What are Thoreau’s views of the role of government in his "Resistance to Civil Government"? Explain using examples.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my mind, much of how Thoreau crafted his political stance regarding government and its citizens is based off of his exaltation of the individual.  If the individual believed that government was engaging in wrongful practices, then the individuals has a moral, political, and spiritual responsibility to stand for oneself and take whatever consequence may result.  This is based on the idea that the individual voice is the highest notion of the good for Thoreau.  It is the primacy placed on subjectivity that allows for individuals to fully understand and grasp what it means to be a part of the unified configuration of consciousness.  The basic premise here is that if government goes against this by forcing individuals into something that either violates individual beliefs or by silencing this voice of individuality, Thoreau believes that there is little question as to what needs to be done.  The sanctity of the individual voice, of being able to walk to that "different drummer," is absolute and one that government must either respect or one that must speak out against that government, come what may.