Features
Featured Essay
Featured Link

Full Collections
Essays (425)
Quotations (6095)
Links (715)
Books (232)

Other Pages
About Us
Authors
Awards
Bookseller Affiliations
Contact Us
Cookies
Editorial Board
Excellent Essays
Excellent Sites
Liberal Magic
Mush Quotations
Our New Look
Privacy Policy
Sign Up!
Submissions
Amazon.com online bookstore
  


Thomas Stephen Szasz
1920 -

Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at State University of New York, critic of contemporary psychiatric practice (especially its role in criminal defense) and of the war on drugs. Author of The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), The Untamed Tongue, and many other works.


When you hear [a politician] running for office say, 'I want to serve my country,' remind yourself that what the man really means is: 'I want the country to be at my service.'

1990 - from The Untamed Tongue
If you truly yearn to be free, you must first recognize all the ways you are unfree. Only after constructing a complete catalogue of the constraints upon you can you begin to consider which ones you can and want to diminish or eliminate and at what cost (to you and others you cherish). Your self-liberation will be complete when you are left with constraints to which you willingly, perhaps even eagerly, submit.

1990 - from The Untamed Tongue
Why do children want to grow up? Because they experience their lives as constrained by immaturity and perceive adulthood as a condition of greater freedom and opportunity. But what is there today, in America, that very poor and very rich adolescents want to do but cannot do? Not much: they can "do" drugs, "have" sex, "make" babies, and "get" money (from their parents, crime, or the State). For such adolescents, adulthood becomes synonymous with responsibility rather than liberty. Is it any surprise that they remain adolescents?

Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.

Drug prohibition is unwise social policy for many reasons, most obviously because forbidden fruit tastes sweeter: that is, because one of the easiest ways for a person (especially a young person) to assert his autonomy is by defying authority (especially arbitrary and hypocritical authority).

The Soviet government censors the press; hence, the Russians have a samizdat (underground) press--which American presidents interpret as proof of the spiritual invincibility of the free market. The American government censors substances (drugs); hence, the Americans have a samizdat (underground) pharmacopoeia--which American presidents interpret as proof of the subversion of the free market by greedy "drug lords" and hostile foreign governments.

Liberty and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. No policy - public or private - can increase or decrease one without increasing or decreasing the other. Human behavior has reasons, not causes.