Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays - Civil Disobedience Summary & Analysis

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"Civil Disobedience" is Thoreau's essay on the moral responsibilities of a citizen of a democracy. When one's government is acting immorally, he argues, it is a citizen's duty to disobey and withdraw his support from the government. Thoreau challenges the role of government and describes his own incarceration for refusing to pay a tax.

Thoreau begins by proposing a motto, "That government is best which governs not at all." (p.1) Government is actually a hindrance to society and the individual, he argues. It is concerned with control of trade and commerce and politics and does not in itself accomplish anything except to get in the way.

Thoreau is quick to add that he is not an anarchist. He does not call for the abolition of government, but a better government that is based on justice. Justice, however, is not necessarily what the majority...

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This section contains 437 words
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Buy the Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays Study Guide
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