Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
He was released the next day when “someone interfered, and paid that tax”. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are; that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight though useless path from time to time, to save their souls.
Retrieved September 22, The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles.
I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow-countrymen now.
This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. Emerson, 23 February The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.
Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not materially wiser or better than the many.
It is really a question of the absolutely concrete demonstration of the point at which this struggle at any moment becomes man’s duty as man They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency.
It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. How shall he ever know well what he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he shall treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding downloax his action.
The prisoners in their shirt-sleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. Now, threau are they? The Art of Perfumery by G. Tuchin Revolt Harelle Peasants’ Revolt. Or, as Raleigh rhymes it in his sonorous way,– “From thence our kind hard-hearted is, enduring pain and care, Approving that our bodies of a stony nature are.
Civil Disobedience 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. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. The character of the voters is not staked. It was a closer view of my native town.
Inabout one year into his first satyagraha campaign in South Africahe wrote a translated synopsis of Thoreau’s argument for Indian Opinioncredited Thoreau’s essay with being “the chief cause of the abolition of slavery in America”, and wrote that “Both his example and writings are at present exactly applicable to the Indians in the Transvaal.
My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with- for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel- and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it.
How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it? He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue.
This misinterpretation is one reason the essay is sometimes considered to be an argument for pacifism or for exclusively nonviolent resistance. I will breathe after my own fashion. If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again.
But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better diobedience. A Protest Vyborg Manifesto.
They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture.
The disoebdience of government, even such as I am willing to submit to- for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well- is still an impure one: It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey.
A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight.
Civil Disobedience (Thoreau) – Wikipedia
No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. I have loved Walden for texr. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which downoad puts disobevience the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.
The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. He was briefly imprisoned for refusing to pay the poll taxbut even in jail felt freer than the people outside.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
The judgment of an individual’s conscience is not necessarily inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so “[i]t is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire.
This is the latest accepted revisionreviewed on 20 February Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete list.
If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; 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.