Favorite Liberty Quotes

No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it.
-- 16th American Jurisprudence 2d, Section 177 late 2nd, section 256

He who takes the king’s coin becomes the king’s man.
-- anonymous

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
-- Lord Acton

Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, ‘What should be the reward of such sacrifices?’ Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
-- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when Knowledge is diffus’d and Virtue is preserv’d. On the contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauch’d in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.
-- Samuel Adams

...No people ever yet groaned under the heavy yoke of slavery, but when they deserv’d it. ...The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought. ...If therefore a people will not be free; if they have not virtue enough to maintain their liberty against a presumptuous invader, they deserve no pity, and are to be treated with contempt and ignominy.
-- Samuel Adams

The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.
-- Frederic Bastiat

Can the law—which necessarily requires the use of force—rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right... Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use if his faculties for physical, intellectual and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation. This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.
-- Frédéric Bastiat, The Law [1850]

How is the legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime...
-- Frederic Bastiat (THE LAW, p. 21, 26; P.P.N.S., p. 377)

If I had to point out the characteristic trait that differentiates socialism from [a proper view of the political economy], I should find it here. Socialism includes a countless number of sects. Each one has its own utopia, and we may well say that they are so far from agreement that they wage bitter war upon one another. Between M. Blanc’s organized social workshops and M. Proudhon’s anarchy, between Fourier’s association and M. Cabet’s communism, there is certainly all the difference between night and day. What then, is the common denominator to which all forms of socialism are reducible, and what is the bond that unites them against natural society, or society as planned by Providence? There is none except this: They do not want natural society. What they want is an artificial society, which has come forth full-grown from the brain of its inventor... They quarrel over who will mould the human clay, but they agree that there is human clay to mould. Mankind is not in their eyes a living and harmonious being endowed by God Himself with the power to progress and to survive, but an inert mass that has been waiting for them to give it feeling and life; human nature is not a subject to be studied, but matter on which to perform experiments.
-- Frederic Bastiat

It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.
-- Charles A. Beard

About 100% of first-graders walk in on the first day and are interested in this thing called reading. Eighty percent of graduating high school seniors tell us they will never again voluntarily read another book.
-- Yale researcher Kylene Beers

There is no human situation so miserable that it cannot be made worse by the presence of a policeman.
-- Brendan Behan

I don't want my children fed or clothed by the state, but if I had to choose, I would prefer that to them being educated by the state.
-- Max Victor Belz

Men are moved by only two levers: fear and self-interest.
-- Napoleon Boneparte

War is the health of the State.
-- Randolph Bourne

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
-- James Bovard (1994)

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evilminded rulers.The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal well meaning but without understanding.
-- Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-- Douglas Casey (1992)

The proliferation of bureaucrats and its invariable accompaniment, much heavier tax levies on the productive part of the population, are the recognizable signs, not of a great, but of a decaying society. Historians know that both phenomena were especially marked in the declining eras of the Roman Empire in the West and of its successor state, the Eastern or Byzantine Empire.
-- William Henry Chamberlin

The fundamental point to be made about parents and students is not that they are politically weak, but that, even in a perfectly functioning democratic system, the public schools are not meant to be theirs to control and are literally not supposed to provide them with the kind of education they might want. The schools are agencies of society as a whole, and everyone has a right to participate in their governance. Parents and students have a right to participate too. But they have no right to win. In the end, they have to take what society gives them.
-- John E. Chubb & Terry M. Moe, Politics, Markets and America's Schools [1990]

Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
-- Winston Churchill

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.
-- Winston Churchill

Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is - the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.
-- Winston Churchill

Dying even futilely defending yourself, your family, and your group has an honor and a dignity to it that is not vouchsafed by being helplessly slaughtered. Thus even if none had escaped from the Warsaw or Vilna Ghettos or the Sobibor extermination camp, those who took vengeance there honored themselves, their families, and their people.
-- Lloyd R. Cohen

Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons.... Pick up a rifle - a really good rifle - and if you know how to use it well, you change instantly from a mouse to a man, from a peon to a caballero, and - most significantly - from a subject to a citizen.
-- Jeff Cooper, "The Art of the Rifle"

We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honour and independence; we ask no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms.
-- Jefferson Davis, Confederate Constitutional Address [April 29, 1861]

Schools attempt to take credit for what occurs naturally, and blame others for the negative consequences of institutionalization.
-- Denise (on the Separation of School & State list)

The law is an ass, an idiot.
-- Charles Dickens

Indeed nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty: For as violations of the rights of the governed, are commonly...but small at the beginning, they spread over the multitude in such a manner, as to touch individuals but slightly. Thus they are disregarded...They regularly increase the first injuries, till at length the inattentive people are compelled to perceive the heaviness of their burdens. They begin to complain and inquire - but too late. They find their oppressors so strengthened by success, and themselves so entangled in examples of express authority on the part of their rulers, and of tacit recognition on their own part, that they are quite confounded.
-- John Dickenson

Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
-- Frederick Douglass, Aug. 4, 1857

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
-- Frederick Douglass, Speech at Civil Rights Mass Meeting, Washington D.C. [October 22, 1823]

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
-- From John W. Blassingame, Frederick Douglass: The Clarion Voice [1976]

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.
-- Albert Einstein

Every Actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.
-- Emerson

It is the first duty of every citizen to question authority.
-- Ben Franklin

For more than 220 years - from the 1620s to the 1840s - most American schooling was independent of government control, subsidy, and influence. From this educational freedom the American Republic was born.
-- Marshall Fritz

Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.
-- Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi Source: An Autobiography, page 446

Noncooperation is intended to pave the way to real, honorable, and voluntary cooperation based on mutual respect and trust.
-- Mohandas K Gandhi

People are less than whole unless they gather themselves voluntarily into groups of souls in harmony. Gathering themselves to pursue individual, family, and community dreams consistent with their private humanity is what makes them whole; only slaves are gathered by others.
-- John Taylor Gatto

Looking back on a 30-year teaching career full of rewards and prizes, somehow I can’t completely believe that I spent my time on earth institutionalized; I can’t believe that centralized schooling is allowed to exist at all as a gigantic indoctrination and sorting machine, robbing people of their children. Did it really happen? Was this my life? God help me.
-- John Taylor Gatto, "The Underground History of American Education"

In the end, more than 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 and was never free again.
-- Edward Gibbon (1737-1794 Historian)

Discussing the attempts of Augustus’ generals to add to the extent of the Roman Empire early in his reign:
The northern countries of Europe scarcely deserved the expense and labour of conquest. The forests and morasses of Germany were filled with a hardy race of barbarians, who despised life when it was separated from freedom; and though, on the first attack, they seemed to yield to the weight of the Roman power, they soon, by a signal act of despair, regained their independence, and reminded Augustus of the vicissitude of fortune.
-- Edward Gibbon, from his condensed version of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"

You know what the problem is. The fences aren’t just round the farm. They’re up here – in your heads.
--Ginger in "Chicken Run"

Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
-- Barry Goldwater

Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.
-- Barry Goldwater

Either you have a right to own property, or you are property.
-- Wayne Hage, March 1992

A man that should call everything by its right name, would hardly pass the streets without being knocked down as a common enemy.
-- Lord Halifax

It is the nature of slavery to render its victims so abject that at last, fearing to be free, they multiply their own chains. You can liberate a freeman, but you cannot liberate a slave.
-- Louis J. Halle

It has been observed, [that for the federal government] to coerce the States is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised.
-- Alexander Hamilton, at the New York ratification convention

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.
-- Judge Learned Hand

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.
-- John Hay, 1872

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they... have always held... The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And the most effective way to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.... Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed.... If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates... And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.
-- Friedrich Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom"

Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert Heinlein

The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, anytime, and with utter recklessness.
-- Robert A. Heinlein

The Constitution may not be a perfect document, but it beats the hell out of what we’re using now.
-- Cathy Henderson

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.
-- Patrick Henry

The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.
-- Patrick Henry

Fear is the passion of slaves.
-- Patrick Henry

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force: Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
-- Patrick Henry

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny ... it is the light that guides your way.
-- Heraclitus

The highest law of the land is the Constitution of the United States. The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute must be in agreement with it to be valid. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail over the other.
-- Stephen K. Huber, Professor of law, University of Houston

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

...the British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. yet where does this anarchy exist? where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? and can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. they were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. god forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. the people cannot be all, & always, well informed. the past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it's natural manure.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William S. Smith

... the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what are not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.
-- Thomas Jefferson

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.
-- Thomas Jefferson

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.
-- Thomas Jefferson

In matters of principle, stand like a rock.
-- Thomas Jefferson

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive.
-- Thomas Jefferson

It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.
-- Thomas Jefferson

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

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 god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
-- Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.
-- Thomas Jefferson

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.
-- Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819

If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less of it, tax it.
-- Jack Kemp

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
-- John F Kennedy

Today, we need a nation of Minute Men, citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom to be the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.
-- John F. Kennedy, in defense of citizen militias (1961)

All the shrewdness of ‘man’ seeks one thing: to be able to live without responsibility.
-- Soren Kierkegaard

The probability of the people in power being individuals who would dislike the possession and exercise of power is on a level with the probability that an extremely tender-hearted person would get the job of whipping-master in a slave plantation.
-- Chicago economist Frank H. Knight

My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them, nor indisposed me to serve them; nor, in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors, which I now see and acknowledge, or, of the present state of affairs, do I despair of the future. The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, and that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave, and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.
-- Robert E. Lee

Hitherto the plans of the educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted, and indeed we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.
-- C.S. Lewis

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may 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

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-- G. Gordon Liddy

Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.
--John Locke, 1690

Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.
-- John Locke

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne.
-- James Russell Lowell

Among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible.
--Nicolo Machiavelli

I believe there are more instances of abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations....
-- James Madison

... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
-- James Madison

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents....
-- James Madison

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
-- James Madison, Federalist No. 45

With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
-- James Madison

A legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law.
-- John Marshall

The federal government is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers. The principle, that it can exercise only the powers granted to it . . . is now universally admitted.
-- John Marshall

The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.
-- John Marshall: Opinion as Chief Justice in Marbury vs. Madison, 1802

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that, if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that too.
-- William Somerset Maugham, 1941

Personal Responsibility is the Price of Freedom
-- Robert Maynard

Democracy is a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
-- H. L. Mencken

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
-- H. L. Mencken

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights.
-- H. L. Mencken

Here (in America) the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly, the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat slittings, of theological buffoneeries, of aesthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villanies, imbecilities, grotesqueries, and extravagances is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage, so steadily enriched with an almost fabulous daring and originality, that only a person born with a petrified diaphram can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night and wake up with all the eager, unflagging expectation of a Sunday-School superintendent touring the Paris peep-shows.
-- H. L. Mencken

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.
-- H. L. Mencken

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
-- H.L. Mencken

What men value in this world is not rights but privileges.
-- H.L. Mencken

All government, of course, is against liberty.
-- H.L. Mencken

The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history... the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination -- that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.
-- H.L. Mencken

It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume... that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.
-- H.L. Mencken

School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency.
-- H.L. Mencken

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
-- H.L. Mencken

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
-- H.L. Mencken

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.
-- H.L. Mencken

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
-- H.L. Mencken

People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist?
-- H.L. Mencken

To the best of my knowledge and belief, the average American newspaper, even of the so-called better sort, is not only quite as bad as Upton Sinclair says it is, but 10 times worse, 10 times as ignorant, 10 times as unfair and tyrannical, 10 times as complaisant and pusillanimous, and 10 times as devious, hypocritical, disingenuous, deceitful, pharisaical, Pecksniffian, fraudulent, slippery, unscrupulous, perfidious, lewd and dishonest.
-- H.L. Mencken

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

A general state education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.
-- John Stuart Mill

That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.
-- John Stewart Mill, "On Liberty"

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
-- John Stuart Mill

... you call it a ‘loophole’ when the government still allows you some freedom.
-- Ludwig von Mises

It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
-- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
-- Edward R. Murrow

[There is] an increasing tendency among modern men to imagine themselves ethical because they have delegated their vices to larger and larger groups.
-- Reinhold Neibuhr

...the state lies in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it says, it lies—and whatever it has, it has stolen.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, 1884

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.
-- P.J. O'Rourke (1993)

... Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. ... Every government is a parliament of whores.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

The American political system is like fast food - mushy, insipid, made out of disgusting parts of things and everybody wants some.
-- P.J. O'Rourke, "Parliment of Whores"

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money -- if a gun is held to his head.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
-- George Orwell

At any given moment, there is a sort of all pervading orthodoxy, a general tacit agreement not to discuss large and uncomfortable facts.
-- George Orwell

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
-- George Orwell

Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.
-- Thomas Paine

Let them call me a rebel and I welcome it, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of demons were I to make a whore of my soul.
-- Thomas Paine

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from the government.
-- Thomas Paine "The Rights of Man" c.1792

Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous consciousness of honour. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labour and poverty. It is drawn even from the bitterness of want and misery. Not a beggar passes, or perishes in the streets, whose mite is not in that mass.
-- Thomas Paine, "The Rights of Man"

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
-- Thomas Paine

Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a *man-of-war*, and we are all *crew*.
-- Boston T. Party

A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.
-- Isabel Paterson

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves
-- William Pitt (1783)

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
-- P.J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who won the freedoms enjoyed for protesters to burn the flag.
-- Charles M. Province

Oh, my countrymen! What will our children say, when they read the history of these times? Should they find we tamely gave away without one noble struggle, the most invaluable of earthly blessings? As they drag the galling chain, will they not execrate us? If we have any respect for things sacred; any regard to the dearest treasures on earth; if we have one tender sentiment for posterity; if we would not be despised by the whole world - let us in the most open, solemn manner, and with determined fortitude, swear we will die, if we cannot live as free men!
-- Josiah Quincy, Jr., 1788, published in the Boston Gazette

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.
-- Ayn Rand, "The Nature of Government"

The people of this country, if ever they lose their liberties, will do it by sacrificing some great principle of government to temporary passion. There are certain great principles, which if they are not held inviolable, at all seasons, our liberty is gone. If we give them up, it is perfectly immaterial what is the character of our sovereign; whether he be King or President, elective or hereditary - it is perfectly immaterial what is his character - we shall be slaves - it is not an elective government which will preserve us.
-- John Randolph, Southern Conservative, Roanoke, VA, 1813

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in just a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
-- Ronald Reagan (1986)

The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-- Ronald Reagan

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.
-- Thomas Reed

Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.
-- Will Rogers

Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them.
-- Will Rogers

We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs.
-- Will Rogers

The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best.
-- Will Rogers

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
-- Will Rogers

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
-- Bertrand Russell

Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.
--SALLUST (Gaius Sallustius Crispus)

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.
-- Siegfried Sassoon

It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.
-- Albert Shanker, president, American Federation of Teachers

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw

Freedom requires responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
-- George Bernard Shaw

It is difficult for a man to understand something when his income depends upon him not understanding it.
-- Upton Sinclair

Government can only do two things: It can beat people up and kill them. Or it can threaten to do so. When it seems to be doing something else - for example, handing out money or, say, surplus cheese - what's actually going on is that something has been taken away from one set of individuals by deadly force or the threat of deadly force, a hefty middleman's fee deducted, and whatever is left thrown to peasants delighted to receive stolen goods.
-- L. Neil Smith

If you want government to intervene domestically, you’re a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you’re a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you’re a moderate. If you don’t want government to intervene anywhere, your’e extremist.
-- Joseph Sobran (1995)

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"

No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: ‘But what would you replace it with?’ When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?
-- Thomas Sowell

The ultimate effect of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, philosopher

All these cries of having "abolished slavery," of having "saved the country," of having "preserved the union," of establishing a "government of consent," and of "maintaining the national honor," are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats - so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.
-- Lysander Spooner (prominent abolitionist) in 1870

It is to be interpreted, as all solemn instruments are, by endeavoring to ascertain the true sense and meaning of all the terms; and we are neither to narrow them, nor to enlarge them, by straining them from their just and natural import, for the purpose of adding to, or diminishing its powers, or bending them to any favorite theory or dogma of party. It is the language of the people, to be judged of according to common sense, and not by mere theoretical reasoning. It is not an instrument for the mere private interpretation of any particular men.
-- Joseph Storey, Supreme Court Justice from 1811-1845, on the subject of the Constitution

The saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time.
-- George Sutherland, 1862-1942 US Supreme Court Justice

Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws.
-- Publius Cornelius Tacitus

The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of [the] way.
-- Henry David Thoreau

The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.
-- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" [1849]

The French under the old monarchy held it for a maxim that the king could do no wrong . The Americans entertain the same opinion with respect to the majority.... If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the omnipotence of the majority.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville

[Administration] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting; such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America" (circa 1830)

If it be admitted that a man, possessing absolute power, may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should a majority not be liable to the same reproach? Men are not apt to change their characters by agglomeration; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with the consciousness of their strength. And for these reasons I can never willingly invest any number of my fellow creatures with that unlimited authority which I should refuse to any one of them.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America" (circa 1830)

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principle concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances; what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America" (circa 1830)

No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
-- Mark Twain (1866)

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
-- Voltaire

Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
-- Daniel Webster

[T]he threat to liberty in the 21st century is the same as it has been throughout mankind's history. That threat is use of the coercive powers of government, under the color of law, to take the rightful property of some people and give to others, and the forcible imposition of the will of one group of people on another group. Such acts, most often done in the name of good, explain the ugliest portions of human history. The question is whether America will degenerate into what has been mankind's standard fare throughout history. We have yet to see the kind of arbitrary control, abuse and violation of basic human rights seen elsewhere. But if we ask ourselves which way are we heading, tiny steps at a time: toward more personal liberty or toward greater government control over our lives, the answer would unambiguously be the latter. We Americans face an awesome challenge and responsibility because if liberty dies here, it's probably dead for all places and all times.
-- Dr Walter Williams

[G]ive a man the secure possession of bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden; give him a nine years lease of a garden, and he will convert it to a desert....The magic of property turns sand into gold.
-- Arthur Young

Bureaucrats: they are dead at 30 and buried at 60. They are like custard pies; you can't nail them to a wall.
-- Frank Lloyd Wright

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
-- Malcolm X

And, from the opposite point of view...

Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.
-- Benito Mussolini

You can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent."
-- John Dewey, who strongly influenced American public schooling

[I]t is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
-- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

Let the Common School be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolate by night; property, life, and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future brightened.
-- Horace Mann, Common School Journal, January 1841

The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.
-- Paul A. Samuelson, Professor emeritus, MIT

Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.
-- Josef Stalin

The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense
--Karl Marx 1848