Majority and Government: Thoreau's Views on Civil Disobedience

Topics: Political philosophy, Government, Civil disobedience Pages: 3 (1184 words) Published: May 10, 2005
Majority can be defined as, the greater number or part; a number more than half of the total; and can also be defined as, the political party, group, or faction having the most power by virtue of its larger representation or electoral strength. Majority in the sense of government does not refer to the greatest number of people, most of the time. The government consists of a few powerful individuals that control society and the population. Thoreau uses the example of the Mexican war to show that the standing government is used by a few individuals to carry out acts that are not always supported by the people. Thoreau says that the actual majority, the people, are instruments of the few individuals who are permitted to govern because they are stronger and the people will not act against those individuals, but they will live around the issues. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau makes the point that the strongest are the majority and they use their power to govern over the weaker even though they may be more.

The actual majority are mere instruments of the few individuals in government. This majority would consist of the greater number which is the people but power turns those few individuals into a majority. That majority of few individuals use the masses, the people, as instruments because people follow laws with undue respect. These laws are created and put to practice by the majority as a way to control the people. The people follow and respect the laws because following the law is doing right, but the laws themselves are sometimes not what an individual may believe is right or just. The people follow these laws because of their undue respect for laws. Following the laws because they are laws and not because of the justice they promote makes the people the instrument of the government or the majority. The government can pass any law, and the minority, the people, will follow like puppets. Thoreau says "Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their...

Cited: Thoreau, Henry David. "Civil Disobedience"
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