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  • 1. Henry David Thoreau A look at… and his impact on American culture .
  • 2.
    • Born:  David Henry Thoreau
    • July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862)
    • American author, and philosopher.
    Other words that can be used to describe him [1] : Poet Naturalist Tax Resistor Critic.. SURVEYOR Historian Transcendentalist
  • 3. "How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. "
      • On July 24 or July 25, 1846, Thoreau ran into the local tax collector, Sam Staples, who asked him to pay six years of delinquent poll taxes, he refused and he spent a night in jail because of this refusal. [2]
      • In 1849 Thoreau wrote his essay on Civil Disobedience , aka Resistance to Civil Government, or On the Duty of Civil Disobedience .
      • “ In a government which supports injustice, the proper place for a just man is in jail.”
  • 4.
    • Thoreau’s advice for those who are struggling in
    • “ the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life”
    • and feel over-burdened with “thousand-and-one items.” [3]
    “By working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.”
  • 5.
    • At Walden, Thoreau intended to reduce life to its bare essentials, forgoing what others considered “necessities.”
    • He grew only as much food as he could eat, worked only enough to provide himself shelter, and led the “deliberate life,” apart from the impediments of “civilization.”
    Simplify, simplify
  • 6. Impact on society
    • His landmark deviation with the mainstream and social times to live on his own at Walden Pond were cemented his name in the history of Transcendentalism. His eccentric preference to move to Walden Pond, in addition to his writings of self-discovery and introspection are his main contributions to the American movement.
    • [4]
  • 7. Parallel Martin Luther King And Thoreau
    • [5]
    • In college, Martin had read an essay by Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was an American writer who lived more than 100 years ago. He believed that a man had the right to disobey any law he thought was evil or unjust. Once Thoreau did not pay his taxes as a protest against slavery. He was put in jail. A friend came to visit him.
    • "Why are you in jail?" the friend asked.
    • "Why are you out of jail?" he answered.
    • King liked Thoreau's idea — that men should not obey evil or unjust laws. And he began to search harder for a way to fight against evil. He read books by the world's great thinkers and writers. Then one day, he heard a speech about the great leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi.
    • Gandhi had won freedom for his country from British rule (1947). And he had done it in a very unusual way. From the start, he told his people not to use violence against the British. He told them to resist the British by peaceful means only. They would march. They would sit down or lie down in the streets. They would strike. They would boycott (refuse to buy) British goods.
    • Gandhi had also read Thoreau's essay. He, too, believed that men had the right to disobey unjust laws. Like Thoreau, he believed that men should gladly go to jail when they break such laws.
    • "Fill the jails," Gandhi said. But — never use violence. Violence only brings about more hate and more violence. Gandhi told his people to meet body force with soul force. He told them to meet hate with love. Gandhi called this "war without violence." And it helped India gain its freedom.
  • 8. Parallel Barry GoldWater
    • [6]
  • 9. Parallel: Douglas Hyde, similar expiriences and Thoreau
    • [7]
    • In the late 1940’s, Communist organizer Douglas Hyde defected to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1956, Notre Dame University Press published his classic little book on how Communists in Great Britain recruited and trained its members in the 1940’s. The book is titled  Dedication and Leadership . His point was simple: with a great vision that calls for great sacrifice, you can recruit the best and the brightest. Lower your sights and your requirements, and you will not attract them.
    • While Thoreau is advocating speech, he is not implying that mere speech is enough, although certainly this speech has proven to be extremely influential. The transcendentalists used writing as their method of reform, but they strongly believed in action. Note that he says EVERY man. This is a sentiment shared by Author Douglas Hyde.
    • On March 14, 1948, Douglas Hyde handed in his resignation as the news editor of the London  Daily Worker  and wrote "the end" to twenty years of his life as a member of the Communist Party. A week later, in a written statement, Hyde announced that he had renounced Communism and, with his wife and children, was joining the Catholic Church.The long pilgrimage from Communism to Christ carried Douglas Hyde from complete commitment to Marxism, to a questioning uneasiness about Soviet Russia’s glaring contradictions of ideology and action, to a final rejection of the Party.
    • In  Dedication and Leadership , he advances the theory that although the goals and aims of Communism are antithetical to human dignity and the rights of the individual, there is much to be learned from communist methods, cadres and psychological motivation. Hyde describes the Communist mechanics of instilling dedication, the first prerequisite for leadership. Here is the complete rationale of party technique: how to stimulate the willingness to sacrifice; the advisibility of making big demands to insure a big response; the inspirational indoctrination; and the subtle conversion methods.
    • In this small book, so large with implications, Douglas Hyde comments on both Communist and Catholic potential and their lack of maximum effectiveness. He advocates positive Catholic action, not just a negative anti-Communism, and he points out that the guidelines are now down for a decisive choice between total Communism and a total Christianity.
    • Here is a realistic approach to an acute problem uncolored by emotional propaganda, and here is a realistic answer on how to inspire dedication for leadership.
    • He was an early convert to Communism, at age 17 in 1928. He was once jailed for two years in southeast Asia while trying to agitate for Communist reforms. He was the news editor of the Daily Worker, the largest Communist publication in Britain. After his resignation, he wrote a book, "Dedication and Leadership" about his experiences and the specific tactics of the Communists especially in the way that they recruited their members and built them into leaders. 
  • 10. Libertarian Influence
    • American imperialism, disarmament, and collusion between business leaders and government. And I became an anarcho-capitalist. I had been a near anarchist before when I was under the influence of Thoreau, but I back-slid a bit when I read Ayn Rand's books and Barry Goldwater's  Conscience of a Conservative . Conversations with John Peters (who became my roommate in my junior and senior years at college) and reading Rothbard's essays convinced me that anarchism logically follows from the non-aggression principle, which I was already committed to.
    • Observing the fascination with which John read Austrian economic literature got me curious enough to try it. I started with the best. I read von Mises'  Human Action  on my summer vacation between my junior and senior years. I now believe that no one is well educated unless they have read  Human Action . I spent more time in college reading books that had nothing to do with the courses I was taking than I did studying for my courses--and my grades reflected this. The books that influenced me during this period include:  Theory and History , Socialism , and  Epistemological Problems of Economics  by Mises;  Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics  by F. A. Hayek;  Critique of Pure Reason  by Immanuel Kant; What Social Classes Owe Each Other  by William Graham Sumner; and  The Man versus the State  and  Social Statics  by Herbert Spencer.
  • 11. Credits
    • ^
    • ^ Rosenwald, Lawrence. " The Theory, Practice & Influence of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience ". William Cain, ed.  A Historical Guide to Henry David Thoreau . Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2006.
    • ^
    • ^
    • ^  Goldwater, Barry,  The Conscience of a Conservative , 1960.
    • ^
    • ^ Douglas Hyde,  Dedication and Leadership , 1966