My review of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man
The Founding Father’s most influential work: an impassioned defense of democracy and revolution in the name of human rights.
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.
In Rights of Man, Founding Father of the United States Thomas Paine makes a compelling case in favor of the French Revolution. Written in response to Edmund Burke’s highly critical Reflections on the Revolution in France, its forceful rebuke of aristocratic rule and persuasive endorsement of self-government made it one of the most influential political statements in history. Paine asserts that human rights are not granted by the government but inherent to man’s nature. He goes on to argue that the purpose of government is to protect these natural rights, and if a government fails to do so, its people are duty-bound to revolution.
Originally published in two parts, in 1791 and 1792, Rights of Man was a popular sensation in the United States, while in England, its incendiary views were seen as a threat to the Crown. For its erudite prose and rigorous argumentation, it remains a classic text of political thought.
Continue reading “Rights of Man”