By R R Fennessy
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Extra info for Burke, Paine, and the Rights of Man: A Difference of Political Opinion
8 He could, then, be equally sure that all his enemies were wicked men. This no doubt helps to explain another characteristic of the revolutionary which we find in Paine, and which ill accords with his professed humanitarianism: a streak of ruthlessness that becomes evident as soon as the revolutionary issue is joined. Those who are not for the revolution are against it; and those who are against the revolution are against the cause of mankind, and deserve no mercy. Thus in the second edition of Common Sense Paine is already denouncing those Americans who have not abandoned their loyalty to Britain and joined the revolution.
4 Mechanism Paine's conception of the separate individual coming from the hand of the Creator, complete in himself and equipped with inalienable rights, leads inevitably to a mechanistic theory of society. However, he does not, as might have been expected, propose the social contract as the explanation of the origin of society. Having, so to speak, established the existence of his separate, free, and equal individuals, he allows them to dnft into society by some unspecified process. Urged by a thousand motives, they accomplish the transition without any recorded difficulty or stipulation.
A Compact, by which the individuals already living in society set up a government, and upon which that government continues to depend. 1 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, XIII, 4. THOMAS PAINE 27 - Rights, considered as personal prerogatives attributed by the Creator to the pre-political individual, and retained under civil government. From these first principles Paine drew certain radical conclusions; First of all, society is nothing more than the sum total of the individuals that compose it. Whenever Paine speaks of society, he seems to refer only to the fact that men live in contact and communication with one another because they find it more convenient and profitable to do so; nowhere in his writings does he reveal any consciousness of the social whole.