Follow the money

“The political characters, political dependencies, and political connections of men, being of a public nature, differ exceedingly from the circumstances of private life; and are in many instances so nearly related to the measures they propose, that to prevent our being deceived by the last, we must be acquainted with the first. A total ignorance of men lays us under the danger of mistaking plausibility for principle. Could the wolf bleat like the lamb the flock would soon be enticed into ruin; wherefore to prevent the mischief, he ought to be seen as well as heard. There never was nor ever will be, nor ever ought to be, any important political debate carried on, in which a total separation in all cases between men and measures could be admitted with sufficient safety. When hypocrisy shall be banished from the earth, the knowledge of men will be unnecessary, because their measures cannot then be fraudulent; but until that time come (which never will come) they ought, under proper limitations, to go together. We have already too much secrecy in some things and too little in others. Were men more known, and measures more concealed, we should have fewer hypocrites and more security.” – Thomas Paine, “The Forester’s Letters”

Shunning the shaming

“As the domestic tranquillity of a nation depends greatly on the chastity of what might properly be called NATIONAL MANNERS, it is often better to pass some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such new methods of dislike as might introduce the least innovation on that guardian of our peace and safety.” – Thomas Paine, “Common Sense” (emphases in original)

We can come up with an example

“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any.” – Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”

Choose your poison, it chooses you

“Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a Government, which we might expect in a country without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest ; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.” – Thomas Paine, “Common Sense” (emphases in original)

From the specific to the general

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which their affections are interested.” – Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”

Keeping and bearing

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.” – Thomas Paine, “Thoughts on Defensive War” (emphases in original)

Going all goo-goo eyed

“Dignities and high sounding names have different effects on different beholders. The lustre of the Star and the title of My Lord, over-awe the superstitious vulgar, and forbid them to inquire into the character of the possessor: Nay more, they are, as it were, bewitched to admire in the great, the vices they would honestly condemn in themselves. This sacrifice of common sense is the certain badge which distinguishes slavery from freedom; for when men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.” – Thomas Paine, “Reflections on Titles” (emphases in original)

And diamonds are a girl’s best friend

“What good is beauty, even youth?
All that may be quite good and fair,
But does it get you anywhere?
Their praise is half pity, you can be sure.
For gold contend,
On gold depend
All things. Woe to us poor!”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part I (from Goethe’s Faust, trans. Walter Kaufman)

Foiled again

“I now curse all that would enamor
The human soul with lures and lies,
Enticing it with flattering glamour
To live on in this cave of sighs.
Cursed above all our high esteem,
The spirit’s smug self-confidence,
Cursed be illusion, fraud, and dream
That flatter our guileless sense!
Cursed be the pleasing make-believe
Of fame and long posthumous life!
Cursed be possessions that deceive,
As slave and plough, and child and wife!
Cursed, too, be Mammon when with treasures
He spurs us on to daring feats,
Or lures us into slothful pleasures
With sumptuous cushions and smooth sheets!
A curse on wine that mocks our thirst!
A curse on love’s last consummations!
A curse on hope! Faith, too, be cursed!
And cursed above all else be patience!”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part I (from Goethe’s Faust, trans. Walter Kaufman)