The active and professed disobedience of some laws is what is referred to as the Civil disobedience in the present past. However, Socrates in the Crito was categorical that it is still breaking the law. Civil disobedience has been linked with non-violent demands by the majority of the people against any form of oppression or denial of what the majority feel is their right. Civil disobedience is a classic symbol of violation of the law and not objection f the system in its entirety but rather by certain laws. It is an issue that Socrates in the Crito refuses to submit to since he believes that one should never break the laws regardless whether the law is right or bad. It is an issue that also presented increased controversy with other philosophers and also leaders over the course of time insinuating that some laws are wrong and need to be broken at all cost. Socrates was in jail when Crito presented an opportunity for his escape into exile (Kamtekar, 50-65). According to Crito and also in agreement with Socrates, it would cause a lot of anguish to the majority of the people that adored him if he was killed by the state hence needed to escape. Socrates in agreement with the suffering of the majority but still refused to escape holding his position that breaking the law despite whether it is bad is not right at all. It is a position that was seemingly not held by others such Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr who used Civil disobedience to fight for what was good for the people (Lewis, 100). The issue brings a lot of controversy to date to individuals. However, my position is that the Socrates’ standpoint is too rigid, and it is justifiable to break some of the bad laws to the majority, just as was demonstrated by Gandhi and below I will show why.
Socrates was one of the most inspirational philosophers in his right from his time and also to date. However, his position that there is no breaking of the law that is justifiable is one that raises a lot of contention to date. In his argument, the breaking of any law that is instituted by the state is a bigger crime in as much as it is intended to stop a crime against the majority. In his moral reasoning, he asserts that it is not right to break the bad laws. Crito argues that the opinion of the many would be that he needed to be helped escape (Kamtekar, 60). However, Socrates points out that some of the views are wrong in themselves awhile others are right, and hence there is a need to make the right opinion. He asserts that to split between correct and wrong opinions; he introduces the use of reason and argument to get the actual truth and therefore, insinuates that the majority are not always right. In his assertion, one should never do wrong of which breaking any law is in it wrong. He also asserts on the need to live right. He also asserts one should keep agreements such as the laws. He enters into a dialogue with the laws and says that the laws are just and not at fault, but it is those that made them that are not just and on the right (Kamtekar, 50-72). However, there is still need to follow them and not do an injustice to the laws through breaking them. He also asserts that the opinion of the many cannot always be followed since few are wise and use moral reasoning among the many hence one need to base their decisions to join or otherwise refuse to adhere to the majority in some arguments.
Some cases require that the law is broken at all costs to protect the interest of the majority. If Mahatma Gandhi had not led a civil disobedience movement, then India would have never got its independence since it is this that put pressure on the British to liberate the people. Gandhi once stated, “An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so (Bilgrami, 80).” It means that some of the laws are not just at all, yet the laws are intended to offer justice and protect the interests of the majority. The laws are also made for the people by the people according to the doctrines of democracy, and therefore, if the majorities feel that such laws are no longer working they are at liberty to alter change them. If those in power also sue laws to oppress the people, then the people are at liberty to break and change such laws (Bilgrami, 87). Socrates may have firmly held the view that one should never break a law or rather he opposed any form of civil disobedience. However, he explicitly breaks his rules in the case that he did not conform to the masses. It is in “The Apology” that Socrates questions the social order because he believes it is not right. It is also he continued violation of the law by doing what those in power had warned against that landed him in prison and accused of inciting the people against the governance. He, therefore, did not conform with the same standpoint that he so passionately defended and even died defending. Socrates’ assertion that the majority are not always right is like his rebellion against democracy which institutes rules that are meant to be favorable among the majority. He is, therefore, contravening with the beliefs of the majority. It is civil disobedience and the breaking of bad laws that has brought change and liberation among people from bad governance over the course of history (Lewis, 110).
Civil disobedience or the breaking of the bad laws is viewed by those that are guided by the Socratic view as being morally wrong since they do an injustice on the laws that are not at fault but those that instituted them are the ones who are unjust. Breaking a bad law is directly contravening on the law and is illegal, and therefore, there is no justification for breaking a law to protect another law (Lewis, 105). However, it is imperative that the Socratic philosophers realize that the majority made such laws in the first place and therefore, should only serve to protect the interest of the majority. If such laws are no longer functional at protecting the interest of the majority, then they are no longer useful as laws and hence should be broken. Furthermore, the laws may have been contravened by a section of the leadership. It thus, does not mean that the resistance is directly on the legislative system but in the particular areas that may be oppressive. Civil disobedience does not mean dismantling the entire system but just reinforcing the existing systems to be more supportive to the majority and also accommodative. Moreover, the laws are intended to serve the people and not the people to serve the laws and therefore, there is no such injustice to such bad laws if broken.
In conclusion, in the essay, I have demonstrated the high level of rigidity in the laws of Socrates and also showed that it is justifiable to break some of the laws to safeguard the interests of the majority. There are several cases that Civil disobedience or the breaking of the bad laws has surmounted to further advantage and benefits to the citizens that had previously been oppressed by such laws. Moreover, it has apparently come out that the laws are meant to serve the people who are the majority and not a section of the individuals and that there is no injustice on such laws if broken, there is the only injustice if such laws that cause oppression to the majority are upheld.
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