I was on the phone with my friend JP, talking about how extraordinarily successful the United States has been. I believe that part of that success arises from extraordinary luck. Around the time when the US became an independent nation, it had a bunch of amazingly wise people guiding it. As in the case of individuals — what one inherits is a random draw from the lottery of creation — so also for nations: the endowments that a nation is born with is random and exogenous. Among the giants who are called the “founding fathers” (a much abused phrase applied without justification to others in other nations) of the United States was an Englishman named Thomas Paine.
The wiki says:
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the America Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights.
. . .
Born in Thetford, England, in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin and he arrived in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), the all-time best-selling American book that advocated colonial America’s independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis (1776–83), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said, “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”
And here’s a quote from Common Sense that will resonate especially with observers of contemporary India and its dysfunctional government:
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 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.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Indians do pay for the whips that the government uses on them.