The identity of a society is verified through the rights which are given to the citizens. The rights of man have been at many different standards throughout time. Often being very one sided, and at times striving for a median between the two sides. In Edmund Burke’s essay Reflections on the Revolution in France Burke states that a king is in one sense a servant but in everyday situations they are above every individual. All persons under him owe him a legal agreement to serve his hopes. This essay will demonstrate why Thomas Paine’s essay The Rights of Man is more convincing than Edmund Burke’s through examination of a heredity government, the nature of rights and the uselessness of the monarchy.
Edmund Burke’s idea of heredity government infuriated Thomas Paine. Paine apposes this position by saying that the king had no more authority to pass a law demanding that his heir live forever than it was acceptable to make laws which were forever required. The heir leadership should not be determined by heredity, but should be based upon their effectiveness to serve the state, which in return is beneficial to the citizens. This infringes, in my mind, the rights to be self-regulating and the desire to have opinions in decisions of the state. All individuals of the state should have say in selecting an individual to represent him and everyone else.
Paine states that rights by nature cannot be granted. He supports this by saying that if rights are granted then they can be revoked, and if they can be revoked then they can be considered privileges, not rights. He claims that they should not be an agreement between the living and the dead, but the sole benefit of the entire constituent of these two groups. This is a very good argument on Paine’s behalf. For if rights leaned to the deceased side then the living will be sold short on what they are deserved.
On the other hand, if it supported the other side, we would be excluding the necessary component of tradition and example. Without the component of precedents and tradition, legitimacy would be lost. The rights are constantly changing through time. Rights which are appropriate in one decade do not necessarily mean it is applicable in the next.
Mans morals and expectations of each other change drastically through history. So how is it possible to accept a forever binding right? Rights are often looked upon as rewards for abiding to the regulations set out by the higher party. In my mind rights are not earned, but they are rather an extension of our social contract. Rights must be applicable to all individuals. Paine’s looks down upon the monarchical system.
He feels that the English government should reform to a constitution and be modelled on the American Government. The monarchy, in Paine’s mind, is expensive and worthless and proposes a removal of labels in England. Paine brings a good notion to play in this argument. Although in my day and age, the American government is literally tearing its country apart, I feel it is much better than having titles of higher importance. In this case these labels resulted in the French Revolution and has been known to initiate war between two countries and even worse with the state. Labels intrude upon mans will for independence.
If labels are in existence, then man will concentrate more upon pleasing that individual, than on the well being of the state. This is an invitation for disaster. In conclusion, Paine’s beliefs had a greater effect on me than Burke’s. Though there is no single solution to any of these problems, I think that if we can treat them while keeping Paine’s views in mind, we wouldn’t be able to solve them entirely, but it would lead us in the right direction. History Essays.