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The Socialism of Thomas Paine Contrasted with the "Traditional Values" of American Conservatives

An Open Letter by Punkerslut to
Let Freedom Ring

By L.R.
Image: By L.R.,
Released Under the Creative Commons
"Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivs 2.0 Generic" License

Start Date: February 2, 2011
Finish Date: February 2, 2011

               Let Freedom Ring: About Page


     One of your statements in your "About" section is particularly curious: "We also work to keep our constituents and the media informed about what our founding fathersí intentions were and how history shapes laws and our culture today." When I do a google search of your site, though, I find that you hardly ever discuss the founding fathers, or the background of the enlightenment that fostered them. Searching for the word "Jefferson," for example, only produces 26 results: one article about US representative William Jefferson, an article about the Republican director Mark Jefferson, and an article about James Madison's birthday, which invariably mentioned Thomas Jefferson.

     In a few instances, you mention Jefferson Street, or list "Thomas Jefferson" in the line that lists America's founding fathers (one line: "It is easy to believe that Washington was, along perhaps with Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and a few more..."). In general, though, there is not much specifically about the founding fathers. They seem to be used as ruffling, here and there, to make the whole costume look much better. When I search for "Paine" or "Thomas Paine," there are no results. It seems like you have forgotten the person who gave the revolution its breath of "These are the times that try men's souls."

     More important, however, is the contradiction that exists between Thomas Paine and Capitalism. It seems that if you support the founding fathers, you must support Paine, but you state that you also support "Free enterprise and equal opportunity." This is where the contradiction comes into play, and it is not simply regarding one or two of the opinions of Thomas Paine, but it concerns the entire spirit of the founding fathers. You defend Capitalism, but to Thomas Paine, it "is as odious as it is unjust. It is absolutely the opposite of what it should be, and it is necessary that a revolution should be made in it." ("Agrarian Justice.")

     Or, quite a bit more aggressively, the system of private property is " as unjust in its principle, as it is horrid in its effects; and it is the consciousness of this, and the apprehension that such a state cannot continue when once investigation begins in any country, that makes the possessors of property dread every idea of a revolution." And, the Capitalists "politically depend more upon breaking the spirit of the people by poverty, than they fear enraging it by desperation." There is something more to it than this: Thomas Paine, who has been left out of your defense of the "founding fathers," was the only member of that group who did not own slaves.

     Paine was smart enough to realize that there is not much difference in owning a man and owning the things that the man requires to live. Each system necessarily results in the tyranny of the few over the majority, "rugged face of society, checkered with the extremes of affluence and want," as Paine would describe it. Yet, the only American Founder who believed in abolishing slavery and human equality also believed in smashing Capitalism.

     Paine's belief in opposing wage slavery came late in his life, just as the industrial revolution bloomed in his native Britain (in case you forgot that this was a nation built by immigrants). He was the only one of those American authors of the US Revolution that was honorable enough to refuse owning human beings -- the only one who had the intellect to see the brutality of the propertied system. Of course, this may seem disturbing to those who describe themselves as "American patriots" today.

     You believe in "Profit as an economic incentive." But one of the founding fathers wrote, "...landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before."

     This is problematic for your ideas, because one of your missions is "to keep our constituents and the media informed about what our founding fathers' intentions were..." So, then, why is it that none of the intentions appear on your website? How come you only mention the intentions of those founding fathers who owned slaves and grew rich off the hemp trade? It seems like you're completely willing to cut the American Revolution into pieces, taking those that support your view, and abandoning those that oppose it. For if you truly wanted everyone to know what our founding fathers intended, you'd begin by outlining a plan for the overthrow of Capitalism and its replacement with Revolutionary Socialism. It's what Thomas Paine would have wanted.

     Thank you, I patiently await a response.

Andy Carloff

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