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Rebels With A Cause: The Minds And Morality Of Political Offenders

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Description

As the twenty-first century is ushered in, rebels, revolutionaries and political dissidents remain a major roadblock to the structuring of a new world order. Challenging their national or local institutions of authority–political or economic, social or religious–aggrieved individuals and disgruntled communities continue to wage their eternal struggles against those perceived as perverting the common good. Rebels with a Cause seeks to explain the minds, motives, means, and morality of those who espouse individual as well as communal dissent and resistance–violent or otherwise–in the name of some greater good. The ranks of political offenders vary widely: Civil Disobedients; Conscientious Objectors; Dissidents; Fanatics; Freedom Fighters; Fundamentalists; Militants; Political Prisoners; Pseudo-Politicals; Rebels; Resisters; Revolutionaries and Terrorists. The cast of characters is equally diverse and colorful: from Rome’s Brutus to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. From America’s John Brown and Susan B. Anthony to John Wilkes Booth and Timothy J. McVeigh. From Cuba’s Che Guevara to the anonymous heroes of Beijing’s Tienaman Square. From the Soviet Union’s Aleksander Solzhenistzen to Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. Rebels portrays political offenders as products of three unorthodoxies. They constitute neither traditional political actors, nor common criminals or lawful belligerents. As players in the political arena, they refuse to abide by the rules and means of conventional politics–the ballot box and the rule of law. Offending against the prevailing law, they nevertheless disclaim the common criminal’s venal goals to assert their own pursuit of altruistic communal and just objectives. Finally, as militant activists they act surreptiously, disclaim uniforms and insignias, proclaim allegiance to no sovereign and in their resort to indiscriminate violence they spurn the rules of lawful belligerency. This triple unorthodoxy has made the development of coherent public responses to political dissidents, resisters and rebels particularly difficult. Rebels does not only identify the actors and social forces that have caused nearly half of all countries throughout the globe to become infected with the ethnic, religious, tribal, clannish, and racial strife which now tear them apart. Acknowledging that domestic conflicts are replacing international warfare as the source of political disorder and violence in the emerging decades, Rebels also offers both readers and antagonists new insights and constructive approaches for the making of a less hostile and violent world. Rebels with a Cause will help readers address some of this era’s most troublesome questions. What weight should one give to the demands of his conscience or the urgings of his or her faith? When should one reject the rules of those in power and stand up against evil laws and governments? Is one ever entitled to disobey the commands of an allegedly “democratic” regime? What means may one justly use in the struggle against tyrants, dictators, and other abusers of power? And when does a dissenter cease to be a freedom fighter and become a terrorist? Rebels with a Cause responds to these and other pressing contemporary questions with a “Bill of Rights on Just Authority and Just Resistance” as a guide for both the governed and those who govern.

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