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Salt and issued in London in Government is only an expedient — a means of attaining an end. It exists because the people have chosen it to execute their will, but it is susceptible to misuse. The Mexican War is an example of a few people using the government as their tool.
Thoreau asserts that government as an institution hinders the accomplishment of the work for which it was created. It exists for the sole purpose of ensuring individual freedom. Denying an interest in abolishing government, he states that he simply wants a better government.
Majority rule is based on physical strength, not right and justice. Individual conscience should rule instead, and civil government should confine itself to those matters suited to decision by majority rule.
He deplores the lack of judgment, moral sense, and conscience in the way men serve the state. Thoreau introduces the right of revolution, which all men recognize, and reflects on the American Revolution, the origins of which he finds less morally compelling than the issues at hand.
Having developed the image of the government as a machine that may or may not do enough good to counterbalance what evil it commits, he urges rebellion.
The opponents of reform, he recognizes, are not faraway politicians but ordinary people who cooperate with the system. The expression of opposition to slavery is meaningless.
Only action — what you do about your objection — matters. Wrong will be redressed only by the individual, not through the mechanism of government.
Although Thoreau asserts that a man has other, higher duties than eradicating institutional wrong, he must at least not be guilty through compliance. The individual must not support the structure of government, must act with principle, must break the law if necessary.
|[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]||Table of Contents Summary Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws.|
|Analysis and Summary of “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau||On the Duty of Civil Disobedience [, original title:|
|From the SparkNotes Blog||Penlighten Staff Last Updated: Henry David Thoreau was an American writer, philosopher, abolitionist, and historian.|
|By Henry David Thoreau||By Henry David Thoreau I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe- "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.|
Abolition can be achieved by withdrawing support from the government, which may be accomplished practically through the nonpayment of taxes. If imprisonment is the result, there is no shame in it — prison is the best place for a just man in an unjust society.
In the current state of affairs, payment of taxes is violent and bloody.
Nonpayment constitutes a "peaceable revolution. A man can be compelled only by one who possesses greater morality. Thoreau asserts that he does not want to quarrel or to feel superior to others. He wants to conform to the laws of the land, but current laws are not honorable from a higher point of view.
Politics and politicians act as though the universe were ruled by expediency. In the progression from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy to democracy, Thoreau observes an evolution in government toward greater expression of the consent of the governed. He notes that democracy may not be the final stage in the process.
His emphasis at the end of the essay is firmly on respect for the individual. There will never be a "really free and enlightened State" until the state recognizes the preeminence of the individual.― Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.
tags: civil-disobedience, congress, individuals, legislators, liberalism. 8 likes. Like “The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays.
3 . Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and . One of Thoreau's most influential writings, it has been published separately many times (Walter Harding's The Variorum Civil Disobedience, for example, appeared in ), included in volumes of selections from Thoreau (among them the Modern Library Edition of Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau, edited by Brooks Atkinson), and translated into European and Asian languages.
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in One of the movements that was marked by its insistence on civil disobedience is the civil rights movement of the s.
The man who was considered the leader of this movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., advocated the kind of peaceful but assertive resistance defined by Thoreau as civil disobedience.
Dr. Nov 09, · Henry David Thoreau is perhaps best known for Walden, but Walden is by no means his only achievement. Now you can enjoy his timeless work, On .