sun 17 feb 2008 08:49:06 witte de withstraat
paine rosy re america, 1790
"... America. Made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There, the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged. Industry is not mortified by the splendid extravagance of a court rioting at its expense. Their taxes are few, because their government is just; and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults."
— Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
as i demand that everyone be an idealist anyway, i have to forgive paine for occasionally forgetting to take off his pink glasses. tom paine who drooled all that propaganda over the beauty of the french revolution, right up until its leaders threw him in jail. if what he says about america in 1790 sounds ironic because of what later came to pass, we should bear in mind that paine was *already* wrong when he said this. there were plenty of "riots and tumults" in america in his day. maybe paine just wasn't aware of it. or chose not to be.
hey, don't get me wrong. you know i love thomas paine. in general i appreciate idealists more than self-described realists.
but sometimes my own idealism makes me sound unsympathetic to my best friends. more on that later.