Henry David Thoreau often took extreme positions on the issue of government andits role in society.
To this somewhat rebellious transcendentalist, governmentshould not govern people at all and law was often meant to be broken. Thoreau’sbelief in individualism was so strong in fact that it seems he often took sideson an in issue simply to be in favor of the minority, whether the majority wasright or wrong. Certainly, it is important for one to be himself and stand upfor what he believes in. However, to Thoreau’s statement that “thatgovernment is best which governs not at all” is a bit extreme. Some form ofgovernment is necessary first and foremost to prevent chaos and widespreaddisorder. Without laws and consequences for breaking those laws, people will doexactly what pleases them without regard to how it affects others. Theft andmurder will become everyday occurrences because men without ethics will see noreason not to commit these crimes.
In fact, the entire population may endingkilling themselves off. In addition to an increase of crime, a significantincrease in poverty is likely to occur without government leadership. Withoutgovernment funding, public schools, hospitals, and transportation would benonexistent. This in conjunction with the lack of welfare funds would obviouslylead to a society of poor, uneducated, Webb 2 and sickly people.
Without adoubt, a society must be under the rule of a strong government power in order tofunction properly. Thoreau’s statement is also too harsh because it has noregard for the fact that in a democratic society, the people essentially are thegovernment. The whole purpose of a democracy is to ensure that the people governthemselves. Rather than being ruled by a dictator or monarch, members of ademocratic society are able to have an input on how the government runs.Ideally, any law that is formed in this country is formed because the majorityof the population want it to be formed. Rather than complaining about theexistence of a government, Thoreau should have rejoiced at having the rightspeople in America have.
It is doubtful that the laws of any other country wouldhave allowed Thoreau more freedom or independence than the laws of the UnitedStates. If he felt otherwise or disagreed with the majority of the population,he should not have chosen to live in the United States. Certainly, one can seethat Thoreau’s complaints about the censorship placed upon individuals by thegovernment were unjustified.
Obviously, Thoreau went too far in stating that thegovernment should not govern at all. Without a government that does its job ingoverning the people, disaster will occur. While it is not the government’splace to suppress the ideas or expressions of its people, it is vital tomaintaining organization. As a society, people should strive to find a mediumbetween total lack of government and total control by the government.Government