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Paine and Pleasure

April 19, 2010

I got a kick out of this post by Prof. Rick Hills regarding the conceptual confusion of the tea party. He argues, basically, that members of the growing conservative backlash need to find the correct historical icons. To wit:

Take, for instance, Glenn Beck’s effort to appropriate Thomas Paine as the inspiration for Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government. I assume that Beck’s beliefs are roughly libertarian, pro-“Christian” in some sense, and generally anti-redistributivist. Paine, by contrast, was (1) a tax-and-spend liberal who (for instance) wrote six pamphlets defending the proposed national 5% impost against its small-government attackers in Rhodes Island; (2) an egalitarian who called for redistribution of land in his pamphlet, Agrarian Justice; (3) a Deist who ridiculed the Bible as a pack of socially destructive lies in The Age of Reason; (4) a self-proclaimed centralizer who teamed up with Pennsylvania Federalists like Robert and Gouvernour Morris to press for a powerful and consolidated national government; and (5) a citizen of the world who participated in the French Revolution and called on America to receive the fugitive from abroad (to the irritation of John Adams who denounced “the disciples of Thomas Paine” to John Marshall as European intellectual riff-raff — “a company of schoolmasters, painters, and poets” — more undesirable as immigrants than Caliban and Ariel “with a troop of spirits the most mischievous from fairy land”).

Yes. Exactly. Thank you.

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One comment

  1. Thomas Paine narrowly escaped the guillotine in revolutionary France, thus pointing out that it’s one thing to burn down s—house, and another to install plumbing.



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