Tag Archives: Henry David Thoreau

I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Thoreau Civil Disobedience just respect neighbor fellow men perfect glorious state

Civil Disobedience

I wanted to like Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and had high hopes, nay, even the expectation, that I’d like this book. But, Thoreau comes across as an ignorant Uncle Joe Bubba who rants about the gubmint being evil ‘cuz it tells folk what to do and gets in their way, but who lives willfully rejecting its benefits and being a cantankerous selfish scofflaw.

To his credit there’s an arc here where, apparently while writing much of this from a jail cell for, I gather, tax evasion, maybe as a noble abolitionist protest, but maybe not, he realizes, from looking out his cell window at the unfamiliar sights and later walking around in town, that organized collective governance is actually useful and an important part of successful civilization. Well, at least he seems to have come around, but not without being a jerk for too long.

But I don’t really think or feel I got a good or proper discussion of any thoughtful use of civil disobedience from Thoreau in this at all. It’s historically interesting though, and I suppose that’s something. Good to have read it finally, either way.

I made 76 highlights.

Originally posted on my personal blog at Civil Disobedience

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.

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

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

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience