My theory is that the best way to teach is to have no philosophy,
is to be chaotic and confuséd, in the sense that you use every
possible way of doing it.
Feynman, answer to an interview question about teaching methods,
Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to
everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to
pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to
cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make
something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a
Enid Bagnold (1889-1982),
British novelist and playwright, and creator of National Velvet.
From her Autobiography (1969)
The greatest menace to our civilization is the conflict
between giant organized systems of self-righteousness - each only
too delighted to find that the other is wicked - each only too
glad that the sins of the other give it pretext for still deeper
from British Historian Herbert
Butterfield, Christianity, Diplomacy and War (1952)
There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found
time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and
thought it time well spent.
Michel de Montaigne, "Of Experience," Essais,
There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby
man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary
means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery,
one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of
others… I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own
labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor
of others, the “economic means” for the satisfaction of needs,
while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be
called the “political means.”
Oppenheimer, The State, 1922
Woolf on Montaigne's Essays:
"But this talking of oneself, following one’s own vagaries,
giving the whole map, weight, colour, and circumference of the
soul in its confusion, its variety, its imperfection — this art
belonged to one man only: to Montaigne. As the centuries go by,
there is always a crowd before that picture, gazing into its
depths, seeing their own faces reflected in it, seeing more the
longer they look, never being able to say quite what it is that
Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, 1925
ressemble à l’ogre de la fable. Là où il flaire la chair
humaine, il sait que là est son gibier."
"The historian is like the ogre of fairy tales, because the
moment he scents human flesh, he knows he has found his prey."
Historian Marc Bloch, from his unfinished
because he was executed in 1944 as a member of the French Resistance
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Persian mathematician and poet, 1048-1131
(trans. Edward Fitzgerald, 1859)
referring to the Great War)
"Never before did people lie as much as they did during the 'great
war for liberty.' If lies could explode, our planet would
have been blown to dust long before the treaty of Versailles."
Leon Trotsky, (from My Life, NY, 1930)
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially
Myths are memories on steroids.
T. Cummins, 2016
Today in honour of the anniversary of the Chinese Revolution the
Chinese flag was hoisted over Broadcasting House. Unfortunately it
was upside down.
George Orwell, Diaries, October 10, 1942
People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before
Otto von Bismarck,
Chancellor of the German Empire (1871-1890)
Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from
There are times when rage is the only rational response.
(Creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer; ep. writer, Lolis Elie),
Seas.1, ep. 5.
spoken by Roy Blunt, Jr., played by Roy Blunt, Jr.
What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. And every phrase And sentence that is right (where every word is at home, Taking its place to support the others, The word neither diffident nor ostentatious, An easy commerce of the old and the new, The common word exact without vulgarity, The formal word precise but not pedantic, The complete consort dancing together) Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, Every poem an epitaph.... T.
S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding" (Four
Please confirm that no one has ever had a copy of your
private key and that it uses a strong passphrase. Assume
your adversary is capable of one trillion guesses per
Snowden to Laura Poitras, 2013
He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the
Duke Ellington on the life of Louis Armstrong (1901 to
You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don't
count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is
there? Your life is made out the days it's made out
of. Nothin else.
Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (novel 2005,
Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps
make something of the world.
Heraclitus, Fragments, c. 500 B.C.
When you're open, shoot.
Student admissions essay, Austin College, circa 1997
(articulating a lesson she had learned from her years of
Sometimes, you just have to stop grading.
Karánn Durland, 2014
the gravest danger that today threatens civilization:
State intervention, the
absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State;
that is to say, of spontaneous
historical action, which in the long-run sustains,
nourishes and impels human destinies.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, 1922
disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee
used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of
the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this
must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so
were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been
fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King
does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied
upon to endure hardships in case of another war.
Great of Prussia, 1777
In theory there is no
difference between theory and practice. In practice
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only
of Hippo, AD 354-430
“You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim; it’s harder to use.
Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun!”
Joseph Biden, Feb. 19, 2013
It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that
guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this
world that they cannot all be punished.
But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned,
perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or
whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no
protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the
mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.
Adams, 1770 (on the occasion of his legal defense of the British
soldiers who fired the killing shots in the "Boston Massacre")
im heiligen Strome,
Da spiegelt sich in den Well'n
Mit seinem grossen Dome
Das grosse, heilige Cöln.
Rhine, in the holy river,
Is mirrored from the waves
The great cathedral,
The great, holy Cologne.
Heinrich Heine, 1823
This is college. There are only two things you can't
do. Smoke in the building. And use a cell phone in
George Takei's character in the film Larry
Peacemakers should stick to their guns!
Austin College, Sept. 2012
Society is purely and solely a continual series of exchanges. It
is never anything else, in any epoch of its duration, from its
commencement the most unformed, to its greatest perfection. And
this is the greatest eulogy we can give to it, for exchange is an
admirable transaction, in which the two contracting parties always
both gain; consequently, society is an uninterrupted succession of
advantages, unceasingly renewed for all its members.
Destutt de Tracy, A Treatise on
Political Economy, Thomas Jefferson, ed. (1817)
Country is a concept of peace, tolerance, of living and letting
live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition;
it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects. And we have the
misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State,
and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a
(1886-1918), from a essay entitled "The State," among his
manuscripts when he died from the Spanish Influenza
“Now, what I want is, facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing
but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and
root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning
animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to
them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children,
and this is the principle on which I bring up these children.
Stick to Facts, sir!”
Dickens, open lines to Hard
...there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who
seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear
political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the
belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile. To this
end the Dervishes, from the Mahdi and the Khalifa downwards, have
been loaded with every variety of abuse and charged with all
conceivable crimes. This may be very comforting to philanthropic
persons at home; but when an army in the field becomes imbued with
the idea that the enemy are vermin who cumber the earth, instances
of barbarity may easily be the outcome. This unmeasured
condemnation is moreover as unjust as it is dangerous and
unnecessary... We are told that the British and Egyptian armies
entered Omdurman to free the people from the Khalifa's yoke. Never
were rescuers more unwelcome.
Churchill, The River War
Diese neueste Erfindung des Herrn Edison ist in der Tat
staunenswert. Der Phonograph ermöglicht, dass ein Mann, der
schon lange im Grabe ruht, noch einmal seine Stimme erhebt und die
This newest invention of Mister Edison is indeed astonishing. The
phonograph makes it possible for a man who has already rested long
in the grave once again to raise his voice and greet the present.
Helmuth von Moltke (the Elder)
(1800-1891), speaking into a recording machine of Edison's, on 21
October 1889 (recording
You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real
J. R. R. Tolkien, from a
letter to his son, Michael, 1941
When the Lord finished the world, he pronounced it good. That is
what I said about my first work, too. But Time, I tell you, Time
takes the confidence out of these incautious opinions. It is more
than likely that He thinks about the world, now, pretty much as I
think about the Innocents Abroad. The fact is, there is a trifle too much water in both.
Mark Twain, in a letter
of letter of 1886
Every age offers its own version of a false moral code.
Llewellen H. Rockwell, Jr., 2010
Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do
not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over,
but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold
him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away,
fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
Étienne de la Boëtie (1530-1563), The Politics of Obedience: Discourse
of Voluntary Servitude
If the natural tendencies of
mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be
free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always
good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also
belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they
themselves are made of finer clay than the rest of mankind?
Tempted by the cleanliness of a poor hut to enter it with my
companion, a young Methodist, who exclaimed to the poor inmate,
"How happy you are - here you have every thing--health and
"Nay," says she, " I have very little. I have
only what I get by spinning, and that is but so much the hank, and
so much the pound."
"Well, but there are good people to help you."
"Good people are but scarce in this world. I do
not get much in that way."
"Well ! but... you have health and that is the
best of earthly blessings."
"It is a great blessing, but I have nothing
Now there, was no reason why the young Methodist should conclude
that this poor woman had any unusual share of health. She had no
appearance of it, and must have been above 50 years of age. She
had never been married, had lived alone, and was one of 9
children, all now dead or dispersed.
After all, my friend again exclaimed "How
sweet! here is everything that is needed for contentment," and so
satisfied, parted with these words uttered in a soft piping tone,
"Peace be with you, think upon Jesus !"
Again replied the old woman, "that is the only
thing, that is the best thing." I certainly saw but little
except the extreme cleanliness of her poor hovel, and divided
between her and an aged neighbour who was keeping her company the
few halfpence I had in my bag, which certainly seemed to give her
more comfort than my friend's felicitations on her blessed
Wordsworth's Journal, July 11, 1828, on an excursion to the
village of Laxey, while visiting the Isle of Man
For second course, last night, a custard came
To th' board, so hot as none could touch the same:
Furze three or four times with his cheeks did blow
Upon the custard, and thus cooled so;
It seem'd by this time to admit the touch,
But none could eat it, 'cause it stunk so much.
"The Custard," by Robert Herrick,
A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak
thinker. The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and
the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle
nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be
one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the
words for them grow together. If you do not know the words,
you can hardly know the thing.
As a Science)
Watch them clamber, these swift monkeys! They clamber over one
another and thus drag one another into the mud and the depth. They
all want to get to the throne: that is their madness--as if
happiness sat on the throne.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra (1885), Part I, Chapter
As well might
you leave the fairies to plough your land or the idle winds to
sow it, as sit down and wait for freedom.
Thomas Davis (1814-1845),
organizer of Young Ireland
We, the last men on earth, the last of the free, have been
shielded till today by the very remoteness and the seclusion for
which we are famed. We have enjoyed impressiveness of the
unknown. But today the boundary of Britain is exposed; beyond us
lies no nation, nothing but waves and rocks and the Romans, more
deadly still than they, for you find in them an arrogance which
no reasonable submission can elude. Brigands of the world, they
have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder and now
they ransack the sea. The wealth of an enemy excites their
cupidity, his poverty their lust of power. East and West have
failed to glut their maw. They are unique in being as violently
tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery,
rapine, with false names they call Empire; and they make a
desert and call it peace.
chieftain of the Caledonians,as
reported by Tacitus, in The
Life of Agricola, AD
A nation without the means of reform is without the means of
You don't like free grazers in this town. We don't much like
being here. But a man's got a right to protect his property
and his life. And we ain't letting no rancher or his lawman
take either. "Boss
Spearman," Open Range (2003--Kevin
Costner, Director; Lauren Paine, original novel; Craig Stolper,
The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have
to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.
John Dalberg-Acton, 1st
The system of banking we have both
equally and ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in
all our constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their
destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption,
and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of
our citizens. Funding I consider as limited, rightfully, to a
redemption of the debt within the lives of a majority of the
generation contracting it; every generation coming equally, by the
laws of the Creator of the world, to the free possession of the
earth he made for their subsistence, unincumbered by their
predecessors, who, like them, were but tenants for life… And I sincerely believe, with
you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing
armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by
posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on
a large scale.
Thomas Jefferson to
John Taylor, 1816
In every political proposal we must not leave out of the question
the political views and object of the proposer; and these we
discover, not by what he says, but by the principles he lays
down. I mean, says he, a moderate and temperate reform; that
is, I mean to do as little good as possible.
Edmund Burke, from "Speech on
the Reform of the Representation of Commons of the House of
I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a
hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require
the same from them.
from The Shootist (Paramount Pictures, 1976), spoken
by John Wayne as "J. B. Books"
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 (1898 - 1963)
If God, who manifestly has the right to do with His creation what
He wills, will not coerce us, what creature can presume to take it
upon himself so to do?
Gerard Casey, Lou Church
Memorial Lecture in Religion and Economics, Austrian Scholars
Um noch über das Belehren, wie die Welt sein soll, ein Wort zu
sagen, so kommt dazu ohnehin die Philosophie immer zu spät. Als
der Gedanke der Welt erscheint sie erst in der Zeit, nachdem die
Wirklichkeit ihren Bildungsprozeß vollendet und sich fertig
gemacht hat. Dies, was der Begriff lehrt, zeigt notwendig ebenso
die Geschichte, daß erst in der Reife der Wirklichkeit das Ideale
dem Realen gegenüber erscheint und jenes sich dieselbe Welt, in
ihrer Substanz erfaßt, in Gestalt eines intellektuellen Reichs
erbaut. Wenn die Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine
Gestalt des Lebens alt geworden, und mit Grau in Grau läßt sie
sich nicht verjüngen, sondern nur erkennen; die Eule der Minerva
beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.
G. W. F. Hegel, Vorrede zu der Philosophie des Rechts, 1821
One more word about teaching what the world ought to be:
Philosophy always arrives too late to do any such teaching. As the
thought of the world, philosophy appears only in the period after
actuality has been achieved and has completed its formative
process. The lesson of the concept, which necessarily is also
taught by history, is that only in the ripeness of actuality does
the ideal appear over against the real, and that only then does
this ideal comprehend this same real world in its substance and
build it up for itself into the configuration of an intellectual
realm. When philosophy paints its gray in gray, then a
configuration of life has grown old, and cannot be rejuvenated by
this gray in gray, but only understood; the Owl of Minerva takes
flight only as the dusk begins to fall.
G. W. F. Hegel, Preface to The Philosophy of Right, 1821
The moving finger writes, and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Khayyám, 1048-1131, a great Persian poet, mathmetician, and
translated into English by the poet Edward FitzGerald in the
volume The Rubáiyát of Omar
I never use my sword when my whip will do, nor my whip when my
tongue will do. Let a single hair bind me to my people, and
I will not let it snap. When they pull, I loosen. And
if they loosen, I pull.
Mu'awiyah, successor to the Rashidun Caliphs and first Caliph of
the Umayyad Dynasty (b. 602--d. 680)
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn
in no other way.
Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends. H. L. Mencken
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace
alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it
with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken
Think of our beloved fatherland, think of beautiful Italy, of
France and of Germany, all of them working at full capacity to
produce weapons of war and destruction. It seems as if we have
reached the end of our civilization. It is all too hideous for
Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926), to a friend, Sept. 3, 1916
It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I
saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and
surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to
touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon,
decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to
move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and
splendor and joy. 0h, what a revolution! and what a heart must I
have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall!
Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those
of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be
obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in
that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see
such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a
nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand
swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a
look that threatened her with insult.
But the age of chivalry is gone; that of
sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the
glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall
we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud
submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the
heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of
an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense
of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is
gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of
honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage
whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched,
and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its
grossness. Edmund Burke,
Whenever the government appears in arms, it ought to appear like
Hercules and inspire respect by display of strength.
Alexander Hamilton, 1795
You said that you are disappointed with the quality of Leachman,
as revealed in the book. He was a ruffian, actually: a long lean
ugly jerking man, with deliberately bad manners, a yellow,
jaundiced eye, harsh-tempered, screaming and violent. He was
always lifting his hand to hit. He came to our side of the desert,
as Philby says: but not for a holiday with Mark Sykes. He was to
have joined our show, he being fed up with Mesopotamia. In five
days he had twice beaten his servant, a poor worm he had brought
with him from Bagdad. We couldn’t afford those sort of morals in
our camp. So off he went. A very savage was Leachman. I suppose
all conquerors have to be of that rather hard grain. He had no
conception that beauty existed. T.
E. Lawrence, 1923
"If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster." Clint
"WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the
oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
It is the only one international in scope. It is the only
one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in
D. Butler, Major General, USMC, 1935
"Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with
our government." Thomas
“You’re nowt but a
ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee: that’s what the Gaffer said to me often
enough, it being a word of his.”
Samwise Gamgee speaking to himself, in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, scene v
"On taxes, the
Democrat favors a top income tax rate of 39.5 percent, and the
Republican favors a top rate of 35 percent. Well, ain’t democracy
grand! We get to debate a whole four and a half percentage
points." Thomas E.
Woods, Jr., September 2, 2008
"In these financial statements no distinction has been made
between the personal resources of the bankers and those of the
banking enterprises. Even though such a distinction was made
in the account books, it was of little legal importance, for the
banker was fully liable for the debts of the bank....
Practically, the resources of the bank and of the banker were
considered the same, and he was counted a dishonest banker who
tried to keep his own wealth after he had taken that of his
depositors." Frederic C.
Lane, "Venetian Bankers, 1496-1533: A Study in the Early
Stages of Deposit Banking," The Journal of
Political Economy, 1937
(vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 193-194)
"If Fannie and Freddie were not underwritten by the federal
government, investors would demand Fannie and Freddie provide
assurance that they follow accepted management and accounting
practices…. By transferring the risk of a widespread mortgage
default, the government increases the likelihood of a painful
crash in the housing market. This is because the special
privileges granted to Fannie and Freddie have distorted the
housing market by allowing them to attract capital they could not
attract under pure market conditions. As a result, capital is
diverted from its most productive use into housing. This reduces
the efficacy of the entire market and thus reduces the standard of
living of all Americans." Ron
have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual
liberty have been eroded." Friedrich
August von Hayek (1899-1992)
"Historical knowledge is
indispensable for those who want to build a better world."
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973),
Omnipotent Government, 1944
"Imperialism is an atavism." Joseph A. Schumpeter
"The Internet is not something you just dump something on.
It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes.... And if you
don't understand, those tubes can be filled. And if they are
filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's
going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous
amounts of material, enormous amounts of material....
I just the other day got - an Internet was sent by my staff
at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), in hearings on
internet regulation, summer 2006
"Every thing secret degenerates, even
the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show
how it can bear discussion and publicity.
Dalberg-Acton (Lord Acton), 1834-1902, in a letter of 23
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right
themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing
invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under
absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such
Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." Declaration of Independence,
July 4, 1776
"Few famous statesmen, especially
in countries with absolutistic constitutions, have been motivated
by patriotism to enter the state service; much more often the
motives have been ambition, the wish to command, to be admired,
and to become famous. I must confess that I am not free from this
passion." Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898),
in a letter to his father, 1838.
“The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks
to live at the expense of everyone else.” Frederic Bastiat
(1801-1850), Selected Essays, 1848.
"Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty
at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832),
in Maximen und Reflexionen
"The more I see of men, the more I
like dogs." Anne Louise Germaine de Staël,
"The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to
govern. Every class is unfit to govern." John Dalberg-Acton (Lord Acton),
1834-1902, in a letter to Mary Gladstone, 1881
"If the natural tendencies of
mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be
free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always
good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also
belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves
are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?"
Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)
“What, speaking in quite
unofficial language, is the net purport and upshot of war? To my
knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil, in the British
village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these,
by certain ‘Natural Enemies’ of the French, there are successively
selected during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men: she
has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood,
and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another
build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty
stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing
they are selected; all dressed in red; and shipped away, at the
public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south
of Spain; and fed there till wanted. And now to that same spot, in
the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a
French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending; till at length, after
infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition;
and Thirty stands fronting Thirty, each with a gun in his hand.
Straightway the word ‘Fire!’ is given: and they blow the souls out
of one another; and in place of sixty brisk, useful craftsmen, the
world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury, and anew shed
tears for." Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881
"An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over
his fellow citizens."
1743-1826 (from a letter of 1813)
"It is indeed probable that more
harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion
to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing
Friedrich von Hayek, 1899-1992
"Warriors and despots are
generally bad economists and they instinctively carry their ideas
of force and violence into the civil politics of their
governments. Free trade is a principle which recognizes the
paramount importance of individual action."
Richard Cobden, 1804-1865
"Among precautions against ambition, it may not be amiss to take
one against our own. I must fairly say I dread our own power and
our own ambition. I dread our being too much dreaded.... Sooner
or later, this state of things must produce a combination
against us which may end in our ruin."
Edmund Burke, Remarks on the Policy of the