Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government

4 April 2015
This paper discusses Henry David Thoreau’s essay `Resistance to Civil Government` and argues that his ideas represent extreme individualism and anarchist ideology.

This paper examines Thoreau’s philosophy of resistance and civil disobedience as the roots of anarchy. The paper shows that within his work, the idea of individualism is paramount. Thoreau’s views show that he was deeply skeptical of the government and rejects the view that a person must sacrifice or marginalize her values out of loyalty to her government.
`The renowned American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau is considered to be one of the most influential minds in the American thought and literature. Thoreau had not only great influence on American thought but also on the politics of the world, some of his ideas and concepts that he developed were the most original political doctrines devised by American thinker. We appreciate this more, considering the fact that he was an unconventional thinker.

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At the heart of Thoreau political philosophy was the concept of individualism, he was a supreme individualist and championed the human spirit against materialism and social conformity. His most famous book, `Walden” 1854 is an eloquent account of his experiment in near solitary living in close harmony with nature, it is also an expression of transcendentalist philosophy. One of Thoreau’s most important work, the essay Resistance to Civil Government which was later published as Civil Disobedience 1849, grew out of an overnight stay in prison as a result of his conscientious refusal to pay poll tax that supported the Mexican War which to Thoreau represented an effort to extend slavery. Thoreau’s advocacy of civil disobedience as a means for the individual to protest those actions of his government that he considers unjust has had a wide-ranging impact.

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