Paine, Thomas (1737–1809)

Thomas Paine was an agitator and a political pamphleteer with strong anarchist leanings. Paine enthusiastically participated in the American and French Revolutions as an advocate of individual rights and minimal government. He authored several of the most popular and influential works of the age, including Common Sense, The Crisis, Rights of Man, Age of Reason, and Agrarian Justice.

Paine based his political philosophy on the belief that the central dynamic of domestic politics was the conflict between what he called state and society. He argued that society consisted of the “productive classes,” which included laborers, farmers, artisans, small merchants, and small manufacturers not holding government-chartered monopolies. The state, in contrast, consisted of government officials, standing armies, blue-water navies, aristocrats, established clergy, and holders of government-chartered monopolies, ...

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