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Thomas Paine: Liberal and Conservative Ideas Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2019

Introduction

Thomas Paine revealed a number of liberal ideas in his work “Common Sense”. He considered the society as it was in his lifetime. He traced the development of the western society throughout centuries.

He revealed wrongs of that society. He also suggested a specific way to develop. He outlined major concepts necessary for the rightful society. It is necessary to note that Paine provided a lot of liberal ideas, but he also remained conservative in some points.

All People Are Equal

One of major liberal ideas introduced in the work is the idea of equality. Thus, Paine notes that “[m]ankind being originally equals in the order of creation” could not follow rules based on the principle of inequality (Paine, 2011, n.p.). This is one of the central principles of liberals. Liberals have postulated that people are created equal and they must share equal opportunities.

Paine mentions the royal family and notes that the very existence of the king in the society is a sign of its being wrongful. Paine claims that “no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever” (Paine, 2011, n.p.).

The author notes that some people deserve a greater degree of honor for some deeds. However, this has nothing to do with the inherited right to enjoy such honor. This belief that all people are created equal makes the work liberal.

People Should Elect Their Rulers

One more liberal idea revealed in the work is that people should elect their rulers. Paine states that societies cannot be entrusted to a person or a group of people according to the rules of heredity. The author notes that this leads to corruption and usurpation of power. Thus, people who introduce rules should be chosen by the society.

These people should be representatives of many groups of the society. Again, this is one of central arguments of liberals who believe that people have the capacity to regulate their lives. In other words, people are free from any outside authority as the rules imposed are created by those who reveal the will of these people.

Remarkably, Paine notes that people should elect their rulers quite often and those elected can have the chance to return into the society to understand the needs of people. According to Paine, this “frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community” (Paine, 2011, n.p.). Admittedly, this can also be qualified as a liberal idea.

A Conservative Idea

However, the idea of certain governance is still conservative. Thus, liberals believe people should be free from any restrictions as any individual should decide for himherself what is right. At the same time, Paine claims that people tend to live in societies as they cannot live in isolation.

Paine also admits that there is “the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue” (Paine, 2011, n.p.). This idea can be qualified as “classical conservative” as conservative believe people cannot be free from regulations.

Conclusion

To sum up, it is possible to note that Paine reveals many liberal ideas in his work. Thus, he states that all people are equal and there can be no hereditary authority. The thinker also claims that people should select those who impose regulations. At the same time, Paine remains conservative in certain points. Thus, he claims that people still need some regulations and governing bodies which can be qualified as a conservative idea.

Reference List

Paine, T. (2011). Common Sense. Retrieved from

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