Civil Disobedience: Henry David Thoreau

771 WordsJun 21, 20184 Pages
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a philosopher and writer who is well known for his criticism of the American government during the time. During Thoreau’s life, there were two major issues being debated in the United States: slavery and the Mexican-American War. Both issues greatly influenced his essay, as he actually practiced civil disobedience in his own life by refusing to pay taxes in protest of the Mexican War. He states that the government should be based on conscience and that citizens should refuse to follow the law and has the duty not to participate and stay as a member of an unjust institution like the government. I argue that the notion of individualism and skepticism toward government is essential in the basis of many…show more content…
This is similar to the limits of “Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place. (Lao-Tzu, verse 3)” If people do not rebel towards the government, this can be taken as an act of respect and agreement for how the government functions, which means that these unjust actions are in favor among the people. I argue that people have the duty refuse a government that is corrupt, and distance themselves from these unjust institutions. A person does not necessarily have to work to eliminate unjust practices, but definitely has the duty to disagree with any kind of those actions they see, and not to participate in such acts. The individual has an important responsibility in showing clear criticism towards unjust institutions. It may seem like the society will become unstable if this concept is followed, because a society might not be able to function when everybody believed that man is first and the subject is afterwards. Even though this principle is debatable if it becomes universalized, this does not mean that it But, even if Thoreau's principle does become implausible when universalized, does this mean that it cannot affect all people’s action. This action of placing morality before law can be practiced by those who understand their individual duty to be
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