Monday, October 31, 2011

#OccupyLondon : Is It Justifiable To Break The Law For Political Cause ... ?

A respondent on Twitter asked the question above - I replied as follows:

A short response; and probably, a predictable reponse, but : Depends on the law and the political cause.

If a political group firmly believes that their cause is just, and that the laws of a nation themselves prohibit any change, then that group may feel a moral right, rather than a legal right, to break the law for their cause.

Rosa Parks
For example, it was 'illegal' for Rosa Parks to sit at the front of the bus, and Martin Luther King's marches were also against the law. It was illegal for the residents in Cable Street to block the March of the British Fascist Party in 1936. It was illegal (and deadly) for the anti-Communist protesters in Tianemen Square to block the T72 tanks.

History is *filled* with examples of groups of people facing jail to do what is *morally* right.

For many groups, the strong viewpoint is often that either the laws themselves are illegal, or the Government (or corporation) is breaking the laws themselves.

In cases such as these, many protest groups believe that breaking the law is, indeed, an option.

On to #OccupyLSX: I believe that where there is a clash between the *legal* right to protest and the laws *against* certain forms of protest, one has to choose. #OccupyLSX has chosen. The protest is non-violent, and very friendly.


No doubt we will find ourselves in the (very) near future in situations where it is officially decided that we are breaking certain laws. In that case, injunctions will no doubt follow. We will make our decisions as to our response to those demands at the time, in a democratic manner, so that we are all accountable.