POL 150 01
There are three essential forms of opposing the totalitarian system: covert passive resistance, overt non-violent protest, and armed struggle. The first form of activity results, in a way, from a combination of utilitarian calculating and axiological considerations. The oppositionists may cooperate with the régime and publicly countenance it, while at the same time they venture to take action in order to liberalize the system and take the edge off the dictatorship, whenever this is possible, not noticed by the authorities, legitimate, or profitable in view of the mildness of the punishment faced by the offenders. Both individuals and institutions may follow this pattern. Under the Communist rule in Eastern Europe, even persons holding public offices in the administration adopted the policy of covert resistance. By putting up this cunctative opposition, such people renounce their moral principles for a quiet life. In this rational compromise with the system, evil is tolerated in order to avoid punishment, and certain values, including moral values, are sacrificed for material profit.
Activity classified as the second form entails evident opposition or dissidence. Disagreement with the system’s policies is declared, and an ideological stance is defined, critical of the régime. This is the level of political protest that we are going to investigate in this article. Under these circumstances, political protest demonstrates that there is a limit to utilitarian calculating. Concessions are made to the system, but when the limit is reached, the opposition, no matter what the consequences, challenges the régime. Obviously, this need not involve an eruption of riots, as people may refrain from waging a struggle or setting up barricades, and protest in a non-violent manner. In 1953, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland’s Catholic Church, formulated the concept of the limit of concession... [continues]
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