Read e-book online Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of PDF

By R R Fennessy

ISBN-10: 9401523878

ISBN-13: 9789401523875

ISBN-10: 9401536376

ISBN-13: 9789401536370

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Additional info for Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion

Sample text

When he condemns tyranny, injustice, war, violation of the rights of man, oppressive taxation, he always attributes them to the operations of monarchy, aristocracy, or some kind of illegitimate power: in other words, to a defect in the form of government. Hence to get rid of these abuses of power, it should be sufficient to set up the correct form of government: a republic. Once that has been done, he seems to think, everything will go smoothly and almost automatically. A well-constructed machine is bound to work.

4 As the original liberty of individuals is to be maintained as far as possible under government, so is their original equality. " 5 In the name of equality Paine firmly rejects any kind of hereditary governCommon Sense, The Writings, I, 75. , 7 0 • S Ibid. 4 See Paine's letters in Pennsylvania Packet, Dec. 1778; MENG, "The Constitutional Theories of Thomas Paine," 298-299. 5 Common Sense, The Writings, I, 70. " 1 He also rejects, on the same principle, all political qualifications based on wealth or property,2 and all religious discrimination.

No doubt that is what he hoped would happen in England: a republic would be brought into being by enlightened public opinion. Of course, if selfish rulers, privileged aristocrats, beneficed clergymen, placemen, pensioners, and all those who lived in luxury at public expense tried to prevent the change, so much the worse for them. A revolution might be necessary to get rid of them; but they had only themselves to blame. It was they were conspiring against mankind. They were the troublemakers. It must be granted that in this single-minded conviction of the righteousness of his own cause, Paine was a typical revolutionary; and he combined it with an equally typical inability to appreciate any point of view different from his own, or even to believe that those who opposed him were acting in good faith.

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Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion by R R Fennessy


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