Tag Archives: john adams

Consider Thomas Paine – my two cents

I am working on an ethics paradigm right now – while continuing to deliver tech. I’m sort of following my man Malcolm’s lead: “The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then you’ll get action.”  When asked by the Village Voice, “Wake them up to their exploitation?”, he clarified, “No, to their humanity, to their own worth, and to their heritage.”  He later added, “We have got to get over the brainwashing we had.”

I am agnostic at the moment as to whether there is even a need to worry about organization or governance in the future. It seems a lot of bright minds think differently.  While I won’t be participating in that debate, I do have two cents to offer to those  engaging.

The First non-plantation-owning President of the United States, John Adams, said: “Without Thomas Paine, there is no American Revolution.”

The President who abolished slavery and united a hopelessly divided nation, Abraham Lincoln, said: “I never tire of reading old Tom Paine.”

If America had not been created, and liberated through the Second revolution of the mid 1800s, would Scientology have ever been discovered?

I think it makes sense for all those engaged in considering concepts of organization or governance to do some study of the real architect of many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

In particular I highly recommend, The Age of Reason, Common Sense, and The Rights of Man – all by Thomas Paine. Here is a Paine quote  to whet your intellectual appetites:

To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As Nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre.

“But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into society by a diversity of wants which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

“If we examine with attention into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover, that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.

“Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that everything which government can usefully add thereto, has been performed by the common consent of society, without government.

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American War, and to a longer period in several of the American States, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet during this interval order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource, to accomodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act: a general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

“So far is it from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, that it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter closer together.  All that part of its organisation which it had committed to its government, devolves again upon itself, and acts through its medium. When men, as well from natural instinct as from reciprocal benefits, have habituated themselves to social and civilised life, there is always enough of its principles in practice to carry through any changes they find necessary or convenient to make in their government. In short, man is so naturally a creature of society that it is almost impossible to put him out of it.”

– from Chapter One, The Rights Of Man