Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Impeachment of Trump and the Age of Reason

Though the enquiry process is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate it could not go unnoticed today that top Democrat Nancy Pelosi opened her call for presidential accountability by referring to Thomas Paine.  Paine, in addition to expounding so cogently upon constitutional gravity, wrote forcefully about the threat of religion.  Paine died on June 8, 1809 at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. Pointedly his benefactor Benjamin Franklin failed to attend Paine's funeral - at which there were only six mourners, two of whom were black (most likely freedmen).

Just as Thomas Paine's contribution has recently risen to new heights of accolade among other current politicians, it is foreseeable that he will again signal the awakening of a revolution in American society. It is no accident that his recollection is part of the allegation of Trump 's "violation of the law" or what Trump has significantly labelled a "Witch Hunt" reminiscent of another historical inconvenience in the United States of America.

Accordingly - and perhaps unwittingly - Pelosi and Trump have succeeded to combine two of the primary theses of Thomas Paine.  It is equally foreseeable that the overwhelming American population's disgust with the theatrical antics and stage-performance of their president herald's the prospect of him suffering not only the punishment of pride but also the repercussion of his own comic assault "You're fired!"

Like an unfolding Greek tragedy the nemesis of hubris now awaits Trump. The illustration of John Milton's Paradise Lost depicts more than the metaphorical descent of Lucifer into Satan. More recognizable in the downfall is "the loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments and capabilities".  No longer is the clown allusion to Trump mere bitterness. The American people are sated.  The circus act is unendurable.


Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain) (February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736] – June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian  Saul K. Padover described him as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination". Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel.
The British government of William Pitt the Younger, worried by the possibility that the French Revolution might spread to England, had begun suppressing works that espoused radical philosophies. Paine's work, which advocated the right of the people to overthrow their government, was duly targeted, with a writ for his arrest issued in early 1792. Paine fled to France in September where, rather immediately and despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Maximilien Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.
In December 1793, he was arrested and was taken to Luxembourg Prison in Paris. While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason (1793–1794). James Monroe, a future President of the United States, used his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. Paine became notorious because of his pamphlets. The Age of Reason, in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and free thought and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1797), discussing the origins of property and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income through a one-time inheritance tax on landowners. In 1802, he returned to the U.S. where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.

The Age of Reason was an important treatise written by Thomas Paine. It was published in America in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807. It promoted deism and was an attack on orthodox Christianity. In The Age of Reason, he affirmed the existence of God but denied supernatural occurrences in the universe.

As several of my colleagues, and others of my fellow-citizens of France, have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Excerpt From: Thomas Paine. “The age of reason: being an investigation of true and fabulous theology, by Thomas Paine...

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