We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How John Adams and Thomas Paine Clashed Over Economic Equality

by William Hogeland from New Deal 2.0

This historian does offer some corrective to the indoctrination given to all US students of the early founding of their country. However, this is, in my opinion, a liberal (in the political sense) interpretation of these events. As such it is about as far left an interpretation that can be allowed in acceptable discourse among US historians. 

You must understand that left-wing teachers in academia were thoroughly purged during the McCarthy period. Academic institutions initially required all professors to sign loyalty oaths, and since then a filtering process was put in place to screen out people who might teach views contrary to "US interests". (If you wish to know more about this process, you simply must read Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt.)

I am not a trained historian, but I have read quite a bit of history about this period from reliable sources. These sources include writings by the eminent historian and political scientist, Charles Beard, historical accounts of the Whiskey Rebellion and the Shays' Rebellion, writings about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. I have concluded that the class war we are now seeing was very present at the founding of our country. And guess who won then? Yes, the same people that are winning now.

Thomas Paine was used by the new class of capitalists before the revolution to gather support for the War of Independence. This class saw before them a huge continent ripe for plunder. Only "savages" and the British Crown stood in their way. They knew they could deal with the former, but the latter were a problem. Besides, a war is always good for huge profits, and this class had no compunctions about selling goods to both sides, just as happened during WWII with major US corporations trading with Nazi corporations. 

Paine devoted much of his life to the promotion of real democracy for everyone to enjoy. After the successful conclusion of the American war, he went to France to promote his ideas there. When the bourgeoisie (capitalists) in France eventually gained the upper hand in their revolution, he was imprisoned and languished there for some length of time and was nearly guillotined. After gaining his freedom, he was essentially bankrupt which likely resulted in his taking employment with the financial and trading wizard, Robert Morris. My knowledge of the details of this period is a bit sketchy, but I do know that the governing elite now strongly criticized Paine's democratic views, and that he died in obscurity and virtually penniless.