Military Discipline Essay

, and surviving records of the Lyceum note that the subject came up many times in debates, discussions, and lectures.Thoreau’s own views were very much influenced by these non-resistants, and are often confused with them even today.When Bronson Alcott resisted his taxes to protest war and slavery, over the same issues, Alcott’s action was explained within the context of “non-resistant” philosophy.

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Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt.

They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.

They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts, a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments…

…In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.

Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.

, he observes a battle between two ant nations and writes that “certainly there is no other fight recorded in Concord in that will bear a moment’s comparison with this.The tradition of legitimacy in government acts on the one hand to deter military interference in politics and on the other to counteract intervention should it threaten or occur.In countries with English legal traditions, but also in others like Switzerland or the Scandinavian states, the rule of law puts the military by definition under civilian authority and keeps it there., too, his journal tweaks the Christian pacifists, in a poem that reads in part: [I]n these days no hero was abroad / But puny men, afraid of war’s alarms, / Stood forth to fight the battles of their Lord, / Who scarce could stand beneath a hero’s arms.There is a mix of metaphor (“our lives should be A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences… or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?seems like the morning hymn of creation” and “[e]ach man awakes himself with lofty emotions, and would do some heroic deed.” He concludes: The whole course of our lives should be analogous to one day of the soldier’s.His Genius seems to whisper in his ear what demeanor is befitting, and in his bravery and his march he yields a blind and partial obedience.I have no doubt they had as just a cause, one or even both parties, as our forefathers, and that the results will be as important and memorable.And there was far more patriotism and heroism.” In the secular American religion of patriotism, this is high blasphemy.Concord is where “the shot heard ’round the world” was fired in , he suggests: “Read the Englishman’s history of the French and Indian wars, and then read the Frenchman’s, and see how each awards the meed of glory to the other’s monsters of cruelty or perfidy.” Then, he takes up his own challenge, and on , Thoreau is sometimes speaking of war with a pacifist idealism that I suspect his earlier self would have ridiculed: “Will it not be thought disreputable at length, as duelling between individuals now is?I am curious as to how his opinions will change as the Civil War approaches. It’s not 1.4 billion, as the Defense Department is claiming.


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