Tag: Gandhi

Letters on Legal Architecture

Correspondence between a lawyer and an architect on how, amongst other things, architecture embodies the law. FIRST LETTER (New York on July 12th 2012) /// Dear Lucy, I read your essay Archiving Burroughs: Interzone, Law, Self-Medication with attention and appreciated, as usual, the way you manage to link narrative, law and space all together. I do…

Civil Disobedience — Between Symbolic Politics and Real Confrontation

Some consider civil disobedience too radical; an attempt to procure political power under the mantle of moral principles or a one-sided renunciation of the duty to obey and uphold the law, and that is not to be tolerated. Citizens in functioning democracies must limit themselves to the legally sanctioned possibilities available to them for expressing dissenting views and influencing the political process. From this perspective, civil disobedience is little more than political blackmail. Others consider it an impotent expression of a reformist yearning for cosmetic changes within the given system; as a socially permissible and harmless protest of well-intentioned citizens that remains purely symbolic and only contributes to stabilizing prevailing relationships.

This essay attempts to show that both of these widespread views fail to fully address the specific characteristics of civil disobedience as a genuinely political and democratic practice of contestation. To present these specifics in detail, it is first necessary to define civil disobedience. Second, I situate this form of political practice between the opposing poles of symbolic politics and real confrontation. In a closing remark, I briefly examine the role of civil disobedience in representative democracies.

Who’s Breaching Whose Peace?

On 14 April 2011, the High Court of England and Wales ruled, in R (on the application of Joshua Moos and Hannah McClure) v The Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis, that the police had acted unlawfully in “containing” (aka kettling) certain G20 protestors on 1 April 2009. It made clear that the police…