Monday, February 04, 2008

Trollied Super Tuesday and Thomas Paine

Super Tuesday and whether or not you have any particular interest in the results, there is not better time for a Trollied Tuesday in honour of the finest ideals of the United States – that government is a necessary evil and that one should be allowed to make one's way in life without the overwhelming and arbitrary authority of religious or secular authority telling you how you must behave.

Some people prefer the hyperbolic description Tsuanmi Tuesday – certainly I'd urge those of you following the primaries to speed the process along by pouring a tidal wave of drink down your throats.

After all, the cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind. Specifically, for those of us on this side of the Atlantic let us remember one of the guiding lights of the American project Thomas Paine – yet another proof of alcohol's beneficial effects on the mind and the morals.

For his opponents, Paine's drinking was proof of his poor character and moral failings (echoes here of one writer who has recently produced a book about Paine, Christopher Hitchens, who has said that whenever his opponents bring up his drinking habits as a means of discrediting them, he regards it as akin to a confession they cannot defeat his arguments) and of a piece with his rejection of monarchy, empire and the established religion.

All of which things are – of course – proof of nobility of mind and soundness of character. To those virtues led us add a proper appreciation of drink. Another biographer, John Keane recently told he Camden New Journal (sorry, link not yet available): "He suffered terribly from gout and other ailments. There were no painkillers in those days except a good bottle of gin."

Ah gin. Is there anything it can't make better? Readers wishing to avoid gout, incidentally, would do well to stick to gin. It's soft drinks and fruit juice that will really do the damage.

Anyway, back to Paine. It is hard not to warm to any philosopher who calls one of his greatest work Common Sense. It scarcely needs my praise to add to the centuries' worth of appreciation with which this pamphlet has been garlanded. Instead, let me urge those of you who haven't read it to pour yourself a glass of something, get reading and while we wait to see whether the better angels of America's nature will reassert themselves in this electoral cycle, muse on the ways on which freedom and whisky gang thegither (as another British admirer of the revolt of the colonies put it). Just don't let Americaphila go so far as to drink Budweiser. It's the most terrible rubbish; truly a symptom of all that is wrong with America. (I mean this one, of course, the other one's fine).



Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I'm very fond of Paine, but I like Godwin even better. They don't make 'em like that anymore - not even in America.


11:50 am  

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