Thomas Paine And Libertarianism In Thomas Paine's Common Sense

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In the first section of Common Sense, Thomas Paine characterizes government as he sees it, which is still an influential viewpoint. His characterization is perhaps best summed up in his own succinct words: “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.” These words speak measures to his attitude towards the fundamental nature of government—an attitude that shaped a political party in his time that has evolved over time with the core concept relatively intact. For Paine and modern conservatives alike, government is only rendered necessary due to the inadequacies of moral virtue in running a society. To illustrate this concept, Paine supports his idea with a hypothetical island. When a society develops, it will become necessary for a government to compensate for the eventual defect of moral virtue in individuals. However, as this is what is necessary for government to supply, that is the extent the government should be involved according to Paine. The freedom and security of a society is the aim of a government, aims which should not be overstepped. This concept of limiting government to its intended purpose is seen most clearly in the libertarian movement in modern times. Libertarianism is still keenly influenced by Paine’s anti-Federalists sentiments within this paper simply applied to modern issues. As the king was tyrannizing economic freedom with his unfair tax system, on the official libertarian platform they call for the abolition of income tax as “all

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