Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thomas Paine

Finally! My wife found the missing book tonight, so now I can post some of Thomas Paine's quotes from The Rights Of Man... that is, in between the crippling coughs...

Paine wrote this book largely in response to another work, Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke. They are typically published as a single piece. Burke takes an ill view of the Frog's revolution while Paine ardently defends it. My own, very stunted, understanding of the French revolution has left me with the impression that it was a victory of unhalted humanism. It has been a great surprise to find out the details of this and to see it in an entirely new light.

Since this quote is a bit longer, I'll just post this one for the day:

It was not against Louis XVI, but against the despotic principles of the government, that the nation revolted. These principles had not their origin in him, but in the original establishment, many centuries back; and they were become too deeply rooted to be removed, and the Augean stable of parasites and plunderers too abominably filthy to be cleansed, by anything short of a complete and universal revolution.
When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it. That crisis was then arrived, and there remained no choice but to act with determined vigor, or not to act at all.

This one stuck out to me because he's basically saying the government was so broken, it was beyond repair and revolution was the only recourse. That gave me pause to consider our own circumstance! Have the parasites and plunderers so infected Washington that it is ill beyond all healing, or is it simply the most daunting task ever faced by our nation?

12 comments:

Percussivity said...

Well I'm not sure we are quite there just yet. While the idea of any real change happening does seem dauntingly remote I have to admit that the silent majority is coming out of its shell of late. We'll see what the rest of Obama's 1st term holds and whether there is a second. I have no more faith in the Republican Party to make a difference though so for me the only possible hope of a peaceful resolution is for a conservative mutiny which forces the nation into a three party system for a time while the true conservatives align themselves with a truly conservative party like the CP.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Now you all are getting "all wee wee'd up", whatever that means.

If our republic could withstand the four terms of FDR, who must have appeared to be a true, principled socialist at the time, and go on to see its highest glory and greatest powers after that, despite the baggage of his quadruple term, I'm not panicking about another liberal democrat in the White House. I wonder if you would have advocated the guillotine for FDR's cabinet? I rather prefer the imperfect but much less bloody turnover of power that we have now. The electorate moves between choosing liberty and choosing nanny statery in a cyclical ebb and flow...one could say that they still move in the long term in one direction, but if such is the wishes of the people, they have the right to the government they choose. How much better to let them deal with the weight of an oppressive government of their choosing than to act (as the liberal would-be-rulers do) as the superior that knows what is best for them and force (tyrannically) your idea of the best government upon an unwilling people.

Democracy (for all the imperfections of its American implementation) beats revolution handily. I would choose to live in a Scandinavian style Western Socialist nation over fierce bloodletting in the name of what some clever but not infallible guys put to paper in the late 18th century.

The Unabashed Blogger said...

I don't think we're there yet and honestly I don't we will be at the point of needing or being able to implement a successful revolution for quite some time (in the context of the French Revolution style that is).
If you look at the quote he says, basically, that it took centuries before a revolution was successful. How many will it take our nation's government to become so corrupt that our only solution is revolution? In order to need it we have to be able to look at our government and say that it is wholly corrupt without the chance of redemption. Many may say we are close now, but when considering the cost of a revolution I think there are other avenues to take; there must be.

Revolution as a whole may be a good idea when the vast majority of the people are in support of voting in a new form of government or at least a revised standard of government. Of course, here in the US, that would never happen. Too many influential politicians tell the citizen's what they should think and feel. Have you watched any of Obama's Town Hall Meetings? I've caught a glimpse of a couple. In one he stated that he has done things that needed to be done for the sake of our people. For instance he stated he cut spending here, increased spending there, and shut down programs there, etc. He states this all in a manner likened to telling his subordinates that "Green lights means go ya dummy". We have no idea of the ramifications of what he 'did' nor how it will actually affect us, the people. However 'his supporters don't care for the most part. They believe nigh to infallible and will take his word for it.
With influence like that it will be white awhile before 'the people' can clearly see the future of our current government.

It has taken me about an hour to type this due to a lot of interruptions so it may not be complete or make much sense. I'm not going to reread it either...

The Angry Coder said...

"it will be white awhile" That's quite a Freudian boo-boo!

To correct you on one point, he does not say it took centuries before a revolution was successful, but rather that the problem began developing long before the 'current' players were on the scene.

Neuf, you do a good job of answering the question "should there be a violent revolution in response to the Obama administration". That is somewhat different than the question actually posed, which was neither specific to the Obama administration nor to some course of action such as a violent revolution. Actually, that is nowhere near the question which was posed!

If the government is truly oppressive, is it really of 'the peoples' choosing? Those ideas or sort of mutually exclusive. Oppressive governments typically feature only one choice on their ballots.

Let me rephrase the initial question to interested commenters: is the Federal government repairable or need it be scrapped?

The Unabashed Blogger said...

"white awhile" told you I wasn't going to proof read. (fitting tho!)

Successful Revolution: Granted. The catalyst for revolution was lying 'dormant' for centuries. But if the problems were mounting for centuries (starting at #1, then #2, etc) then I would say that a revolution was on the minds of those for generations with out the ability to make a physical revolution. As the idea of a revolutionary change is spread and accepted, in the people there has been a revolutionary change of mind. That change wasn't able to be physically implemented until certain events fell into place.

I stand by my statement and say that it took them centuries to mount a successful revolution.


The Federal Government does not need to be scrapped, wholly. But maybe evolution is what we need.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Coder, my answer was framed by the context of the first comment, which did indeed bring the Barry administration into the discussion.

The Angry Coder said...

You do create much confusion! I had 'assumed' you were responding to the initial post. I guess your intended target would have been more clear to me had you spelled it out by addressing Percussivity directly. But nevertheless, even he was not advocating violence! I still think your comment was mostly tackling strawmen since the issue of violence was not the issue in any post here, but of "repairability". But I will concede that you may have construed violence was at least in part the topic, since I explained the context of Paine's comments were with regard to the French revolution. However use of violence was not part of my question or of Percussivity's response.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Violence is entirely inseperable from a discussion of the French Revolution!

However, if we are to constrain remarks to the one sentence in your post that ends in a question mark, let's mark the question clearly then:

"Have the parasites and plunderers so infected Washington that it is ill beyond all healing, or is it simply the most daunting task ever faced by our nation?"

Your question is confusing in that it leaves many things undefined. You are asking a simple possible/not possible question, is our government able to be "healed". In a detached sense, of course its possible, but the context implies you are actually asking if the government can be "healed" through peaceful and/or democratic means, and by healed you mean brought back to a form of government you are more pleased with and you consider superior than the present form. If it is not capable of being "healed" then the implication is that revolution, referenced throughout your post, is the only remedy, the reset button of insurrection, starting anew amidst the rubble and gravestones of a civil war.

But please feel free to clarify further!

The Angry Coder said...

So you're looking for a 'c- none of the above' option? That would be appropriate since the question is presumptive that there is a problem. My apologies for omitting that!

As far as the rest... you don't understand: you're confused.

"but the context implies you are actually asking if the government can be "healed" through peaceful and/or democratic "

No, it's simply (but presumptuously) asking 'can the system be fixed'. Violence or peace are not directly inferred in either event. Using the word 'healed' is congruent with the analogy of a parasitic infection and was not intended to imply 'peacefully', as the negative of that was not specifically intended to imply 'violently'.

If I were to graph my question...

Gina said...

I think you guys just like to argue. :P

Percussivity said...

Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, Help, I'm being repressed!!

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Bloody peasant!