Please forward this error on disobedience and other essays to host. This is the latest accepted revision, reviewed on 13 October 2018.
American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In 1848, Thoreau gave lectures at the Concord Lyceum entitled “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government”. The word civil has several definitions. The one that is intended in this case is “relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state”, and so civil disobedience means “disobedience to the state”.
The slavery crisis inflamed New England in the 1840s and 1850s. The environment became especially tense after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice.
The government, according to Thoreau, is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Because of this, it is “not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize”. Political philosophers have counseled caution about revolution because the upheaval of revolution typically causes a lot of expense and suffering. Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. This is not to say that you have an obligation to devote your life to fighting for justice, but you do have an obligation not to commit injustice and not to give injustice your practical support. Paying taxes is one way in which otherwise well-meaning people collaborate in injustice.