Cover image for Rebels with a cause : the minds and morality of political offenders
Rebels with a cause : the minds and morality of political offenders
Kittrie, Nicholas N., 1928-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxviii, 411 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1750 Lexile.
Format :


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HV6254 .K58 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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.

Author Notes

Nicholas N. Kittrie distinguished University Professor and former dean at the American University Law School, is an international criminal lawyer. Chairman of the United Nations NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, he is the founder of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace and Chair of the American Society of International Law146s Interest Group on the Status of Minorities. Past president of the American Society for Criminology, Dr. Kittrie has served as counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, as anti030terrorism consultant to the United States vicepresident, and as legal advisor to various foreign governments. Kittrie's previous books include T he War Against Authority: From the Crisis of Legitimacy to a New Social Contract , and The Uncertain Future: Gorbachev's Eastern Bloc . His Right to be Different: Deviance and Enforced Therapy and The Tree of Liberty: A Documentary History of Rebellion and Political Crime in America won several awards.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This book offers a sweeping review of the legal, political, and psychological history of political crime. Kittrie (law, American Univ.) aims "to distinguish...between the altruistic political offender and the venal common criminal." He depicts true political offenders as radical, yet legitimate, proponents of social reform who deserve special legal and moral status. In our age of growing global strife, the author calls for an international legal system to define and direct acceptable political dissidence. As part of such a system, Kittrie proposes a "Bill of Rights for Just Governance and Just Resistance" to make international human rights agreements binding domestic covenants between governments and their own citizens. Scholarly and highly readable, this book is recommended for academic, large public, and law libraries.√ĄDuncan Stewart, State Historical Society of Iowa Lib., Iowa City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface: Confronting the Political Offenderp. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xxv
Creditsp. xxvii
Prologue: In the Eyes of the Beholders: Heroes or Rogues?p. 1
Part 1 Beyond Myth and Denial: The Realities of Political Crime and Rebellionp. 19
Chapter 1 When Conscience and Public Order Collide: Is There Place for Protest and Resistance?p. 21
Chapter 2 the Riddle of the Sphinx: Categorizing Political Offenses and Offendersp. 39
Part 2 Perspectives of a Unique Offenderp. 71
Chapter 3 Only Sparks Fly High the Making of the Political Offenderp. 73
Part 3 Villains or Patriots? Political Offenders in America and Abroadp. 127
Chapter 4 Piercing the Monolith: Lessons of the American Experiencep. 129
Chapter 5 Cycles of Oppression and Leniency Europe's Search for the """"Honorable Offender""""p. 155
Part 4 Reconciling Public Order with Higher Lawp. 191
Chapter 6 the Political Offender's Quest for Sanctuary: Asylum or Extradition?p. 193
Chapter 7 Justifications and Absolutions the Political Offender's """"Higher Law"""" Defensesp. 243
Part 5 the Political Offender in Modernity: New Rules for Dissidence and Domestic Warfarep. 297
Chapter 8 Rebels with a Cause: Toward a Jurisprudence of Domestic Conflictp. 299
Epilogue Clarifying the Rules of Just Governance and Just Resistancep. 329
Appendixp. 349
Notesp. 351
Selected Bibliographyp. 395
Indexp. 403