Thursday, March 9, 2023

Wishful thinking.............

      Throughout the eighteenth century, as we have seen, liberal intellectuals had looked forward to a new republican world in which corrupt monarchial diplomacy, secret alliances, dynastic rivalries, and balance of power would be abolished.  Since the dynastic ambitions, the bloated bureaucracies, and the standing armies of monarchies were related to the waging of war, the elimination of monarchy promised the elimination of war.  War, said Paine, "from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of Old Governments, and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches."  Monarchies encourage war simply "to keep the spirit of the system."  The reason republics were not plunged into the waging of war was the "the nature of their Government does not admit of an interest distinct to that of the Nation."  A world of republican states would encourage a peace-loving diplomacy, one based on the natural concert of international commerce.  If the people of the various nations were left alone to exchange goods freely among themselves—without the corrupting interference of selfish, warmongering monarchial courts, irrational dynastic rivalries, and the secret double-dealing diplomacy of the past—the, it was hoped, international politics would be republicanized and pacified.

Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters:  What Made The Founders Different, as taken from his chapter, Thomas Paine, America's First Public Intellectual

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