This monumental text of Henry David Thoreau, an American author, was written on 1849 after spending one night in jail due to his refusal to pay skull taxes, which were necessary for financing the US army at their struggle against the Mexicans. Thoreau didn''t believe that was a justified war so he refused to pay the tax and lost his freedom for one night.
Thoreau said that the best government most be Liberal, which means should preform no its governmental power very often, leaving the civilians the right to do what ever they want. Somewhat, like the Liberal thought, Thoreau claims that the best state is the one that its presence in the life of their civilians is unfelt. Thoreau also claims that blind obedience for laws make people act like like criminals because they postpone their moral and act just like machines. He describes a detachment of soldiers, which follows their commanders. All of them Pacifists, But they don''t have a doubt, that their war is justified. For Thoreau, They''re only bunch of shadows marching to sound of their funeral music, not different from any tree or stone around because They postpone their conscience. Thoreau would prefer to produce wooden made soldiers than watching those dead bodies marching (The would do the same job).
Thoreau is a revolutionist. He calls for a revolution of the subject against the despotic state, which enforce him to act against its will. He says that there are a lot of unjust laws and everyone should ask himself whether he should obey them? He points his finger against the government and shows how the state prevent its civilians to criticize it and reveal its failings. For his point of view, The state punishes “Copernicus and Luther and calls Franklin and Washington rebellions”.
The common punishment at that time for not obeying the state law was jail. Thoreau claims that in such immoral state, we should find the saints at the prisons while the criminals, which obey the unjust law without paying any attention to its morality, are free. The spirit of those saints is free only in that little cell at jail, where you can hear the city but can not reach it. For Thoreau, the physical freedom is secondary for the spiritual one, so the punishment for his disobedience costs less for his soul. Moreover, the state, which has monopoly on the collective violence organizations, can take our lives, but it could never take our freedom to use our conscience. It has no monopoly on the human mind. The ideal state, therefore, Is a state where the civilians can act freely without being afraid of the state power. In this kind of state, people would be able to act against the will of the state, in the name of the human conscience.
Thoreau call for “complete freedom” might be sometimes very dangerous, but we should never forget his appeal to act while our conscience guiding us, even though it''s against the law (Unjust one)