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Major thinkers in welfareContemporary issues in historical perspective$
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Vic George

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781847427069

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847427069.001.0001

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Democracy and welfare

Democracy and welfare

Thomas Paine (1737–1809)

(p.179) Nine Democracy and welfare
Major thinkers in welfare

Vic George

Policy Press

This chapter studies Thomas Paine, who was the first major figure to argue for a rather comprehensive system of social security benefits to prevent and alleviate poverty. As a result, he has been described as a ‘prophet of the modern welfare state’. His views on welfare and politics were also influenced by his own beliefs on human nature, and he was the first major writer to clearly delineate the difference between government and society or society and the state. The discussion differentiates hereditary monarchy and elective monarchy, examines Paine's views on the common good, trade, and private property, as well as his ideas on the structure and culture of poverty. The chapter identifies three fundamental ideals that consist of Paine's legacy: the notion of universal rights, the notion of democracy and political representation as the best form of government and his stature as the ‘father of the welfare state’.

Keywords:   Thomas Paine, social security benefits, hereditary monarchy, elective monarchy, poverty, universal rights, democracy, political representation

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