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Additional resources for Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion
If men had sufficient virtue to live together in peace and justice while pursuing the advantages of society, government would not be necessary at all. Paine concluded from this that there ought to be as little government as possible; the advantages of society do not come from laws and regulations, but from the naturally fruitful cooperation of individuals; therefore the less interference from rulers the better. 4 As the original liberty of individuals is to be maintained as far as possible under government, so is their original equality.
3 In any case, he never seriously considered the inherent problems of democratic government. What he was really interested in throughout his whole life was exposing, denouncing, and overthrowing despotisms, that is, governments not constituted according to his own theory. When he condemns tyranny, injustice, war, violation of the rights of man, oppressive taxation, he always attributes them to the operations of monarchy, aristocracy, or some kind of illegitimate power: in other words, to a defect in the form of government.
THOMAS PAINE 43 doubtedly see the reasonableness of paying the charges: while those who oppose or seek to betray it, must expect the more rigid fate of the jail and the gibbet. 1 In justice to Paine it must be said that this ruthlessness onlyappeared in times of crisis, when he believed his principles to be at stake. It was a sort of cold, abstract fury, born of his devotion to his ideas, and his inability to understand any others. In private life, Paine could be kind and generous to his political enemies.
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