Thoreau'S Essay On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience.

Thoreau'S Essay On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience.-51
He was finally arrested and jailed for the offense in 1846. He was bailed out, perhaps by his aunt, the following day.And as we well know, the Mexican-American war and the crisis of slavery were both resolved with... But Thoreau used his experience as the basis for “Civil Disobedience,” which he wrote to a local audience in his home state of Massachusetts, and which went on to directly inspire the massively successful, national grassroots movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.The first of these is a ridiculous notion; the second contradicted and supported alternately throughout the essay so that one cannot be sure of what Although it may be true that the government exists only to sustain the military and our country's major industry, without them, this fine country would be in economical and physical ruins.

Thoreau then talks for a long time about rebellion and revolution. First, he discusses the difficulty of a minority rebelling against the majority.

"A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; …" (231) He goes on to state that voting is a ludicrous procedure, and calls it "gaming … But then, it seems, he contradicts himself, writing "I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name, — if ten honest men, — aye, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America." (230) It doesn't seem right that Thoreau mocks the plurality system and polling, remarking that though the majority always rules, it didn't mean that they were right, and then goes on to state that one man can change the government very easily, by just refusing to follow the majority.

The likelihood of success in such cases---depending on the belligerence of the opposition and the capabilities of the government---varies widely.

This is an essay we have become all-too familiar with by reputation rather than by reading.

The best thing a person of means can do, he writes, is “to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor.” Or, presumably, if one has never been so, to follow the poors' lead.

The paradox of Thoreau’s assertion that the least powerful present the greatest threat to the State resolves in his recognition that the State’s power rests not in its appeal to “sense, intellectual or moral” but in its “superior physical strength.” By simply refusing to yield to threats, anyone---even ordinary, powerless people---can deny the government’s authority, “until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.” Read Thoreau’s complete essay, “Civil Disobedience,” here.

Thoreau’s political philosophy is not passive, as in the phrase “passive resistance.” It is not middle-of-the-road centrism disguised as radicalism.

It lies instead at the watering hole where right libertarianism and left anarchism meet to have a drink.

But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..” ― “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out…

but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law.


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