Although perhaps not a perfect fit because the movement isn’t explicitly illegal, I think the Occupy movement, which grew to be such a big part of mainstream culture in recent months, demonstrates important tendencies and issues prevalent in civil disobedience and legal non-compliance situations. Although the Occupy movement is most notably used in reference to the protesters of the current financial climate in the U.S., the movement, at least in my opinion and usage, has grown to encompass a broader sentiment which is applicable to a general disillusionment and dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Whether or not you agree with its message, Occupy Wall Street can certainly be justified as an act of civil disobedience and in fact is justified and rationalized as such by many that took part. Certain issues (financial corruption and wealth inequality being among these issues) are important enough that they are worth challenging the system for. Although we have some sort of obligation to obey laws, this obligation pales in comparison to our more innate moral duties. Smith and others make good arguments as to why we do not have a moral obligation to obey the law, and whether or not that is the case, does not address whether or not we have higher moral obligations to other things.

Regardless of our obligation to the law, sometimes we have an obligation to do what we feel is right independent of the rules or laws. A movement like Occupy, represents this ideal and I think shows that it is important to represent ideals that are morally and logically consistent to oneself despite how they may be viewed in a larger context. I think this viewpoint and opinion are validated to an extent given the popularity of the movement and the traction it gained. Regardless if the issue is financial, social, or none of the above, these sorts of protests can be justified without looking towards the law for support because these are the kind of movements and issues that often serve to shape and change law. Without these movements, law often remains static and unrelenting; because these movements serve to shape and change the law they can be rationally justified as such and are necessary to the overall progression of laws and society.


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