The Problem is Civil Obedience

1970 from the Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press


原文 1970 年. 自 Zinn Reader 一書, 2009 年由 Seven Stories 出版社出版

By Howard Zinn

Transcript of my opening statement in the debate at Johns Hopkins. It was included in a book published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1972, entitled Violence: The Crisis of American Confidence. -
這份是我在約翰霍普金斯大學的辯論開場陳述的謄本. 包含在約翰霍普金斯出版社於1972年出版, 名為 "暴力: 美國信心危機" 的書中

I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth. I start from the supposition that we don’t have to say too much about this because all we have to do is think about the state of the world today and realize that things are all upside down. Daniel Berrigan is in jail-A Catholic priest, a poet who opposes the war-and J. Edgar Hoover is free, you see. David Dellinger, who has opposed war ever since he was this high and who has used all of his energy and passion against it, is in danger of going to jail. The men who are responsible for the My Lai massacre are not on trial; they are in Washington serving various functions, primary and subordinate, that have to do with the unleashing of massacres, which surprise them when they occur. At Kent State University four students were killed by the National Guard and students were indicted. In every city in this country, when demonstrations take place, the protesters, whether they have demonstrated or not, whatever they have done, are assaulted and clubbed by police, and then they are arrested for assaulting a police officer.

我先假設「世界是一團混亂」,假設所有事情都錯了,好人接受法律制裁壞人卻逍遙法外;惡人當道善人卻無權過問;財富全部散佈在這個國家,世界要求的不僅是小幅度的改革,而是全面的財富重分配。我假設這樣的情形並不需要太多解釋,只要看看當前世界的狀態,就會發現一切都亂七八糟。天主教神父同時也是反戰詩人的Daniel Berrigan(註1)正在坐牢,J. Edgar Hoover(註2)卻是自由之身;全心致力於反戰運動的David Dellinger(註3)也快身陷牢獄之災,犯下美萊村屠殺事件(註4)的人不僅不必受審,還繼續在導致這種事件發生的華盛頓就任各種職務。肯特州立大學 (Kent State University) 4位學生遭國民兵殺害並有許多學生遭到起訴,在這個國家的各個城市,每當有示威遊行,抗議者無論有沒有做什麼,都可能被警察攻擊並且被指控攻擊警察而遭逮捕。


註2:胡佛,前FBI局長 http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%B4%84%E7%BF%B0%C2%B7%E5%9F%83%E5%BE%B7%E5%8A%A0%C2%B7%E8%83%A1%E4%BD%9B

註3:美國和平主義社運人士 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dellinger

註4: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%BE%8E%E8%90%8A%E6%9D%91%E5%B1%A0%E6%AE%BA

Now, I have been studying very closely what happens every day in the courts in Boston, Massachusetts. You would be astounded-maybe you wouldn’t, maybe you have been around, maybe you have lived, maybe you have thought, maybe you have been hit-at how the daily rounds of injustice make their way through this marvelous thing that we call due process. Well, that is my premise.


All you have to do is read the Soledad letters of George Jackson, who was sentenced to one year to life, of which he spent ten years, for a seventy-dollar robbery of a filling station. And then there is  the U.S. Senator who is alleged to keep 185,000 dollars a year, or something like that, on the oil depletion allowance. One is theft; the other is legislation. something is wrong, something is terribly wrong when we ship 10,000 bombs full of nerve gas across the country, and drop them in somebody else’s swimming pool so as not to trouble our own. So you lose your perspective after a while. If you don’t think, if you just listen to TV and read scholarly things, you actually begin to think that things are not so bad, or that just little things are wrong. But you have to get a little detached, and then come back and look at the world, and you are horrified. So we have to start from that supposition-that things are really topsy-turvy.

所有你需要做的事情就是讀一讀George Jackson的索來達信件(註5,註6),因為一樁70美元的加油站搶劫,他被判處一年至無期徒刑,最終服了十年的刑。 然後有美國參議員據稱因石油耗減補助(註7)而每年享有185000美元,或是類似的事情。一個成了小偷,另一個則是立法人員。有些事情不對,有些事情嚴重地錯誤,當我們將10000枚裝滿神經毒氣的炸彈運出國家,把它們丟到其他某些人的游泳池裡好讓我們免受其擾。所以當經過了一段時間,你失去了你的觀點。如果你不思考,只光聽電視所說和閱讀學術的東西,實際上你開始覺得事情沒有那麼糟,或是只是有些小事不對而已。但你應該試著變得有點超然,然後再回頭重新審視世界,然後你就被嚇壞了。所以我們應該從這個假設開始-實際上事情是一團混亂。





And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem.... Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; and if we were only there, we would have showed them. Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.


But America is different. That is what we’ve all been brought up on. From the time we are this high and I still hear it resounding in Mr. Frankel’s statement-you tick off, one, two, three, four, five lovely things .~ about America that we don’t want disturbed very much. But if we have learned anything in the past ten years, it is that these lovely things about America were never lovely. We have been expansionist and aggressive and mean to other people from the beginning. And we’ve been aggressive and mean to people in this country, and we’ve allocated the wealth of this country in a very unjust way. We’ve never had justice in the courts for the poor people, for black people, for radicals. Now how can we boast that America is a very special place? It is not that special. It really isn’t.

我們所有人都在 "美國是個特別的地方" 的教育下成長。從我們孩提時就開始聽,而我仍然在法蘭柯 (Frankel) 先生的陳述中聽到響亮的: 讓我們列出一、二、三、四、五件關於美國的,我們非常想要保護的美好的事。但如果在過去這十年中,我們有學到任何事的話,那就是這些關於美國的美好的事其實從來就並不美好。我們其實從一開始就是擴張主義者,侵略並吝嗇的對待其他人。我們侵略並並吝嗇的對待這個國家的人民。而且我們非常不公義的分配這個國家的財富。我們在法庭上從未給過貧窮的人們、黑人、與激進分子正義。如今我們怎麼能吹捧美國是一個非常特別的地方呢? 它其實並沒那麼特別,真的。

註8: Mr. Frankel: Charles Frankel (1917年12月13日 - 1979年5月10日) 是一位美國哲學家, 美國副國務卿, 教授, 以及國家人道中心 (NHC, National Humanities Center) 第一任主任

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.


When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than - we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together -- they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.


Yossarian was right, remember, in Catch-22? He had been accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which nobody should ever be accused of, and Yossarian said to his friend Clevinger: "The enemy is whoever is going to get you killed, whichever side they are on." But that didn’t sink in, so he said to Clevinger: "Now you remember that, or one of these days you’ll be dead." And remember? Clevinger, after a while, was dead. And we must remember that our enemies are not divided along national lines, that enemies are not just people who speak different languages and occupy different territories. Enemies are people who want to get us killed. 

第22條軍規(Catch 22)》裡的Yossarian說得沒錯,他曾經被指控資敵,這是任何人都不可犯的大罪,他對他朋友Clevinger說:「是不是敵人並不是用陣營來分,會害你掛掉的就是你的敵人」但這話並沒有被聽進去,於是他又對Clevinger說:「你一定要記住這點,否則你將死在軍旅生涯」,還記得嗎?Clevinger不久就死了。因此我們必須知道我們的敵人並未被國界所分離,並不是跟我們講不同語言,住在不同地方的才是我們的敵人,「敵人」就是那些會害死我們的人。

We are asked, "What if everyone disobeyed the law?" But a better question is, "What if everyone obeyed the law?" And the answer to that question is much easier to come by, because we have a lot of empirical evidence about what happens if everyone obeys the law, or if even most people obey the law. What happens is what has happened, what is happening. Why do people revere the law? And we all do; even I have to fight it, for it was put into my bones at an early age when I was a Cub Scout. One reason we revere the law is its ambivalence. In the modern world we deal with phrases and words that have multiple meanings, like "national security." Oh, yes, we must do this for national security! Well, what does that mean? Whose national security? Where? When? Why? We don’t bother to answer those questions, or even to ask them.


The law conceals many things. The law is the Bill of Rights. In fact, that is what we think of when we develop our reverence for the law. The law is something that protects us; the law is our right-the law is the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day, essay contests sponsored by the American Legion on our Bill of Rights, that is the law. And that is good.

But there is another part of the law that doesn’t get ballyhooed- the legislation that has gone through month after month, year after year, from the beginning of the Republic, which allocates the resources of the country in such a way as to leave some people very rich and other people very poor, and still others scrambling like mad for what little is left. That is the law. If you go to law school you will see this. You can quantify it by counting the big, heavy law books that people carry around with them and see how many law books you count that say "Constitutional Rights" on them and how many that say "Property," "Contracts," "Torts," "Corporation Law." That is what the law is mostly about. The law is the oil depletion allowance-although we don’t have Oil Depletion Allowance Day, we don’t have essays written on behalf of the oil depletion allowance. So there are parts of the law that are publicized and played up to us-oh, this is the law, the Bill of Rights. And there are other parts of the law that just do their quiet work, and nobody says anything about them.

It started way back. When the Bill of Rights was first passed, remember, in the first administration of Washington? Great thing. Bill of Rights passed! Big ballyhoo. At the same time Hamilton’s economic pro gram was passed. Nice, quiet, money to the rich-I’m simplifying it a little, but not too much. Hamilton’s economic program started it off. You can draw a straight line from Hamilton’s economic program to the oil depletion allowance to the tax write-offs for corporations. All the way through-that is the history. The Bill of Rights publicized; economic legislation unpublicized.


You know the enforcement of different parts of the law is as important as the publicity attached to the different parts of the law. The Bill of Rights, is it enforced? Not very well. You’ll find that freedom of speech in constitutional law is a very difficult, ambiguous, troubled concept. Nobody really knows when you can get up and speak and when you can’t. Just check all of the Supreme Court decisions. Talk about predictability in a system-you can’t predict what will happen to you when you get up on the street corner and speak. See if you can tell the difference between the Terminiello case and the Feiner case, and see if you can figure out what is going to happen. By the way, there is one part of the law that is not very vague, and that involves the right to distribute leaflets on the street. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that. In decision after decision we are affirmed an absolute right to distribute leaflets on the street. Try it. Just go out on the street and start distributing leaflets. And a policeman comes up to you and he says, "Get out of here." And you say, "Aha! Do you know Marsh v. Alabama, 1946?" That is the reality of the Bill of Rights. That’s the reality of the Constitution, that part of the law which is portrayed to us as a beautiful and marvelous thing. And seven years after the Bill of Rights was passed, which said that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech," Congress made a law abridging the freedom of speech. Remember? The Sedition Act of 1798.

So the Bill of Rights was not enforced. Hamilton’s program was enforced, because when the whisky farmers went out and rebelled you remember, in 1794 in Pennsylvania, Hamilton himself got on his horse and went out there to suppress the rebellion to make sure that the revenue tax was enforced. And you can trace the story right down to the present day, what laws are enforced, what laws are not enforced. So you have to be careful when you say, "I’m for the law, I revere the law." What part of the law are you talking about? I’m not against all law. But I think we ought to begin to make very important distinctions about what laws do what things to what people.

And there are other problems with the law. It’s a strange thing, we think that law brings order. Law doesn’t. How do we know that law does not bring order? Look around us. We live under the rules of law. Notice how much order we have? People say we have to worry about civil disobedience because it will lead to anarchy. Take a look at the present world in which the rule of law obtains. This is the closest to what is called anarchy in the popular mind-confusion, chaos, international banditry. The only order that is really worth anything does not come through the enforcement ... of law, it comes through the establishment of a society which is just and in which harmonious relationships are established and in which you need a minimum of regulation to create decent sets of arrangements among people. But the order based on law and on the force of law is the order of the totalitarian state, and it inevitably leads either to total injustice or to rebel lion-eventually, in other words, to very great disorder.

法律還有其他問題. 很奇怪地, 我們認為法律帶來了秩序 - 錯了. 怎知法律沒有帶來秩序? 看看我們的周遭吧, 我們已經生活在法律之下了, 這帶來了秩序嗎? 有人擔心公民不服從會導致失序的狀態, 那看看現在所謂的法治世界吧 - 雜亂, 混沌, 惡國橫行 - 這不就是大家心目中的失序嗎? 唯一有價值的秩序不是由強制執法可以帶來的, 而是藉由建立有公義的社會, 有著和睦的關係, 只需以最少的規範來讓人們各安其所. 反觀基於法律與法律強制力所帶來的秩序, 這極權狀態的秩序, 終將導致公義盡失或導致革命, 換句話說, 也就是極度的失序.

We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan’s mother what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer’s face, and she said, "It’s not God’s law." Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you nave any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

我們從小就以為法律是神聖的. 他們要 Daniel Berrigan 的媽媽說說對她兒子犯法的看法. Daniel Berrigan 燒了徵兵檔案 (本世紀最暴力的行為!) 來反戰, 也因此 - 像個罪犯般地 - 被判刑入獄. 他們問他高齡八十的老母: 你兒子犯了法, 你的感覺如何? 她毫不閃躲地對著發問者說: "這不是神的律法". 其實我們都忘了, 法律沒什麼好怕的, 想想那些定法律的人是什麼樣子. 法律不是神所定下的, 而是像 Storm Thurmond(註: 種族隔離者) 這樣的人定的. 如果法律讓你想到 "神聖" "美好" "崇敬", 瞧瞧那些制定法律的人吧. 去州議會看看吧, 去國會看看吧, 看看要被 "崇敬" 的法律是由怎樣的人所訂出來的.

(nave 應為 have)

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn’t know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we’ve gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn’t do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn’t get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.







The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people’s park, that’s not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don’t need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven’t, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You’ve just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.