Table of Contents
Common Sense is a pamphlet of a British-born author against the British rule during the colonial period in America in the honor of a new society and state. Common Sense was published a few centuries ago in the circumstances of pre-Revolutionary moods in the then society, which intended to attain its independency from British Imperialism. It played a key role in public opinion evaluation and influenced the Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, this pamphlet can be addressed even to the contemporary citizens as it extends quite essential ideas which can be topical nowadays. The presented piece of literature can serve for the current society as a sample to develop a good country. The formation of a democratic state should start with shaping an intelligent personality within its society. Americans still suffer from different types of inequality as the main obstacle on the way to pure democracy and independence. Thus, it is necessary to analyze the pamphlet by Thomas Paine Common Sense, reflecting the ideas of forming a perfect society in a democratic and free country and stressing on the values and truths which are essential even today.
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Inequality in the social aspect is quite a wide notion which includes ethical, racial, class, religious, and many other aspects dividing the society. However, this term first appears in America during the colonial era which separated all the citizens due to their racial and ethnical peculiarities. Although democratic and constitutional rights of the citizens protect their rights and freedoms more than ever before, the problems of racial, ethnical, and class inequality still exist today, despite strong intensions of certain people to make their country perfect. Colonists and imigrants to America brought in a wide variety of genetic distinctions which make the people different racially, such as the color of their skin, the form of their lips and nose, and hair structure among many others. Actually, each type of inequality encloses some characteristics which individualize one person from the other one. However, it does not make one nation, race, or religion superior or inferior. Such divisions separate the citizens of the world community into hostile groups. This problem is also rooted in the 18th century of American history.
America in the 18th Century
Americans of the 18th century cherished the idea of freedom within the conditions of colonist’s pressure. It was the time when the concept of inequality developed in now the most liberty-loving and independent land in the world, which promised great positive changes for its citizens. Actually, although almost no citizens were native to the continent, they loved that land and were ready to fight for its independence from England as a country-colonist. The issue of colonies erupted stigmatized by the problems of inequality as colonies were made secondary under their imperialistic dominant. America faced the possibility to protect their equality and the right for freedom with the help of the revolution.
On January 10 1776 an unknown journalist published a 47-page pamphlet called “Common Sense” proclaiming ultimate hate toward class and racial division (Young 90). Although, a young writer was an Englishman he was already an American in his nature and devotedness to equality and democratic institutions. The pamphlet made the nation revise their consciousness toward America as a continent of new free life, independent from monarchy, and equal due to the natural right of a human. Common Sense shows the citizens of America their true homeland. In Common Sense the author encourages people to overcome inequality in the state, which is unacceptable and useless for the contemporary USA.
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Thomas Paine exemplifies the idea of patriotism as the source of freedom on a new continent. The notion of patriotism is quite uncertain in the pamphlet but it can serve as a direction for the contemporary people since it explains the necessity to protect America as a new home. The journalist, being an Englishman, does not support England but represents himself as a patriot of America – the land of free people without racial, ethnical, and class inequalities. “The understandable desire to categorize colonists into patriot and loyalist camps makes organized and clear what in reality was vaguer and more uncertain” (Petersen 302). America can become the example for the entire world in protecting human rights. Although this land hosts a variety of different people, the problem of inequality remains one of the most acute here.
Patriotism does not mean mobilizing the army and fighting for the idea, but it presupposes the desire to stand for the right things of democracy and unity. Freedom is possible only on the background of patriotism. Any kind of inequality leads to the separation and hostile collision of different interests and therefore disunity, which attracts the imperialistic and unified nations used to suppressing and controlling (Paine n.pag.). This idea should serve as the sample for the contemporary Americans and those who leave their native land and arrive in America as a source for creation powerful super state, which is an example of freedom and democracy in the world for its strong social equality. As all the citizens are devoted to their homeland, Americans arguably more than many other nations, the issue of race is still painful for millions of people coming to America.
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The views on race bias in the writing of Thomas Pain are not common for the majority of contemporary people, as the author lived in the time when slavery was a common thing. In Common Sense, Thomas Pain rejects any kind of inequality and class discrimination, but he expresses his ideas only concerning the issues of whites. He speaks as if only whites are the masters of life and the black people are less important and belong to the second quality category. This point is quite controversial in his pamphlet, since he protects equality and claims Jews and Blacks are inferior (Dunn n.pag.). The contemporary people still can take into consideration the words of Thomas Paine as a source of deep philosophy concerning social relations. Despite his being a victim of unmoral and cruel epoch, his ideas toward equality can be studied and applied by the modern people for the formation of a perfect society. An idea of racial inequality can be evaluated from the perspective of monarchy, which is blamed by the author and regarded as ordinary people, just as everyone in the world. Consequently, the citizens of
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Society and Class
The major problem of the pamphlet is the inherited English consciousness which idealizes tyranny and inequality. The British colonist is not only a powerful control of American nation but also it is a heart of the society. The early settlers suffered from the tyrannical circumstances of life. Although they left Britain and its monarchical suppression, they still cherished the idols of monarchy instilled deep in their hearts for centuries. They build the society due to the monarchical standards. Although the modern society is far from the old traditions, some people experience deep pain for African Americans who suffered from the violent discrimination, white some others continue hating them. In America which overcame different ways of racial humiliation, such as slavery and segregation, the structure of society and prejudices yet exist. Common Sense proclaims a separate way for free and independent people of America, showing the best example for the whole world of place where people can make their personal way being free and living in a democratic society. Thomas Paine argues that America is a different place for special people living in meritocracy as a form of Common Sense (n.pag.). Such people should not divide humanity into secondary and primary people because it contradicts the domain of freedom.
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The author of the pamphlet proclaims a new form of freedom, the one which can exist in a newly born continent of America. Common Sense is about American freedom, not British or European. Paine considers that this land is to become a location of liberty that is impossible in the entire world, as it “had been hunted around the globe” (Paine n.pag.). No matter what nations arrive to this land, it can give them freedom in its full essence as soon as the people want to be a united nation – a nation of Americans with their constitution and democracy. Of course, the consideration of Thomas Paine is related to the 18th century with all the prejudices and traditions, but its pure nature is the same. Freedom encloses the free ability of people to express their ideas without fear as the first stage of democracy. Jeremy Black depicts the intention of Thomas Paine as well as the entire colonist America to attain freedom similar to the desire of children to have independence form parental control in its full essence – with the freedom of language, religion, and traditions (125). That is why the life of contemporary American people is opposite to the life of the British society. Americans, who came to understanding of the notion and essence of true freedom, value it as the source of a perfect society and a truly democratic country. The concept of freedom for the US is closely related to the notion of justice.
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The role of justice is one of the most essential for the formation of pure democracy and the productive legal system of the state. The control of Great Britain in America was not cruel and strict in military terms: however, it was not just either. Justice is based on social equality and normally contradicts monarchical institutions. The taxes during the British Empire domination were quite brutal and the colonists behaved with Americans as if they had the right for any property (Lewandowski 3). Similarly, people from Britain who were tired of religious injustice arrived to America and intended to build a new country with a new, freedom-based form of the state power. In his works, Thomas Paine emphasizes that justice in impossible within a suppressed society where everyone is concerned with their own daily affairs only (n.pag.). Therefore, the issue of justice is accompanied by freedom and equality, which can be developed only through considering the idea of patriotism. The source of a new free and perfect country is an equal and free society which is willing and able to build it anew.
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Thus, the pamphlet can be a useful source of thought-provoking ideas for the modern reader as it develops structural and fundamental conclusions burning and actual during the preset time. America suffered from Imperialistic ambitions of Great Britain during the 18th century, making the pamphlet an appropriate reasonable response to the situation. However, America, being a free and independent democratic country today, still suffers from different forms of social inequality: racial, religious, ethnical, and class manifestations of it . The contemporary reader can evaluate to which extent the development of a certain state is good with the help of the sufficient ideas of Thomas Paine. He idealizes and identifies a notion of patriotism. Patriots can even be born from the colonists who are devoted to America and ready to protect its independence as Paine did. However, the biggest problem of the American society is inequality and racial oppositions, which contradict class equality, freedom, and justice in the nation. Thus, despite the difference in time and premises, the pamphlet is stressing on specific values that can be useful for contemporary people as well.