Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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What arguments might one use to counter Thoreau's objections to the idea of a standing government? 

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The histories of most countries include episodes many of their citizens might prefer to forget.  In the United States, the practice of slavery and institutionalization of racism is an example of a government-inspired or actively supported policy that it could be argued would justify not just civil disobedience, but even violent resistance.  In a certain time, and in a certain place, it is conceivable to imagine a political system in which such resistance is warranted.  Anarchists believe in a society without government, and history has examples of anarchists using terrorism in opposition to the institutions of government.

Henry David Thoreau lived in a time when civil disobedience could be argued to have been warranted, particularly given the destruction that would soon ensue as the Civil War raged over the issues of states rights and slavery.  That half of the country was ready to secede over the right for states to determine their own policies with regard to slavery would certainly...

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