Rights of Man: Overview

and Relation to Iraq


About "The Rights of Man" and how it relates to Iraq today:


When I tell this story, I like to tell the modern reference and analogies first. So here we go...

Iraq has been under a dictatorship for a long time. With help from the US and others, the dictator was overthrown. Now Iraq is in the process of writing its Constitution. When that is approved by the people, the Iraq will have a government run by the people.

However, there are critics. Yes, there are critics of a free country, in places like Germany, Syria, and even some critics here in the US.

Now, imagine that Condoleezza Rice decided that she had enough of the nonsense of the critics of the newly free Iraq. She then talks with Syria, Germany, and some people in the US. She talks to them about Universal Rights, about Iraq, and about Constitutions.

This is essentially what Thomas Paine did in one of his most famous books "The Rights of Man."


Go back to the year 1791. The French Revolution had just taken place. The French had just finished writing their Constitution. The French had created the first truly republican government anywhere in Europe.

Yet, there were many critics of the new French government. One critic in particular was an outspoken member of English Parliament.

Thomas Paine finally had enough of this criticism of self-government.

He wrote the "Rights of Man" to respond.

In this regard, much of what Paine says about revolutions, Constitutions, and a free government applies to the situation in Iraq today. Indeed, much of what he says is so universal that it applies to numerous situations today, in the United States and elsewhere.

The most basic "right" in Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" is the right for a people to have self-government. (However, the title also applies to the "Declaration of Rights of Man", written by the French, and inserted by Paine in this book).

There are a zillion good points and comments in this book. Paine has many insightful comments about governments, freedom, corruption, and so forth. I will share a quote now and then from this work.


Mark Fennell

March 14, 2006