Thoreau, King, & Goldman on Unjust Laws Essay

Thoreau, King, & Goldman on Unjust Laws Essay

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A well founded government is one which has the consent of the people it governs. This system is used to protect its people and provide them with the necessities to prosper. But, many individuals have believed that majority of the time government should not interfere in economic and political affairs. This type of government is known as an active government which can be referred to as a “large government.” Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, Civil Rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and political anarchist Emma Goldman argue the right to break unjust laws that the government up holds for the public. Although some are more radical than others, each thinker asses their idea in a different way. Thoreau and King both believe that the best way to rid an unjust law is by performing acts of civil disobedience. Goldman on the other hand, believes in complete obliteration of the government thus becoming a state of anarchism. All three thinkers have made it clear in their arguments that it is justified to break an unjust law.
In his essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau starts off by saying, “Government is best which governs least” (Thoreau 98). Thoreau clearly states that he is not an anarchist and does not believe that government should be abolished. Rather, he believes that we are entitled to a better government that is based upon morality and justice. Thoreau explores the idea of civil disobedience and challenges the role of government by describing his own incarceration for refusing to pay taxes during the Mexican-American War to expand slavery. When the government ceases to act morally, Thoreau argues that it is up to the individual to disobey and withdraw him or herself from the government. Thoreau...

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...ldman bring about important arguments against unjust laws and how they affect society as a whole. But, the reality of it all is that getting rid of government and performing acts of civil disobedience alone is not enough to rid injustice. It is all about becoming unified and fighting for a cause together. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. best argues that individuals have the moral duty of disobeying unjust laws which go against the moral laws of God. So many individuals have disobeyed unjust laws because they have felt it is their moral integrity to do so. In Sophocles tragic play Antigone, the main protagonist buries her brother Polyneices' body, by disobeying Creon's deceleration of letting his corpse rot and be eaten by vultures. Knowing the consequences, Antigone still accepted her faith. Individuals disobey laws on the grounds that a higher moral law may be at risk.

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