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Serbian Political Thought

Moving Conceptual Limits of Civil Disobedience: The Case of Serbia

Sažetak

Based on comparative analysis of dominant contemporary conceptions of civil disobedience, it is concluded that all of them, to a lesser or greater extent, stay within the Rawlsian theoretical matrix, with a quite rigid schematics of conditions requisite for implementation and justification of this type of political practice. It is about a mainly system- related approach, in which a strictly determined institutional framework, represented in a developed and already consolidated democracy, is presented as a limiting and only possible contextual framework for the use of civil disobedience. The author emphasizes that the institutional framework is certainly a desirable, although not a necessary condition. For experience shows that this type of practice is possible not only in the circumstances of a developed and stable system of democratic institutions, but also in those of the minimal, electoral democracy, and under quasi-democratic conditions, the best example for which is the case of Serbia, that is analysed here. In addition, there are also cases of contemporary protest movements that carry out their actions of nonviolent resistance under conditions of a developed democracy, but direct them against its existing liberal form and/or do not base them on the Rawlsian justice principle, thus surpassing the dominant conceptual framework. The author, in fact, wants to indicate that this concept forms a theoretical model too abstract, exclusive and narrow that, as an expression of a purely scholastic standpoint, does not correspond either to historical or contemporary empirical practice, and as such even makes the very notion of civil disobedience completely senseless. As a result, the significance of different interpretation of the context necessary for this type of civil action is underlined, the one where accent would not be only on the required institutional, but also certain political culture framework, too. It suggests a correction of the systemic-institutional approach, first and foremost in the sense of lowering its too high demands, and then its supplementation with a complementary normative approach that would emphasize the importance of participatory political culture with a system of liberal-democratic values and advanced civic virtues (so-called civic culture approach). By that a necessarry flexibility of the concept of civil disobedience would be achieved, one that would approximate it more to the social and political reality, but also enable its far larger theoretical-analytical and practical-political applicability.

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PERIODIKA Serbian Political Thought 1-2/2010 UDK 323.25(497.11) 23-40
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