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By A. Terrance Wiley

Angelic Troublemakers is the 1st distinctive account of what occurs whilst non secular ethics, political philosophy, and the anarchist spirit intermingle. Wiley deftly captures the beliefs that encouraged 3 respected heroes of nonviolent disobedience―Henry Thoreau, Dorothy Day, and Bayard Rustin. Resistance to slavery, empire, and capital is a life-style, a transnational culture of proposal and motion. This e-book is a needs to learn for somebody drawn to faith, ethics, politics, or legislation.

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Additional resources for Angelic Troublemakers: Religion and Anarchism in America (Contemporary Anarchist Studies)

Sample text

Thoreau regards the state as an unjust and inexpedient institution—a false necessity—that molests, jails, and robs the just while slaveholding and wars of conquest go on in its name or with its power: I was seized and put into jail, because, as I have elsewhere related, I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the state which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house. I had gone down to the woods for other purposes. But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society.

The most significant moral duty for our present purposes is the duty to be just or to avoid being an agent of injustice. Importantly, Thoreau’s conception of justice is inseparable from his doctrine of noncomplicity. A straightforward articulation of the doctrine of noncomplicity comes in “Resistance to Civil Government”: It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.

A close reading of the text, in its context, reveals that here, where Thoreau seems to be refuting an anarchist thesis, he is in fact articulating the content for an anarchist conception of government. This might seem a strange assertion. In some ways it is. Yet it will appear more plausible if we do at least two things. 61 In addition to this, we need to pay careful attention to the kind of government that Thoreau suggests would command his respect. ” In consequence, he acknowledges that it is possible to reach relative moral judgments with respect to certain institutions.

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