THE FOURTHWAY MANHO E-JOURNAL
Volume 120       May 13, 2020
   

HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817 - 1862) : WALDEN AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

By Professor  Dr. Tan Man-Ho

(A revised excerpt from the original work, Real World Views, Book 4 by Professor  Dr. Tan Man-Ho entitled "A Critique of Material Reflection; On the Modern Innovation to Old Materialism; The Emergence of Tri-Octave Materialism and Some Remarkable Individuals"  September 1975 ~ December 1975 Discourses, Chapter 5, Section A:  "Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): Walden and Civil Disobedience" pp. 144 ~ 148)

 


 

 

A.    HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817-1862): WALDEN AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

 

With minimum revision on May 13, 2020 on the Reflections On Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. (1849)’

 

1    An American phenomenon:  Walden and Civil Disobedience, (1849) p.294

 

“Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself.  “Pay,” it said, “or be locked up in the jail.”  I declined to pay.  But unfortunately another man saw fit to pay it.  I did not see why the school master should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State’s schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription.  I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax-bill, and have the state to back its demand, as well as the Church.  However, at the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: ‑ “Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined.  This I gave to the town clerk, and he has it …”

 

“Our life is frittered by details …. Simplify, simplify”

 

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

 

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

 

“The mass of men lives of quiet desperation.”

 

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

 

Chronic rotten inner crisis in the early and growing American society, and my 'I' and some of my 'it's support of the oppressed Americans  of that time.

 

 

2    The sigh of a writer ‑ the point however is revolution but it has not occurred because globalization and shifting of oppression in the later period of history.

 

3    On the newspapers of his time!  Ah!  It is about the deceitful news monger and the credulous readers.

 

4    Henry David Thoreau, the sigh of an oppressed creature in autocratic and even bourgeois society.

 

5    Don’t tell us that we must be loyal, that we must always and dogmatically be civil-obedient.  We are compelled by our opposite to be civil-disobedient.  We have just this civil disobedience duty!

We see Thoreau’s civil disobedience reflects “antagonisms and conflicts” of minor character in bourgeois society.  Even Thoreau was compelled to avoid being dragged as a member of social production; that he was “heading” for civil society again under the unavoidable transition from civil society to socialized humanity

 

6    The tremendous amount of bourgeois literature, true to say are the genuine products of bourgeois society, is not to be overlooked upon as unshakable.  As soon as bourgeois-imperialist society outlived its period, all the most wonderful and the most sacred books become a paper tiger.  The theories and excellent preaching become the sounds of the empty barrel.  One genuine conclusion is worth countless number of fortuitous and superficial assertions.

In relation to “communism”, we see the harmful effects of the so-called progressive new discoveries of a growing bourgeois ideology within the context of a weakening feudal-religion.  Without the bourgeois finance, the bourgeois literature, its science and technology and its growing army strength the American history of global successes will long have gone to the dogs.

 

7   The oppressive existence of the state is alterable through organized negation.  Thus Henry David Thoreau, the disobedient oppressed prisoner – lacked this science.  He lived in solitude and suffered like the ordinary oppressed, and perished but little known.  He is the sigh of a great and respected sufferer.

 

8   His peculiar brand of “civil disobedience” context of 19th Century arises from the unavoidable stages of the American social, economic, political, cultural, technological, legal and religious context of that period and needs not be the same under any context of the future similar type of sociotechnocosmic development notably of our time. That is, it may not be blindly applied as a general civil disobedience precedence for intentional ill-willed social-decaying sabotage in other historical periods like that of the media-facilitated-hitech second grade Color Revolutions of our time in the late 20th to the beginning of the 21st Century Soviet Union, that resulted in negative consequences, rather than positive wellbeing growth, to developing societies into an unfortunate ill-fated sociotechnocosmic being made to be an intensive care being for the exploitation and satisfaction by high-end Lalau and Tilau Hasnamusses in hegemonistic global pursuit of power, wealth and control.

 

9   Norman Holmes Pearson’s Introduction:

 

….... But the true protest came with the publication in 1849 of his essay ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.’  Its essential message can be simply stated in Thoreau’s own words:

 

“There will never be a really free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”

 

Thoreau has been called a philosophical anarchist.

 

10   Descriptive and therefore, the words rested on the world of forms and appearance, not essence and not laws.  Abstraction of the mathematical type, the bending as such, equals zero. There is no “interest” in “seeking” the essence of nature and yet it is essenced.  Satirically essenced ‑ therefore to be seen metaphorically also, but not to forget the metaphor-literal duality - deep and profound.

 

11   In the village, there are many fishermen that I have to jump into the pond to become the fish, hoping in vain that the village fishermen do not invade the pond, that they do not go a-fishing in and that they do not fish a-money off my pocket in the pond.  Thoreau’s style is always unique.

 

12  If one follows the manner of Henry David Thoreau and conceives that “Man flows at once to God when channel of purity is opened,” one is already one step to the “graveyard”.  Since from the moment of this assertion everything becomes easy, and consciousness will have to stop dead at religion and God.  Man must then keep on making these trips daily to the exclusion of other flows for the rest of his life.  But that one Absolute center is the peace center for inner rest and going out from it is a mundane labyrinth consisting of the other writings outside this absolute center including God’s messages too.

 

 

 

 

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