Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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What are the three ways Thoreau says a man can serve the state in "Civil Disobedience"?

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One of the more general ways Thoreau describes as a function of serving the state is when the public (individuals and/or society as a whole) goes along with a governing body and does not affect its ability to be expedient. In other words, the loyal servant of the state does nothing to disrupt the convenience of the way the state is run. This rules out any kinds of civil disobedience and of course rules out rebellion or revolution. Thoreau describes this, citing and criticizing Paley, with reference to the American Revolution. To serve the state is to "go with the flow" and not disrupt anything. 

Thoreau also criticizes those who only oppose certain practices of the government in thought (i.e. continuing to sanction slavery), but do nothing that actually contributes to change. "There are thousands who in opinion are opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them . . . " As Thoreau says, they wait for someone...

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