His libertarian leanings are, however, tempered with limited support for some government initiatives, such as public education and highway maintenance. On May 21, the poet Sarojini Naidu led 2,500 marchers on the Dharasana Salt Works, some 150 miles north of Bombay. In his contradiction, Thoreau claims that to obey a law he opposes would be to pay a penalty far worse than any loss of money or property because it would violate his conscience and self-respect. With his own example, he establishes that non-payment of taxes is a means to withdraw support from the government. Thereby the power of government is not limitless or absolute in its authoritative potentials.
One of the movements that was marked by its insistence on civil disobedience is the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The political process results in the election of those who hold office — available men, who accept the process but are not necessarily guided by principle. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. 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. There are really no blows to be given by him but defensive ones. But even suppose blood should flow.
By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. There, Gandhi and his supporters were to defy British policy by making salt from seawater. I am not the son of the engineer. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. He urges people to be free from the corrupting powers of money and property. Through the use of his civil disobedience, the minority can be heard and not let the majority be able to tell society what is considered right and wrong.
Thoreau's thoughts were never restricted to the Massachusetts area. To change unjust laws and the unjust government, people should stand up. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other. In general, Thoreau casts a skeptical gaze at the democratic process, judging that the policies and laws which receive the most votes are not necessarily the best, only the most popular. In fact, the practice of slavery in the United States is the single most hypocritical aspect of the government as far as Thoreau is concerned. It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation? They form an acknowledgment that inner exploration loses meaning if matters of conscience are overlooked in the process.
Yet they are regarded as good citizens. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, nor the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. Civil Disobedience by Thoreau Summary Thoreau, in order to justify the rightness of Civil Disobedience and the need for the rule of supreme individualism or transcendentalism, explains the inherent problems with the government. There are several options open to us for unjust laws. Why does it not cherish its wise minority? But almost all say that such is not the case now. The authority 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: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed.
It is not necessary that a work must have a theme. As a machine, the government may not do a good job in producing justice. Summary Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 was an American writer, philosopher, abolitionist, and historian.
The modern concept of civil disobedience was most clearly formulated by. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. He had to spend a night in jail for his actions. Finally, paradoxes are a kind of literary flourish, allowing writers like Thoreau to insert more of their own character and humor into the text, often at the expense of easy exposition—a price Thoreau and Emerson were pleased to pay. 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. The man who was considered the leader of this movement, Dr. The right to resistance Thoreau affirms the absolute right of individuals to withdraw their support from a government whose policies are immoral or unjust.
Thoreau pushes this line of thinking to its logical limit by envisioning a society in which government is eliminated altogether because men have the capacity to be self-regulating and independent. After calling-off of the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922, Mahatma Gandhi took indirect retirement from the politics and got indulge in creative works. If a state uses force, he should resist it and go to jail. Literary Devices Examples in Civil Disobedience:. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. However, he also notes that democracy may not be the final stage of the process. Thoreau was arrested for not paying poll-taxes and stayed in jail for one night.
When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left; but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. I never had seen its institutions before. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn- a wholly new and rare experience to me. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. However, he was released from jail the next morning when a friend paid his taxes. Civil disobedience, which is sometimes also referred to as nonviolent resistance, is typically defined as the act of refusing to obey certain laws of a government.
The essay was reprinted in 1866, four years after Thoreau's death, in the collection of his work named A Yankee in Canada: With Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feeling of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? Thoreau did not want people to feel obligated to follow this majority opinion. In January 1931, Gandhi was released from prison. The essay was published in an anthology called Æsthetic Papers. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man or a musket to shoot one with- the dollar is innocent- but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. What force has a multitude? I have other affairs to attend to. However, he states that the current laws are not honorable.