Reflecting on Common SenseSubmitted by dwalters on Fri, 07/12/2013 - 12:25
In 1776, a text written anonymously by Thomas Paine, titled Common Sense, went viral and turned the tide of American opinion in favor of separation from Britain. It has been argued quite convincingly by scientist and political philosopher Andrew Galambos that this work by Paine was the true beginning of the American Revolution. After all, as he pointed out, revolutions themselves are not violent. In order for a revolution to occur, by definition, something must turn around. In the case of a political revolution, that “something” is the prevailing political ideology. War may or may not accompany any particular revolution, and accordingly, revolution may or may not accompany any particular war. Revolutions are necessarily intellectual.
Paine’s introduction to Common Sense begins:
PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.
At that time, colonists were still largely in favor of reconciliation with the British – even though they had already suffered under general warrants used to enforce the Stamp Act, taxation without representation, and the attempted seizure of rifles and ammunition at Concord that lead to the “shot heard round the world.” This is not so different from where the United States is today. Americans suffer under general warrants used in the execution of the PATRIOT Act, are taxed without representation through the insidious inflation of the money supply, and the government continues in its efforts to disarm the populace. It seems rather clear that America has come full circle.