Thoreau Essay On Civil Disobedience Summary

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But open rebellion does become justified in two cases: first, when the friction comes to have its own machine, that is, when the injustice is no longer occasional but a major characteristic; and, second, when the machine demands that people cooperate with injustice.

Thoreau declared that, if the government Conscience vs.

Many social reformers, including Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., have cited "Civil Disobedience" as inspiration.

Henry David Thoreau's original title for this essay was "Resistance to Civil Government." The essay was first delivered as a lecture before it was published.

Gandhis and Kings vision was inclusive and nonjudgmental, rather than declarations, such as a recent one by an army officer in uniform that our God is greater than Allah. From the Baltic States, across to the Ukraine, and east to the Philippines, ordinary people in dozens of countries have proved Thoreau correct: When all subjects have refused allegiance, and all officers have resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Although many Quaker writers had argued from conscience for civil disobedience against war and slavery, Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” essay is not tied to a particular religion or to a specific issue.We can now begin to discern several principles of civil disobedience.The first principle is that you maintain respect for the rule of law even while disobeying the specific law that you perceive as unjust.More than this, since only individuals act, only individuals can act unjustly.When the government knocks on the door, it is an individual in the form of a postman or tax collector whose hand hits the wood.Gandhi very much admired Socrates respect for Athenian law and his decision not to flee when his prison guards were bribed. submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.King was always confident that American democracy would eventually treat his people as equal under the rule of law. Gandhi instructed his disciples to take the penance of their oppressors upon themselves.Thoreau said that his one night in jail made the state look foolish.We have now arrived at the third principle of civil disobedience: you should attempt to convert your opponent by demonstrating the justice of your cause.The second principle of civil disobedience follows from the first: you should plead guilty to any violation of the law. Gandhis tactics were a form of moral and political ju jitzu.Some of Gandhis judges felt as if they were the ones charged and convicted.


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