Thoreau Essay On Civil Disobedience

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

“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.

As he wrote: ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is a prison.’Thoreau didn’t advocate the non-payment of taxes as a rule, and in fact, a well-meaning aunt soon paid his bill.

The non-payment was just one example of the many non-violent ways that a democratically elected government could and must be resisted when its actions veer into aggression and unreason.

They were those who followed their own consciences and in particular, the principles of reason.

Thoreau wished to redistribute prestige away from blinkered obedience towards independent thought.

But this was precisely the point Thoreau wished to probe and upturn.

He suggested that true patriots were not those who blindly followed their administration.

Within a year of his inauguration, he had declared full-scale war on Mexico because of squabbles over the Texan border, and was soon rattling his saber at Britain over the ownership of Oregon.

To complete the picture, Polk was a vigorous defender of slavery, who dismissed the arguments of abolitionists as naive and sentimental.


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