Resistance to Civil Government

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by DMAC09, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. DMAC09

    DMAC09 Member

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    My lit class had a discussion over Henry David Thoreau's Resistance to Civil Government the other day, and I just wanted to get some of your reactions to his arguments.

    So basically, he says that by joining the military we're giving up our consciences by subjecting them to the authority of another (higher-up) person's conscience. Specifically, he's talking about the Mexican War (1846) and soldiers' requirement of following orders that are immoral because of faulty leadership. He's urging us to basically refuse service - to the military, as well as (I take it) to the rest of humanity, since we're forced to follow another person's conscience in many aspects of our lives. So what Thoreau does is go and live in the wilderness, but (hypocritically, I'd say) only about 2 miles outside of civilization so he can still return there every now and then and reap their benefits when he pleases.

    So many things about his preachings bother me and scream "Argue with this man! Show him his faults!" I just wanted to see what you guys all thought of it.

    **Funny thing, actually. Thursdays is lab day for ROTC, and we wear our uniforms to class. So I'm sitting there in my ACUs...and we're discussing how I'm wrong in subjecting my conscience to others' by joining the military. Huh.**
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Thoreau was an idiot....that's why he was always alone....no one liked him. :eek:

    Take that back to your teacher!
    :wink:
     
  3. starvinmarvin_09

    starvinmarvin_09 USAFA Cadet

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    If you want to have a solid argument, flip his idea around and apply it to what it says, "the CIVIL government". If I remember right, civil applies to Fed. State, and local gov. Apply it to the current political friction of today and how people are so fast to "subject" ourselves to the government which also is immoral and has faulty leadership.
     
  4. bmorris244

    bmorris244 Member

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    I would invoke Locke's social contract theory. More specifically, the idea that we have to give up some rights, liberties, and "consciences" to higher authorities for common benefit. Thoreau is taking a step backwards by not reaching the same conclusion.
    So, he's about 1/2 as smart as Locke. :thumb:

    Social contract theory is also the thing that knocked down the divine right of kings, which had ruled (along with feudalism) for more than half a millenium.

    If you want a real bomb to drop in class, get them going about how humanity is incomplete without society; the whole "we are social animals" bit. You should get a riot in there soon.

    That's what I would do.
     

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