Thoreau'S Essay On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience.

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A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.

There is no play in them, for this comes after work.

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.

“Suppose blood should flow,” writes Thoreau, “Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded?

” As for the justness of disobedience, Thoreau makes a very logical case: “If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.” Thoreau goes on to introduce a good deal of nuance into the argument, writing that community taxes supporting highways and schools are ethical, but those supporting unjust war and enslavement are not. And he expected that the poor would undertake most of the resistance, because the burdens fell heaviest on them, and “because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are the most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property.” This has generally, throughout history, been true.Related Content: 6 Political Theorists Introduced in Animated “School of Life” Videos: Marx, Smith, Rawls & More Hear 21 Hours of Lectures & Talks by Howard Zinn, Author of the Bestselling A People’s History of the United States ‘Tired of Giving In’: The Arrest Report, Mug Shot and Fingerprints of Rosa Parks (December 1, 1955) Martin Luther King, Jr. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your visiting.What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.” Thoreau had put his dicta into practice already many years before.He had stopped paying his poll tax in 1842 to protest the war and the expansion of slavery.The figure he cites of “a sixth of the population” is not erroneous. Thoreau found both this developing nightmare and the Mexican-American war too intolerably unjust for the country to bear.And he recognized the limitations of elections to resolve them: “All voting is a sort of gaming...“I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least,’” wrote Thoreau, and ultimately “’That government is best which governs not at all.’” Like many utopian theorists of the 19th century, Thoreau saw this as the inevitable future: “when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government they will have.” Thoreau laments all restrictions on trade and regulations on commerce.He also denounces the use of a standing army by “a comparatively...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.


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