Government v. Non-Government Ideals
and its additions to the
American Ideology of Government
The political views of H.D. Thoreau and A. Lincoln as seen in Civil Disobedience and 'Lyccum Address' respective are different. They differ in the views of how a state (government) should work, and how people should act within that government.
Thoreau argues for less government and action by the people outside of the law, if they feel a government is acting immorally. "That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." Thoreau begins his essay with this, saying that the best government is no government, and that when we, as humans, are ready for it, that is what we will have.
But to speak practically and as a citizen,
unlike those who call themselves no-
government but at once better government,
let every man make known what kind
of government would command his
respect, and that will be one step toward
Thoreau seems to be distancing himself from others who want no government. He wants to speak as a practical citizen about a better government that will work its way to no government. This non-government world will come on its own, when the people are ready. Until this, every man should let his voice be heard, and we, as a people, are on step closer to our goal.
Is it not man's duty, as a matter of
course to devote himself to the
eradication of any, even the most
enormous wrong...at least to wash
his hands of it...if I devote myself
to other pursuits and contemplations,
I must first see, at least, that I do
not pursue them.
We must improve ourselves if we our going to be able to live with no government. It is not enough to say I do not condone an act. One must understand all aspects of the act. To make sure that any actions or inactions, do not directly or indirectly create the act one does not condones. In other words on must not be hypocritical. It is the duty of man to eradicate immoral acts, it is how they progress. However, what should one do if immoral act comes from a government. A government that may not condone say, slavery, but looks the other way, thus not washing it hands thoroughly.
Unjust laws exist: Shall we be content
to obey them, or shall we endeavor to
amend them, and obey them until we
have succeeded [in amending them], or
shall we transgress them at once?
The best way to let one's voice be heard, is to disobey the law. This lets the government, as well as others, know of your contempt, and it wash your hands clean of the act you find immoral. "Break the law...that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn." Thoreau has done just that, he has "paid no poll-tax for six years." With this act he his letting his contempt for the government be known. After all he, the individual, is "a higher and independent power," then the government that his lives in.
Lincoln, in his Address to the Young Men's Lyccum of Springfield, Il, shows his views of government. He believes it has a place to protect, as well as serve the people. That anyone who disregards the law, no matter what the justification, is a criminal, and should be treated as such.
I mean the increasing disregard for
law which prevails this country; the
growing disposition to substitute the
wild and furious passions, in lieu of
the sober judgment of the Courts
The problem, Lincoln sees, is that
when men take it in their heads
to day, to hang gamblers, or burn
murderers, they should recollect, that,
in the confusion usually attending such
transactions, they will be likely to
hang some one, who is neither
a gambler nor a murderer.
In other words
the innocent, those who have ever set
their faces against violations of the law
in every shape, alike with the guilty
fall victims to the ravages of mob law,
and this will keep going, so that no one is safe in their home, no matter what. But what is even worse, is that both sides lose, the hangers, as well as those who get hanged, because the hanger can find himself just a fast on the other end of the rope. This is do to the fact that there is no system to work in, no control of passions and this is what our government does. It gives us a system to work in, that allows the control of passions, so they will not get the better of us. Along with the fact that the guilty get their do course, and so do the innocent. So how should on protect themselves before it is to late?
The answer is simple. Let every American,
every lover of liberty, every well wisher
to his prosperity, swear by the blood
of the Revolution, never to violate in
the least particular, the laws of the
country; and never to tolerate their
violation by others.
Lincoln will tolerate no violations in the law, no matter what the justification of the violator is. He then gives a warning to about those who may advocate the violation of the laws of the land.
Distinction will be his paramount object;
and although he would willingly, perhaps
more so, acquire it by doing good as
harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and
nothing left to be done in the way of
building up, he would set boldly to the
task of pulling down.
Our genius was in the past, by the set up of our government by our Fore-Fathers, we out just a continuation of that system, a system that will continue far, hopefully, into the future. Therefore it is
upon these let the proud fabric of
freedom rest, as the rock of its basis,
and as truly as has been said of only
greater institution, 'the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it.'
Both views have much to add to the American Ideology of Government. They argue some of the strengths, and weaknesses of our system. Thoreau working from an Liberalism view of government. That which views the individual as more important, and sees the government as a machine, just working away to an ultimate goal, in this case the elimination of the itself.
With Lincoln taking the Republican view of community, public virtue, and conservation. In this case conservation of the government, and a public virtue, or "political religion" to do the right thing, within the law. Both of these men are correct, as well as both of these views, after all these are the views that all ways have, and always will, be the foundations of the American Ideology of Government.
The isolation of every human soul and the
necessity of self-dependence must give each
individual the right, to choose his own
surroundings. The strongest reason for giving
woman all the opportunities for higher
education, for the full development of her
faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving
her the most enlarged freedom of thought and
action; a complete emancipation from all forms
of bondage, of custom, dependence,
superstition; from all the crippling influences of
fear, is the solitude and personal responsibility
of her own individual life. The strongest reason
why we ask for woman a voice in the
government under which she lives; in the
religion she is asked to believe; equality in
social life, where she is the chief factor; a place
in the trades and professions, where she may
earn her bread, is because of her birthright to
self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she
must rely on herself. No matter how much
women prefer to lean, to be protected and
supported, nor how much men desire to have
them do so, they must make the voyage of life
alone, and for safety in an emergency they
must know something of the laws of navigation.
To guide our own craft, we must be captain,
pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to
stand at the wheel; to match the wind and
waves and know when to take in the sail, and to
read the signs in the firmament over all. It
matters not whether the solitary voyager is
man or woman. Nature having endowed them
equally, leaves them to their own skill and
judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not
equal to the occasion, alike they perish. To
appreciate the importance of fitting every
human soul for independent action, think for a
moment of the immeasurable solitude of self.
From: Solitude of Self, Elizabeth Cady Stanton