Civil Disobe­di­ence

Governance Now - - BRIEFINGS -

The progress from an ab­so­lute to a lim­ited monar­chy, from a lim­ited monar­chy to a democ­racy, is a progress to­ward a true re­spect for the in­di­vid­ual. Even the chi­nese philoso­pher was wise enough to re­gard the in­di­vid­ual as the ba­sis of the em­pire. Is a democ­racy, such as we know it, the last im­prove­ment pos­si­ble in gov­ern­ment? Is it not pos­si­ble to take a step fur­ther to­wards recog­nis­ing and or­gan­is­ing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and en­light­ened State un­til the State comes to recog­nise the in­di­vid­ual as a higher and in­de­pen­dent power, from which all its own power and au­thor­ity are de­rived, and treats him ac­cord­ingly. I please my­self with imag­in­ing a State at least which can af­ford to be just to all men, and to treat the in­di­vid­ual with re­spect as a neigh­bour; which even would not think it in­con­sis­tent with its own re­pose if a few were to live aloof from it, not med­dling with it, nor em­braced by it, who ful­filled all the du­ties of neigh­bours and fel­low­men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suf­fered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would pre­pare the way for a still more per­fect and glo­ri­ous State, which also I have imag­ined, but not yet any­where seen.

–From civil Disobe­di­ence by Henry David Thoreau, whose 200th birth an­niver­sary was on July 13

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