Paine’s Perspective of America

There are a variety of intellectual movements in which the purpose of said movements was to express and convey the beliefs and opinions of the movements in order to persuade and convince other non-believers into coming to an agreement. Although there are numerous intellectual movements in which they are zealously advocated by modern supporters, there are several movements in which as time progresses the attitudes and situations of the people change: such as in the patriotic belief Thomas Paine stated in his book Rights of Man, where he expresses that the nation of the United States would become a utopian-like society or a paradise for all. This is incorrect however due to numerous contradictions made in his statement such as that he believed the U.S. would be a sanctuary of serenity for those from varying ethnicities and also that there would be no oppression to the poor and no privilege for the rich.

Perhaps during the 1700s the global perspective on the flourishing nation of the United States was different from that of modern day, and that also there was a lingering possibility that this growing country could become what every other country could not be: a paradise and utopia for its people. Unfortunately that did not happen, though there is a shroud of propaganda covering the truth from the rest of the world. Paine believed that ‘…of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship…would appear…in…unison.’; yet in modern day people of various diverse groups are suffering today in a variety of forms. Such groups include ethnic groups like African-Americans, women, and people who belong in the LBGT community who suffer in their daily lives due to the discrimination they experience from those who cannot accept them for who they are. And there are numerous times in which the actions to make sure that those who are different and unique are separated or removed from the rest of the norms of society, for example in the Charleston church shooting in South Carolina where innocent African-American families were murdered during mass by one Caucasian teenage boy who believed that African-Americans caused the deaths of many in the United States. For the women of the United States, although they may not suffer to the extent of those who live in more impoverished, third-world countries, American women still suffer from the lack of equal pay, the high standards of beauty for women, and the sexualization of women in general. And so Paine’s original characterization of the United States does not hold true with today.

Furthermore in this period of time was the American Revolution in which the American colonists under Great Britain’s rule believed that they needed to have their natural rights maintained, and if these rights were not maintained, then they would become independent from Britain to make sure that the colonists themselves can have these natural rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And because of this insurrection, Paine believed that the American colonists would confirm the equality between all groups of society, between the higher classes and lower classes in society. Regrettably, this was not what happened; as time passed to the 1900s and 2000s, the Second Industrial Revolution came to the United States, and with this revolution came the idea of capitalism and the idea that everyone man worked for himself and those who affected him. Such significant figures during this time that were the embodiment of self-earning and self-giving success stories included John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie. Recently in the 2000s, the economy of the United States crashed and suffered major losses due to the ‘crooks’ who work in the businesses and banks of America; and the majority of these ‘crook’s received this mind-set of success from the Second Industrial Revolution where everyman was for himself. Such as in the year of 2008 where the national economy crashed due to the economic bubble on house mortgages. And so the rich are still privileged once they gain the wealth and capital necessary to, in turn, receive power, and the rest of society who cannot do the same as them will suffer and become oppressed. Thus, Paine’s belief and prediction in what the United States is does not exist in modern day.

However there may be some that believe that this characterization made by Paine still exists in modern day, rationalizing that the problems of discrimination and lack of equality in pay is not as as dominant as in other less-developed countries. Or some may believe that there are no dilemmas they face with doing what they want due to the status or situation they were born into. Yet this is clearly not true due to the national events that have occurred recently such as the Charleston church shooting, the lack of equal pay between both genders, the discrimination and hateful acts done toward those who of the LBGT community, and so on so. Ergo, Paine’s original characterization of America still does not hold up with the modern United States of America.

Therefore although during Paine’s time there was a possibilty that the United States would become what he had envisioned where people from diverse groups would live in unity and that the classes of society would all be equal could have happened, in the United States of modern day, Paine’s original ideal does not hold true today.

Do you believe that Paine’s original perspective of America as a utopia/paradise still exists in modern day? If not, why and how has Paine’s assertion of America changed?

What do you think?


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