Thoreau would have a similar critique of our culture if he lived today. In fact, he would abhor what he would see as our consumerism. He advocated the simplicity of life and would be both shocked and appalled to see how easily people purchase, consume, and even discard so many unnecessary things.
Thoreau loved nature and hated how nature was being destroyed or changed in the name of progress, industrialization, and commerce. For instance, he hated the railroads, believing that the construction laid waste to such beautiful landscape and natural gifts so that people could get places more quickly and could accelerate and expand their trade. Thoreau, who spent time at Walden Pond communing with nature, would abhor the industrialization that has taken place in the decades since he lived. It would pain him to see the lands that have been filled with skyscrapers and metal construction to enable people to commute, live in crowded cities, and expand the business base of the economy.
Ironically, however, even though Thoreau called commerce and politics “soulless and debasing,” he participated in commerce when he worked at his family’s pencil factory. Thoreau's father owned and managed the pencil factory, and Thoreau himself was largely credited with helping to improve the production and form of the Thoreau pencils through his research into pencil-making techniques in Germany, according to the Thoreau Society.
Moreover, it is easier for a rich man to critique the commerce of his day when he does not have to worry about earning a living. Thoreau, the son of a successful merchant, had the luxury of spending his time with nature and his teachings and writings and with others who shared his views like his friend Emerson. By comparison, the general public must participate in commerce in order to earn money and support families.