Thoreau is highly critical of materialism and consumption. He argues that when people have a lot of wealth, they begin to concentrate on how to spend their money, instead of on how they should live their lives. Secondly, rich people, because they have much more than most people, also have much more to lose by practicing civil disobedience. Furthermore, to be able to make money, a person must play along with the existing institutions. It is, therefore, much harder for the wealthy consumer to take a critical stance about the government. Thoreau's stern stance on wealth reflects some of his own values, most clearly seen in his exercise in "simple living" on Walden Pond. Thoreau was a supporter of a simple life lived close to nature and clearly thought that this lifestyle was most conducive to individualism and self-reliance. Thus, in his essay, Thoreau condemns a wealthy lifestyle because he believes it incompatible with civil disobedience but also because it goes against his own more general personal values.

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