The importance of direct action.

-Choose any two of the following and write a response to each.

-­­According to the Declaration of Independence, the people have a right to rebel under certain
circumstances. What are these circumstances? When does it become acceptable to exercise
this right? Do you agree? Explain why or why not and in your explanation reference at least one
other reading from class to support your position.

-­­Consider the question of representation. Do you agree with Madison that representation is
essential, or does representation in the American system take too much power away from
people? Could it be done differently, especially given a large number of people and a vast
territory? Can a ‘true democracy’ work, or would it be destroyed by factional conflicts?

-­­With reference to the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” discuss the importance of direct action.
What is “direct action”? Do you agree that it is a legitimate and effective way to exercise political
power? Why does King argue that using the ‘traditional’ means are sometimes insufficient? Are
there limits to the effectiveness of this strategy? For example, given that it took violence to end
British oppression of the colonists (the Revolutionary War) and to ultimately end chattel slavery
(the Civil War), can nonviolence be as effective for creating fundamental social change as King
says?

­­-Compare and contrast any 2 or 3 texts dealing with race and/or slavery. Which are most
compelling? What in these texts is most relevant for today?

­­-Similarly, discuss the contemporary relevance of any 2 or 3 of the readings. What do they
have to tell us about the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality today? To what extent are
they still important, and in what ways have new ideas and new social movements replaced
some of their theories?

-­­Apply Piven & Cloward’s theory of power to any of our other readings. How does it help explain the text? Are there other aspects of how power works that their theory does not account
for?

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