Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience

Synopsis

It has been widely feared - especially in Europe - that among the casualties in the war against terror" it is now necessary to include a number of civil and political rights that used to form the nucleus of the liberal "Rechtstaat". In such times, it its useful to remember that on both sides of the Atlantic there has existed a powerful alternative political tradition - indeed a tradition that extends far beyond the West. This is the tradition of non-violence, one of the offshoots of which is the civil disobedience expounded and analyzed in this book. This exhaustive and carefully analytical study of civil disobedience, translated from Spanish, is a welcome reminder of the tradition that emphasised precisely the need to focus on the quality of the instruments of politics as much as its objectives. This volume seeks to disentangle the limits and possibilities of the tradition of civil disobedience: in what circumstances is it right, or perhaps necessary, to say "no"? The jurisprudential and philosophical literature discussed here is truly enormous and provides a complex and reliable overview of the main problems. This volume is thus a highly welcome contribution not only to discussions about civil and political rights, but also to the construction of the Europe of tomorrow as a political community worth making a commitment to."

Excerpt

It has been widely feared — especially in Europe — that among the casualties in the “war against terror” it is now necessary to include a number of civil and political rights that used to form the nucleus of the liberal Rechtsstaat. One need not join the Cassandras in order to notice at least a certain shift of emphasis in recent political rhetoric. World-wide focus is less on human rights and more on security, the rhetoric of statesmen less resonating of peaceful cosmopolitanism, than of a sometimes militaristic form of nationalism, even empire. “Leadership”, we may now read, “demands a pagan ethos”. “Our greatest presidents knew that the wise employment of force was the surest guide to success”. It is true that European popular opinion is highly critical of American belligerent unilateralism. But the “paradise” of European pacifism, American commentators have retorted, may be parasitic upon the continued readiness of Americans to use their awesome military machine wherever needed. Recently, European statesmen may have taken this criticism to heart. Europe's new “security strategy” that is being negotiated parallel to the inter-governmental conference on the Draft Treaty on the European Constitution in 2003 puts a heavy emphasis on the expanded notion of “security” and looks towards increasing budgetary spending on national and European defence.

1 Robert D. Kaplan, Warrior Politics. Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos (New
York: Vintage, 2002), p. 154.

2 See Robert Kagan, Paradise and Power. America and Europe in the New World Order
(London: Atlantic Books 2003).

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