Like many of us, Condorcet got a bit carried away with praise for the Enlightenment. Unlike many of us, he tempered it with a dose of realism.
Though our author wrote in hiding from a terroristic regime, his saw unlimited potential for human accomplishment.
Condorcet ends his greatest work with the confident assertion that progress cannot be stopped.
In this excerpt from his pamphlet Agrarian Justice, Thomas Paine argues for using land taxes to fund what we would today call a universal basic income.
In his first of several letters to the citizens of the United States, Thomas Paine calls into question the legitimacy of the Federalist Papers.
“O! Thomas, you have had a long nap, and spent a great number of years in ease & plenty, upon our hard earned property.”
Constant shows how the idea of liberty has changed, from the ancient conception of freedom as part of a collection to the modern, individualist view.
Ingersoll moves to discuss the American contributions to practical life in an era when great efficiency yielded greater power and influence.
Ingersoll concludes by examining religious liberty in America. He goes so far as to single out Catholics for their enormous contributions to American life.
Presaging the Young Americans a generation later, Ingersoll argues that an exceptional degree of liberty can produce exceptional contributions to civilization.
“Let us attach ourselves firmly [to] civilization — justice, legality, publicity, Liberty; and let us never forget [that we] are under the eye of the world.”
“In modern Europe the diversity of the elements of social order, the incapability of any one to exclude the rest, gave birth to the liberty which now prevails.”
“Governments are warned by an invincible instinct that force is no title…and that, while they rest upon…violence, they are entirely destitute of right.”
“All the great elements of society were drawn within the feudal enclosure, so even the…most trifling circumstances of common life, became subject to feudalism.”
“The Church, indeed, taken as a whole, has been constantly changing—constantly advancing—her history is diversified and progressive.”
“There is in the very nature of religious society a powerful inclination to elevate the governors above the governed; to regard them as something distinct.”
“Modern Europe, indeed, is born of this struggle between the different classes of society.”
“They greatly diminished the number of petty fiefs, petty domains, and petty proprietors; they concentrated property and power in a smaller number of hands.”