HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » 275 Years Later, the Powe...

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 01:40 PM

275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine





Regaining Common Sense (The Occupied Wall Street Journal)

http://occupiedmedia.us/2012/01/regaining-common-sense/

Frances A. Chiu 27 January, 2012

275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine


Although Glenn Beck, Herman Cain and the Tea Party would have us believe that Tom Paine was one of them—a man who supposedly stood for “small government”—this could not be further from the truth. On the eve of Paine’s 275th birthday, on January 29, let’s restore some common sense here: Paine was a progressive to the core. He was one of the first to decry the aristocracy and landed elites of his day—the 1%—while emphasizing the welfare of the masses. True government, as he saw it, ought to be “a delegation of power for the common benefit of society,” founded on the “RES-PUBLICA, the public affairs, or public good,” not the “cavillings of a few interested men.”

By writing in a manner that was easily accessible to the literate and illiterate alike, Paine brought politics to the 99% with Common Sense (1776) and other formative texts. He dared to urge a complete break from Britain when others were still trying to compromise with George III and his Parliament. And he was among the first to question hereditary government; acknowledge women’s rights; support the abolition of slavery and challenge disparities in pay while advocating labor organizing rights. A former corset maker, teacher and excise officer, Paine knew there was something wrong when bishops earned 1,000 times as much as hardworking parish priests—just like we know there’s something wrong when CEOs earn 1,000 times as much as their employees. And he knew there was something wrong when the young were being sent to jails and the elderly forced to continue working, just like know there is something wrong when numerous urban and rural youth continue to wind up in prison while Boomers and the elderly face prospects of deferred retirement.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, Paine was treated like many future left-wing dissidents and radicals. He was burned in effigy by rowdy mobs throughout his native England and sentenced for sedition for his criticism of monarchies and feudal privileges in Rights of Man (1791). In fact, it’s worth noting that the mobs who did so were paid by wealthy nobles and powerful members of the government, not unlike Tea Party mobs who are funded by the Koch brothers and others. As they say, plus ça change.

Yet regardless of the unpopularity of his views, especially after the publication of his controversial Age of Reason (1794-5), Paine never flinched. Unlike many of our Founding Fathers, and would-be liberals today, Paine was not preoccupied with money or the trappings of wealth. He was proud of his little house in New Rochelle, New York, with its collection of farm animals and functional pots and pans. Paine donated nearly all of his considerable earnings from Common Sense and Rights of Man to the Continental Army and British radical organizations struggling as they fought for a new nation. Not least, he enjoyed hanging out in pubs and taverns, where he conversed with ordinary working men. Paine was a man who talked the talk and walked the walk all the way to the finish line.

..more..

8 replies, 2484 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply 275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine (Original post)
G_j Jan 2012 OP
HopeHoops Jan 2012 #1
mackattack Jan 2012 #2
earthside Jan 2012 #3
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #5
white_wolf Jan 2012 #6
earthside Jan 2012 #7
G_j Jan 2012 #8
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #4

Response to G_j (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 01:44 PM

1. Interesting interpretation.

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to G_j (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 01:49 PM

2. In all honesty from my readings of his works

 

I think Paine would side with the libertarians. Same with Jefferson.

In the US we like to link our political movements to the Founding Fathers because we think it provides legitimacy. Our political system is generally (compared to most of world history) a secular country and unlike places like Iran, who use/exploit religious texts to validate their laws, we use the constitution and founding fathers. Linking things to them creates a semi-divine status to laws and political movements.

I dont think its necessary to do that. Good ideas are good ideas that should be able to stand on their own merits. Attempts to put historical figures on either side of current arguments creates an unnecessary debate and moves the discussion away from original argument.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to G_j (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 02:12 PM

3. Make no mistake, Paine was not a fan of government.

Paine makes his attitude towards government quite clear in the very beginning of 'Common Sense':

SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

However, Paine wouldn't have much truck with the likes of Beck, Caine and the 'Tea Party'. Indeed, my opinion is that Paine's philosophy verges on anarchism, far and away from any current form of the Republican Party.

More importantly, having just finished reading Paine's 'The Age of Reason' -- what passes for the 'conservative' political faction in the U.S. today would probably try and have Paine locked-up in Gitmo for his atheistic and stridently anti-Bible arguments.

Paine was a radical and though he believed in private property rights ... but he was always poor, never 'successful' in a way that the 'Romney class' would have ever acknowledged as meaningful.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to earthside (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:28 PM

5. He was from a pre-industrial time when the Libertarian ideal made sense.

The same with Jefferson. Jefferson feared industrialization because he understood that an industrial society is incompatible with his Libertarian ideal.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to earthside (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:33 PM

6. Paine seems like he'd be closer to Chomsky's anarchism, than Paul's libertarianism.

One of Paine's works laid out the concept of social security, something most libertarians oppose.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to white_wolf (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:47 PM

7. I was thinking about that, too.

Paul and Rand have corrupted the meaning of 'libertarian'.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to white_wolf (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 29, 2012, 09:30 PM

8. certainly

I wholeheartly agree.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to G_j (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:25 PM

4. Send this to all the Teabaggers you know.

I am so sick of the RW nuts using him as their mascot.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread