Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Society is a Blessing, But Government is Evil - Paine

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Thomas Paine: Bicentennial of a Patriot
Posted on 08 June 2009
Editor’s Note: June 8, 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of a hero.
Thomas Paine was actively involved in both the American and French Revolutions and is best known for his major works Common Sense, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason.
But, Paine was more than just a pamphleteer for the cause of freedom. He was a serious political philosopher, as the following excerpt from The Rights of Man demonstrates.
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Society is a Blessing, But Government is Evil
by Thomas Paine
A great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It had its origin in the principles of society, and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has in man and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other create that great chain of connection which holds it together.
The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their laws; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything that is ascribed to government.
To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man it is necessary to attend to his character. As nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants acting upon every individual impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a center...

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