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In Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man part 2, what is the main concept Paine is trying to convey?

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By the magic of public domain, I have posted a link to Paine's The Rights of Man in its entirety, and even focused that page on Part 2. If you haven't read it all the way through, I strongly suggest that you do. That said, it's fairly straightforward to summarize...

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By the magic of public domain, I have posted a link to Paine's The Rights of Man in its entirety, and even focused that page on Part 2. If you haven't read it all the way through, I strongly suggest that you do.

That said, it's fairly straightforward to summarize Part 2, which is entitled "Of the Origin of the Present Old Governments".

In Part 1, Paine was mostly going over a general overview of history and introducing his overall views on the nature of government. In Part 2, he tackles a very specific moral and historical question: Are any current governments legitimate? ("current", of course, being at the time Paine was writing, 1791.)

Paine concludes that they are not, with two major exceptions: Namely, the United States of America and the Republic of France, both of which had only just been established by revolutions at the time he was writing.

Pain goes through the history of how most governments are founded, which is of course through war and imperialism. He makes some broad-strokes guesses about how governments were formed in ancient times, which we now know to be oversimplified but not totally inaccurate. His basic vision is of the initial governments and property systems being established entirely by force, leading him to characterize them vividly as "Those bands of robbers having parcelled out the world". He argues that the violence in the world is largely attributable to the echoes of this ancient violence: "From such beginning of governments, what could be expected but a continued system of war and extortion?"

His ire is particularly aimed at the Government of England, with whom his countrymen have just concluded a war. He condemns monarchy and colonialism in no uncertain terms. And then in Part 3, he goes on to say why America and France are different, how their new system of government is fundamentally better.



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