Thoreau states :the mas of men serve th state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines... In most cases there is not free exercise of the judgement or moral sense...'
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I think Thoreau had a philosophy that he wanted to expound. He did not think he was being too harsh because Thoreau felt that he was saving people from prisons of their own making. He wanted men to break free of their dependence on social systems and mechanization. That is what Thoreau was all about.