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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHILOS 2G03
Professor
Diane Enns
Semester
Fall

Description
Power and non-violent civil disobedience  Political power is associated with the capacity for violence and aggression  Arendt, Ghandi, king and Sharpe offer another perspective o Talk about power in different ways o Power, is created when people act together in solidarity w/o resorting to violence against injustice and inequality  Distinctions b/w these authors o Arendt – power is the opposite of violence. Violence is simply a tool – it can be used by governments or leaders who are losing power. Power is the support of the people or their consent – it has to do with action, people acting together, in concert. Power is political for Arendt, it has to do with people exercising a voice and having a say in how they are to live. A tyrant has to have the support of the people or it becomes powerless. She is not a revolutionary actor like Ghandi and MLK. Arendt was a revolutionary thinker. Arendt’s views on violence are different but this has nothing to do with their views on power. Arendt believes that violence can be justified in self-defence – she believed that the Jews during the holocaust needed to have an army and fight back (in the immediate moment – not a pre-emptive attack). Does not mean that violence is power – it means that we have a right to defend ourselves. She is against the passivity of this self-sacrificing or martyred position that we see in Ghandi or King. Morally wrong to take a life but it can be justified – “killing will never be legitimate but it will be justifiable” (is is morally wrong and unlawful to take a life but it can be justified in self-defence). o Ghandi and King – also believe in the power of collective action (solidarity) but it is a moral and spiritual power motivated by love (do not see that in Arendt). Elements of self-sacrifice and martyrdom that would never be seen in Arendt. They don’t believe violence is justified some times. Ghandi argues the most clearly that we should never resort to violence BUT he does say that violence is preferable when one is cowardly – when one can’t accept martyrdom and meet death fearlessly. Both Ghandi and King argue that we have to accept punishment and self-sacrifice and
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