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Civil Disobedience And Henry David Thoreau

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Democracy is one of the concepts in which it has a lot of thought, talk, and both positive and negative meanings. We live in an age, where fight, freedom, and equality are both glorified and misunderstood as well as democracy. Democracy aims the peaceful change of power and the participation of people’s government. However, decisions in the implementation of democracy to all segments of society are not possible. In the process of taking decisions and implementing them, equality and how the law is evaluated is important. If executives have lost their legitimacy, they will not be able to fulfill their responsibilities. Therefore, how the rights and freedoms of people in the face of power are protected? I will be writing Henry David Thoreau’s thoughts on his work “Civil Disobedience” and his emphasis on Autonomous and Conscious Individuals, Positive Law Criticism and Criticism of Democracy.

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Autonomous and Conscious Individuals

Thoreau is seen as one of the key figures in developing individualistic autonomy. He assumes that individual autonomy takes place spiritually, like in their private sphere or in the inner world(Maul, 2013:157). The purpose of Thoreau is to increase the number of conscious supporters. He thinks that slavery and war can be stopped if the number of individuals, who are actively aware of civil disobedience, is increased. While Walden emphasizes distancing from the wrong things and people in society, individuals who believe in their own power and potential are in the foreground in his Civil Disobedience(Maul, 2013:162). Despite the difference, in Thoreau’s understanding, the individual should discover the “superior” law and gain direction by evaluating its behavior in this direction, because Thoreau believes that the rules of nature determine the basic behavior of man.

Positive Law Criticism

According to Thoreau, starting from conscious and questioning individuals, to show this by not paying his taxes, because of the blindly due respect for the law, well-intentioned people are suffering more injustice every day(Thoreau, 2001:31). Without questioning Thoreau’s critical approach to life and obedience to the law, the does not desire the action of individuals to be suitable only for law rules or expect individuals to comply with the existing law order without question. He tries to show this in his civil disobedient action. He qualifies to be against punishment or the want to overcome sanctions as an indispensable feature of civil disobedience. What is right for “civil disobedience” to take action? He focuses on this question. What Thoreau wants to show us is that the pure law can never free individuals. Thoreau focuses on the part in which law distracts people from realities. While critically approaching to government and law, Thoreau sees the individuals’ virtue as their main feature and gives them responsibility for virtuous behavior and responsibility.

“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place to-day, the only place with Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her but against her,—the only house in a slave-state in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority ; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight”(Thoreau, 2001:41).

Criticism of Democracy

Thoreau’s critique of democracy is a more liberal, more the participant aims to free the political process from stagnation. He criticizes and questions democracy itself and the style of its implementation in the period. From the absolute kingdom to a limited kingdom, steps from a limited kingdom to democracy, Thoreau qualifies these as steps towards true respect for the individual. However, he is doubtful about democracy, as it is known, the best form of government possible. While asking the question of “Can not there be further steps more towards recognizing and regulating human rights?”(Thoreau, 2001:53). Thoreau argues about the possibility of his desired fair democratic management. Demonstrating that democracy should be based solely on voting. Nevertheless, Thoreau states that elections are important in ensuring the legitimacy of the government. Thoreau says that “ So that even the government that I am ready to submit to can be fair, they must get the governed’s votes and approval”(Thoreau, 2001:53).

Thoreau, being the main philosophical source of civil disobedience, paved the way for questioning the existing power relations in the managed relationship. He presents the idea that they can change social and economic structures by questioning power relations. In addition, when expressing the desired real management, he wants to make you think that there could be a Utopian management version. He has targeted to establish an operational theory of what virtuous and questioning life would be like. Thoreau is concentrated on civil disobedience and non-compliance with the government, people’s own conscious laws, freedom of expression, the necessity of a moral stance, physical material or moral, the protection and respect for property, and the autonomy of the individual, the individual being “self” realizing himself, acting on his own intellectual and moral power. With these comments, Thoreau refused applications which do not server human dignity as slavery. He tries to evoke the “good” and “virtue”, which he believes are inherent in everyone and make sense as his own radical questioning views. He wants his silence stance to be the voice of society as in both his refusals to pay the taxes and time of retreat. He cares about the journey of man within himself and believes that human nature is not imcompatible with “nature”.

07 September 2020

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