"Thoreau now turns to his personal experiences with civil disobedience. He says that he hasn't paid a poll tax for six years and that he spent a night in jail once because of this. His experience in jail did not hurt his spirit: "I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to break through, before they could get to be as free as I was." Since the State couldn't reach his essential self, they decided to punish his body. This illustrated the State's ultimate weakness, and Thoreau says that he came to pity the State. The masses can't force him to do anything; he is subject only to those who obey a higher law. He says that he has to obey his own laws and try to flourish in this way."
Try as he might, Thoreau would have had a hard time fathoming out the turn taken by events since his day. The extensive imbalances created by the monopoly of strength favoring elected over electorate - most peculiarly in so-called western democracies where people remain, of their own volition, oblivious to most forms of institutional abuse - are the stuff that dystopian fiction forerunners like Zamyatin, Delany, Huxley, Orwell or even Philip K. Dick might have used in their works.
Over here on our sunny, peaceful rectangular plot by the pond we have had a few such examples, all of them textbook-grade material.
A former President of the Republic, roughly one year after staging a rally calling for the use of "popular force" against a democratically elected government, now threatens a Judge in the name of some abstract "people", and nothing happens.
An army Colonel, formerly proven guilty of association with a terrorist organization in the 1980s, repeatedly hints at the need for a military coup, and nothing happens.
Government officials move on to take jobs at companies that they favored during their time of public service, only to move back into office a few years later, all the while displaying blatant negligence if not outright criminal complicity in ruinous affairs, stripping public funds, and nothing happens.
European taxpayer money is spent ostensively on a myriad useless, megalomaniac construction works, like a six-lane avenue in the center of Lisbon where some imbecile on the City Hall's payroll decided to stick a fifty kilometer-per-hour limit sign, causing massive numbers of drivers to incur in steep fines, and guess what happens? Cash-hungry authorities threaten thousands of "unlawful citizens" with seizure of their licenses.
Thoreau had it right, he just couldn't quell his optimist's view of the World.