Rights of Man by Thomas Paine Book Review


Do you believe modern day America is perfect? American has long been considered the land of opportunity and freedom, and this idea is strongly expressed in Thomas Paine’s novel Rights of Man which he wrote approximately two hundred and thirty years ago. Thomas Paine was born in England, and was a revolutionary who supported American independence. He discusses America’s greatness and how it is the perfect example of prosperity and peace, however this is clearly not the case in recent news. Although Paine’s idealized idea of America in 1791 has similarities to today such as having different races, ethnicities, cultures and religions respectfully unify under one nation, ultimately, there are many current injustices such as racial discrimination, political oppression protests, and social class diificulties.

In the United States, there are many diverse groups of people who speak different languages, practice different religions, and more. Paine asserts that America is, “made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government…it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable.” Even though in America there are many different cultures living harmoniously together, appallingly there are still people in this world who are being discriminated against and feel utterly helpless. America may have been a utopian type of society back when Thomas Paine wrote this novel, but this is not realistic in any way. Recent events prove that the current state of America’s social inequity is abominable, and we are far from an ideal nation.

Racial discrimination has toxicly been apart of America’s history for years. Paine wrongfully argues that the, “government is just; and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.” In today’s world, there are life-changing movements happening such as the Black Lives Matter movement. They are currently fighting for liberation, justice, and freedom for people of color. These people long for a revolution of change because they have been discriminated against their entire lives. If America was a ‘perfect’ nation, then people wouldn’t have to be fighting for their freedom. 

In recent years there have been political oppression riots and protests such as protests for women's rights and protests for the LGBTQ+ community. Paine believes that, “the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires,  and all the parts are brought into cordial unison.” The government does not bring everyone together in unison considering that there are still movements advocating for equal rights in modern day. Starting in 2017, the Women’s March began which is a protest for women’s rights that has happened every year since then. Their mission is to harness political power that women deserve and they aim for significant social changes on gender discrimination. These social problems cause uproars among the American people and the perfect image of our country continues to be diluted. Another well-known movement is the LGBTQ+ protests who fight for people in the LGBTQ+ community. Usually in New York City, there are riots who battle for equality and rights. These riots can vary from people holding up signs to people shouting for change. The fact that in present day, 2021, people still have to fight for their freedom is absolutely excruciating to think about.

In today’s society, the social classes aren’t styled to be perfect. As some people say, the poor keep getting poorer and the rich keep getting richer. Paine indefensibly assumes that, “...the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged.” This claim is far from the truth. Unjustly, people who come from a wealthy background have more opportunities compared to the people who come from unfortunate communities. Their children have a better access to a proper education and they have a more supportive family when it comes to supplying their needs for an academic experience. For instance, there are some families that can’t afford to buy their children’s textbooks for school. On the other hand, if we look at a family from a high income background, they will be able to buy their children all the materials that they need to succeed, which later drives them to have great accomplishments in the future because they had a more fortunate educational experience. They have an advantage throughout their upbringing that people who suffer from poverty will never have. Also, the rich usually associate themselves with other wealthy people, meaning it is unlikely for a rich person to befriend a poor person and help them financially.

Thomas Paine believed in a pristine America where the rich weren’t overpowered, the poor weren’t powerless and everyone was at peace with another, however as nice as that sounds, that is clearly not the case today. With riots like the Black Lives Matter movements, the women rights protests as well as the LGBTQ+ protests, and the extremely large gap between the poor and the rich in education and politics, America still has a long way to go before it reaches the utopia Paine envisioned.

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