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Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199538003
ISBN-10: 019953800X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'OUP's excellent series continues with a collection from the Christopher Hitchens de ses jours.' Guardian

About the Author

Author of Paine in Past Masters, Mark Philp is Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Oriel College, Oxford.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019953800X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199538003
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.1 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Paine is a radical democrat in the sense of someone who supports universal suffrage, the equality of all people, the leveling out of special privilege, the well-being of all people in a nation, fair and progressive taxation, lowering of taxes, the health of business and the economy, the preservation of natural and civic rights, and the assertion that the sovereignty and authority of government arises from the people. He not only supports these values but he also argues quantitatively as well as politically how they can be achieved simultaneously. Such positions are "radical" because they are opposed by many of those who rule so-called democratic governments, a fact as true today as it was in the Eighteenth Century. Most democratic governments are in need of reform because, as Paine puts it, "The man who is in the receipt of a million a year is the last person to promote a spirit of reform, in the event, it should reach to himself." (p. 257) Then as now most governments are run by millionaires. But Paine could diagnose what a good government would look like: "When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend; because I am the friend of its happiness: when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government." (p. 317) And his argument in "Rights of Man" was that England could not so boast. He hoped that America (and France) by contrast could and would continue to do so. But Paine was opposed and ridiculed by more than one of our "founding fathers", including John Adams.Read more ›
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Democracy, independence, economic growth, people's revolution and taxation as a means of redistributing wealth — all these are commonly accepted by 'the left' and it is interesting to read the thoughts of an Cl8th radical and see how these ideas were being thought afresh.

The Quaker belief in egalitarianism, in man who does not need priests to mediate and who has the inner light of conscience contribute to his thought.

That he wasn't formerly educated means he can think freely without the crippling weight of tradition behind him. His writings are original and do not cite large bibliographies and think the thoughts of other men after them. ‘I scarcely ever quote; the reason is I always think.'

His analytical treatment of political affairs shows indebtedness to an Enlightenment view of the natural order of the world. It anticipates a Hegelian view of history and Marx's class—war idea.

It is encouraging that he accepts, unlike most socialists, the right to have private property, provided that it has been gained by one's own labour and not inherited.

His acceptance of war as a means to gain justice for the poor but not as a means of dynastic extension anticipates much later thinking; he is strongly influenced by the French and American Revolutions.

Marx is clearly anticipated when Paine regards work as the one thing that the peasant is able to sell as a commodity.

Interestingly, those who oppose Paine are from the same classes as those who vote Tory today — the merchants and manufacturers whose rights are threatened, rind those who believe in a mystical church—state relationship.

Parliament must represent taxpayers and not be hereditary; a man does not inherit ability from his father.
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Incredible work! Still relevant in the 21st century!
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By Moe on January 7, 2016
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very helpful for kids in college
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I was not taught anything in school about this great man. He was very much ahead of his time on slavery, poverty, all the rights of mankind.

Read his writings and appreciate a true patriot.
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