Article Analysis Essay on Civil Disobedience by Hannah Arendt

Published: 2021-07-20
865 words
4 pages
8 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
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Critical thinking
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The tensions between the law enforcement forces and protesters across the major cities in the United States regarding cases of police brutality against some of the African-American citizens such the City of Ferguson, and the recent rallies against the election of President Trump raises a cluster of questions surrounding the ways and uses of civil disobedience. What really defines civil disobedience? How is it morally justified? In the essay, Civil Disobedience, Arendt viewed civil disobedience as an essential part of the American political system. In order to imperatively comprehend how the recent civil disobedience across the country, it is proper to revisit some of Arendts main ideas on the issue.

The author discusses how the judicial system in our nation is under grave threat. The author points out that over the years, the agencies that are tasked with the responsibilities of maintaining law and order have been unable to do it so satisfactorily. Enforcement of statues that have been in put in place to combat against burglary, mugging, and drug trafficking have failed to meet the required standards. Arendt essay defends the right of American citizens to dissent in the governments laws and policies, through an argument that presupposes politics model whose foundation lies on firm peculiarity among the spheres of public and private human life. According to Arendt, the civil disobedience in America is fundamentally the actions of a group that whose nature is primarily based on a common opinion rather than the typically supposed common interest. In her opinion, the author views that the legal system stands chances to cope with ideas of civil disobedience, clearly disregarding the fact that disobedience and the law are usually considered incompatible.

In her article at the TIME, Cunha (2014) compares the case of Ferguson protest with The Boston Tea Party, where in 1773 American citizens in Boston dumped a shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor in the protest of The Tea Act. The reasons behind the protests on the Act was that the colonialist had violated and disregarded their rights. The comparison is meant to define a clear base which the protest is rooted and separate it from the critics rants that the civil disobedience in Ferguson had nothing with the shooting. Civil disobedience has always been looked upon as criminal in nature for they defy the laws blatantly and are not conducted peacefully.

Citizens usually disregard laws which they see as non-objectionable, such as a demonstration in order to protest against that what they see to be unjust like the shooting of the unarmed teenager, Mike Brown by a police officer. Arendt regarded political and legal trouble as twofold. They cannot be generalized so as to keep the acts valid so as to remain subjective. The other fold is that morality that presupposes that a person possesses the innate faculty of distinguishing what is right from wrong is serious in nature. The police officer who shot the teenager arouses the obligation that it was on his interest alone. The author emphasized the notion that the greatest delusion in modern debates on civil disobedience is the assumptions that one is dealing with persons who have meticulously and intuitively placed themselves against ways in which the community laws functions. Arendt justifies acts of civil disobedience championing it on the spirit of its constitutionality. In her argument that civil disobedience can never be compatible with a legal obligation, Arendt reasons that the difficulty of incorporating it into the American legal system and justifying it on purely legal grounds seem to be prohibitive. (Arendt, 1972).

In conclusion, it is important to know our stand today on the terms of civil disobedience. The recent public acts that I have mentioned shows that civil disobedience plays an integral part of our political environment. Debates on the legitimacy of protests regarding police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities is not yet done and needs further discussion. The theories by various scholars including Arendt should pass their confines and adjust to the modern society. Nevertheless, movements such as the Black Supremacy should comply with reasonable principles of legitimacy that not only stand up against non-transparent institutions representing the people but also alliances amongst all citizens in a parallel manner as per Arendts terms. In justifying civil disobedience, criteria that help in deciding the nature on what situations merit the disobedience justifiable should be spelled out. Some features of civil disobedience are vital to the community as well as the governments (Brownlee, 2012). The acts of generalizing problems give the impression that the American practices of civil disobedience are not found on the ultimate important issues that are widely regarded by many and also have consciousness in its political nature. Civil disobedience remains vibrant in modern day liberal democracies around the world, with the only issue being the how the philosophers address it and how the practices may be distinguished from other forms of protest and its treatment by the law


Arendt, Hannah, 1972. Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics, Civil Disobedience, On Violence, Thoughts on Politics and Revolution, New York: Harcourt

Brownlee, Kimberley, 2012. Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cunha, Darlena. 2014. Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting. Retrieved from

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