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DEMOCRACY
A D
DISOBEDIENCE
PETER SINGEIl
CLARENDON PRESS
OXFORD
1973
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I'REFACE
' IN ra:tru ,he gro"lh. of Open disobedimce 10 We b .. ,
nrx b,. telftl.:ing Q'imilllls, bUt by people inspirL'ld by ide:.1s
such lIS eqUlliry, jusrioe,libeny, and pncr, h,. put before 1;IlII
in modem form the IJlcicnt pbuJlhiQl problem ofpolit.QI
ob}iption. Why. (K IlD.dct CXII!rlitioms and circumstllnoell,
ought we to obey the b .. ! 'l'his bo:d. iJ intended tCI be
contribution to the discua!lioo of this prublm. My Ippt ....... 1. is
based 01\ the conviction that political ph.ilosophy an and
,hould be rt'le\"Jnt 10 i$!iues of current concern. Tbcnfore I
mue no ipolon b Ihe fad: tm.l my 5Ubjca is al preiCnl a
mud. ane.
U phibophen are 10 Jay anything of impomnce abmtt
major issu", they musl go beyood the ocuual analysis of
'fI'OI'd, and (OflCCplll which ";'1s, until rcantly, ch:lracteristic
.. COnlemponry phiJmophy in Brilllin and America, Mord
and poIitiCiI philO5Ophctt mUSI be puplrcd to liye their
upinions, with IUPp..ninll arpmcms, on the ri,hlS and wfODp
uf compleJ: illspu.Cl. Thia is ... tul I done in Ilns book,
Onc inevitable t'OI19juencc "d,i, il thal diSlJTCO"
mml must be apcacd It lI"OU!t1 nOl be true: to uy l!ut I do
not mind whether people disagree with my Vif'll.., 01" thili
wooJd imply t1af I thin!.: my o"n ,ie," no bmu titan Iny
upposcd view_in .,hit.h cut it would nOf ),aWl: bn wonh
"hile putting my own vict<1 fon.lIrd. Whu I Cln SIr I 1101I'e\"Cr,
is lhat 1 10 pu. my views fOf,nrd nOI as dopnnic
a55CftKmS, bUI on the basiaof "lJummlJ;
are iOOwn 10 be Ul1$OtDld, ur bmCl' aJ1llmrnlS arc.protluoed on
fivo.u of alternalin: positions, Ihm dearly the vie,,-" 1 have
atpICd for ... in hne 10 be abandoned.
A1 the IUbject of thia book ;. onc that ooncerllll noe only
thOIIC ItUdyin, OT political philosopby in llnivmitia

but ,Iso .. ny eitiz.ms, citia:ns of a dcmOCfaC}', who
find lhcmKha (teed ... ith law they oppose, I have tnl
rhroughuur to write in a way that an easily be understood by
those "too have DMC' lltUdicd philosophy. Aorxwdinpy
philosophcn ",ill haR 10 be in OCCl.!iooally
clabor.atc. point!! with ,.hich they arc familiar. Non-phiIO!-
ophcrs will nOl. I llOpe, find difficulty with anything, OOtpl
poIIiibly .omc puts of tbe IntrodUction... An)'one who does
find these passage!l difficult will do boit to skip them.
Onc Q1(IfI: poim about rading ru book that I 'WalI1 to nmke
at !l1C ouun is lh.lt the boo\( lihould be read U I whole,
Although Part I the: O[ft of my argummts,
lIm re:ads this pan \\'ithout reading: the qualifiariom IlJ.d
IXII1tained in the RCOIld and third pnu wiD
recci\'c a qui te misJeadinl impression of my ,itw&: and the
dircaion of my II1pnn(:fltJ,. ')be rmkr is uked, thtrefore, to
rc5er\1' his judgtuxllI UllIlIthc end.
This book bepn life u .. thesis, sub!JIitted to the Uoivustty
of Oxford in 1971 in partial fulfilment of the requiremenq of
the degree of ThlclIelor of Philoeophy. My thanks go to my
5Upttv1sor, ProI'awr R. M. ibn, not only for his COInful
poinl-bY-JI<Iint aitirums of early drafts, bllt also for hi.
of what WlIS, in IIOIne respec:u, In unon:hod01
uni\'crsitythesis. Othcrs ... horead luer stage.:
and to 'I"hom T am indebted for COnuntrlts lnd criticism, were
Professor H. J. McOosley, John Owycr, and
Swant(JII. In addition, I must thank my SlOOcnl5 in political
plulosoplly CW(;l' the past yen, ",ith whom J luvc lIad many
usd"u1 disrussions m the. i_ dealt with in u,i, book.
Finany, J dcdic::ale this book In my p.trents woo _ill, I trust,
_ it IS I. ",unhwhile pmdua of my long absence from borne..
OX[IIr'J,
Stl'nnWr
P[TU SINGE!!.
- .
CONTENTS
l"InOOUCTtON
PAI.T I
DI;MOClATIC ANI) NON-Df.MOCttATIC MODELS
CO.tPAUD
Modeu
The Pwsibiliry of Repeal
Popular So\'CI"Cisnty and Consent
Equality and Faime5lli
Fairness and Compromise
The l'mbkm of Minorities
Plut icipatiOIl
Summary
PART 11
OBJECTIONS AND QUALIFI CATIONS
Rishu Api!\$( the. Mlljority
OiJobcdicooe ( In Publicity
Disobedience as a Plea Cor RewnsidenUon
Gtnscienti0U8 Objection
,
'3
'3
"
"
,.
3'
\ '3
..
9'

VIII CONTENTS
PAIT III
nOM MODtL TO REALITY 10S
Democracy, Direct Ind Rcpresenwive IOS
G>ntenlporol'J WesTern Dcmocncy 112
CONCLUDING I lJ
APP[NDIJI: An lIIustn.tion: Disobedience in Nonhem
Irdand 136
INDU ' 49
I NTRODUCTION
I T is Dot difficult for most of liS 10 imagine Slruuiom in Ylhic::b
wc would be uncertain whtther wc ought, lIlorally, 10 obey a
particular bw, I shall 01){ pvc eumples no.', as diB"crt;nt
people lII:Iy be ucart:ain _bout diKC:r1:Il{ cua., but the reader
CID prombly think of a casc: hinlSelf easily enough. In deciding
how one ought w act in such g (:Ut,' variety of coll5idellniol\ll
will be reievanl. Onc coosidcration which many people lun:
thought to be important is the ItlItun: of the 1)'SlmI of
ment from ... hich the law derives. It is oftcn wcncd that if this
SYitCIn is democratic, this \\'iIl a crucial to the
queu:ioo cl .... hether to obey: 11 is frequently said---a>ped.1Uy
by Ic:.tdtt1 of lO"erntMnu that r.re oonsidercd
dClOClCI'1Itlo-d\.tt IIIhilc disobedience may be juStifilble under
certain systems, for instance, NI..:i or Communist
dicmorships. it is never or .llTI()S1 juttifutble in a
democracy. One muld qU()(e man)' .akmcnb e%JIressing this
idea. The followinge.umple is from A spch byafonner Prime
Minister of Austr.llia, 11 a time when there was wide6pl'nd
di90bedimce in opposition [0 the prcscooc of AusmJi.n UOOp5
In South Vietnam:
M [0 inciling people to break lhelaw, then: (:;In be no ucuse (
.... 1u1&Oe'\o'a' for those ill' Knmumt)' Iht opportUIlit}' erim
10 thatIJ'C the Ill'!!' throu,b the: baUut bu.,'
There is reNptCt:ablc philofophical $Uppon (orIhls view. T. H.
, Tw Au! .. J!i ... 27 "Uf' '97U. p. '. from llIpdl by the 1I.t. Hon. J.
O. Gonon. Forllimilor Tic .. up ! by Mr. Q.. Ho:u. wlM:nSIIadow
Mi ............ Uollle AlLu., _ 1'.\0 T .... '. 18Feb . .".., p.]; _ ..,0.
KeGDIZlo l>DNNrN7 .1I4/u $t.JnILAft u.doa, , 0)68),
"". 'S, .66-';.
,
INTIODUCTION
fOf elample, "id this about the problenl or obedience:
Supposing men tlu: indr.idw.1 to w"t decided mallo.ucmmzruoo
of .. 'political i\lperior' iJ A for thc:QJmmon JOOd. 110\\" ought hc: 10
act in rc:gard to itlln&Ciluntrylike 0111'1, with I
and settled nelhvds of enacting and ftpellmg Inl'S, the .nntler of
common _ i.J lIi,upk. md sulficicm.lle Ihould do aU hi: Cln by
legal mechod!l to ret th,emlIUJWl.d canceUro, bUl liII it is a.ncdk:d,
be mould confonn to 11.'.
11lc aim of this book ill 10 O"lnline the view represented by
these quotations, that is., the view da l "'bctbet or not a system
of government is demoaatie viully affects our obligation to
obey b"", tllUlLltinr from thar '1Rem. Btfore mmmtncing
this exarninltiOll, llowever, there arc some unncid3ble
pre1iminuics.
Findy. I must Ay KIPlething about the framework ,,"'ithin
which tbe folloy,;ng discussion is t(} uke pbee. I have jun
wrium of 'our obligation Ul obey 1101 ... . I must therefore
explsin whilt J mCl.n by 'obligation', and in 1).1.rticub.t, my
undast:mding eX the naturt of political oblig>tlion.
There Ire various kind. of obligation. One relatively
5lraightforw.ml kind is legal obligation. lalll, under the 1.lI's
of the United Kingdom, 1cgaJ1y obliged to refrain from
'.'l!aulring other pe:oplc. There is a , .... lid bw which sap I mUllt
not do so, alaw certlin tf) be uphdd by the hi3hcst C(lun of the
United Kingdom if llihould be misguided enough to chanrnge
it.: Moral obligation is more oontNwersial. There is no 5etOed
prooedure for determining what monl oblig.ttions 'I,'e have.
According to their differClI1 moral opinions, people think 'Ne
haYe moral obligati(\J15 tf) do and refnin from doing different
things, In genera.!, though, people Ay (hat we baYe nlOl1I.l
obliptions to do things lih pay our d!:bfS, hc:lp t.bme in
distrelB, refnin from using violence acept in self...defencc:,
, T. H. Gum, WhtI'IJ ""N Priwijln ..r PDIiN.f OMiI_m.. (Lq_
--,l.ODdaa, 190"/), _ _ loo, p. I".

INiRODUCTION
3
oppose genocide, keep IYOid d;mlaging natur.d coo-
1ogica11)'Stems, and 10 011. NOI ""iIIagree that we
h.\-emonl obliptions 10 do aU of these things, but most woul d
Igrte dut IIOmC r:f them obligatory, especially if T add th.zt,
:all I W1l aphin dwlniy, by 'obligatory' I do not mean
absollUcly obligatory wlu.tever the circumslallCCS may be.
Our ultimate obligation to obey the b ...... is. monJ. obligation
and not I leg:1I obliption.lt cUlnot be A legal ubliglllion. fOf this
would lead to an infinUe regrc5il sincelo:gal oblib'1tioruJ dcri"e
from bws, bl\'e1O be.lawthul1) .... wc must obey
law. What obhgauon "',ook! there then be to obqtthis law ?
Iflegal obliga.rion, then there would hne to be 1.00( her bw ...
and so on. If there ill any obligation to obey tlle bw it must,
ultiJll;ltdy, be a roonl obliption.
What is the fa"(e of'moral' when I refer la these oblig-Juons
'1IlOtllI Ind, di>ltinF" thtm from lcpl obliga-
uons? 1bc ddinltlOll of moral .. I topic ..... hich has SO pre-
occupied moral philosophcn in recent Y(;U"s liut they $l!CP1 to
have forgoom that u.1k about ddinirion should be ()fIly a
preliminary (0 (he of .non: subnantial ethia.1
probleltd. In order 10 al'oid this pitUll, I ""ill simply say tfuu
as I shlll use the term 'monl' I. pet90n I(n IOCOrtilng to IllOI"lII
oonsidentions v.hCllC\'Cr he acts on CQusideraliOIlll -which he
..... wld be PR"JlIlred to apply univenally, Ind "'hieb t.re, for
hi Ill, more important thin any olbet 5imibrly universal
cunsidcntioru.' Ily 'coD&idcraions whidl he would be pre-
, IA..,q rru., I bb paoitioll.mut..r III 11-001 oflL .M. If .... , Fru4Mtt
.od Ru.. (Clart:IIcIon PJ"C$S, Olfonl, .96J), ell> dI.2. "I1Uo iolurdly rho
pIooo. CiD en ........ 4iic-a.., _lbW. prim, bur. I think tIw by
repnhDI"' mu'. -.-.1 ptindpb as tDc: p-rirv:iplea ..-hicb ore 0'I'tf-
ridi", for him ........ m. p ..... p&c. be it lD wIi.-.:nUiat (thio
(j, ... iliortion illmpor1anl, tU ir. _la .... 1icir.11oo ilia m.1. ",oil CDIIld
repn.l RIfah, IOIHInivaalilabk .nd bm::c _morr.I prmaplel III
o-n:Eq) ... e CClD .voO! lIWIy fIIlho dillicu..ltiOl wIIiI::la _ c:rilitw haft
fou.IId. in 11m-.IMI)"1ia. For 111 0.., mws oa 1100 problem .. dd'minf
/

INTIODVCTION
pared to .pply universally' I do not mt3n Wt manl principles
must be \-ery genend principle!, like 'Thou shalt DOt kill',
which are supposed to apply in aU possible circumsunces.
Rather, I mean that om: muS! be III apply IOOral
principles wilhO\ll regard to the particubr individuals alfecttd
by lhem, the raull or this requirement being [he separation of
moral principles from purdy sclfish principles, which cannot
be IJlm'ersa!im:!. TIle Iruln who tmt :!.Il bw.breakcrs
ahouId be &el'culy punished but, when his CAlli tax mud
c:omts to light, maintains that he ought not to be punished at
.U, is not judging m<nll)', (Or he dots no( apply his own
principle to hinmlf. r-.hking exceptions for ()ncsclf involves
failing to "pply onc's principl($ uni\'usally.
Then: Ire, of C'IlW'Se, universal oonsiduations which people
may act 00 which are not moral principles. of
aesthetics or etiquette an: tumpks. This is why a sec()nd part
of what I mean by mordity is lha. it i5 more imponant thin
Iny other univel"!illl considerations. Gcnc:r:IIJ)" wc think
morality morc important than acsmetio> Of etiquette. IndOL'd,
If Q)nsistendy treated aesdlCtie as
D1O' impo.-unt mln l OOse considcntions 1R nonnslly lhink of
IS rnoral-if, for insulIoe, an artist "'ne to uaifice hit family
for me sake of his \\'(Irk- we might well Sly UI31, for him, art
wu the first prineipleofhis monli ly. I lhink, though, that uiU
element of impomru;:e is less c:entn..lJo thc notion of lUCIr:dilY
than me element of univen:al appl icability.
Thu is ,n r .mU say about the meaning of'moraIity'. Tfthe
reader disagrees, or is puzzled by what T have said, will
probably do better to read on than 10 raud lhe last IWO
HoweKr difficuil it may be to set out bricfty, J do
monhy, Re my NtM:Ic 'The Triviality of Iht o..t.u: Over ..
QId die DdiDiUon A..mcllll PIu'hw""',,,, flu,mu,"'-' .
10. 110. I U .... ' 973).
INTIODUCT ION
5
nOl think lhalme way 1 UIC me lCTm 'mora\' in thercnu.indcrof
mis book will cause much difficulty.
. Political obligation I tske to be a form cl monl obligation:
Some people have denied this, maintaining that poi.ilia l
obliptioo IInd moral obligation m: Kpat'IIte and equal species
of the gellu! This sceIllS obviously wrong to me,
but I need not. argue ua, point because as I nave defined
'moral', poliriCiil obliption mllSt either be .a form of menl
obIiption (lI' eke subordinate to iL (To be mialy acx:unte, it
could be based m self-intc:rcst, in which aseit. 1I-oold not be:l.
fonn of II10faJ obligation, but this is not the sense of political
obl igation which raises intcrtSling thC'(lretical qUestiOIlIl. There
is very little tbu can be said in gcnenllerms about whclher it
is in ooc's interest to obey the 11",'.) Political obliptiom, then,
are thote monl obligatlOrui which are pecuJurly associated with
fOrm5 ofpolitical orpniution:They Ire the monl obliptiOll5
which onc would nOl have, .'ere it !lOt for ecruin facts about
the nature of I community Of group of which onc i. a member:
This definition, again. I leave for 'p::Ililical', li!.:e 'manl',
is ea!liicr 10 undentlind than to define.
Having Aid that poI ilial obligation is a form of menl
obligation, and having said what I mean by 'moral', I hl\'e still
to say 'l\'hy 1 am ulkillg about 'obl igations', tlun about
reasons for acting, or 5imply about what we oosht to do. The
Iangttap:: of oblipr.ion seenlS to assume a special \;cYo' of
monJity. Utiliw-uns. for example, might pref\'T to !ill!.: solely
in terms of doing wh:nenr has ben oonscqucnCCl, without
reference to 'obligations' arising rrom past undertakings 01'
relationship'. So, instead of tail.:in, of a moral obligation to
obey the law, wouldn't it be ben:cr to talk of monl reasons fOl'
obeying the law? Ofun, 1 think, it will be bellCl' to ulk of
, e.g. T. "t.::PlIeI'IOf1, AlUiI;.l (Routledse, r.o..oo., '967),
esp. ch. 8; T. D. Wddol. n, VH"hJar;, .f PoUiUr (P.,.",wu &ob,
HarmoaclJwwth, 1953)., pp. M.
6 INTIODUCTION
mon1 TCaSOns nnher than obligationJ. t:vtn thouGh our
a:mcem ill with 1\,h.t is usually known as the problem of
poJitiClI obliption, this does 1101: compel us to dru 1\;lh
obligatiollS r:&thct wn reuons. In phces, J shall use
the lan(Uage of obliption. When I du w, I bape it will be in
a 'llOIy tlu.t is ooropatible with any 1llOn! po>itiOIl., utiliwUn
or not. BlII in order to clpbin the way in which I6h:aU discuss
moral issues. I need to .ketch the context of the argllrnent of
Ibis book, or, in ochct" words, my view of the stl.te of the di$-
cussion to which it is intended to contribute.
Writers on political obliption used to put the question ",ith
. which they .. ereconccmcd as : 'Wby OUgllt I tD obey the law?'
' Now the tendency is to W, rather, 'When ou\:bt I to obey the
law /' Since the Nurembtrg uUb, .nd the events whidl P\'C
rise to these trills, wc N\'C become I.cutely 1'II!'at'C that rhe
obligation to obey the 1. '11' 00eII not ' lIply to aD la.,,'1 in all
cm:umsuncet. There is now no need (0 discuss whether it is
twr right (or. citizen to bred: a bw of his society. Wc hne
I think, got beyond arguing whether it u ever right to
break the bwin a dcqlOCJ';Ic),. Could anyone pbusibly moUntain
that if the Nazis had rci,I majorities in free elections, and
allowed freedom of spocch, aSSlJoCiltio:n, and $0 OIl, this would
made it right to obey lows designed to exterminate Jews r
To mlinlilin tills would requirefantllSlic,andsurel)' misguided,
devotion to dcmOCl'1ltic bws. h is true that the pas5age& I
qmxC() on the lint two pages of this book Jcem to lake this
position, but no doubt if the authors of these pass;!ges 'Nue
prcsacd they would :admit thu there could be Qraurut:anccs
under 1JhX:h it would berigbt to break even a dcmocnricbw.'
I GIffn did ID. &.et .y Iba! .,' Jimao 10 tile Unftd S-ea Fupi\'e
Slan t.. .. .wIJ be i_i&.blJ:, alu...h lie _ tII Un Md 110) do!tu
abauI: the Uail1td .,.,...' QIC). (Op. CL. I!eCl. 1,..""1, pp.
. ....,)
AhanWYdy, _ JIIicb: dcfmd tile position. Wr it.it _ j..mt.le
INTJ.ODUCT rON
7
I .hall assume th:lt whatever reuons there are for obeying
the bw ill any lOCiet)', there may be stmngcr reasons apinst
doing iKI in JMrticular cases. In other words, our political
oblib'ations are not absolute. In trying 10 decide ..... hether to
obty the bw in diffm!nt cua, 'I'" arc faced ,,;th confiio:ring
mnsidcn.rions. If we coruinue to hlk of an 'obliption' (0 obe)' J'
the bw it must be understood that by this is meant, not an
abtolute oblig:nion, but nther an obligation to which some
weight is to be given: Obliptions of this 80ft hne usefuUy
hem termed obligations, and I ,hall sometimes use
this term. It is,l think, I notion flmiliar W mosl people:. When
I promise to motl somoo:ne at a panicubr time I put myself
under an ohligltion, but it is mx In .bsoIute obIiptiou. The
obligation would be O'o-crridden if, for inst.ancc, a neighbour
15ked me IQ drive his Cllptl:Wlt wife to hospital. On the other
hand, the obliplion is not negi i,ible, and it \\'Ouki be wrong
or me to break it because at the rime I preferred browsing in I
bookshop.
Our discussion of political obligation is mncerned 1II;th
oonHicting moral considerations which will be of SOllle ",,-eight,
but will nOt be absolute or overriding.'The aim of this study is
(0 try to son out some of these and as:ltIin
""hich of them hold and under what conditioru. This task is an
indispensable preliminary to reaching a decision in panicular
circWlUtancet about whether or not onc ought to obey a law, '
10 bNak tile b. .... in I dcmoaacy br .)i", tlw dauocncy ;.
wit.b the ptl'll!alioa of 1IIinoriu.,. ., that lily which
llURIpud III commit Na6-liI:c .trao::itial wou\cl SlOt be I okmotncy. (See
P. Bac:htxh, TW nnr, E/iti,. (Athlooe Pre&, [tI!II!ca,
1969), pp. 19-W.) I-wlDOt '<Qat 10 6efiM 'democncJ' 10 widdr, bur.
Ut any _ tke point: is I pgre!y verbal ODe, me! Uc t:nIIIflle CUI be
altcnd to nciel il--e.e point: I &Ill. """;,. WIIIIlel be me.woe
....., Uned, not. I miI>cricy "ir!Wa the 1 iIi:.,...., ltut 11 pec!fIIe
ia UIOCbcr COWItrJ.
,
8 INTI.ODUCT I ON
Although such a dcx:isioo depends 100 much on individual
circumstances for me to be able 10 say in precisely what
circumstanccsoneoughtoroughl nol loobey a b.w,1 hope that
what I have to SIIy will, by pnJ'\iding a fnmcworl: into which
particular facts can be filled, male it a liulc easier to come 10 a
rational decision about whether 10 obey.
I shall describe the process of resolving conffiaing monol
rtaSOIl5 for Kting inlO a decision as 'balancing' or 'wrighing
up' the conflicting reasons. This description is imcmled only
as a helpful metaphor. h i.'I nOlt to be takm u implying that
moral problem. are tolved by inruition, by 'seeing' mu an act
is right, or by any other pmcular method. I hope that my
terminology will be l cttpbble 10 those who hold a wide r.mge
of moral vic1I'5, and a 1\ide nnge of phiOophicat and IlOt-)o
phibJophica.l positions about the of monlity. Nothing I
shall say, T hope, willlSlNme either the truth or falsity of
any of the follo .. ; ng views: that there are objective mun.1
truths, that moral language has no other function than to
express a ocruin kind of feeling or emotion, morality
ultimately from God, that moraliry is a purely human
in\-ention, that we Jc:arn we ought to do by intuiting the
buic principles of mOfllliry, that we ought alwaYlI fO do what-
ever act ,.,i ll promote lhe possible balance of happiness
over misery, or Ihat wc ought to be concerned above all else
10 at:( justly. There are, of course, m:lny other monl pooiliOtl5,
100 many to menlion, \\ith whieh my applUCllch would be
equally compatible, lnd also IlOrne CStrCR1C palitions wit h wh.ich
it ... oold be incompatible. I lu.ve already, by my dcJinition of
'moral', ududed anyone ,,ho thinks monlity is compatible
\\ith lu.ving no concern for anyone'l interests but his 1
mll5l a.bo en:lude those .".ho think that rnson and .ugurnent
hne no role to play in monlity- lhosc who think we must
intuit, in specific situation and ... ithout the hdp of any
gcnenl pnnClpks at all, what we must do; or thl* who think
INTI,ODUCTION ,
... -e mll5l make a lIOn-rational commitment to some course of
action, without even intuiting anything. I cannot argue in a
"''iy that is rdev.ull to those who hold this kind of position.,
because argument itself is indevant to them. I slu.lllry, how_
evl:T, 10 wrile -'0 u to pKSUppo$e very little, apan from the
usercion implicit in any digeUSSioo ut a moral islrue, that
reason and argument are rele\-ant to moral decmons.
To this end, I slu.U wrile mainly of 'manl teasom' for and
apinst doing IlOmethiog. When the moral reasons are of the
sort .... e normally refer to as 'obligations', dtlt is, .... hen
they are CtC:lto:1 by a \vluntary aa. of the pcnoo obliged, and
the aa is 0 ..... 0:1 to other spn.ilUble people, I shall desaibe
them as obligations. My utiliurian, or anyooe de: who dis-
likes tltis Icrm,. lIlOIy construe it u a .horthand \\'iy of referring
10 puticubr kinds of utilitarian reasons. Throughout, the
utilitarian nay regard any general principles for which I argue
as similar to rules _bollt J.ceping promises and tdling the
truth, that is, as rules of thumb, guides to utility which are
useful ..... hen, as is often the ClllC ..... hen disobedience is c0n-
templated, utili tics and disutilitie5 cannot be calculated "ith
any prccooon.
There is now li ttle more to S3y before wc can turn to DUI
subject-m:lller itself. I mal l not any special definition to
tcrms such 'disobedience' Ind 'democracy' . I mUSt p<Jint
OUl, however, tlu.t by the former I do not neeasarily mc:an
just 'civil disobedience' (tboul9l the mc:aning of this term is io
any cue controvemal).' I am concerned ... ith moral ronsidera_
tioos rdcv:mt ll) most, [fnot all, acts or omissions to act which
the agent bcliC\"CS ... O\dd be held 10 be illegal by me highest
coun in theOOUlltry. I shillulOeitly in mind acts which are
, Some n .... pIa or the 1ItI'''Cro.lI .... '11.., dtfini,ioaI .. hic:b ho .... been
oIICred QQ be IOunI1 i .. H. A. Ikdou., C;;W DiMWkJlu: ..
P,Mtiu (Pquw, NnI' York, ' 969)' pp.
"
INTlODUCTION
public or beromc: known to the public, I'1IIther thmacts which
the agent intends shall remain IItCttt, such u iUqpI abortions.
1 un lbo CIMKXlhro with ICtlI moriv:Ircd by broad political and
u1timatcly JllOt3.!. (:()fU;iderations, nlher than purely rdfish
.as, but I shll try to indicate at what points the irriculu
of the act makes a significam difference to its moral
.. nding.
l am nO( in general concerned with acts of disobedience to a
I:tw 1I\'hich the agent hopes 1Ii1l or lI\1lUld be dlued to be an
innlid bw when or if it iJ enmined by the highest lulhority
in the country's legal s)'stem. Much of the Cilmp,a,ign against
sqlegarion 119;5 in theArncrian South falls into Ihis atqory.
At least in some the aim of tbe disobedience wu to test
whether the lay,'S that werc disobeyed were oonstitutional, in
the not unreasonable hope that they would be declared
unconstitutional. I exclude Ihis kind of action from consider:!..
lion bcause it niscs issues fundamenully different from those
raised by act8 which are viohtions ofb,,;s. the kpl validity of
which is undWJmged. One can engage in uu designed to test
a bw v.ithout regarding one's acts as disobedience. and without
doubting that one lu.s UI obligation to obey all l1Ilid lav.".' I
am interested in aCb ..... hieh claim to be justified irrespm;e of
..... hat is wlid law.
So much for 'disobedience'. The other key term of my tide
I A,!mltredly tho divioioa tKtwem lhe t1n;I kiod, of..roon ill noI .. eur
10 drlw .. lniP1 al fi .. appear. 11 ill blnmd.,.ad puhlpl rithtly, by
1'- ... 100 iMill, opinIC the lepl pwiti.isu. that evm ... ithin Ciioritc
\cpl the ...",.Iity of I b.- is rdnUII to the quoo:stiMI of..t.nbtr
rhol 10., i. I vaid low. TlIiI ill wlI, I IUd that dIG
bdine IIIat hit oc:t of ,r wtIUld be btIol '0 be ilkpl br die
hi,hesI: c:ourt of the COIIntry, and _Mid &imply .ho. he ",,!;lit bdine his
IlClIO be illtgJl. Oa this ;""e R. M. o-kin., 'I, U"II" S)'SItm of
Rules 1" in A. Summm (od.), .1.4,,,/ PIIilDHt/t, (Dladwo::tI,
Oxford, 1968). and 'Oa Noc ProtK"uru. Ci,il .. y.J.
Rn:in> 4 B.w, 6 June 1965.
,
\
INTJ.ODl]CTION 11
I shall leave even m(IrC opm at this stage. 'The mc:aning of
'democncy'. u it n:lalea to the obligation to obey the bw, will
be di3cussed in the course of the book.
, With this, our prtliminaries ue complete. We may now
begin our enminatioll of the claim that there are strongtt
for obeying the law in:1 democratic !IOciety than there
are ID other form of society.

PART I
DEMOCRATIC AND NON-DEMOCRATIC MODELS
COMPARED
001. purpose is to e:umine the reasons for obeying the bw
which may exist in democratic and non-democratie societies.
to see if tbcte are any signific.lnl rC:aS0Q5 which hold in the one
but not the other. In urder to compare and contrasl thete
different forms J am pg to use liOJT\e simplified
models. The use of simplified models as I basis for political
theory has been critici?ed. It is true that simplified
just bea.usc they Ire fail to bring oot all the c0m-
plexities of ac:tual political situations. Yet they may still be
useful in helping us to see something that is obscure in I more
complex situation. One of the nu.in objections to the use of
models 10 iIIustnle probkms or political obliption in particu-
lar is tlu.t the modclschoscn are UllUally lI$SOCiations,
or associations with definite, specified putpo5lCS. while .cttW
political socictin arc involunlary associations wilhout definite
or specified PUf(I05C!I. My models will ,It least avoid these
obviow pitfalls.
THE JoIODtL5
I take as my basie model I COPlmonroom association of a
university college, similar 10 those at Oxford. At Oxford
ooI.legcs, the Junior Common Room is the political body or all
the undergraduate students. Il fuoo:ioos in a m:l.llner rnmilu
10 student unions at many unh-ersitia Dcause of its
DEMOCt.ATIC AND NONDEMOCt. ATI C MODELS
smill size, bowtvel", and because it is easie:r for membcn to
mc:c:t together in a residential ooIlc:ge, it suits my purpcS
slightly better than a students' union at a !.ugc:,
uni\us:ity 1be ICCUr.Icy of my attOUnt as an MXl)unt
of how Oxford commorrroom aS8OciauOIl5 function is, of
COUrllC, immaterial. I will jun Slipubte: that the following fucts
hold, and the rnder can reprd the model u a purely
tbc:tical construCt. The relevant facts, then, are thc:sc. Member.
. hip of the rommonroom association is autolmlic for ill
members of the collC'J'f'. SUbscriptions to the: U$OCiujon arc:
IlIken from colkgc fees. 110 onc can withdnw from Ihe uso-
wtion only by withdnwing from the roIlc:ge This
would be highly inconvenient, and 10 withdr.tw from one
without joining :lDothcr is, ..... e: sh:lll say, out of the
question. Jul y other coll ege to which onc went would have: a
simibr commofHoom association to which ooe would also
h:lve to bdons:. The common;l)Om association has been in
cnstence for as long IS an)'One can remember, and if any
rOrdll of its origin c:vc:r a isted, they have: bttn 10IiI. So none
of t he: members knows bow the: usociation wu oripn:IUy set
up, or for what purpostt E\'CtJ' member simply found t he
a59OCiation in existence lI"he:n he joined the college.
This is the basic model. I will now describe thrcc vmanu
of if. Consider fint an :usociation in which all the important
decisions about what the association shall do, how its money
be: spent, and !lO on, arc made by onc man, known u the
Leader. The origin of this puticulu system is to be found in
the past history of the cornrnon..room usocinion.
Some time ago, me nun .... ho is now the Leader cbimc:d Wt
the. openting lu.d lc:d 10 stupid
deculOns, ID the rnl LDteresl5 of the association. Hence-
forth, he would mue all the decisions himself, guided by the
intc:rc:sts of the members. If anyone objected, they v.ttc:
invilcd to fight it out with the Leader's friends, who "'ert the

THE MODELS
' S
bc:sl lighten in the 'Ii8lOCQtioP. No one objected. Sinoc taking
povt"c:r, the Leader'. decisions have IOrded 1I-dl
with his promise to rule in the interests of all.
Onc of the tasks which the assoa..tWn has carried out for as
long u anyone can remember is me sclection of a number of
for the common room, to be paid for from
funds, and read by whuc:vtt .... ,mb 10 rell1 them. So t.Wt1 all
""'y read these papers, there is a regulation that no ooc is to
remm'e papen from the common room until they have been
there fora week. Oneday, the Leader decides WI
room should subscribe to a new paper, which I ,haU call Tile
Nt1l'J. A mc:mber of the c:olIcgc, who will be called the Dis--
5c:nter, objects to the 11ew:!p<lper, not for personal or aesthetic
rnSOOS, but because the piper carries oul a scurrilous cam-
paign agllinst the millorily of black people in the country,
implying that blacb ne always diny, lary, and dishonest, and
should not be allowed to mix with whites. 1nis campaign, we
sball SilY. mUlagcs to kttp within the bounds of the law. The
Dissenter fi nds the \'cry presence of the paper in the D.lmrru)Doo
room offensive; he also fears that if other D.lmlf1On.-IOOm
membc:rs, 1c:ss aware dun he is of the: paper', bias and di,..
tonion, rc::Id the p.1ptr regularly. it "ill inflame latent prejudices
and they win come 10 discriminate agaiDllt the IWO or three
blaclr: members of the college:. (Once: ag:a.in, whether this would
1(;:1l1y happen is not rckvant for our purposes; if the fCldtr
finds the enmple implausible be can substitule one of his own.
It would DOt n\alter if the Dissenter', objcaion to The NelPJ
W:lSOO the grounds of Obsccn.ity, OT because it was a propaganda
sbcc:t for the armed fotec:S.)
The: Dissc:nler asks !he Leader ro rc:oonsider his decision.
but the Leader is unmoved. The or-nter then decides to tUe
suonger taion. J le goes into the conUIlOo--TOOm every
morning, before the other membc:rs: arc about, and removes rhe
".pu .
16 OUIOCRATIC AND NONOIlMOCIATlC MOD!:L.S
For comparillOl1, consider now 1'11'0 associations
similar 10 the :a.bove in respect, uoept for t he methods of
tiling decisions. Firstly, oom:ider an association in which
decisions are still nude by one IUOIn, but be did not b2\'e to
seize power, and he does not b2\'e to intimidm opponents with
thrnlS of vioIenoe. In this there has been. a
tnditioo, for as loo! as can be remembered, that the person
who has been I member of the college (or the kmp rime-
tM Senior Manber-makd: all the decisions (there is a
recognized method fut determining who of those ",ho entered
in the same year is the mOSt senior). The Senior Member is
apeaed to decide in the intereslS of all, and it is, again,
rnsonable to claim that he does 10.
As in the first association, lhe decision to iUb8cribc to TIw
NtlDS is taken, !be Disscmtt nin1y PUg his case to the Senior
Mcmber, IUld finally resoru 10 rcmcwing the paper.
In tM final associltion, thc custom it and, 80 far as is known,
always hu been, for d.-isioru IQ be tlIkcn by a vote of the
whole associnion at I gencn.1 meeting, the nujority view pre.-
vailing. The Dissenter attend! these meetings. and \"Otes
according to his opinions. Sometimes nlOtious he
favours are carried, sometimes they ;ue JO!lt. When. motion is
carried, lhooe who VOted apinst it accept it, and do not hinder
iu being put inlo effect, although they II1ay try 10 get the
ckcision changed at subsequent mcctinp. At the meet ings, all
members are free to speak. subject only to some necessary
procedural restrictions. The meetingsarecooducted f.urly, and
the \"010 bUied accurattly.
At one meeting, it is proposed th:lr the association lai;e out I
subsl;:ription to TIre NaJJ. The: Dissenter atgUC$ against this
propos;1l, but fails 10 CUT}' the majority with him. land the
motion is passed. At the nt'XI: and following rmet.inp, he
attempts to get litis decision rescinded. but faib again, and it
btOOllles 10 him thll a majority of the members hsve
Tilt MODELS
'7
made up their minds finnly in favour of the paper, so that he
will not be able 10 sway them, or at least, oot before the paper
Iw been in the OODlIoon-room long enough 10 bring about the
deterioration in nruJ harmony which the Dissenter fears. On
realizing this, the Dissenter rel1lO\U the piper as before.
The question wJUch I \\-:mt 10 ask aboul these models is IXJt
... bttber !be Dissenler ""115 justified in breaking the regubtion
against reffiO\ing newspapetl-lo answer this we would ooed
further information on, ImonK Olher things, the probability of
serious b:Ulll resulting from members reading The NtJPJ, and
",.bct:ber simply rtlDO\'ing the paper \\"15 likdy to be cffective
in the long run. J "'lint 10 ask if, on the factS as "'""t ha'e them,
there are any differences; in the weight of the lOOn.! reasons
ab'linst rtmoving the j-per in each ca9C. In all three models,
the action was oonlrary to a rule of the association. If there is a
speciallftSOll (or reuons) for obeying laws in a democracy, wc
mould be able w dc:lea. reason. for obeying this Me of tile
association in !.he third case which do not hold in theotller Iwo ..
'Thcrearese\ernl reasons for obeying law!l ... hich apply more
or less equally to all three models. A.ny act of disobedience. may
!let an example, which could Icad to Olhers disobeying. Wide.-
spread disobedience could a breal.:do",,'n of 'law ;rnd
order'. 'Law and order' may be a catcb-cry conserva.
thu are prone 10 use for eloaioneering purposes, Ind :IS an
excuse for stifling legitimate opposition, but il is, I think,
indisputable ilial law and order are gencn..lly desirable. and
that a society in which there"fI'U constanl disorder would find
it dlfficull 10 achieve the elementary bc:ncfilS whkh c0-
operation and lIC(urity mue possible. E\"CO In anarchist's
utopia would b:,a,e some scu1ed ;rnd gmenlly scccptcd prin.
ciples of oo ...opeflllion and Idntinistr.ltioo. In all lhree modd
societil!5, as I have dC5Cribed them, tbtte Ire settled and
accepted principles ;and procedures of this sort. In so fat as any
18 DEMOCIIIITIC liNO NON-DEMOCIIATIC MODU.S
of disobedience might kid 10 gmer:tl disrc:prd of thc:sc:
principles and procedures, !his is a o:msider:ttion
disobedience to be: taken into acoount in all three: models. It
does not Jive us any special reason for obedience: in the third
modc:l which does not hold in the: other tWQ.
Anatbcr ugu.ment for obeWc:nce which applics equally in all
thm: 5lruations is that the mc:mben of the UIIOCiation have.l1
bcodited frum previous dcciMns reaehed rhrough the
decision-prooedure of Ihe aSillOCUtion, and. from the fact that
other members have obeyed these decisions. Thus Ihe
senler Ms, -.re may assume, benefited from the fact that.
\-ariety of is 1\-a.iLtble in the c:ommon room, and
th2.t they have not been removed by other memben. The fKt
tNot one hu roccived benefits from the bws of a society hu
kmg been tbought to be an important reason for obeying the
b .... '1I. This argument is used by Socrares in Pb.to's C,.tll .... hen
he rqects the suggestion that he should cscape from prison.
Once again, though, il is an argument which has no
appliC:Uion 10 Ihe third model Sint!: decisioru made by non-
democratic procedures nll)' benefit one as much as decisions
made by dcmoc:ratic prooedun:s, the argument applies
wherever there is benefit. In describing the: mOOels, I specified
that in all Ihrtt, decisions had for the IJlOIit parI been made in
II(:C(Irlhncc wilh Ihe interests of members.
It might be obiected, though, lhat whatever stipubti ons 1
m.ade in seltingout the mOOds, it is in faa much less likely that
decisions made by onc I1Wl would be in the interests off all
than that decisions made col1eaivcly by 1111 Ihe members of the
association would be. In fact, I think the most that can be said
is that decisions mule collecti,"tly by all members of !he
asmmtion ate moce likely to be in the intcrcsu of I majority-
not aU--of the association. Ifit is held durone man is very likely
to act selfulhly if be has rhe to make decisions for all,
men it should aOO follow tllata majority of themembcn, given
THE MODELS
' 9
the same po\\"tI", is likely to put its mlcrc:w befon: interestll
of the minority, Thu" if tile 'benefits n:ttived' is said
to be unlikdy to apply _hen there is rule by onc penon, it
must a.bo be sa.id that it is unlikely to apply to everyone even
when there is collective decision-making. But we need not go
further into this problem at !hill point. I shall be Aying more
about the problem of minorities .bier on. 'The point I want to
make no ..... is that C\'efl if it is true that most dernocncics mUe
bll'S in the intc:rem of all, whereas few non--dcmocncic:s do,
this does nOl mean that the fact tIlat one is living in a dem0c-
racy is, in itself, a reason for obeying the b. ...... It means only
Ihlt the 'benefits received' argument foe obedicrn::c: is IOOre
likely to apply. It remains possible that there lire dcmocncic:s
in .. hiell it does nut apply,and dictatorships in which it does.
Finally, it IICCtU!I to me doubtrul whether theargument has any
relevant!: when the disobedience is DOt intended to benefit one-
self (as il would hl\"Ci in Sotntu' case) but other pcopk,
perhaps not even mcmbcn of one's own society, to whom 9Omc:
\\TOng is being done.
aboa hoot ofmore minor arguments for obedience:
which apply to all or mOSt societies, irrespective of tile nature
of the political system in open:tion. For instance, there is tlle
r:..ct thal disobedience usually leads to the cxpenditure of
public resources in the prevention or limiting of disobedience,
and the cnforocmclIt of the law 3j,'ainst those who disobey.
These rcsources: could ha-vc been better spent in other ways.
Whatever tlle significance of the reasons, major -and minor, for
obeying any settled form of government which rules in the
interesu of all, I shall nor be d.isc:usslog them. As our focus is
on the difference bctvtten democratic IInd non-dcmocratic
societies, J shall oontcntnte on rn50la for obeying the law
whicb nlly awk a aigni6cant difference bm\"ten democratic
<lnd non-democratic societies. My procedure \\ill be to look foe
reasons for obedience .... hich lIl.Iy zpply to the third model, but

DEMOCltAT1C AND NQN-DEMOCJ.ATJC MODELS
nor 10 the other two. At this ruge of our inquUy I shal l reg:anl
the third modd as a mOOd ol a democratic society, ;md the
other t ... o as non-democruic. This is oothing more than a
device to enable me to IJldIe different issuCl one at a tinle; I
bopc no onc will be misled into thinking th:u anything I say
applies straightforwardly to those nations wc oommonJy refer
ro as 'demotracieJ'. 'I1le imponanl question of the extent 10
which the reached from I consideration of the
three models apply to socicric:s and systems of g0vern-
ment is disc:u5sed in the third part of this
Tilt; POSSIBILI TY or atPUL
In the pass.!.b'C I quoted outset of this book, T. H. Grccn
mentioned two rearurtS of 'a country like GUn' ""hich be
apparemly thought sofficient ID oblige a man to obey I I3w
even though he believes it is not for the wtnrnon good, These
f(;\f\lrtS arc 'popular government' and '!lCttled methods of
cmcting and repealing lall",', Arc these peculiarly strong
TnSOruJ for obeying laws, applicable only in a dcrnocncy
I "ill uke first the rnson ID which the Australun l'rime
Minister also referred, in his Statement of a position li\;e that
ofT, I-I. possibility of 'cll2nge through the ballot
boxes'. Strictly spcalcing, there is nOlhing specifically dem.,
trltic aboot having seukxI methocb 01 Ct13cting and repcalinJ
laws-all sorts of non-democratic procrdurCl for doing this can
be imagined. What Green no doubt meant, howC\'ef, and what
Gottoo mtallt too, is that in I democracy the individual citizen
can attempt: by 1cpl means to get a law changed. In the third
modd usocilticm this is provided fur by the possibil ity of
mD\'ing at:any meeting that I decisioo of a previous meeting be
rcscindtd. [)o(s fhi.o; consti tute a significant rwIOn for obeying
deci5ion to wtUch. onc is opposed ?
1n dc:tc:ribing tbe course of the dispute between the Dis-
Tur; POSSlfllLITY o r ItPI!iAL
scnler and the of the members of the third usocUtioo,
I specified that after the initial decisiOll 10 order TAt Ntr.1, the
DWcnter tried 10 get the decision rescinded, but failed, and
btnme convinced that he would not be able 10 prC\'C01
memben reading the paper by such means,orat least, not unti l
it would be too late to prevent Ihe hum he feared, This mons
thal the possibility ol legai diange in the near furore is no more
than a thcoretial possibility. The possibility of legal change in
the distznt future may be s1ighuy more rCll, but it a.n be
disooUIlIcd, sillQC the object of the change is not 10 get the
ucci!riun rescinded fur its own hut to prevent specific
haon ... hich may ""ell by then hne occurred.
ffule Dissenter is right in believing that there is no pnctic:al
possibility of changing the decision to ",hich he objects by
legal means and bd'ore the harm he is COIlttrned to prt'o'Cnt
has occurred, am a purely theoretical JXSibi lity constitute a
signiliont reason for obediL'flcel Wc ClIIl clarify this question
by imagining l'ut a legal process Iw; been iMril\llcd in the
firs! or second model-for insbnct, the of
pctilions 10 the Leader or Senior Member- which providCl
for a tbeocetie:d possibility of ch:mging a decision. It may be
objected tbat the possibi lily of Icpl cJunge by mean, of
petitioning an il utocnt is less real than lJut which exists in a
democracy, no mUler how large the majority apinS( onc',
proposals. Legal change through petitions is at the !Ok
discretion of the autocr.lt j in 3 democracy change must result
if the majority fAVour it. Nevcrthckss, thc possibility of
changing by legal meallll a decision in any of the wee modeIJ
depends upon changing the opinion of onc or more persons,
Wben il meeting of the lhird decides by a "'err
nalT01'/' majority, il may nOI be ton difficult 10 change the
decision-bm the IWT1C 'I\'ould apply ,..brn an autocnl hu
difficulty in up his nlind on an issue. When a meeting
of the third associAtion decides by a large majority ofnlernben.
C - .
2.2 Or.MOCIU.T IC AND NON-D!:MOCt.ATI C MODELS
d l or nwly all of whom are com;nced lhat thcit decision ill
Ihe right onc, the possibility of by !cp.1 mC:lllS is evtty
bit as thcoruicaJ as the possibility of changing the decision of
a fumly resolved Ladcr a' Senior Member by mc:am of a
petition.
Tt seems to mc, thefeforc, to be a mistake to regard those
possibilities of 1ep1 cllange which fll' ....... ",rily exist in a dernoo-
racy u a significant IUSQII for obeying the law. Only when
there is red possiblity of Icga.I change before the harm one
sccb to prevent has occurred, is this poIllIibility an important
In!i()n for using only leglll means to bring about in a
law. The streng!h or import:mcc of the rta90n then would
seem to be in di.rect proportion to the reality of the possibility
of bringing about change by JCf;:l1 mtans. But beeaUlJC one
cannot besure whether is a real possibilityoflega1 change
until one hu tried, I think the eristence of a tbcomjeal
possibility dOt!! consritule I suong ream for attempting to U9C
1q:l1 means finl, and to illegal mems unly if !he
attempt fails.
Puhapt I should algo $:1y here !hat I do not deny that the
!heorctical possibility of legd eh3nge by m;ljority VOle is
essential fOl' the existenC'C of demoaacy, and il may therefore
be ne<.'e$$ary condition of some other rcuon tor obedience to
law, deriving from the uistence of a demexntic form of
government. I ha\'e argued only that it is not, in itself an
impom.nt reason for obeying the b.... '
POPULAR SOVEI.[IGNTY ANI) CONStNl'
The other- reason for obeying a bad la Vo' in a demoency
mentioned by T. H. Green was simply 'popular SO'o'Cmmcnt'.
The meaning of this term is not quire cleat, but may I2kc
it dw Green was referring tQ 'Nh:!! is better kf'lO\l'n u 'popular
$O'\'c:reignty', which expresses the idea that the government is
POPULAJ. SOVEltlGNTY AND CON5r.NT 13
in some ""'3y a government of the people. This is still vague,
and it is in any case difficult to know aactly what to make of
tbe claim that the existence of popular lIOVmignty is an
imporunt reason for obedienoe. 1ne point is nor, one supposes,
th:It the lall'l'l of a popular government ate alway:5 or nearly
always the best 1a'lOS possiblc.. It is surely beyond dispute that
popubr govemmt'nUt;ln rJklkc mistakes, u can .ny Olhtt form
of government. It is ITI()re likely that those who talk of the
importMltt of popular sovereignty ha\'e in mind the idea th3t ....
only a popular gQ\'emment nn have legitimate authority.
I Unfom.matdy, the commonly invoked nution of legitimate,
rightful, or lawful govemment is not a helpful one. When is a
SO"'CrnllK'llt Icgitim3te? 'Legitimacy' sounds as if it were a
quality or ci1ar:actcristic which SOme SO"'CmmeDb hne and
othen do nor have, bill if we try to say Vohat this quality or
characteristic is, wc find it difficult to agree. Oftm when a
pCl"IOn refers w a particular SO"'CmlIlmt as Icgilimate, he is
doing 00 more than expl'CSSing his support for it, or gn;ng his
allegiance to it. In this case, the turn 'legi timate' l'Cfers to no
qIQlityur characteristic at all. It does not describe anything.' A
person who $:1Y5 'Th only legitimate form of government is
government by the people' DIUSt be "ken to be lOlying that he
will not support or gi'iC his allctiance to any form of goVtmw
DICnt except 'government by the people'. This suggClits tlut
we may be able to avoid the difficulties rai:!ed by the notion of
Icgirimacy by by-passing that notion, and going uin:ctJy to the
proposed criteria for legitimate government. AftCr all, e\'CII if
wc could make 5e119C of the dum that we ought to obey !hose
govemnICnts which are legitimate, wc would still ru.ve to
pl'oouoe reasons for holding that certain forms of govttnmcnt
Irt legitim:llte while others ate DOt. So the-rc scans to be 30IDC
'On thiI, _ R. M .. 'TIle lawful Go.ulilI>C!w', in P. Uslttr
ancI W. kunciman (cds..), PIIi'-PJ. I'tlilk,.rItI S.w17 (dlird.m..,
IJbd...,II, Oxford,
24 DEMOCRAT IC AND NON-DltMOCI.ATIC MODELS
anti no disatlwntage, in going tlitectly 10 these
. rouons, insU:3t1 ohia the notion of legitimacy. '
, Swring from the claim lhat we ought to obey a (;O\'m\meflt
because it is popular, v,.e came to the further claim th:n luch
governmCllts ought to be obeycd because they derh'C their
authority from the people. "The people', though, is a term
which includes ounel\u.. if III'C ace citimu: of the government.
We are thcrd'ore likely to ad: what basis there is for asserting
Ihis derivation Qf authority. The st:mdud answer, the answer
of the American Declaration of IDllependcnce, of Lod:e,
RousKau, and innumcnble others, is IOme theory of consrol.l'
A populn (;O\'emment is onc which, as the Declaration of
Independence says, deri\'CS its juSt powers from the cunsent of
the p'm\ed. Its citizens oughl to obey it because they hn'e
conscnted to its rule. On this \-Kw, the oblig:nion 10 obey the
b.w is sinular to the obligation to keep a promise. I
To many reldcrs the cunsent theory of oblil}llion will be
familiar ground, and I mU$( for taking them "'on it
once more. The usefulness of doing so will emerge only bter.
I intend to test the cunsent theory of obligation by seeing how
it applies to our three model associations. I bYe the members
of any of the associ:.I.tions consented to the method of govern-
ment of their association ? Does Ibe third association differ
from the other twO in thill respect?
In the first mood, the Lader retained power with the
assisuncc of ha friends, tbe btst fighters in the associJlion,
",'ho threm:oed to fight anyone who objected to Ibe rule oflhe
Leader. Consenl under intimidation-or ruiher, acquiescence
under intimiwtioo-is all that airu here, :md this could not
sat isfy. conSlt"llt theorist, for it coultl nOl: gr.'C rise to the sort
of moral obligation required.
A Qlmp;lrUon betwocn the scamd and third models is more
interesting, In bqth, ph)"Sical intimidation is aMent. In onc
caSle, thcre is lCDCIal acquiescence in the role of the Scuiof
POPULAR SOVlUIONTY AND CONSr.NT IS
Member <at least, there ,,-as until the Dissenter decided to
disobey). In the other, the Dissenter and most of the other
members went to the IDCCtings at whim decisiofIJ were taken,
and participated in them by ,'Oting, What conclusions can be
drawn from these faclS? It will be recalled that oummon to all
three models was the fact tltat no ODe ever agreed to join the
assoda.Uoo, or to accept any putio.llar decision-procedure.
Thcre was 00 knowlooi;': of any originaiagrecmcnt, or of any
agreement toset up Iny particubr method of making deci5ions.
So apress cunsent b)' the members to:m), fonn of go'o'Cmment
is absent iD all three: models.
t In the absence of express consent, SUppoflCTll of the "iew
that cun:\C:nt is a crucial rcuon for obeying the law have
argued for the aistmce of lacit a)ll$CIlt. It hIS been argued that
simply by remaining a member of a society onc t<lciily c;:orucnts
to be bound by its laws/ So, someone mighl say, since the
Dissenter }us not left the associ:Ition, he has tacitly consented
to be bound by its dccision. procedure. But in our modd
assocUti0n5 it Wall, for pructical purposes, impossible to quit an
association "ithout entering another association which would
also ISuystCID ent .",-hich one ","OOld 1u''C to
obey, is CUUDts hea\'ily agaillst . ng mete acquiC9CCnCC to
a fom! 0 government, a m tiC second model, as a sign of
t.onsent, to give rise 10 obligations, must be voluntary,
and this means thn there must be some .1ttmatr.'C 10 consenl
ing. T he only altCrTIIlive to al;(j,uiesc:ing was disobeying,rwhich
is what the is now doing.
Even ill the third. model, -although there is active
voInntary in cbe decisionprooedurc, this cannot
be tllen ;u proof thal there is rell CUl\SICnt to the decision-
procedure. TIle other may feci that since
decision, will be taken whl'ther he VQ(CII or not, he Imy as lII'ell
make the best of things by doing whott he an 10 impfO\'e the
chances of I good dcci5ion being reached. This sort of attitude
16 DtMDCRATIC AND NON-DU.tOCRATIC MODELS
does not actuaJ ronscnt to the method of making
decisions by majority vote. So C:lllnot the Dissenter to
obey this decision_procedure beause it I'ClUy has the consent
expn:s:! or ucit--<lf the governed. The Dissenter is
guverncd, but may not b2ve COl1gel\ted. This mud! is true of
all three: model associatiOM, notwithst:mding the important
differences between them.
t:qVALITY ANI> ').tIlNESS
Realizing th.:Jt conscnt will not do, many who rq,>ard dcmocntic
government as peculiarly worthy of obedience: have poilucd 10
Other aspeas of'populu S(lvereignty'. It has been argued that
all men have an equal right to govern themselves, and that for
thiJ rea!iOll we oughl to obey only those forms of government
in which aD men ha\'e an share. This belief has played
an important role in liberal and democntic thOllght. It is,
ultillL1teiy, either an assertion or a prescription for which it is
very difficult, if not impossible, to argue. I t is hard to do any_
thing but llccept or reject it. Taken as an assertion, it cannot be
finally refuted, since no matter what l'CSpects men are shown
to dilfer in-wealth, intelligence, height, benevolence, or any
(){hers-it can always be said that these ue not relevant to
Iu\ing an equal right to govCTn onesc:lf. It also cannot be
firglly .::9ublished, since the respectll in which men are S>l.id to
be equal, and which are Solid to be relevant to the cqu .... right
to gonm, are uS'..IlIlIy intangi bles about which dilfcreoces are
possible-for C,X;lmple, equal dignity, equal moral wonh, or
equal original freedom.
It might be SOlid tltat the fact that everyone agrees
that children do not have the right to tal.:c pan in goverornem
shows llut there are criteria for deciding who has this right
which we all can recogni%e in practice. apart from the
flct that theoonsen.sus on the exclusion of children is no longer
I
EQUALITY AND P).tJ.NESS 27
as rock-solid as it once was, however, point give little')
@mfor!:!9 the eg..JitarUn. For iftheCTC USIOfl ollldrcn lrom
government can be justified, it must be on the grounds that
cl!ildren bel: ternin characteristics which adWtlI possess.
These chUllCUristics might be something like knowledge of
the iSSUe! involved in making dcrisions, or ability to reach a
responsible judgement. Dut adults differ in these rcspo:ur too,
S(l if it is right to e:lclude c;hildren for lacking these char:tcter-
isrics., il should also be right to exclude some adults, ur, at the
other eml of the 8C:Ik, to gi\'e multiple vou'::9 to those who
possess these to an above a\'CI1Ige degree. (Thilr
utter proposal, incidentally, was SIlpported by nu ItliS a demo-
crat Uun John StUaT! Mill.') If, despite this, wc do believe in
the equal rightS of .dultll to gO\'e1'II, it must be, as r have
already suggested, on the basis or less tangible characteristics.
\ AnOllter suggested bolSis for equality is that it is enough to
show that there is 9Qmc characteristic, which an men possess,
8uch t!ut once one hu the chaucteristic, the degree to which
one Ius it is im:leva"t. To t;lke a parallel, all points inside a
circle possess the charactcristic of being inside the citck, and
no point pos.se:sses this characteristic to a greater degree than
any other point. Now is there some similar characteristic which
is relevant to the equality of mcn? John IUwis, in his book A
Tko'l of Juslic, is. Tt is, he says. the capacity for
monl it seems to me that this kind of
with su(x>;'ss lhan the 9Careh
'Why
they will ask, 'why not
which a person's moral actually has
an equ<d

"
, J. S. Mill. RttrtstllUu'p(J (Denr,l..ondon, , g.60), ch. 8.
I J. RlwIt, If o/JlIlIkt (Clmndon Prtss, Oxf ..... d, Ra.
n
z8 Dr;MOC'''TIC AND NON-DEMOC""TIC MODr;LS
why make mon.I penonality decisive It aD, ntbcr than s0me-
thing like knowledge. imeUigcRtt, 01' uperiem:el Once again,
the only po68ible replies take U5 into the realm of IS$trtion :lDd
oounter-usemon nthc::r than argument.
in the current politicaJ climate lhc:sc difficultits in establish-
ing the basis of equality arc likely to 5leem academic
quibbling. Hardly anyone argues seriously for ill hienrchical
socic:ry now. No onc proposes depriying people of the vo(c
because they ill-informed or unintdligcnt. In tha>e
circulIlSt:lnces the need for a sound ru.sis for equality will not
appeu pressing, but the absence of a sound basis could be
uoplClSUlt if the politiaJ climatclhouldchange, as il did in the
19]0$.. Tills is . -by it is unfortWlatc tlut, 110 far as I can $(le., a
really Atisl'Ktory basis i. yet 10 be produced.
O!Iilc apart from the difficulty of pl'O'l-u.g the original
assertion (or justifying the original prescription), hO'/t'C'!'er,
f equality is not a completely basis for explaining
why ..-cought IOobcy the law in 1 democracy. For theUSI.Uflp-
lion or prcsaiplion an be rumal against the plltpollC fot whic.'l
it is being used. h cm be takm IS showing. not that there is a
special obliption to obey demoer:llie aut hority, but that thttc
can be no obligation to obey any ilUthority ucept ooc:self, In
other words, it nuy be denial tM.t the equal rights of all to
go\'ern.themsdve:laresatis6ed by majority go'Io'emment over the
minority, What reason is thc:rc for supposing that 'equal rights'
(::IIn be added up in sueh a WlIy tht the Jide with IIlDrC has the
righl to prevail O\'Cr the: side with less ?lEqual rights 10 a (::lIke
would not be Alislied if the majority 'nIked off with the "'hole
cake. So even ifit be Iccepl:ed that all men have equal. rights to
govern themselves, mor-e a.rgument ill needed before it can be
oonc:luded that a !!)'Stem of government like 1Nl of Ihe third
model association Ius a \"'3lid claim 10 be obeyed v.'hich other
ayslallS do QO( have.'
, For UJIBDmf, ..., 11... 1'" ala 6oo:JI H. D. 1"bom.u
EQUALITY AND ""IIINESS 29
We can avold some of the difficulties just di.,rssed by
that the dccisioo-prooedure of the third
those. of the other
of the

equal divisiOn,
more to IJI)IDe th':lIl
third association
evt"ty membCZ" huone V(He.
do 1l0l, there is primD
ease for saying that ollly the decision-procedure of the
.. is
P"rediaably, "''C run into I.fQJIble as soon as we try [0 make
\his prona flNe ase absolute, How are we 10 establish that
haViiig beal in the oolIcge longer than anyone else is not a
sufficient rea90n fur having more decision-miling power than
anyone: else? This Ius to be established jf daims that the
decisioj-procc:t1ure of tbe sorond association is fair are to be
There it a lendellCY among .. Titers living in Western
dl.""IllOCf"ac:ics to I15SUme that, at least under norlllal oonditiom, a
democratic I)'Slmt is the fairest ""'y 10 divide power; but if this
assumption is not made, the:: contention is \'ery difficult to
pro\'C.
1
The Senior Member might cl3im, in 5UpptlTt of his
system, that his longer experience Il13de it possible for him 10
make better t1ecisions, in the interests of all the membel1l., than
could be readIed by any more: egalitarian method.t This is not
a matter that can be,P-tisfaaoriiy seu.led by
We can point our, to any Senior Membtt who claims th21 his
positiOfl is fair, that if he is to hold this \;e..., he must be pre-
pared to hold it e-o"ttl if il r.hould be discovered th.:It not he, but
IIOme other member to ",hose views he is strongly opposed has
in fact been a member of the colkge longer than he himsclfha5
qOO'lN ()G pp,.p-' and ou. aDd doe dilaaioa..,1IIidI r .... qaoQ.
.....
JO DEMOCaATIC AND NON-OMOCaATIC MODIIU
been..' If we 1R: honest with ourselves, this may mKe many of
us realize that .. 'C cannot regard :any oon-democn.tic system as
(.Iir, at lcut under normal cUrumsunces; but it is possible to
hoJd the opposite view withoot ;lily incortaistem:y. At this
point, thcrd'orc, I must rather lamely la\'e it to the reader to
decide for himself if the of the third
. therefore has I better claim to
of the other associ:a-
. another "'':I.y in which the
. IIIOI.y be (ai rer tMU
du.t of the other two. This argument takes u iu basie ;assump-
tion the point u which the argument ju.u coosidcrcd w:as
halted-the diffieulty of csbblishi ng what is to count as a
sufficient rt350D for Nving more tmn an equal share in the
making of decisioll$.
PAlllNtSS AND COMI'IOMIsr;
We Inve!leen that although the decision-nuking POWct in the
second model a550ciation is unequally distributed, the Senior
Member an still contend that it is fairly distributed, becaUJe
there is adequate rea90ll for him to hne complete po'II'ct. Now
in the dispute over TIle NnP/, the Dissenter's action (removing
the paper) is an attempt to USume complete power in respect
of whether members of Ihe association SMU read the paJlfi.
Like the Senior Member, the Dissenter can claim that mere is
good reason for him to enrcise more than an equal share of
power Mcr this issue---t!caUge, say, he is the on1y member of
the association fully awarc of the harmrul tendencies of the
paper. The Dissenler a:ruld put fllnl'2rd this justi6cation of
his action in all three model associations. In the first two
, nn. if an of the principle or _ioowd
oQlhe. IntI"06ualon:. Fau """,UtI upamcnr,_ It M. Han,
(Oamldan Prr:sJ, Oxford, '963),. ch. 6.
PA,aNUS AND COMPkOMIU
3'
:associations. it is a claim apnst the claims o(tl1e Lctder and
&nior Member. In the third association, where the decision-
making power is evenly distributed, the Dissenter's claim is
apill5t all the other members. His claim mil be eMlJmged
by other members woo.lnving voted in fl\"OUr of subscribing
to the paper, will Olnsider him to be mistaken about its bumful
lendcncies, or pcrhap5 about the importance of these tenden-
cies. The Dissentcr, after all, is Iding on his own judgement
about thi5. The her menlbcn have their 0"''0 judgements too,
which they sincuely believe oorrC'Cl. In claiming that his 00'11\
judgement entides him to a gya,ter 53y in tbe matter than the
hen, the DiSSCnlet is making a claim which the othen could
make, and which, if many of them did make, would be
i1'lOOf11patible with the continued existence o( a peaceful
decision-procedute.
A difference bel flec:n the moods Cln now be seen. Assuming
that agreement on the merits of the competing claims CUlOOt
be reached, the nature of the decision-procedure in the fint
and scc:ond :wodations givcs the Diuenter no valid reason (or
abandoning his cbim to decide the issue, and :accepting the
claim of the Leadtt or Senior Member. (I meln by thU, no
fQson arising out of the natutl: of the decision-proccdotl:.
Then:: would of arurse be the usual rt35Ons, some of which I
mentioned C;ltlier, which apply to any decision-
procedure.) In Ihe third association, on the btt band, the
Disgeoter doa Mve. \':I.1id reason, arising from the nature of
the decision-procedure, (or refraining from acting on his Ofl1l
judgement. If the Dissenter bclin'tS the other members to be
sincere in their opinions about The Nnru, and accepts the
impossibility of rnehing agreement on the issue, he will be :able
to see that on this and similarly controversial issues. il woUld be
best i( n'cryone were to accept !IOfIle sort of compromise,
instead of acting on their own judgements. The
Dissenter thus has a tea!oUIl for supporting and accepting !!Ucn

32 DtMOCRA.'tIC AND NON-DEMOCRATI C MODtLS
a oompromiso-bul he, like everyooe else, will ,"lit to renin
as much influeooe on decision. u is IXImparible with such a
eompromi9c. He ",ill not want to be at I dis;;lIhomtage.
The of the third association, in which all
members have in decisions. and lhen accept the
result, fS a fair compromise. It is, obviously, a
benefiCl'il compromise, si nce l peaceful settlcmmt of dispUlC:S
is better than $eUlClJlCflt by fon:e. The bc:nclit of pcaoeful
settkrnent 1Ouuld, bo .... C'Oocr. aDo be achieved if
accepted any other decision-pr.xtdure. Tnt distinction
bctwten the associaltoos is that it ill only in the: Lhird association
mu the nature of the deci!;iQn-pnxedlU"C fIl2l:cs it possible for
eftryone to rcfnin from acting on hi!! own judgemml about
particular issues Wilhool giving up more than the thcwttical
m.inimum which it is e!SCfl .iu. for everyone to gi\'e up in order
to achieve the benc:lits of a peaceful solution to disputes. It is
the fairness of the compromise by which fOfC(. is avoided that
rise to the strongn fea5lln for accepting the t1ccision-
procedure of the thi n! This may seem a strange
thing to say, since I ha\"C previously argued that abstract
discussion cannOt pro\e the third system to be fairer thlll the
seoond. My point depends upon a distinction between
'absolute fairncss' and the kind of fairness which is limited by
what can be achieved in a given Si luAtlon-()r as I shall ca.ll it,
perhaps ralher loosely, 'faime.<l!l as a compromise',
When we say tltit an arralli,'Cmctlt is fair, \I,e often mean nOl:
tltit it is absolutely filir, butthl! it is fair gh-cn the conditions
under which the arrangement is made. These OOIIditions may
include a ecru;n amount of ignorance, or a lack of agreement
in a situation in which agreement is essential. For if
we were called upon 10 judgc behoecn two cbimants to a sum
of money, and afler hearing both sides ""e ,,ere of the opinion
tltit although the claims were incompatible, there "'"IS no v."I1y
oltelling wlUch was the bener, lI"C might think it fair to divide

FAlaNUS AND CQMI'ItOMI Sr;
33
tile money between the two.. If the claims v.we to somcIhing
which could not be divided, wc might t05$ 11 coin 10 decide..
Under the cifCllmstlnCClJ, this would be a fair compromise,
although from the point of view of 0IlC who had 'absolutc'
knowledge, and thus knew whiehof the cbimants wu entitled
to the money, it muld be said 10 be unfair because it gil"e!li 11$
much to the p2ny who dcsICrve!I none as 10 the puty .,,00
descncs all.
For a different uample, in which a compromise is required
DOt 10 much because of ignonnee u to wb:r.t is fail;.
as because of the need tu come to some agtttment, we might
ul'! a dispute betwCt"n husb:lnd Ind "ue as to "00 should get
up ,,hen tbe baby cries u night. The ."ire may say that the
should get up, because she attends to the baby all day,
while the husband feeb that the wife should get up, since bchas
\TOrkcd all day. They both feci, cquallyslrongly, that their own
position is COfrect . Agreement on the merits of the matter
cannot be reached, but IIOlTIC lIgrtt111cnt is essential, since
neither wants the b:lby to cry un:ltlcnded. A fair compromise
umltr these circulll8lanCCS would be for huslnnd and wife
to uke it in rurM in getting up. This is Il compromise bc.c:l.usc
both parties give up IOnIe pan of what they claim, in order to
rach an agreement which is even more important than having
their own on tlle panicular issue. There could. of course,
be otller compromise solutions. If tlle husband "ne, in the
last resort, prcp:;m.'ll to let the b:lby ay..all night, while the wife
were not, she might Mve to settl e for some other Irl"\1Jlgemc:nt,
for instance, that she would get up week-night, and the
husband only at ."eckends. This would still be. compromise-
both p2rtics Ire stilJ giving up somciliing-but it .... ould DO
be.l. flir compromise. The unequal arrangement is nIX
based on any lcoognirion that the husband's case is the bc.ttEr
onc. It is b::a5IC:d IDttdy on the greatt'f strength of IUs position.
I bopc that thcsccxlmpies have. made the notion of'flirness

I
.H DEMOCRATIC AND NONDUJOC .... TIC
as a compromise' reasonably cleat. When the merits of
inc:ompaholc claims Clnnat be ascertained, or when agreement
on the merits of such cbims cannot be rcache<!. a procedure
like tossing a coin, or dividing_IDt is in dispute equally, ill the
fairest a:l'lr5e that can be takm. It is geDCn.Uy to be preferred
to aIJov.':ing superior force to settle the issue.
Tt should be obvious from whn has bttn !laid before that a
society which disagrees fundamema11y over the kind of
decision-prooedure it should lu.ve in a Slate appropriate for
f3ir compromise. l lle various claims are
being made cannot be settled by ntioml ugumenr, nor is it
likely tlu.t they ean be settled by any dccisicm.proccdure,
sioreit is prccisdythc decision-procedure that is in dispute. All
tbe ITlltian arl:Jrchist Erric:o Mabtesl:l once argued:
l)'Ou choose 100 partisans of dictJ.IOrship, you wiLl di_va 1Nl
each allhc bundml belin-ao himKlf capabk of beins. if 1101 iOlt
dietator I at least ohssiniIll \'Cl)' malcrial1y in the dictatorial govern-
memo The would be those I>'bo. by one means or anolher,
in imposing lheltll>Cl'"U on society. "nd, in coum= of
time. all tMir energy wouLd inevitably be employed in defending
themSleh-u apinsl the an.acb ol their adnrsanct ... '
"'bblcsujthought that this v,'.IS a reason against having my
gMttnmrol at:all; it seems 10 me that il counts at least as
!ltrongly in favour of the obvious compromise solution of
giving everyone an equal in decisions, andiif we think
tl121, men being what tbq are, SOIUC sovcmmenl is preferable
to no gm-emment, we will prefer a fair solution to
the anarchist solution. i
As a further illustr.uion of the need for compromise, con-
sider the fate of tilt proposal made by John Stuart Mill,
I have alrudy mentioned, thlt while e"o'eryooe 5bouki have .1
least onc "ute, those with supcriOl" education .00 imclligenc:e
should hue additional votts. AJ Mill himgetf said, bier in life,
, E . .\bbtellll, ;f"""iu Pr-. London, ph (d., p. 35
,,\laNUS AND COMraOMIn;
JS
this was proposal which found favour with no one. The
reason, Itmnl:, i! not that it vmuld obviously be: unfair to give
more 'lutes to better qualified people, but rather th:Il it would
be impossible to get everyone to agr on "ho wu to have the
atr.I votes. Mill seema to ha\'"e belie\-cd that the uneducated
would accept the cl.airm olthe edlK:l.led, and agrtt that educa-
tion .... as a proper qualification for having a greater voice in
decisiorut. Yet even now, when everyone has one \'Ott, there
are fmJUCl1t complaints about 'pointy-headcd intellectuals'
who think they know better than ordinary men how the muntry
!!to\Ild be run. Assuming lhat ""C did believe AIm', system of
"rong to be perfectly flirlit would still be a brave, or f:lther a
foolharuy, man who wouldput it forward u a serious
In view of the row such it plOpo8:Il would sti r up, it would be
wise to put aside beliefs about what is perfectly fair, and settle
rOl" the son: of compromise represented by 'one man, one VOlt'.
The decision prooedure of the third llSSOCiation, then, is a
fair compromise between the oompc1.in[f to determine
what the IS'IOCiatiOll mall do, beause il givCl! no advant:lge to
allY of the parrle$ to the dispule. (It would be: more accul1lte to
say: it gi\U nu inbuill ad\-antllges. It may gne an to
a partiaJlarly persuasi"e speaker, but this is an ineidentlll and
minor factor. If this wen: felt to preiudiw the fairness
of the compromise, however, it would be possible 10 it,
atllOme cost, by allo\\ing chance to determine who shaU tale
_ decimns, in rwbon. The mcient Grceb used this method.
Our disinclination to do SO is based on the feeling
that the incidcobl unrairness involved in a system lil:e that of
the thi rd association does niX jw;tify the presumably inrerior
decisions that would be the result of distributing power by
Iot.) As a fair compromise, it K greatly prefel1lble 10 a '6ght to
the finish' over ",eh wntrm"eTSiaJ issue. Fairness a$ a com-
promise is all thu can be expected because, as we h:l.ve seen, il
is extraordinarily difficult to decide-let alone 10 reach 3!j1"CO-
36 DEMOCRATIC AND NON-DEMOCRATIC MODEI.S
ment on-what is a sufficient re:tSOQ for an unequal distribution
of power.
The point I am making can aoo be as a point about the
different implicuioosof a resort to force in t1itTcrent situations.
The Dis5t:nter, in removing rh, NtJPs, is resorting to force
against the decision-procedure of his lI5SOCiation, no malter
what that decision-procedure is. But the position he taJ.:eoI in
respect of the use of force is importandy dilTc:rcnt in the lhird
modd. Disobedience to a system which is a fair oompromisc
implies wiUingncss to impose one's own ,iews on the as:socU.-
tion. It is an attempl 10 gain, by force, greater say than others
have about .... hat should be done (or, in thecase of disobedience
intended not to atTect a particular issue, but 10 lead to the
overthrow of the decision-procedure in uperatiun and its
replacement by some other decision-procedure, an attcnlpl 10
hitvc greater say about what sort uf decision-procedure there is
to be). This is Jlot necessarily true of dis<Jbedience to a
decisiun in which the Dissenter 'l\1IS denied the participation
that he would have had under a fair oompromise. In the first
and second associations, disobedience is compatible with
willingness to accept a fair oompromise whcrebytone's own
vie .... 'lS hal'c no more influence than thmc of anyone clse)Wheo
there is no fair compromise, one nn disobey in order to obtain
a decision-procedure which does represent a fait wmpromisc.
To dis<Jbc:y when there already is a fai r compromise in opct3-
tion is necessarily (0 deprive othcrs.!lf the say they have under
such a c;:ompromisc. To do 80 is to IC;lve the others with no
remedy but the use of force in their rum.
Whitt all this amounts to is that there are strong rClSOflS for
playing one's part in supporting and preserving a decision-
procc<lure which repre'iCOts a fair C(lmpromise. To disobey
under these circumstances is to reject the compromise and la
attempt to use force to impose one's viev.'S on other:s.. There is
much less justilkation for asking the Dissenter to obey in an
FAIRNESS AND COMPROMISE
37
association liJ.:c the second model, in which there is a peaceful
decision-procedure but no fair compromise. It is true that
disobedience could lead to a breaJ.:down of the peaceful
decision-procedure here lOO, but it need not iOl'Olve any greater
m imposition of one person's will upon tile other members
prior to the disobedience. 10 ask the
Dissenter to obey in such an association is to asJ.: him to give
up his claim to power completely, without any reciproa.l
C(lncession from the other party to lhe dispute.
I hope this is a rca.o;on for obedience that can be
by people who bohl a wide variety of moral views.
lllililarians can accept it, bec:ausc 1 have been arguing that, in
gener.ll, there is grelter danger of undesirable wnsequenccs
if one disobeys a decision-procedure which rcprfiCnts a fair
compromise than if onc disobeys one which dox:s not. For the
utilitarian this may be only a very rough guide to conduct, but
even a rough guide is better than no guide. Those whc:l are not:
utilitarians may oonsider that wnsidcrations of fairness or
justice are additional reasons for supponing a fai r wmpromisc
no fairer outoornc Clm be reached.
Perhaps to pn .... 'Cnt misunden.tmding I should state
explicitly that my argument is not: of the fonn; 'If everyone
disobeyed the decision_procedure would collapse, therefore
you sbould not disobey.' The difficulty with this form of
argument is that C'lerything hangs 00 the degree of precision
with which we specify what it is that we are doing.' If everyone
dis<Jbcyed wbenCl"er they disliked any decision, of course the
decision-procedure would co1Japse. The Dissenter will say,
howevcr, that he disobeys only when there has been a
and seriously mistaken decision, and he may think that the
dttision-pr<K:edure ,,;ould be impro\'cd If everyone did that.
, What f"lJov, .. is a hillhly abbn:vutoo of sn _'1!I'tnent d.,.,.,1opcd
by O. L)'O,," ill book F....u...a LUrrils of (Cbmtdon
Pms, Oxford, 1')65).
38 OU.tOCIA-TIC AND NON-DEMOCRAT IC
The Dissenter may evtn say that he disobeys when there ill a
/hgrantly and ttriously mjsbken decision, no onc or
hardly anyone ebe is disobeying at all. If everyone disobeyed
only in precisely these Clfcumsu.ncc:s. thtl Dissenter an afiUC,
tlu: decision-procedure could not possibly coIbpsc. In tbill
way,:and quite justifiably, the Dissenter may describe hil act
90 that ill its caulIal cooscqllenccs are included in the descrip-
tion. Then, when wc ask: 'What if everyone did as you are
doing?' the answer turns out to be idenunl with rhe aClual
rcsult of the Dissenter's rhi, fonn of argument
bre:tb dOW!J.into straightforward utilitarianism.
If the "-air compromise' argument I hnc given C:ln be
accepted by a utilitarian, it may be thought that it must depend
on the actual COnseqUCllces of d.i80bedimoe, !IO lltIl it is only
if is really likely to 1e:rod fa the brakdown of the
fair compromise that the reason for ObediCllct1 gi\'en will have
Iny weight. Thill line of drought is b:Illed on a false model of
tbe way pulitial IlT30gemenb in or decision-
procedures in putiCUIM, rite and fall. h imaginCll that there is:
some delimle percentage or numb of ;1Ctll of disobedience
which is necessary and $ufficimt to bring about the da..'l1fall
of a decision-pfOadure., and that if Ihis quota is rux rcaebed,
any acts of disobedience _ill be quite ineffective so far as the
stability of the dccision-prOl.:edure is concerned. The model is
that of an eJection-if the candidate does oot set a Ill:l;ooty,
for him an: of no dfca, while if he does gel a
bare number to get him
"'"
nlJ.Nr;ss AND COMPAOMIU
39
... i ll makea directc:onuibution 10 the likelihood of a breakdown
of the decision-procedure. The sitwtion here is like tlut wbich
OCCUI"S when p!"destrians on a hcavi/y-u5od route have the
option of taking a short-cut across a lawn, or going a longer
\\'<I.y round. A few can t:lkc the shorter route the lawn
suffering any damage, but once a certain numba regularly
do !ID, any further ioe:rcase in numbcn nukes a real contri-
bution to the detcriontion of the lawn into a mud-patch.'
Morem-er, while under cenain circumSlances people may be
able tu cross lawn, ",hen no one else is around, and so nom
Sl'lting an example which will increase the damage, most forms
of politically motivated disobedifilce must, 10 fu lfil their
pUrpo!lc, be publi<: or.lt least become known. The possibility
of a bre.lkdown is Iherefore a faCllX for a utiliru1an 10 u.ke into
account, and while the contribution of a single act of dill-
obedience, even including the enmple Set 10 others, may be
minute, the disastrous comequerx:es of a brcakdown of the
decislon-pnx-edure may be ID bad n 10 gin du.t minute
contribution significance.
It would also be a mlsu.J.:e for. utilitarun to assume that Ihe
only undesirable consequences of di90bedience my ugument
points to are those with the possibility of a complete
breal:dowfl of the decision-procedure. The utilitarian conM
sidering disobedience must ilio take into acc::ount the fact that
hill act of disobedience, against a decision whicb he considers
to be bad, but olhen consider good, nuy lcad some of the
others to disobey a dccisiOl1 which the DWenler trunks good.
Thru;, to return to our SpecifIC example, the Di5.senler, in
mnoving TIw N(Jl>1, must bear in mind the clIa.nces of hi! act
inspiring 5OIflcone r:J.sc to remove a magazine, say, PtUU N=s,
which the Dissenter thinks excellent, but others consider I
dangerous sub\'crsivc influence. Even if there WffC to be no
more disobedience aftCl' these nro incidents, lhe loss of PtIJU
I 'fbl. if: .. hat O. LJ<InS ctllo I 'thrfShokI', up. cir., pp. 71- J.
to IHtMOCItATlC AND NON-DEMOCleAT1C MOD!LS
might in itKlr cmmterhiliDOe!.he pins rrom!.he mnoval.
of Tu In the first and second models, one CUI SIlggt:St.
at a 111':11 out of !.hit 'tit ror tit' situation, a dtcision-procedute
lhat is a fair compromise; in the!.hin! modd, Ihi.s option does
DOt e:rist, since those who disobey ha'-e, by their conduct,
rejected iL This isa further utiliwian reason why d*,bedienoe
is more krious in the third model. There is a gnatet' risk, not
only of '10flt1 war', bUI aba of light akirmisht.:S, bt-cause there
is no obvious N:!is fo:r a peace agreement.
We oove been inquiringwhether the faCl: Ihlt a government is
'popular' should be a reason for obeying il, and if so, why. The
mn.'I\\'er I hn-e gil'Cn is not new, If I had 10 re<lucc it to onc
!lrnlenoe, I could nol do better lhan lhe old epigram about
democncy being a mfthod of gm'Cl'flrnent which counts heads
instead of cracking lhem (or replaces buUm by ballou, :IS a
!"ore!"odem pundit h25 PUI it), I h,\'e lried to show why this
IS an ImporWI reason for obeying a gm-emment like !.hat of
lbe tbird model as8ociabon, and 1\'hy it is inapplicable 10 lbe
orbel' models, even if the Leader and Senior Member do
ntlln:lgt 10 rule without Cr.I.d:ing
Although DOt new, the reason for obedience fOf which I have
argued may be in need or re-empfWIis. It tends to be given
liltle importance by many writers on denl()l;ncy, ptthps
because it is not as high-sounding as 90mc of the reasons II'C
had 10 reject. The notion of 3 compromise, many people seem
to feel, it lIOmchow degrading, and inoompJtible with the idu
of acting JCcording to Dlol1l1 principle. This is I feeling which
finds expression in tome antHIelDOCr.ltie writing of both the
Right and the Left. An example it the following pas!Agt: from
the ClAy 'Gl'iJ Disobedience' by the nioetce:nlh-ntuty
American radical, Henry 'fboreau:
An voting _ _ .art ol ", ming,like mmers I)f '-ekpmmoa, .. ilb a
qbt DXnl to ir, a pbying .. ith right and wroag, .. ith moral
quations; and bming rtamr:ally acwmP;lIliCII it. Tbe chancm
'AtleNUS AND CO)IPlO)IlSI'; "I
of lbc: VIltetl _ noutJled, I cut my VOle, perchance as I think rip!'
am oot WI'"'",:d WI"",I ihould pn:v1IiI. I
"dbng to lean IllO,the ma,onty. lis obliption, then:rorc:.Iln'Cl
E\"I:n \ingf.,.. tl.,,,,,,, it'"'" nothing
rot It. It" only apl'e!I$Ul@:lOmc:nfblyJ'Wl'tksire1halitlhoukl
pte\'ai.l A,lI'ise fIWl .will 001: Ie.ve the right to the merq of dlaooe,
IlOl' "ish It to pK\'aLI lbt(lLlgh Ihe PO""I:r or the majority.'
in I sense it thn accepting the fair rompromisc
dccLSIOn.procedure IS a kind or pming, and that tbe obligation
10 do so an never exceed that of apediency, Onc may fed that
on somt: issuCl'l the result which tnlergcs from the ballot boJ:cs
is.so monstrous that one cannn! possibly accept it, c,'co if il
the of a. !air compromise. In this way olle might
wnslder It lmper;rtJ\-e (0 do more ror what one Ihinks rigbt
than merely vute ror it. I ha\'C not denied this, ror I said at the
outSetlhat I wu seeking to estahlish oblig:llions 1'I'hiclr are not
absolute, moor! rClSOllS to be tUc:n inro accoun:, rather than
monl rnsons which ought 10 prC\';iil in all possible circum-
Stal\ctll. But1\-hile I grant that there is thi! allXlunt of truth in
what Tborcau A)-s. I cannot accept the implication that it is
1\'rongtoengage in thegamblcof \'otinll',and that the obligation
of expedicncy is un.wnhyof seriousconsiderJtion by men con-
cerned to do v.hu is right. If the alternati,'e to accepting this
form of gaming is a resort to foo:e, a rt:.'lOrI which is likely to
be bloody, Rnd U no more likely to produce the result onc
considers right the f3ir compromise decisioll-procedure, I
say that is an excellent mor-,d rea90n ror a.ccepting
ralr compromlSC. Whereas Tbotau opposes doing ..... Ilat is
nght 10 'leaving it to lbe majority', I would SoIy tklt in most
cases, if a fair compromise in oper:Iling, there will be nodiffer_
ence between these apparently ahenuti,-e OOUf8>tS of aClioo.
, ' 11. D. 'IlIona1l, 'Cj,i:[ DiIobcdio::Dcc'. Fi .. publifhtd "4'), rq>rinl""
on 11. A. Bcdall (ed,)., CmJ n-7 ....
New Yart, 19'69), P. l2. IISI"" in qnd, I .... '" 'Thorrtou' it. ... ,.
man: fully OIl pp.
DEMOCRATIC AND NON-DIMOCRATIC MODELS
THE PROBLEl>1 OF MINOalTIES
I have argued that a ayAem like that of the third modd
3BSOciation, in which C'I-cry member hu a vote, is a faie com-
promise. To this an imporunt objection can be made. h is
best put by mems of a hypotbctial exunple. Assume that in
our third association there is a minority of people who arc
nurked off from the other members in some Wly-lel us uy,
they .re bbcks., while the m:l.jority are ... hite. Ch-er a period of
time, and at vuious gtnen! IIltttings, decisions are Id:en
which pUt the black members Ilt a disad\":lnlage. For example,
It one meeting it is proposed dUI black members should nOt
oc:eupy armchairs ""hen doing 50 kads to I ""hite member
ha"ing to sit on onc of the less comforl::lbk bc:oche:s. The bbcks
\"Qte against this propcxul, but it is elnicd. The same happens
with other proposals, alld when It 5ubscqllCfll meetings Ihe
blacks altcmpt 10 get the decisions rescinded, they are con-
sistently outvo(ed by the solid white m*rity, Surely all this
makC$ the decision_procedure no mon: than a ttavesty of a fair
comprornJlc.
'The objeaion muSt be accepted. In the circumstanedl
described, it is dear that the fact that each member hu an
equal vole is insufficient to CnSUle that the system operates as
a fair compromise berv.cen all parties. Analysis of the notion
of flirmss helps us to sce "lll"hy this is 110. In discussing Ihe
&imess of the position of the Senior Member in the scoond
:lS9OCiation, I ha\"e alrwiy referred 10 Ihe prillciple of equality
in a minima) or formal !ItnSC.. In consideri ng ...... hether a
decision can be applied uniVCTSaUy, one puu oneself in the
position of everyone affeaed by the decision, like interests
counting alilr.:e, no matter who the person affected happens to
be. It follo .... 5 that in order to hold that an arnngcmcnt is
mon!ly justifiable, onc mua be prepued 10 bold that 3ny Other
arrangement ",hich does not differ from the first
Till PROBLEM or MINORlTIU
43
except in itspect of the position particular individualt occupy
in the unngcment, would aho be justifiable. This means that
white mcrnben would have to be prepared to ao;ept the
arrangement even under the im3ginary condition Ihat their
o",n dins should suddenly rum black. In the circumSlancC!l
descrilxd., ISlnlming that DO significant facts have been
omitted, it i. dCllr bcyood reasonable doubt that the white
majority Clnnot sinttrdy hold that their trealmmt of the
black majority is justifiable. The .,....-y the whites arc treating
the blacks can properly be &;lid tu be unfair.
l\.Iembers ofan usociuion who arc In:ated unfairly tine less
rcuc:n for obeying the of the association
that they ""oold if they were treatcxi fairly. To be morespeci.fic,
If neptive: they do not ba\"e the re;l.soo/or obeclienee "lll"hieh
they would have ifthesysrem didopcnteua fair compromise.
DUI it is imporunl 10 dClcrnUne the enct significance of this
point. If this is nol done, mistlkclI pr:u:tica1 could
be drawn.
When we say that a decision-procedure i3 and openlet as a
fair compromise. this cannot mean thn decision ",ill be
a fair compromise. What it does mCOln is that then "Will be no
tendency or gtncnl pattern of decisions which are Unf3ie to a
particular group. In other words, while 5OfI1e decisioo! may be
unfair to one group, and others unfair to another group,
different groups "'ill be disadvantaJQl by different decisions.,
$0 Wt, taking a lnog-term view, there will be a 'fair diwibutioo
uf unfairness'. 'The obvious question this raisa is: how m:ilny
unf-tir decisions are needed before the coodusion Wat the
$)'Rem is operating unfairly an bcdr:tvrn 11 think thi.depends
on circumstances. One ought to uke into aCCO"UDt nO!: just the
decisions themseh-es, but al90 facts about the community. If
there is a history of to"lll"ardJ Il group, manifested DOt
just in decisions bul .00 in speeehcs by politicians, (X" common
auirudts, it "Will be much easier to conclude that there is
44 D[MOCRAT IC AND NON-DEMOCRATI C MODELS
unfaime5S than ifthcre is no such history, The acnul applica-
tion of the criteW. for. fairly operating system, howl:Va, must
be a matta of judgement in each cue.'
This raises l furtlltr problem, At any time, in every large
$OCiety, there are likdy to be I. number of groups who believc
that tlley are being treated unfairly, As wcll as elhnic minorities,
there 1Ii11 be socio-onomic group$. T n the Uniled Kingdom,
the modcr.lte Catholics ofNorthcrn Ircl3nd arc an enmpte of
an ethnic group lI'hich cbifIUI it has m:ei"ed unfair trc:atmeJlt
over a long period of tilne. (I t.lclude the more extreme
ulbolics, as 1I'd1 as thc Wdsh and Sconish nationalist
menls, 3S they seem to be demanding independence rather Ulall
fair treauncnt.) Farmers arc a !IOcio-ollOmie group, somc of
",bum, at least, also believe they Arc 1101 being t!tlted fai rly,
Both thex groups have committed acts of civil disobcdK:na: in
$Upport of thcir causes, Farmers haye stalled farnl vehicles ill
busy streets, and Nonhern Ireland's Catholies havc 1I'ithheld
tent and r:.ltC8, as v,cll as staging protest marches. There are
manyothc:f groups which may feci they ha"cgood grounds for
disobedience bccaU9C tbey ha"C been consiStently put At a
ilisadYl.Jluge by political decisions. If it is a mAlICt of judge-
ment in eaeh cat whetha the group is bcing treated unfwly,
and we In\'e this judgement to the group OOIlotrnsl, there
get:1115 to be a danger that the reason fOl' obedience for which T
atgucd lI'illloec whatC\'Cr weight il has, since rhereare50 mmy
groups .... hich will consider that as they are unfairly treated by
the decision-procedure, they are nO( at all to obey it .
This WOIlld Jll:Jke it difficult to settle issues involving the
interests of these poups by institutional means. Yet to lc;\'c
the judgement about .... he/\ a group is being treated unfairly 10
the IIUjority, 01' to any body ultimncly under the cootrol of
the lIlajority, is impnmble for the obvious rcallOn lhat the
ID2jority would then be judge in its mm case:,
, For an U1/JIplo:: of such. juda;emml, _the Appendix.
PARTICIPATION
"
There is 110 solution 10 this problem, The decision to be
nudc is about when the dccilioo-proctdure is fum::tionmg
properly, and hence cannot be left to the decision-procedure,
So it must be left to the group concerned, and we IDU. hope
that the criteria I have outlined are sufficiently clear to pra'CDt
tOO many 1I'Wng decisions. The IDOSt lhat can be fnISl,oested as
A safq;uard is the crearion of a 'buffer wnc' by tlle sripubtion
that the unfairness in the operation of the system must be
'unmistakably clear' (01' some similar requirement). If this
were observed, tMre migbt be a few cases of really unfair
decisions ..... hich, because the unfaimcu was OOt
clear, were obeyed '!I'hen disobedience would hone been
justified, but therc would be a subst:lntiat pm in social peace,
In the light orlhis discussion, T must modify the conclusion
of my prt'Yious argument. We can still uy Ihar the fact dt:ll a
system of guvemmcnt operates a.'I a fair compromise bet"eeh
competing claims to po .... er is a major reason for obeying thar
systcm, bllf we must oow emphasize: thc importance of the
5}'SlmI /\01 merely being A fair onc, but operating fairly as well,
in that the majority does nO( use its "OteS 10 lhe oonstant
dwdYl.Jlugc of the minority. Tr 'popular lfO"emment' just
means tlu.t tbe SO"emment deri\'es its POWCl'S equally from all
the people, this alone is 111)( quite sufficient to gi,'c 09C to the
reasons for obedience for which I ha,'c ugued.
PARTICIPATION
r sh:lll now consider thc aignilicaooc: of al\Olher (catwc to be
found in the third model, but not' the others, whieh T belicve
adds 10 the reason for obedience just discusscd. First I should
note, bov,ever, that the fact that a dCClSiOD-procc.dnre is a fair
compromise gives the Disscntu a rtaSOn, DOl just fill' obeying
Ihc d:ision, but also for participating in the decision-
procedurc. Wc saw tllU the C$SCnce of the fair compromise
I
I
46 D!MDCItATl C AND NON-DEMDClATIC ..... DDELS
w;d that neryone gives tip his own claim 10 bve more than an
equal ray in deciding issues, but ret2ins his claim to have an
equalpy. In that "''Iy t'o"try member can have the maximum
influence compatible with a peaceful senlemeoL In ordu to
have thiI: influence, the Dissenter must paroopaLC in the
decisioo-prooedure. Beause the decision-prooedure is a fai r
compromise, the Dissenter ooghttO try to influence decisions
through the decision-procedure, rathu than by some oI.her
metltod inoompltible iL
I n the dCllCription of the third association it "'"lIS specifiC{!
that in discussions and VOles 0\ issues which had arisen
prior to the question of the subscription to T1r4 N{11IJ, other
members of the association had acupted and obeyed decisions
of the association 10 which they had been opposed, bUl which
Ihe DissentCf had supported. Ikhaviour like this, 1 shall argue,
lives rile to :I prima obliglltion on the Dissenter to accept
the decision of tbe association over Tltt Nr.I'J, a decision ,..hich
other members favoor, but to whieh be is opposed. Indeed, I
think it c:m be that the obligation does nOt depend on the
fact that the Dissenter happens to have been, on previous
oca.sioru, on the lTI3iority side. Rather, the Dissenter incurs
the obligation when he participates in the decision-procedure
together with other members who are oppoecd to the Dis-
senter's vie'IIo-s, but prepared to accept Ind obey whatever
decision the majoriry should favour. (I eaU thi5 an obliglltion
and nol. a moral reason because, as is rypicaUy the ease with
obliptions, it is Cf(;\tcd by the vo!unlliry aa of the person
obliged, and is owed to Other people.)
This obliption is not ncoe.ssarily peculiar 10 decisions ITI3de
by a democratic prooedure. It is lile the oblig;lIion 10 abide by
the ruling of an umpire, 1Ifben one has led others to bcliC\"e
that one woulli do SQ, and ... hen they are prepared to accept the
umpire'. verdict, holOner it goes.. Thu. if, in a dispute
between 1 ..... 0 members of anyone of the three uaociatioos,

p .nTIC1PATI(lN
..,rneone suggested submitting the dispute to the decision
of the Leader, Sc:niof Member, or assembled members, as the
cue Imy be; and if both disputing parties had tben argued
their cases befOtt the Leada-, Senior Member, or assembled
there 1I'QUld be an obligation on the Ioscr to aa:ept
the verdict of the dccisioo-prooedure. This obliption would
be the laDle in all three ases. Normally, howevCf, decisions io
the first and second associatiOn>! are not re..ehed by these
:neans., and thcre is no ronduct by any of lhe members of the
associuion ""hieh can be 10 boi\'C risc to reasonable
that hc will a(:(:Cpt Ihe \'en1ict. In thc third
:l8SDCi:uion, on the other hand, all do:;isions 011 which there is
Iny di.ssc:nt arc in a sense de\.isions on disputes betVI'een
amI the participation of the Oissc:ntCf in the decision-
ITI3king process Clll be nid 10 gil'e rilJC 10 reuonable erpecta-
tioM "'hieh will be disappointed by his rrlusalto accept the
verdict of lhe majoriry.
\ I argued earlier that participalion in tile democratic proec:ss
nc:ed not imply actual consent to the $lIlts of that By
likening the obligation to acct'pt a matoriry verdict to the
obliption 1:0 accept the verdia or an umpire, howC\er, r may
now have given the impression dut T have reintroducC{!
consent. It is therefore inlportant to sce how the obligation for
which I :un arguing diffCfll from consent-based. obligations, 3t
least on OIlC pbusible interpretation of the mc:ming of 'con-

The obligation fot whleh I am arguing depends on the fact
that under certain circtlJO$hOcu, aClions or railures 10 act may
justify us in holding a peiSon to he obligtd '" ifhe had am-
senled, whether or nO( he actwlly has. I shall call this 'quasi-
IX/JUCIIt', the prefix indicaling that it is not rnI consent, but
gives rile to obligations as if there were real COf1XDL (Compare
the legal notion of'quu:i-contract', defined by I legal dictionary
as 'an obligation not c;reatcd by, but simihr to th:!t ereated by
.a Dt:MDCUTIC AND NON- DEMocaATIC MODI;U
contnct, and independent of the: consmt olthe person bound'.)'
ChJasi-<:onsent is obviously different from apress consent ;
it is also, I think, distinct from the idea of tacit CODSCllt which
hat been invoked by many of the writen who ha,\'C wa.nti 10
mUe oonsent the basis of the obliSlltivn to obey the gm'em-
ment. If we read what Locke, prombly the bc:st-known of
writers. said about consmt, it seems that even though he
held that there could be consent whidt WllS not expressed in
any way, he still thought of this taCit oonsrnt 3S a mcnw Ict, a
'saying in one's he:lrt' which differed from express OOnsent
only in that it wu not said al oud. So, a,ctording 10 l.ockc:
.. , cvcry IJIln thn huh possession of any pan or the dominioM of
any dodl gi\'e his tacit (OMenI, Ind it as fn
form obliged to otxdienee 10 b,ws of tlgt go'o'CllUntnl doring
Ihit enjoyment, IS anyone under il, .bclher lhis possnsion be of
boo 10 him and hi. hru. f!H'eYer, 01' a lodging rOl' only 1 I',-ttk;
or .... hether it be b1.l'(ly lravelling frcr:ly on the high.ny , . '
Admiltediy, thc meani%: of this passagc is not altogether cle.u,
but on one interprctation it is easy 10 diStinguish Lod:c's tacit
consent from quasi-comcnt. This is clearly PUt
by J. P. P1amenuz:
Locle I8IrumCS thu a mln by lQ(Te]y tnvdling .'ilhin the lerri.
l om of the King ofEnUllnd IUllIIliiy, though IlUjl/y, Igrtt.Illo obey
hill bWlI, I t follow. then that,. journey in Engbnd C(/1llcitutei
promise to obry the King's uws. The promise is I:1ciI bcalJ1e il is
DOt apr=tll in .. wds, orally or in 1t1'iling, but it is none lhe less
promise, The word 'taell' cannot alta Ihe narure of Ihe mnscnl; it
am only iPdic&le Ihe mlTIDCt ofits aprmion. Eimer there has been
COIUICIlI or Ibcl1: bla! not. Lode bc:lie\-a thu there bas.'
, 1', G. Osborn, A Lt,.1 Vo'<fI'tm.'7 (S .. t and MllC'll'CU,
loodon, 5th cd. .964),
J. Lode, Sn .. Tn.n... .. pu. U9,
J. P. Pbm .... ,z, c......t, F ___ ." Pflitk.J Of/i,.,;"" (O.u.P"
Odord, 2:Dd cd, p, 7,
PARTICIPATtali
Tacit consc:nt, then, is a fonn of aaual oonxnL The consent
exist$, as it dOCl in apress consent. This is .It leaSt .. plausible
intb Ihdlition of Lockc. I am DOt concerned to argue that it is
the corm:t interpreu.tion. It has been, al any n lc, thc basis
fOf j(:\'Cf'JI rd'ul3tions of Locke's thcory of obligation, includ-
ing that of Plamtnatz. My CODCtm is 10 make clear the
distinction bchlottn wll2ot, on my vkw. is iIlvolvcd in puticip.-
tion in a decision-procedure, . nd this notion or l.lcit consmt.
, f thcrc arc other interpreu.tion, of Lockc which rendcr 'bcit
consent' in IIlch I .... ..,.y u to nukc it similar or equivalent t<.I
what I mt':ln by quasi..constnt, this does not matler,!IO long as
it is unlkntood that by quasi-conscnt, I do not mt':ln that there
is any actual COI\SCnL
There arc circumst2nCC5 in .'hich bcml'iour m.ly gi\'e rise
10 an obliption to act llS if there wcrt consrnt, even wbtn there
is no actual consent, For cnmplc., a group of people may go
out for a few drinks, One member of the group buys thc first
found of drinks fur everyone, thcn .. second member does the
same, and !IO on in rum, If, after most members of the group
have done this, onc member, who has accepted drinb piid for
by thc uthers., refuses to buy anyonc dse a drink, he will be
thought to have bcba..-cd badly, Onc could $IY that he Jw an
obligation to buy the others a drink. The obligation does not
arise from actually consenting 10 buy drinks, for the nun may
nC'o'Cr have Igreed to do so, either txpre$ly or to himsc:lf. He
may even ha..-c intended all along to ha\'e a few drinb :at the
expense of otOO peoplc. Yet by acting in a particubr way, ooc
may become ill\'Ol\'ed in an obligation to which it is no defence
to say: 'I llC\'er coll9tIlted.' Not consenlIng is nO( enough,
Some positive met expressing onc's non-cOllSeflt would be
necessary. If the drinker had said something likc: 'I'll accept
drinks if you offer them 10 mc, but dllll't think th:.t because 1
do, 1 am going to buy an)'onc else a drink', he could }u\'C
avoided thc oblipcioo. which Othcrwise falls 00 him,
SO OlMOca,HIC AND MDDL5
The ground of the obligation for which I am arguing is that
(he DissICJller, by vol.uow-ily puticipuing in the vote on the
qUC'StM)o of lIhtther TIu Nt,.s should be ordered,
standing that the purpose of the election is to the group
to rt:Ieh:a decision OD this issue, has belu.ved io such a way:as
to lead people reasonably to believe that be wu aa:epting the
democntic process III a suitable means of sen1ins the i8$lle.
Whether or not he :actually, or 'inwardly' consented to this
decisioD-proccdure, he c:annot now be heard to 5301 that he
never :acapted the validiry of the election. Arter the election it
too !;uc to say that onc nc\'cr aceepletl its \';llidity. Others
putitipated in the ekction in good faith. They 1I1)11ld have
aettpted lhe rMllt if it had gone against them. For the sal:.e of
an agreetl do;:ision,--and on the assumption that other partici-
pants were doing the fi;U)lC, they tool:. lhe risk of having to
aettpt a result they did not want. So the Dissenterannot, now
that Ihe result IUrns oot 10 be contrary 10 his own views, ebim
that benc\'e!' r.ccepted thevalidity of the and
is therefore under no obligation to obey it. At the re1a'llllt time,
IUs beha,iour was sueh:lS to leld people reasonably 10 bclia-e
that he did accept the
I should Ay a little more 10 justify my dum that it y .. ;u
reasonable to usumc, from lhe Dissenter's behaviour, cm! he
1CCCptcd the v:liidiry of the decision-procedure. I1 must, I
thinl:., be rcasollllbk to IS8U1ne a)n$tIIt on the part of a puso ..
who vota withoot in 'Uly way indicating that his ''Ote is not to
be tlll:.cn as an indic:uion of consent. This must be reasonable,
not because people who vO(e as a of fact usually do
consent, but becaU3t thes'e is a coocepmal connection between
vOfing and consenting. What .... ould be the serue of ha"ing a
voce if no one ever acttpted tbe n:sul1 of the ''Ote? If Ihi, Wtu
the case, ,tting would be as pointkss:as promising 1mIlid be
if people .... ere no more likely to do what they promised 10 do
than 1\"hat they said they might duo Of course, this does
p",aTICtPATION
S'
nO( mca.n that evttyone who votQ acruaUy consents to this
rnelhod of settling disputes, 'Uly mon: than the conceptual
amnection between promising and doing wtw one promised
means that C"'eryoneactually I:.eeps his promises. It only means
that the normal case of voting must, because of what voting is,
be :I case in which there is consent. This, howa'tl', is eoough
to Cl(ablish tbe point I mnt to make, that it is reasonable to
assume that someone does consent if he voteJ, \'Oluntarily and
withoul indicating that he does 110( consenl.'
It is intetCSling that thae is, in bw, notion which doscly
whn I have s:lid This is lhe
nO(ion of estoppel. The tssentiili of one import:ant form of
cstoppel, Cl(oppel by rqntsent.ltiOll, as st2ted by Lord
Birl:.enhead in a c:ase, are;
When: A has by hili wordsQC' condllCl ju$li6td B in believing that.
CtttIIin of _!fUrs aisu, and B has MUd upon weh belief 10 his
prejudice, A is not permitted 10 .!firm 19ainst B that _ different
st:ate ofracu at the J&me time.'
The effect of this doctrine is 10 prn"mt someone denying
,;(Imelhing which, by his yoluntary behaviour, he led another
reasonably 10 bclia-e. 1n cstoppel, III in wlu.t I hne caUed
quasi-a:msent, the real intention is irniev'Ult;
, .... Siqler, in ' PUtlK1lOtt. on Consent Ind Obliption',
Q...,n(y, ,'01. 18(1968), p. Ihu there: iun .....
bcarftD uiII:,,",," cC free t ltaionl ODd __ by IlUrt
10 the aulboriry cl tilt Iplmt, bill A)'! ' .. oC oourx, thii rncuphysictl_
toundinJ truth it no! even cblc: 10 a jU5titK:ari<ln fOt poIiticol obIiption.'
I bttpe. 1 sIIo_,hat thill truth, it IIIlY IIOt i_ify. con .... ,,1
oDIiptlon does play III impomnt par1 ill jusrifyirc '1''''''; ''11
obIiptiocL. ... J. jalkinl, 'Politil:al Cot:.mt', Q_tnl],
.... 1. (1970), pp. 60-6.
l 1!i. paftllelwu poinl.,j out to me b)t John
M.d .. .,. C"lry [I')lIt] I.A.C. ]16. u P. l_, UL. (hooto;:I in
Spaur, Bc.n .. , and 'l"Irrntr, 7'Iw- 1 ... Rth" .. I. Enl1pri 17 M':'"
.. "nnu.l>tm (lkIumronhs. London, 2nd td, ' 966), p. 4-
P DEMOCtATIC AND NONDUIOCtATIC MODELS
Jr, whate'm" a man', real intention may be, be 10 coodum himself
dial I man would !Ut the- Rpnscntnion to be true .
cbe p.uty IIllIkinB the represcnllltion 1\-i1l be e'IDII!), precluded from
eontuting ill truth.'
The legal doctrine of esroppel, then, as a usd"uJ illustn
bon of wh:lt I am saying about voting. In vming, one's
vol untary behaviour leads O(hers to the rea.o;on.lble belief that
one consents to tll C m:ajority decision. pnx:c:dure. Mtcr the
event, onc catmot say that one never amscntcd- to be
Jtrict.Iy attul':lte, n-c:n if g)'s that pnc: nt\u oonsenwi. onc
is still obliged as if onc had COIUleOtJ:d. ben if a person
consented, and never intended that his action sh<ruld be taken
u im.licath'C of consent, so lung u he km.'W that the purpose of
theclecrion wu tu an agreed decision, t hat ill enough. We
might uY. if "'e were bwyers. dUI under these circumstances.,
you an: estoppcd from denying that you coosentcd.
This account of the oblilfolUon of the vO(er 10 obey the OUt
come of the pnx:ess in which he p.1niciplle!l not opt'n to the
ubjectionll :against consent theorics of obli gation in
a democracy. It is said !.hat by \<Mmg in an draion
I acrually consents 10 be bound by the: results of the
ekaion, but lhill "iew hu hem forcd"ully rtjected on the
grounds Ihat it is absurd to $J.y thal a person who ,'(lIes "glJ;'fS/
lhe successful candidale consents to his election.' Tu tbis
objcaion it ill possible to on grounds simibr 10 thaec
on ,.hich I h3ve b1scd my about the normal cue
of VOImg, that 5ince the pUrpo:lge of an ekction is to select
one of the candilbtes for a position of authority, :a ,uter
who, knowing this, freely lakes p3n in the eltion does
'Pub, B. in F,ftAI. 3 Eld>. 6j .. al p. 66}.
.. Sptoca-, Ikrt.u, and T ...... ,. 01'. tI", p. 90-
SftA. D. LiDchar, EUOIIUbf{o-tnIlJ (Clatmdoa Inm.,Odoni.
'!P9). pp. 14-15: T. (Routkdp. London,

-
P"tTICIPATION
53
CIlllSlCrlt 10 the conferring of that authority mI the person who
rccei\es most VOles, even ifthatshould happen 10 be J c:mdidate
agaitlSr whom he vrxed.
1
This reply, howC\"tr, is not totally
convincing. People IOIDCtimes vole wilhoUl aoc:epting rhe
legitimacy of the tkctoral procedure, simply bec:aU5C they can
see nothing better 10 00. Lenin, for inm.nct-, rquded capitalist
democracy as a men: cloak f01" ClIpitalist rule, but he urged
Communists to 'utilize reactionary parliaments in a truly
revolutionary .... ""11'. &0 as to hasten revolution. $Omeone
less extreme dun Lenin, faced, say .,,ith the kind of choice
citizeru of the Uniled StatCS had in the tq68 Presidential
election5, might have vOl:ed for Ilumphrc:y as the lesser evil,
without coll scnting 10 the elee:toral S)'lItem ...... pr("SC!lted
him with the altemari,cs of Nixun and Humphrcy, and thus
without collllmting to !.he clettion of either candidate.
t
If "\Pot
make it quite clear, oowC\u, that the obligation arising from
partilipatioo does nO( depend on actw.l consent at :lI1, but
mcrc:ly on the oet of panicipalioo. then we are nOt open to
objectioos based on the fact that some voters reject the whole
c:lectOfllI system.
It is worth noring here: that Imny people are aware: (some-
times u a result of careful reasoning, perhaps more: often
intuitiV'Cly) that participating in an election indicakS support
fOl" the electoral system And gives rise \0 (Ul obliption to ao;:ept
ilB rtSlIlt.S. DefOl"e the Presidential election uf 1968. for
' J. P. P\ame:Iutt, in lb: 1968 I'I:M1x1ipllo the..,;:mol 0(
c..-, F,nU. .- PtliJotll/ OHipliM, P. '70. Soc: d!o tbe "me:
lutbor'lAfu uJ (Lonsmaos, l.oociop, 11)63). YOI. ',pp. '39-0t0-
In IhI: limedmon orC_" ""mJ_ ",11 PDhJk,,/Qilj:.,m.. i"L1 rneNR
MId ,-in., tUnilar 10 lhooic "r t.inday &nd Md"bu"JOlI.
This has bo:r;n .... de by P. Siqltl". tip. cit.; by K. ar-.
.. -all,A Coatatull AplJI'I<h I" .. H, 'rOt. u (197'0).
p. }It; and by M. CobeD, ,00 DiIobcdieoce', nu-p/lJMIl
NJU AjfarJ, \"01.. I, ( I'nl). 1'1'. 3" -I:l. Pbnwu.u:.bu bn::n dtkaded
by J. Jtnl inl, OIl. cit.
S4 DEMOCltAT1C AND NON-DtMOC""TIC MODEL!
an organization known 35 Resist, IcptC$Cnling I. brge number
of groups opposed 10 the wu in Vtetnam IUld the draft, ran a
campaign urging people not to vote in the forthcoming election.
In full-jge advertisements, they argued, in put, 115 follou:
(n II}68 the dcctonI. UaLa pre:smu luneriClnJ,nth DO pmena: of
a mcWngful choKe . Thett aro: bmlly I.nodn:r 101'0 mm in
Americ:lll public life .... hose commillMnt to the Cold War and 10
Itep of the Southust Alian dJealation hu been lIIOfe un-
swaYing man t hat of N"1DIIl and Humpluq ... 'The
mo\"(:ment ... refuse<! now to enpge in I. futile lCIr<:h f the 1_
evil; and it ... ill not: patticipate in uoctioning evil by voting for Iny
of the Icadiq Presidential candidates in this eJcaion.'
This w.tCQlCIlt was signed by, among otllers, Nnam Oomsky,
Paul Goodman, Bishop Janu:s Pike, and SpocI:. At
Ihe same time, the Youth Intcrn;1.tional Party (Yil'pies) and
their allies lllicre holding marches and planning to picket polling
pbces in order to support their claim that 'a V(Me for any of the
main ClJIwdates constitutes tacit approvaL of a system rhat
tgn()fCS the viC1\"S of the people'. Uerry Rubin..-as reponed to
have urged people 10 demonstr.ltC their feelings about the
dection by und.tct;sing in polling booths.)> My argument it an
.nempt to show why these people, fetling U lhey did that they
llhouId oot put themselves under an obliguion 10 obey either
Nilon or Humphrcy, ,.ere right to refuse to V(Me.
S<:>meone might 5:ly the Yippics al\d the membcn of Rcs:isr:
could, likc my hypothetical beer drinker, have annOl1flCl
bd"on: voting that they rejected the system in ,,hieh they ,,ere
tbout to particip,l(e amI ..... ould not nca:s&lrily by the
rI:SUllln this ""aY lhey would have incre:lscd the chances of a
IIwnphrey yjaOfJ (assuming that Ilumphrey "":lS the lesser
ti1) without incurring any obligation 10 either I lumphrcy or
, From m*"'nt _ n. intheNno y"tRtN,ufBHh,loOct. 196&.
TIlt Timts, 1 NO'I'. 1968.

ss
Nixoo. To oonsider thls point, let US mum to our simplified
model of a democratic society.
What difference will it make to his obligations i the Dis-
Kntet annou,,", to thc meeting, the vote on The NtlPJ,
that his participation in the vote should not be taken as an
indiCltion that, irthe VOlC goes him, he "ill accept and
obey tkat decision? This suggestion may strike us as im-
probable, but it does smn that the Dis.scntet will then not
ha\"e the same oblig:ltion to obey the ll13joriry decision as he
-.muld ha\e if he had not maoJe the announcemcnt. On the
other h).nd, other members might uk them5<:Ivts why-they
should not make simibr announcemcnts; bllt iflhey did, there
would cease to be :lIly point in voting on the issue, since the
majority ,erdict would not be accepted, anu hence would
decide nothing. Wc hav.: here a SChemltic representation or the
breakdo"-n of a democratic system. Whether or IlOI. the
DisscuIer'S iet will in faa le.ad to the breakdown of dcrTKlctacy,
the Dissenter is clearly taking an unfair position, a position
which aUow8 him to ha\"e a -y in the decision, anu yet not be
by any decision oppos110 his views. This position is
made possible only by the restraint of others, who could
benefit by doing as the Di!>SCnter does, and Ihink they J\a\"e as
good reason to do so as he has, but Iccept the obligations of the
demoentic process beause of a dcsin to preserve it.
To VOle, and yet refuse to be in any w;.y obliged by the reault
of the VOle, is totakean those whoue
to acctpt the decision. It is unfair because it violates a
rule essential to democracy. The Dissenter's reason fOt taking
his special position depeIlds on his claim thll he is right . Hut
othen JUSt &$ sincerely that tlIey are right. 'nle
existcna: of delllOCl"at"Y depcrnls on !.hem SUbordinating their
desire to act on this belief to their sUppori for the democratic
dccision-procedure.
Then would be, for this reuon, a strong case for barring
56 DtMOC.AT1C ANO NON-OEMOCI;ATIC MODELS
from participation in the IkmO(:r,l.ue pr0ce88 those who
announce bcforehmd thtt they do not regard the result of the
dection &S obliging them to the smallest degree, or that they
coniider the process fnuduknt, or Wt the majority has no
right to decide the matter 011 which they are \-oDng. In
pnctioc, of courx, this would be a difficult test to apply, and
it might abo be inexpedient for .nother teason--tl would
afford the dissenters a m&n-eUous opportunity for propaganda
against the 'tynnny' that depri"ed them of tbe Il'lCI5I: elementary
deltlOCOlDc rigbl of This depriwtion would not rnlIy
be tyrannous., indeed il would be in ro:ordallQ,l ... ith the
theorrual principles of democracy, but it woold be easy to
make it appear rynnllOllS.
I shouklll9o no(e d1:l.t what [ have been SlIying applies in I
rcbrively way if \'{)[illg is ,l)}untaty, but
becomes IIIOte compliatcd when \ing is compulsory. In
Australia, for e:umple, one call be fined for failing to vote, 3nd
it would therefore mm ti131 VOling cannot gi\"e rise to Iny
obligation, since it woold not be re:lllOnable to uswne consent,
e'\'en in nornul cues, from a roerced Ict, On the other band,
it is still possible to spoil onc's ballot paper, and so be counted
as an illform.u voter, The difficulty is th3t voting is secret, so
ltut no onc can know whether onc really has spoilt the ballot
paper, One would ha\'e to alUlOuncc that one hDs done so, and
the announccmtnl would have to bc tDhn on trust. A1terna-
tjvely.> onc could tOV{)te mu pay the fiue. 11Im doubtful,
though, whether it woulU be nlXt:S$3cy to resort to rithcr of
these alternatives, for it may be better to regard any UllTee of
compulsion as negating lbe obligation W<lt would otherwise
arise. If so, tll is is I reuon apinst compelling IJCQple ID vote,
although other factors:m:: apin reICVllnt.'
'TIle: imporaoce of ..,oidi,. if YOCiaI is 10 saocnle:lJl}'
kind ot COCISIttISIIIl obliplioo !wo bcm poimC'd ou.t by D, D. Lphad.
!'rH'- '" PNMaJ PIIi",,., (Maaailbn, lAndon, 197')' pp. 11,...').

PAl; T1CIPAT10N
57
Once ag:.in, it is IlO"CSncy to say a liu]e more about the
rC;ailOtl I am arguing for, if it is to appeal to utilitarians, who
may not regard unfairness as bad in itself. It must bc shown
that this unfllimes;s is likdy to have undesirable consequences,
and if this reason, arising from participation, is to be scpanre
from and additional to the 'fair compromise' argument
earlier, it must be shown why participation makes
any diffen:nce 10 the conscqUClU:es of disobedience. I think
it does male a difference in wa)1l. Fim, while public:
obedience will support, and public: disobedience wc::r.ken., lbe
decision-procedure 1\'hc:ther one lru participated in it or not,
panicipnioo, ifknown to others, is likely to intensify the dfeas
of obeying oc disobeying. Consider Ihis amJogy: in a putirular
industry there is a system of voluntary arbitration which is
nornully used to 5':uJe disputes bct\\'een the unions and
empIoYfi1. If I union decides Iha! it 1\111 not submi l its ClI5e
for 11 higher WlIgt: to the .rbitntion SY!ilnn on one uccasioo,
this will wcaken the 5y$Iem to some extent, and if it were to
happen often enough, the system would become redundant.
Consider, however, what would happen if the union were to!:O
to arbitration (in in which the employers were
perpared to a(:l;ept ",hatcver veruict the arbilntot reached) but
then, on hearing the verdict, the union were to decbre it 10 be
una(:l;cptnble, and take other measures to g;r.in a higher wage.
1t would, I believe, require far fewer of the
Ra)nd type 10 dl$tr()y the arbilnTion SYSTem than of the first.
I believe also, although T ha\'e no way of proving it, tha the
same is true in respect of politicsl institutions, This conclusion
probably wOllld not apply to seem disobedience, like the
performmcc of iUegal abortions, but it clearly wou1d apply
to any pcnon or group 1\'ho publicly urgt:d pe<lple to a
certain .... at I n cJccrion. and then publicly urged them 10
disobey the of Wt clcaion.
Tbe sccood way in ,,-hieh public participation makes a
58 DBMOCI.ATIC AND MODELS
difference is that it UOOSCI eJ'pecbtions in others llu.t onc will
aa:epl the result of the proc:ess one has parricipllled in. AI we
have 1ICCn, th.i3 is a rus.mablc apcaation, sioee without
pncnI aeccpt2nC;:C of the rewlt of the proc:ca by tho5:c
participating, the process would be abandoned .. u
obvious t11at a refusal to accept the dcoslOfl by t110se partJclpat-
ing will dis:appomt [hac apcaations in ot11crs, and will aU5C
resentment Uld anger among those: who did p:micipatc in good
faith, ready to accept results tu which t11cy were opposed.
people ha\'e been taken advantage of; t11cy ha\"e been
neated as dumb, honest 5uclr:ers by people . ho seemed to be
acting in sood flith, but were really only using the sy!tttll\ for
... hat they rouId get out of it. This,. if not a wholly accurate
picture, is how many of those who in faith
\\i ll sce the matter, aDd the f:1Ct that the partICIpant! diSObey
publicly -,rill :>ttm 10 sincere votCf1 to be a bnuen flaunting of
contempt for democratic procedures. This I"C!>'ttllment is
utilitarian reuon for- accepting the "mlict of a decision m
which ooc has participated.
otMou.siy, if participation is a reason foe obeying, it is onc
which does not apply to :woeiations CKpInized along the lines
of the first and second models, in ""hich the necessary Jnrtici-
puion is lacking. I should reiterate that C\'cn ir
Ihe point of view of democratic theory those who participate
in a procedure mllst ao:ept iu results (and even here some
quatific1tions have to he !Wile, as we shall sce) from the
brooder of morality in general, this is only one
factor to be taken mlo account in deciding how to act. My
claim is only that il is a lignificant consideration which should
never be ignored, It Imy lIODlCIimcs be overriddcn. In practical
tUUlS, this means Iht il somctime!l be wrong to disobey a
bow which has arisen from a deeibion-procedl,lre in which one
has voluntarily participlted, in circumstances in which one
would be justified in disobeying the same law if one hid not
I .
SUMMAty
59
participated in the system. This is a reason for obeWenoe .hich
is llIuch more likdy to apply in democratic societies than under
other forms of governmenl.
SUMMARY
Our discussion $0 far Ius been confined to modd asoociations.
8y comparing three models, twO of ...... hich were plainly
wHkmocn.tic in their method of gtI'"trDmcIll, ... hile the third
was a model democratic aDociatinn, I Iu,\'e c.umined the
popular bdiefthat ... hile disobtdicnce may be justifiable in an
undemocntic society, tme ate speci31 reaSON for obeying the
11.", in a democracy. Although 50tTle of the tndirional gmund5
foe this belief have proved unsatisfactJXy, I bc-lie-.-e I have
shown that there are at least t ... o signific:mt rasolU for obeying
the law in a model whkh do not apply to otheT
poIitK:al systems. To this extent the popuhr belief has been
oonfinned.
I Iu,'"e said nothmg up to now about the relation betweu
the 11\"0 reuons for obedience for which 1 have aq;ued. I said,
fim1y, that one ought to 3CC1ept a decisioo-procedure which
represented a fair compromise between compel ing claims to
power. 'Acccpl' here involves both participating in and
abiding by the results of the decision-proa:dure. Secondly, I
argued that puticipation in a decision-pr\Xledure, wben Others
Ire p3nicipating in good faith, crCltes a priPfIJ /IJrit obligation
to accept the results ohhe procedure.. Tiling thc$e two points
in COIJjunction, we can see that the first is p3rticubrly important
because it provides a rc:ason for participating in the danocntic
process as well as foe ICttpting il5 verdia. Without thill
reason for participating, the second reason ""-oo[d laclr. grip, in
that understanding the obligation involved in participating
m.ighl lead one to refuse to participue.
O""iously, I have not discussc.-d aU the pos&ible reasons fOf
60 DlMocaATtC AND NON-DEMocaATt C MODELS
obeying the law which are spcdally relevant to democracies.
I have di,cussc<l "hat seem to me to be the main ones, but
there arc many others. Since obeying the bws o( lily political
I)'lttrn i3 one vo'ay of supporting that system, and any reason
onc IllS fot favouring a political system is also a rt;l8(In (or
supporting it, any of a political system of whim onc
appfOtou is a rntOn fOt obeying the b..., of that system. When
comparing democratic and undemocratic politic:d systems, any
advanul.-e5 thllt the fonncr have the biter may be
regudcd as reasons for obeying democratic la .... " 1Ifhich do not
apply 10 non-democratic systems. So any afJUlllent for
democracy, for illStllnCC, J. S. Mill', claim that tbe active role
played by members of a democratic enhances their
dignity I nd C\en their intellcau:1i C2p3citic::s' i3, if , .. lid, a
spcci6cally democratic fur obedience. To discuss all the
spccificllly democratic for obedicncc vo.,uld therefore
involve discussing all the possible reasons for preferring
democracy W Otbtt S)'Stenu of gmunmcnt. To come to a
balanced conclusion onc would ba.e to offset all these reasons
against whatever reasons there arc for prefcrring non-dcmo-
eratic forms of government. Ratha than undcrt:llJ.:c a sketchy
resume of reasons of this sort (only a few of ..... hkh can be
settled wi thO\lt a ,-cry careful study of COIltro,ersial of
fact) I will refer the reader to the literature which exists on the
subjea.' InMrad, in the follo'lOing pages I shall go on to ",hat
scc:m tu me 10 be tbe nm main taSks nccdcd to follow up what
I h"e said so far. firstly, I shall discuss some objections., and
, }. S. Mill, Rqlrntfll-m. c..... <Ill, ClIp. pp. >03- 4 .
Thlt &<=1_ ill Prig t.d: I. Jeuc 10 !'Wo'1
inctudiDc JUCh nirN:tffilth.nlu'1 ch"'g at MiJr. R<trumIQIIN'
C...,..,.""""" .00 ..orb of this a:nt.ury III dilfrn:llI at A. D. U"dsay'.
Eano".u (ClueDdOll PHa, (hrord, 1!p9) ,Dd R. A. 0ahI'.
fu/u, " n-, Wnj.uoit, of QiaCO Pns, o.K:op,
1956).

SlIMMART 6,
make some qualiJications to the conclusions roched so far.
Then I shall consider the c:ttent to which these coocIusiont,
reached by consideration of modcl associations, arc applicable
to tbe forms of gmttnll1Ctl t in those countries wlUeh wc in the
West think of as dcmocracies.

PART 11
OUI ECTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
r PEOPU: disobey the Jaw for A variety of moral Tca$(lns, and the
for m their disobedience lahs v;r.rics considerably. These
different aims and forms make .l difference to the jU8tification
of disobedience, 3nd 10 the extent to which the specifically
democratic reasons for obedience. apply.
In OlIlSidcring these actOB, we shalt often have to lry to
we JlX'Ount of rclevant mallcn of flct about panicuJu
societies. This is ulUvoidable if 1ft . rc to discuss the actual
;usti6c:.lions of disobedience put forward by its pl1lctitioncrs,
Since di50bcdknce U\\1IYS likes pbcc in :a particubr eontCJ:I,
the argumalts used 10 defend i( arc OIX they rely on
various facu aOOlll ltlc society in \1 .. hich the disobalimcc. t:lkE!l
pboe. To ignore these facts ","Ould be 10 givc up the claim that
our arguments are rdC\"3ut to those "'ho participate, or think
about participating, in aCf:il of disobedience.
Our amcem in this put o(the book is with those arguments
in defence of disobedience which deny or overlook the rC:lSOns
for obedience wbich I have argued to democnric
societies (!.hougb I remind the reader ..... e have yet to
oontidcr whether Iny existing 5f$l!:ms of government conform
wfficicntJy to the dernocr..tic model fot the democratic reasons
to bold). I have 00 tbcofetical disagreements with those who
rOgI1ize the rw;ons for obedience in a dcmocncy. but COlt-
si der that vay specW, weighty oonsidcntionJ-fOf example,
the: proloupJ horror of the ..... ar in Viurwn--oot1feigh these
dcmocntic obligations. Whether, in a putieubr case, the
64 OBJECTI ONS AND QUALIFI CAT IONS
, democratic obligations are out\\'eighcd is not something which
C3n be determined in the abstract, 1nd to upect any work of
theory 10 give ;tIlSl\"Crs 10 such questions is to expect more thw
theory alone an give . . ,
-
J.!GIITS AGAINST TUI'. MAJOIITY
There is a mdition in democnlic thought which links dcmoo-
racy with a theory of ri ghts. Majority rule, according 10 this
tradition, is only a part of democney, or al least, of 'consti-
tutional dcnuxncy'. which is the only kind of dem!JCr.lCY
worth tlle name. Just as essenrill 10 democrncy are limits on
the scope offfilljority action, limi ts which lcavctothc individual
inviolable freedoms., bcyO!Id the legitimate reach of the
ffilljorily. Thc classic stalement of this ,;ew is the AmcriClln
of [ndcpentlence:
We hold Ihese uuths tll that men are created
equal; that they ne endo"ll'C<,l by their Crtator with cemin in:Jlien-
able rights; that these life, liberty and the pumrit of
happin=; thJI to"8CC\Irt: these rights, go.,.ernment5 art:
among mcn, deriving their JUSt powers from tM ooll'l'l:nt of the
gu\crned; that whenever any form ofgo, .. ernmentl.>cwmc:sdcstrIJC-
live or Ihese ends it is the right of people 10 alter or to Ibnlish
it ...
It is hardly surprising rhl the belief that dmtocncy involves
rcspca for rights should be must widely held in me United
State'!, but it cm also be found almost e\"Cl'}"\here dmtocntic
ideas are to be found. A powcrful defence of disobedience Cltn
be based on If men have inviolable rights. !lIlt is, ri ghts
which ought nevCl" to be violated, any decision denies
Ihese rights can ha\'e no moral claim to be obeyed. So the
rt.';ISOns for obedience for which I ban! afKUoo must be trealed
as having limits which make lhcm inapplicable when thc
majority decision interferes ",;tIl rights.
RIGHTS AG'AINST THE MAJORITY 65
( In order to discuss this line ofthollgl)t, it will be convenient
to deal separately with two classes or rights: those that are
essential for the preservation of a system of government
sufficiently like that of our third model association to rise
to the reasons for obedience for which I have argued, and those
which;ue not essential for this. I will first consider rights in tile
former group, and to facilitate discussion I will revert to tile
third model association.
Imagine that in the third there is a majority of
members who strongly dislike ecrbin views held by a few
members on how the association should be rUII. Naturally, thl!
few CIIIlIlot put their imoeffect, since they are a minority,
but they hope that they ",m eventually O)Ilvert majority of
members to their views. In order to prevent this, the majority
paSS a motion that no onc should be allov;cJ to speak in support
of these views. What reaction 10 this decision would be in
a(:(:(lrdance with the aspect!> of the decision_procedure of the
tIlird model association which (,>ive rise to the special re:uons
for obeying it? (For O)nvcnien<::C, T shall refer to these aspects
as 'delTlOCf:ltic principles',)
A selective restriction of the right to free speech is contrary
to dcmocf"Jlic principles. Bya selecti\'c restriction, 1 mean onc
whicll picks out rernin views, S:lys no one may spt:lk
or write in favour of these "ie""s, although other ,iews are not
proscribed; alternatively, a selecti,'e n:striction might prevent
some peoplc from supporting any political views at .11, ....-hile
allowing others 10 support w!ute"er views they like. In cither
case, the restriction destroys the fair compromise which is the
basis of dCruocr.\(ic obligations, stuoo it fa\'ours sornc members
of thc society ovcr otllers-some have the means of winning
OdlCf members 0'0. to Iheir viev."S, others do nOlo
A restriaion of the right to free speech ..... hich .... -as not
selectivc but (ota] would appear not to fa\"Our any particular
members oftlle society o\'Cr olhers. Tt is difficult, howe.,., to
66 ODJr.CT IONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
imagine AJCh ;l proposal being nude xrioudy, outside .I
Tnppist 1DOI1aSltr)'. Even the most tot2li13rim Slates bombard
their citizeru ."ith the views of the ruling clique. In 11 democ-
racy, free speech has ohviOl.U in promoting
informed dc:cision-making, wbich is morc Iilely to be right
tban uninformed decision-lTI:Inng. Nevertheless, the idea of 11
loal bm is of interest, bceaux it suggens th2t nOl:
every ban on free speech will be undemocntic. If people wished
to lI\'Oid debating issues almost IS much as tbey wished to
avoid fighting over them, they might aoctpc. 18 :a fair c0m-
promise: :I S)'5tnn in which i$SUe!I 11"erC decided by :I vote, but
no onc was allo,,-cd 10 spcal fOl or II."inst any pfOlXJAl.
realistically, a democratic lOCicry may adopt prOdunl rules
which limit the artKlUnl of dcb;atc on any imlc, 01' the IlII\OIInl
of caf\v:lssing thal any candidate fOt: OffiCC may do. These rules
ate I II restrictions on free speech, bm they are rt5uictions
which apply equally to everyone, no !TUner who he is and what
vjc .... 'S be: suppons. UnLikt lIC[ccth'c rcstrictions,(they do oot
violate the principle oOfair compromitc, and so 00 nO( affect
this democr:l.lic rC1l1On for obedience. Selective restrictions do
vitiate this for obedience. Where there are selective
restrictions on frc:e spoeeh, those considering wherner to
disobey tlo not have to take into accol1nt this specifically
democratic rC3SOO for obedieoct:.
It is perhaps anomalous that the Ill'gument just advanced
applies in a more str.Iightforw;1rtl way to any decisions reached
by the association while the decision restricting freedom of
speech u. operat ive, than to the original motion itscU', since this
motion WOlS p;wcd under conditions offree speech, and there-
fore under a fair It &ms to foliOVI' that
the fairness of the decisiorrproccdureup toand including this
decision is a ruson for accepting and panicipning in ir. and
that this p:z.nicipaUon gives rue to a further uason (oe
obedience, in the normal way. It is only to bIer decisions that
Rl GUTS AGAI NST TIll MAJORITY &]
these rnsGl1I for obedience no longer apply. With rega.rd to the
panicub.r decision n::stricting (Jtt speech, ".e seem to be
forced to say thr.t whi le there are tlemocratic JQSOf1lI for
disobeying (to restore the fai, compromise) then: are also
democratic reuom for obeying. If there is clash hm, all
onc: an Ay is that both factors must be taken into account.
Perhaps they cancel each other out, Of perhaps., as I am
indintd to think, frttdom of specclI is such fundamental
requirement that any rta5(JQ;lble chance of rcstoring it OUt-
wcigiullhe reasons for ohcdimoe. In any case, I do nlll: think
thatlhis cluh indiatcs any serious inconsistency in democr.atic
principles. 'The Ame kind of conflict of reasons may be found
in very simple political doctrioca. If an absolute monarch ... ere
to make an irrC\'OCIbIe gt'LIIt of .11 his powers to an elected
uselubly, the absolutist principle du..r: one ought to obey only
the hereditary monarch cou1d be cited both for and against
obedience to the decision. This problem can arise in m;pect of
Iny IOVef'cign tlccisiol)-procedure, because SO't'Creignry involves
the power to modify or change altngcther the decision-
procedure in operation. If it be decided by decision-procedure
X t11at Y should be instituted, {his wiU
always lead to a dilcnuna 9r somcone who championed X
against Y.
What is true of the right 10 freedonl of speech is also true,
for the same t(aSOll5, of any other right essential 10 the opera-
lion of a decision-procedure li ke lhat of the third association.
Among these: Ire the right to vote or Uand for office, or the
right to fn:-edum of a.'iSOciation and pC:IC(.ful assembly, and so
on. More complete lisu of the righu essential to derraoeraey
can be found in Iny SllIndard ttlt on the subject.' As there is
somecontruversy over the details, I complel:e
list. Some further di5cuWon of ""hat is to count as I rair
'One tudllist can M fow.d in R.A. D&hI, U.P., New
Hann ..... Lo:ndon. 1971), p. 3.
,

68
OBJECTIONS ANO QVALll'lCATIONS
dC'mocnticsyslcm will be found below, in Part Ill. In genen\,
Ihen.' the very llafUfl: of the dcmocntic process involves the
eDslencc of righlS, thc: viobtiun of which im-alidate5 the
reasons for obedience to which the t.h:mocr.l.l.ic proc:css
normally gives Suialy speaking, (he violation will (Wllcss
11 ill a \iolaoon of the right 10 \"Ott) invIlidm oo1y the rcuon
for obedience derived from faif compromise, and DOt that
dcrh-cd from VoJl,llIt2ry participation; but if tbe fair COOl
promise has ce.uc:d 10 operatC', there will be liule poinr in
participating.
- If the qucsuun be put: who is 10 when a right
<'SSCIltiaJ to dCfllocncy has been viobted? the a/lS1Itt can only
be: the individU31. As we 83" in considtring the problem of
minorities, the decision as 10 the of the
procedure cannot be !cft to the diSlon-procOOun: ilsl:leThe
only other possible solution, dIal of ICtting up some body
independent of the decision-prooedure, is not, in practice, a
tttI possibility: UltJln:ltely such bodies must be undn- the
oontrOl of the decision-procedure, for torncooe must appoint
the members of the body. The Supreme Court of the United
State$, for inSlance, has nC\'er really been an effective gtlardun
of minority rights the majority-il has generally
fonowed public thinking after a decent inlcrval.'
When we lum 10 riShlll which are oot essentiml to a system of
government sufficiently like that of our third model 10 give
rise to the re:lSOllS for obedience, the Situation is
diffuml, Among the righl! of Ihis son which people
demanded are tbe right of frttdom of worship, the right 10
attend the same schoob as people of other nccs, the right to
pay, and the right 10 have sexual intercourse persoos
of one's own sn. (The viobtilm of wme oftbese nghu might,
, Sce R. A, Dahl, PIIfT_lirt I. tM UlliltI St.ttJ:C(lfjjfkt.,.4
C...- (llInd Mc. ... olly. 1967). cb, 6.

UGIlTS AGAINST TUf. MAJOtUTY
of course, be part of a polky of discriminnion agaill5l. a
minority which .... ,ould, as explained arlier, be incompatible
with fair compromise.) The right to life can be IX)fIstrued
either broadly or narrowly, so Ihat it may or may not be
essential to dcIUOtr.ltX: SO"'Enlzmnl. Broadly construed, the:
righl 10 life would prohibit capiul punUhrnent under any
cilUlmstatlCC$. A violation of this right, say in cues of murder,
would lIot be contrary to democratic principles. On a IDOr'e
narrow construction of the right to life, only some arbiuuy
taking of life wou!d c(lUnl at a breach. Nttdlns to SIll', some
arbitrary killing would dc:stroy the buis of democfxy---the
Lillill5 of thO!>1e who beld cmain views must be at kast as
contrary to delDOCr.ltic principles as the of IDose
views! So just '\IIhen a right is essential to dcmucracy and when
lIot require Once we h.\'e decilkd that a right
is not CS$I:lltial 10 hOwe\'er, it is clear Wat !he
violation of wch rights dots not destroy the basis of the
dcmocntic IUSlQDS for obedience.' Again, I empllasitt the
viobtion of non-nsenti:ll righb may be!ilO serious as to justify
dillObedicncc d"pitc the dClllocntic reasons for obedience;
my point is only dun in this case the disobedience is 'despite'
these reasons. When the rights violftted are essential to dcmoc-
t.ley, thcre is no for the democr.uic relSOflS to be ovcr-
riddcn, and so a less scrious violation may justify di!;Qbedience,
(There is A further eomplication1to what 1 hl."e just said,
because whc!her wc regard a viobrion of. particular rigbt as
'undemocratic' will depend on our concept of democracy,
Since the term 'democratic' has favouflble eoonot:r.tions, many
government actions ue called 'undemocratic' by their oppo-
nents! even though the aroo", in no way interfere with the
decision-procedure. T1K:rt is nothing ralTy wrong lIith a
brwd alrKlq)t of democracy'. although I think it helps clear
thinking to restrict the term's meaning. If one does ccgard
rights which are not CS#Dwl to a decision-pl'Oa'dure lile tbat
of the third modd association as nonc the less ucmocn.tic
rights, thcn onc oould hold that democ:r1ltic principles (here
the phrase IIl(;InJ IDO", than the principles of the third model
dccision-proocdutt) support disobedieoce against any viobtiora
of dlese rights by the majority. What onc may not hold, I
contend, is the dClTlouatic reasons for obedience gencntcd
by the dccision-9roctdure of the third model do not hold in
1Uch. .. cue. So long as the violations of rights do not undermine
the decision-procedure, these TCUOIIll must be takcn into
aCCilUnt.
The difference bct",,-etn a bfOQd and a n.:uTO'ft. ooncept of
democracy, so fir as the present disawion is conccrncl,
amount!l only to this: when a decision made by a decision-
procedure like dclt of the third mood violates an imponant,
but non-C5$CJ1ti.1 right, Sly, the right to freedom of worship,
I, with my nurower C1)TlCCpt of democracy, v.ould Ay that this
crotCl a cluh bctWct'l1 the special dmlocraric reasons for
obeying (as 1II"C1I as any other rCllsoru fOf obeying there might
be) and the reuon fOl" disobeying, which is (he injuSlice,
hardship, Of viobuoo of rights, by the decision. We
ba,""C to decide which of thC$e roSODS arc more important.
Someone with a brmdu amcepl of demoaacy, who rtprded
freedom of worship as an essential democr:ltic right, would say
in the situation described, there was a cl2h between
democntic principles, some of which obedience, and
some Provided"ll"c arc clear what wc mean
by 'democntic', so tlut holding the brnader concept dDCS not
lead us 10 think that we ean ignore the force of .... h:lt I call the
deulOl."l1IUc n:uons for obedience, the difference 8eC1lUI 10 be
merely '"CfbaL
The substantial issue, then, is tbat the difference between
rights essenti;l! to, and rights not essential 10 the fuoaioning
0( 11 decision-procedure like that of the third as:socil.rion must
be recognized. It does 1\0( mattQ" jf this differeD is held to
lie ..... itllio, or outside 'den:lCKncy'. The difference is importa.nt
beeaU9e, as r have alre.dy said, when I decision is made which
gives onc rClSOD to believe that thc tkcision-proocdurc is not,
or can no JOIlget", operate as 11 fair compromise, there is no
point in appealing to tile dc:ci:sioo-procedure itself to determine
whether- this is so. Hence thue is no raJ alternative to
those Q()Qcemod to decide fOl" themselves. With suspc:cted
violations 0( rights which are m)( CSICIlUal to the fair operation
OflM decision-procedure, ho"ever, it is possible to leave it to
the dccision-pnndure !O resolve what righu to be
respected. On practical grounds, there is good reason to do so.
A vast amount of the norm.1llegislation of.1 mooem govern_
ment an be seen as.1 viobtion of some right or oLher. Segre-
gated schools are tu moot of us a violation of I ri ght to
cqu.1 trealmenl, but 10 some people legislation against
!lqpegalcd schools is .1 vioI.ttion of a right to $(:nd one's
children to school. one wants, Of an inliingement of
the right of Lhe loa! community to gQ\"ttn itself on these
matters. (I think it is Plnly because """tg:uion, as pnttised
In the Amtt1can South, a cleat" indication of unf:.tirncss
towvds a minority, and thus viobtcl the dmlocn.tic reasons
for obedience, while the right to send one'. cllildren !O what-
ever school Ol1C "I"ants is not eo;sential to the dernoenti<:
procedure, that ci\il disobedience against segregation 1II"lI$
justified, but the disobedienee of scgrtgationists against
federal intqrntion orders was not.) totinimum wage legislation
has been seen as contrary to the right of freedom of contract;
fluoridation u a violation of a right to refuse medicinc; some
people think that leg.al abonion disrqards Lhe rights of the
unborn, while othas demand abortion u 11 'ft"Omln'S right 10
control her own body; e-ocn taxation cm be uid to infringe the
right to property. The list is endless. If a dCJnOCrJ.tic dccisioo-
proctdure IS tu perform its funttion of resolving dispules
ptIIcd"ully, the individU:ll must that lhere are $lIODg
OBJECTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
rasons for allowing :a fair dccision.pn:x:edure to detmnine
which of these alleged righu are really 10 be treated:as rigbt8. '
So my conclusion is that the reasons for obedience ""hich
hold in democr:atic aocieties ut not limited by any theories of
rights, except ""hen the righlS infringed ate CRiential for the
continued aistcnce of the dccislon.-procedure in the form
which gave rise to the rnsoJlS for obedience.
Di$ODEDI!NCI: ,oa PUBLICI TY
f"The ICXImple of an in of disobedience which I discussed in
connection ",ith the simplified models "':IS an act intended to
prco.CJ\I, physically, tne cmying oot of Ihe decision of the
association. In discussing this eumple I hl\'e written as if
disobedicnoe is al .... 'I)s like: this, I lwl)1I an attempt to fortt the
alteration of a decision, or make it impossible for tlle decision
to be eKecrl,e., I mU$( now ackn()1l'\edge that disobedience an
bke othtt forms. The rest of tllis part of the book will be
amcemed witll forms of disobedience which do not invoh'e
coercion. My tim ,..il1 be to assess the difference the form
disobcdiem;c bkcs h:15 on Ihe democratic reasons for obedience..
I shaU begin by quoting ftOm an articlc written by Bcrtrand
Russell in support of the canlpaign of civil di sobedience
txgiInized by the 'Cl)mmince of 100' tgaill5t llritisll f1 ude1r
policie8. I quOte at some be<:ause Russdl's is a'U
Tbrx ImlIrb In. relenm: 10 R. Dworkin' rude 'T.kq R.;;:bu
Seriouslr'. y .... Rnli ... " BHh. ' 1 D. '970. Probably the
fimdunmul d.if'unw;e =J poIitlon q:I Owortin. ill ....... the
narwe ofri&hrs,:lQ -...c WI I QI.QDOC propctty btre. Wmt I Cln
ay it dUl CTtn 011 Dworkin'. Yio:w of,iam.. .bile. pc:o.-. .... y at .... ).
bin ril!ht to disobty whnllhe Itl!t infrinscs rishI of his, 10 II:>J I.h;.
lel.ya IIDIOUChtd ,he qlleliUon of . -babtr he OOIht 10 a.m.: lho' "lot.
So if _ acoepKd theory of "'hu IOLe lhal of Dworun. I wuuld mu
ape t1111 tbe 6e!.x:,.tlc rCHOnt for obc:dio:"Oi' COUnllp;..t tll:l"Cizio:!l
the rie;bl lO cIiIobq.
-
DtS08!DI NC FOR PUflL1CITY 73
(articulate defence of disobedience in a OlUntry generally
regarded as democratic. Mort recent defences of di sobedience
havc IlOC always bn as arefully muoncd.
1lIose .ho stud,. nuclc:ar .... and the probable CI:lUt8e or
nllClcar..-at arc divided inlo two c\as$a. Then: are, on the-onc hand.
peo;ople by smwnmenrt. and on the other hand, unofficDl
pc!Ople who are It(WltecI by. re:oliution of the lbngtrl and caru-
u oplKs 1O'hich are Plb3b11: ir J(R'C:rnmcmal policies remain
unchangcd.(Thc:n: an: I number or in disputt) I ",ill
IIXnOon a few- of than. Wlut a the likelihood of:l nudar 1fU by
acriIknt 1 Whll is to be f(aml from f.l1I"iIU11 What j HopoiUton (If
the population i<I lik-:'" 10 an 11l-out lIuclear ...... r ' On C'o'ttJ
one of these IOdepcndcnt itudmu find thll offICial
and poliq-inalen Ji''f: InS....-tn 1Ohich, to the unbiued
inqws:.r, IWC',.!! murderou&l.1 misle>dins:. To llLlle
kno"n 10 tIx grn1l don --;-hll indepcudmt inquUns bcliC\'f:
to be the trllC lIuc .... 'C1', to tbe$e questions is a "ay difficult matter.
(
wbtre the: tnllh is dlflicuJl to UCfttIin Ihere it a ""tunl inclin><tion
to trust the officU.lau!borilies. Tha is mpeci:lll" the CIllI: when whot
they U51en enabll!!! people: 10 dismi!lll uneuina>l IS needlessly
Ibrmi5l. The INiac organs or publici ty fed IhclTlKh"e5 pt." of the
and are ''f:ry rclucllnl 10 tlke I course which Ihe
ut.lbli shmo:nt .... iU frown on. Len! and (rUSlrlling upt'ricnce has
pro\'td, 1(0 tht)5le arnU!1 us who hlVe et\d(awlln:d III un
pleas:.lnt btu .... n. tMt methods, al one, arc insuffidmt.
D)' meaN of civil diJuboJicncc: . I cuuin kind of publicity bwomo:s
po!1'Iibk. Whit wc do is reported, though as far IS J'lOSSiblc Uur
reDOns fOf ,.Jut wc do In: not menliUnro. The policy of suppressing
0111' fQ.S()ns, however. h:u onl), \'Cry p"rti.d succcss(M.an)' people
are to inquire into qUdtiom "hich Ihey bun..-illing to
iplOt, Many people, cspeci:lUy alllOl1llthc young. come to share !he
opinion IlIot gO\'f:rnlJ1(nrt. b)' oflies a.nd cvlllioru/., Ire luring
whole: popub.tions 10 daU'UCtion. It $111$ not Ihat. in the
end, ill ill . lible popub.r movement of Pn)tCSI *111 compl'I
gowrnments to aUow theu subjects to oootinue 10 nisi. Oil Ihe
b3sis ofkq: upcrimcc, .... 'f: .re OOQ\ind that this obtea cannot be
7. OBJECTIONS ANO QUALIFICATIONS
by law .... bidin' merbods alone, Spea.king (oe myxlf, I
nprd thill IS the most imporunt reuon (or adoptins ci:ril di$-
obcdienoe.'
For the purposes of discnssioo, I WU assume that the facts
ate u Russcll states them to be iD this pilSSlge.
The first point to ootice is the impomncc of the issue. The
iuue in this poJicieI and the por;sibility of
nuclear ", .. r- is ohIilllWY 5ufficiently important to bring dis-
obedience into considention. Secoodly, there i. the point dl:l.t
the government h:lS a grC:.lt advantage in putting it! case to the
public, partly bccausc the true facts are al3rminr and pcop\o.
prefer not 10 be alarmed, and partly beause tile major
organs of publicity are bi2SCd in favour of the government.
RUll$CU'( condusion, confirmed by experience, is1th*orthodox
mctbot.ls are to gai n the dissenters a rtaSOnable
hearing for their viev.y Gvil disobedience, Russcll c1aill)}, is
thctcfore justified bcciusc it will help 10 pin a fair h'euing,
denied, to a dissenting group on a matter of SUprt'fl1e
importance.. The final goal is 3 popular IDOvement which ""ill
\eld to a changt: in government policies. It is not enrin::ly clear
whether this lIIOv<:mem is expected to work by constitutional
methods,once I fai r hearing has been obt:lined by ditJobcdience,
but to simpl ifY discussion we shall assume that this is the case.
The kind of disobedience for which Russellargues, then, is
lll(lt an atlcmpt by a minority to coerce a majority, It is a means
of presenting a cue to a majority, an attempt to perwade
r:tthcr than'lO COt"';. Russell is, in elfca, appealing to some
princi ple of fairness, claiming that the difficulties and dis-
tortions which his views h:lve to 0l'ttC01DC in reaching the
\'Otcrs through normal channels are 10 great u to destroy the
"Chit Difobtdimce and lhe'I1t=t ofN,od.,,,r W.,f.,t', lint pIIb-
li:IIbcd in C. Urqubut (fd.l, If Mu,,,. (Cape, 1.oodoIo, 196j).1JId
rq>rinttd ia H. A. &doll (<<.1 Ci .;} .. TIwry" Pr.clllt.
1'1'.
DISOBOIENCE 1' 0 1 PUBLI CI TY 75
1wiI o(tbenormal democntic reuons (Of obedience. We hI .. -e
seen that (ait compromise requires tlut there be no biu in the
way in whic:h differing views rCKh. the members of the: socidy.
Ru-U'. disobedience, far (rom denying the democntie
.- reasons (or obedience (or which I have (;,n be KeD as
a way of remedying defects in a systt"Ul. which. in pnctice, has
depaned from the buic conditions on which democracy, and
the democ;r:uic rnsollfl for obedience,
( The principal diffieulry in usessing this kind of llf!Umml is
in deciding what constinJ!C9 a sufficiently unbi18cd hearing for
differing views) Oue and superficially IIIIJ'lCtive ansv;er
is that formal frdOnl of expression is all that is needed.. So
long as no one is legally barn::d from cxprtaing whatever
poJitic.al "iew5 he likes, the requirement of equality is satisfied.
RussclI, of c:ourse, would deny this. He points out that in a
large 5Ociery, 'the nujor organs Of public;ity' have much more
inRucnce than onlinuy 'unofficial people', MortO\'tr, Russdl
Ay!., tho:se nujor ocpns of pubooty ue part of the Esf1lblish-
mtnt , and so pred.isposed tOwards utabl.ishment vieW3.
Ruswl1 is 5lI rely right to d aim that formal freedom is not
enough in a society like OUB. The proprietor of IlllUior news-
paper has a btHer opport UJl ity of influencing government
decimons, should he so desire, than the man on a at
Speakers' Corner, even though Itg:lUy Ihey have the same
freedom of erpression, It might be saill thlt equality ill pro-
iiCrvcd bea.use C'o'eryone has an equal opportunity to become
the proprietor of 11 major nev.'$papct, but this is untrue,
because inherited Iliea1th, or better stiU inherited ncwsplpet
holdings, certainly make it easier, In any ease, C'o'en. if an
onIinuy worker muld work himsel f up to be a newspaper
proprietor, he would then DO longer be an ordinary worker, SO
dw the views of workcn might still fail to find exprcssilXl.
If formal freedom is not enough, what constitute an
adequate hearing ? nCYCT spells thiu!!!t.
76 OBJtCTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
(" 'I'beR if a ttodrnty for dissenters to take lhe fact tlut their
view has not been accept:ed by dte. public as evidmc:e that iliw
not been properly presented 10 the public. Thi.;, obviously a
mistake, Lbough onc which is hard to ;1''Oid if onc is convinc:ed
that ooc'. 0"' 0 vP is indisputably 00fff{9 Russdl
"" "" AldlS'!!gb it m:!.y be a !iu]c
q ll!suncc ,,hleh may 1ICn"C. to
I . mistake. In
RUS!le1l wrote:
... clle COI'Ct$ thu control opinion are heavily weighted upon the
sidcQftherichand powerful ... TheignonnCf:orimportlnt public
men un IW: .ubject ofnudf:l r w;lTfm: is utterly iUlounding 10
"'1\0 hive mM an sNdy ofthc lubject. And from publi<:
men Ibill igncnnee trickles do .... n to '-ome the voice oflhe pcopk.
It is against Ihis artificial ipor.mQe thllt Out protests lte
dir:l:cd. I wilt give fe .... insunca of this astonishing ignonnce:
... the Prime MiniHcr rcctruly m tcd .. ;thom Iny qualification
Ihlt 'Ihere " i ll be nn .... r by aa::ident'. I Iuo\-e flOC <XJd:le KrOSS onc
fIOfI-1'J'Vm1InelU eqla1 who W srudicd Ihis itllI;ea ,,-ho doa: DOl
Ay the C. P. SnoW',.,..bo has an uaptiond right UISpeU:
.. ith Aid in a recent anick 'Within allhe moot Itn years,
5QIIlC of these bomb. are going oK. I am 51}ing this u
as I em. rUl is I catJinty: I
T()(lly, with the benefit of more than ten yeus' hindsighl, wc
arc 1I00like[y to fed so sure that the influence of the rich md
powerful produced a 'mas.si\"C .rtificia[ ignorance' which was
mlponsible for the rejection of the vie," of Russdland Snow
00 the likelihood of an accidental nuclear war.
Can we Sly Ihat if the mass media allow dissenters opportuni-
ties 10 putlheir 0.11111 case, this will be sUfficienl to ensure a fair
heuing ? Then:: are difficulties even with Ihis idea. 'il'$II,. what
Fint pub!i,ba! '9'6" IqIrinlcd in TIte "1II..",,1t7 ., Btr", ...
R ... n, YOI. J (Allao oad Un-m, London, .96\1), pp. '41-a, _pba';' in
oriJiDaI.
DISOBEDIENCE POll PUBI.I CITl' n
views an: to. be included, and how much time or spgce an: the
propoomts ofthcsc views to bepven 1 To give equal time and
Iplce 10 every possible vie-oJ might seem 16 be a 'fair c0m-
promise' but il would probably mean that no onc had enough
time or space 16 dcvdop his vie", .. properly; n6r is it 6bviously
a faiT compromise if vie," held by onc perIOn bne as much
c:ovenge 15 those held by milIions---indced il would pay
political parties, under such a system, to. disbllnd and present
thcmsehu as individuals each holding dightly dilfercnt
Yet once we abandon This simple eqwdity, how can bias be
aJrai&led! If we wished to pn:senl, say, 11 c.overa.ge of vie""s on
tbe wu iu Vietnam, do we limit OUI1iC!\-esIO reprc:scntative9 of
those for and against assisting the Saigou Government, or do
we inelude lOOse Wb6 "ish to assist the National Liberation
Front ? It SIrui impossible to produce any gtllera.1 principles
which can answer this kind of question. Naenhcless, in actual
RlWtiOM it tn:Iy be possible 10 say "hen a puticular view has
had a fair hearing and when it hu I\(l(. In the cue of the
American debate on the wu in Vietnam, for instmoe, it would
be reasonable to. say lhat opposition to I.he v.':u did 1\(l(.1I first,
geT a hir hearing. In lhe tuly sixties, lhe mass media tended
to brwd opposilion as 'communist-inspircd' or 'unpatriotic',
and the b'O\'ttnmcnt seriously misled the public about t.he
nature and e:nefll of American involvement. [t w:ls, I thinl,
reasonable to claim at that time th3t disobedience was needed
in order to put the case against Ihe Wilr 16 theAmerican public.
Dy the early seventies, however, the situation Md eMnged,;md
disobedience for publicity purposes could nO( be ronsidcred
ncecssary. Jo'or whala-er reasons (qui te possibly because Qf
eulier campaignsof disobedience) the ease apinsl the wu has
been 'W)' fully prcsrotcd by the media, and infOnIl:ltive
pcmmenl documents on the war been published
mostly without goo.emment pcrmissioo). The fact that
the ease againu the ,. .. r has now been adequ.kJy presented

"
OBJIECTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
does nCM:, however, mean that the cue in favour of cootinuing
ArrN:'ican assistance to thfo Saigon Government has nOl:
rttrixcd adeqUlue I;()Vtnge.l. TIu.t would he an unreasonable
claim} in the race of the wide coverage that has been given to
lhe of the Nixon administration. The American coverage
of the Vietnam issue ill the early sevenlics sugc:stS, therefore,
tld.t :adequate presentation of opfM*d views is
A deeper objection 10 the po6Sibility of" Atisfactory pre-
sentation of radical vie\O'5 on the mass media h2.s betn m:ade by
Hcrbtrt Mucuse. \I'ho bdie\'eS .hal to1entnce itself can be
repressive. Accordillg 10 Man:use :
",ithin lOciuy, even ptogJts:AVC lIllI'mtlenbl
chrClIen to !Um into llxir oppo&ite to the degrft to 'A'hich tMr
a<Xlept !he rules o/' .he ",me. To take I mOll conU'O\'usi.u cue: the
eurc:i!le of political rights (such u voting, letter,,';\;ng 10 .he pn:a,
10 Senaron, etc., prolest-dcmorutnllions "im /J /'T;ori mlunci:ltion
of countel"ioIcnCC') in I society of rood adminislrllion 6Itf\'eS 10
strengthm this adminismtion by lesrif}i nIJ 10 the cxislencc of
dcmocnti<.: IiWtiell .... hicll, in raliry, I!Jve dunged thm conrentmd
b:t thei! cffecd\..:new. In IJUCh cue, freedom (of opinion, of
of iipCCCh) bmlmta In inlltrumc:nr foe Ibsohing servitude.'
'!be core of 1tb.rcuse'a argument is that while liberal views
of tolerance were 'based on tbe proposition ttut men ",ere
(potent;'a.!) individuals ",ho could lcam to hear and see and fed
by themselves, to their own thoughts, to grasp their
trueinteresuandrightsandcapabilities .. .', pcoplein modem
Clpitlllist societies Ire 'manipul.ued. .nd indocuinatro indivi-
du;us who patrol, as their own, the opinion of their masten. .. '.
Hence, Marcuse thinks. the r:uion:lle of tolennee no longer
prevails.
l\larcu5C may .... e:1I be right in hisaiticismt oftbe tnditiooal
ToIcnn' in It P. Wollf", H. Moorc,.nd H. A
c"rif/ot t/ I'wr TWrUU't (Bncon rn.,lloiIon, 1969), pp. ')-4.
'Ibid., p. 90-
OIS08!.DI!.NCE POJ. PUHLICITY
79
liber:ll vie:w of tolerance, the view in Mill', 0,..
Latrty. It is by no means as clear .. Mill thousht it .... as m.t
unrestricted tolerance is the sutCSt road 10 truth. Wc should be
prepcirc:d to rice the possibility that Mill's optimistic liberal
argument fails. We must then uk whether, in agreei1ll1llith
MarcuJC thu tolerance may fail to lead individuals to a true
appreciation of their interests, rights, and al*bilities, 'll'e are
committed 10 qreeing that tolennce ought to be restricled;
that as Marcusc: suggests, 101ention of spctth and as5mIblJ
should be .. ithdn.wn frum 'groups and movtmmts .... hkh
promote aggressive policies, a rpmIV'nt, dwJvinism, discrim'"
nation on thegrounds of nee religion, or .. hich oppoge the
CJ(tcnsion (If public scrvi:!l, .,ru,1 SClCUrity, mcdica.l Clre,
etc."
I think ,hilt Mareuse is in error wbm he assumes th.af
rqw.iun of the liberal belief thlt tolerance leads to truth
implies a rc;e.:tion of toleunec itself. This seems a str:aight-
f0f'll1lrd step for MueuIC bec:aUIiC he accepts the Iibc:NlI idea
lhat the aim of tolCJ1lncc is Irtllh. This idu is, I a
misuke, onc duI parallels the belief that, lxause the opillion
ofthc majority is no more likely to be ri lrht th.an the opinion of
the: minority, there can be 110 iuslificatioll for a democratic
system of b'Ovcrnmcnt. Just u in this case it seemed 10 me th.1t
the justiriCation of a democratic dcc;ision-proceo:!ure depended
not on its prn'ipc:ctS of being right mOre often than any other
procedure, but on its advanl:lgc5 25:l basis fOr a fait, pcamul
means of scnling so DO\\" I would argue dill! tolerance
is to be justified not as a mCilns of reaching the truth, but as a
nC<:t'S&lry concomium of a pc.oeful decision-procedure, md
abo as a form of compromise in ir,elf- tlw. is., as a way of
avoiding di5putcs over 'll'hich viC1\"S should be allowed free
exprosion, and which banned.
Once .pin, this may seem a miserable, Ibjea justifiatioo
, ibill, p. ' 00-
80 OBJt:CTIONS QUAI.lPICAT IONS
for SOffiI!(hing as important as tolerance. 'What r (I inugine
Ihe reader uying to himself) 'Does be think ",tll;", worth
fighting (or r If 'figbting' hen: means literally fighting to the
dn.th. tbcn I do think almost any reasonable compromise: that
SUbSlirutes 50ITIt ICSI deadly form 0( oonlC8t is preferable.
Moreova-, n-.:n if I do not Ihint lhat toicntion is 11ws)'S the
swat I"OIld to truth, I think Utal tbe viewJ I rqp.rd as true (and
nunyoflhcsc Mareuse 1Il)IJld aboacccpl) have a better chance
of prtvlliling undc:f o;)TIdirion, of tolerance than lbey \II"Ould if
tolerance line abandoned. For if tolerance were 'frilhdrawn,
then: is nu KaSOO [0 bdio::,'c it \I-QUid be ",itbdr::!.v;n from jUSl
those groups ..... hich I, or Mal'WSe, oppose. On the cootnry,
men on the Right think tolcn.nee should be withdrawn from
groups I and Mucusc: (.\"OUI'. The only ny Marcusc could
get his paniculu wrsion of restricted I.oler.mce inlo effea.
would be by a resort 10 force; and in Ihis ki nd of oontl'SI, the
Righl the odd5 sr.cl::cd much more dearly in their fl\'Ol1l'
than in thecontest of under conditionsoftolennce.
Tolerance may be no sure road to truth, but truth is stiU Ia:s
likel y 10 emerge from. resort 10 {on::e.
Let us rerum, then, to Russell's defence of disobedience as a
means of obuining a fair hearing. Wc have seen thal althouljh
it is possible for dissenting views to obtain all adequate hnring
C1o'en when the media are in the hands of a few priwte concerns
(as in the cue of the Americ:m ttJVcllIge of anti_war views in
the Cldy seventies) there is also a danger that dissenting vic""S
wiU be denied such a hearing (15 in the Cilse of the views
a fel\' years earlin). Unfortunately there seems 10 be no general
principle 'A'hieh would elUbJe us to decide when views are
getting an adequate hearing; again, this must be left 10 judge.-
ment in each case. Assuming, tMugh. that Russell .... -as correct
in cbiming that the case agaJn!lt nudeM ..... npons had not
mlti''ed I fair bearing, the argument put fo ....... ard against
disobedience 10 a docision-proccdure which represents il fair
OISOBtDIENCE FOIt PUIU. 1CITY 8.
compromise would IlOI apply to the nm.l of disobedience
defended by RU55CU. Russdl clearly does not adnlClte dis-
obedience as a means of coercing the majorily, and be dOCi not
withdraw from the idea of a fair compromise as means of
deciding issucs-indccd, a.wc have j\l8t Sttn, he cm appeal to
this idea in I;Upport of his actions.
It might be thought, howt-.'tT, that the following argummt
can be brought apinst the use of disobcdicnoe: U il means of
presenting a case. I f such disobedience really is an effecrh;e
fonn of pubHcity, anyDOe -with a cause .... -hieh he fcels is DaI
being adequate consideration by the public may use
disobedience as a form of publicity. Othc:n:, in order to seaJre
an equ111y effccti"e prcsentatioo of their case. will h2.ve
Cljul.l.ly good grounds fOl' retOning to disobedience. Presum-
ably, if disobedience becomell 1.llled in this way, the
novelly of this form of protest will dwppea .. and both the
medi3 and the public wlll pay less allcmion to it. In order to
achieve the ume effect U was prC1o'iously obl:tined by simple,
nort-violent disobedience. the !JC'ale and nature of disobedience
,,;11 have to be escalated. Tbcrc will come a time when non-
violent disobediente receivts little publicily, but violent dw.
obctJicncc, if on a sufficiently gr:1nd $I::Ile, om ne\'er really be:
ignored, tnd SO will always be publici:tcd. (In tile bit sixties,
this seemed 10 be happening in dIe United Stltes, but the
pt'0CC5S now appur 10 have abated.) Tn this "'ay, CVen
disobedience for 5lIJ.:e of publicity, it CQuld be argued.
carries within it the IIttds of dClilrooion of the: tklllOC1llltic
process. Just as with di90bedienee designed to coerce the
majority, democratic principles must !cid us to reject dis-
obedience for publicity, for the deruilm-prooedure
may break into I system in which issues are dmdcd by
the ability and of Ihe disputanlS to use force and
violence.
This lind of argu1l1Cllt fails becr.use it is possible to draw
82 08J[CT10NS AND QUALIFICATI ONS
limits to lhc kind of disobedience compatibJe " .. ith fair c0m-
promise which will exclude thOK fornu of dilobedience for the
Aloe of publicity which do threaten the conti nuance of the
demoentie process. Fintly, if lhe aim of di50bediencc is to
prC8Cllla cue 10 the public, tbm only such disobedience IS is
nee "y to prC8C:Dt thit case is jllStified. 1be democratic
requirement of free:wd f .. ir prtStntaticm of:ill views does not
demand oonSbnl repetition of any onc vicw. This sc\'erely
restricts thc amoum of disobctlknce which can be justified on
thesegrounds.(As I shall argue shortly,howcver,disobedience,
in some form, rru.y still be allowable in ocder to danonstrate
sincerity or iUtngth of fttling.)
Next, if disobedience for publicity purposes is 10 be com
patible with (;lir compromise, il must be nonvioknt. It mUllt
be nort-vioknt, not just for the uclical reason that violencc is
likely to rundcl' the wk of persuzion, nor because: l-ioknce in
itself is wrong, but because 10 use violence ill 10 oblitenrc the
distioction hctween di:o;obedience for the sale of publicity and
disobedience designed 10 CQen:c or intimidatc the majority. It
does not matter that one Dlly be dcu in one's 0T0'll mind that
onc is not intending to coaec the m:Jjority. From the point of
view of the pUblic, violcnec is inrimiduOl'}' and Tbe
onus of making clear the persuasive and non.ooerch't naNlC of
his disobedience must rest on the ptrlIOn disobeying. I
think this onus can be dischuged only by non-violent t\i$-.
obedieocc.
The woe reuoning JIIggC:Sts W I C\'CIl nnn.vioIcnt dis-
obcdieocc wrueh CllIISeS great inconvenience to the majority I or
makes it l'try difficult fIX" the decision of the majority to be
implemmttd, should also be avoided. For even non-violent
dilobediroee rru.y be an attempt to (:()trce the majority. When
protesters against conscription refuse to register for milibry
service, and cnpge in s campaign of sendingin false registration
forms, thdr aim i5 to force the ab:.andoning of the conscription
DISOBEOI ENCE rOil PUBLICITY 8J
prognmme. The object of recent Clmpaigns of this SOft in the
United Stales and Austnlia hu been, as thc prottsttrs hllYc
procb.imed, to 'fudr: the 6)'Slcm'- to make it impossible for
the gD\'tmmmt olflciili conc:emed to do thei r worle, and thUl
to a.use the brtakdo_'ll of the machinery of conscription.
Disobedience of this IOTI, though non-violent, is 1.0 attempt to
c:otICC and not to pcr5uade. Should other major groups of the
community employ similar means, the democratic decision
procedure would brcU down, a111lO!1t as surcly as if they had
tried 10 settle ilI$ucs by violence. {Consider, (or instance, the
possibility of similar c:ampaixns by riglM-win! extremists
designed to make welfare legisbtion unworkablc.)
Next, when breaking laws fIX" publicity purposes, there are
SU'Oflg rasons for submilting to apprehension and punishment.
Acceptance of punisluncnt indicates support for UIC principle
of 11., and for the authority of the decisioo;)foccdure, 50 far
as is compatible wilh the need to break the 11 ... to prttICJIl onc'.
ca!iIC 10 the public.
1
While it may be necessary 10 bre:lk the b w
for publicity, it will hardly ever, in a democratic society, be
neasary 10 evade punishlllCflt, &ince aa:epttncc of punish.
ment iJ notll\;lUy a useful means to furthtt publicity, in thal
coun Statements ut oCten widely reported.' Only if there ... 'tI'e
110 right of public trial, and no pombility of using punishmCl'lt
for publicity purposes, or ifpunishments were made dr.lconian
in order to prevent wSSt:ntcrs from publicizing their lie1'l'S
I Mutia Lulber Kin& Iw aid: '1.11 inc!iyidualwho breab. bw I1ut
u".ocie"ce lells him. is uajusr, and .. illi",ly ICUplS the pcn:Ilry by $b.,;",
in jail ro...,.. the COI4CieDcc altbe communir]o "''er it. inj .... l ;a;, is in
"",pressing IM highcsl f'tJpc<1 for la .... ' 'LtlfU rtuoll Binni"l"'
I .. <n Cily J_il', LIkr_ UUDe '96J). rrpri:Irtd in I.Io:<kIl, CiuiI
pp. Gt.nd.hi. hdol similar oino'l : _ his
11< SI., 1nl' Tr.,1I <B-oo PrtII, BoMon, '957),
P 4
1
J.
S RUSlelflltOro\lllt "r.he...., he nt.ld. <>fhil triJl.nd impri.,on-
-.M, Allm'tr.1IrJ, ,.,,1. 3 pp. " 5.18.
8.t OBJECTIONS AND QtlAI. IPICATIONS
illqally, wmdd evasion of punishment perhaps be compatible
with disobedience for the sale of publicity.
Finally, disobedience of this son. ean only be an adjunct tu a
major' propaganda earnp:tign, designed to influence opinion by
whatever legal channels there are. As W:lS the ease with the
disobedience RussdL was supporting in the pusage quotet.l,
IUch disobedience should only be resorted 10 after more
onhodox means have been tried in vain. (As we !laW in our
discus5ion of the model aswciatioos, bowCYtr, it would be
unrealistic to demand that orthodox meaM be 'exhausted'
since IOUlC onhOOOI mean& never exhauro::d; instead
orthodox means should be tried until it is obvious that they are
not going to 5lIccud, or until tbtte is a real danger that the
damage will be done hefon: they suo:eed.) Unless the legal
means of persuasion are used to the utmost, those .... ho resort
to disobedience can hardly ebim that they are doing it only
because they have been unable to obt.in a fair hearing in any
other way.
DISOOEDIENCE AS A PL!A FOil IlECONSIDUATION
A form of disobedience rclatet.l to tlw just discussed aims, not
It pre5enting a view to the public, bUl at prodding the majority
into reconsidering a decision it ius taken. IA mojority may act,
or fail to act, without realizing dUI there are truly significant
issues at Male, or the majority Ill:oIY uot ru.ve considered the
interests of all p;tnies., and its decision may cause suffering in
a "''3y thn "'"35 nol forcsccn: Disobedience, md cspecU.1ly dis-
obcdM:ooe follo9.ed by accqxanoe of punishment, may make
lhe realize that what is for it a muter of indilfacncc
is of gmt impomnet to Disobedience which aims to
the ffilI jority reconsider in this WOlY is not an to
coerce them, and within lim.i18 brwdly si.mibr to thOlie just
discussed in colUleetion with disobedience for publicity, it is
DISOIlF.DI&NCE AS A PUA FOI. UCONSIDEl.ATlON 8S
oomp;ttible with ao:epuna: of a fair compromise as a means of
seuling iss'ICS Onoe)t becomes apparcnt that the majority are
not willing to recoosidcr, however, this son of disobedience
mua be abandoned. One way of ascertaining whether the
majority willing to reconsider is to hold a rtferendum. This
is one argumellt in favour of a provision in a democratic
II)'lItcm for referenda to be held at the request of a minority
as in Switzerl:lnd.
Disobedience of this IIWt-by a minority woo feel very
luongiy about an issue, apinst a taken by I majority
to wbom the nutler Q; of no grt:ll importanoe-can help to
mitigate ooe of the stock ... caknGSeS of denlOCnUc theory. It
has lung been recognized that tba-e is a danger of injustice in
democracy because the democratic system lakes 00 account of
the intensity with which views are htl d, so that a majority
which does not carc very much about an issue can out-vote a
minority for which the issue is of vital concern. l3y civil dis-
obedience the minority can demonstrate the intensity of il3
feelings to rhe majority. If the majori ty did in fact ma1:e its
decision through short-sightedness. md not bcauae the hard-
ship 10 the minority is an unl\"oidable evi l, justified by a far
greater good on the whole, it "ill ru.\'e the opportunity of
al tering its decision. Where there is rc;IlIOlI to bclieve Ih::tt the
majority does not fed strongly about a matter, disobedience
causing a cemin amount of inoomenience can be justified in
oroer to test the strength of feeling of the ma;ority. If minor
inconvenience wiU cauae the majority to alt its decision, this
indic:nes th::tt the origiMJ decision was one of tho5e in which a
Ilrgdy ap:tlhetie m:ljority imposes il$ will on a deeply con-
cerned minority. Since, in Iheory, weighting votes aro;wding to
intensity of feeling would give rise to a still fairer compromise
than is .chieved by gi';ng cvet)'onean eqUl I vote, tocausesuch
inconvenience to the majority would be compatible with fair
oornpromise: If the Illljoriry make<! it clear. howC\"er, that it is
86 OBJ!CTI ONS AND QUALlPICATI ONS
prqwcd 10 pul Up with illOOO.vcnienoe, il must be assumed
tIw il is not, after all, Iptthetic ,bout the issue.
It ill of tlOUfSe possible that, decision by a majoril)' caU5ing
hardship to a minoril}' results neither from <nmghl, nor from
, regrtuable neccssil)', but i. part of a policy of deliberate
ezploilation oflhe minoril}' by a ma.joril}' which doc8 not have
equal a;mcem for the welfare of all ill> citizens: This Ir:ind of
situation has been discusxd earlier.
This is an appropriate point at whkh to consider the theory of
civil di50bedience proposed by Jolm Rurls in his much-
discusKd book, A Tlfeqry 'fJlIJti(t,' fOf Ra.ls'. conception of
the proper role oi disobedience in a coosritutionll democracy
has much in oommon with the kind of disobedience we
just been discussing. According to Rawls, civi l disobedience is
an act whicb 'addressca the sense of justice of the communiI}'
IlJld declares tlut in one's comidered opinion the principles of
social co-operation lmonK and eqlUl are not bcinlf
respcctcd',l Civil disobedieoce is he: rtgardcd as a form of
address, or an appeal. Accordingly Rawls comes ro condusions
similar [0 those I ha\'C reached about the form which such
dilClbcdience should blr:e. It should, he says, be non-violent
and refrain from huning OT interfering with others because
violence or inteIference Icn& to OOOcure the fact lhat what
being done is a form of address. While civil di.wbedience !my
'warn and admonish, it is not itself I W(::It'. Similarly, toshow
sinccril}' and general 6delity 10 law, one should be completely
open .bout what one is doing, ".iJling to the lcpl
c:qntequmca of one's act.
, U am lhertfore in agrtement Rawls'(ln the main
limited disobcdieoce, far from being with a
Oamldon Prm, Od'ord, 1971, The tbeoIyofcivil dis:lbcllirnc:e;. fa
be rwad ill cb. 6, -tr ill KCU, 55,57, and. 59,
P.l6.t-
DISOBEDI!NCE AS " PLEA YDa IUCDNSIDUATIDN S,
1 form of govanmenl, Cln have 110 impon:_
ut put to pby u a justifiable fonn of proIC5t! (I'here are,
bo\ll"Cver, S()lOe features of Rawb'. posilioo \II'hicti"1 annat
aCttpL These features dmve from Y;e theory of jU$tlcc which
ill the rore of the boot The reader may hl\'e notiad th:.J1 the
scnlCnce I quoted above conlains a reference 10 'the sense of
justice of the communiI)" and to the 'principlc;s of llOcial co-
opcntion 3mong free 3nd equal men'. Kawls's justi6cation of
civil disobediencdi!epends hea\'ily on the communiI}'
hIS I sense of juStice which is I single stMe Of justice on which
all ean :lgr, at 1e.tSt in pnctice if DOt in dcuils.
Ih is the violation of this acttpted basis of sociel}' which
legitimates disobedience; To be flir 10 R""'h, it must be said
that he is not maintaining that men ever do or did get IOgether
on a scnse Qf justice, on tlu:: principles of
ro-opcration. Rather the idea is thu a basically jusl society will
hl\'e I sense of juslice that corresponds to the principles thu
rree IlJld eqU1l men would h\'e chosen, Iud they met together
to agree, under oonditions ibigncd to ensure impartialil}', to
abide by the basic principles necessary for social co-operation,
It should also be said does not maintain that every
society in !':let hI.'! such a sense of justice, bUI he inlCnds his
thcory of disobedience 10 Ipply only to thQEIC Ut:lt do, (As an
he suggests that the wisdom oi civil di!Obcdience will be
problematic when there is no common conception of justice,
since disobedience may $Cr"e only 10 roUIlt the majority 10
more repressi\'C measures.)'
-This is not Ihe place to discuss Rlwls's thcory oijustice as a
whole, I w;ant to disc.:uss only its application to our topM:.JF mm
his viewthat civil dillObedieooe is juss:ified by ' the principles of
justia which regulate the constitution and social irutirutions
genenlly', Rawls draws the consequence thu 'in justifyinlf
ci"il disobedience one does not appeal to principles of personal
, Ibid., pp. :>86-7,

j
88 OBJECTIONS AND QUALlPlCATIONS
monIiry or to religious doctrines ... Instead one invnkes the
commonly shared conCt'poon of justice which underlies the
poJiticalorder."
[\UI beuing in mind that this is intended to apply only to
iD which there is a common conception of justice, onc
an see that this is a serious limitation on the grounds on which
disobedience can be justified. T shan suggest two 1N:Iys in
llihich this limitation could be unreasonable.
F'ustly, if disobedience is an appeal to the community, wby
OD it only be an .ppeal 'll'hkh invokes principles which the
community already aCttpt!l1 Why muld one DOt be juStified in
disobeying in order to ask the m*rity 10 aher or eJ[tend lhe
shared conception of juwce? Rawls might think thu it could
never be necessary to go beyond rhis shared cooceptioo, for
the shared conCl:ption is broad enough to IX)nlai n all the
principlUl nC:SS:iry for a jl1l>"I5OCiety. Disobedience, he would
say,i an be useful to ensure tllat 1I0ciety does not dep;ort too
seriously from this !!wed but the
unimpt:lchabJel The on this view, may be
likened to a good piece of machineryl there may CICClSionaHy
be a little friction, and some lubric.uioo will then be DCCeiSlIry
but the buic design DOed!: no .l!ention.
No,,' Ra .... -b cm, of COUT$C, roue this true by definition. We
have alrC'.ldy seen that he intends his theory of disobedience to
apply only to !iOcietics which have a common conception of
justice. If R.,,\s mans by this dut his thewy applie. only
when the shared oona:pt:ion of justice encompasses ,11 the
legitimate claims that anyone in the society can po&'!ibly mue.
then it follo .... '5 that no disobedience which seeks to extend or
go beyond the shared conception of justice can be legitimate..
Since this 1I'ODld follow simply in virtue of how JUwls had
chosen to use the notion of a shared conception of jU$lice,
hov.-ever, it be true in a trivial 1N:IY, IUld be
I lbid.., p. J65.
I

DISOB!:DltNCI .HI A PLU FOR nCONSIDUATJON Se}
tuterly unhelpful fOl" anyone wondering whether be would be
justified in diiiObeying in an actul l 9OcieI:y.
If Ra..-ls iB to avoid this trivializing of his position it 1I'OUld
seem dlllt he must be able to point to at least KOcietics
which he thinb have an adequate orjuwce.,fhis course
would invite our original question :.I'why will disobedience be
justilkd only if it invokes this particubt corx:cption of juwce?
Tills version of the theory dentes the conception orjustice at
present held by SOml: society lIf societies illto a \':Ilid
for all time. Does any existing society have a shared conception
of jultticc which Clnnot concei\1Ibiy be improved I Maybe
cumot OUl'$eh-es sa:: imPfO\'cmenlll in a p;articubr society'a
oonception of justice, but ..... c surcly cannot ntle O\1t the p0ssi-
bility that in time it lIIay apJX:'r defeai\e. nOt only in irs
applk"'tion, but in the fundamentals of the concel)tion itself.
this C:ISC, disobedience designed 10 induce tbe Dl.ajorill' to
rtthink its conception of justice migllt be jUstified.}
J cannot sa:: any way in which Rawls can amid one or other
of Ihc:;e diffICUlties. Either his conception of justice is a pure
idcal,{in which case it does nOI ;assist O\Ir rol problcmB.,)or il
unjustifiably excludes the use of disobedience 1$ way of
making a r.lWa.l objc:aion to the conception of jU$lice Wral
by some actual society.
Rawls's theory of civil disobedience contains a second and
distinct rl'Sfriction on the grounds of legitimate disobedience.
As we have seen, be say. that the justificllion of di.,obcdicnce
mUSI be in terlllS of justice, and not in tmns of 'princip!eJ of
personal morality or religious doctrine'. It is not dear enctly
Whal this piu-ate means, but since Rawls oppooe$ it to 'the
orunmonly shared conceptiorl of justice whkh underlies the
political order' wc may take it to include aU views t1rat are not
part of this shared conception. This makes it a substantial
restriction, since 10 Rawls there are important areas
of fIlOr:Ility wlUch are outside the scope or justice. The theory
90 OBJECTIONS AND QUAt.IFICATIONS
of justice is, he says. ' but one pan of J. !DOn.! view'.' As an
cnmple of an arn of monlity to which justice is inapplicable,
Rawb ifl5l:lnCU our ,.cbtiorur. with animals. It is, he says,
wn:Klg to be cruel 10 animak, although .. -e do not owe them
jU5tioc. If""e combine this vie"\ with the idcalbat the justifica-
tion of civil disobedience must be in terms of justice, we can
sce tha[ Rawls i!,....oommined to holding ,hat no amount of
cruelty to anima15 can justify disobedience. Ra\\b would no
admit..!h;lt sc\ere and widt8pread cruelty to animals
would be mQ.I'.!1 evil, but his position requires him to
the licensing, oreven the promotion of such cruelty
by:a government (perhaps to :amuse the public, or as is more
likely n01l"'adays, for upcrimenul purposes) could not
possibly justify civil disobedience, .. he:rC3S something lesa
serious would justify disobedience if it were COflttllry to the
shared conttption of justice. Th!J is :a SUrprising alO I think
impbusib1e conclusion. A similar objection. could be Ill3dc iJI
respc:ct of anr oiJiCr an:1i of mor.Ility which ia not ioctuded
un<ler iIie conception of justice, Rn,l! doca not give any other
enmplcs, although he suggeus (and it is implied by his
theory of justice) [hat our dealings with pennanent mental
defectivCll do not comcunder the of justice.'
So far I ItIve airicizcd RawIs's theory of disobediencc be-
o.useof o:rtain restrictions it places OD the kind of reason which
can justify disobedience. M)' final comment is diffcrent. Rawls
frequently writes as if i[ were a rcb[ively simple matter to
determi ne whether a majority dccisioo ia just or unjuS!:. This,
ooupled with his view that the eommunity has a commoo
c;onccption of justice, him to
anec of a sealed, peaaful mrthod of resolving disputes. It
could IlSo lead one t o the \'iew that then: are cases in .... hich the
majority is dculy acting beyond its powers, (hit is, th:at there
arc areas of life in .. hich the dccision-procC'dwe is entirely
, lbid" p, SU .. I lbid .. p. 5'0.

DISOD!DltNC! AS A Pt.EA POR RECONSIDERATION 91
without weight, for instance, if it tries to resuict ttnain
f'reedo:lns. (This view is simibr to that ditcussed earlier in
eonnc:ction with rights.) Consider the follo .. inl pusagc:
\ It . assumed that in. reasom.bly jlW dehlOC'itic repme Ibm: is t..
public conception of jU3tice by rcfCfCOCC to whi<:h cilium rqulale
their political.lD;" and interpret the: c:onaitu[ion. The persistent
and deliberate violllion of the buic principltt of this conception
over any tended period of time, Ihe infring.:ment ofthc
fundan\enlll eq1.Ullliberties, invites either $\Ibmission resistancel
Dy engaging in cni.l I minority fot<;n lhe majority 10
consider .... hcther it wishes to hl'"l: its actions construe" in this way,
or I'o'htthcr, in view of the cummon II1tnse of jUlilioc, it .. i5hes [0
ad:no .. lcdge the cbilDl of Ihe mi'lOrily.' ,.
There will, of c:ourse, be some insW\Qe5 in a society wben tbe
actions of the IT1OIjority elln only be seen as a dc:liber:ltc
viobtion for s-:Ifish rods of basie principles of justice. Sudi
Ictions do 'invite submission or resisl:ancc'. It is J. misuke,
thoo!:h, to IlCC lhcsc cases as in Iny way typiaJ of those disputt8
which kad people to ask whether disobediena 1I'OOId be
justi1i.cd, ['"eo when I society shares a common conception of
JUStice, it is not likely to agree on the application of this c0n-
ception to particular cases, Ra\\ls admits it is not always ,
deu when the principles of justice hne been ,ioll[ed, but be
thinks il is often clear, when the principle of equal
liberty (for Rawls first principle of justice) is involved. AB
examplcs. he RlggeslS that a violation of this principle can
clearly be seen when 'certain religious groups :are repressetl.'
:and when 'ecm.in minorities are denied thc right to vote Of" 10
bold office ... " These casa .ppesr straightfOl'1lwd, but are
they Timothy Leary's League far Spiritual Jmc:o.."CtJ claimed
to be religious group using the drug LSD as a me:ans of
exploring ultimate apirirual rnlity. At least three other groups
-thc N_American Church, the CJIUTCh of the Awakening,
, n.MI,. pp. J6s-4. lbid" p. 373.
OB]!.CTION! AND QUALIFI CAT IONS
and the Native Amcriean Cliureb--ha"e used lWludnogenic
drugs as part of religious ceremonies. or these groups. oo1y
the !ut hu legal permission to do so.. h freedom of -.rorship
being denied to theothcrs ? When is I group a rdigious group?
Tbtre are 5imibr problems about denying nUnorities the \"Ote,
Is the denial of the ,ue to children a violation of equal
liberty 1 Or to convicted prisoners? I1 may seem obvious [0 us
that these are legitimate o:cq>tions, but then it seemed
obviolls to many respecuble citizens a huudred years ab"O thal
bbcks and women should not have the ''OIe, and it seemed
obvioUll 10 Locke th:Jt the suppression of atheism Rnd Roman
Catholicism were quite compatible with the principle of
religious tolc.ration,
When wc go beyond religious perse<;ution .nd the denial of
voting rights. it is even euitt to find complex disputes on
which sincere disagl'ttfiltnt O\' er the justi of aD acoon is
li l;ely to occur, Many of the issues 'Kbich have kd to civil
disobedience in rca:nt ycan have been of this man: complex
kind, This is ... hy I do not think;t helpful to assume that most
issues .rise from ddibentte disregard of IOme common
principles, or to try to specify limits, whether in the form of
rigbu or of principles of justice, on whu Ihe majority can
legitimately do,
CONSCI ENTIOUS OBJECTI ON
I no ... _nt to discuss a commonly invoked juStification of
ch;l whil;h is quite different from lno.e SO far
QJlUideral, but .. -hieb, because it also does not involve an
auempt: to CCC:rct the ma,iority into changing iu dcci5ioo, has
been said to be consistent with democratic principles, 1 am
Id'c:tring to what ioI usuilly called 'COf1llCimtious objection',
though as I hope to show, this is an unsuitable term. The
(I)JIscientious objector seeks to ensure that, in the words of
CONSCIENTI OUS OBJECTI ON 93
Henry Tbol'tlu: ' I do not lend mysdfto the wrong whX:h I
condemn," Thit form of disobedience, in so far as it it distinct
from the forms alrady discUSKd, is undertaken in order to
avoid taking pw1. in the: polities to \I'hich one Illther
than in order to change those one may, and
normally does, tl')' to change the policies by legal means. This
position is, Q( course, ITKISI commonly taken by tbose who
refuse to BttVe in the armed fon:es, There is probably more
genenl sympuhy for Ibis kind of disobcdiena: than for any
Glher. Yet discussion of ittends to be badly confused, In order
to avoid pos5ible confusions, I must begin by saying something
about 'conscience' and what it is to lta\'e a tonscientious
objection to IOmething,
People tall; of 'conscience' in nm main $aISCS, Some mean
by it .umething ntber tile a inside them which tells them
",,-hat they oUght to do \I'hat they ought not to do., or if DOt
voice, then a rediog, often located (mtraphorially?) in onc's
hart Of the pit of tM stomach, On this liew, the dictates of
conscietace are gi\'en, They are <bb, and not the md-product
of any prooc:ss of rational considcnoon of tile morally rcle'r.U1t
features ohhe situation, It is C'l"tfl possible to say, using this
sense of There arc strong mor;u TC:LIIOnS in favour
of breaking this promise, and the moral reasons against doing
SO seem to me to be much weaker, but my OOlHlcitute stilltclls
me that it would be 'II'I'OI1g to break it.' If someone does say
something lile this. we may that there is a psycho..
logic:al expbrurion for the judgemenu of his conscience-
perhaps when be """as young his modltr drummed into him an
abbonenc:e of promisc-brnting under any circumstances-
but even knowledge of such an explanation \I"i11 DOl ncc rily
affeet 'he content or strength of the inner voice or f:ling,
Conscience in this sense I wiD call 'traditional conscience','
Dedau, Cril DlsHdintt, p, 35,
Tbe [maiM"", I UJe in dUs Raioa is tI., "'A. Q..mpbdl Gamr:tl,
..
AND QUALIFICATIONS
According to the other impomnt IC:DSC of conscience, a
person acts according to hiJ conscience, or amscienliously.
when he acts on the basil! of his own seriously thought Ollt
moral OOIlviaioru.. 1'hiJ has been cal.Ied 'critical consciencc'
because it is the result of aitic:tl consideration of all the
men! factool.. tn p;utkubr, critical. cooscience sub-
jccrs both conventiollll.l mor21 stmduds and the dictates of
tr:Iditional ronscience to cri ticism which, as far as possible,
s110uld be ntional criticism. Umall)' wllm wc describe an
action as oollllCicntious in the critiaJ sense wc clow in order to
dcnyeithtt thal the agent wu moti'lJ,lod by selfish dcsirn, lib:
greed or ambition, or that he acted on whim or impulse.
Bc ... ring these tWO senses in mind, let us consider an of 1-
quoted passage from the essay by Thoreau, to '"hich J hue
already referred:
MU51 the citizen for I moment, or in the a SI deuec, resign his
coMCimce 10 the !epWtod Wby hu e,;ny man I COI'I$(icnce, Ihm 1
I think wc should be men firll and subju aftcnnrds. It is no(
desirable [0 eultiV1ltc a rClpcct for the !:tw, to much as for th rigb!.
The only obIig:atiQII which I have a , igbl lo &S5IIlM, is 10 do at aD)'
time .mu I think right .'
If we take this to be referring 10 conscience in the
tradition:1I sense, the t::tpres:sed must be rejected. If wc
find that a law clasbes with instinctive prolllptings, or fctlings
lIrlt, for all "'e know, an: of our infantile dread of
parental $COldings, we ought 10 gh't the coruidercd judgemcnt
of the Iq;islatute some "'eighL This is rrue in a
democratic society, for the reasons for "hich J ha\'targued. To
follow tr.I.ditional conscience is to e:teludc the possibili ty thu
'Couscicoa and Coo".;.,yino,_'. iI:I J. Feinbc'l {cd.}, M_,' CMf'JJJ
(O.U.P., OxlOrd, ' 0J69). pp,lkI-9a.
'Bcd>u, Ci",', Di d ...... p. as. For ... _ , of a
soo;newIaal .ami'''' pnAl ...... KC R. p, wour, I. '" A..-IHM
(Ibrpu and R01I', New YQtk, 19?O),

CONSCIINTIOUS OBJECTION
"
there may be IOOI'IlI reasoos in favour of accepting the verdict
of some form of decision-procedure, or at leut, to refuse to
give mlsons of thi, fIOTt any weight. A penon who rclied on
tnditional coll8Cience in this Yi'lly might even uy: ' I can sec
Ih"'l there are strong mGr.l1 rcuons in favour of obeying this
tlecision, and the monl feasoos .pinst doing so seem 10 me
10 be much wcaktt, but my cooscimce still tells me that it
would be to obcy."To accept the diet'ues of InIditional
conscience in this way, without faking inlo consideration QII
n:lcnl\t mOl'llI reasons, is to Ibdicate responsibility all a
flliona1lIK)n] agent: Once v;e do take into considcntJon the
fact that our action is contrary 10 law, ho,,'cvcr, h:ave
passeu from collllCie.nce: ID critical conscience.
If we. t::I.ke 11\orcau 10 be refuring to crilical con9Cicnce---
an inlerpretnion supported by the fina l senlCnce of the puuge
quoted-it is nsy 10 accept his "iew, but it Cllnnot possibly
give III any guidance: when \I'C 10 decide wbetbef 10 obey
a llw. On this interprwlion, the passage Imounts on1y to the
assertion thar we should assess the righl.'l and wroogs of
obeying a bw, and nOl obey bws lIithout considering whether
il is mon.lly right 10 do so. It is compalible ""ith Ihis intu-
preution tMt in considtting whether to obey or doobc)' a law
wc sllOUld always give very grnt ... eight 10 tbe fact that in
di90beying wc would be breaking .. valid bw, or rejecting a
fair compromise, or refusing 10 aecepl the verdictofa decisi.on-
procedure in "'hkh we have This is not really
'I1Ioreau's view, as other parts 0( the essay indi(:lte, but
nothing in the p1S83ge qu<Mcd counts against it, if the passage
is about critical c(lIIscicnce, On lhis interpreblion, Ihe passage
merely 5ta1es the truism that tlle fina l decision on ""hat 10 do
must be up to the individual , Ind that this decision ought to be
based on moral oonsiderations. This is _thing which ID)'
authoritarian (:In admil, adding only that Ihe individual ouJl:ht
morally, 10 regard the fact that In act be illegal as an


OBJECTIONS AND Q,UALIFICATIONS
O1o-erriding moral reason against doing it. Someone else might
:;ay that the indi vidual ought, mOt3Uy, to give no weight to the
fact t1uIt hi' act v;ould be iIIeg:iI. We can all agree d\:u a man
ought ah\1lyS to do what he thinks nght-the real is
when he should thin).: it right to break the law.
TIle points that hnc emerged from this discussion of
Thoreau are quite general in appl ication. A responsible moral
agent will not follow his traditional conscience autorw.tically i
and the fact that it would be against ooo's traditional oon-
science to do an act, were one not legally obliged to do it, does
not mean that it must be against one's (critical) conscience to
do it if one is legally obliged to do it. For kt,'lll oblig;ttion can
be ;I rele\":lnt moral consideration, panicubrly, as I have
argued, it has arisen through the sort of democratic
I described in the 6rst part or this book.. in some,
though not all ClISC8, Ihis factor will 'tip the scales', altering a
man's view of what, in conscience, he ought 10 do. In any case,
the crucial poirlt is that tlle ad\ice 'follow your conscience'
cannot. provide any answers to the problem of what we oughl
to do, for our problem is, precisely, what action our (critical)
oonscience din::cts us to do. The verdict of critical COII$dence
is our ansv.cI 10 the problem of what wc ought to 00, and our
answer to this problem is the verdict or ollr (eritical}conscience.
A failure 10 understand this hu marred much ofwhn II2s been
writlen about conscience and disobedience.'
Our discussion of conscience, tben, has led to the conclusion
that oonscientious objection is dther an unreneaive act, not
t See. fur e:nmple, D. Spit%, 'Democracy tnd the Problem of"Chtil
Dioobedieoce"', .Alflrri<"1UI PNsiir.1 Somu &-tie., vol . ,,8 (19S4), pp.
386--40J. Spitz thinks the dissent>l:r'J problem is "hHhtr \0 obey hiI
corucience....J break !he 10 .. , or obtythelaw llDII.iob,e
bUI in .. far a' Ihe d ..... ltl .... problem .. a mon.l prol>l .. n, ,I is surely
.. hetl>ct on ...,0..".;""', ru. (crir;.".)) con"""""" is for.pinI<I ubtd'ence.
If, all .. t .. ldng all the: mon.lty rei ..... ", f:act""' ,nlO COt"tSidcn.lion, hiI
tdI:i him 10 d*'bey lhen: is "" further 01,,",1 'I_ion 10
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTI ON
Ihe act of a responsible moral agent. or dsc no different, in so
ru as it is amscienrious, from all Ihe acts or disobedience
discussed in this book, ror they have all been motivaled by
moral collsiderations. (This is why, as I said culier, I think the
term 'oonscienlious objection' a poor v.-.ay of distinguishing the
J=ticular kinds of disobedience v.ith which we aTe here con-
cerned.) The distinctive feature of the disobedience or the
person IIsually called a 'conscientious objector' is conscientious-
nes.s only when he is with those who refuse for
selfish or other less .... orthy motives to do what they are legally
obliged to do. When the disobedience of the rorrscienuous
objector is amtr5Jsted with the olher forms of disobedience we
have been discuMing, its distinctive reature is th.u it is neither
an att("mpt to rorce the majority to aller its decision, nor an
aempt fO gain publicity, or to ask the majority to reconsider
its decision. This means that although the action of the
conscientious objet:tor does not represent the kind of resort to
rorcewhich is theantithesis of a democratic decision-proccUurt",
it is also not the son of act that can be justified on Ihe grounds
th3t it is desib'llOO to give effl'Ct to dCrIlOCr.Itlc ideals, such as
fair compromise 3nd oonccrn for all, which hayc been
neglected or distorted. -I"be conscientious objector cannot
that his disubedicm:e is provisiolLll, thn he disobeys
only to gain a fair hearing, or to prod the majority into reoon-
sidering its decision, and IMt he will obey the decision of me
IlIlIjority once he has put his case, or the majority lu.\"C oon_
sidcrcd their decision afresh.' What then is his position with
re:g:lrd to the democratic reasons for obedience?
The position of the conscientious objector is, I think, rru.t
the reasons for obedience deriving from law and democr.ll:y
oonstr5Jin him against the lise of illegal means to thWart the
majority in carrying out the decision 10 which he objects, but
are of insufficient weight to overcome t.he moral objet;tions he
MS ro 'lending himself to the injustice he oondemns'. The

98 OBJtCTION' AND QUALIPICATIONS
conscientious objector endeavours to Ichm !IOJnC lIOl1 of
babnce between rca50DS for obeying the bw and
deD1OCl'll.tic proccdurta, on the one h:md, other deeply held
monI principles on tbe otbtt. It is a position wdl suited to
r.hose who bdievc thor.t it is 'II'OI"9t to commit I. "TOOg ooadf
than to fail to do one'. utmost to prevenl I "TOng being done
by This idea-duI lhtte is significant moral
distinction betWCtll m'ut and mcw umiuiotl!-is widely
held. It is eJ1shrincd in the aphorism: 'Thou sbalt not kill, but
needst DOt strive officiously to keep alive.' T I lies behind the
pnctice of docuxs who allow I. seriously deformed infant to
die from an easily curable infection, but will not bke Iny
positive $tep aimed 3t terminating the life of the infant. It is
hard to k'C any other jusrifiCIIlioo, except a distinction be:tWCtll
acts and omissions. fur the fact that wc do not sce an)'thing
wrong in a wcsJthy tn:I.n spending his money on itu.uno
instead of using it to save people from starvation in famine-
prone al'tU. Nc\'crthdcss, it is difficult to sce any rational
justificuion fot attributing much importance 10 tbe distinction.
On utilitarian grounds it should be just as important 10 pn:vent
5OlT'IClhlng evil atturring u it is to refnin from doing evil
my-seU'. So the utilitarian woo objccu 10. say, o:mscnption for
unjustiWble 1II'1r, will not be content with conscientious
objection. He l1\ay refuse to fight hiruself, but he will think it
equally important to SlOp other!! lightiflg. Jr he thinks he ill
justified in disohering the law by to fight be ..nil also,
other things being equal, think he is justified in disobeying the
b .... in other ways that ue likely to be equally effecti\'e in
ending or mlucing the ligllting. For someone who does
utributc pat manl importance to the actsjomissionJ dis-
tinction, howC\'er, the position of a COII5Cientious objectOf may
be the best possible means of Mbncing the conflicting moral
eonsidentions with which one is faced when commanded by.
donocn.tic l.w to do what one belile'u to be 'ur wrong.
CONSCINTIOUS OBJr:CTION
..
The conscientious objector in a democratic society is in an
awkward position. From the point of view of other membcrsof
a delJlOQ';ltic society, the conscientious objector does not do
... ht is requircd of him. From the point or view ... hich leads
him to disobey, he does JlO( do everything possible to get a
dccisicm ... hich he bdicves to be wrong rescinded or made
inoperative. He may be accused of putting the purity of hi,
own soul above the good of others. Wht is the good of
Kfusing to, say, fight in an Ufljust "'-at, ir onc knows that
OIherl are going to do !JO instead ?
De!;;pite these weaknc:sses., no form of di.sobed.icnce is :as
widely respected 115 conscieJ1tlouS objcction-altbough to 81y
this is /JOt to 5;ly much. The fact that many countries ha"e
nude Allowance for coosdcntiuu, objectors in their oonsaiV-
tion 1a1"ll is evidence of this rtSpcc:L The fact dut saroelr Iny
country ronsidcn conscientious objection to a particular war
to be: I. ground for exemption from service in that "'-at is
cvitlente of the limitS of this respect. There is no reason to
think that the more lqlCcifit objection is any less conscientious,
and it seems 10 me to be the more rational position. To cbim
to knoW' that there could ntl'er be any circumstanoes in wlticb
;1 is right to go to war seems to me unreasonable; on the other
hand, 10 8:1y of 3 particular war that it is unjWltifiable will very
often be barh reasonable anti correct. Why then shoold
go.uillDC:I1ls respect the consdentious views of the complete
pacifist, but not those of the objector to a particubt war &
shoold be obvious from our aual)'5is or amscien, both vie .... s
cm be: conscientious, in !IOJllC IICDSC. It is, jf anything, more
likdy dut the complete pacifist will b:lsc his position on
tn.ditional con!lcieocc--on, 5;ly, the feeling that it must alwaJl
be: wrong to kill- while the objector to a particular war, who
must hsve a'W'SS"d the relevant facts, is more likely to be
aaing _ccording to aitica1 coosdence. Do lhe exemption
provisions reveal _ prefercocc for conscience m'Cf
100 OBJI:CTlONS AND QUALIPICA.TIONS
critical conscienoe? Could it be: that govemmtQts are so bully
confused about the narure of conscience that they simply
equale it with tnditioml COIl!lcience? This pos5ibility CI.1lnot
be enwdy diJcounu:d, but lbcre are alternative upbnarioru.
It is tometimes said tIw: if governmenu ailo1l-w exemption
to those who bucd their judgement on the putieular f<lets of a
W"lIr, this Yo"OUld in SOIllC 'll-1I.y be allowing Ihe objectoB'
assessments of lhe facts 10 pn:VlIil O'o-er the of tile
government itscIf,'thu5 giving ltg;ll recognition to the
iry of the disscntient vie",l' This is a dubi()IUI afl,'UmCflt, for'
if allowing an objtttor's judgement offael to UCIISC him from
military service aco:mled 1cp.1 rewgnilion of the superioriry of
his views, allowing a pacifiSl's moral judgemrnt to excuse him
dIould have the same eWeet. It is in I n)' C.ISC not true lbat to
atttpl a judgement, whether of fact or monlily, III a ground
for exemption is 10 accord legal ttalniliun to the soundness of
lhat judgement. In fact, under lbe laws of most <:ountrics, the
ulJ"!CUJs or judsn responsible for es:cmprions arc required 10
test sincerity of QOfl\-iction, but not soundness of belief.
Perhaps the best argument that a gl)'o"ttnmCllt wuld put in
defence ofirs refusal to grant es:cmprion to those who object to
I particular war is lbat so many people would fall into the
ClItegOry of those exempted that lbc armed forces would be
5igniliCllntly weakened. This sounds cyniCllI, )'C( there is some--
thing to bcuid for it. Coerdoniul .... "lIysin nccdofjusrification,
and coercing a lDan to do something amtruy to. his most
deeply held II'lCII'aI bdic:fs (which wc normally him
to fo[low) rcquill5 justification. \\'bcr)e,.w possible,
acmption. shou[d be provided for th05C who refWlC, on monl
grounds, to comply .... ith a law. In casa like the United
Kingdom Abortion ACI, such C3:cmption (ror doctors who
object to performing abortions) is relatMly easy to provide.
I See E. <rut dm """ 'Chi! rII (AUlltnIia),
April 1971, p. so.
{;ONS{;t!;NTlOU5 OBJECTION 101
'I"here Ire enough doaon without COI'l5cimtious objections 10
dothe rcquisitenumbcrolabortions. lnothcrcucs, noexonp-
tion at all may be possible. If simple hygiene b .... '1 (:OQtrOlling
the disposal of rubbish and 8eW;I;gt waten are n ry to
prevent the spread of discue, there cannot be exemptions
for any who might have moraJ objection. to observing hYJicnK:
prcr.:autions, This is an areiII in .... hich by a l"'1'
few can render useless the pn:eautions blr::en by C\'CI)"(lne else.
Conscription in time of war probably falls in oct ... "CCJ\ tIlesc
cases. [t may be tht if go\'ernments CJ:cmPled those who
objected, lbcre would not be men left 10 fight lhe war.
From the point of view of the objC<:\.Onl, of wurse, this would
be. good thing, but if tbe go'o"ttnmcnt is convinced dut the
wat is ncassary or just, it will gil"C O'iCt"riding priority to
se<:uring enough men to win the war, It is conccil1l.ble that lIle
gof"erometlt will be right to do this, although the fact du, so
many hal"C conscientious objections to the war should male the
govcmmmt '.ay doubtful about whether the war is justilitd.
The arguments in favour or exempting con-
scienlious objectors gain suong Sllpport from the expcrimoc oC
Great Britain in the Second World War-the only time, so far
as 1 blow, a nation at war has exempted people with politiCll[
objections to the particular war beinG foullht. Although there
""AS some amfllSion al the beginning, because the Wlute
exempting conscientious objector'S from national 1IC:rl.ic:e did
not expressly to the grounds of objection, the Appellale
Tribunals eventually granted CJ:eOlption to, for instance, Indian
nationalists ."ho uid they ..... ould light to defend a free
and 10 socialists who were ready to fight in a class ..... ar lpinS(
tlpilalism, but rux on behalf of' imperialist Later, the
Minister of LabolU' officially Slated mat the aemption of non-
pacifists "'1I.S in accord:mee with Ihe intention of parliament.
'This policy WIS lIl3intaincd throughout the desperate days
:lfter Ounkirk, ..... hen C\'cry man ... as wmtcd. This
101 OBIEC1'IONS AND QUALIFICATIONS
wlerant attitude apparcndy due panly to genuine respect
for col\SCientious beliefs, p;irtly to a desire to avoid a repetition
of the disgraooul and u1tim:l.tely futile persecution of con-
$dt:llUOUS objcetonl that occwred during the First World War,
and partly to a judicious assessment of the value to the anny of
men bitterly opposed to the wu they were supposed to be
fighting. In any case, the policy caused difficulties. The
ovcrwhelming majority of the population believed Britain wu
fighting a just wu, and the number of men applying for
exemption 35 conscientious objectors nevcr morc than
2'Z per cent of the total number conscripted. After May 19io,
the figure " .. as nC\'et above 08 per cent. These ligura include
pacifists and non-p;icifist3. No separate records ""-ere kept, but
non-pacifists appear to been a tiny fraaion of those
applying.'
In recent years, Ihe war in Vietnam has led some pacifists
a\\"ay from wru.t is normaUy thought of as consciemious
objection 10 such an e.l.tent that provisions in the law offering
from military service are spurned as 'I convenient
_y by which ... resistance to conscription and me military
.. is dfcctivcly silenced'. People who would be eligible for
eJemption refuse to accept it on we grounds that to do $0 'is
to tacitly aca:pt the legitimacy of the system of conscription
and the: military for which consaiption exists'.' 1'host: who
See O. Hare., Clusllctp SIIff:l
0Jfterl1t"r (AIkrI & Un"';n, LoDIlOll, JIIW). I o"llle thi.! 10 Di"fid
Mahm<:nt, 'Sdco::ti.e Conscimriout Objection IUId the CiJlmt DWon',
1'4iIo""':1 PrihIK Ajf.w., \'QI. 1,00. .. (Summer lnz). nu. is the
best of d.c '- I h:.! .... w;n.
I R. M. Boardmon, 'Letttr to Locallloud No. 114', .eprintcd in
Bcd.Ju, pp. 178-86. In IM letter Boardn .. n, a.,.cifist,
Irll, his dnfl boUlI ""by he CUIIIOt accepc uemption :as a C<lIIIcienrious
For ugumem for IIoCIn-C:llaIpliance witb "'emption
_ A.). MIISte, Of JJoJ) Di.uMd'nlU, reprinttd in J*I in
8edlu, Ci;1f Diwdktltt, pp. IJ5-45.
CONSCIENTI01JS OBJECTION
.'"
argue in this Yo-ay are nor, I think, merely upressing we point
I made w-lier, that from a utilitarian point ofview it is just as
important to prevent n!;hting as 10 refuse to fight oneself. They
arearguing, rather, that 10 apply for, and begrallted, exemption
under the $l:1tutoT) p=dures is too easy A Yo-ay out, IJlSl:e:ad, a
pacifist should refuse 10 ru.ve arrything to do "With the law
rdating 10 conscripti on; and if nc:o;:CS5ary, he should go to
gaol for his beliefs. Bertrand Russell e-qJressed a similar feciing
when, in the article from which 1 ha"e already quoted, he
went on to say:
Those of us .. ho protest apiru;t nudear lIld nudar lII'U
(:;InnOl acquiescl: in a ..... orld in which each =n frdom a!
[e:ma.iru; 10 hi", t ... the. (:;Ip.city of his go>.'ernmmt to (:;I\lS1I: rmny
hundred!! ofmillionsof b)' butlon. This is I ... us an
.bomillation, and rather than seem to acquidcc in it weve willing,
if necessa.ry, 10 broxueoutcasrs :lnd to sufftt" ..... ohloquyand
.. hllever h:lldship our be im'Olved in $n.nding aloof from the
govenuJlerual fNmework.'
The idea behind wlurt Russell is saying here, as well as
behind the rc:fusa.l of p.;lciJi.su to accept exemption, is that it is
the illegality ofthc ;Ict, the fact thal it is an act of disobedience,
which is essential, because to obey the law is to aca:pl or
acquiesce in conscription, or nuclear annammts, or whatever.
This idea rcsts on a fundamental misundcrstanding of the
nature of democracy, a misunderstanding whieh illustrates
once more the importance of a proper understanding or the
basis of a dcmoeratic dceisioo-procedurc.
J
I do nol think I
need (Q repeat here what I have said before about demoency
being a procedure ror resolving disputes ",hich depends for it!
, Bed.u, Dis<Jidinu, pp. ' 58-0).
A similar mi$undcrmnding "" 10 l"",doK disr;ugcd
by R. Wollhcirn in 'A Parnlon. in the Thory of Dunocraq' in P.
Laden: ,Dd W. G. Rllncim.an (e<b.), PIli.JlJ.upJ.:I. P,hIU, 6'" SMiIJ
S<WIld scM, (B4o;1.: .. tll, OJ.ford, 11)6.).
104 ODJfCTIONS AND QUALiFICATIONS
aisteooe on the dispulants regarding the verdict of the
decision-proo:dure as tu.ving lhoIlgh not over-
ridwS. monl weight because it is the rtsu1t of the decision-
procedure. If this is understood, it follows thn obedience to a
democ:rarie decision is, at most, indiClltive of accept:mcc of we
democratic system, and not of any military or nuclear 'system'
up by democratic procedures. If ODe uses , 11 the means
available under :I. democratic system to attempt [0 alter or
abolish the military S)"Slem, making one's opposition to we
militafJ I. ,,-idcly kool\"II as possible, then I do not lh..ink it on
be said th:lt one acquiCllCtS or evcn ICCms 10 acquic:sce in it.
Those who think t11ey must disobey democn.tic la .... 1I in order
to avoid acquiescing, Of Keming 10 acquiesce, in pBticular
results of the democratic l)'Slem tm. mistalc:n; their actions are
really indicative of a refusal ID acquiesce in the democratic
sptCUl itself.
PAItT III
FR.OM MODEl. TO REALITY
IN the sections., in arguing that there are special
rcasons for obeying the bw in a democratic society, I dclibcr-
aldy a'-oWed spelling out v;h:u I me:mt by 'dcmocntic'. I was
able 10 do this bcau!IC , wu arguing from simplified models.
Whatever rontrO\'trliies tMTe lIIay be about the nature or
democrncy, I think no one will deny that my third nlOdcl can
properly be described as If the oondusions ,,e
have rcaehed by discussing these mooels are to ha,'C any
applicatioll 10 we 1e31 world, however, 'we must ask to what
extent they Ipply to existing full-siu political communities. \
OU,'OCRACY, DI RECT AND Rr.PRESENTATtVr.
F"1lSt, 10 rcctpirubte those features of the third model a.ssoca-
tion that pvc me to the rH90llS foe obedience applicable t(l
the third model only; the association decided issu(s by a ''Ote
of the assembled members, the majorily pl"CV"diling; evefJ
member's vote counted equally; the menings were QI'JOduc:ted
aeoordmg to impartial prtlCUiUf3l rules., Ind the ,"0tc5 tallied
ac<:urately; any member could propose a motion and there W2S,
within !h( pl"OCCtlural roles, complete freedom to speak for or
lpinst any proposal; the majority did noe. use iu numeriaJ
superiority to exploit any minority.
\ Democracy, as the Oxford DI(IWtwfJ defines il,
I\lC:I.ns '(Stile practising) gmemmcnt by the people, direct IX"
representati,'C.''r>.fy third model is a form of direct dro:uxncy.
The members tb(mse!ves take the decisions about how thei r
.06 ,aOIll MODtL TO REALITY
community is to be organized. Direct democncy can claim to
be the basic form of danocracy, both historically and con-
ceptually. Ilisloricilly, Western democntk thought goes lmk
to Athens in the fifth century D.e. 10 the Athenian city-ttalc
at that time; the amel1ll met in General Assembly and therc,
under conditions of poI.itie.l equality and free debate, discussed
and voted on the rruljor iS5UCS that need the community.
Admittedly, not all thooe In.'ed in Athens were citizens in
the legal sense, and it is sometimes said (though just as often
denied) that AlheDun cili:rens would not had the
dCm:luucd by their poJiric:d SYSlcm, were it not for the uistence
of sJa\-eJ)'. I do not know whether there is any truth in this
claim. In any C:lSC, within the limits of its qLW.ifications for
citizcn$hip, the Athenian system was an clample of direct
democracy like our thi rd model association. Whatever obliga-
tions u:iSl in this third mOOd would also ('xis\: in I direct
"--
Conceptually, lOO, direct dcmOCT.l.C)' is the basic form of
democncy.' The of repregeJlt"Jtive dert1OCl1lcy implies
who 'tlU the place of' or 'are present instead
of' others. o.kmocr.Icy is therefore in virtue of
the meaning of the term substitute fot something else, and
this something else can only be direa democracy quC:.'llion
\I'e are going [0 have to .1sk aoout this substitme is whether the
reasons fOt' obedience that hold in .1 dim:t demOC!'llCY Ilso
bold in , ",presentative democracy, Before we considCl' this
question directly, boVi'eVC!", let US ask a more gencni qumion:
why .1CCCpt a substitute at.1l1?
One of the moo rommon plaritudet in political theory,
tcpt:lted in all the elementary totboob., is that while di:ct
democracy might be d l l-cry' wdl in a small ciry-state, it is
obviously quite unrealistic in a nation-statc of $eVerlI.l million
people."'ln faa, this platitudc is certainly false', With the com-
municatiOns technology available to us tuday, an e:nCDsioo of
t
DEMOCIACY, DIIECT AND U;PU:SENTATIVE t07
Athenkn-5tyle democracy to .1 modcrn sute would be per-
fectly feasible. Without going into deuils, it is easy to enviAge
daices insr,lIcd in Pri\'ate hoolCS and public
pbc;:s, linked 10 , centnl computet and operaled by means of
IOIUC personalized device, like those already in use for obt:lin-
ingcash from the automatic machinc:soutside b;mks. Propatals
oould be debaled-on nilio and television, and the public muld
contribute by tdcphonc-not everyone, of rourse, but tben
not c'ietyonerould contribute in Athens. If, then, v.'C have niX
seized the opportunity provided by thnologiclll advances to
!tsto", democracy to iu form, it must be: bec:aUR: for
one reason or another ",e a", unenthusiastic about such a
restoration, Maybe people "tlUld find il inconl'enient to VOle
frequently, or consider themselves inrompetent to C.lIprns
opinion on major iSSUC5, or perhaps those who are infl uenti:J.1
in formingopioion on these matters arc apprehensive about lhe
decisions that might anc.ge from difCCl popubr \'Otes on
iuucs rcbting to I'3cial equality, apitlil punishment, or foreign
-- Looking at the rmttcr hiSlorinlly, wc must C'OII-
cede this much truth to the common pblitude: reprt:IC:Dhtive
B)'5tems came ioto existence at 3 time when it was impossible
for all the citizc:rul of the state to take collective deci:siolll
directly, Natioilw5btes CO\'Cr maDY more people, and much
greater territory, than the. Gn:d: city-$.ates. So thase who
could not go to a cmual metting sent others 10 go in their
place. This leads us ID the most straightforward of the various
thrones ofreprcsentation, h is the theory suggested by taking
the term literally. The repre!lCnhtive is to spe:lk and VOle as
those he is representing would ha\'C spolen and VOted,
they been able to be pres(nt.' Representation, on thi5 view, is a
, .'or oflhil .. i ..... lee H. I'ttkia. Tile eMU,'
I;". (Uni'fUSIty 01 California Pr-. l.oI Alicdos sncl Ikrbiey, Jt61).
, ",
""
1'10),1 MODIL TO UALITY
dtvK:e foe producing a I)'5l tm of p'Cmllltllt differing from
direct dcmocncy only in 50 f:IC as is inevitable ifit is to opente
effectively in a large society without a sophisOcated corn-
f"uniurions
There :ICe, howc:ver, difficulties in this notiOll of a representa-
tive doing as thoR be represents 1I'OUld have done. If the:
citizen wants somethillg (say, lowcr taxes) 1\'hicb the repro-
IC'ntathoe knov.s to be inoompatible with otbc:r things the
citiz.en wants (more IIChoals) but the citiun does /lOt appreciate
this incompatibility, what is the representative to do? The
citizen, if he were present, would vote for both lower IlI.xes and
more schools, but lhe rcprescnlll.tive can Iwdly do this. \'eTI
greater difficulties arise when n wnsider that tht representa-
tive is taking the pbee nOl of burOf a a;JIlsiderable
number, with a variety of apart from the
minority who did 1.01 vOle for the candidate 'Il'ho obtained the
most V<ltcs, there will be differences of opinion among those
who did vote for him, I
, 1bcse and difficulties have: led lOfDe thinlen, most
noubly Rousseau, 10 deny that the JX.'Ople can be
Others hne insisted that the difficulties arise only on a mis-
laken view of what 1 rcpresent:ttive shonld be, and hl\'c there-
fore offered alternative arolunts of what a represcntatr .. e
should bc:.\Whilc RouSSCJ.u reiected repc($eDtation because he
believed '\\;11 CllUlot be represented" Edmund Burke told his
tled:OtlJ: ' IC government 1\'ere a ffi;lltef of 1\i ll npon any aide,
yoon '\\;tMut question ought 10 be superior. But government
and Iq;islation an: matttJ'll of rcuon and Burke's
riew that the member of parli;uncnt, ona: elected, is free 10
' J.-J. Rou......u, TM eMIr..:!, trIJII. G. Hoplins, in S.n.i
N. F- HuhT (O.U.P., Loodon, ' 90(7).llt. Ill , ch. ' 5.
E. Burl.::, 'SpecdI1O the lccton: ofBrisrol' (m.l iD Tilt lY .. lr-f
t,....J Barn{Holla'. iblllknl &11 and S<-.I...ondon,
,_).Id. l, po 447

Dluoe.ACY, DIRECT AND IIF;PIUlNTATIVt. 109
c::u:rcise his own jud&=tmt. independendy of the desires elhis
cloctOt'S, is often cited in defence of parliamentary decisions
which are contrary 10 public opirnon. The e1ecton., OR thi5
view, are voting for the mOll! they think will make the best
decisKlns., nther than (IX a man who will exJlre905 their own
opinions or prOlll(Xt lheir ()111ll intaestll. /
Anotba means of ov=:oming difficulties in the ide;a of the
doing as his ronstituenu would ha\'c done is the
suggestion that the repn::senuti\'c body 'should be an ex:Ict
pormit, in minnrure, of the people at brge. 3$ it IOhould
think. re:u<>n, ami act like them'}
FonulUlcIy, we do not MC to decide which of these and
Illher po$Sible theories of reprelefllation II"C prefer. Wc He
interested in whether the obligations of a direc::t: dermxracy
oontinuc 10 hold undcr these of reprnaltarion. The
central questions. here, ".re firstly wheth these systems are
f3ir compromise! ben.'1!m O,Impeting claims to J)O"''tr, and
ICC()[ldly wh<:thcr there is the opportunity for voluntary pmici-
pation in the dccision-proccdure which would gi,-c risc to a
quui-conscnsual obliption.
On the first question. oone of the theories of represtlllation
mentioned lbove necessarily in\-oku a from
compromise. If the general mee.:ing is a fair oompronlise
between OOIllpeting claims to power in a srnJ.!! society, giving
no to Iny individual 01" faction, these rcpmKDt:1tive
could all fu"",ion 10 as 10 IP\'e no adV'lUtages 10
individuals or f:u:tions in a bJItt society.- This would dearly
, .John A.wns.quoted in n, PiWn. T.c-rIIt/Rt"t_wi4<l. p. 60.
',Iu in the model, can 0lIl1 metJl 'noinbuill.d .... "l:I .... .
Jurt ... ill u... model. takia&: cIecUia1III tt &An In Idvanr.ge IQ
rhemosc IQ id_lull" IOOCXlJ lhereooukl illcidmt:ol
[CIe' _. [CIe' insuntt, fot thoR "hi> amllro1 the .... jor
The "tau la ... hkh rhis <keo,. the
dc:moxratil; mu,.,. fCle' obedxnc:e houlfad, bcm dw, ...... OIl pp, ,.-80
......
'"
'IOM MODEL TO IUl.ITY
be the case if reprc:sentatnu really IXlUld vote as those who
c1ccted them would have voted, had Ibey betn ptescut and
properly informed; it would 11so apply if the assembly of
representatives _ 1 genuine microcosm of society as 1 whole
(a result mace likely to be by proportional representa-
tion than by the simple IlIijorily systems of voting used in
Grelt Ilritain and the United States). \ It is perhap!l more
doubtful if Burke's "iA" satisfies the fair compromise require-
ment. It would satisfy it if everyone had the opponunity to
vore for a rcpm;clltath'c in whose judgement he had confi-
dence; if, huwever, there were some who could find no
nndidate tlley trUSted, they would be at a disadnllt:lge, and
might see no poillt in voting at all. Burke could reply that one
is free to Dneself, but practical oonsiderations m3.Y
ma!.:e t.hia: 3 purcly thcorttical freedom. /
\ It. for the sooood question, does voting count as vol untary
panicipation in the decision., ghing rise to quasi-o:Jnsensual
obligation to actqlt the wrdict? Once apin the answer, in
thool"tttcal terms, is affinnam-e. Thcdect.ion of f'(prescntation
pla)"! an important JlII rI in tile decision-making procxdure.
Pt<lple ",ha take part in the c1ccror:Jl pmcC!' art in gtnct"al
prepared to accept the decisions indirectly reached through
that PI"OCCS8. As in direct democracy. thn there should be
II.cccptance in cases follo1\"S from the meaningor pointof
Therefore poopk voting haVt 3 reuonab1e ezpcttation
that others ";11 accept the result auhey thCJngek"tl intend to
do. There is, hOll'evEI", one way in "'hich I representative
delDClCftCy Im.y destroy this obligation which could not oocur
in I direct democncy.\lf the represenuti\"e, after ek:ctioo.
were to act in I nunncr contrary to the way he hid lead those
who c1ca.cd him to he would la, the obligation tTc::Ilcd
by participation "wld no longer bold. Thus, usum"ing we If'(
operating under the lilcn.l understanding of representation,
if people \"Oted for a man who Slid he would v()(c for propogls

DEMOCIACY. DIRECT AND III
X, V, and Z because, had they hem able lOaltend tneusembly.
they would have VO(ed fOl" these propoAls; and the
live then \"Otc:s as-inst X. Y, and Z. the people may
maintain lhat tlxir votes by a kind offraud, and
that ttter are thetefOft under no obligation to ICttpt the out.
come!Thc $alOe point would apply to tbe microcosmic theory
if, for insunce, the elected n:presenbli\"e of 11 group of fllctOry
worlo:en were to throw olf his ovcraJIs after the election and
rtl-eal hilrulelf as the son of the If rcprncnb-
(h'e! an: to be: independent of those who elected them, 3S
Durkc thought they should be, it SC!elTlllicss likdy th1t conduct
.fter an election could in\';Iiidatt the election ilS<:Jf. One way
in which it could still happen ',I'ollld be if, in order to show
that he "liS the m311 that ODuld bat be to milke the
right d:isiOO!, the candidate had indiated how he would
VOfe on om:ain issues if electtd, and then lucr \'OCet.i differ-
tntly witbout cbiming thn circumstances had altered.
AJllhis is absma Iboory. I hillve suggest(d that thae
If'( forms of f(present2th"e democracy in ,,'hieh the te'l!lOOS
fOf ubedience that hold in a direct dell\OCney would still ha\"e
their full force. In throry, the lnn!iition to a largtt society
need Ilot vitiate these reasollS. But none of this has any immedi-
ate bearing on the societies in whieh we li\"t. These .societies (I
am assuming Ibat tile reader Li,'OI in one of the countries
governed by iIOIlle form of parliamentary dClItOCf:Icy) are IXIt
regubted by the prcscriptiOrull of any pure thlry ofl"t[hcscnta-
tion. 1bcir institutions have beenshapcd by a gmt manyocher
factors. Yet it is in rcfen:n<:e to these societies that 50 many
people Ay: 'Disobedience in a d(moctUy is (1Im06l) never
-)usti6cd.' We ha"e not completed our u:unimtion of this idu
until ,,"t have considered the application of the dernocr.itie
rea50ruII for obedience to these 'Western democracies' . '
FROM MODEL TO R.EALll'Y
CONTU IPORARY WESTERN DEMOCRACY
, To what extent do the politiCl I systems of those states 'VI'e in
the West commonly think of as democracies-Britain, the
UnilCd Slales, France, Austnlia, India, Japan, ;md so OD-
incorporate the pre:requisitc:s of the democratic reasons for
obedience?'To aru.-wcr this question VI"C must t.1ke note of the
findings of contemporary political scientists. Narunlly, these
writers differ anWng themseh'C:S about how well modem
democracies work.' It v,ould be easy, if wc were 10 stlect our
descriptions from those most hostile to the Western method of
government, to come to the conclusion that these political
systems, far from being oompromises, arc in reality the
means by which one cbss di.'I(Ilises its oppression of the other.
This approach, however, would convince only those already
hostile to Wcstem democracy. So I mill, instead, rdy on
descripdons of WCS(crn dcmocracy given by Ihose "ho count
themselves among ilS
\ AIlhough differing OD m;my points, those who have written
300ut modern delllOCr.ltie forms of gol'emment lend 10 agree
that the traditional theories of represent:ative dell'lo('TJCY do
not describe any aisting national political system. Representi-
ti,'(':S do not ,ote as their constituents v .. ould ru.ve \'Oted; nor
do elector.; choose those whose wise judgement thc)' fl-el thq
can trust; nOl' are representll.tive bodies microoosms of the
nation. All theories, contemporary ""riters say, unrealisti-
cally auribme 10 ordinary poople informcd opinions on the
major issues of Ihe day> or on the personal characteristics of
cam]ioJates for electoral office. In no large-so.le soeiery do the
great mass of the prople ru.ve such upinions. Some wntCfS
\\'Otlld add; it is a good thing mat !bey do not. These writers,
as I have said, are nOl: enemies of democracy.IThcy regard
themstlves as its supporters. Tbe m;m who did more
anyone else {O gain a<Xept:lnce for this re>-ised view of de-
,
CONTEMPORARY WESl'ERN DEMOCRACY
"3
rnocracy was Joseph Schumpcter, who sand as Minister of
Finance in a Social-Democrat Government in Austria aftcr the
First World War. ;md quit a professorship in Dcrlin to go to
America when Nazism was begillI1ing to assert itself in
Germany. Earlier wrilCrs, not;1bly Mosca ;md ]>areto., had
criticized classical dcrtlOCl'3tic theory along similar lines, but it
was only with Schumpeter's Capitali$m, S/Kiafi$m, and
DtnromKJ (first published in 1942) that these ideu began to
tike hold democrats. The book contains a forthright
anad:; on the 'myths' of democracy, including the belief that
' ... "the people" hold a definite ;md rational opinion abollt
evcry indi\idual question and that they gi\'e effect to this
opinion-in a democr.tey-by choosing "represent:ltives" who
will see to it th:u dut opinion is carried out." J n place of this
myth (If cI..ssical democratie theory, Schumpcter proposes a
more rc:lliscie revision;
VOlo::rs do not drodc issues. But neither do they pick thei r members
of parliament from the di,,'ihk population "llh a pcrfmly open
mind. In allllOfDlal the inituth't' lies "ilh the candidatc who
maka; a bid for the office of member of parli.ment and such local
leadership as that may imply. VotmJ CQnl1ne Uxmsm-es to
Ihis bid in 10 others or to it.'
It should be noted tllat &humpetet is going beyond what
IJurke said aoom the independence of the candidate, once
elected. Bude did not deny that voters have a real and un-
limited ehoiceasto whom they shall elect; according to Sebum_
peter, howC"\'er, the initiali"e lies with the candidate, not the
' 'Oters, and tile voter's choice is limited to accepting one oftbe
small number of 'bids' made to him.
Strong support for the view that it is unrealil;tic to expect
"oters to do morc than one of a very limited number of
Jrd M. (Allea.IM Un",in, London, 1961), (I. 4
C4pU4IiSttf, SIK'2hSttf,.M DtmrMl, p. ,.Ib.
11" .. kOM MOO!;L TO REALITY
options hu a)n'Ie from studies of how people vote. Surveys of
voting lx:hayiour hue found that very few VOItn are properly
infonncd about the i.ssues at staR in elcctiousj in plICticubr,
the minonty who change thrir vote betwccn dcrtions (and so
dfcctivcly determine the oUloomc of elections) are genenUy
less well informed than theavttage voter, and VOle on the Ixlsis
of fKlors IlOrTmIly considered trhial or lm:ieYant.1 These
results could, of COUl'5e, have been u.l:en as an indic:uioo th:olt
real democracy is yet to be acitil:'"edj instead, most post.W2r
democn.tic thc0ri5rs, clinging to the ide;a tlu.t if'delDOCr.lCY'
has any meaning at all, then the United Sates. Britlin, and
nations with similar politic:ll S)'JIcnu must be demo<:r2cies.,
hne that the VOling studies make obsolete tnlditional
ideu about the role of the pc-ople in a democracy( It would be
tedious 10 iIlustnte this with quotatiON from C\'CfI a sample of
the v .. rita'5 who hne nkco this position.' Instad I shall, in
the following dixussion, rely nuinly on tlle work of Robw
Dahl, a wellknown and generally middle-of.the-road repre-
sentative of modem Arneriaul wnlenl on democncy. I>.ahl
aroeplll Schumpeter's criticism of mditional ideas about
democracy, in 80 far as he bcliC\'n that:
,
A good deal or tlerno<:TlItie IhCOl')' kllb 115 to eJlpect: more rrom
nationll electiollll than they Cln possibly provide. We npect
electioru; 10 rC\'ealthe '"iIl' or the prefm:nccs of a m:ljority on I Rt
or issues. Thi5 is one thins rarely do, uCCpt in an almu:5t
crhial f.uhion ... EIC'C'tions anti political competition do nol make
for by IlIIIjoritic:l in 11IT Vl:ry aignific:lnt ",:ay, buttbcy
"'5lIy illQ'(;lsc the lW" numlxr, .nd variety or minorities " 'ho!;.c
, or u.... per_pi the lieu km",n U lhol by (I. ElcKI..on, P.
W. Mcl'lltt. Y""'.v(UaiY<'nily ofOUcap> Praa. a.x::.go,
1954).
For lA acdIem: brid' anat)'llii nl tlx _ nobble of _ P.
8Idnch T. nnry 1/ On.rllfi< Elifi .. I'raI, London, 1960)
10 which tM Jl<ClCnt .1 ........ ;. indcblod.
CONTEMI'OKAKY wtsTUN Of.MOCKACY 115
prefCl'tTlCa mu,t be I2kcn into aceouru: by leaders in making policy
dlOioes..'
I shall aceept the consensus of polirical scientists that these
\;CVo1l describe., far better thm the traditional theory of
delDOCl'lC)", what Klually in a modern of
type we know III Wcstern I $hall not: dlSCUS5 m
detail the claims made tha.t modem
a better
=
' -'one reason for obeying
the UlOS of a politioll SYStem is that one prcfen; that system to
any other, and desircs 10 support it. In this connection wc ean
nOle giving: up lhe notion of elTeaivc mass Plnicipuion
the new theories also give up an aim thlt J. S. Mill thought
\.try inlpDft:lnt, the aim of self--dcvdopltK:nt through participa-
tion in the governmenl of one'. community. Against this we
must balano; if tllC f'C'Yisionists are rigllt, certain adVllntages:
subility, elitiSt restraint of m"," protcttion for
some (thO)iSh not aU) .minorities against .majority
flexibility . The political system! descrIbed by the Tcv\slomsl
wrilers al!lO 53ve us rime and inconvenience, in that less of us
have 10 concern with political issues. Despite these
ad\llntagtS, there is liltle doubt in my mind that these writers
have made virruCll out ofnccf;!l.'lity. The politi(;;ll system they
describe may be Ixutr thall any other uistillg political system.
It may C\'Cn be the best worJc:able system a
could have. This, no doubt, 15 what the rCV\SIOOI5lS beht'\c,
and 50 thcy think 11 Important that v .. eshould not: be tempted to
'Unfomily of<:lUa8o Prc., OUeap. 1956. pp.
Sdwmptln', C.,.,.Ii.., .Ill tx.",4(Y, p. ;aSJ; O.
Sutori. Dnwr.ru"""", (Praqn', York, ,965)' p..
I OahI, A Prtf_" ... Tlwr1. 132, I SI .
IAarlf'dd, and McPhcc, Y'''III, pp. J't.-u.
,,6
nOM MODEL TO .. EALITV
.blndon or .lter the S}'S(CJn .... 'e have for the sale of the ideals
of traditional democnric theory. Whtthcr I closer approxima-
lioa 10 thc:ac would be lmrbble is SOO'lething about
which v.1! cannot be ccrt1m.lf lI-c think tN.1 the system \I\'e h:!ve
ius good a politicalsystcm as human bcing:s possibly can have,
we will this as a reason for IUpponing, and therefore
obeyiflg the \"t;rdia of, this system. If, 01\ the 0Ihc:r hind, 1Ii"C
beIiC\'e the ideals of deltlOCnlic theory both workable: and
worth striving v.e may uke the findinga of the voting
studies simply as indintion of the dim.nee still to be
covered in these ideals.'
\ Of mort direct concern to US is the question' whether
l
demncin, on the In'ised view of them, give rise to tlle tWO
mljor rtaSOf1S for obWicna: to liW which held for daIl()(l'2Ciel
like our model dcmocntic association, and fOf Iqlrcsentati,"c
forms of SO"ttnmmt u they bi.\'e b:n ronccived in tlu:Qrics
of representation. F'U'5tIy, "-e must ask, is the new delDOClacy
a fair compromise between aU individuu,; and groUJl5, giving
no panjcuiar .dvulI;l.ge 10 any of them?
.J Acwriling to tallier ideas of democracy, fairness is
by the insti tution of in which each member of the
sexiery has onc \"Ofe, which he allOts to the candidate who he
,,:iU best represent his views, interests, or oocial group,
or who WIU mac the best decisions on the major issues of the
dloy0Ve seen that .lofId Dahl deny that
elections functHlII In lUly of these .... '2)"8. It IS deJr that it does
nut follow from the fact that everyone has 10 \'Otc in an clcaion
th3t the dc:ction is I fair indication of the preferences of the
elcctonlc. It may not be fair indkation if, as Schumpcter
gugsau, vOfen ;acoonfined roacccptingoncof a small number
of bids. This is the cue when voten arc, for .ll pnr.ic::d
purposes, limited 10 a choioe bct"'cetl 1 .. '0 major putics. The
theory of reprClCntative dclllOCnC)' dc\'cloped in a time ",ben
there ... ere no political pnties in the modern sense, .nd it has

CONTU,iPOU.Y WUTUN Ot MOC. /oCY "7
been found difficult to reconcile the uistmcc of parties with
defll()Cf'2tie presuppos;itions. AJ one writer has ... bile
British political pnctice is now dominated by me aS8umption
that the PulWncntuy parties..-i1l behave as disciplined bklcb.
Dritish political thought stiU Iacb aDY justifiatioo of party
discipline that is gcncrally Iooctpled.>t One might "-ell think
that ... henever vukrs arc limited to a choice between two or
three m:ljot panics, vie ... s not represented by thCR panics ue
unfairly excluded. Before reaching this conclusion, however,
it iJ neccsury to consider the Mnueof political p1rUes and the
role thl!Y play in the democratic process., for there been
attemplll to silo ... that this role is compatible with democatic
principlet of equality.
In this book PlllrlJ/ilt iHrtfHrlJ&J ;" tile U"itd SWt1:
CIIIIJllrt find Cllrumt,t DaM hZ!l a chapter entitled 'Political
ParUcs : Contributions to In me roursc of this
discuS$ion Dahl oonccdts ,tut 'A \"Oter presented with two
rinl amdidlles might prerer neither of them .50 much tJ a
third poss.ibIt candidate ... ho (aiIed to win a nominuion by
either party.'J DaM defends the patty J)'SIcm by the follo"ing
argument:
The i'tm:lins, wo, chu "'hcncvff I dh-c,,:iry orviewpoi nts
desin:d ahcrnatives e.tists among the ciciuns oC a democl'1l.Cf, t he
citizc:1U mUlt, 5IlIllICr or btcr, by one process or another, reject all
but one altcrnali\-c (c\= iJ' the fugl choic:e ;,., in effect, the null
Ihemathe of inaction). is no esaping this Pfocas; it ill the
($I!/Cnc:e oC'n.liooaliry', the only QUe6tKm is where and hoW' it ukes
place. Much of the prooesII of winnowin, out ahcrnali\'Q wvId we
pt.cc -flirt In Uection, or I,. the dection i*lf, or in ncgotiationr
'A 11. Dircla, iUtn-1Q/ir'l QU Rn1ftll!k CnnMlttll (AIIeD urd
Unwin., I...oDdmi., p. UI; quoItd iD A. 11. Din:h, Rtjrnnu.n.,
(PAll fohll, I..00<l00, 1971), p. loo.
RUId "k."ally, Chic::.go, 1067.
rbid., p. 1S1
,,'
FlOM MOOI:L TO RtALITY
-flrr the dection. All party systems do sotm winnowin, kIf" IllI
dection! making the itsdf I11OI'e dW.." by rtducin, the
alll:mal1nS, IhUJ IClWlDJ ks5 winno"Utg to be done after the
dcaion by bupininl and negoIu.lion '1llOOI memben of diffaent
,.nXs ...
notion. lh:m, Iha! parties. irrationality in rnakinJ
by n:ducml the It based upon too simple I
p1CMe of the pl'(lCC:lSC:l by ",h,eb ooIlecti\'!: political decisions can
be made,'I'Of &I.hueb rliOC: i necesurily in''OIvu drwic rtdU(tion
in the Ahhough the question is obviowdy l'J:ctedingly
complu, ,I !jIOCml much more reasonable to condude (11.1 most
do) that on tIX '!I'hole the p;trtie' play a
role ,n Ihd process.'
Obviously Dahl is right to say that tbe process of reducing
ahern:ative policies to one policy must be done 5(N1Ie1\'hcre'
is especially of the: title of the chapter
which thIS pasuge appears, IS hIS apparent indifference whether
talcs plao;e before, in, or after In election. Surely
If the pobncal system to oper.Ite dcmoc:n.tially, it will be
best if the rcduaion of altcmati,cs u\.:es pboe in the election
ilKlf, so th:Jt all citizens equally in it, instead of
being presented with a flit accampli thu la,'CS them linle
in The next bc.'St would perhaps
be tfthe rcduc\Jon of altcmali\'CS were done after the dection
110 tll:lt it is done by the elected representuivC! of the "oters:
If, howe..-cr, it is thought thu unless a gre:lt deal of reduction
is done before the election the votCfS will be faced with too
and confusing I series of choices, then it v;ou]d at
least be essential that this prior reduction of alternatives is
done in a dcm:ocntic 1lWIntt. In a modem party system of
dcmocncy, this could oexut on1y if political panies were
dcmocnticaUy orpnized. Dah!'s indiffocucc to how the
ftduaion of alternatives nke5 place is Il\;ldc ma: punling
, Ibid., p. Emphaait in oripnal
CONTEMPOI"tV WUTU,N' DEWOCtACY 119
by biB vitlo-s on this ngttu. Discussing tht criticism that
parriet ate 'internally undemocratic and Ire ruled by olig-
aMes', Dahl mldilyconoede!l:
'ne du.tge is in ooasidcnhk true.. Thu the II(IIninations
and poIicia: of politial p'rties lend to M conb"oIled by kWus,
nlher than rank and .file of members Of supponns,
SttmJ undemablc/rberc 15 . tnORdentnlization and
uf in d)C rfiO American prnics than in man)' Europc3o
parllcs; e,;cn 110, both the I:kmO<.Tllie and Republican pollTl;CS ..-ould
be !TIOI"Il Iccuratcly q \XlIiiliolls of oligarchies than 115
demOCl'lltic orgarrizariuJJ!I,'
, The piCtUre that emerges is ont of elections ,.-hieh present
the citiun with a choice of two, or perhaps or four,
altcrmth'e poIicie8 and candid.:ues, the scle!;liQl\ of a1temativca
to be presented to the citizens being made by oligarchical
org:animtKlI15.. It is hard to set how this <:an satisfy the require-
ment of fair compromise. Those who h2vc influence in tbe
major political puries f..r man: power th.3n fair corn..
promise _",lid allow them. t
A democratic process domilUtcd by two or three Imjor
panies is unlikely 10 be fair enn when !he parties genuillt:ly
differ, for the combinations of policies Ihat they prC$t:Ut are
still deals" and 0\3Y not be those which the "oten
would pn!fer, were they free to select some policies ftOm one
party and o!hers from another. Wben the policies ofthe major
panies do not differ at aU, or differ only inmgnificantly, the
unfairness croted by the dominance or partin boeomcs greater
, p. 'Thio is echoed br nunr mtlkDuofpolil:ical in
otbn' modml ckmamtdr:s. S. H. Deer, foe' surnmariz,os one: of
dle filldinp of bis M ....... BtitUJ. Pdlu,: A S""'7 P",ria w
cd., F.bi:r, London, 1069) .follows,N
huoftl::D. becobau,cd, the_ pS"'y,(\'Q if ill .... hJy
d, "w mtic:, Ifndi: 10 aqoantc Ie:adcrshlp from lbo: nU .nd fill: .nd 10
:K:aIIRIIlate infIumce = tM lunch nl on clite.' (p. 405)
1'lO PlOM TO "ULITY
5lill. 1 b3._'e already It'lCfltioned, in a dilferent contal, the 1968
dection for the Presidency of the UnitN States. Although a
substantPl proportion of the population was opposed 10 me
eooUnua.tioo of the war in Vietnam, the election p'e thi5
opposition no real opportunity to apress itself, or to campaign
and allempt to v.in influence in decision-making. UDder these
conditionJ, an ekction ClMot be regarded &!I I hir compromise,
for those in f,,our of continuins: the mr had the enormous
advantage (lf controlling both the major politic:tl parties. In a
less tlram1tic way, mc same sort of thing Ilappens whenever,
in a 5)'$lem, both plme!! agree on an issue.
S<:humpetcr, v.ith chuaeteristie fr.tnkncss, lek.tlOv. ledges the
unfairness of the party system when he sa)'s that his definition
of democracy .110"''' ,,-ay! of competing for the people!!' ' 'Ot6
which are 'urilringly analogous to the romomie phenomena we
label "unfair" or "fr.tudulcnt" competition or restnint of
mdt'o SchWJIpctet defends this by saying;
.. c ClnJl(M aclude them because if _ did we ibould be Idt ",ith:l.
oompletd)' unrtl.li5ric ideal. Ikt1I"ttn lhiI i<kll cue which does rwt
aiif and (he cues in .... hick 111 llOaIpC'tition "i lh Ihe cslabli,hcd
leader is by on:<:, thac <I.I<It;nllOul nngeuvanalion
.... ithin which the demOQ"ltic method of government llhadcs off into
the autocratic one by imperocpliblc stcps. Out if lI'e wi,h tn
5bnd not to philoriophize, Ihis is 1$ illlhoukl be.'
Schumpc:te:r, of course, is 10 Ulldcl1itanding
to philosophWnr;hut once we ask whether ',H: Otlght to obey
a law, we Clnnot avoid philosoopbizing (in the stlUlC in ,,hleh
this "'hole book is 11. piece of philosophiring). In
[his question the: dilfen:m:e betwttn a bu-and an unfair systcm
may be more significant tlu.n thedilferc:nce between a
ship and .... hat Sehumpeter "I',ould eal1 a democracy.
I n view of th_ dllJl"lcomings of elections in
'C.,.r-1Wto, W p. 81' .
CONTItMPORARY WESTtaN DEMOCRACY 11.1
many Western demCJc::rKics, it is not. surprising WI poIitial
meorists b3.ve looked to other aspc<:Uof lhcac lIOcietics in order
to sho", thattbe S)'Sltm is not really as unf.air as oonsidcntioo
of elcaions alone might lead us to believe:. Acoording to tD2ny
recent the of ordinary members of me
public become politically significant not by mean, of dections,
but only when they are ocganized into pressure groups. These
groups bring mc:ir influence: to ben 01\ the gtl\'ernmc:nt, and
me oourst the gm-emmcnl tal:es is, within broad limits, an
attempt to !Atisf)' the prcssme: groups and thus, indirectly, to
put into cffect the preferences of the members of the groups.
This system could be a fair compromise:, but only if it "Ilo"Ofked
so as to gi,.e: any indi_idual the same innuence, or at lem the
same: opportUnity for h:a.ving influence, a:I any other individual.
Dahl thinks the role of minority groups "itaUy important in
!he politics oia country such as the: United Slates-so import-
ant, in fact, that be sometimes rders [Otbe Amerians),stc:m of
government :as 1. 'polyarchy'. It is, he thinks, mainly the dis-
tinction bet"'cen rule by I minority and rule by minorities
which constirntcs: the: difference between a democncy and a
dictatorship;
; closer tu
between pemmc:nt by I minority lnd government by
""_"OU. AA comp.,aJ with lhe poIitieal processes o a dieutOJ"-
ship, the o poIyall."hy gready cnmd the number,
sitt .ne. diversity of tlM: minorities whose pn-reKno::s .,.ill inllue.x:e
the ou!eOme of govcmmenbIl dct:i\DoI .. ,
I...:Iter, Dahl dcfmes the 'normal' American political process as
one: 'in ,,'hich all the aro\'e and legitimate grouP! in the JIOPub-
I If Prtf,,, nur" p. I )). F..mphu ........ isi ... 1.
'"
,.ROM MODr:L TO IULITY
tiIIn an make he:lrd It some cruc:W stage in the
process of decisions' ..
Does this lPC:ln th2t the normal American political system.
assuming Dahl', description to be a=k, is a fair oorn-
Not quite. We mll.'lt examine the signifICance of the
qualifying phrase 'aetive and 1egi1im:ate' in order to sce
groups cannot maie themselvc:s heard effeaivdy. To bkt
first 'active', One might think thlt if a group is inacti\'e, t1lis is
an indication th:it it CUlDOl care very mud! .OOm having
inHuenoe On we gQy(:nunelll. If Ihis wert so.. the exclusion of
inactive: groups woold noI: matter much. h might even be
desirable, as a means of tiling into account not only
but also the intensity with which people ll'lllRt to see their
preferences e.tpressed in go..-emmmt decisions. & long as
every group ha.'! the opP<Jnunity to be active, the rcquiremcnlS
of fair compromise may wdl be S3tisficd. Unfortunately. this
is noe: wlu.t Dahl means. An inlcti\'c grotJp, for him, is not
IlCt"CSSariJy a group which cannot be bothered to be actnc. A.
group JNt be inmive, be acknowledga, 'by free choice,
violence, intimidation, or law'.
The qualifiC3tion 'legitimate' ill just 115 serious a restriction:
'Dy "legitimate" I mean those whose is accepted as
right and proper by ptcpondcr.mt portion of tbe active. In
the South, Negroes were not until te<:cndy an active group.
Evidently, Communists are not now a legitimate group." Thus
IfOUPS Imy be denied the opportun.ity of being heard elfcrt-
becau$IC violeooe, intimidation, or bw prevent them from
Ming 3Ctivc, or becluse tbeir acti\-ity, for some reason or Othtt,
.. not Iccq>tal as right and proper by the a<:U\"C ma}ority. It
.. dear tlut no justification, in terms of fair compromise, can
be: given for rm:h Cldusiorut. The groups exdudal in
ways, therefore, would not ha\'e tbe special reuon fot obeying
'lbid .. pp. '31"8.
lbid .. p. 'll
CONTUIPOJ.AJ.Y WUTEJ.N DfMOCJ. ... CY
"3
the bw ,,hiOO c:rist3 in a modd dcmocncy, based on fair
compromise.
There other ways in ,,hleh a pressure group 1)"Slcrn is
unIil:cly to be fair to all members of llOCirty. As Oahl readily
admits: 'To be "heud" coven a wide nnge of activities ...
Ocarly, it does not il1(2'n that every group hu control
- over the oU[C11le ... neither individuals nor groups are
political equili." It is indced obvious 10 anyone who n:flKts
on the Wly premue groups operate tlut they are anything but
eqlal in influence (I mean by this, u I pusume D1hl does. in
proportion to their Some quite InWl groups, fot
inslancc., lhoK representing big business, are in I
position. They have tbc money to contribute signifiCiUltly to
party funds:, and to cstIblish full-time public rdatioll3 bureaux
to pur their point of They more likely llun other
groups to personal contacts with leading since
they will 10 come from the Ame social &tr:lta, to have
mended the same schools and oolleges, bdong to the iWIle
ZOlf or IiIX.Uldub. mve profCI5iomJ contxt5, and $0011. Much
lal(CI" groups. such 1$ the consumers, will find it harder to get
organized, contribute to puty funds, or c:onlac:t politicians.
Thq may sucet:ed evenrnally. if they are large enough, by
making the issue electorally import:mt. For other groups,
bowe'i"cr, '\lith neither the influence ofthc small, highly organ-
ized group, nor the Eize of a group like the COll$umcrs, there
may be no "''ay in which they can make themscl\cs heard
effceri\cI,.. 1bc poor, for cx.ample, C3Mot orpnite p.opal! as
a presmre grouP. and :an: nIX numerous enough to ha\c
natiooal dcaonl signifianoe. These defects mean that the
political system is permanently, or fot long periods, biased
against a:min sections of the community. If these sections
should find themselves faced with a law which they opposed,
I Ibid., p. '.5. Sec.1Io Doh!, PIIINIIiJJ lXr1uKr", JJu U,,;wJ
lit. IV.
'24 paOM J.IODEL TO REALITY'
but was passed because of the disproportionate inftuence of
other groups, they cannot be urged to obey on the grounds that
the prmsure group system is a fair Q)Illpromise.
We JNy conclude that modern democracies, as dc8cribed by
tbost favounble to this system of government, ate I\Ol f:lir
compromiJes between ;t.I1 competing groups :lnd individwJs.
Tu say this is not to ray th3t from this point of view therc is no
between a modern delllOCl'foCY and a dictatorship.
, We Inust agree with Dahl' when he says'that the fortnCr is
tuled by more, larger, and more divcrse minority groups Ihmn
the laller. This mC:lns Ihlt there will bemoregroups. and more
members of groupll, who have had at leasl tbcshareofinfluencc
on decisions that they would receive under a fair compromise.
These people will have the same rc;tSOIl fot obedimoe that they
would b.u"e in a model democracy, in ",-hieh there was fair
compromiM;since they will ha\c had al leasl as much ioRucnce
as they ... ould Iu.'"e had in a modd dl:moc:racy. But those people
who are dcpti\"W of the share of influcocc on docisions thl:y
would have lu.d undet I fair compromise do not lu.ve this bllsic
reason for obedience. In respect of this particular rcuon for
obedience, these people are in the ume position u they \\1)uld
bl: if they were li,iug under a dictatorship.
We have found that the first of the rnwns for obedience whieh
differentiated our modd uemocfllU" usociation from our
modd dicntorships is mH wholly applicable in I modern
'WIl'S!em dcmocncy'. Wlu.t of the seaHld fClSOf}, arising from
participation ? Although, as we lu.ve seen, ekctiON in a roodem
democracy aTe not I fait means of taking decisions, this does
nO( mean that participation in them OlnOOl: give rise to a reason
for acotpting the result. The rason, or obligation, arising
from partieiPQtion in the dccision-prucWun: does not depend
on the procedure being fait in all re5pU. It dc:pends only on
the procedure being rair in those respects in which the (r.lrtici-
CONTUIPOlAlY' WESTUN DU.IOC_ACY
pant takes it 10 be fair. There is an all2\ogy here with an
agreemenl to a dispute to a n:feree.. I( Smith and Jones
.lw:ruld agree to 8Ctlle a dispule bctv.un them by takinz: it to
Smith's brocher for arbitr.ltion, the relationship betv.ttfI
Smith Ind the proposed refet being known to Jonc::s It the
time, Jone! cannot bter be heard to Ay th3t he is under . no
oblil,'ation to accept tbe ,erdia bcause the referee, bc:ing
Smith's br()(her, mu.o;t ha\"e been biased. 11lis may be a ground
for refusing to accept thc proposed refet in the fifS! pbce, but
it not affi:ct the.signifiOlllce of accc:pting the referee if onc
llcvcrthelcss choosc:'l to do so. a person who
pated in the 1()68 United Stau::s prnidcntial election cannol
afttn\"Uds CSOIpe his obligation 10 accept the result of the
eleaion on the grounds th:u tbe election was unfair to op-
pOIll:nts of the 1I"Jr. This tOO is a reason for nut participating
in the cleaion:)ut il cannOl \ititk the pnm" obligation
10 '1\"hi .. h ponicip:llion rise. sinco'the participant must
have known that thae "'" ne. anti-""ar candilbte $Upportal
by either oftbe nujor parries. El-"1:n if onc participated because
then was nothing better 10 do, becauscone tbought onecandi-
dale a more moclente supporter of the ""llf than the other, so
that onc mighl do some good by fur rum, while onc
could achieve nothing by abst:lining, the obligation would
ari!le because (as 1 arpieu in Part I) it dOd 1'101 depend on
actu;t.l consent. Matters of which the partici(lQnl could not
rcuonably have been 10 be: aware arc, of count.
different. Just as the discovery Wl Smith had bribed his
brother "V;Uld ncvte Jones's tbc..I.crdict
of Smith's brother, SO the disc:overy of false b3.llot papers,
or substantial miscounting, would q;ale the obliption
which would nt:herwiSIC arise from [rticipation in the
dection.
TIlC:SIt poinlll seem to be fairly cleu. Othen are less easy to
deal widt briefly. There is difficulty in deciding just what onc
'1.0,1.1 MOOr:t. TO J.f;At. ITY
\ conscnb to "'hen one participates in an ekaion. We can say,
simply enough, that one colUCnts to abide by the result of the
election, but what is the ' result of the election'? 'Cbe result of,
.y, the 1970 Gcnenl Election in Great Driuin was that the
Comcrvative l'arty pined a IIU.jority in Parliament and formed
a government. So a panicipant in the dcction has a jlriffl4fotit
obligation to acctpt that the Consc:rvatival ought to govern.
But does this mean that he is similarly obligtd to aq:ej)t C\'cry
law passaI by the Conscrvati,u, Not nceusarily:" A pcnon
wbo p:uticipakS in an election il obliged-u if hclwl CDruZllwi
to the 5tated policies of whatever party gains a IltIjority being
put into practice. but if the victorious pany ",-ere to act. in a
manner contrary to _11 it had said 110Q1" 10 the dccrlon, I
think !be obligation "uuld not hold,l For the victorious pmy
would then be in 1 position of power by means of doocit The
atmne enmple or this I.:ind of dc\:cit would be a member of
one lXl"y declaring, after he had been elected with the support
oC J'IIIrty, thtl he rea.lly fl\"Ourcd the policies of rhe other
party. To do thi<! woold be to win by deceit as Sl1rcly u if one
had forged Ixlllot J'IIIpcn, since the \'ictory would come about
only bec:luse the dectors had been dccehoo. Actual cases,
however, arc in\"lIriably less clear-cut, and it is much mOte
difficult (0 establis h if an inconsistency bcfVt'CCJl
promi!le and pcrforma!Jce vitiates the obligation to accqlt the
n:.rulu of the election. Allowance must be made for changed
circumstances, in which a change of policiC!! may be necessary.
To u kean actual example, Dr. Iknjamin Spod:hasargued that
the nature of the delIl(JCr.lue proeess in America does not oblige
him to obey the law; he IfguCS this on lhc ground rhat in the
196-4 presidcutial election he personaUy ampciigned Cor,
,"Oted for, Lyndon B. }ohnson because Johnson had promised
to diSSCabk the \\"lIt in , rlCtlllm-yet }ohnson, arter his
deCl:ion victOfy, continued the CSC;tbtiOD of the ""lit. L Spock, it
, III D.D.C. inIeniew browbal: I July 1910- The &.et lhat Spcxt
CONl't.wPOJ.AJ.Y WtSTUN DtMoCaACY 127
seems to me,'has a serious case here: along tM have
just becta diSC'ussing.\To settle the issue, would need to
check two how definite a rommitment to de-escabtion
did }oluuon si\''''? Ind did eircumstlnttS alter, significantJy
aod unupoctoUly, after the election in web I way as to make
it reasonable for a man, wbo in cill'!UII'ISUnces hold
pbnncd 10 de abte, to feci that he should, in the new
oonditions., rontinue 10 escalate r Neither of these: questions is
easy to ,"S"'er, but if we did answers [0 them we could, I
think, decide whether }ohnwn't prc-da:tit:m. sutements about
Virtnun misled some "ou:rs as to the I.:ind of Qfldiibte rhey
were ,'CIting for. If decided that rhis II"lIS the cue, it ,,"OUld
vitiate IIny "itu fltlL oblig::ltion to obey }ohnson's policies
which lhoR who J'IIInicipated in lhe election would otherwise
have.
The position is in some rtspe(U simi lar when a victorious
inl1"Oduea new propo8JLs of a far-ruching kind which
have not been PUt to the eleaorate (excluding, of course,
designed to with a situation unforesec:n at the
time of the election). The theory that an 'cle<:tDfil l mandate' is
IlCttSS;lry lOt such change has become popular in Britain since
the war. In the ),e;J.r foUolli ng the Genetlll Election of 1970,
lading members of the Government made use
of this idea in an aHtmpt to disrout:lb't opposi tion tn their
propotlals 011 industrial nlatians. WhatC\'er ooe's attitude to
the Industrial Rclatious Art, the Canservati\cs were justified
in pointing out that they had indicated in their election rmni_
fcsto what they would do., and I would agree dill this was a
rclennt considetlltion against i11ep1 opposition to the Aa, If
Ihhl and rhe other revisioniRt are tight in their descriptions
of our form of SU"cmmcnt, h01t"cver, the signi6e:mce of this
CI"IpLipM'd perD1IlIy nul .. link dilfcrtnce to the IUbstaace cL his
mitt ;1 only tal,,::. it more 1fIpbic..
128 ,.IlOM MOOEL TO IlEALITY
COIIsideration is not thu the dcction result IOO.-cd that I
lftlljority of the adults in Britllin supported the new law-
many may m\'e voted fOf the government in ignonnce of, or
even in spite of. this particular PropoAJ. Rather, I the
... prioe- announcement of Gxisen'3ti-ye intentions made illegal
resistance by those woo JWticipated in the election huder to
justify because by tbeir participation tbqt .. -en: obliged as if
they had consented to these intentions being put intD effect,
should the Conscrvatin., !pin a majority.' 7.
'The conclusion to be dnwn from this di,cmsion. in which
'We have :assumed that modcrn Western democncy functions
more or less as Dahl and simibr politial thC()riBts have said it
does, is that the specifially dCfllOCr'aUe for obeyin&, the
la ..... which applied in Our model democratic community apply
only in part to the socieI: ies in ..... hich .... e li,Co' The discrepancy
ill :l serious one.'Many groups and 1'IOt having an
equal share of po ..... ercilher through 'prC$Sure group' politics or
dections, cannot he urgN tD obey, or even to jWticipate in
elcaions, on the grounds tbat the division of power in our
$OCicty is a compromise. If they do nO( participate in
elections. neith"'r of the spedal reasons for obedienc", peculiar
to a democratic form of govcrnmmt will be applicable.
\ This COIIclusion is :l ground for dissatisfaction ",ith "the
IIlate of described by the writers"/l'e have hem consider-
price that must be paid for our form of democracy is
1'10( just the elimination of sdf-dcvelopment through panicipa-
tion! as other ... riten luvc argued. I think it possible tJut the
weakntsS of the arguments foe- obedience, as they apply to
Western democracies, is a factor in the amount of disobedience
which now IlJ(ds amtro-.usial decisions in many of thcsc
tIOcieties. M plpubtions become increuingly educated and
politially sophistiC:lted. they, or least significant minority
0( theAl, sec that the classical democntie rhetoric used by
poIiticU.ns snd of 'Is ... and order' no longer spplies
CONTEMPO_,ut y WESTEkN DUlOCItACY 129
to the political system responsible for the decisions 10
they are opposed. They ICe thmt the pluralist S]'lItem is not a
fair compromise, and t!ut elections between twO dominant .
parties do not pve equal opportunities foe- dissenting
cspially when the panieHgrte on controversial issues. Dr .
Spock'is only onc among many who, 'although supportm of
dcmocncy, no longer fed obligtd to aoc",pt the verdict of a
Oecisron-proccdure which well short of the dCfll()Cr.Itic
idClI.
In 19s6. Roben Dabl ronduded his Prtpm 1/1 DnnOt7'IfIU
ThellrJ by praising Americ.lDs for their oontribution to !.he mn
of democratic government. He $lid of the American system:
' ... so long as the toei:Il prn-equisitC$ of democracy are
substanli:llly intaCI in this OOUnlTY, it appears 10 be a re[a-
ti\'dy efficient system for reinforcing agrttltlCflt. encouraging
moderatioll, and maint1lining IIOCi;al pc;tce .. :. Looking b;.ck
O\'Cr the Yeilr, since t1l:lt was wrinen, tbough the social
quisitC$ ml"C remaiDCd substantially int1lct, .... e are unJikdy 10
think so highly of the pacifying Ilature of the American political
iiJSl"em. Social peace is a matter of degree. Amtrica m:ly not
be in a 5Ute of chil "'";11'. but it has hardly been pe:!a:ful. Nor
does the political system seem to reinforce agreement or en-
courage moderation \-cry sucocssfully. It is (XInicubrly signifi-
cant thlt disobedience nlrfl' is often directed at quite minor
issues, ll()l just thO$C issues, like nuclcaf disamumcnt or the
continuation of the "''lIr in Vietnam, about which it em be $aid
dut the against which rhe disobedience is directed is so
'p. ISI.
11 ill ... '>lJth thouslL. 111.11 the UIt.l early ,,",'l:1li;"
"ne DOf "",tIy lud mucb "",re tlun lbe ..-1 amount of poIiric;al
\10....".. iud ..... b1 the 1UtIOi.mI. of "",niCG Wc the Im 'So years.
If is by CDmpariJon .. ith the ""'<:<:plioo",lty pcauful period i_ briG
Dol .. T'I)Ic \hat tht peric>J since bu IIttIfItd .,;IlWbuI ... t. Sa: I'" hlMl
'" ,. "" , .. c._, .... P,nJn/Ill ... 8[ VooItwt
(Rlllbm Boob, N('W York, '97<'). p. niI:.
130 FaOM MODEL TO lIEALITY
F\ as to even dcmocnric reasons for obeying the
bw. Of OOUfSC!, one cannot rule out the possibility Wt
law is I phase, or thu those who engage
m cspcailly on less important issuca, are
fundamentally undemocratic, or pc-haps just muddle-headed!'
But if, on examination, tltis does not seem to be the cue, and
ditobcdience COIltinucs to be I serious problem, wc should
begin 10 consider seriously the pmo;ibility that the basis of
political obligation in Western dernocr.u;ie$ is in nted of
rttOnllrucUonLot perhaps I shoold say, in need ofeonsuuo-
lion, for there prob:ibly nC\-er has been a largo:ale tociety
"'ith a u.tisfactory basis of political obligation. The need for
such:l buis, however, increases with the incn:,uing poIitial
a"'-:lrcncss of the popuution.
.. Should diJobetlicnce continue to grow,{he failure of modern
fOlll1$ of democracy to generate the dcmotr:lbc reasons for
obedience which ,,'OUld uist under a political system mote
nearly approxim:lling to our model demoer.uic society oould
appear so important tltat some effort to alter the form of our
dcmocraq in thi! diroct ion has to be made. Wh:it would such
a political system be like .'\ number of differenl political
could satisfy the requiremcnl!! of democratic obliga-
tion. The nature of OUt model suggests that these requirements
.ut most euily be met in small groups, and thiLpoi.rus
towards political decentraliution, and a deV()lmion of po .... 't'!' to
IDeal communities. Wb.cLhc:r tbis is possible in meries as
1IlI ours is a moo!: poffit. Short of a radinl of
this kind, there are various devices wbich might help to
counteract the incgalibri::Jn distribution of power in modem
I have already suggested thl.t :I protedun: by
which a could be called 00 any issue, if a nUn
number of eloct.ors requested il, would reduc:e trn: need for
disobcdicnc:e because it ,,'OUld be a way of putting an issue to
the majority fOf rcoonsilienrion, and would speedily indicate
CONTEMPORARY W!STElN D!MOC""CY 13 1
the majority's viC'1'f. At the same time, of COUf1II:, il would make
it possible foI- ordinary people to take :I. political initiative,
,,ithout to wock through oliguchica.1 parties, and would
be a means of reaching decisions in which, apart from in-
equalities in the means of influencing people, everyone has an
equal ay.
\ Anotbtt obvious way to onc source of inequality of
would be 10 reform the internal nructure of the major
political parti e:s 80 that they be<::ome genuinely democratic. In
view of the tendency of brgc orpniv.tions 10 bacomc oli-
garchical C\'Cn when, a:l in the case of the Ilritisb Labour
"arty, they ha\'l.: a dCllIC)(:r:atic consrinlliou. $pecial Clre would
need 10 be taken to prC\"tDt the leadership.ssuminga dominant
position. This "mild require DOt only provisiOOll for frequent
fObtion of positions within the party, but also a ditrctt:nt spirit
of eq\L1lity among members, and:l. 5e1\llC of the imporunc:e of
this equality." I
Finally, there is the question of reform of the dcttoraI
system. Thcrc is no doubt that tbe simple majority system used
to ekct the British Ilouse of Commons and the American
House of Repre;mtatives ai!cro!lIixe
view from growing into significant poliriml fO,.TS. Absuactly
considered, proportional representation bolVes voters a more
nearly equal shue in the choice of representatives. It \\'Quid
thu, remove one important sourcc of inequality in the British
and American political systelTUl. Nor is it always usocialed
with ul\St2blc government, as is sometimes said-the Scandi_
nlvim dcmoetacics, Switzerb.nd, Belgium, Uld the Ncthcr-
hnds all combine nabk: gm'etnmcnt and proportioml systems
of rcpresenution.' Admittedly, wbcthcr I political system
satisfies tbe rcquimncnts of democratic obli(l:lltion is only ooc:
cri ten:. by which polilica1I)'Slcms should be judged,
'Sa: E. Laktmln, J/,.lJorITuin v.,,! AS",,;. "".joriJ;.-
EIttt 1 S;r/nII' (yd cd. Fab and Fabel-, t.ot.Ion, 1!17O).
131 nOM MODEL TO lEALITY
mnd so it may be argued-though I ... ouId POt agree "lU
proponional representation Iw disadYlntagcs which outllt'Cigh
the advanragcs in terms of greater polirical equaliTy. Whether
,.-e thin.k this 01" the other reforms I hl\"e tentlti\"C"ly suggested
"uth experimenting wiw will no doubt depend pudy on ho ...
9Criou, a problem disobedience is in the future. This, in turn,
"ill depend no!: only on Ihe nature of our institutions, .. hich
wen:, after all, Iwia.lly undunged througbout the obedient
fifties and the 1e&S obedient siltics. but also on we issues that
:lrisc. Racial discriminllion and Ihe wtor in Vietnam dfllV'
"lJ".I.U p.IIilWlI :\isobs:diencc in the United States tbl!n all the
defects of Amerian political institurjo"s
'-

CONCLUDING SUMMARY
WE hl\"e completed the taS\ It at the beginning of this book:
the examination of the view thlt if a system of government is
democratic this -riboliy .. lfccu: our obliption to obey la'll"l
maan.uing from that syuem.i In atrying out wis uaminarion
the preliminary conelusioos {tached in Part I have received
a number of qualifications.' It lJ12,y therem be helpful
if I briefty restate the pMition at which "'I"C" have finally
arrived. I
In a model democratic society, there would be important
reasons for obeying the law which do nOl exist in other forms of
government. Apart from the gencn.\ consider.llion tfut any
preferenct: we mve fot" onc form of govemmcm O">o"tt another
is a rt;1SOn for obeying the laW3 of the preferred form of
governmcnt, there are tIIt'O special reasons for which
are ptt"uliar to democracy. The first is IxIscd on the Get tml a
democratic society, in which an hl\"C" equal power and there is
no tendency for [he majority to treat thc minority with less
th2n considcl"lltion, is a fair compromise between com_
peting, otherwise irresolvab1c, el1iJllll 10 power. The second
sttTl"l!l from the fact that participaring in a decision-procedure,
alongside orhers participlting in good fai th, gh"CS rise to an
obligation to act as if ODe had conSClIIOO tCl be bound by the
result of tht docision.pl"'OCcdure. So klDg u the pruticipation
is voluntary, actual consent is nOl required, but an express
public refusal 50 W be bound wwld IQ(In lhat participation,
if still pcnn.itted, "WOUld not givc rise to any obligation 10 obey
the result.
1'he:!Ie reasons fOf obeying bws in a democracy apply only
."
CONCLUDING SUMMARY
when no righb esscntil1 to [be functioning of I r.ir compmmiw:
decision-procedure have been infringed. Among such rights
are the wtll-koov.'fl democratic rights of fret .peccb, free
:lallldation, the right to VOle, and JO on. Tbe infringement of
Other 10 the functioning of I fair cum-

not run OO1lntcr to the
Disobedience dcsignctl to !j1.in
which IHUI noI: received 3 fair
at inducing rewnsidention
. .
notaIfJ. the fOl'Qe_
disobedience which do
Tea$Ons for obedience.
for I of view
I limed
Ire Jmpl.tible with
. .
. .
I on COfI5ClC:nte
which the 'OJrucientious objector' 10 ignore the dem0-
cratic rta50fIS for obeying the law.
Alihougb. our investigation had, up to this point, suggcstc.:l.
that there is a gmt dnl of truth in the view th:&t there are
much strooger reuons for obeying the law in a dCll'lOCraric
society than in a non-democraric society, when we sought to
transfer Ihis conclusion from a model democratic society 10
the IOrt of sodety in which we Jil'C, wc fOlUld IC$S truth in it.
The modem form of 'Western democnc:y', Q des<:ribed by
leading politicU thcorist$ favounblc to it, is not a fur c0m-
promise competinggroups. Allhough 11100: divcrscand
more nulDCrOUl groups influence decisions than in. dictator-
ship, some groups have less than an equal share of inHI)mce,
while many people arc not effectively represented by groups at
all. fJectiollS. il is gmc:n.lly agreed, do not rttrify this in-
equality. For groups and individualll with less than an equal
.y in decisions, the argument for obedience I.xd on fUr
CONCLUDING SUMMAI.Y
' 35
compromisle does not apply, and the argument from puticipa-
lion, while still applicable to thor;e who \'(llt, is undermined by
the ,bailee of I 5Ufticicnt rQIOn. for rrum,. dissenters, Ce.'
partici.,.ting iD elections.
APPENDIX
AN ILLUSTRATION: OISOllEOJNCE IN
NORTH1I.N IRELAND
I N Ihis book r ha'"e discuSged, in JftICllII terms, the conditions
under which disobed)eooe (or political pllTpOSCS may be
jWltifiabk, and the (orms ""hich justifiable disobcdimo: may
take, T hl\"e, ho.."ever, been able to say '"C:I')' linle about the
application of these principles in panicular cases. This, 1 l1ave
frequently said, a rnmer fOr IlIking all the
rcbllnt (aru of the situation into account, To these
m:lftml in general terms is, many people think, the most that
can be done by a political philosopbtt---in faa, some phiJos.-
opbcn define: their province 110 IU.rro"ll'ly that to discuss sub-
stantive issues at Ul is already to go beyond it. While, oln-ioudy,
I disagree "frith the stricter of these conceptions of the role of
the plt.i.Iosopber, I a.ccept the "iew that it is asking too much of
political phimphl:l1i to expecl them to put (olll'alll. simple
guideline;, for the application of their conclusions to p.anicular
situations, On the other hand, it h..s occurred to me
reading books on political obligation and similar tupia llul it
"'U\lld be uscful if the author would give some indication- if
nOl guideiiQ(';5, tben an illustrarion-of hO'lV his ooodusions
are tn be applied, The following discussion of disobedicoce in
Northern In::land is intended to ICf\"C this purpose.
As a preface to 'fhat folio,", I should say that 1 make no
claim to be an open on the mlUation in Nonbcm Ireland, I
have no first_hand knowledge ofthelituation, nor have I made
a vCI)' intensive study ()f it, I ha"e chosen Northern Ireland
APPENOIll
'37
aampte of disobedience atainst
racial dt9Cnmlll:lllon In the American Soulh btause in the
latter case there is the cumplienion that, as a result of the
existence of the United Stltes to ,..hich then is
no parallel in Northern Ireland, much 'disobedience' in the
South W1S a protest against JaWll that were never legally valid.
Othenvi!le, disobedience in Northern Ird;md and in the South
raise '"(I)' simib,r questions, I did not theother promin-
ent instance of di$Obodieocc, against the wu in 'Vietnam
because lhis issue, though eomplex with respect to IIW:tefS or
fact, 5eIeIM to raise few of the philosophical issues diSCUSSed in
this book, Onee one rejccu the view that the war was ncoes:sary
for the defence of South Vietnam against Communist aggre&-
sinn inspired by the North VieI;namcse, then the death and
destruction inflicted on ute Vietnamese h:u been so monstrous
that if there were any reasonable hope of stopping the wu by
means the IIccd to it ".ould allY
dcrnocratlC oblipuons to obey which mil5ht COOnt against
disobedience in other aituatioru,
In the follm!ing diSCUSllion I hn'e tried to rely Oil facts
rad)(l' than opinion (exccptat the final stage at which there is
nu substitute for opiniun) and preferably facts which an: not
likcly to be disputed, Most of my informalinn can be found in
ne"'1Jpapc:rs and in such sources as the SfllfdlJ) Timu Insight
Team's report, Ulslrr,' I have made no anentpt to de:tl with
all asJlC(U of the is.sueI invoh'ed, but ha,'e selcaed those
aspects ,..hich seemed most usefully 10 illuslnte points dis-
cussed in the COUDe of this book.
There are sevcnl stnnds of ilkgal activity intCfwoven in
the crisis which dC\"elopcd in Northern lrcland in the late
1()60s, Most prominent ha,-e been the activitit1 of the Irish
Republican Army, whose bombings and shOOtings have
caused approximaldy 400 dCltM :Ind damage estinJated u
, PfllJllin HooD, IUrmondn"Otth, ' 97>,
",
APPENDIX
50,000,000. 1968 and the time olwriringUwy 1972).
lUegal J.R.A. activities did not begin in 1968; then: has been a
sporadic ampzign of resistance since Ireland was partitioned
in Although the I.R.A.. has sometimes tried to it!
aCUOllS In terms of the dcicncc of ln opp.te!l'iCd minority t it Iw
never acc;epted the legitimacy of partition 01" the U\sw
Gtn"emmcnt. and there can belittle doubt that i18 :ilim is not an
end lodi1lcriminatXm, but the u.ni6C1Ition of I reb.nd. The I.R.A.
does not reg.lrd its Illegal 3cthities as disobalicnce Jpjlhi" a
political SYSlem, democratic or othCnv1se; its leadrn cl.aim that
they are at war .. ith the British Army, whidllhey regard u a
fortign ltmyo( ocOlp;uionon Irish soil. Whatever the justifica-
tion for this position, it is. positioa which puts the l.R.A.
campaign ouuide the IICOpc of book, which is concerned
with the justification of disoOOlienoe nlher than WlIr.
A SC(;(Jnd strand ofiUcgallction in Ulster is the violence and
intimidation to which Catholics, p;irticularly in Catholic
dittrias of BeJfast and Londonderry, ba\' C been subjected by
militant Protestanu. This too goes bad: 10 a period well before
the fbro..up of the sixties. Pr(l(e50nt mobs Ituck! Cuhobcs
in, 1920and 1935 i Protemnt violence has ranged from breaking
wmdow, to the 11)66 Malvern Street murders. This Protestant
iUcgaJily also falls outside the: 9COpe of our inquiry, limply
because no or at least 1'10 IIlOr:Il jUSli6eation, has
been olfcnod for It at alii DOt an I sa: how any justii'taboD
could be attempted. l'rotCSWlI violence of this kind is boolig-
anism or religious peiaecutioo. No theory of political obliga-
tion is requited to determine whether such oonduct is WfDDg.
It is.nth the third stnnd of disobedience in Ulster that we
are concerned. This is disobedience, often described as civil
di5Obedience, by Catholics who claim that they hue not been
treated as equals by the Protestant m:ljorily. This third strand
is the. campaign which beg;tn under the au.spi=!: of the North-
C'1t Irdand Civil Rights Association in 1968, a campaign that
I
I
J
APPENDI X 1)9
aossed the boundary benrtm legal demonstration and civil
disobedieoct 00 5 Octobtt 1968, wben march wu held in
Londonderry in defiUlce of a ministerial ban. This a.mpaign
n.isea a number of the issUC$ which tu.ve been discuSlled in this
book.
1bt first question to be as\r:ed ill: ""as the position ofGatholics
in Northml Jreland prior to October t968 $\Ich u would
iustifr disobedience ? Thl5 question can be broken down into
two questions: was the Catholic minority a victim of pcnistrnt
If so, ..... as disobedience an appropriate Jne3ns
0( seeking rIress?
Earlier in this book, when I put forward the view th:it a
decision-procedure in which e\'tI)' JIl(mber had an equal ay
w:as a fair compromise, I tlu.t there Q)Uld be eifCUm-
stances in which despite formal eqlUtity there wu no flit
compromise because a permanmtlMjority was using powtf
to disregard the interests of the minoriry. I then that (0
show t.h:.t this was the case it v,"Quld be: nCttSlrY to show, DOt
an isobted unf.ut decision, bUla persistent putern of unhiJ...
oess. I also said that it W"a.I a /lUttl"1" of judgement in each
siruation whether actlll of unfairness constituted a pattern of
and that as a safeguard against too much dis-.
obedience one might require the pmern of unfairness to be
'unmistakably clear', "-ther than merely probabJe.' I think an
of the position of me Catholic minority in the
years preceding the of 11}68 SOO1\"S that, though judge-
ment may be required. mis does not introduce too gte:lt I
degrtt of $tlb.itctivily into qUesbolU of poIitial obligation, for
there are situations in which l pattern of unfairness it unmis-
takablyeleu.
To teveal a persistent pattern of dillCriminatioD against
Catholics in Nortbcm Ireland, il 1\; 11 suffice I{) examine the
situation in three areas : employment, housing, and local
, pp. .\>D ..,.
140 APPENDIX
ptemmmt, while beating in mind th:!t about onCHhird of the
population of the proviooc: is Catholic.
1
In employment, the mOllt notable area of discriminaruln wu
in work under the control of the w'etllment of Northern
Ireland aDd local governments. At Stonnont (the Ulster
Parliament building) discrimination iD p'cnunent employ-
ment W1IS so much the IKIC'm that Prottltinb would oa::uioo-
ally aceuse their ministm of employing Catholics.. Ministers
Yo'ere USU2Uy able to rebut the charge satisractorily. Thus in
1925 the Minister of Agriculture, defending himself apinst
such an accusation, said: " hv.: log officials and so far all I
know, four of them lIe Roman utholics, thltt of whom were
civil servants turned ova to mc, whom I had to take on when
wc bcpn.' Femwlagh, onc ohheaix CO\Jntics which oomprisc
the proviott of Northern Ireland, has a population almost
divided bc:tVt'ttn CatholK: l)fO{cstant; of the 310
people employed by Ferman3gh County Council 3t onc time
in the btesixtics, 3P were Protc:stant, and none of the Catholtc
emplO}'CC:S held senior positions. In the city of Londonderry
there "wt. in '966. '4.325 u.tholics and only 9.Z3S ProtC:St-
ants: in the same ),C2r, all the heads of the City Council
departrnenb were Protcstllnl, 1md of In $a.luied employees.
only thirty-two wen: Catholic.. Among private conccrns, the
lugC:St single employer of labour wu in 1972 the Delfut
5hipyard. It employed 10,000 .... 'OI'kers: 9,600 were Protestant.
l-lousingin Ulster,lS throughout IJribin, i5 10 I ooosider.lble
c:xtcnt provided by local councils. Discrimination in this held
shuws itlldf in at least thm: m)'S. rUllt, in some p1acea.
Dungannon for instance, the Council provided bener houses
in Protesnnl areas than in Catholic areas, the same rent secur-
ing forty-t"""O cxtn square feet of space for Protestants.
Sectmdly, il was easier for Protestants 10 obtain council houses.
' The &ctJ on .'bH:Il the f'olIo.q ;, '-' are \Ita.n from m.." pp.
'9-".
APPENDI X
'"
of'tlw: houses built by Fermanagh Count)' Council
between 1945 and 1969 1\'eIlt 10 PnJtCstants, despite the
COWlry'S balmccd population. Thirdly, oounci!s rcfullCd lO
build hOUSCl for Catholics outside Catholic areas, which meant
that these areas became badly overcrOVoded. This Pnlctia: Ilso
had advantages for Protestanu in terms of the third main .rea.
of'discrimination, loeal politQ.
Local politics WillI the key to the Protestant SUprtmKJ in
council employment and counci l housing. While I Ilrote:sunt
majority in SlOtmont, the p.arliAmtntary asstmbly reprcscnt-
ing the whole province, W.l., to be cxpeC!ed in view of the
numerical supremacy of ProlestUllS in Northern lrebnd IS a
whole, Protestanlll abo m;wagtd, by blatant gurymandering,
to control local guvcrnmmt in &reil;! -.rith e .... mly distribuled
populations, or r,'en, as in Lond<mdttry, "ith subSWlrizl
Catholic rmjorities. Fermanagh County Council, in the late
sixties, consisted of Unionists, i.e. Protestants, aDd
KVentcen non-Unionists. Tn Londondeny the classic tech-
nique of putting aD Catholic intO one huge ward pro-
duced a Borougb Council with eight Catholic councillon and
l1!-ft.."C' Prote:stantll. This pattern 1\-.5 rcpeatC"d in many other
at"s.
Evidence of' thi:s sort, I think, constitutes an overwhelming
case for saying that Catholics in Northern Ireland were an
oppressed minority. There is almost nothing that can be said
in justification of these inequalities. It is true Ih&t when
Northern Ireland lI'1S first established Catholics wanted DO
part in the new province, and in many ases refused govern-
mml appointments C\'eIl when they 1I-erc offered, but attitudes
had changed since the twenties, and if the Unionists had made
any effort to deal wilh Catllolics, Ihere can be little
doubt that a reuonable approlimarion to equzlity could have
been achieved .... ell before the \ale sixties.
Taking it :as esu.blisbcd, then, lhat there was a pn-sistent
API'ENDU:
pattern of unfairncsa in the tfeatment of lhe Catholu: minority
by the Protesunl majority, was disobedience an appropriate
meansol seeking mJrm in October 1968? A, I h1ve suggested
in this book, :lIld as others ha\'e abo urged, when Ieg:l.I pro-
eed.ures are available, an altemp to seck redress of gricvanca
by lep.l means should be made first, and disobedience raorted
to only if then is no rtUOnlbte prospect of achieving redress
by
l'n Nonbem Irdand, although there Md hem occuionaJ
protests at injustice since partition, the reform
whkh e..-eatually led to disobedience can be said to Mve begun
in ,,-ben the Campaign for Social Justice "OIlS founded.'
In the succeeding years, grater interest 'IfU taken, especially
in Britain, in the question of justice for Catholics in Nonhern
Ireland. In 1966, for insunoe, the SfPliAy TiWUl published an
examination of discrimination in Ulster entiued 'John Bull's
Politic:ai Slum' , AA ibat article JUg(e5led, ho"-ever, Ulstcr's
ruling Protestants ,,-en: making no re:al cIfu" to end discrimina-
tion, and it KCmal unlikely dill! they would do !;O unless
sUQngiy pressed by the British GovemmenL A1thougb under
the Government of Ireland Act the Hririllh Government retains
supreme authority in Northern Ireland, at that time the Labour
(fuvttnment wu adhering to the doctrine of pn:ttding British
Governments, that Northern Ireland is best left to look after
itself,
A further step in the Clamp,ign for reform by legal means
'NU the fOWlding, in Im, of the Northern lreuod Civil
Rights AS80ci;uion, an organiution .... ith modaateliber.ilaims,
moddJed on the National Council for Gvil Liberties in
England. FOI" about I yar the Gvi l Rights Associ:I.tion t'Onfined
i(K1f to o:kaiiog with individual t'Ompbints, ID June
bowe',er, it held a peaceful U1d 1qp.1 march to publicize a
particularly bbtant instance of Protest:mt biu in the al\oc:a-
'Su I./lJtn, pp" of' If.
APP!NDIX
'<l
tion of a)uncil housing. It then announced a march to take
pbce in Londonderry, as a protest again.'It Ihe inegalituun
distribution of po""er in that city, Shortly before the march
which ...-as to take pl:aee on S October, WillialD Cnig, then
Nonhem Irebnd Minister for Home Affairs., all
marches in Londonderry, 1bc ampaign of disobedience began
.... ben the Civil Rights As8ociation decided to defy this ban.
Was this decision justified? Legal means of achieving rd'orm
had not bttn exhausted; on the other IwId, more than four
)"ears of normal political activity had failed to ouie significant
Pl(lglC:SS, exoept: in individual cues" The ban 011 the london-
derry march denied to Catholics one of the mcans-M)nnilly
IcpJ--of campaigning foe reform. The first marcb sponsored
by the Chi] Rights ASIIOciatioo had been successful in dn.v.ing
.ttentioo 10 injustice. Now the Protcstam Governnu;nt was
sking to pm"cm the next step in what Md been, and might
continued 10 be, legal rcform lOO\"ement.
Before onc an decide whether defiance of the ban was
justified, onc mUst ask what n:a.o;on the GO\'CI"Tlrl'lmt gave for
i.olsuing UIC order prohibiting mlrehcs" The bUl was issued
after police reportS that tbe march was likely 10 result in
violence, these repons bein8" b:.ased on the fact tbat a Protestant
OIpnization, the Apprentice 80yJ of Deny,' had announced,
shonly before the Civil Rights much wu due, that they pr0-
posed to hold a march on the same tby, and over the same
route, as the planned Civil Righu march, It seems to me that
the rde'!OIInt question here is: w:u the ban, and lhcsituation that
led 10 it, an exceptional and sbon-term phenomenon, or was
the same thing likely to happen to other proposed CiVil RightS
rnan:hcs in future ? In other words, W:lll the cI:l.'lih of Utbolic
anol Protesbnt marches a genuine coincidcntt, carrying 1\'i th
I CDnIiotinr nDl of Iftlapprmlioc boys, boil " fProl ..... 1J Ibc:
apprauia: bo)1; ",Iao doled the pie:. of l..ondon<krry ..... rho: .....,,.
olJ ...... lI.
...
APPlNDII
it a ftlIl danger of violence, but wilikely to recur, or was it.
PlOftStant attempt to prn'Ult Catholics nwrlting against
inju5lice whith was Likely to be repeated whenever Catholics
attempted to U lIle former was the case, tlw: bm MS
not an attempt to prevent Catholics being heard, and the right
COUf$C would seem to be to obey the ban and rehedule the
marcb for another oocasioo. If, on the ocber hand, the d ash
was deliberate anti likely to recur on any other ocasion, then
disobedience would seem to be justifi ed, either on this occasion
Of on a fu ture QC(2Sion.
On this question, a judge appointed by tllC British Go\'t"m-
men! 10 inquire into these evenu bd this to lI1y: 'We arc
satisfied . that lhis propor;ed [Protemnt] procession was nor:
a genuine ' annual' I:\'eflt, ::md wc regard the proposal to hold
it at the precise lime indiated III mcn:ly a lhrcat 10 OOUDler
t1cmonstraTc by opponcn15 of the Civil Rights /ll;lrch." The
SImda] Tilllls Insight Team disagrees: il believes that there
were Iongst:mding plans to hold an Apprentice Boys' march on
that weekend. But the IlllIigbt Team agrees trun It the time
this wu repnkd '1Iltf'tly as. Protestant counter_ploy'.s Since
we an: in Northern Ireb.nd for illustrativt purposes,
and not to sit in jool'=mer1t on the leaden uf the Civil Rights
we need not try to 5eItIe thiJ issue. It is enough to
see what conclusions follow from t he rwo ways of
looki ng at the facu. We can perbaps add, though, that if in a
case like this there is any doubt in one's mind about wholl the
uue facts I re, Iittk is lost, and the need for disobedience may
be removed, if one gives the p 'ernmcnt the bcodit 0{ the
tbe firR time, Ind waits TOac:e what bappens on another

One set of circurustaDCCS in which disobedi= ... O\lld be
justified, then, can be seen from our illustntion. lri a political
, the rqKII1 by Lard 'i-cd in UIutr, P. 5f.
'IbM!. p. SI.
APPtNDIX ..,
system which does nOt operate a.s a fair compromise, when
leaaI means of achieving rcform have pnn-en UlISOOCCS5ful ova
:I number of and wtltn there are long-l:erm restric;tions
on normally legal means 0{ campaigning for reform, disobedi-
ence I belicve, be justified. Even ifCathotia had partici-
pated in elections in Northern Ireland (and there ,,"Ould, ia
fKt, bavc been little reuon for them to do so, under the
electoral bounduict of the time) I would think tb:.It the quasi_
oonscnsua.i obligation arising from puticipation v.ould in these
cin:umtallOeS have been overridden, puticularly 1.5 the dis-
obedience in question was I'CIlly disobedienl"t: dCliigneJ to
publicize injustice, nther than to alter by force a decision
taken by the deci5ion-prooedurc.
Our discussion of disobedience in Northern Ireland has
now 9Ct'Ved its main purpo5C, which ..... s to de$Crlbe actu2.l
circumstances in which the question of whether to disobey
arose, and attempt to decide whether disobedience was justi-
Theft are, howe\,tt, IOme 5CCOOdary points about dis-
obcdiCJ1ce which I will aL'IO try to ill ustrale briefly in relation
to the course of C'\'Cnts in Norwern Ireland.
Onc pncticallc:sson that eme:rxes from Northern Ireland is
the nlilt wi th .... hich disobedience can escab.te into counter-
disobcd)ma: and violence, The LondondnTY march of 5
October ended in violence. According 10 Lord Ca.LUOU',
report lhere were extremisu pr=t who wished to provoke I
confrontation with the police. If 10, they lud no difficulty in
doing so, ror the march ended with the policc the
leaders of the much, an action which was, as we same repon
said, ' whoJlywithoul justification or excuse'.' Later, ProU:SlInl
groups prtetiscd their own form of disobellicncc, gathering in
Jarge numbers with sticb and more sinister weapons on the
routes of protest marches. In this WlY, they forced thec;tncdla-
tion of a march in Armagh on 30 NO\'mlbcr, and 011 'I January
, Ibid., p. 5"*
'46 APPENDIX
1969 brutally atracked a 1ega1 mm outside Londonderry,'
UltilNIeiy, u it wdl-known, Ihe escalation of violence led ro
Ihe resurgmoe of the I ,LA. and the lTIO'I'C'ment for jnstice and
reform WI5 pushed out of the spotlight.
AnOtherimporUnt issue raised by tlle Ulst:ersiluation is how
much time a government should be given to reform itself onoe
a oommiunent to reform hu been gi'o'C'n, On 2l Nm'C'lJlber
1968, only six days after a $C!COIJd il legal, but this time non-
violent march ill Londonderry, Ihe Prime Minister ofNonhern
lrebnd annouooed a pl;rn for reform v.-hich mel the nuin
Catholic del1UMs, indudinJ me.:ms for CRS'I.lrTnlf ju!itice in
housing and 10Cl1 gOl'Cnltnmt, and the speedy replacement of
tbe gerrymandered Londonderry Borough Council by a
Development Commi!&on. This looked like a spectacular
SUCCCll8 for the reform movement, and the Londonderry
Council was replaced within tbm: months; but three yc:lfS
i;utl' there Jmd 11i11 been no effective reform of housing and
kx:al P'VTImtat.." The escalation of \-iolcnce provided the
Unionisu lIith an tJ;cellent reason/acuse (how one regards it
will depend on one's point of view) for failing to press aht:ld
with reforms as IS it might otherwise ha,-e done,
Should there h"'e been a more conccned effort by Catholics to
c:alm the situation dO'lm, once the reform package 1I'U
announct:d? I am inclined to think lhere should ha"e bttn,
though it is easier to suggc:&t fI'IOderation wn to P11llctisc il,
and Gatholia did have some: rc:asoo to fear thal iflbe PfCS$lln:
on jJnionists eased too much tbe refonns might be quietly
forgottcn.
Finally, the f"te of !he campaign for reform sho .... -:s clearly
tbe importance, when pmtising diMlbedicncc for publicity
purpo5(S, of it very plain tllat the disobedience is not
;rn to coerce tlte majori ty; and simib.rly, wllen one is
disobeyinJ!: to protest agai nst specific injustices, of making it
, IbMI., pp. 6., 66, Ibid., P. S9-

APPI NDI X . .,
pbin thlt one is not amcking the political system 118 I whole.
These daugers were cspeci:ally great in Northern Ireland,
bcause the Catholics bad It first n:fused to accept the partition
of Ireland and the political system of Northern Ireland. The
railure of Ulster PrOtestants to undctsland that the Civil Rights
A-x:iation W25 not a cJmLlenge to the separate political CJ:ist_
mceofNorthem Ireland was inHuential in the decision to ban
the Londonderry mardl, Ind in the violenoc: with ""hieb
Protestant mobs ci"it rights marchers on other
occasions, Thus Craig, !he Minister responsible ror tlte ban,
dismissed the Civil Rights Association as ' bogus and made up
of people who sec in Urtn:$t a chance to renew a campaign of
violcnce'-q. view which the umeron report decisively ro-
jected,' In the opinion of the SlUfday Insight Tt:lID:
1lte beJinning of the lub$equent [i.e. after the l.R.A. had bo:ome
'irlUJ.l1y elninC'l in the early JiIlies] story of Ubtt:r is Il fatal
by the ruling Protestants. h .. u to misnke the cr.; l Rights 1D()\"c-
mcTU o((he sixties roe Iln attack on the 5me of Ubter itself. Thus,
by choice: of the ruling Bite, Ihe enttgy of the reformist impulse bas
been m:lde to shake the foundations or IIOeiety.'
It may be that nothing Catholics could ha;c done ..... ould have
convinced Protestants that Catholic objcctilu could be met
within lbe fnmcwor)c of a separate Northern lreb.nd. NC'o'er-
thcless, tllen: is at least a possibility that more di sciplined
campaign, conducted along the lines of the a.mpaigllJ of
Gandhi or Mlmn Luther King, and including readiness to
au::tpt the legal penalties for disobedience and willingness to
bcha"e passively in the face of violence could ba\'e sho ..... n the
Proteswtts rim Ihcy were nuking a potmtiaUy disastrous
mistake. In saying this I am ,1I-are tll:ll, as always in a case like
this, it is caliic[ to restTaint than 10 pl"aaise it in the
race of violence and prm-ocatioll<
'Ibid., pp. 46-7.
Ibid., p."r1.
INDEX
o..clIn<h. P., -. "4"
Bcdall.lI. /I., 9"
a-, 5. 11 . U9D
Dorol B . n4ft, Ifsn
BirU. A. H ",n
BirhiOhtod,.t.onI.S'
Burn, Edm ....... oS-" no. ,n.
U,
a..:.maly, N .. 54
Cohc .... M.. S3"
n--30; ...,
.In F.ir ..... ,""..-
Co<npabcory -u...
... a
pattiaU, .... ,. <)9-'''''
C--" P-J' '" ob.
Qj .. , ''"'-,'
c;,."c, W., 'H, '.7
o.bl, L A., 6coa. &p..1I8a,
:06, "7""'9. "'-f, ' 'f?4, ' 21;1
0..,;', R. M . ' .... 'T'I_
o..,-..,J.,'i, s.n
Eq.wit,. >6-3. J f - S, 7]-80; OH .u.
M,htrirlet, llaoioldio<:timift.oUoo
F .... '"""'u ..... S.5S,6s--6.
" ...... 85. ' ..... '0, ' n-5.


...
oC.pccch, 65""1
F,,_ .. c...M., S'"
'.7
o.m.n,/I. Co. un
C--.-,P.,54
Gon"",}. G,',:IIO
Ora. Im ....... '" U""cd KinI<ka
0._ T. H .
GI .......... , It ., SJn
H .. " f.. nil >k1I, .....
R. M., n, ]n, 30If
Ho} ... 0 ., .0:111
11,,", Q .11
IlamphKy. 11. 11. , 51, s.
I nd..m.l Rd....... An (Unhd
Kbofdom).
JaW-.J" S'"JjIl
L 8., .to-,
]( ........ , 0 .. ' "
K-., 1>1 ................ , SJI', '47
L:.rhm ..... E.. 'l'"
Lt_ ..... Orda-, '1-, 5. , ,....,
l.aanftld, P., '1-fD, II SJI
Leo.,., T., 9'
Up! mtr-, 10-2, 7J-f. 8.4 ...... 5
LnIin. V. I., 53
It.. D., $OB, Sl", "'"
Lodr, John. '4, tS-9. 'P
LJOI\I, 0 .. 37n.)1I
GMt,. 5'.
Md'Mc, W., "4", USI!
'5'
INDEX
Mcf'"..... T .. sa. sa. 51"
M' w ... , ,_
--... ,.
b-t-. H., 73-&a
bUs In, 73 .....
MiI, J. s.. 'ri, $M. 60. 79. "5
Mw it.., &, 6a, , 1-.9.
J.t.nIiry, "s. f-<}
M-. A. 1.. lOA
N.n.m, .,6
N .... R. M., 5,J. H. 55
NoM .... 1ldaDd, 401. 116-41
Nl>rlur [);Pm .... "",,,. am",Ca COr,
'''J ....
ObIipr., :t-J, 5-7
I'ocifiooa, 9')-100, '0:-4
PotU, 8. , , ...
r .... o:Ipuion, 45-5'). "0- U,
'11, IJ5
Pon>a, poIitic&l, nlrlo
Pike, lIiohop ) ., S4
PilIUro, 11., '0'/'" '''9''
Plo -.J . .... ...... s.a,U ..
f'bIo, ,11. &oa
I'oli,.: l>outJ,o, ...dity in, J.4
... Tn ...
Jloptetenun.,
ru ... tur-t, ""'pWlCe of, 8J""4,
..
II.diPMa liberty, 91-&
-..
1I.ipa,
"4. 108
Rubin, I., 54
R....tl, 8crtnnd, 7H, ..... , lJao &4,
.. ,
s....;.G, .. sa
Set-oml .}.,II30 IIS"oIl6, ,
SicJb". P., 5'" 53"
Snc>w, C. P., ;06
S<>cnta, ,I, '9
Spiu,O.,t6n
Spud, Il, s ...
S.,.itt<rlo..J., 8" 1]'
11oon:n., I L D., >!.., ...... , 'lo .. ..t
VMM Ki"-"" ..... 00, 101, 110,
In, "4. 117, "9".'>6, '3'.
)6-.7
lhIiwl s..ta or ........... , 11'"8, 80,
Sl. It., "-to"90 U,;, IJI, 'P,
':17; Do<:I&ntioa. of h,depot'd __
'"'*' ' ''''rid a...u.., n.
Soh ..... I.$. .,; SoP ... , .....
' O,"iSu_Court,63
Ulilj..,.; ....... s-t."" ]7-.....
..
\'icuIam W , t. Sf, '3. n. ,8, .03,
"0, . -..." I:P. In
Wt\d(IOI, T. n., sa
w"', R. P., 9f1I
WoIllaa, L, '''J"
YoudI Inf....ru...u r>nJ'
"

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