On the Dangers of Blind Trust, Irrational Loyalty, and Unaccountable Leaders

“When it is laid down as a maxim, that a king can do no wrong, it places him in a state of similar security with that of idiots and persons insane, and responsibility is out of the question with respect to himself.”

Demanding blind loyalty and cronyism, shunning any criticism and persecuting the critic, allowing dogma, time after time, to trump reality, and using fear to enforce irrational doctrine and open contempt for the constraints of established law – and of congress…

Be it a King in the 18th century or a President in the 21st, it is madness to not hold those in power to account of their abuses and utter failure of power. As it was in the 18th century, then, so it is in the 21st: time to dislodge from power Mad King George.


On the Built Society and Balance with Nature

Taking it then for granted, that no person ought to be in a worse condition when born under what is called a state of civilization, than he would have been, had he been born in a state of nature, and that civilization ought to have made, and ought still to make, provision for that purpose, it can only be done by subtracting from property a portion equal in value to the natural inheritance it has absorbed.”
-Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice

We live, most of us, generally detached from nature, in what Paine calls here a “state of civilization”.  For many this detachment provides food, warmth, and shelter from the vagaries of nature’s whim. But detachment comes with a price, and what is taken from nature in order to serve “civilization” must ultimately strike a balance.

Civilization – the built society – must not only take from nature, but also respect the natural world upon which it depends, and give back from whence it took.

Otherwise and increasing number in society will live neither a civilized or natural life. Until, one day, nature has wholly reclaimed what was taken from it, and the grand schemes of Man have withered back into the Earth.

On Bastille Day

“When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom.”

Bastille Day can not pass without remembering the role Thomas Paine had in the French revolution. From Part II of Thomas Paine’s series of essays The Rights of Man, Paine wrote this in 1792, three years after the storming of the Bastille marking the beginning of the French revolution.

Fear remains the tool of the despot, the terrorist, the tyrant, and the oppressor.

Resisting fear is at once difficult and the first step toward freedom, for individuals and societies alike.

On Convictions, Messianic Missions, Delusions, and Accepting Reality in Iraq

“It is not our belief or disbelief that can make or unmake the fact.”
-Thomas Paine, Age of Reason

When a belief defies readily available facts, it becomes a delusion. I may believe I have lots of money in the bank, but to hold onto that belief given the fact of my bank balance would prescribe me as delusional.

When a delusion precipitates and exacerbates an ongoing human tragedy, when the delusion is defended as messianic mission whereby no one can dare question it, when a country is left in ruins, then the delusion must end.

George Bush has been hailed by some as a man of right conviction. That is as what some would like to believe. Given the facts of the past seven years, continuing such belief is in itself a delusion.

No conviction, no belief, will ever unmake that fact.  




On Celebrating Thomas Paine and the Spirit of ’76

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

Thomas PaineOn the Fourth of July it is good to remember that all we take so very much for granted was not always so. Freedom from political tyranny was very much a matter of the day-to-day world in which Thomas Paine lived and a radical idea indeed. A hard-won freedom that we must guard against losing, lest it slip quietly away from our distracted gaze.

It has been one year since I started this project, first under the auspices of World History.com with ThomasPaineBlogging.com (the site is still there, sometimes, if you’re lucky) and then here ThomasPaineBlog.org. It all started with an essay written on an idea I didn’t come up with, but one that interested me nonetheless, when considering Thomas Paine’s contribution to the American Revolution. That of Paine as the “first American blogger”, and the power of words in the fight for national independence, individual freedom, and human progress.

Thanks for being a part of the Thomas Paine Blog and the History Blog Project.

Here, once again, is that first essay:
Thomas Paine – The First American Blogger

On Tough Love

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”
-Thomas Paine

Honesty requires a willingness to communicate things that others may not wish to hear, nor that we relish saying.

From the true patriot rejecting a failed leader’s policies to pointing out an annoying trait or destructive behavior in someone close to us, sometimes what is required is “tough love” to show that we are forthright and truly care.