Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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Are Thoreau’s ideas in "Civil Disobedience" useful today? Explain, making connections between the essay and life today.

Thoreau's ideas in "Civil Disobedience" are useful today, as he concerns himself with the question of how much a government should do or how big it should be. He discusses the subject of personal freedoms at length, including what freedoms to which a person is entitled as well as the potential illegality of what happens when one person's freedoms begin to impinge upon another's.

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Certainly, Thoreau's ideas are useful today. In essence, Thoreau wanted what we would call small government—after all, the first line of this essay consists of his espousal of the motto, "That government is best which governs least"—as he believes so thoroughly in personal freedoms. However, this small government cannot happen in a vacuum, as peace and prosperity for all relies on the idea that each person will behave in a way that respects the freedom and autonomy of every other person. To this end, he says,

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; [...] but it is...

(The entire section contains 353 words.)

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