Thoreau's Theory Of Civil Disobedience

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Leading the way to liberation, the United States ought to always align itself with polices and laws that promote freedom, justice and equality. Although this is ideal, in theory, it doesn’t always happen, and in those moments where the laws conflict with what the people find to be just, and free, civil disobedience and protests are born.

Henry David Thoreau coined the term “civil disobedience” in his 1848 essay, which attempted to justify his refusal to pay the state poll tax enacted by the government to pay for a war against Mexico and enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws. Thoreau argued that the same patriots, martyrs, and heroes that we idealize today, were labeled as traitors and enemies of the state for their civically disobedient actions.
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This is true because for many years, the United States government has been in breach of the social contract it holds with is citizens. John Locke authored the idea of a social contract, explaining that a government derives its right to rule from the people, and in turn the people are obedient and respect the laws. In theory this is great, in practice, it has failed. Latest polling data suggests that the approval rating of Congress rests at around 11%. Despite this, an incumbent congressman will retain his seat nearly 90% of the time. This is possible because lawmakers no longer derive their power from the average person. If they did, they the congressional turnover rate would be much higher. Florida Republican Representative David Jolly explains that he was shocked to learn that his responsibility as a representative was not to write laws, rather it was to raise $18,000 a day by spending at least 30 hours every week on the phone with big donors and lobbyist. Money has such a huge influence on elections that candidates don’t have to win over the support of every American… they just have to win the lobbyist, or the media, or the big corporations. The doors to capital hill have been chained shut and wealth, the only key to get in, has been barricaded and protected by laws promoting economic inequality, social suppression, and minority disenfranchisement. As a result, it is only the duty, but …show more content…
For example, in Plato’s Crito, Socrates argues that a population should never break the law, even if the law is unjust. The warrant behind this is that the government provides every citizen with roads, security, and other benefits. Although the government deserves respect this premise is weak. How can the construction of a bridge possibly justify the suppression of minorities? At worst, this argument is paying people for silence, bribery, at best; it’s reparation, both of which are retroactive policies for fixing a wrongdoing.
When the government stops governing, and when morals and justice are at odds with the law, the heroes who stand up and speak out are justified. They are the ones who shape and help further the dream of a truly free