Read Rights of Man (Great Books in Philosophy) by Thomas Paine Free Online
Book Title: Rights of Man (Great Books in Philosophy)|
The author of the book: Thomas Paine
Date of issue: February 1st 1987
ISBN 13: 9780879753795
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.22 MB
Edition: Prometheus Books
Read full description of the books Rights of Man (Great Books in Philosophy):In an age of brilliant political writers, Paine, a naturalized American citizen and inspired propagandist for the American Revolutionary cause, represents perhaps the era’s most radical and unfiltered ideological voice. Written in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution and the somewhat removed aftermath of the American, “The Rights of Man”, published in two parts (1791 and 1792) is one of Thomas Paine’s most influential treatises on the nature and form of just government. In it, Paine articulates the then-revolutionary view that government’s purpose was to serve the will of the people and, to the extent that it didn’t, the people had the right to rebel against it.
Despite having been written in the 18th century, the form and language of “The Rights of Man” is clear and comprehensible to modern readers. As has been commented elsewhere, owing to the fact Paine wrote the book in haste, he occasionally wanders; starting with one point, only to meander off on fascinating yet incongruous tangents. Notwithstanding this, Paine’s arguments are clear, eloquent and utterly compelling and the tangents, while sometimes odd, inevitably contribute to strengthening the force of the whole.
For those inclined to cite the “Founding Fathers” in support of whatever particular view they happen to espouse, Paine’s ideological purity makes him an interesting touchstone. Having never held public office himself, Paine was an ideologue whose views were untempered by the necessity of compromise. As a result, his ideas represent the embodiment of radical Enlightenment theory regarding a new form government that rejected hereditary monarchy in favor of representative democracy.
While Paine serves up some tasty out-of-context sound bites for the tri-cornered hat crowd, there is actually little comfort for neoconservative ideas in a thoughtful reading of his work. Yes, he railed against government and taxes, but what is often lost when summoning him as an authority on modern liberty is the context in which he expressed his views. By “government”, Paine meant a hereditary monarchy and an attending court of aristocrats whose power originated from the Norman Conquest and perpetuated itself in succeeding generations by fraud, force, oppression and patronage. His objection to “government” was not that they exist, but that, except for in America and France, the “governments” of Europe were illegitimate in that they were not of and subject to the will of the people. His objection to taxes was not necessarily that they be levied, but rather, in who they were levied against and in how they were used. In Paine’s time taxes were nothing more than a conduit through which money was taken from the poor and siphoned into the pockets of the rich. Certainly shocking for anyone inclined to adorn their arguments with the presumed conservative aura of “the Founders”, Paine advocated, in addition to the establishment of representative democracy for progressive taxes, cutting military spending and (get this) using the money educate the poor, provide public housing, provide support for the indigent, provide universal employment in urban centers and care for the aged. In short, “When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am the friend of its happiness: when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government.”
If one didn’t know better, one might suspect the man had been born in Kenya.
Read information about the authorThomas Paine was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."
Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel. In 1792, despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.
In December 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlet The Age of Reason (1793–94), in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and freethinking, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.
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