Violence and Paine
Thomas Paine once wrote, “It is against all the hell of monarchy that I declare war” (381). What was Paine’s view on violence, and how does he compare criminal violence and political violence? These questions can be answered, in his pamphlet called Rights of Man. Published in 1791, to answer Edmund Burke’s attack on the French Revolution and the system of representative in his book called Reflections on the Revolution in France. The start of the French Revolution is mentioned by Paine in the beginning of the pamphlet and his views are set forth in those pages. Paine was an avid enemy of hereditary and monarchy governments. He believed that the acts of brutality carried out in the king’s name against citizens, and the act of restraining natural right were in fact criminal violence. Political violence, in Paine’s view, were crimes carried out by the citizens against such unjust governments and were “pardonable.” Paine attempted to bring a peaceful adaption of the constitution of the United States to France. When the cause was “freedom or slavery”, Paine was willing to forgive the people, trying to gain liberty, from his (Paine’s) enemies, monarchial and hereditary government, through violence. Criminal violence in the Rights of Man starts immediately with Paine claiming that Burke made a “violent speech” in the English parliament and that Burke’s book contained “flagrant misrepresentations and was an “abuse on the French Revolution and the principles of Liberty” (434). The criminal violence would be best described in Rights of Man as the “coup de main” planned by the King’s youngest brother Count d’Artois (449). The Count was planning on seizing the members and demolishing the National Assembly, crushing all hopes of forming a free government. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave, is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies”, Paine stated (438). Tyrannies is a synonym for cruelties and oppressiveness. All...
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