Hunt Tooley  

Quotation of the Week Archive                               ac logo

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.

Physicist Richard Feynman, answer to an interview question about teaching methods, 1976

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 cactus.

        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 hatred.

        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.

        from Michel de Montaigne, "Of Experience,"  Essais,  published 1580-95

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.”

From Franz 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 they see."

            from Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, 1925

"L’historien 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 book
Métier d’historien, 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.”

Omar Khayyam
    Persian mathematician and poet, 1048-1131
    (trans. Edward Fitzgerald, 1859)

(Trotsky, 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 denied."

            Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

Myths are memories on steroids.

Light 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 an election.

             Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire (1871-1890)

Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like national interests.

            Thomas Sowell

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Will Rogers (1879-1935)

There are times when rage is the only rational response.

(Creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer; ep. writer, Lolis Elie), Seas.1, ep. 5. 
            Words 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 Quartets), 1942

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 second.

Edward Snowden to Laura Poitras, 2013

He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.

       Duke Ellington on the life of Louis Armstrong (1901 to 1971)

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, film 2007)

Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.

Heraclitus, Fragments, c. 500

When you're open, shoot.

                Student admissions essay, Austin College, circa 1997 (articulating a lesson she had learned from her years of basketball experience)

Sometimes, you just have to stop grading.

                Professor Karánn Durland, 2014

This is 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

It is 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.

        Frederick the Great of Prussia, 1777 

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice there is.

                Yogi Berra

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

Augustine 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!”

            Vice-President 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.

           John Adams, 1770 (on the occasion of his legal defense of the British soldiers who fired the killing shots in the "Boston Massacre")

Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome,
Da spiegelt sich in den Well'n
Mit seinem grossen Dome
Das grosse, heilige Cöln.
In the 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 my class.

George Takei's character in the film Larry Crowne, 2011

Peacemakers should stick to their guns!

   Henry Bucher, 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.

Antoine 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 hopeless confusion.
Randolph Bourne (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!” 

Charles Dickens, open lines to Hard Times, 1854

...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.

Winston Churchill, The River War (1899)

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 Gegenwart begrüßt.

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 rediscovered, 2012)

You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil.

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?

Frédéric Bastiat, 1801-1850

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 contentment."
    "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 else."
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 condition.

        From Dorothy 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, 1591-1674

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.
                        Henry Hazlitt
(Thinking 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 11

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.

                Calgacus, a chieftain of the Caledonians,  as reported by Tacitus, in The Life of AgricolaAD 98

A nation without the means of reform is without the means of survival.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

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, screenplay)

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the ba
                    John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

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 Parliament," 1782

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 Conference, 2010

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.

                    Omar Khayyám, 1048-1131, a great Persian poet, mathmetician, and philosopher;
                        translated into English by the poet Edward FitzGerald in the volume The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1859)

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.
                        Mark Twain

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 words.     
           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, 1793

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 Eastwood

"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 lives."
Smedley D. Butler, Major General, USMC, 1935

"Conquest is not in our principles.  It is inconsistent with our government."
Thomas Jefferson

“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 trilogy).    

"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 Paul,  2003

"Emergencies 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 (1883-1950), 1918

"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 yesterday."       
    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.
    John Dalberg-Acton (Lord Acton), 1834-1902, in a letter  of  23 January 1861

"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 t
heir 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, 1766-1817

"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." 

                    Thomas Jefferson, 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 evil."               
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 Allies, 1793

Return to Hunt Tooley's Austin College home page