Lecture 2 (September 17)– Thoreau
-1) we are all free and there is power in this freedom
To act and to think.
Thousands are opposed to slavery but do nothing about it.
People will vote for the abolition of slavery without really caring.
Argues these people are the real slaves.
Those who refuse their freedom are the slaves (^)
Action from principle changes things and relations
-2) disobedience is the refusal to support injustice
Truth is stronger than error (example of prison)
Things are accomplished when people refuse and stop the machine of ordinary life
If no one signed up for the military we would not have wars
An individual in jail is going to be heard under certain circumstances
The freedom to disobey
You can be obedient and look like a good citizen but you can be obeying a very unjust law –
3 categories of people
o Armies who march to war against their will and common sense. Are they men or movable
machinery (those who blindly obey)? Don‟t exercise freedom of judgement.
o Politicians, lawyers, ministers and office holders (ruling class) – likely to serve the devil
without intending it as god. Oblivious to the needs of the average person in terms of
human rights or justice.
o Those who disobey (heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers) and serve the state with their
conscience (ability to make decisions involving what is right and wrong). Refusal to
support injustice. Appeasable revolution – withdrawal and remain aloof.
To pay taxes enables his state to continue with this unjust rule. Refusal to pay taxes refuses
bloodshed and violence. In this act of disobedience revolution takes place.
We do violence to ourselves when we don‟t make the right moral decision and support injustice
-3) we have a right to revolution and a duty to disobey
“The right to revolution remains the right to refuse allegiance to and to resist the government
when its tyranny or inefficiency are great and unendurable (I, 8)”.
o When is tyranny unendurable – a point where people say enough is enough
Slavery – urgent need to rebel (I, 8)
o When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of
liberty are slaves and a whole country is unjustly ove