In this chapter, Jeannot interrogates Berrigan on his theory and practice of civil disobedience. Using Rawls’s theory of civil disobedience in a Theory of Justice as a foil, Jeannot argues that Berrigan underground, fleeing the authorities after the trial of the Catnonsville Nine, cannot be accommodated to the American narrative after the fashion of Thoreau in Walden Pond. We must understand Berrigan along the path of a via negativa as defying the best American traditions of civil disobedience and their philosophical justifications. He must disturb us in the way that he disturbed a sober and thoughtful Robert Coles. Hazy evocations of Thoreau, or Gandhi, or King will not suffice. What is required indeed, if we are to take his great refusal seriously, is a clear grasp of the liberal doctrine he negated, of which the best contemporary version is Rawls.
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