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Quotes

Quote #1

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind. (Economy.19)

Worldly goods distract us from spiritual "elevation." Mo' money, mo' problems.

Quote #2

I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The conditions of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English (Economy.41)

This is an attack on one symptom of industrialization: the inhumane conditions of working in a factory. Sadly, this is still an issue in some countries even today.

Quote #3

But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, which has them not, is rich as a savage? […] the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. (Economy.45)

Thoreau questions whether civilization is all that great if so many people still remain poor.

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