American Roots part one: Common Sense by Thomas Payne.
I want to start an educational series of sorts which focus on the foundations of our nation and what make it great. For those who might think it involves some fundamental insertion of government into our lives, you would be wrong.
In fact each and every time government has asserted its self as the absolute answer to our problems it failed us. Whether it be Johnson’s “Great Society” or Jimmy Carter trying to institute price controls on oil in the seventies. Even FDR’s New Deal worked only to a limited fashion.
In any event, I would like to focus today’s reading on “Common Sense” by Thomas Payne.
It was a pamphlet who set the colonies ablaze and gave the Continential Army a moral shot in the arm during their darkest days. It is also a work which is still relevent today and some how is being ignored by many educational institutions.
To be sure, Payne explains the role of government in American pyschie for the past two centuries.
Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
To be sure, contrary to what Obama stated during the campaign last year, government in our society was never “cool. Americans always saw government as an impedement to our society and embraced its increase begrudingly.
Has our society changed? Does it now embrace euro-socialism and neomarxism which flies in the face our of principles? I dont know.
What I do know is that rereading Common Sense at this time in our history is both refreshing and reinvigorating to understand were we as a nation came from.