When a majority of progressive slugs call for thievery, I believe that a minority of “selfish” job creators may exercise Thoreau-style civil disobedience.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors setting up camp in Manhattan’s Financial District are not exercising civil disobedience. Rather, they are rousing hatred against an unprotected minority: The rich.
Henry David Thoreau is an American pioneer of civil disobedience. He refused to obey what he considered to be an unjust law—a “poll-tax.” This tax disenfranchised African American voters and Thoreau viewed it as an extension of slavery. Upon refusing to pay the poll-tax, Thoreau was arrested and sent to jail until (to his chagrin) his aunt bailed him out after one night.
In Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” he points out that a warped society will perpetuate the notion that a man is “selfish” if he genuinely and completely helps his fellow men, while declaring a manipulator to be a “benefactor and philanthropist.”
Occupy Wall Street protestors wave signs like: “We are the 99%” and “Billionaires, your time is up” by day, and sleep on air mattresses in Zuccotti Park by night. They are essentially asking the government to steal from the rich. These protestors are brazen manipulators but the press hails them as progressives “seeking a voice” and President Obama says they represent the concerns of the American public.
Who is the unprotected minority here? Who is being attacked unjustly? The Occupy Wall Street Protestors are rallying against the wealthy capitalists and entrepreneurs who pay most of the nation’s taxes while they prance around in a park, sew sleeping bags and hold up New York traffic.
Thoreau-style civil disobedience occurs when a rational minority rises up and defends truth, not when an emotional majority storms the public square. Writes Thoreau, “But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. … Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”