Civil Disobedience" and "Theory of Anarchy
Henry Davd Thoreau’s “civil Disobedience” and Edward Abbey’s “Theory of Anarchy” both point out problems in government - Civil Disobedience" and "Theory of Anarchy introduction. Both Thoreau and Abby believe that the solution to this problem is to take a stand against the governments institutions and speak out against the injustices of a corrupt government. In “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau believes that the government is being unjust. He believes that the government is being used by a “few individuals using the standing government as their tool” (Thoreau, 940).
If the government is “the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will” then the government shouldn’t carry out unjust policies such as the Mexican War and slavery despite the governments knowledge that there are those who opposes these polices. However these “thousands who are in opinon opposed to slavery and the war, who yet in affect do nothing to put an end to them. ” (Thoreau, 943). Thoreau believes this is the underlying problem.
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The reason the government continues to act against the will and wishes of the people who put it in power is because they do not actively take a stand against yet. Thoreau’s solution to this is to actively take a stand against unjust government actions and fight for what one believes in, not accept and tolerate the actions of the government when they go against ones beliefs. This applies to transcendentalism’s idea of individualism. If an outside body like the government imposes on one’s own beliefs and ideals then as an individuals one should fight back for what one believes in.
If one were to accept the actions of the government against one’s individuals beliefs and ideas then this would be conforming, conforming to an ideal that isn’t at all one’s own which is a great wrong to a transcendentalist such as Thoreau. In “Theory of Anarchy” Abbey view the government today as being a “centralized state which promotes and protects the accumulation of private wealth on the part of a few. ” (Abbey, 27) as Thoreau does. Abbey believes that the government institutes of today are “houses built on greed” (Abbey, 28) which they are.
The American government of today is a perfect example of this. Our government was created because we opposed tariffs being placed of on our goods, tariffs that threatened the wealth of the rich, white men. These men soon become our founding fathers and they continued to work in the best interest of those who they identified with, which was not at all the common people. People like these men are our leaders of today. Not only are these leaders greedy and selfish they are also powerful. These leaders are in positions which allow them to make policies that effect a vast number of people.
They are in a position where they can bend the views of their “subjects” by their words or through force, and this makes these leaders powerful. Abbey states that “Power corrupts. ” (Abbey, 25) and so the power that the government has will corrupt the governing system. A corrupt government does not rule effectively and so Abbey offers a solution. The solution is anarchy. Abbey believes that anarchy is the perfect democracy because it disperse all sorts of powers equally in regards of each individual.
Anarchy would eliminate the need for rulers because individuals would govern themselves by being “self disciplined” (Abbey 27) and by having “character”. This not only reflects the transcendentalist belief of not only the worth of an individual to a society, but also the belief that all people are supremely good and so is able to govern themselves. Abbey believes that all people are genuinely good and are able to be in control of their own lives in every way without being enforced to follow rules set by the government.
Both Abbey and Thoreau believe that the government does not recognize the rights of an individual and interferes with individual’s independence. Despite recognizing the same problems in the government the writers have very different ways of solving this problem. Thoreau believes that acting out in peaceful manners such as not paying taxes, going to jail, or speaking against the government until they comply. Whereas Abbey believes that overthrowing the government completely and establishing an anarchist institution and create an ideal democracy, ridding the world of the government of today.