Martianos

Martianos. Seguidores del pensamiento de José Martí Red de los emigrados cubanos

HONRAR HONRA No. 35/10
Órgano de la Oficina del Programa Martiano del Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba.
Editor: Subdirector Lic. Eulogio Rodríguez Millares.
Calzada No. 801, ent. 2 y 4, Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución, Ciudad de la Habana
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“El espíritu humano nace a caballo y con espuelas, y apenas se aposenta en el cuerpo que le cabe en suerte, emprende su viaje en busca de la solución de si mismo, y del punto en que ha de confundirse con el espíritu universal ” José Martí O. C. T-23, P-148,

INVITACIÓN A LA II CONFERENCIA INTERNACIONAL BOLÍVAR, LINCOLN Y MARTÍ EN EL ALMA DE NUESTRA AMÉRICA, CARACAS, VENEZUELA (NOVIEMBRE 17 AL 20)

secretariaiiconferenciablm@gmail.com http://www.josemarti.cu/
http://martianos.ning.com/ http://www.cubaminrex.cu/index.htm
http://www.conferenciamartijuarezlincoln.com/

DOCUMENTOS INCLUIDOS EN ESTE NÚMERO.


1.- REIVINDICANDO LA POLÍTICA Por Dr. Armando Hart Dávalos.
2.- Política culta y el arte de hacer política, por Armando Hart Dávalos
3.- Resisting Non-Resistance Or Gramática parda (Ponencia en ingles del Profesor Theron Francis en la Primera Conferencia Internacional del ALMA en Monterrey, Nuevo León, México octubre 2009.

1- REIVINDICANDO LA POLÍTICA Por Dr. Armando Hart Dávalos

El pasado 12 de agosto en la reflexión de Fidel titulada ‘’El Gigante de las siete leguas’’ referida al contenido del libro de Andrés Manuel López Obrador se citan unas ideas de este último sobre la política que me parece interesante analizar. Dice López Obrador:
Es necesario cambiar la forma de hacer política. Este noble oficio se ha pervertido por completo. Hoy la política es sinónimo de engaño, arreglos copulares y corrupción. Los legisladores, líderes y funcionarios públicos están alejados de los sentimientos del pueblo; sigue prevaleciendo la idea de que la política es cosa de políticos y no asunto de todos.
La transformación que necesita el país no solo debe tener como propósito alcanzar el crecimiento económico, la democracia y el bienestar. Implica también y sobre todo, cristalizar una nueva corriente de pensamiento sustentada en la cultura de nuestro pueblo, en su vocación de trabajo y en su inmensa bondad; añadiendo valores como el de la tolerancia, el respeto a la diversidad y la protección al medio ambiente.
En efecto, en muchos países para amplias masas de electores la política se ha convertido en sinónimo de algo sucio, de corrupción y ha degenerado hacia la politiquería. Ello se manifiesta también en la falta de credibilidad en el sistema, en una crisis de la institución partido político, en el abstencionismo cada vez mayor de los electores, en el surgimiento de agrupaciones alternativas que buscan canalizar la insatisfacción ciudadana y que, incluso, se desarrollan a veces al margen del propio régimen político y electoral y la búsqueda de formas nuevas de democracia participativa a favor de los intereses populares.
Hoy, la mayor parte de los partidos tradicionales, antaño enfrentados por heterogéneas ideologías, está insertada en una trama de mezquinos intereses, en la lucha por el disfrute de los cargos públicos, la corrupción y el entreguismo a los intereses extranjeros y explotadores en general.
Como he venido planteando, en Cuba contamos con una cultura de hacer política que se gesta desde los tiempos forjadores de la nación cubana y alcanza un punto culminante con las enseñanzas prácticas de José Martí continuadas y desarrolladas por su discípulo fundamental, Fidel Castro, para alcanzar la independencia plena del país y forjar la unidad nacional. Esa cultura de hacer política, regida por principios éticos es el aporte más original de Martí a la historia de las ideas y se resume en el principio de superar radicalmente el divide y vencerás de la tradición conservadora y reaccionaria y establecer el postulado de unir para vencer. En Martí se conjugan la radicalidad de objetivos con la armonía para unir todas las voluntades posibles para alcanzarlos. La historia de nuestro país permite comprobar que esta concepción acerca de cómo hac er política está en el nervio central de la evolución cubana durante dos siglos. Unir para vencer es la clave de la política martiana que la generación del Centenario, bajo la dirección de Fidel, exaltó al plano más alto durante la segunda mitad del siglo XX y principios del XXI. El importante caudal cultural que sintetizan Martí y Fidel en cuanto a las formas de hacer política constituye un patrimonio sustantivo y una de las características definitorias de la identidad nacional cubana.
Lo que hemos llamado cultura de hacer política, constituye el fruto más puro y útil de la historia de las ideas cubanas. Ahí se halla un elemento principal de su originalidad. Obsérvese que no digo sólo cultura política, que, desde luego, constituye la fuente de la cual se nutrió esta inmensa sabiduría. Me refiero a las maneras prácticas de su materialización y de vencer los obstáculos que se levantan ante todo proyecto revolucionario
El llamado de Fidel a detener la maquinaria de guerra que amenaza con desatar un conflicto de imprevisibles consecuencias para el género humano convocando a la acción a todos los hombres y mujeres sin distinción de raza, credo o sector social al que pertenezcan constituye un buen ejemplo de esa cultura de hacer política inspirada en el aserto martiano de Patria es Humanidad. En los tiempos difíciles que enfrentamos se impone más que nunca antes, pasar a la acción y sumar a todos los hombres y mujeres interesados en salvar a nuestro planeta y a la humanidad de una catástrofe irreversible. Hacemos ese llamado en acto de lealtad a José Martí y a sus ideas e inspirados en aquella sentencia suya: ‘’Hacer es la mejor manera de decir’’.
No nos sobra el tiempo para salvar a la familia humana.

2.- Política culta y el arte de hacer política, por Armando Hart Dávalos
“La esencia de la política, y lo que hace de la política indeclinable deber, es el respeto pleno y el amor sincero al decoro del hombre”.
José Martí.
Epistolario, t. 3, p. 89

Las enseñanzas de Martí y de Fidel, especialmente en el campo de la política constituyen el aporte esencial del pensamiento cubano a la cultura política y filosófica universal y que hemos denominado La cultura de hacer política. No me estoy refiriendo sólo a cultura política, que, desde luego, constituye la fuente de la cual se nutrió este patrimonio cultural sino a las formas prácticas que utilizamos para lograr su materialización y de vencer los obstáculos que se levantan ante todo proyecto revolucionario. Dicho de manera más asequible aún: la política debemos entenderla como la tecnología respecto de la producción.
La práctica política de la Revolución tiene fundamentos filosóficos que es preciso conocer y estudiar para entender mejor porqué en las más difíciles circunstancias y enfrentada a los más grandes obstáculos, la política cubana ha adquirido una singular influencia en el mundo de los últimos cincuenta años.
Partimos de una experiencia singular porque en nuestro país el pensamiento liberal y democrático de los enciclopedistas franceses, contribuyó a que el escolasticismo medieval encontrara la resistencia intelectual, política y educativa de generaciones de jóvenes cultos que comenzaron a interpretar el ideal moral del cristianismo como aspiración de redención del hombre en la Tierra. Lo más depurado y universal del pensamiento cristiano se articuló con lo más democrático del ideario de las revoluciones europeas de finales del siglo xviii. Se fue gestando como rasgo esencial de nuestra cultura su compromiso político a favor de la justicia con sentido universal y la vinculación de la teoría con la práctica.
Los fundamentos teóricos de esa cultura se gestan desde los tiempos forjadores de la nación cubana e inspiran el quehacer de la política de José Martí y de su discípulo fundamental, Fidel Castro, para alcanzar la independencia plena del país y forjar la unidad nacional.
La política concebida como un arte y regida por principios éticos es el aporte más original de Martí a la historia de las ideas y se resume en el principio de superar radicalmente el divide y vencerás de la tradición conservadora y reaccionaria, y establecer el postulado de unir para vencer.
La historia de nuestro país permite comprobar que esta concepción acerca de cómo hacer política está en el nervio central de la evolución cubana durante dos siglos. Unir para vencer es la clave de la política martiana que la generación del Centenario, bajo la dirección de Fidel, exaltó y exalta al plano más alto durante la segunda mitad del siglo XX y principios del XXI. Ella es la clave para entender el proceso integrador del pueblo cubano, sus fundamentos y, en especial, la manera de lograr esa unidad por la vía de la práctica política y de la educación.
Félix Varela, José de la Luz y Caballero, José Martí y Enrique José Varona, es decir, los más altos exponentes del pensar filosófico decimonónico, brillaron como pedagogos y sus ideas filosóficas nacieron de las necesidades del quehacer educacional, lo que dio a sus textos un contenido didáctico y, por tanto, una capacidad de exposición clara como reclama el oficio de enseñar.
En Varela y en Luz hay un acento que parte de sus concepciones religiosas y se inspira en sus principios éticos cristianos. En Martí, la sensibilidad ética y la vocación hacia la acción revolucionaria concreta lo lleva a concebir la educación como una vía esencial para el mejoramiento humano y para alcanzar la felicidad junto a la búsqueda de lo que él llamó el equilibrio entre naciones e incluso entre las facultades emocionales y las intelectuales de cada hombre. En Varona, el énfasis se pone en la formación científica sobre el cimiento ético heredado. En los cuatro está presente un pensamiento humanista radical de valer universal en el que se articulan corrientes diversas tributarias de una identidad que sirve de sustento a las ideas filosóficas cubanas. Todo esto, como señalamos, alumbra el quehacer pedagógico concreto y las posibilidades de tr ansformación ética del hombre a partir del desarrollo de la educación, la ciencia y la cultura.
Otra característica singular de los forjadores del pensamiento político y filosófico cubano está en que tienen una marcada tendencia hacia la acción social y específicamente en el terreno de la política, es decir, no se desconoce sino, por el contrario, se tienen muy presentes orientaciones hacia la práctica. Ellos persiguen encaminar su acción hacia el propósito de la justicia y a partir de una política culta. Varela, diputado a las Cortes de 1820, emigrado por razones políticas, fue un combatiente a favor de las ideas separatistas; Luz y Caballero realiza análisis sociológicos, incluso de carácter jurídico, y formula propuestas al respecto, pero se proyecta especialmente en la práctica de enseñar. En estas figuras, el ideal de la cultura tiene que ver con la integridad y la aplicación real de las ideas éticas y patrióticas.
La inmensa y contradictoria experiencia del dramático siglo XX ya transcurrido nos permita apreciar mejor la naturaleza del desafío que enfrentamos. En Martí y en la cultura cubana en general se supera la ruptura milenaria entre ciencia y utopía y cristaliza, sin embargo, la articulación de estos dos planos de la vida para forjar un pensamiento creador de la conciencia humana de validez universal.
Martí y Fidel sintetizan un enorme caudal cultural en cuanto a las formas de hacer política definitorias de la identidad nacional cubana. Martí con su sensibilidad poética y dominio de la lengua lo expresa de manera elocuente y bella:
La política es el arte de inventar un recurso a cada nuevo recurso de los contrarios, de convertir los reveses en fortuna; de adecuarse al momento presente, sin que la adecuación cueste el sacrificio o la merma del ideal que se persigue; de cejar para tomar empuje; de caer sobre el enemigo, antes de que tenga sus ejércitos en fila, y su batalla preparada.1
Fidel, por su parte, expuso también en el concepto de Revolución los fundamentos de una cultura de hacer política que le da continuidad y enriquece las ideas martianas de la práctica política. Ella postula sumar el mayor número posible de personas en la consecución de un objetivo, en la correspondencia ente el decir y el hacer, en no mentir jamás ni violar principios éticos. Así, sobre la base de la tradición cubana y latinoamericana, de cosmovisión bolivariana y martiana, Fidel Castro desarrolló la idea revolucionaria de unir para vencer, superando así el divide y vencerás.
La prueba más evidente de la eficacia de esta concepción la tenemos en el hecho de que en las más difíciles circunstancias y enfrentados a los más grandes obstáculos, la política cubana ha adquirido una singular influencia en el mundo de los últimos cincuenta años.
En el equilibrio entre las formas de hacer política y los objetivos que nos propongamos, está la esencia del pensamiento de José Martí. La práctica política la entendemos, aquí, como la que se lleva a cabo con el objetivo de movilizar las personas a favor de tal o cual aspiración. Hay que ir al rescate del término política, y ello solo se puede alcanzar desde una óptica genuinamente universal
Se trata de una categoría de la práctica que Martí relaciona con la ética, el derecho y la solidaridad, y de manera muy señalada, la justicia.
En la época en que se iniciaba el ascenso de la burguesía como clase Nicolás Maquiavelo escribe su obra El Príncipe, a principios del siglo XVI, en la que describe el método mediante el cual un gobernante podía adquirir y mantener poder sin estar atado a principios éticos y que se sintetiza en el divide y vencerás. Pues bien, hoy la política basada en la idea de dividir para vencer ha entrado en crisis, pues resulta ineficaz para un mundo globalizado que necesita integrar esfuerzos con el objetivo de enfrentar los dramáticos desafíos que tiene ante sí la humanidad. La defensa de intereses individuales de grupos o de clases sociales en particular, ha descansado siempre en fragmentar a todos los que entorpezcan la consecución de sus intereses y ambiciones; pero si se plantea una aspiración que resulte de interés para toda la humanidad, cualquier forma que divi da será contraproducente. Los propósitos altruistas a escala universal, como lo reclama el siglo XXI, sólo pueden lograrse sobre el principio de unir para vencer. La consigna reaccionaria, por tanto, debe ser superada por una cultura superior de ejercitar la política.
La manera en que podemos asumir la experiencia martiana y fidelista para enfrentar estos problemas está en dejar atrás todo sectarismo, promover la unión en empeños comunes, situar los objetivos inmediatos más importantes y que, en todo caso, sean las personas, individualmente, las que se alejen por su propia voluntad del propósito unificador. Quedarán así aisladas. Esto no excluye el esclarecimiento cultural profundo, por el contrario, lo exige. He ahí la complejidad y sutileza de la cuestión.
Esto fue lo que hizo José Martí al fundar el Partido Revolucionario Cubano en 1892 y organizar la guerra necesaria. Su vida y obra confirman que su valor político esencial estuvo en lograr la unidad de los cubanos en la lucha por ser libres del colonialismo español. No lo logró haciendo concesiones o aceptando argumentos mediacionistas con los elementos que le negaban la posibilidad de independencia radical, muy por el contrario, nadie fue más crítico al anexionismo y al reformismo, pero lo hizo mediante un debate profundo y radical orientado a ganar a las personas confundidas para la causa de la independencia. La esencia humanista de este principio martiano está en que fue un hombre radicalmente defensor de la libertad y la dignidad humanas para todos los individuos que pueblan el planeta y, al mismo tiempo, fue un hombre que buscaba fórmulas armoniosas para conseguir sus objetivos.
Hay personas radicales que no son suficientemente armoniosas y no pueden enfrentar eficazmente el drama de nuestra época. Hay que ser radicales en defensa de la libertad y la dignidad humanas, y armoniosos a la vez en la tarea de aunar voluntades, esa es la raíz de la política martiana. Radical y armonioso, he ahí la clave para encontrar las formas de hacer política de José Martí y de su principal discípulo Fidel Castro.
Para desarrollar una política práctica y un quehacer educativo como el que describe Martí, y alcanzar a su vez el triunfo de las aspiraciones humanistas contenidas en su sabiduría universal, es necesario estudiar los fundamentos filosóficos de su cultura. Ellos son hijos de una aspiración ética que tiene como premisa fundamental la justicia que el maestro fundador de la escuela cubana, José de la Luz y Caballero, definió como el sol del mundo moral.
Hay, pues, que subrayar que la justicia es la categoría fundamental de la cultura, lo cual está así reconocido por los más importantes investigadores y pensadores de las ciencias naturales y de las de carácter social.
En cuanto al fundamento filosófico de la ética, debemos tener en cuenta que los descubrimientos científicos que se producen aceleradamente en el terreno de las ciencias naturales y en especial de la biología y las técnicas de reproducción que han hecho posible la existencia de formas de vida creadas artificialmente han puesto sobre el tapete, con mucha fuerza, la necesidad de un replanteo de las relaciones del hombre con la naturaleza en su conjunto, incluyendo las demás especies. Desde Hipócrates y su juramento en el que los encargados de velar por la salud del hombre y salvarlo de las enfermedades se comprometieron a ejercer su arte ‘’pura y santamente’’ hasta los descubrimientos del ADN y del completamiento del mapa del genoma humano el tema de la ética en las ciencias de la vida ha venido adquiriendo una importancia creciente.
¿Dónde está la clave de que las ideas de la identidad nacional cubana fueran válidas para creyentes y no creyentes? En la cultura cubana, desde los tiempos forjadores de la nación, los principios éticos de raíz cristiana adquirieron un papel clave en nuestro devenir histórico. La ética ha sido durante milenios el tema central de las religiones. Por ello he afirmado que la importancia de la ética para los seres humanos, la necesidad de ella, se confirma por la propia existencia de las religiones.
Su valor y significación son válidos tanto para los creyentes como para los no creyentes pues ella se relaciona con las apremiantes exigencias del mundo actual. Los creyentes derivan sus principios del dictado divino. Los no creyentes podemos y debemos atribuírselos, en definitiva, a las necesidades de la vida material, de la convivencia entre los seres humanos. Puede apuntare como una singularidad de nuestra tradición cultural el no haber situado la creencia en Dios en antagonismo con la ciencia, se dejó la cuestión de Dios para una decisión de conciencia individual. Así se asumió el movimiento científico moderno y ello permitió que la fundamentación ética de raíz cristiana se incorporara y se articulara con las ideas científicas lo cual abrió extraordinarias posibilidades para la evolución histórica de las ideas cubanas.
Hay que saber diferenciar y, a su vez, relacionar ideología entendida como producción de ideas o como ciencia del estudio de las ideas, de un lado, y práctica política concreta, del otro.
La primera, inspira y orienta a la segunda; pero no es ella. La segunda promueve y desarrolla materialmente la acción política hacia los fines y objetivos que se proponga. La confusión en diferenciar ambos conceptos puede conducir al dogmatismo. No relacionarlos puede llevarnos a la dispersión y a la anarquía.
Recordemos la lúcida advertencia del Apóstol en carta póstuma a Manuel Mercado: En silencio ha tenido que ser y como indirectamente, porque hay cosas que para lograrlas han de andar ocultas, y de proclamarse en lo que son, levantarían dificultades demasiado recias para alcanzar sobre ellas el fin. 2
En el equilibrio entre las formas de hacer política y los objetivos que nos propongamos, es decir el fin, está la esencia del pensamiento de José Martí.

Los cubanos de hoy hemos heredado una inmensa historia cultural y que en nuestros días, sin ser igual a la de ayer, se nutre con las esencias más puras de la anterior y aspira a ser mejor. Conservarla y desarrollarla, enriquecerla y presentarla como escudo esencial de la patria cubana, latinoamericana y caribeña, recordando a Martí, es el servicio oportuno que el heroísmo juicioso de las Antillas brinda al trato justo de las naciones.
Con estas enseñanzas y las experiencias de una Revolución que en octubre del pasado año cumplió 140 años de iniciada, que acaba de celebrar el aniversario 50 de la conquista de la verdadera y definitiva independencia de nuestra Patria nos proyectamos hacia el futuro con un mensaje cultural y político que puede ser de gran significado para la historia intelectual de Occidente.

3.- Resisting Non-Resistance Or Gramática parda, Thoreau’s Rhetoric of Wild Activism
(De la Primera Conferencia del ALMA en Monterey) Theron Francis, Ph.D. University of Texas-Pan American October 17, 2009 Martí, Juarez, Lincoln Conference

In declaring, “wildness is the preservation of the world” (W 239), Henry David Thoreau did not only argue for the preservation of wild places, but also for a “wild” and oppositional form of thought and political action. His notion of resistance, which was spelled out “Resistance to Civil Government” (1848), should be understood in contradistinction to the prevailing ethic of non-resistance among prominent abolitionists, who advocated vocal, strident opposition to the state and also a refusal to take part in government, which they saw as venal and corrupt. Significantly, the proponents of non-resistance also required compliance with the oppressive state, so that they would not respond in kind to the force of the state, resisting force with force. Thoreau’s essay, also sometimes titled “Civil Disobediance,” is a call for the use of force against the force of the State, that is, resistance through “wild” action. Thoreau called the “wild and dusky knowledg e” from which this politics grows, “Gramática parda—a tawny grammar” (W 249) It can be found through returning to sources in nature—“this vast savage, howling mother of ours, […] with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard.” Thoreau’s politics resonate with the politics of José Martí, who in seeking “el arroyo de la sierra” and “el leopardo […] en su monte seco y pardo” also returns to sources in nature. To celebrate these two political poets, I would like to explain the relationship between Thoreau’s nature writing and his political writing. When these two concerns meet, they produce in Thoreau’s writing a particular style of brown, tawny rhetoric, which is semantically consonant with the music and rhythms of nature, rather than arbitrary; in tone, rough, contrary, ironic and hudibrastic, and in its topics and sympathies, emphasizing the material relationships between people and places.
The term Gramática parda—is pejorative and refers to the vernaculars of speech of the common people. It is the language of the village rather than the city; the hayseed instead of the city slicker. It is a language unschooled and unlettered that violates the prescribed rules of grammar. It is the language of the streets and shows cunning street smarts. Since it is the speech of those who live close to the edge, it reflects survival instincts, the ability to adapt, and more clearly what it takes to live. Perhaps it is best exemplified by the earthy ironic wit of Sancho Panza. The color brown probably refers to the color of the rough traditional clothing worn by rural people in Spain. Thoreau re-appropriates the term in the context of the picturesque style of the Hudson River School painters, who celebrated brown as the color of transitions in nature, earthiness and fertility. Although Thoreau in using the term parda refers to the profusion of brown colors in t he wild, the term also unavoidably suggests to the more “colorful” speech of people of color, from the freckled Irish to black slaves, whose economic class could be determined by their skin color.
What’s key is that Gramática parda is a way of knowing that lies outside of a society’s established institutions. Thoreau mentions the phrase in his most clear strident argument for the preservation of wilderness commons: the essay “Walking” (1851). He argues that just as “not every acre of the earth should be cultivated,” similarly “not every part of a man [should be] cultivated” (W 249). He draws a correlation between the natural and the social world. It should be noted that the essay “Walking” was first drafted for a Lyceum lecture in 1851 during the infamous rendition of the escaped slave Thomas Simms in Boston under rules of the Fugitive Slave Law, which raised loud protests from Thoreau’s fellow abolitionists. Using the language of cunning irony, he observes that if a “society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge” is needed, we also need a “Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance.” Although the claim questions what con stitutes education, it more directly indicts the state’s laws and policies. If “knowledge is power,” Thoreau reasons, there should be a countervailing “negative knowledge”—a “useful ignorance”—which he calls a “beautiful knowledge, a knowledge useful in a higher sense” (W 249).

The essay “Resistance to Civil Government” uses the idea of a machine as the central metaphor for a discourse on the individual’s obligations to an unjust government. A machine conveys or transforms force. As energy moves through the machine, it is depleted by the machine’s own resistance. In Thoreau’s machine power moves in two directions, which are in an inverse complementary relationship. In one direction, flows all the power of the state that sponsors banks, levies taxes, controls labor, and raises armies. In the other direction, without any help from the state, flows human progress toward a greater recognition of human rights:

All machines have their friction, and possibly this does enough to counter balance the evil. At any rate it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say let us not have such a machine any longer in other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation, which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. (206)

Thoreau opens and closes the essay with repudiations of the necessity to follow the State’s laws, envisioning at both points a stateless ideal future. Mimicking the motto on the masthead of the The Democratic Review in the first sentences, he proclaims, ““That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government they will have’ (RCG 203; Adams 264). At the end of the essay, in an echo of Rousseau, he “imagine[s] a State at last which can afford to be just to all men. […] A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen” (224). Thus, we can gather that the primary force conducted by Thoreau’s machine is the force of human history, the human conscience, and human rights. As human nature, it is akin to nature, lawless and wild. The oppres sive State constitutes a reactionary friction to this natural progress. Using the irony of a wise fool, Thoreau makes an inverted trope: it is our duty to resist a machine of resistance.

When Thoreau declaims, “Let us not have such a machine any longer” and let us “rebel,” what kind of activism does he recommend? If “Resistance to Civil Government” is not explicitly an argument for Northern succession from the Southern States, at least it reverberates with the rhetoric of disunion. He asks, “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day?” and answers: “He cannot without disgrace be associated with it” (206). He reports on the efforts of disunion activists: “Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves, --the union between themselves and the State, --and refuse to pay their quota to its treasury” (210). He affiliates himself with his mentors among radical transcendentalist activists, Bronson Alcott and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who were avowed proponents of disunion (Meyer 43). His claim that it is not only the State of Massachusetts or the Northern States that must dissolve the Union, but more importantly the individual, makes this exhortation radical in the sense that all things transcendental are radically related to the individual’s sense and judgment. Since the law and legislatures are substitutes or proxies for this private sense of the world, in which the individual acts upon their conscience, these arguments for disunion also contain notes of pure anarchism.

Action from principle, the perception and performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine (210).

When Thoreau sarcastically observes, “It is a great evil to make a stir” about the machine of state, he acknowledges the risks involved (206). The divine is intimately entwined with evil, in the sense that the divine struggles with evils and does not evade danger. There is a strange unity in this disunion.

Thoreau’s machine metaphor invariably suggests the means of production and conditions in 19th century urban factories. Through the metaphor, resistance is framed as sabotage, like that committed by the English Luddites in 1812, when they destroyed the factories’ mechanical looms, which displaced them from work, lowered wages, and diminished the craft they put into their labor. English law at this time made the crime of destroying a machine punishable by execution. The machine has its obverse metaphor within the imagery of nature. This is partly resolved in “Resistance to Civil Government” within Thoreau’s idyllic anecdote of his own imprisonment for refusing to pay taxes, which would support the Mexican War and by extension the institution of slavery. Disgruntled with sleepless irritation, he arrives at a picturesque panoramic consciousness of the town of Concord as a shire town on the Rhine in the Middle Ages: “Knights,” “castles,” and “old burghers” pass before his eyes. Imprisonment separates the prisoner of conscience from society; however, in doing so, it brings them closer to its “institutions” (218). Through this vision, Thoreau “began to comprehend what [the] inhabitants [of his town] were about. […] They did not greatly propose to do right; […] They were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions; […] In their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property” (218-19). Upon his release from prison, after having his shoe mended at the shoemaker’s, he immediately joins a “huckleberry party,” which he leads trundling off into the “highest hills” on the outskirts of Concord. If he came into town, it’s implied, it was only to have his shoes fixed so he could continue walking out of town. Huckleberry picking is always an allusion by Thoreau to the Golden Age of Greek myth.

In huckleberry picking, one gathers the fruits of nature directly. There are no middlemen; there are no machines. In the Metamorphoses, Ovid describes the Golden Age, as a period when “men of their own accord, without threat of punishment, without laws, maintained good faith and did what was right” (33). William Gilpin, Thoreau’s progenitor as a picturesque travel writer, described the Golden Age, which he calls “the old acorn season,” as “unquestionably the reign of the picturesque” (Observations on the Highlands of Scotland 112-13). It is picturesque partly because of its pure abstract idealism—as illusory as a picture is. But it is also picturesque because it expresses the real possibility of humankind existing in harmony with nature in contrast to the shamefulness of our current exploitation of nature. In this sense, Kronos’ arcadia takes on the ambiguousness of an utopia: as an illusion, it is no-place; and as an ideal, it is a place where the “good ” in fact exists. By making the ideal of nature the measure of human actions for good or for bad, the Golden Age serves a didactic function. This places nature in a position of absolute priority, and makes every action of human beings subject to doubt. “Wherever man appears with his tools,” writes Gilpin, “deformity follows his steps” (Observations on the Highlands of Scotland 112). The mythical distinction between epochs, one Edenic the other essentially fallen, reinforces the dichotomy between nature and culture.

Thoreau makes a more direct reference to nature as a contrary metaphor to the machine in the explanatory coda to his essay “Slavery in Massachusetts” (1854). Modulating his tone in order at the conclusion to soothe and conciliate his audience after angry remonstrations and direful warnings, Thoreau recollects coming upon a water-lily while he walked:

But it chanced the other day that I scented a white water-lily, and a season I had waited for had arrived. It is the emblem of purity. Its bursts up so pure and fair to the eye, and so sweet to the scent, as if to show us what purity and sweetness reside in, and can be extracted from, the slime and muck of earth. […] What confirmation of our hopes is in the fragrance of this flower! I shall not so soon despair of the world for it, notwithstanding slavery, and the cowardice and want of principle of Northern men. […] If Nature can compound this fragrance still annually, I shall believe her still young and full of vigor, her integrity and genius unimpaired, and that there is virtue even in man, too, who is fitted to perceive and love it. (346)

The image of the lily is in itself ambiguous, comprising allusions to good and evil. Significantly, though, the flower grows out of “slime and muck.” Although the lily blooms in “season,” and thus grows through a development, it is also perennial, and therefore “still young and full of vigor.” Since it is eternal, it cannot be depleted. It is always fully accessible, and its virtues can be perceived by humankind, who is fitted to know of it.

The use of a symbol like the lily shows that Thoreau is a Puritan throwback, able like the Puritans to read in nature symbolic anti-types that refer to scriptural revelation. By the same token, my own willingness to read the lily metaphor in this way shows the survival of Puritan strategies of literacy and oratory. The metaphor is an unavoidable allusion to the “Sermon on the Mount”:

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? […] And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. (Mathew 6.26, 6.28)

The passage contains arguments against both pride and expedience, wealth and profit. The rhetoric of Gramática parda is one of humbleness and simplicity. These allusions to the lesson against ostentation in the open-air sermon are common places throughout American nature writing. Consider as examples Ezra Pounds “Salutation” and a passage from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass:

Salutation

O generation of the thoroughly smug

And thoroughly uncomfortable,

I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,

I have seen them with untidy families,

I have seen their smiles full of teeth

And heard ungainly laughter.

And I am happier than you are,

And they were happier than I am;

And the fish swim in the lake

And do not even own clothing. (Pound 55)

From Leaves of Grass

I think I could turn, and live with animals,

They are so placid and self-contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their

condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep

for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their

duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented

with the mania for owning things, (Whitman 77)

While the politics of these two writers moved in different directions—Pound in the 20th century espousing a racist politics and Whitman espousing a universalism as Emerson’s anointed poet—both use the image of the lily to excoriate pride and greed, suggesting that human arrogance leads to wider injustices. Thoreau’s attacks are typically antinomian, in that he questions his listeners’ faith, finds their hypocrisy, and condemns their complacency. However, the rhetoric of antinomianism and abusing the believers is part and parcel of the American Christian tradition. It would be just as easy to see the “lily of the field” as the abiding image of American society as Winthrop’s “city on the hill.”

The rejection of expedience is central to all of Thoreau’s essays on political activism from “Resistance to Civil Government,” to “Slavery in Massuchusetts,” to his “John Brown” essays. Increasingly, as the abolitionist struggle progressed toward the violence of the Civil War, Thoreau resorted to more and more Christian imagery. In his “Plea for John Brown,” he calls the hero who fought pro-slavery militias in Kansas and was on trial for sedition for attacking the federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, a Christ figure: “You pretend to care for Christ crucified, consider what you are about to do to him who offered himself to be the savior of four millions of men” (415). The religiosity of his references shows that abolitionism was largely an evangelical movement and that Thoreau knew how to move his audiences. He understood that he had to move his audiences across a spectrum of political positions, which had become established in American society. These positions are in part located in relation to the idea of cost, expedience, or inconvenience. On this topic, he challenges in “Resistance to Civil Government” the utilitarian philosopher William Paley, who writes in The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy: “so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God that the established government be obeyed”—and no longer” (RCG 206). While Paley—in a section that explains the causes of enslavement and the duties of slaves to masters—acknowledges that slavery is an “odious institution,” he argues that the impulses of Christianity can only act gradually through the legal system to end slavery (part II; chapter 3). Thoreau makes at least three arguments against the inconvenience of which Paley speaks: one, if inconvenience relates to financial costs, this is mer ely a venal consideration—money is the instrument oppression and slavery; two, if inconvenience is a matter of violating the law, there is a higher law, and the legalism of the courts, legislatures and the constitution are only modes of oppression; and three, if the inconvenience is a matter of risk and sacrifice of life and limb, the institution of slavery continually takes life from people.

“Resistance for Civil Government” is not an argument for passive resistance or non-violence. It is an argument against the “non-resistance movement,” which was dominant position among abolitionists. Critics like Robert Richardson have claimed that Thoreau “uses the language of noncompliance and noncooperation” in “Resistance to Civil Government” and that “he does not advocate or even mention forcible resistance” (177). I would speculate that Thoreau is read as a proponent of non-violence because of the popularity of non-violence during the Civil Rights Movement and Indian Independence Movement as represented in the figureheads Martin Luther King and Mohandas Ghandi. The more moderate activism of both of these leaders is admired because both their approaches reduced fears of a race war, which exacerbates the state’s willingness to use force. Of course, academics will always lean toward a conservative interpretation, because academia simply reproduces the hierarchy, whether in the knowledge it produces or in the class system that it reinforces as it sorts out students and faculty.

What follows are just a few references to resistance in Thoreau’s most well-known handbook on political activism that advocate “inconveniences” to safety or allow the risk of sacrifice through force. Thoreau contends that “Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well as an individual, must do justice, cost what it may” (207). He follows this up with an analogy: “If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though drown I must” (207). The analogy is partly an economic argument: we have all, as citizens of the state who have played a part in the hegemonic system, taken the means of happiness and survival from the slave—now we must return it to these people, however we might suffer. Later, in a second mention of the machine metaphor, Thoreau makes a distinction between simple non-compliance and the use of force:

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go […], --certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy may be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. (211)

The machine metaphor, whether it touches on state power or resistance to the state, always deals with force. If Paley rejects resistance, when it offers inconvenience to the state, then Thoreau, arguing with Paley, accepts that inconvenience. If the injustice involves just a part of the machine—“a spring, a pulley, or a rope”—then means and ends may be weighed: he acknowledges that “the remedy may be worse than the evil.” At this point he already goes far beyond Paley in advocating force. And he goes further: if you are implicated in the evil, then “break the law.” This alone does not suggest the violence of acts of force, but when he says “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine,” he means, put your life in jeopardy.

One of the consequences of being oneself a part of the machine of State, is that in following the laws of the State, one loses one’s conscience and sense of judgment, relying on others to make and enforce the law. “Law never made men a whit more just,” Thoreau writes; “and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice” (204). As an example of “an undue respect for the law,” Thoreau uses the conscription of soldiers to fight in foreign wars—like the Mexican War of 1846—marching up “hill and dale […] against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed” (204-5). These men have become unthinking mechanical parts of the machine, lacking spirit and reason. Ironically, they are slaves to the machine themselves. “The mass of men,” judges Thoreau, “serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies” (205). This harm to the spirit of human beings who are enslaved in the end provides for Thoreau the rationale for forceful resistance. “But even suppose blood should flow,” he proposes. “Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now” (214).

Thoreau’s advocacy of forceful resistance may seem subtle or muted. There are reasons for this. For one, overt sedition is always dangerous, for oneself and one’s colleagues. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 made those who aided slaves in their flight subject to prosecution. Several sources report that Thoreau was active in helping fugitive slaves find their way along the Underground Railroad (Ford 369; Petrulionis; Sanborn). Thoreau’s phrasing is far more direct in his 1854 essay “Slavery in Massachusetts,” written just after his good friends Bronson Alcott and Wentworth Higginson, both members of the conspiratorial “Vigilance Committee,” made an assault on the Boston Courthouse in order to free the fugitive slave Anthony Burns, who was then being remanded into the custody of his “masters” (Meyers 82-92). During the assault, one of the police marshal’s deputies was shot and killed. Although we do not know the source of the gunfire, force was applied in uni ting a mass of protesters to storm the courthouse and using a battering ram to break down the courthouse door. After the crowd was dispersed by the club-wielding police force, Higginson, an African American co-conspirator and Alcott still loitered, unwilling to give up the attack. Howard Meyer describes Higginson calling back to his army of citizens: “You cowards, will you desert us now?” The elderly Alcott, then queried, “Why are we not within?” The phrase resonates with the apocryphal story of Emerson visiting Thoreau in the Concord jail, and asking, “Henry, why are you in here?” Thoreau’s supposed response is “Waldo, why aren’t you in here.” The anecdote for years has been used to differentiate the two transcendentalists: Emerson is said to be theoretical and Thoreau practical; Emerson philosophical, Thoreau active (Jones). I would not make this distinction, but we can find clear statements of Thoreau’s advocacy of active force in the essay “Slaver y in Massachusetts.” He calls the attack on Boston Courthouse “heroic,” even though it failed to achieve its goal (344). He makes vows that are heroically violent. “I need not say what match I would touch, what system endeavor to blow up, but as I love my life, I would side with the light, and let the dark earth roll from under me, calling my mother and my brother to follow” (342). Like Higginson, he would like to lead others into the fray. His determination is explicit: “My thoughts,” he says, are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her” (346). So it is not true as Richardson writes, that Thoreau only “advocated violent or forcible resistance […] during the heat of the John Brown affair” (177). He advocates force that resists force in 1848, 1854 and during the John Brown affair of 1859.

Thoreau’s more aggressive position on resistance opposes the more central and conciliatory position of the supporters of Non-Resistance. The position statement of The “Non-Resistance Movement,” was made in the Declaration of Peace Sentiments, adopted by William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist “Peace Convention” (9/20/1838) and published in the Liberator (9/28/38):

“As every human government is upheld by physical strength, and its laws are enforced virtually at the point of the bayonet, we cannot hold any office which imposes upon its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right, on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. […] But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to speak and act boldly in the cause of God: to assail iniquity, in high places and in low places; to apply our principles to all existing civil, political, legal and ecclesiastical institutions.” (Adams 648).

The pacifism of abolitionism’s leading figures shows the central role of religious groups like the Society of Friends in the anti-slavery movement. Although a Baptist, Garrison is said to have been converted to “the cause of the slave” by the Quaker Benjamin Lundy. The religious character of the Non-Resistance position is revealed in Garrison’s own testimony:

I can conceive of no provocations greater than those which my Lord and Master suffered unresistingly. In dying upon the cross, that his enemies might live—in asking for their forgiveness in the extremity of his agonies—he has shown me how to meet all my foes, aye, and to conquer them, or, at least, to triumph over them. (Duban 313)

Thoreau’s dispute with the supporters of Non-Resistance—who always peacefully welcomed his angry speeches and published his articles—lead to a division of four different types of resistance to machine of state. He deposes these in “Resistance to Civil Government”: “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeed, or shall we transgress them at once?” (210). Of course, Thoreau advocates the position of immediate transgression. These four positions can be outlined as follows:

1.Compliance: Conform to the government and its constitution. (vote; and serve in the military; pay poll tax)
2.Non-Resistance: Make opposition known, but comply with the state. (Do not vote; Do publicize one’s opposition; Do not serve in military or in any government functions; but Do pay the poll tax.)
3.Resistance: Make Opposition Known, but do not comply. (Do not vote; Do publicize one’s opposition; Do not serve in military or in any government functions; but Do Not pay poll tax.)
4.Non-Non-Violent Resistance: Outright revolution, that is, the heroism of John Brown.
Thoreau’s position at least moves between positions three and four. It is not my intention to advocate the use of violent force. My own opinion is too much influence by pacifism. I do intend, however, to report Thoreau’s concept of resistance accurately, and acknowledge that profound injustices may push people to the final position of John Brown, which the State eventually chose when it entered the Civil War under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.

I would like to conclude this paper with two anecdotes handed down as part of the Thoreau legend, which along with the story of Thoreau’s night in the Concord jail, show his commitment to an activism of resistance. Each acts as a kind of tableau or genre piece, dramatizing the intellectual life of the committed activist. On January 27, 1841 at the Concord Lyceum, the Thoreau brothers and Bronson Alcott stage a debate. The theme: Is it ever proper to offer forcible resistance?” The Thoreaus argue in the affirmative; Alcott argues in the negative. This is the second of two debates held at the Concord Lyceum in preparation for the visit of Rev. Adin Ballou, who spoke on the topic of Non-Resistance. We do not who was declared the winner of the debate. Nor do we know whether all the parties in fact believed at the time of the debate in resistance or non-resistance. But they entertained both positions.

The second anecdote is in the words of Walter Harding, the father of Thoreau studies:

Five years [after the arrest of the fugitive slave Anthony Burns] came John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Brown was arrested and thrown into prison. Abolitionists over the entire country quaked in their shoes at the violence of the reaction to Brown's attempted revolution. Many of the anti-slavery leaders denounced Brown's violence. But not Thoreau. He immediately called a meeting in the vestry of the Concord church, and when the vestry was refused him, called it instead for the town hall. Sanborn, one of Brown's most intimate friends, urged Thoreau to call off the meeting, but Thoreau replied that he was announcing a meeting, not asking his advice. When the selectmen refused to ring the bell to announce the meeting, Thoreau rang it himself. Doctor Bartlett said that he had heard five hundred damn Thoreau for even proposing the meeting. But Thoreau went ahead. Many undoubtedly came to the meeting to jeer, but such was his force, his eloquence, and his passion that it "was h eard by all respectfully, by many with a sympathy that surprised themselves." Two nights later he delivered the lecture to a crowded hall in Boston. The Liberator jubilantly reported: This exciting theme seemed to have awakened "the hermit of Concord" from his usual state of philosophic indifference, and he spoke with real enthusiasm for an hour and a half. A very large audience listened . . . giving hearty applause to some of the most energetic expressions of the speaker. (373)

Works Cited

Adams, Raymond. “Thoreau’s Sources for “Resistance to Civil Government.”
Studies in Philology. 42 (1945): 640-53.

Duban, James. “Thoreau, Garrison, and Dymond: Unbending Firmness of the

Mind.” American Literature. 57 (1985). 309-17.

Ford, Nick Aaron. “Henry David Thoreau, Abolitionist.” The New England Quarterly. 19 (1946) 359-71.

Gilpin, William. Observations on Several Parts of Great Britain, particularly The High-Lands of Scotland, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty. Vol. II. London: Cadell and Davies, 1808.

Harding, Walter. “Thoreau on the Lecture Platform.” New England Quarterly. 24 (1951) 365-74.

Jones, Dr. Samuel Arthur. Thoreau Amongst Friends and Philistines and Other Thoreauviana. Ed. George Hendrick. Athens, Ohio: Ohio UP, 1982.

King James Version of the Holy Bible. Philadelphia: A.J. Holman Company, 1942.

Meyer, Howard. Colonel of the Black Regiment, The Life of Thomas Wentworth

Higginson. New York; Norton, 1967.

Ovid. The Metamorphoses. Trans. Mary M. Innes. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1961.

Petrulionis, Sandra Harbert. “Thoreau Transforms his Journal into ‘Slavery in Massachusetts.’” The Thoreau Reader. 12 Oct. 2009

Paley, William. The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. Foreword by D.L. Le Mahieu. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002. The Online Library of Liberty. 13 Oct. 2009

Pound, Ezra. “Salutation.” A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 1994.

Richardson, Robert. Henry Thoreau, A Life of the Mind. Berkely: U of California P, 1986.

Sanborn. F. B. Henry D. Thoreau. Amsterdam, NL: Fredonia Books, 2005.

Thoreau, Henry David. “A Plea for John Brown.” Thoreau, Collected
Essays and Poems. New York: The Library of America, 2001. 396-417.

---. “Resistance to Civil Government.” Thoreau, Collected

Essays and Poems. New York: The Library of America, 2001. 203-24. ---. “Slavery in Massachusetts.” Thoreau, Collected Essays and Poems. New York: The Library of America, 2001. 333-47.

---. “Walking.” Thoreau, Collected Essays and Poems. New York: The Library of America, 2001. 225-55.

Whitman, Walt. Passage from Leaves of Grass in A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 1994.

Winthrop, John. “ A Model of Christian Charity.”The Norton Anthology of
American Literature. 5th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1998. 214-35.

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