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Examples Of Civil Disobedience To Remember

While having a structured government is important, the powers that be were not always kind to their citizens. And because of that, many resorted to what is often labeled as “civil disobedience.”

Sure it doesn’t great but the exact meaning is “the refusal to comply with certain law or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.” Many of the world’s most historic gatherings were perfect examples of civil disobedience. Here are some of the world’s more well-known examples:

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1. The Salt March

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as Mahatma Gandhi, was a social activist that led the defiance of Britain’s laws over the sub-continent’s salt industry. Beginning in 1930, Gandhi’s actions were the catalyst that led to the removal of the British Empire from the country.

A British tax on salt was so high that India found it cheaper to import salt from other places. The Salt March was a march of supporters led by Gandhi with the goal of producing and transporting salt without the Empire’s tax. Those arrested numbered in the tens of thousands, the Empire refused to budge on the issue. The lack of support from India’s Muslim community is cited as one of the reasons for the march’s failure.

Despite the march not having the desired effect, it showed the world that India’s people could organize if needed and were a force to be reckoned with.

It is said it also inspired the thinking and strategies of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

2. Extramadura Campaign

The Republican era saw a great deal of land reform in the rural areas of Spain. During the country’s 1936 election, governmental candidates promised quick land reform to its citizens. As with most promises made by politicians, some people didn’t wait to see them come to fruition.

The unemployed peasants of the country began squatting in uninhabited estates, with 3,000 of those farms located in the Badajoz province. To deal with this, instead of removing the occupants of the land, they simply legalized each one.

A debate arose over how the land should be handled: should the plots be left to the individuals or collected altogether? The occupation helped to promote a dialogue between the government and its citizen.

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Sometime later, General Francisco Franco conquered the area and slaughtered the people and their leaders.

3. Flying pickets and sit-ins

From 1920 to 1934, textile workers in the United States had it extremely rough. The problems between companies and the government led to a great deal of layoffs for many workers.

Despite being weighed down by the happenings on the recession, industrial workers sought fair and appropriate compensation for their time. Inspired by President Roosevelt’s promise to take care of them, they organized and peacefully took on police and even cities which imposed martial law.

1934 saw the textile strike, where groups of picketers called “flying squadrons” marched from town to town gathering more people to protest with them.
Steel and auto workers halted production by striking in the most important areas of factories, forcing employers to listen to their demands.

4. Dismantling unwanted enterprises

McDonald’s, a popular US-based fast food chain, has many locations all over the world. First welcome to the continent with open arms in 1970, it had the most difficulty in France, a country known for its public distaste of junk food.

The company found its strongest opponent in 1999 when they attempted to establish a location in the city of Millau. Jose Bove, a militant farmer belonging to the Confederation Paysanne, came to the construction site with supporters to dismantle the building brick by brick.

While Bove’s actions are more of a symbol than anything else, he helped begin the anti-capitalist movement. The farmer and his supporters later became part of the “No” vote delivered against the European constitutional treaty.

5. Poll tax non-payment

Thinking of the “poll-tax” as paying for the right to vote. From 1889 to 1910, the United States had adopted such a thing, preventing many people from voting.

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On March 31st, 1990, London’s poll tax was so unwelcome by the citizens that a riot arose from a 200,000 person protest. People refused to register for the tax, they contested owing anything to the council, and they refused altogether to pay a dime.

The tactics of London’s people were so effective that the ruling Conservatives deposed their leader and full legislation of the tax was walked back.

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