'Lydighet versus Rettskjensle'
Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree,
resign his conscience to the legislator?
Why has every man a conscience then?
I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.
It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so
much as for the right.
The only obligation which I have a right to assume
is to do at any time what I think right.
It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience;
but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation
with a conscience.
Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their
respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the
agents of injustice.
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, which makes it very steep marching indeed ..
..They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which
they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined.
Now, what are they? Men at all?
or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some
unscrupulous man in power?
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly,
but as machines, with their bodies.
They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables,
posse comitatus [lokalpoliti], etc.
In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement
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.
They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.
Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.