Quotes

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names — liberty and tyranny.”
Abraham Lincoln


“A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

“The foremost, or indeed the sole condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced as it were to a single principle.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

“There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that spurs all men to wish to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the lesser to the rank of the greater. But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

“Thus, taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrial animals of which the government is the shepherd.”
Alexis de Tocqueville


“Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.”
André Paul Guillaume Gide


“[P]erhaps he realized in a subliminal way that in the modern multicultural world, there is more mileage in being a minority than in being a déclassé member of the mainstream. In the current climate, you can’t fail as a minority: you can only be failed by others.”
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple)

“The third threat comes from the existence of the welfare state and the welfare-state mentality. A system of entitlements has been created that, however economically counterproductive, is politically difficult to dismantle: once privileges are granted, they assume the metaphysical status of immemorial and fundamental rights.”
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple)

“The idea that mankind might find life beautifully easy if only the right laws could be promulgated and the right social attitudes inculcated is a beguiling one. It suggests that dissatisfaction and frustration arise from error and malice, rather than from the inescapable and permanent separation between man’s desires and what the world can offer him. Difficulty, however, cannot be abolished; it is the condition of human life itself. We try to avert our eyes from this truth as we avert them from death itself.”
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple)

“The appeal of political correctness is that it attempts to change men’s souls by altering how they speak. If one sufficiently reforms language, certain thoughts become unthinkable, and the world moves in the approved direction. The deliberate and conscious reform of language is therefore not the work of pedants, but of philosopher-kings. Stalin called writers “engineers of souls,” but they are at best (or worst) auxiliaries: the real engineers are the bureaucrats”
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple)

“The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man’s activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn’t difficult to spot in environmentalists’ work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.”
Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple)


“A Constitution is not meant to facilitate change. It is meant to impede change, to make it difficult to change.”
Antonin Scalia


“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”
Arnold J. Toynbee


“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
C.S. Lewis

“If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
C.S. Lewis


“To believe that yesterday’s crime could have been prevented, you have to presume either that a man willing to go to such grievous lengths could have been deterred from doing so by stronger laws, or that those stronger laws could rid America of privately available guns completely — thus making the killer’s task an impossible one. I believe neither thing.”
Charles C.W. Cooke

“These extremes, although distressing in and of themselves, are material proof that a country is free. Given that there is no earthly way of establishing absolutely that my views are right and that those held by others are wrong, the presence of voices I dislike in the debate serves virtuously as the guarantee of my capacity to participate with impunity.”
Charles C.W. Cooke


“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.”
David Hume


“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.”
Edward Gibbon


“The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.”
Eric Hoffer

“Unity and self-sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind.”
Eric Hoffer

“Nothing so offends the doctrinaire intellectual as our ability to achieve the momentous in a matter-of-fact way, unblessed by words.”
Eric Hoffer

“The fact is that up to now the free society has not been good for the intellectual. It has neither accorded him a superior status to sustain his confidence nor made it easy for him to acquire an unquestioned sense of social usefulness. For he derives his sense of usefulness mainly from directing, instructing, and planning– from minding other people’s business– and is bound to feel superfluous and neglected where people believe themselves competent to manage individual and communal affairs, and are impatient of supervision and regulation. A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual’s sense of worth as an automated economy is to the workingman’s sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.”
Eric Hoffer

It is necessary for most of us these days to have some insight into the motives and responses of the true believer. For though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious.
Eric Hoffer

“The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.”
Eric Hoffer

“I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”
Eric Hoffer


“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”
Frederic Bastiat

“Competition is merely the absence of oppression.”
Frederic Bastiat


“You white people are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are, at best, only his step children. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined. Taking him for all in all, measuring the tremendous magnitude of the work before him, considering the necessary means to ends, and surveying the end from the beginning, infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into the world better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln.”
Frederick Douglass


“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as De Tocqueville describes it, ‘a new form of servitude.’”
F.A. Hayek

“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.”
F.A. Hayek

“The case for individual freedom rests chiefly on the recognition of the inevitable and universal ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievement of our ends and welfare depend. It is because every individual knows so little and, in particular, because we rarely know which of us knows best that we trust the independent and competitive efforts of many to induce the emergence of what we shall want when we see it.”
F.A. Hayek


“Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations — except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome. They do indeed cultivate diversity — in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought.”
George F. Will

“Liberals are most concentrated and untrammeled on campuses, so look there for evidence of what, given the opportunity, they would do to America.”
George F. Will


“To abjure violence it is necessary to have no experience of it.”
George Orwell


“All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we’d be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.”
H.L. Mencken

“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
H.L. Mencken

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”
H.L. Mencken


“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”
John Galsworthy


“This is what will be meant in this book by Economic Liberalism. The reader is requested to keep this definition in mind because the term has acquired a different– in fact almost the opposite– meaning since about 1900 and especially since 1930: as a supreme, if unintended, compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label.”
Joseph A. Schumpeter


“The style of Marx’s writings is not that of the investigator . . . he does not quote examples or adduce facts which run counter to his own theory but only those which clearly support or confirm that which he considers the ultimate truth. The whole approach is one of vindication, not investigation, but it is a vindication of something proclaimed as the perfect truth with the conviction not of the scientist but of the believer.”
Karl Jaspers


“Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you.”
Karl Raimund Popper

“It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.”
Karl Raimund Popper


“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
Louis Brandeis


“Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The best Armour of Old Age is a well spent life preceding it; a Life employed in the Pursuit of useful Knowledge, in honourable Actions and the Practice of Virtue; in which he who labours to improve himself from his Youth, will in Age reap the happiest Fruits of them; not only because these never leave a Man, not even in the extremest Old Age; but because a Conscience bearing Witness that our Life was well-spent, together with the Remembrance of past good Actions, yields an unspeakable Comfort to the Soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


“If you cannot state a proposition clearly and unambiguously, you do not understand it.”
Milton Friedman

“A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”
Milton Friedman


“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than the investigation of the obscure.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”
Partrick Herny


“This idea — that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power — is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
Ronald Reagan

“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Ronald Reagan


“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Thomas Jefferson

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
Thomas Jefferson

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Thomas Jefferson

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”
Thomas Jefferson

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”
Thomas Jefferson

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
Thomas Jefferson


“We still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.”
Thomas Paine


“Egalitarians create the most dangerous inequality of all — inequality of power. Allowing politicians to determine what all other human beings will be allowed to earn is one of the most reckless gambles imaginable. Like the income tax, it may start off being applied only to the rich but it will inevitably reach us all.”
Thomas Sowell

“It is amazing how many of the horrors of the 20th century were a result of charismatic quacks misleading millions of people to their own doom. What is even more amazing is that, after a century that saw the likes of Hitler, Lenin and Mao, we still see no need to distrust charisma as a basis for choosing leaders, either in politics or in numerous organizations and movements.”
Thomas Sowell

“In the academic world, diversity means black leftists, white leftists, female leftists, and Hispanic leftists. Demographic diversity conceals ideological conformity.”
Thomas Sowell

“The most basic question is not what is best but who shall decide what is best.”
Thomas Sowell

“As long as human beings are imperfect, there will always be arguments for extending the power of government to deal with these imperfections. The only logical stopping place is totalitarianism — unless we realize that tolerating imperfections is the price of freedom.”
Thomas Sowell


“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
William Butler Yeats


“Perhaps the most important and readily demonstrable lesson of history is that freedom goes hand in hand with a state of political decentralization, that remote government is irresponsible government.”
William F. Buckley


“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
William Pitt, the Younger


Ignoble Quotes

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Barack Obama, University of Missouri, October 30, 2008

“The law I passed is here to stay.”
Barack Obama, referring to Obamacare, Maumee, OH, July 5, 2012

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Barack Obama, Roanoke, VA, July 13, 2012

“We don’t have a spending problem.”
Barack Obama to John Boehner during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, December 2012


“Misogyny and sexism, racism, income inequality, patriarchy, and homophobia and heteronormative ideals course through the culture like a pathogen in the blood, infecting the whole of the being beneath the surface.”
Charles M. Blow


“We have evolved to need coercion.”
Daniel E. Lierberman


“What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Hilary Clinton, referring to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, January 23, 2013


“But we have to pass the bill so that we can find out what is in it.”
Nancy Pelosi, referring to Obamacare, March 9, 2010


“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Rahm Emanuel, November 19, 2008


“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, January 30, 2012