Modern Sense (Part IIIa)
(With absolutely no apologies to Thomas Paine)

by Edgar J. Steele

January 2, 2003

O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her.—Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
    ---Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" (Feb 1776)

Preface (to each of the four parts)

There are a remarkable number of parallels between pre-Revolutionary America and the America of today.  It is disquieting how, in the writings of that time, our founding fathers might have been speaking directly to this generation of Americans.  Then again, I do not believe in coincidence so perhaps, in a sense, they were.

How appropriate that those of us who advocate a return to the ideals of those days are called "patriots," a word which has taken on as derisive a meaning when mouthed by government agents today as those uttered about our forebears by King George's men during the first American revolution.  

Nor is it coincidence that those of us labeled as "patriots" wear the mark with respect and honor.  I count myself proudly among their number and pray only that my work be worthy of inclusion.

It takes some effort to update the founding fathers' works to modern forms of language and phrasing, but the result is nothing short of amazing, particularly when we replace "England" with "Federal Government" and "King George" with "The President."

I have presumed to do just that in this series with Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," a four-part work written and published in early 1776 as part of a broad effort to convince the American settlers to declare independence from England.  

In several places, I have retained Paine's wording intact, where it has particular impact in its original form.  In others, I have edited and rephrased mercilessly, while trying to hew to the apparent intent of his argument, though updated to apply to modern circumstances.  

I do not suggest that this is an improvement upon what Thomas Paine had to say.  I believe only that this is how he might have said it, were he alive today and speaking of the grotesquerie that our government has become.

As you read this section, you might find it useful to contrast it with its counterpart in the original "Common Sense."  One of many on-line sources for Thomas Paine's "Common Sense": .  I have maintained the original's organization and structure in this rewrite, in order to facilitate direct comparison.

To the Inhabitants of America
on the following interesting subjects

I. Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the American Constitution. (released 12/26/02) 
II. Of the imperial presidency and hereditary succession. (released 12/28/02) 
III. Thoughts on the present state of American affairs. (subpart a released 1/2/03; subpart b to be released)
IV. Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections. (to be released)

Part IIIa:  Thoughts on the present state of American affairs.

In the following, I offer only simple facts, plain arguments and common sense.  I ask nothing more of the reader than the setting aside of prejudice and rigidity of thinking, so that reason and feelings alone guide one's response.  Put on the true character of an independent thinker and enlarge your views beyond the present day.

Volumes have been written concerning the emerging American police state.  People of every stripe have weighed in on the controversy, from different motives and with various designs.  As all have been ineffectual in stemming the growth of tyranny, the debate may as well be closed.  Arms, as a last resort, will not decide the matter, save in favor of an imperial Federal government that has overwhelming firepower and resources.  Massive group action on the part of the American citizenry is all that now is left to us.

It has been reported that Bush the Second and John Ashcroft have stated that their measures are only of a temporary kind.  Should this belief be adopted by the American public generally, our progeny will curse our names hereafter.

The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.  Ours is not the affair of a city, a state, a region or, even, a country, but of a continent - of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe.  This is not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity is bound up in this contest, to be affected, even to the end of time, by today's proceedings.  Now is the seed time of a New America, of faith and honor.

By referring the matter from argument to action, a new era for politics is begun.  All plans and proposals predating September 11, 2001, are like the almanacs of a bygone era which, though proper then, are superceded and useless now.  Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, crumbled with the World Trade Center.  Before that time, the only difference was the method of effecting change in American society by working within the system, with one side proposing force and the other friendship.  The first has failed due to lapsed opportunity; the latter has withdrawn influence in favor of complete capitulation to neoconservatism.

Much has been said for conciliatory methods of working within the system, which have now passed away like an agreeable dream and left us as we find ourselves.  Now we should examine the counterargument and inquire into some of the many injuries which the American public has sustained, and always will sustain, by being subservient to the Federal government.  Our task now is to examine that connection and dependence, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what might become of us, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependent. 

Some maintain that, as America flourished under her former connection with her Federal government, the same connection is necessary for her future happiness, and will always have the same effect.  Nothing could be more wrong.  We may as well assert that the first twenty year period of our life is to be a pattern for the next twenty.  But, even this gives up too much, because I maintain that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, without the burgeoning Federal government upon her back.  Commerce, by which America has enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of the rest of the world.

But the Federal government has protected us, some say.  Though this is true, consider that the motive was interest and not attachment.  Our government has not protected us from our enemies on our own account, but from its own enemies on its own account, often those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, yet who will always be our enemies solely because of the Federal government's account.  

If we could shrug off the Federal government tomorrow, we would be at peace with Islam, though it is at war with our government.  The miseries of last century's wars should be enough to warn us against foreign entanglements of the sort that have become our government's stock in trade.  No Islamic country was, nor perhaps ever would be, our enemy as Americans, but only as we are citizens of the United States of America.

But the Federal government is America's parent, say some.  Then the more shame upon her conduct.  Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their own families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to our government's reproach.  But, it happens not to be so, or only partly true, and the words "homeland" and "patriot" have been disingenuously adopted by the President and his parasites, with the low design of gaining an unfair bias by virtue of the weakness of our minds.  The Constitution, not the Federal government, is the parent of America.  

America once was the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Here they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster.  How tragic that the same tyranny, which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

Much has been said of the strength of America, that it might bid defiance to the world.  But this is mere presumption.  The fate of war is uncertain, particularly given the prevalence of weapons of mass destruction.

What have we to do with setting the world at odds, one part to another?  Our plan from the start was commerce, which, well attended to, would secure us the peace and friendship of all the rest of the world.  It has been in the interest of other countries to have America be a free port, a trading partner.

I challenge the warmest advocate for support of the Federal government to show a single advantage to accrue to America by imposing its will on other countries, as it has been wont to do, of late.  The injuries and disadvantages that we suffer by pursuit of the Federal government's policies, both foreign and domestic, are without number.  

Our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce the path upon which our Federal government has set us.  That path directly involves America in wars and quarrels throughout the world, and sets us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint.

As the world at large is our market for trade, we ought form no partial connection with any part of it.  It is in the true interest of America to steer clear of Middle East entanglements, which she can never do while she is the make-weight on the scale of Israeli politics.

The next war may not turn out like the last, and is guaranteed only to be followed by another, then another.   It will take but one debilitating loss for the advocates of conciliation with our Federal government to be wishing for separation then, because neutrality then will be a safer convoy than a battleship.

Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation from the behemoth that the Federal Government has become.  The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, "It is time to part."  

Our forefathers fled tyranny by coming to America.  We have no sanctuary to which to retreat, so the time has come for a division of America into diverse parts, as many as necessary to secure internal peace, quell the current strife and insulate from the current spate of wars those of us who disagree with the policies of the Federal government.

The current authority of the Federal government over America is a form of government which, sooner or later, must have an end.  A serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction that what is called the "present state of freedom" is merely temporary.  

As parents, we can have no joy knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure anything which we may bequeath to posterity.  Since we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do its work, else we use them meanly and pitifully.  To see our duty with clarity, we should take our children in hand, and fix our view but a few years further into life; that eminence will present a prospect which only wishful thinking and self delusion conceals from our sight.

Though I do not wish unnecessarily to give offense, I am inclined to believe that all those who espouse unswerving support of our government's course abroad may be found among the following descriptions:  Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the Federal government than it deserves.  This last class, by ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other three.

The inevitable breaking apart of America can be seen in the intent of Mexicans, both citizen and ethnic, to retake the southwest portion of this country, including California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Texas, a region which they have already renamed "Aztlan."  The Federal government has facilitated this insurrection by throwing open America's borders.

Further potential breakups loom as the result of racial strife, born of the very "civil rights" revolution which was designed by the Federal government to quell inequity between the races in America.  Instead, that inequity has been redistributed among the populace and increased, with the result that interracial tensions today far surpass any that has ever been known to America.

Regardless, the separation which I advocate today is political in nature, with the Federal government and as much of America that wishes to follow its lead, going in one direction, while the rest of us peacefully retrace our steps to the constitutional republic which once was the singular hallmark of America:  New America, if you will.  I anticipate that would constitute much of the Midwest, some of New England, some of the South and virtually all of the West that does not fall under Mexico's sway.

Future installments to be released in this series:

Part IIIb. Thoughts on the present state of American affairs. (subpart a released 1/2/03)

Part IV:  Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections.

New America - an idea whose time has come.


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright ©2002, Edgar J. Steele

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