Thomas PaineThomas Paine, (1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author

Thomas Paine Quote

“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”

Thomas PaineThomas Paine
~ Thomas Paine

Common Sense, February 14, 1776

Ratings and Comments

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

They are but two sides of the same coin, and they are not so clearly polarized as Paine would lead us to believe.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Society is characterized by neighbors helping neigbors, charity from individuals, churches or other free associations of people, to the needy. Government is characterized by taking goods from one segment of society at the point of a gun, and distrubuting the loot to the select group or individual. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is the ultimate in government.

E Archer, NYC

Government is a subset of society -- society is not s subset of government.

Rex Robinson, Florence

FREEDOM, like everything else, if not labored for isn't valued nearly enough. It is our human nature that gives freedom it's value and our virtue is the only honest appraiser.


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