Thoreau civil disobedience
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Thoreau – Civil Disobedience. 1846 – Henry David Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax – he was arrested and jailed to his disdain, his relatives paid his tax for him to release him from jail

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Thoreau – Civil Disobedience

  • 1846 – Henry David Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax – he was arrested and jailed

  • to his disdain, his relatives paid his tax for him to release him from jail

  • Thoreau denies the right of any government to automatic and unthinking obedience. Obedience should be earned and it should be withheld from an unjust government.

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Thoreau – Civil Disobedience

  • Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

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Thoreau – Civil Disobedience

  • Two times when open rebellion is justified:

    • when the injustice is no longer occasional but a major characteristic

    • when the machine (government) demands that people cooperate with injustice.

  • Thoreau declared that, “If the government requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”

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  • 72 year movement for women’s right to vote

  • Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party

  • letter-writing, protests, marches, days of silence, hunger strikes, civil disobedience

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  • Early work was based off of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience

  • led movement for Independence of India

  • took Thoreau’s concept of disregarding unjust laws one step further – to disobeying nonviolently

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Gandhi – nonviolence

  • nonviolence is the refusal to respond with violence, regardless of how violently you are treated.

  • Satyagraha – “struggle for truth” or “truth force”

    • Gandhi wanted to challenge in-equal social structures without setting off a spiral of violence

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Later social movements

  • U.S. Civil Rights Movement

  • Solidarity

  • Anti-apartheid movement

    • Truth and Reconciliation Commission

  • Post-Soviet independence movements