I stumbled across a meme in leftwing blogs making fun of Glenn Beck for pushing the views of Tom Paine, because, they claim, Tom Paine was a socialist. To support this claim they cite to some selected quotes from a tract called “Agrarian Justice”. Those selected quotes, taken out of context sound like Karl Marx. Private property is not the natural state of man et cetera and et cetera. He was in favor of the state paying to support impecunious old people and giving every person a sum of money on reaching maturity to “even” the playing field.
But, as we have come to expect from the left, the quotes were taken out of context. For following his discussion of the the natural state of man, which is not to own land, which claim this alleged atheist supported by reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were sheepherders who were nomadic, following the pasture. They either didn’t read or deliberately left out what follows. He states that cultivated land can support 10 times as many people as uncultivated ( i.e. land in its natural state). Man, he states, cannot forego the benefits of civilization because they are so great. He states, as seen in the quote below, that a man is entitled to the fruits of his own labor. He explicitly states that his proposals are intended to to something to redress inherited inequality while at the same time preserving the benefits of private property. He makes him sound like a modern Republican.
“Nothing could be more unjust than agrarian law in a country improved by cultivation; for though every man, as an inhabitant of the earth, is a joint proprietor of it in its natural state, it does not follow that he is a joint proprietor of cultivated earth. The additional value made by cultivation, after the system was admitted, became the property of those who did it, or who inherited ii from them, or who purchased it. It had originally no owner. While, therefore, I advocate the right, and interest myself in the hard case of all those who have been thrown out of their natural inheritance by the introduction of the system of landed property, I equally defend the right of the possessor to the part which is his.
Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.
In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right, and not a charity, that I am pleading for. Nor it is that kind of right which, being neglected at first, could not he brought forward afterwards till heaven had opened the way by a revolution in the system of government. Let us then do honor to revolutions by justice, and give currency to their principles by blessings.”