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Lobbying and Civil Disobedience Relationship

Civil disobedience has become a prominent topic of discussion among scholars and the public as a whole. Such an interest has originated in the rise of a variety of political movements in the United States, notably Black Lives Matter. These movements have led to mass protests, looting, and violence. Some would argue that vandalism associated with the protests could be justified since it has led to regulatory changes and positive legal shifts. Hannah Arendt, one of the most influential thought-leaders in the field of political and social sciences of the 20th century, celebrates the concept of civil disobedience. In particular, she admires the movements, which she regards as the direct reflection of civil disobedience. Furthermore, Arendt posits that disobedience is inherently constitutional, serving as an extension of the rights protected by the First Amendment. The following essay aims to investigate the concept of civil disobedience, highlighting the relationship between disobedience and lobbying, according to Arendt. The author considers lobbying an example of the final result of the State institutional ozone civil disobedience, which is her primary advice in regards to minimizing the flaws of the judicial review process.

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In order to investigate the link between civil disobedience and lobbying, it is first crucial to provide the definition for disobedience, as articulated by Arendt. The author regards civil disobedience as a primarily political mode of action. She rejects moral or legal perspectives on the concept, speaking out in favor of a political analysis of the term. Arendt (1972) claims that civil disobedience “arises when a significant number of citizens have become convinced (…) that they normal channels of change no longer function, and grievances will not be heard or acted upon” (p. 74). Alternatively, the cause of disobedience may lie in governmental changes that are opposed by the public due to the rising doubts about their constitutionality. Thus, the agenda of civil disobedients is inherently political as they gather in groups to ensure rights and liberties of citizens are under protection. In addition, the mode of organization of civil disobedience has political characteristics. Arendt (1972) describes civil disobedients as “organized minorities that are too important, not merely in numbers, but in quality of opinion” (p. 76). In a sense, civil disobedience shares similarities with lobbying since both should be regarded as political phenomena.

The relationship between civil disobedience and lobbying is simple. Both phenomena primarily target the legalization of change, which the public considers urgently necessary to offset the existing impact of flaws in government regulations. The very concept of civil disobedience, and the concept of lobbying by extension, are in accordance with the spirit of American laws. According to Arendt (1972), voluntary associations are only possibly in a society of consent. The spirit of American law is, in fact, the notion of consent “in the sense of active support and continuing participation in all matters of public interest” (Arendt, 1972, p. 85). Therefore, consent implies the right to dissent, which is the foundation of such phenomena as civil disobedience and partially lobbying.

Indeed, the ideas behind consent are some of the fundamental principles behind the process of individuals of associating together. Such voluntary associations serve as the key stone of lobbying and civil disobedience. Essentially, the same forces guide the process of isolated persons getting together and becoming a combined power in the case of disobedients and lobbyists. Pressure groups, known as lobbying organizations, and civil disobedients are both voluntary associations. However, while lobbyists are recognized as a legitimate political power capable of influencing and assisting the government, civil disobedience seems to enjoy no such protection of its integrity and legitimacy in the eyes of the law and the public. Arendt (1972) indicates that despite the compatibility of the concept of disobedience with the spirit of American law, “the difficulties of incorporating it into the American legal system and justifying it on purely legal grounds seem to be prohibitive” (p. 99). Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go in regards to the acceptance of civil disobedience as an effective instrument for change.

Despite that, it is crucial to acknowledge the importance of civil disobedience as a possible solution to the current failures of governmental regulations and practices. In short, civil disobedience has to gain the same status granted to lobbying. Arendt (1972) notes that it is essential “to obtain the same recognition for the civil-disobedient minorities that is accorded the numerous special-interest groups (minority groups, by definition) in the country” (p. 101). This would ensure that the legal system deals with civil disobedients the same way it does with pressure groups represented by registered lobbyists in Washington, DC. Civil-disobedient minorities must have the same right to assist Congress “by means of persuasion, qualified opinion, and the numbers of their constituents” (Arendt, 1972, p. 101). Therefore, civil disobedience requires institutionalization and lobbying seems to be put to use.

In conclusion, it is evident that civil disobedience is a complex phenomenon, which is tightly interconnected with other concepts, namely lobbying. Arendt highlights the similarities between civil disobedients and lobbyists. Furthermore, she clarified that the agendas of both civil-obedient minorities and lobbyist-led pressure groups can coincide. Indeed, both phenomena have the potential of acting as a remedy to current and future government failures, particularly in regards to judicial review.


Arendt, H. (1972). Crises of the republic (1st ed.). Harcourt, Brace & Co.

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