the government had essentially imposed an infrastructure geared towards self interest, which in turn was not advantageous to the public and not always full of integrity. As such, Thoreau highlighted that: “Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves for their own advantage” (Thoreau in Levin p.265). As such, Thoreau's observation of the government system at the time suggested that the framework “does not keep the country free. [...]
[...] As such, King's philosophy was rooted in non-violent resistance for the purpose of long term solutions. This was also Gandhi's objective, however the differing approaches to civil disobedience also highlights the cultural and religious differences between both leaders. For example, Satyagraha was distinctly spiritual in relating to the interrelationship between self and the truth, which derived from Hindu teachings (Glassman, 2008). In contrast, King's non-violent resistance was rooted in “nothing less than Christianity in action the Christian way of life in solving problems of human relations” (In Nojeim p.190). [...]
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