Civil Disobedience-Thoreau
March 21, 2003 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Civil Disobedience-Henry David Thoreau Nothing in here about blocking traffic but a very important historical document for our time. "The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.".................. ............ "A democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. "
posted by thedailygrowl (10 comments total)
HT a great anarchist who went his own way (Frank Sinatra=I'll do it my way), but also withheld taxes to withdraw his support from the State. Now the State takes them out in advance. HT, always an inspiration, had no benefits from the State. Are you willing to give up social security, medicare, unemployment, etc to withdraw support from the State? Our adventure (imperialism) into Mexico bothered was a wrongful policy, and so said no less a figure that U. Grant, later to coherce the South to playing ball and doing what the State (North) wanted...and from that point on, the govt in charge.
posted by Postroad at 3:46 AM on March 22, 2003

The idea that government is only there to take your money is The Greatest Fucking Hoodwink Of All Time (GFHOAT). The people are the government. It can only govern as much as the people are involved and not cowed into fear. It is supposed to work for us. Timely post thedailygrowl.
posted by crasspastor at 4:26 AM on March 22, 2003

crasspastor - One possible correction to that: The people were the governement, and they can be so again...but only with a sustained effort. And the energy for this effort could only come if citizens choose to bypass the narcotics of society (in all their myriad forms - chemical, the cult of consumption, the 4th [ infotainment ] Estate, and so on ) and channel their newfound energy into political action.

But the Red Pill is a jagged, enourmous pill which few can be persuaded to cram down their throats - and those who do become, in the eyes of larger society, raving lunatics. The luckier few chop this unpleasant pill into bite sized bits and consume it over time. This mitigates and guards against the tendency of the pill to cause those who consume it to become obsessed, unbalanced.

The pill cannot, due to it's inherent nature, be easily sold. And would the selling of it defeat it's potency? Ahhh...yes. a version, a caricature of the The Red pill has been sold, to an extent, in movies, in books, in the pop culture mythos of the "outsider". And it also has been preached also, and taught throughout the early Christianity or Gnosticism, as Buddhism, in the hidden mystic traditions, as training in logic, science, or history and even, most recently, as sociobiology.

But as ever, the pill's message is broadly drowned by the deafening roar of immediacy and it is far from clear that this could ever change.....unless it is we, ourselves, who change.
posted by troutfishing at 6:48 AM on March 22, 2003

Did I miss something here? Aren't GWB, Cheney, Powell, and the rest also people, people who're citizens of the US?
posted by billsaysthis at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2003

Amen, dailygrowl.

billsaythis: they are citizens with a very limited and well-funded agenda that the rest of us citizens are duped into supporting (see troutfishing's post above). I attribute this also to a lack of true leadership, which might exhibit genuine courage, openness to the mess that is pluralistic democracy, and most importantly, humility.
posted by divrsional at 8:28 AM on March 22, 2003

Are you willing to give up social security, medicare, unemployment, etc to withdraw support from the State?
Yes, I am yearning to be free of those things.

The idea that government is only there to take your money is The Greatest Fucking Hoodwink Of All Time (GFHOAT).
Yes, they also spend your money on war. The more you let them take, the more they have to spend on it. The US government keeps coming back to situations like this, and I do not see anyway to avoid it. Free will makes it impossible to prevent, and the only fair way to keep the government in check is to starve it and keep it small.
posted by thirteen at 10:02 AM on March 22, 2003

Also of possible interest: Mark Twain on War and Imperialism
posted by homunculus at 10:28 AM on March 22, 2003

divrsional, you miss my point, which is that the folks currently on top are just as much 'of the people' as you or me. Much more effective at accomplishing their to-do list though.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2003

I admit to not having the time to read this, but I have read many of T's words, and have to say amen. The crosscurrent of thought between India and America is pretty interesting...T and Emerson read Hinduism; Gandhi read the transcendendalists, and King read Gandhi.

The power of nonviolence has proven to be superior to the power of "power," as Jonathan Scheer has so eloquently (and boringly, frankly) proved in the last two issues of Harper's.
posted by kozad at 7:16 PM on March 22, 2003

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