Read Rights of Man by Thomas Paine Online


One of Paine's greatest and most widely read works, considered a classic statement of faith in democracy and egalitarianism, defends the early events of the French Revolution, supports social security for workers, public employment for those in need of work, abolition of laws limiting wages, and other social reforms....

Title : Rights of Man
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ISBN : 9780543954619
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 229 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Rights of Man Reviews

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2019-01-29 19:49

    Under what circumstances is political revolution permissible? What should the people do when a government no longer safeguards the rights of all classes? I look at the turmoil that is going on in America right now and wish that our elected officials would read this book; perhaps this old ideological 'midwife' could help our country now - as it labors to give birth to our future.

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-02-06 03:36

    “The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” The ruling governments have no special rights; they have no privileges and they have no entitlements. At least, they ought not to have according to Paine. For him the government exists to serve; it has a duty to its nation the same way a solider or a peacekeeper may have. And if they break that duty, if they become corrupt, then it is our moral right to call for revolution.“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”-"Liberty Leading the People" by Eugène Delacroix, 1830Revolution is permissible then if the government does not protect the natural rights of man, rights of liberty and society. Why should we exist under the thumb of another man? Paine speaks openly about revolution and argues that the French revolution was an attack against the monarchy as a construct not an attack on the French King specifically. It was politically driven and when the Bastille was taken, it was a supposed symbolic end of an age of imprisonment. The bars of the prison were opened and liberty began, at least, in theory. Paine was part of a large liberal wave that poured through the west at this time. He despised the idiotic Burke and his Reflections of a Revolution in France. In contrast to Burke’s conservatism, Paine argue that each new generation has the right to choose how they will be governed. Just because our ancestors agreed to something, it doesn’t mean that the people of the present are beholden to it. His arguments are sound and his intentions benevolent, though I would love no know what he thought of the aftermath of the French Revolution. The dreams of liberty were truly shattered. The only real limiting factor of this work is its complete lack of rhetoric and persuasive devices. Paine was not a very creative writer; he gives you his ideas but he certainly doesn’t sell them to you.

  • Robert Owen
    2019-02-01 19:53

    In an age of brilliant political writers, Paine, a naturalized American citizen and inspired propagandist for the American Revolutionary cause, represents perhaps the era’s most radical and unfiltered ideological voice. Written in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution and the somewhat removed aftermath of the American, “The Rights of Man”, published in two parts (1791 and 1792) is one of Thomas Paine’s most influential treatises on the nature and form of just government. In it, Paine articulates the then-revolutionary view that government’s purpose was to serve the will of the people and, to the extent that it didn’t, the people had the right to rebel against it. Despite having been written in the 18th century, the form and language of “The Rights of Man” is clear and comprehensible to modern readers. As has been commented elsewhere, owing to the fact Paine wrote the book in haste, he occasionally wanders; starting with one point, only to meander off on fascinating yet incongruous tangents. Notwithstanding this, Paine’s arguments are clear, eloquent and utterly compelling and the tangents, while sometimes odd, inevitably contribute to strengthening the force of the whole. For those inclined to cite the “Founding Fathers” in support of whatever particular view they happen to espouse, Paine’s ideological purity makes him an interesting touchstone. Having never held public office himself, Paine was an ideologue whose views were untempered by the necessity of compromise. As a result, his ideas represent the embodiment of radical Enlightenment theory regarding a new form government that rejected hereditary monarchy in favor of representative democracy. While Paine serves up some tasty out-of-context sound bites for the tri-cornered hat crowd, there is actually little comfort for neoconservative ideas in a thoughtful reading of his work. Yes, he railed against government and taxes, but what is often lost when summoning him as an authority on modern liberty is the context in which he expressed his views. By “government”, Paine meant a hereditary monarchy and an attending court of aristocrats whose power originated from the Norman Conquest and perpetuated itself in succeeding generations by fraud, force, oppression and patronage. His objection to “government” was not that they exist, but that, except for in America and France, the “governments” of Europe were illegitimate in that they were not of and subject to the will of the people. His objection to taxes was not necessarily that they be levied, but rather, in who they were levied against and in how they were used. In Paine’s time taxes were nothing more than a conduit through which money was taken from the poor and siphoned into the pockets of the rich. Certainly shocking for anyone inclined to adorn their arguments with the presumed conservative aura of “the Founders”, Paine advocated, in addition to the establishment of representative democracy for progressive taxes, cutting military spending and (get this) using the money educate the poor, provide public housing, provide support for the indigent, provide universal employment in urban centers and care for the aged. In short, “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.” If one didn’t know better, one might suspect the man had been born in Kenya.

  • Dannii Elle
    2019-02-08 22:45

    Paine’s political manifesto details how governments and hierarchies are, in his opinion, corrupt, as they rely on the power of a few rather than of everyone equally. He devises a plan where the elite few, who often gain power through birth rights, to have their control abolished and a democratic, representative and equal community created in its place, where every person has an equal say and an equal part in the running of the community. Power to all or power to none!The latter part of this reformist agenda includes particulars concerning liberal taxation and the redistribution of wealth, much of which still holds political interest and relevance today.Radical and revolutionary, this has serious weight behind its arguments and yet it is in actuality no more than a retort to the alternative philosophy of the French Revolution as proposed by British politician Edmund Burke. For that reason, this is brilliant and yet flawed.The prose, in respect to language alone, is understandable, more so than the political and philosophical tags would have had me think, and yet the central message was buried under argument and criticism that muddied my understanding in some areas. It is answering questions raised in Burke’s writing in a disjointed fashion that leaves me turning to Google for further understanding in more than one area. I felt that this was delivered in a somewhat confusing manner, leading my attention to stray numerous times and me to skim some areas in the latter parts of this. The central message is of great interest and importance, and yet the delivery is lacking for me.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-01-22 19:48

    Thomas Paine is one of those writers who seemed to have been dropped by a deist God 200 years before the world was really ready for him. His energy, honesty and political bravery was intense. By his voice alone he helped to transform the West. Common Sense, the Rights of Man, and finally the Age of Reason have all thrown the political and social gauntlet down and caused people to either cheer him (Common Sense) or hiss his name (Age of Reason). The Rights of Man was visionary in its call for intellectual republicanism and social justice. Paine was and is a prophetic voice for individual freedom and moral equality. He is my favorite founder to quote whenever I find myself in a debate where someone wants to lump the 'Founders' together in some giant Libertarian Christianity pudding. He was a true radical and a true American.

  • Sean Chick
    2019-02-08 02:31

    Flawed but vastly superior to Burke. Paine relies more upon the argument that man has rights, than any form of historical tradition. Paine was right in that there is no “political Adam” from which all laws derive. People have a right to revolution, because government is a construct of man, not an organic system ordained by god and the dead hand of tradition. Also, the unity of man is an absolute and based upon natural rights, while nobles hold their position through coercion and war. He correctly sees that peace in Europe will come with democracy, and that the French Revolution is both a continuation of the American Revolution and the dawn of something greater. Those are just my scattered thoughts on this remarkable book.

  • Ben Lever
    2019-01-23 01:41

    This books has patches of brilliance buried in amongst many pages of Paine picking a fight with Edmund Burke. This is somewhat typical of "classics" of political theory like this - they were designed only as pamphlets to deal with the issues of the day, and were not meant to be timeless.While there is indeed timeless wisdom in here, a modern reader must sift through a lot of dirt to get to it - hence the two-star rating

  • Mohamed al-Jamri
    2019-01-18 00:29

    هذا الكتاب هو عبارة عن رد توماس بين على كتاب إدمند بورك الذي انتقد فيه الثورة الفرنسية. من خلال كتاب هتشنز حول توماس بين فقد فهمت السياق الذي صدر فيه هذا الكتابنشر هذا الكتاب في دفعتين في العام ١٧٩١ و١٧٩٢ وقد تم عرض كاتبه للمحاكمة في بريطانيا حيث وجهت له تهمة التحريض على العصيان وهي حينها تهمة خطيرة جدًا في بريطانيا ويعاقب عليها بالإعدام أو الحبس الموبد. طبعًا في العالم العربي لا تزال هذه التهمة توجه لمن ينتقد الحكومات ويدعو للإصلاح الحقيقي والجذري. لحسن حظ بين فقد تمكن من الهرب من بريطانيا قبل محاكمته ولكنه لم يعد لها بعد ذلك حيث تم الحكم عليه غيابيًا بالإعدام. كتب هذا الكتاب على عجالة ولذلك فإن ترتيب المواضيع فيه لم يتم بصورة منهجية.يجعلك الكتاب تعيش ذلك العصر الذي كان بداية تهاوي الأنظمة الملكية التي تستمد حقها في الحكم من السلطة الدينية وبالتالي بداية ظهور الأنظمة الجمهورية وحكم الشعب. فتعرف الأفكار والحجج التي يطرحها كل طرف. هذه الأحداث حدث في أوروبا قبل أكثر من قرنين ولكن ارتباطها بمنطقتنا واضح.فما هي أهم محتويات هذا الكتاب الذي دفع المحكمة لاصدار هذا الحكم القاسي؟يرفض بين التفويض المطلق والأبدي الذي يذكره بورك، حيث أنه وبعد ثورة ١٦٨٨ اتفق البرلمان مع الملك على تقاسم معين للسلطة. يقول بين أن هذا الاتفاق هو من صنع جيل عاش في الماضي وأن من حق الجيل الحالي رفضه، فالحكومة هي للأحياء وليست للأموات. يؤكد بين أن المشكلة ليست في شخصية الملك، بل في طبيعة النظام الوراثي الذي يؤدي للطغيان والظلم. فالمشكلة في المبادئ وليست في الأشخاص.يذكر لنا بين أيضًا تاريخ مختصر للثورة الفرنسية وخلفياتها السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية من وجهة نظر من عاشوها في تلك الفترة وهي الفترة الوردية من الثورة قبل أن يسيطر حزب اليعقوبيين على السلطة ويبدؤو زمن الإرهاب. لذلك فإن نظرة بين إيجابية جدًا للثورة وهو يرى الإماكنيات الكبيرة التي يمكن لها أن تحققها ويدخل في تحليل لطبيعة الثورات والقائمين عليها. يلاحظ هنا ابتعاد الكاتب عن توجيه أي لوم لملك فرنسا واقتصار ذلك على وزرائه ومستشاريه. إن هذا شبيه جدًا بأحداث ٢٠١١ التي عاصرتها في البحرين حيث أن الأمل بالتغيير كان كبيرًا جدًا في الأيام الأولى للثورة.يطرح بين كذلك نظريته السياسية فيقول أن الفرد وجد قبل الدولة وأن المجتمعات يمكن أن تبنى على ثلاثة مبادئ، الأول هو الخرافة والذي يتجلى في سيطرة وحكم رجال الدين، الثاني هو القوة والذي يتجلى في حكم الفاتحين والغزاة أما الثالث فهو المصلحة المشتركة للمجتمع وحقوق الإنسان والذي يتجلى في حكم العقل. ففي هذا الثالث تتكون الحكومة من اتفاق بين الأفراد.يدخل بين في مقارنات كثيرة بين النظامين البريطاني والفرنسي، فيطرح موضوع الدستور والنظام الانتخابي وقرار السلم والحرب والنظام الضريبي وتنظيم شؤون الدين والسيادة وغيرها من الأمور التي كانت مطروحة للنقاش في ذلك العصر.أكثر ما أعجبني في الكتاب هو الجو الذي جعلني أعيشه حيث أحسست بروح ذلك العصر الذي زلزل عروش الطغيان في أوروبا وسمح بظهور الأنظمة الديموقراطية. لقد أيقظ لدي ذكريات جميلة جدًا أحسست فيها بهواء الحرية. أنصح بهذا الكتاب لمن يريد التعرف على أبرز النقاط الخلافية بين المصلحين الثوريين وبين أتباع السلطة المحافظين وهي نقاط لا زال كثير منها يتكرر اليوم.

  • Kate Woods Walker
    2019-01-31 23:32

    A pleasure to read beginning to end, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine is the third book in a discussion series in which I am currently participating, and for the life of me I can't figure out why this masterpiece of history, philosophy, politics and statecraft was not the lead-off book in the series. Not only does the clear-thinking Paine lay out with understatement and restraint winning arguments against the ridiculous Edmund Burke and his Reflections on the Revolution in France, but in the first section provides an understandable narrative of the history of events leading to the French Revolution and proves himself quite the capable journalist to boot. I'd trust Paine's account any day over that of the supposed "objective" historian Christopher Hibbert, who wrote The Days of the French Revolution, the first book in the series.And of course, this book reprints The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens by the National Assembly of France, something one would think would be a centerpiece in any serious work about the French Revolution.I often found myself, in reading Part One, stopping to put down the book and raise my hand in salute to Mr. Paine, who decimated the monarchist arguments of the conservative Mr. Burke. Then in Part Two, I found myself stopping to put down the book and marvelat the forward-thinking economic ideas of our rabble-rousing Founding Father. Burke gets all the credit for precognition for a brief passage that foretells the rise of a military dictator in France, but it seems Paine was recommending measures that sound an awful lot like Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a progressive tax system well before the turn of the 19th Century.Everyone should read this book. A good dose of Rights of Man would do much to temper the current hard-hearted anti-tax fervor of supposed "patriots" and remind supposed "Christians" that this freethinking revolutionary never lost his compassion for the aged, infirm and poor. I wonder what would happen if people substituted references to "monarch" with "corporation."

  • John Doyle
    2019-02-14 22:27

    The Rights of Man is a political masterwork that lays bare the bankruptcy of governments and political systems that derive their authority from any other source than the People. In his time, Paine was specifically eviscerating monarchies (i.e. 18th century Britain) that established themselves through military conquest and then claimed legitimacy over generations based on biology. By contrast, the revolutions in America and France had established the primacy of the nation (i.e. the People) to define a country and establish rules to govern it based on the choices of citizens over time. Reflecting more than 200 years after Paine wrote this book I think much of our Country's political history and its foreseeable future is about whether and when the fundamental rights of "man" will apply to all of us equally regardless of race, wealth, gender, etc etc.

  • Nandini Goel
    2019-01-28 23:35

    “Rights of Man by Thomas Paine” is an excellent piece of work where Paine focuses on the flaws and ascendancies of one type of government over the other. In the first part, Paine discusses about the various rights of man where he says that men are all of one degree and consequently all men are born equal with equal natural right and every child born into the world must be considered as deriving its existence from god.After that Paine put forwards his inputs by condemning Mr Burke with whose writings he completely disagree. He calls his writings more of a kind of Shakespearean Drama than of truth, which is a necessity of historical works.Paine supports the American Revolution and the French Revolution and praises America by describing it as a country being governed peacefully even after having an amalgamation of religions, customs, languages etc. This also gives brief introduction of Paine's understanding towards society in general. How he visions Bourgeois to be part of his politics and governance.He believes that as long as there will be an abuse of monarchy, such revolutions will persist in the future. He condemns hereditary monarchical system of government and says that it is like putting an idiot on the throne with no qualifications. He says that even if Homer or Euclid had sons, they would not have been able to finish their fathers’ incomplete work as sons are not equally capable as their fathers.He then shares how a leader becomes a leader. He describes three ways through which a leader comes to power. Firstly, superstition, Secondly, power and thirdly, by upholding the common rights of the man. In the first case like an oracle makes a prophecy and people follow it, so as long as this kind of superstition exists, people will accept the leader. In the second case, till the time, the king is able to keep control of the territory, he will be the king. In the third case, however, till the time the leader is able to uphold the common rights of man, the leader shall maintain as the ruler.( Which is an interesting explanation **smile**)Paine describes government as a national association and meant only and only for the welfare of the people. When the government is unable to do so, the people revolt. Then Paine discusses an instance when there was an abuse of government. In France, a government had been developed but only the people who pay tax of more than sixty sous per annum were allowed to vote or elect their leaders. So, in an area consisting of thirty thousand people, only two people voted. After that, Thomas Paine discusses the importance of constitution. He describes constitution as an antecedent for the government. He discusses that the constitution should consist of values that uphold the rights of the man. Also, he describes that constitution is valid only till the time it is enforced. He says that the government shall follow what is laid down in the constitution and the people and the people only have the right to amend it, not those who exercise power in the government. He describes the government only as a creature of the constitution. Best RegardsNandini

  • Toni Daugherty
    2019-01-17 20:27

    I'm re-reading this book in light of the current administration. I'm confident that Pres. Bush played "hookie" the week his college class read & discussed this book.everyone interested in politics & mankind should give this a go!

  • Jeff
    2019-02-18 02:34

    Written in response to Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the French Revolution," Paine obliterates the ideology of monarchical government. I probably should have read Burke's piece first to get a better understanding of Paine's counter-arguments, but this still provides a solid philosophical analysis of the role of government and the origin of sovereignty. He even goes to the length that countries start wars to increase their coffers from taxes, an interesting position I had not considered before. Paine unfortunately did not have the benefit of hindsight to see the horrors of the French Revolution before writing this piece, but I suppose a new country and constitution throwing off monarchical servitude and based on an American model would be exhilarating. Even if you do not believe in "natural rights," this pamphlet breaks down the major arguments for natural rights advocates in a simple and succinct way. Not quite as good as "Common Sense" in my opinion, but a pamphlet nonetheless that should be read by any freedom loving citizen. My favorite quotes:"Wrongs cannot have a legal descent.""Government is arbitrary.""The Government should reform the system, not reform the people.""'A' cannot take away from 'B' to give to 'C'.""What started as 'plunder' assumed the softer name of 'revenue.'"

  • Sidharth
    2019-02-06 21:36

    A great polemic on the inherent rights of human beings, and the difference between a nation and government. Besides being a very enlightening little book that clearly explains much of the philosophical basis of the United States, Paine's witty attacks on Edmund Burke's defense of British and French aristocracy make it an entertaining read as well. It is, of course, slightly chilling in retrospect to read Paine's endless praises of the French Revolution, knowing now that in just a few years it would all be undone by Napoleon. Not to mention the many more years of horror that Europe would have to endure before the Spring he envisioned would come to be.

  • Dewey
    2019-01-29 21:52

    3.5 starsWhen I did a political compass test once, they showed my results in contrast to a bunch of famous people and political thinkers. And my results came up very close to Thomas Paine. Not having read him before, I was curious and decided to find out whether this close overlap was really as close as the compass results made them. The answer to that question, as I discovered here, is: sort of. Paine´s views on religion aren´t so different to mine (not discussed in this book though) but while I believe that I would have been for the French Revolution in that era (for this is what the book is primarily about) I don´t know that I would be such a revolutionary nutjob, especially because I don´t exactly have a problem with monarchy in its current constitutional form (current in Europe, anyway). Rights of Man is fascinating in that it preserves the Enlightenment era enthusiasm people like Paine had for the changes brought about by the American Revolution and the subsequent French one. Reading such optimistic writings feel rather out of place today when pessimism about democracy is at an all time high, not the least in the place where it has worked best, the United States. Paine would not recognize the nation today that he so enthusiastically supported in the late 18th century. That being said, Rights of Man is a great book for anybody interested in political science. I particularly liked his chapter about constitutions, about the essential difference having a constitution makes. His insight on the ability of a government to reform is also very intelligent and thought out. For somebody so caught up in revolutionary fervor, it is remarkable that it did not affect Paine´s ability to use his mind in a rational way. (at least not much) The star is mostly taken away because of his style. A reactionary type of person is not expected, after all, to take eternity into consideration when writing about something. Either way, irrespective of how aligned my views actually are with Paine´s I wouldn´t mind reading some of his other works like Common Sense or Age of Reason.

  • Ben
    2019-01-29 22:25

    This work, broken into two parts, contains Thomas Paine's defense of the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's criticism of it in "Reflections on the Revolution in France." The first part is as fierce as Paine's polemic against General Howe in "The American Crisis." Paine's logic and reasoning are well-structured and supported even if his critique is perhaps incendiary in nature. The first part, addressed to President Washington, is much more enjoyable a read than the second half, which is addressed to the Marquis de La Fayette. The second part is equally well-reasoned and supported, but less incendiary, and in this sense less of a page turner (insomuch as a historical work such as this can be a "page turner"). As a whole, the work provides a justification for revolution when a government fails to protect the natural rights of its citizens, and includes much relevant discussion and historical analysis of the events leading up to the Revolution in France, with some discussion of the Revolution in America and a comparison of these struggles of the people to the government in Britain. As always, Tom Paine fulminates against the idea of hereditary monarchy and aristocracy, a "silly" idea to him. His writings provide a message of hope that governments are the product of man and are subject to change when citizens are no longer kept ignorant, when they reason and discover truth. Once truth is tasted, Paine says, there is no going back into the darkness of ignorance: "The mind, in discovering truth, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object is seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was in before it saw it." And, characteristic of this Age of Enlightenment and Reason (the end of part two also sets the stage for his next major work, "The Age of Reason"), Paine writes at the end of Part 1, "From what we now see, nothing of reform in the political world ought to be held improbable. It is an age of Revolutions, in which everything may be looked for." At the end of Part 2, he adds, rather poetically: It is now towards the middle of February. Were I to take a turn into the country the trees would present a leafless winterly appearance. As people are apt to pluck twigs as they walk along, I perhaps might do the same, and by chance might observe that a single bud on that twig had begun to swell. I should reason very unnaturally, or rather not reason at all, to suppose this was the only bud in England which had this appearance. Instead of deciding thus, I should instantly conclude that the same appearance was beginning, or about to begin, everywhere; and though the vegetable sleep will continue longer on some trees and plants than on others, and though some of them may not blossom for two or three years, all will be in leaf in the summer, except those which are rotten. What pace the political summer may keep with the natural, no human foresight can determine. It is, however, not difficult to perceive that the spring is begun.A sense of hope that what is does not always have to be and that when pursuing a good, common goal that change for the better is possible in terms of the governance of man.

  • Katie Lynn
    2019-02-17 19:37

    Definitely not my favorite of Thomas Paine's works. Second half is better than the first, so stick with it."But with respect to religion itself, without regard to names, and as directing itself from the universal family of mankind to the divine object of adoration, it is man bringing to his maker the fruits of his heart; and though these fruits may differ from each other like the fruits of the earth, the grateful tribute of everyone is accepted.""It is the faculty of the human mind to become what it contemplates, and to act in unison with its object.""Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.""The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has in man, and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together.""There exists in man a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition,to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.""Government is not a trade which any man or body of men has a right to set up and exercise for his own emolument, but is altogether a trust, in right of those by whom that trust is delegated, and by whom it is always resumable. It has of itself no rights; they are altogether duties."

  • RPrasad
    2019-01-22 03:44

    Written as a response to Burke's hate spewing work "reflections on the revolution in France" this remains the go-to piece on how to set up governments and what they should seek to accomplish. Arguing beyond doubt the immediate necessity of the establishment of the republic in France it seeks to firmly establish once and for all that a republic is the only just form of government and monarchies but a charade where often the king is not qualified to even be a constable (his words). While many arguments are obvious today, some of these issues remain relevant today as some people still argue for "strong"/autocratic governments, with China being the prominent example. It is not a very easy read especially if Burke's work is not visited a priori, still the many memorable quotes and the august humanity of the author should guide the reader through a "reader's block". A seminal, if not the most important, work on the origins of modern democracy as it should be followed as opposed to how they are actually set up today, from a man who was involved/present in both the American and French revolutions but was born English.It is interesting also to note that Paine argues for low taxes, anticipates and justifies welfare measures, and advocates peace making- what we would today consider a mixture of Left and Right sentiment (the division incidentally being born off the French Revolution), but one you would be hard pressed to argue against. He also demonstrates detailed fiscal calculations to show that this is plausible, but that governments always look to extend their power and revenue by war mongering.

  • Iain
    2019-01-18 00:48

    Thomas Paine was a prodigious and unrepentant nail in the coffin of the age of kings and queens. Considered the 'Father of the American Revolution" with his pro-independence pamphlet Common Sense and later adopting the name of his revolutionary writing as his pen name, in the American Crisis, sums up his key weapon against monarchical despotism and that was his common sense. In 'The Rights of Man' Paine furthers his loathing of any system that oppresses and enslaves the poor with the majority of burdens in society by leaders whom have no accountability to the ruled masses. In seeing, first the American then the French revolutions in 1776 and 1789 he undoubtedly felt that the momentum of history was on his side and he wrote with confidence but perhaps too far ahead of the curve. The English, understandably, put him on trial for sedition, the French, in the chaos that followed the publication of 'The Rights of Man' almost succeeded in beheading him in Paris and finally the Americans of whom he had inspired an entire generation of revolutionaries, shunned him due to his common sense in matters of religion. An appropriate epitaph can be found in 'The Rights of Man' for Thomas Paine, in his own words; “Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” An enlightened read!

  • Leo
    2019-02-03 22:46

    In the Rights of Man, Thomas Paine offers a rebuke of Edmund Burke’s unflattering analysis of the French Revolution. Mr. Paine revisits the arguments for republicanism and liberty he wielded in the American Revolution to defend the early French Revolution. Few of Mr. Burke's arguments are directly addressed by Mr. Paine, there is a heavy selection bias in this rebuttal. I suggest that you can gain the most from this text by reading Mr. Burke’s work and recognizing the conversational nature of this kind of writing in the era. Mr. Paine's bias is an excellent expression of the intent of this work as a pamphlet defending new and radical ideas by employing sarcasm, wit and emotion in conjunction with clear and concise reasoning. In many ways the work is dampened by its contemporary perspective, leaving Mr. Paine without the benefit of hindsight and unconditionally praising a revolution which will shortly become very ugly. However, Mr. Paine’s place in history is not the originator of many of the ideas we hold dear, but an expounder who simplified those ideas and courageously rose to defend them.

  • Dan Korth
    2019-02-08 21:41

    After reading both Common Sense and Rights of Man in the last few months I believe Thomas Paine and I could have been good friends. The logic manifested in Paine's writings along with his well reasoned condemnations of those who use government as a tool to enrich themselves and oppress the masses offer an incredible example of the intellectual foundation that helped form the American system of government. Against this backdrop of wisdom the inane ramblings and emotional tirades that pass for political discourse in modern America are a pathetic testament to just how far we have fallen as a society in our ability to reason and work for the common good. Paine's descriptions of the crimes of the English and French aristocracies are also, sadly, a stunning description of the treatment of most western societies by their current governments.This book ought to be required reading in the schools of every society that purports to operate as a democracy. Sadly that wouldn't serve the interests of the State so it'll be up to me to make sure these principles are part of my children's education.

  • Tom Lowe
    2019-01-20 20:42

    If you really want to fully understand the American Revolution and what we were fighting against, I recommend you read this amazing book. Paine analyzes, in full detail, the societies and governments of The United States, Britain, and post-revolutionary France. The monarchy and aristocracy of Britain suffers the most from the pen of Thomas Paine. It truly was an evil empire we were up against. The landed gentry of England was relatively tax free, compared to the tax burden laid on the merchants, working class, and poor. And the inanity and stupidity of the hereditary monarchy was laid bare. Paine provided fact after fact, barb after barb. Add him to the founding father genius list of John Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson.

  • Edward
    2019-02-05 22:28

    This book is foundational to the ideas of Republicanism, particularly as it concerned the formation of the French Republic and the United States of America. It is a "must-read" to understand the origins and early theories of (classical) liberalism/libertarianism, anti-monarchism and other later political movements!

  • Jon
    2019-01-23 19:48

    A lot of really important and relevant information is in this book. Paine gets a little lost in breaking down numbers of the history of taxation in part 2 but other than that, this is an essential read especially considering our current political climate.

  • Daniel
    2019-01-26 23:49

    While I do not fully agree with Edmund Burke nor do I particularly like ancien regime France, nonetheless, this book largely consisted of 105 pages of ranting. He makes some good points, but I thought his earlier work, Common Sense, was a more cogent, reasonable argument.

  • Dustin
    2019-01-23 00:28

    I probably should have read Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" first because the first half of The Rights of Man is basically one big rebuttal of that piece, but it was still an interesting read.

  • Paul
    2019-02-16 00:25

    "my country is the world, and my religion is to do good."

  • R.K. Byers
    2019-02-08 00:35

    perhaps the most amazing thing about this treastie on freedom is that it's dedicated to my favorite slave-owner, George Washington!

  • Ben Cullimore
    2019-01-28 03:28

    How does one "review" a book as important and influential as Thomas Paine's Rights of Man? Does one critique the language used and the arguments made within a present-day context, or, alternatively, does one discuss the undeniable impact that it has had on the makeup of the world as we know it? Whichever way one looks at it, Rights of Man is a piece of work within which can be found the seeds of social justice, radical liberalism and the modern welfare state.Paine argues - with much elegance and a hint of wit - that all people enjoy natural rights, and that the role of government is to serve the will of its citizens whilst protecting these rights. He rallies against both the monarchy and aristocracy, arguing that hereditary succession cannot be a feature of a truly democratic government as it is impossible to inherit the wisdom to govern. These arguments manifest themselves in scathing criticisms of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, one of the best-known attacks against the French Revolution and a defining tract of modern conservatism.Whilst Part One of Rights of Man is concerned with defending the revolution and the principles behind it, Part Two is arguably even more interesting, not to mention influential. Here, Paine proposes ideas for the reformation of the English government, arguing for a written constitution, the end of hereditary titles, lower taxes for the poor, and a progressive income tax. It is within this final section that one can find the seeds of the modern welfare state, and it is not outlandish to suggest that Paine's ideas are just as influential to democratic socialism and social democracy as they are to liberalism.Paine's undeniable influence on a wide range of political and economic movements is one of the many reasons why Rights of Man was, and remains, such an important book. It not only criticised the "old" but firmly paved the way for the "new", and the faltering democracies of the West (of which there are many) would do well to reacquaint themselves with Paine's proposals before it is too late.

  • Sean
    2019-02-11 22:39

    Most high schools know (or ought to know) that Thomas Paine's claim to fame was that he was the author of the highly influential pamphlet "Common Sense", published during the American Revolution and arguing for independence from Britain.What far fewer know is the writing that Paine did a number of years later in support of the French Revolution. The first half of "Rights of Man" is Paine's written response to Englishman Edmund Burke's criticisms of the French Revolution. Paine quite effectively argues that all governments derive their power and scope solely from the consent of the nation. The corollary to this is that every nation has a right to change a government that does not directly serve the interests of the people.In 2017, this is pretty basic stuff--Democracy 101. But in 1791, Paine's writings were considered outrageous, even to the point of constituting treason. Paine was eventually convicted of libel and would have been executed if he'd returned to England.In the second part of "Rights of Man", written maybe a year later than the first part, Paine continues arguing for basic principles of democracy and against hereditary monarchy and primogeniture.