The event of the 4th of July caused a flurry of TV programs under the title The Revolution. These had some interesting ideas of how the public flip-flopped back-and-forth between actually having the guts to stand up to challenge the monarchy and collaborating with it, esp. in Georgia where many changed sides multiple times, esp. in the face of actual gunfire of battles. To try to put some backbone in the rebellion propagandist Thomas Paine wrote in plain language to try to persuade the masses that the cause of the rich elite planters was also the cause of the common man. Of late Thomas Paine is now the darling of the ultra-right libertarian crowd and sometimes of Tea Baggers. They should actually read him, read the history about him (and his times and issues), read what others said about him, before they just cherry-pick a few sayings and try to build their case from that. The real American Revolution isn’t the same as the mythical one the right uses so it’s interesting to cut through the spin we added later to what really were the issues and thoughts and feelings of the time.
So I’m off doing just that, reading some of the original reproductions of the pamphlets he produced. They are, in fact, quite readable because he was writing for the public and thus didn’t use the stultified language the intellectuals used, which is hard for us to read today. But one feeling I get, even from just a bit of reading, is that this guy would have loved social media, the perfect forum for him to argue his case. One of the reasons for believing this is his heavy use of ‘I’ in his prose.
So I’ll leave you with just one bit, although I may use some of this material for future posts:
I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my opinion upon Religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
The most formidable weapon, against errors of every kind, is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
Your affectionate friend and fellow-citizen,
Now tell me if that doesn’t sound like the lead-in to a blog post!