Henry Thoreau Civil Disobedience

Henry Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" is his views on the relationship between man and his government. He begins by saying that most governments are usually ineffective and all are sometimes. He says that a government where a majority rules isn't just. Men should do "the right thing" before following the law. People who serve the state do so as machines and are not worthy. Those who serve the state with their "conscience" are worthy yet not recognized as such.
Thoreau opines that people should rise up and revolutionize. Just because there isn't a majority doesn't mean that they are wrong or that they should back down with their claims. There are too many people who are against evils being done yet just sit back and don't do anything about them. He argues that reform within the government isn't effective; voting and petitioning for change does little. People are not virtuous if they disapprove of measures taken by the govt., yet still support and participate in it. Also, more money means less morals.
Thoreau then explains his one-night stay in jail for refusing to pay poll taxes as an example of peaceful protest. He says that the state confronts a man only physically; they can force him to become like themselves but not intellectually or morally. He comes to pity the state because they cannot make him do what they want. He is subject only to those who obey a higher law.
He does not believe that he should accept men as they are if they can be reformed. In going against men, he will stir some change. Men in history have been rare that possessed a genius. To be just, authority must be based on the consent of its subjects and only do what they deem right. He finishes by saying that if there are a few who wish to altogether alienated from the govt., this is ok and would "prepare the way" towards an ideal state.

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