Common sense can be expressed as good sense and ability to make reasonable decisions. It entails what people view as knowledgeable. According to Paine, in his book titled “Common Sense”, all humans were equal at creation which is quite true according to Christianity (1).
An overview of the bible shows that God intended to be a universal leader for all creatures under the sun. Hence all humans were to co-exist as one big community. The following paragraphs explore why Paine’s theory of common sense is important in the formation of governments. Paine does not see the necessity of a government because to him the government is the worst tool of oppression. Paine uses the American government in his argument and he commences by explaining the differences between the government and the state.
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Paine says that the society comprises of good things achieved and possessed by the society as opposed to the government whose main objective is to withhold society’s vices. Paine suggests that governments are formed with the objective of protecting society’s possessions, freedom, and life. Paine moves on to explain the details of the situation in America. Paine is opposed to the idea that America has flourished under the surveillance of Britain. He supports his argument by stating that Britain uses patronship as a scape-goat to secure its own interests.
Some people articulate that Britain has helped America in a great and commendable way and therefore America owes its success to Britain. Paine adds that in the latest past Britain has shifted from protecting its colonies to attacking them, hence under serving American trustworthiness. Paine challenges colonies to disengage with Britain and consider conducting business with the rest of Europe. According to Paine prosperity can be achieved by first ensuring America has attained its Independence. Independence is very crucial because it will prevent the recurrence of mistakes that happened in the past. He suggests the kind of government structure that should be adopted by the colonies after they have attained independence. Paine argues that this kind of governance will ensure equal representation in the colonies.
He describes the military capabilities of Britain and acknowledges the same abilities for America. Although at the moment America is still less populated but assures that the current feeling of unity would not be shaken by the change of time and increase in population. The present time tends to favor America because if there was any debt incurred, America would use some parts of its land to pay for those debts (Michael 12). Paine argues that Britain has made America to lose its respect from other countries and recommends colonies to fight for liberation because it is the only way colonies can experience success.
This freedom will make it possible for America to seek help from other countries. In his own view Paine does not see the relevance of a government because even with a government in place people still encounter the same problems that were experienced before the said government was actually formed. He points an accusing finger to the government because it has failed in its mandate to protect its citizens leading to the introduction of anarchies.
Paine believes that regardless of time America will attain its independence. Paine points out that even though America may resolve its issues with Britain the problems that were associated with the king will still be experienced. These problems will arise because Britain will introduce new taxes and also interfere with the smooth running of the government. This fact is backed by the unwillingness of Britain to set its colonies free. Paine states the advantages that come with establishment of trade relations between America and the rest of Europe in exclusion of Britain. He quotes that the present arrangement of government hinders America from participating in relations with other nations in Europe. He further insists that colonies independence is quite vital in establishing this trade ties with other nations in Europe because it will enable the colonies to enjoy the goodies that are attached to these relations.
Paine goes on to condemn monarchy by using the British monarchy as an example of problems that are brought about by monarchy. He refers to biblical text to illustrate how evil monarchy can be. He is opposed to the idea of succession hereditary which was very common in Britain monarchy. It was normal for a father to pass on leadership to his son, and this was to be practiced from one generation to another. This in return brought an attitude that some people were born to hold certain positions in the society. Paine quotes the bible as the origin of monarchy (Wood 67).
The people of Israel are believed to have made the worst mistake by demanding for a king through Samuel. Samuel discouraged Israelites from having a king because he was informed about the consequences of being under the authority of a king. He later gave in to their demand. God was also aware of the problems that will come with kingship and although He gave them a leader He warned them accordingly of what to expect. Paine disapproves hereditary succession because he feels all humans are equal at creation hence there is no family that should exercise authority over others. This he says is because when a given person is accorded authority his children do not deserve the same authority as their father because all people were created as independent entity.
Authority that has been passed on from one person to another by hereditary succession is there by considered not genuine. Paine is puzzled by kingship because he does not understand where it comes from. He suggests that if the first king was chosen by elections, all the kings that will follow must go through the same procedure.
Any king who will skip the process should be declared illegitimate. Paine says that hereditary succession is evil as opposed by many who see it as a way of avoiding leadership battles. He further supports his point by explaining that succession has done more harm than good.
Paine uses biblical verses to explain his displeasure with kings. He uses these verses to disapprove people who consider kings to be godly when it is very clear they are not. This thought is seen to be the underlying reason as to why people do not object to decisions made by kings. Paine advises although America may have flourished under Britain, it should detach itself from British rule.
He uses a child as an example and states that although the survival and growth of a child depends on its mother’s milk, the child should not be limited to eating other kinds of food. Britain claims that it protected its colonies but Paine says this is not true because the main reason behind this was to ensure Britain’s interests were safeguarded. He argues that if the colonies did not rely on Britain, there would be no enmity between the nations that were enemies of Britain and its colonies. Paine discourages reunion because he feels that reunion will cause the current situation to recur. It is difficult for Americans to accept British rule again due to the oppressions and battles associated with it (SparkNotes 1). Paine adds that America is very big to be governed by an island like Britain and that matters that concern America should be handled from close proximity. Paine argues that if the current generation does not fight for complete liberation the children of the present leaders will have to revolt against British rule which does not leave a good impression to the generations that will come after them.
Paine comes up with a proposal of government structures that he believes will satisfy the society’s expectations. He suggests that all colonies be separated into districts and each district must send its chosen representatives to the congress. A president should be elected from one colony.
Then the next time elections another colony will be given the priority to produce a president. This process is to be carried out continuously until all colonies have been given a chance to elect a president to head the congress (Craig 45). This is an important concept in the formation of arguments. Paine says that the world expects America to unplug from Britain but no one knows when it will happen. Paine says that America is able to construct a naval vessel that can challenge the British navy. He states that American navy need only to protect its waters unlike British that covers a wide range. The American’s army sole purpose is to increase America’s business projection. Therefore every person must be treated equally and government structures should not be constrained to one family channel.
Pane’s theory is a good representation of how people should think about forming governments. For instance, Paine explains that if America was to continue being under British rule, the situation in America would have worsen with time; this is a true because America has improved on its own since independence. He says that it is important for America to have authority on its own resources while there is still more land that lays idle. Paine argues that it is easy to unite people while the colonies are still small because once people increase the current unity will be very limited hence the fight for liberation will be difficult to launch (Paine 1).
Craig, Nelson. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution and the Birth of Modern Nations. New York: Penguin Books, 2007. Print.
Michael, Isaac. The Thomas Paine Reader. New York: Penguin Classics, 1987. Print. Paine, Thomas. Common Sense.
14 Feb. 1776. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.
SparkNotes. Common Sense .n.d. Web. 17 Oct.
2010. Wood, Gordon. The American Revolution: A history. New York: Modern Library, 2002. Print.