It can certainly be argued that Thomas Paine did more than anyone to promote the spirit of equality o which all modern democracy is based. Paine retorted in his Rights of Man to the English Whig, Edmund Burke's contention that each person separagely lacks the power of enforcing his natural rights. So, he, therefore deposits this right in to
common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing.
Paine contended that Burke's point that people forfeit their natural rights, in order to achieve civil rights, with society holding dominion over the individual was wrong; he argued that "every civil right grows out of a natural right." For Paine, human equality was a simple given. His aim in writing The Rights of Man was to promote equality in practice, by responding to Burke's
vituperative attack on the French Revolution by justifying the principles of modern republican governments. (enotes)
Paine's work is an example of eighteenth century positivism, contending that humankind can reach its full potential under republican governments that let people live free lives. Today, as people fear that governments are moving away from being republics, concerns for personal rights and freedoms are becoming prevalent.