Monday, July 16, 2012

Thomas Paine - The Forgotten Father

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Chapter 5, p. 273 

Where does one start with a man who makes Karl Marx look like a cub scout? The Oracle of Ottawa's ongoing Thinking About Thinking Project has just hit a real rich patch. Yes dear reader, the Oracle of Ottawa has just got through Rights of Man. The complete unabridged edition published between 1791 - 1792.  Of course everyone has heard about this book, but very few people today have ever read it. The Oracle of Ottawa was shocked, just shocked, that this man in the time of Adam Smith had already envisioned the modern welfare state! He formulated what has to be the earliest statement of the negative income tax, and one of the earliest to proclaim the fairness of the progressive rate income tax! This is all pretty awesome for some one who left school at the age of thirteen years! Imagine if he would have been born into a rich family and was able to get a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Bonn?

Thomas Paine

Now ponder this. Karl Marx saw some agitation, wrote a couple of notable pieces that are still in print today, along with a collected works that at last count was up to fifty quarto volumes. But ponder the life of Thomas Paine. He was in attendance and not only witnessed, but participated in two of the greatest political/social events in the history of the modern world! The French Revolution and the American Revolution!  That is just simply astounding, and all before Challenger jets and air mile cards! The Oracle of Ottawa often ponders where those great men stored the jam. And damn he was really pink, Thomas Paine was a subversive Leftie of the first water and rank. The Oracle of Ottawa has been able to easily deduce this by the utter lack of information and the rare printing of his collected works in the present day! Although listed as a Founding Father of the American nation, his collected works are not published (hard paper book copies) by the Liberty Fund! I checked the latest catalog last night and the name Paine was no where in the index. Surely the Oracle of Ottawa has made an error?

As far as the Oracle of Ottawa can discern, the complete works of Thomas Paine, now extant, fills over two thousand pages! And hardly any request for the loan of five pounds are to be found! The edition of the complete works that you really, really want is known today as the Conway Edition. These can be had at Abe Books for $250.00 and less. Which seems to the Oracle of Ottawa to be a hell of a deal. But the real claim to fame of Thomas Paine, the true proof that he is famous and of the importance and stature is his lack of an entry in Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of English Literature!  

And would you believe, that there is not one deep and/ or serious documentary on Thomas Paine on You Tube? This is the best that the Oracle could round up at deadline time....

No comments:

Post a Comment