This chapter explores the work of Henry David Thoreau, a figure who celebrates the benefits of extracting oneself from political life. It argues that Thoreau’s writings about exit reveal the possibility of a expressive exit, that is, a departure that is political in and of itself. For Thoreau, leaving a political community had the potential to illuminate the iniquitous, evil political agreements and institutions at its core. Thoreau was centrally concerned with the American institution of slavery; therefore, he frequently linked leaving with abolitionism in his writings. But his writings provide a more general understanding of the potentially disruptive effects of leaving in an expressive and ostentatious way, one that draws public attention to the exit itself and its connection with moral injustice.
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