Monday, August 10, 2015

and another excerpt from John Keane's TOM PAINE: A POLITICAL LIFE

Paine was not a pacifist.  He recognized that in politics "turning the other cheek" can be a devilishly self-contradictory ethic that enables the strong to outfox or destroy the weak.  Yet he was also convinced that an ethic of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" was dangerous, especially in politics, where its literal application invariably leads to mutual reprisals and escalating violence, thereby hardening the hearts of the combatants, destroying their civility, and forcing freedom into exile, condemning it to tramp other lands as a poor and hungry refugee.  Therefore, the use of violent means to defend liberty was only the lesser of two evils.

p.228, Chapter 7 (The Federalist), "Revolutionary Compassion"section

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