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civil disobedience summary

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In particular, the neo-conservative insistence on a guilty plea should be eliminated. Again, Thoreau believes that the People hold the power within the nation to make these critical decisions. Webster is cautious in his calls for change: to him, the constitution and the endurance of the government must be protected above everything else. Civil disobedients have chosen a variety of different illegal acts. By some definitions , civil disobedience has to be nonviolent to be called "civil". But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well as an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—"That government is best which governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. 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. Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against what they deem to be unfair laws. It is as if he no longer belongs to America and, for those reasons, can no longer call its laws, customs, or government his. Courts have distinguished between two types of civil disobedience: "Indirect civil disobedience involves violating a law which is not, itself, the object of protest, whereas direct civil disobedience involves protesting the existence of a particular law by breaking that law. Although Thoreau promotes solidarity among his readers and urges them to think of themselves as a nation of freedom fighters, he also reminds them that they are acting on behalf of the individual, as well. [61] Hence the saying that "if there is any possible justification of civil disobedience it must come from outside the legal system."[62]. 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. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. Section I: Government and Democracy. So is all change for the better, like birth and death which convulse the body. Themes and Colors Key LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Civil Disobedience, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. [49] Also, some civil disobedients seek to use the arrest as an opportunity to make an impression on the officers. Being too close to the government makes it hard for people to take risks in their calls for change. Often there is an expectation to be attacked or even beaten by the authorities. Analysis and Summary of “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau portrays the American people sympathetically, arguing that because the American government makes it hard for them to criticize its actions, they know no better. As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. Moreover, Thoreau advocates for using God and the Bible responsibly, particularly the New Testament, for an ethical compass on how legislators should lead. I may have violated some specific laws, but I am guilty of doing no wrong. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State, than it would to obey. In his Essay, “Civil Disobedience”, Henry David Thoreau argues that society functions the most efficiently when it is not ruled by an overpowering monarch, or by a strong central government, but by the people, essentially having self-reliant peoples that do not necessarily need a government,... Henry David Thoreau, the author of Civil Disobedience, clearly shows signs of being a rebel. [8] Gandhi's Satyagraha was partially influenced and inspired by Shelley's nonviolence in protest and political action. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated. He brings up other unfairly treated groups in America, urging his readers to align themselves with these groups, for the purpose of building solidarity and to get his readers to understand how much of an honor it is to live one’s life in a way that promotes freedom for oneself and those around him. No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. But if government is "the voice of the people," as it is often called, shouldn't that voice be heeded? Visit to buy new and used textbooks, and check out our award-winning NOOK tablets and eReaders. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the State were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Moreover, even if a government did express the voice of the people, this fact would not compel the obedience of individuals who disagree with what is being said. Is it an act of breaking the law, is it a fight for justice, or is it a lawful right of all citizens to the freedom of speech? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? This action was upheld because, according to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, her statement suggested a lack of remorse, an attempt to avoid responsibility for her actions, and even a likelihood of repeating her illegal actions. It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. 2020 © This leads him to comment on the power imbalance within the nation: the government is allowed to act however it wants while it encourages the people to ignore the consequences of those actions.

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