Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Resign Your Office


If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." 

38 comments:

  1. Thoreau seems so much more critical of society than Emerson. Emerson seemed like he wanted to teach the individual how to make himself a better person and a better part of the over-soul, while Thoreau wants to change the system and the administration. He's looking for a more peaceful society-like Emerson-but by different means.

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    1. I agree, Thoreau is So critical. His tone of voice changes from "Walden" as well. It makes me think about if he wants everything to be so peaceful, why is he on such a long rant about it?

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  2. Here, I think that Thoreau is trying to say that people should not just do what they are told, but rather do what they think is right.

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  3. Thoreau is more critical on changing the society and administration, rather than the individual. It is interesting to see that Emerson and Thoreau were friends but had a different opinions about who should change.

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  4. As Mahdi said, I think Thoreau really wanted to change the way the society was built. Written in Walden as well, he was the one who actually lived in nature so he could understand the ideas of it, while Emerson just studied about it. Because Thoreau actually experiences things for himself, he is able to find strong ideas on how to change the society.

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  5. I feel like he is often twisted in his thought process, however, what he says here is mostly true. The thought of resigning all those corrupted to fix the problems of the government I find rather absurd. While there indeed is the corruption he sees, simply removing the people will not destroy the culture that creates the corruption that taints it. This culture is rampant in human society, not just in the politicians. All this aside, his thought process as to what inspired his solution I agree with.

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    1. I agree completely. His idea of protesting against corruption is absolutely fantastic, but he was clearly being irrational and unrealistic with his expectations. Idealism is great, in my opinion, but only when the idealist is being honest with his or herself; Thoreau was simply hoping that the resignations of public officials would eliminate corruption from American politics. However, the truth is that politicians are often corrupt by nature; this is even more true today with more and more ex-politicians going into lobbying and current politicians being essentially bribed by lobbyists. As you said, it's the culture and not necessarily the politicians. While politicians are most definitely damaged individuals in many, if not most cases, their corruption is often the product of their political environment.

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  6. Thoreau seems to oppose society in his writings often. Even in Walden, a book filled with observations made in nature, there were passages that were filled with criticism towards society. I feel that Thoreau has a strong voice because, like how others said, he fully experienced the natural world where he thought was close to perfection.

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  7. Thoreau seems to be more critical toward the society than I had thought. He is kind of condemning the system of the society and people should get out of there. Nevertheless I think this isn't really a clear conclusion, and it won't actually make anything good in reality.

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  8. I agree with Mahdi. Emerson seemed like he was more focusing on individuals, while Thoreau seems to focus on the society in general.

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  9. After reading Walden, I noticed that Thoreau liked to criticize society a lot. Building on Joseph's ideas, it may have been because he was so criticized by society for being himself, and this was a way to "pay back". Although, if he wants to be non-conform to society, then he shouldn't mind what society is doing.

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  10. As many have said, Thoreau likes to criticize society in his writings a lot. I think that he strongly believes that everyone should follow themselves, what they believe in, and their own instincts rather than trailing along society.

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  11. I think Thoreau is trying to send us the message of nonconformity and is obviously trying to criticize society. Thoreau connects his ideas to events in society more than Emerson- perhaps because he has more first hand experience living a revolutionary life. But how does he want to change society? He never really explains that. How could have he changed the systems while still creating a unchaotic community?

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  12. As Liem has said, I think Thoreau has a rather twisted thought process. His passion for changing society and being non-conformist causes him to suggest drastic measures. Merely removing all these government officials aren't going to help society in any way, other than to trigger the country's unemployment rate. I think he is oversimplifying the conflicts governments face.

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  13. Thoreau has quite a interesting opinion on government and taxes - he heartily dislikes government (and tax collectors), and is protesting, though I don't think I would agree with his tactics. At times, he seems quite extreme.

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  14. Thoreau has very critical views of society and he expresses these views both in his book Walden and also this essay on civil disobedience. These views are different than that of Emerson, another famous writer in the Transcendentalist times. Emerson believed that society is good while Thoreau believed that society was violent and unjust.

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  15. I think that Thoreau is saying that instead of doing what you are told, you should do what you think is right. I also noticed that Thoreau is constantly criticizing society and wanted to change the way society was built

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  16. I don't fully understand his message here, but if I had to guess it is probably about how far society would be willing to go between the ideas of innocence and slavery.

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  17. Thoreau is pretty blunt about his disgust with taxes in this piece of writing. He's basically saying that what he chooses is better than that of the government officials.

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  18. I agree with Yohei; Thoreau's criticism of the government differs quite differently from Emerson. I would like to see Thoreau's opinions of the individual once we read through his works.

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  20. As many have mentioned, Thoreau continuously criticizes society. In his perspective, society takes inhumane approaches and values slavery and war over innocence. Unlike Emerson, Thoreau simply criticizes, and never attempts to make any suggestions on how to fix society and make the world a better place for humans. He desperately wants society to change for the better, but never mentions any ideas and methods to do so. He is truly a nonconformists, as he believes that humans must act upon their personal judgements rather than doing what they are told.

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  21. Thoreau in this passage is basically saying his disgust with the tax system and believes that there are other ways of doing things that do not involve dehumanizing people and giving them no self-reliance. I believe that many of his ideas are based on the fact that he does not agree with conformity so anything that allows for conformity he will go against and not look at the most logical way or explanation.

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  22. I see why Thoreau would refuse to pay his taxes, but I find this action of his contradictory to his core belief of community and unity with people. Similar to Emerson and other transcendentalists, Thoreau believed that you should become one with nature, as well as the over-soul. Is it not the duty of a community member to contribute to the community itself, even if that means paying taxes.

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  23. EMMA TAKAHASHI

    Thoreau’s main message in this passage was simply to portray the image that everyone has the right and freedom to do anything they think is right. Nobody needs to follow along with the majority and stick to the status quo.

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  24. After reading this, I realized how strongly Thoreau opposes the ways of society. He goes further with Emerson’s beliefs including non conformity and turns it against the State and government. It is evident how much he yearns for the improvement of society through his efforts of having his voice heard.

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  25. Thoreau is emphasizing the importance of non conformity. He ends concludes that instead of trying to make people conform and in doing so conforming yourself, you should just resign from your job.

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  26. Theorau is criticising society in this paragraph really harshly. He is trying get a peaceful solution to be implemented to solve the issues. He says that paying no taxes is just as effective as a slave revolt, because even though it isn't violent, the senate needs the taz money to function.

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  27. In this paragraph, Thoreau is incredibly critical of society. Although is message is good I do not necessarily agree with what he has to say. This is another example of non conformity, a common topic of his.

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  28. I'm not sure whether my interpretation of the text trace what Thoreau had in my mind; I infer that he is accusing the government for using the citizen's tax on things that can be similarly terrible as wars and slavery. His belief definitely opposes that of the majority, since people commonly do not extend their belief to this much of an extent. As Evan insisted, Thoreau believes in non-conformity.

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  29. Thoreau seems to make a point that without war and slavery and prisons, governments can't function. The govt. tries to keep a certain fear over the citizens and it tries to hold its power over them in the way it knows best. He also points that without the taxes that is collected, the government can't support its extravagant wars and thus can't commit itself to bloodshed and murder. So, when he tells the tax collector to "resign your office," he is attempting to prevent the tax from getting into the government's hands.

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  30. Thoreau seems to be a more radical version of Emerson from my personal view. However even though he believes in all of what Emerson says, he seems to have a different view on society. I feel that Thoreau really hates what society has come to and although believes in making peace, it is very different to what Emerson may have intended.

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  31. Thoreau seems to be more of a romanticist than Emerson was. He dislikes modernization, and believes that people are one with nature. He believes that achieving whatever a person wants would lead them to success; whereas Emerson believed that hitting the books and returning to nature defined success.

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  32. Taxes are a major force behind a government, without money the government is unable to fund wars, armies, jails, slavery, and etc which are many of the things that Thoreau does not believe in. Being a anarchist and abolitionist, Thoreau believed that only civil disobedience could fix problems within the country. By being arrested and going to jail, Thoreau was able to bring much attention from the public which is what he intended in order to make people not pay their taxes and instead follow their beliefs. I think Thoreau was trying to say that he would`ve rather have tax collectors quit their jobs and realize the governments problems instead of having to go through all his troubles. But in reality certain goals are just too hard to achieve without struggles and Thoreau is willing to take them as long as his goals are achieved.

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  33. Here he heavily criticize the society again. It's true that a certain community cannot function without prisons, slavery and wars. However, I don't think civil disobedience that Thoreau explains would lead to a "peaceable" community. Although I really like how he develops Emerson's idea of non-conformity and adds on to it, I believe that you just need to conform to some extent.

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  34. In all honesty, I do not think that Thoreau is being very rational here. He is just venting and letting out his frustration without thinking about what is logical and reasonable. He is obviously very critical of society but his criticisms are not helping anyone.

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  35. Thoreau notes that a peaceful revolution can only be done if the entire body revolts. Therefore the leader will either follow their rebellion, or have to punish them all.

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  36. I think that Thoreau is trying to express his ideas of doing whatever you choose, that doing normal things like paying taxes is not necessary. He compares the refusal of paying taxes to a ‘peaceable revolution’.

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