Transcendentalism and Rebellion - The Politics of Revolution

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Transcendentalism and Rebellion – The Politics of Revolution

Is the romantic impulse towards rebellion driven by natural human instinct? Perhaps science should study this question a bit more in depth and share its findings with the major governments of the world because it appears as though the impulse towards rebellion is inherent to situations in which the freedoms of the individual are sacrificed to the good of the collective. If indeed rebellion is instinctual, does that mean that the individual is the highest order in natural law and therefore must cast off the oppression of artificial constraints? Throughout history democratic and socialist governments have unflinchingly managed to put the purported ‘good of the
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Classical liberalism, as outlined by John Locke, supports individual rights, the right to property, a free market, and a limited government. The objective behind the classical liberal idea of limiting power was to limit collective power in order for humanity to evolve through the evolution of the individual. Many of the founding fathers of the United States, including Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson, adhered to the ideas of classical liberalism. Although their motives are arguable, the founding fathers supported the idea of a small government that did not restrain the rights of the individual or interfere with economics on a small scale.

Members of the Transcendentalist movement such as Emerson and Thoreau, steeped in the classic liberal idea of optimistic individualism, (“American Transcendentalism” 1) utilized its doctrines (including the Declaration of Independence) in protest against a government that not only meddled in the affairs of private citizens, but also endorsed and protected the institution of slavery. Though the Jacksonian Era during which the Transcendentalists movement began was a time of political reform and individual movement westward, many marginalized groups felt that the government was not concerned enough with the rights and freedoms of individuals not participating in westward expansion. Human rights issues such as slavery and

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