A Short Bio of Thomas Paine
thanks to Jon Katz at Wired Magazine, May 1995, for the following:
Thomas Paine, a fuzzy historical figure of the 1700s, is remembered mostly for one or two sparkling patriotic quotes - "These are the times that try men's souls" - and little else. A professional revolutionary, Paine was one of the first to use media as a powerful weapon against an entrenched array of monarchies, feudal lords, dictators, and repressive social structures. He invented contemporary political journalism, creating almost by himself a mass reading-public aware for the first time of its right to encounter controversial opinions and to participate in politics.
Thomas Paine is our dead and silenced ancestor. He made us possible. We need to resurrect and hear him again, not for his sake but for ours. We need to know who he was, to understand his life and work, in order to comprehend our own revolutionary culture. Paine's odyssey made him the greatest media figure of his time, one of the unseen but profound influencers of ours. He made more noise in the information world than any messenger or pilgrim before or since. His mark is now nearly invisible in the old culture, but his spirit is woven through and through this new one, his fingerprints on every Web site, his voice in every online thread.
The Big Concept man of his time, his deep ideas still resonate: An end to monarchies and dictatorships. American independence from England, of course. International federations to promote development and maintain peace. Rights and protections for laborers. An end to slavery. Equal rights for women. Public education, public employment, assistance for the poor, pensions for the elderly. And above all, a fearless press that tells the truth, gives voice to individual citizens, tolerates opposing points of view, transcends provincialism, is accessible to the poor as well as the rich.
We need to get back to some of those concepts!