Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In-Depth Literary Analysis & Considerations #2: Walden's "Civil Disobedience" Pt.1

Walden, in his excellent and posthumously-influential essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, once observed: "Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." It strikes me there's a problem with this, even if probably not a serious one. Most of us would have a hard time describing the kind of government that would command our respect, because to do so would not be honest. Most of us have very little use for government.

The generally milling masses of the governed could probably (if they thought about it, if they were honest) declare that the government that commands respect from others is what they'd be interested in having. They'd be willing to take their share of commands, for the sake of everyone else having to. To fall in line themselves would be fine, in fact they probably have no great or particular yearning to ever get out of line. As long as the government promises to keep others in line too, that's more than a fair trade: the freedom to give up doing what irritates you anyway, in exchange for preventing others from doing it! The indifferentiated masses of the governed aren't particularly interested in creating or becoming a nuisance. If they have a use for government at all, they chiefly want government to prevent others from making nuisances of themselves. Ideally, with government itself making the least necessary nuisance of itself in the process.

The proud few anti-authoritarians, meanwhile, might declare, "No government which commands respect is worthy of it!" Or, "The only government that would command my respect is the government that refused to command at all." This seems dumb even if you don't think about it.

The guy's name's not Walden, of course. I knew that, but I just liked the opening better that way; calling him Walden. I bet Walden himself would approve. He was kind of a quietly mischievous scamp.

Also, there's something about government as "the least necessary nuisance" that tickles me. I had to leave that in.

Also, and this is probably too obvious to mention, but "indifferentiated" is a portmanteau word of "indifferent" and "undifferentiated," with the meanings of both combined in it. A related concept: I'd love someday to be in a position to make an impromptu pun in Natalie Portman's presence, in reference to her toes, and using the word "portmanteau." She's bad-ass. Got a husband, though. I guess whether it'd be appropriate comes down to whether she digs puns, and thinks her toesies are cute. Some people don't! I've discovered some people have this weird aversion to their own feet. Weird.

Fuck, I forgot where I was going with this. Let me slap a "Part 1" in the title, in case I can later recall. That's my sweet procedure in a nutshell!

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