Sociology Index

Sedition, Treason and Insurrection

The terms sedition, treason and insurrection are commonly used in most countries to describe acts by anyone or any group against a legally elected government. The terms coup d’état, sedition, treason and insurrection are commonly used in military sociology to differentiate and describe acts against legally elected governments.

What is Sedition? The term sedition comes from the Latin noun sēditiō, which means sedition, insurrection, or mutiny. Sedition is the “incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.” The adjective form of sedition is seditious, like seditious conspiracy. The noun forms of sedition are seditionist and seditionary. The word sedition can refer to activities that show resistance or opposition to a government.

Definition of sedition: United States law provides specific information on the crime of sedition.

Section 2384 of Chapter 115 in Title 18 of the United States Code defines the crime of seditious conspiracy and Section 2385, advocating overthrow of the government. According to Section 2384, a person can be fined or imprisoned for conspiring to overthrow or oppose the government by force, prevent or delay its laws by force, or take by force its property.

Section 2385 makes it a crime, punishable by fines, imprisonment, and/or being barred from federal employment, to engage in such actions as advocating, abetting, advising, or teaching anything that encourages using force to destroy or overthrow the government, including distributing materials or organizing groups to these ends.

What is Treason?

Treason is “the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.” The adjective forms of treason are treasonable and treasonous, and the noun form of treason is traitor. Treason can also be a violation of allegiance to one’s ruler or state. An act betrayal is also called treason to heighten its emotional impact. In US law, the punishment for a treason is death.

Treason has a specific definition under Chapter 115 of Title 18 of the US Code. Section 2381 stipulates: Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.

What is an Insurrection?

An insurrection is “an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.” The noun form, for someone who partakes in an insurrection, is insurrectionist or insurrectionary. Insurrection is also a synonym for the words rebellion, revolt, and uprising.

Title 18 of the US Code (Section 2383 in Chapter 115) sets out the crime and penalty for insurrection: Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.