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on 30 April 2017
The book that Richard Attenbourough always wanted to turn into a film. Amazing ideas from such an amazing thinker and speaker.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2011
Tom Paine's Rights of Man, written in two parts (1791 & 1792), was a response to Edmund Burke's criticisms of the French Revolution. It's an optimistic work, looking forward to the ongoing development, both moral and political, of mankind, and the eradication of 'ignorance'. A combination of idealism and something more prosaic, it calls for democratic government by and for the people, for the greater good, one which limits itself to the support and defence of man's natural rights of liberty, equality, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

More or less self-educated, Paine's writing is powerful, passionate and accessible, making it no surprise that he was a best-selling pamphlet author in his time. Today, he is hailed as the originator of the idea of human rights - but his understanding of what this means is a far cry from our contemporary usage where, seemingly, everything is a 'right' from decent school dinners to designer shoes and handabgs. Paine, importantly, explores not just rights, but also the duties and responsibilities of the citizen.

It is noticeable that Paine is completely uninterested in the idea of women's suffrage and the gendering of rights, a marked absence in his texts which serves to slightly delimit his democratic ideal.

This Oxford edition has an introductory essay and notes that make it good for the novice or student.
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on 20 March 2006
Paine's work and life is the embodiment of human rights - he was exiled from England - fled to USA where he helped with the constitution - he was invited to France to help the new revolutionary constitution of 1789. He is a colossus in modern world history and his value can never be estimated high enough. A remarkable man who desired very simple but unattainable things - decent treatment for all. Paine's Declaration is a must for any student of politics or just anyone who cares about their fellow human beings...
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on 7 April 2015
Democracy, independence, economic growth, people's revolution and taxation as a means of redistributing wealth — all these are commonly accepted by 'the left' and it is interesting to read the thoughts of an Cl8th radical and see how these ideas were being thought afresh.

The Quaker belief in egalitarianism, in man who does not need priests to mediate and who has the inner light of conscience contribute to his thought.

That he wasn't formerly educated means he can think freely without the crippling weight of tradition behind him. His writings are original and do not cite large bibliographies and think the thoughts of other men after them. ‘I scarcely ever quote; the reason is I always think.'

His analytical treatment of political affairs shows indebtedness to an Enlightenment view of the natural order of the world. It anticipates a Hegelian view of history and Marx's class—war idea.

It is encouraging that he accepts, unlike most socialists, the right to have private property, provided that it has been gained by one's own labour and not inherited.

His acceptance of war as a means to gain justice for the poor but not as a means of dynastic extension anticipates much later thinking; he is strongly influenced by the French and American Revolutions.

Marx is clearly anticipated when Paine regards work as the one thing that the peasant is able to sell as a commodity.

Interestingly, those who oppose Paine are from the same classes as those who vote Tory today — the merchants and manufacturers whose rights are threatened, rind those who believe in a mystical church—state relationship.

Parliament must represent taxpayers and not be hereditary; a man does not inherit ability from his father. Hereditary government is an extension of the Norman Conquest.

Where laws are bad, it is better to obey them and struggle to have them changed than to flagrantly break them.

He reckons than the monarchy will disappear within seven years because the American constitution is abundantly, obviously better. He regards America as an example, as was Athens, of the ideal polis. Sadly we still have a House of Lords and an emasculated but expensive monarchy and America is probably a bad example of democracy in that large interests such as multinational companies manipulate the politics of that country so that it does not represent the interests of ordinary people and its world dominance is a theat to peace and to life itself.

He saw state intervention as something that should be kept to a minimum - men are able to organise their affairs by themselves. In this he anticipates the 'withering away of the state' idea and is opposed to the increasing intervention by the state which has become a feature of both socialism and capitalism. Maybe his view of man, based on Genesis, was too optimistic.
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on 8 March 2013
Was looking for all of these titles and was delighted to find then all in this paper back. Grrrreat stuff.
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on 6 April 2013
The content of the book is perfect. The size of the print is tiny and hard to read - I did not expect this. If the print was larger & readable this would be perfect. I'm not happy about this and it should be 'flagged up' in the description. SOmething like - 'you need a magnifying glass to read this'. Sorry I am disappointed in this.
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on 28 December 2014
I gingerly peer into this book.I don't like the man ,but he changed lots.
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on 13 March 2016
brilliant value for money
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on 18 March 2016
Great product and price
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on 22 June 2016
If you are interested in clear thought and the rationale of democracy, then read this book.
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