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6,095 quotations, showing Voltaire to Webster

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Voltaire, Francois
All the citizens of a state cannot be equally powerful, but they may be equally free.

1764 - from Philosophical Dictionary
In the matter of taxation, every privilege is an injustice.

... so long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.

Men use thought only to justify their wrong doings, and speech only to conceal their thoughts.

Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed.

from Questions sur l'encyclopedie
von Bismark, Otto
Politics ruins the character.

Men should not know how their laws or sausages are made.

When you say that you agree to a thing in principle you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice.

Never believe in anything until it has been officially denied.

The three signs of great men are - generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success.

Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable ... the art of the next best.

Aug. 11, 1867
People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.

The bureaucracy is what we all suffer from.

1891 - from a speech
von Braun, Werner
In this modern world of ours many people seem to think that science has somehow made such religious ideas as immortality untimely or old fashioned.I think science has a real surprise for the skeptics. Science, for instance, tells us that nothing in nature, not even the tiniest particle, can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies this fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of His universe, doesn t it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation, the human soul?

We can lick gravity, but the paperwork is overwhelming.

von Mises, Ludwig
There is simply no other choice than this: either to abstain from interference in the free play of the market, or to delegate the entire management of production and distribution to the government. Either capitalism or socialism: there exists no middle way.

quoted in The MacMillan Book of Business and Economic Quotations by Michael Jackman
The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders.

Modern civilization is a product of the philosophy of laissez faire.

Only in a progressing economy is there a surplus of total profits over total losses. The popular belief that profits are a deduction from the income of workers and consumers is entirely fallacious.

The jealousy of the common man looks upon the profits of the entrepreneurs as if they were totally used for consumption. A part of them is, of course, consumed. But only those entrepreneurs attain wealth and influence in the world of business who consume merely a fraction of their profits and plough back the much greater part into their enterprises. What makes the small business develop into the big business is not spending but saving and capital accumulation.

Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

All people, however fanatical they may be in their zeal to disparage and to fight capitalism, implicitly pay homage to it by passionately clamoring for the products it turns out.

Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee.

...economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.

from Socialism
Vorwald, Tom
I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do. I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal lonliness should I fail. ... At least some day I will be able to say, I was proud of what I was and always will be.

Walden, Brian
Social democrats ... say that they accept a market economy, but their acceptance is conditional upon such an economy achieving an almost limitless range of social and moral objectives. So they do not really accept the market economy as it is, but only an imaginary version which they suppose they can legislate into existence.

1990 - from a column in The Sunday Times newspaper, London
Some human beings are more beautiful, or stronger, or faster, or more adept with a tennis racket or snooker cue, or more creative, or more intelligent than the majority. The free market pays them for their attributes. How on earth could it work otherwise than by assessing the demand for a particular talent and the price needed to secure it? If this is thought to be intolerable ... then we should abolish the free market and abide the consequences. Experience indicates that these will be unpleasant.

1990 - from a column in The Sunday Times newspaper, London
Walden, George
I sometimes think that a full-blown Marxist conspiracy in English education would have been more bracing. What we have had instead is a vulgarized, bastardized version of the creed: not Marxist but Marxoidal.

Jan. 1994 - quoted in "Was Dewey a Marxist?", by William Brooks, published by The St. Lawrence Institute for the Advancement of Learning

Walesa, Lech
Our souls contain exactly the contrary of what [the communists] wanted. They wanted us not to believe in God, and our churches are full. They wanted us to be materialistic and incapable of sacrifices; we are anti-materialistic, capable of sacrifice. They wanted us to be afraid of the tanks, of the guns, and instead we don't fear them at all.

from an interview published in the Washington Post
I must tell you that the supply of words on the world market is plentiful, but the demand is falling.

1989 - Speech to the U.S. Congress
Wallace, George
I've seen many politicians paralyzed in the legs as myself, but I've seen more of them who were paralyzed in the head.

Wallace, Jonathan
[The judgement against operators of the anti-abortion Web site The Nuremberg Files] The verdict ... acutely illustrates the way society blurs the distinction between morality and legality. Not everything which we find shockingly immoral is, or should be, illegal. In the case of a decision assigning liability for pure speech -- for that is all a web page is -- more consideration should have been given to the goals of the first amendment, and the precedents already established in free speech law.

Feb. 15, 1999 - from "Anti-abortion web site shut down in civil suit", published in The Ethical Spectacle
Wallenda, Karl
Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting. Some people think failure is final. Others gain energy and learn from failure.

1968 - quoted in Leadership: Strategies for Taking Charge by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, 1985
Walsh, Dr. David
It is tragically ironic that at the very time we are wringing our hands about violent behavior among young people, we are simultaneously entertaining them with it.

Walsh, Mary  
We have a history of defining ourselves by the negatives, and we seem happy enough doing it.

Aug. 2, 2001 - from "We tend toward a riotous gloom", published in the National Post
Wappel, Tom  
 How is it that you are writing me for my help if you did not think enough of my abilities to justify voting for me? ... I can decide who to help or not.

May 10, 2001 - from a letter to his constituent, an elderly veteran asking for help getting benefits, and from the resulting story in the National Post
Ward, Lester Frank
 The school will fill the place now occupied by the church.

 The secret of the superiority of state over private education lies in the fact that in the former the teacher is responsible to society... The result desired by the state is a wholly different one from that desired by parents, guardians, and pupils.


Warhola, J.
With the modern state's arrogation of authority over all dimensions of life ... it is not surprising that popular expectations of the state have risen correspondingly. In the late modern era, states' failure to live up to popular expectations often engenders a renewal of nationalism or ethnic sentiment.

1991 - from an essay published in International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society No. 5
Warnock, Geoffrey
To be clear-headed rather than confused; lucid rather than obscure; rational rather than otherwise; and to be neither more, nor less, sure of things than is justifiable by argument or evidence. That is worth trying for.

Warren, Earl
All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups, who innumerable times have been the vanguard of democratic thought and whose programs were ultimately accepted.

1957 - from Sweezey vs New Hampshire
In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics. Each is indispensable to civilization. Without law, we should be at the mercy of the least scrupulous; without ethics, law could not exist.

Nov. 11, 1962 - from a speech at the Jewish Theological Seminary
... without law, civilization could not exist, for there are always people who in the conflict of human interest, ignore their responsibility to their fellow man ...

Nov. 11, 1962 - from a speech at the Jewish Theological Seminary
Society would come to grief without Ethics, which is unenforceable in the courts, and cannot be made a part of the Law. ... Not only does Law in civilized society presuppose ethical commitment; it presupposes the existence of a broad area of human conduct controlled only by ethical norms and not subject to Law at all. There is thus a Law beyond the Law, as binding on those of us who cherish our institutions as the Law itself, although there is no human power to enforce it.

Nov. 11, 1962 - from a speech at the Jewish Theological Seminary
Citizenship is man's basic right for it is nothing less than the right to have rights. Remove this priceless possession and there remains a stateless person, disgraced and degraded in the eyes of his countrymen.

1958 - from his dissenting opinion in Perez v. Brownell
The [Supreme] Court's authority -- possessed neither of the purse nor the sword -- ultimately rests on sustained public confidence in its moral sanction. Such feeling must be nourished by the Court's complete detachment, in fact and appearance, from political entanglements and by abstention from injecting itself into the clash of political forces and political settlements.

Everything that I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.

Warren, Josiah
Liberty, then, is the sovereignty of the individual, and never shall man know liberty until each and every individual is acknowledged to be the only legitimate sovereign of his or her person, time, and property, each living and acting at his own cost; and not until we live in a society where each can exercise his right of sovereignty at all times without clashing with or violating that of others.

1855 - from Equitable Commerce

Warshow, Robert
Modern equalitarian societies, whether democratic or authoritarian in their political forms, always base themselves on the claim that they are making life happier. Happiness thus becomes the chief political issue - in a sense, the only political issue - and for that reason it can never be treated as an issue at all.

Washington, Booker T.
You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.

Character is power.

Washington, George
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like a fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

Respect for [the government's] authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.

I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an Honest Man.

Aug. 28, 1788 - from a letter to Alexander Hamilton
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency.

1781 - urging troops not to lose heart at the battle of West Point in the American Revolutionary War
There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.

Jan. 8, 1790 - from an address to the U.S. Congress

Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.

from his farewell address
[My terms in office] have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire.

Sep. 17, 1796 - from his farewell address
However combinations or associations of [factions] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government - destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Sep. 17, 1796 - warning about the growing power of political parties, from his farewell address
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politican, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

Sep. 17, 1796 - from his farewell address
A good moral character is the first essential in a man. It is therefore highly important to endeavor not only to be learned, but virtuous.

The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation which disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.

1789 - from his inaugural address
[Political parties] ... the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.

Sep. 17, 1796 - from his farewell address
To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

Jan. 8, 1790 - from a speech to both houses of the U.S. Congress
Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire - conscience.

from one of his schoolboy notebooks
Watson, Paul  
... the secret to Greenpeace's success: It doesn't matter what is true... it only matters what people believe is true... You are what the media define you to be.

Watson, William  
[Adam] Smith wrote: "Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer; and it seems to consider production, and not consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and commerce." Has anyone ever written a better description of the philosophy that drives Canada's politico-cultural complex?

Jun. 23, 2001 - from "The culture of mercantilism", published in the National Post
When late-20th-century interventionists argue that big government and comprehensive social policies are part of Canadian tradition, they mainly betray their belief that Canadian tradition starts sometime in the 1960s. True, they may dip back to the 1880s to cite public financing of the Canadian Pacific Rail as justification for today's interventionist nostrums. But if, inconveniently, the first 75 years of Confederation were typified by general public approval for the idea that people should not become dependent on the state and instead be self-reliant, that part of the Canadian experience is quietly erased from our historical memory. In fact, though pre-Depression notions about social policy may or may not be worthy of emulation, they are inescapably part of our tradition.

Jul. 1999 - from "Canada's hidden history", published in The Next City Magazine
[Commenting on the 1999 federal budget by Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin, in which a projected $11.7 billion surplus evaporated in an orgy of spending] ... more than anything else [the budget] has cinched our finance minister's reputation for being as slick with the truth about money as Bill Clinton is with the truth about sex.

Feb. 26, 1999 - from a column in the National Post
That true justice may not consist of treating absolutely everyone alike used to be widely understood. Now, discrimination is evil, pure and simple, and anyone carrying human DNA must have the same "rights" as anyone else with such DNA.

Feb. 15, 2000 - from "To Spank or Not to Spank", published in The Gazette, republished in Reader's Digest (April 2000)
... studies reveal that most child abusers start with spanking. Of course, most heroin users begin wth marijuana and most rapists have read Playboy, though the overwhelming majority of those who smoke marijuana or read Playboy do not suffer the above fates. The Criminal Code currently reads as follows: "Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction towards a pupil or child ... if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances." That seems perfectly sensible. Let's leave the law as it is.

Feb. 15, 2000 - from "To Spank or Not to Spank", published in The Gazette, republished in Reader's Digest (April 2000)
Our 'social policy railway,' if that really is what holds us together, is a very recent construction.

Jul. 1999 - from "Canada's hidden history", published in The Next City Magazine
Watt, William W.
Do not put faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.

Watterson, Bill
Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

Watts, J.C.
Government can't ease all pain. In fact, government sometimes rubs the wound raw and makes the healing harder. ... we must, individually, all of us, accept our share of responsibility.

Feb. 2, 1997 - from his response to President Clinton's State of the Union address
We must not let government programs disconnect our souls from each other.

1996 - from a speech to the Republican National Convention

We don't define compassion by how many people are on welfare, or AFDC, or living in public housing. We define compassion by how few people are on welfare, AFDC, and public housing because we have given them the means to climb the ladder of success.

1996 - from a speech to the Republican National Convention
... character does count. For too long we have gotten by in a society that says the only thing right is to get by and the only thing wrong is to get caught. Character is doing what's right when nobody is looking...

1996 - from a speech to the Republican National Convention
Waugh, Auberon
What sort of truth is it that needs protection?

Contradictions between the individualistic, free-market stance and traditional Conservative appeals to authority, patriotism, law and order are two a penny, and have often been remarked on. The electoral calculation has always been that the two opposed camps -- the 'individualists' who are trying to make money, and the 'conservatives' who already have it -- will make common cause at the end of the day.

1989 - from his column in the London Spectator
Waugh, Evelyn
I believe that man is, by nature, an exile and will never be self-sufficient or complete on this earth; that his chances of happiness and virtue, here, remain more or less constant through the centuries and, generally speaking, are not much affected by the political and economic conditions in which he lives; that the balance of good and ill tends to revert to a norm; that sudden changes of physical condition are usually ill, and are advocated by the wrong people for the wrong reasons; that the intellectual communists of today have personal irrelevant grounds for their antagonism to society, which they are trying to exploit. I believe in government ordained from God as being better than any other; that the anarchic elements in society are so strong that it is a whole-time task to keep the peace. I believe that inequalities of wealth and position are inevitable and that it is therefore meaningless to discuss the advantages of their elimination; that men naturally arrange themselves in a system of classes; that such a system is necessary for any form of cooperative work, more particularly the work of keeping a nation together. I believe in nationality; not in terms of race or of divine commissions for world conquest, but simply thus: mankind inevitably organizes itself in communities according to its geographical distribution; these communities by sharing a common history develop common characteristics and inspire a local loyalty; the individual family develops most happily and fully when it accepts these natural limits.

1939 - from Mexico: An Object Lesson
Politicians are not people who seek power in order to implement policies they think necessary. They are people who seek policies in order to attain power.

Weaver, Richard
A just man finds satisfaction in the knowledge that society has various roles for various kinds of people and that they in the performance of these roles create a kind of symphony of labor, play, and social life. There arises in fact a distinct pleasure from knowing that society is structured, diversified, balanced, and complex.

1964 - from Visions of Order
It is my contention that a conservative is a realist, who believes that there is a structure of reality independent of his own will and desire. He believes that there is a creation which was here before him, which exists now not just by his sufferance, and which will be here after hes gone.

1960 - from The Individualist
Though ... reality is independent of the individual, it is not hostile to him. It is in fact amenable by him in many ways, but it cannot be changed radically and arbitrarily. This is the cardinal point. The conservative holds that man in this world cannot make his will the law without any regard to limits and the fixed nature of things.

1965 - from Life Without Prejudice
For four centuries every man has been not only his own priest but his own professor of ethics, and the consequence is an anarchy which threatens even that minimum consensus of value necessary to the political state.

from Ideas Have Consequences

Man is constantly being assured today that he has more power than ever before in history, but his daily experience is one of powerlessness. If he is with a business organization, the odds are great that he has sacrificed every other kind of independence in return for that dubious one known as financial. Modern social and corporate organization makes independence an expensive thing; in fact, it may make common integrity a prohibitive luxury for the ordinary man.

from Ideas Have Consequences
Weber, Mark
Life in the western world today differs markedly from what [author George Orwell] suggested it might be like in [his book] 1984. In contrast to the squalid, puritanical and thoroughly regimented life of 1984's Oceania ... life today is increasingly anarchic and self-indulgent. But there are also many ominous similarities. Deceptive 'Newspeak' terms are in wide use today. One of the most odious examples is 'affirmative action' which, despite its benign ring, is a dishonest label for a vast government-imposed program of anti-white racial discrimination.

1986 - from "Historical Revisionism and the Legacy of George Orwell"
Webster, Daniel
Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that 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.

No government is respectable which is not just.- Without unspotted purity of public faith, without sacred public principle, fidelity, and honor, no machinery of laws, can give dignity to political society.

In the nature of things, those who have no property and see their neighbors possess much more than they think them to need, cannot be favorable to laws made for the protection of property. When this class becomes numerous, it becomes clamorous. It looks on property as its prey and plunder, and is naturally ready, at times, for violence and revolution.

An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy

1819 - from his brief in McCulloch v. Maryland
Liberty and Union now and forever, one and inseparable.

1830 - from an address to the U.S. Senate in response to southern senators who asserted that individual states had the right to disobey Congress
... the powers of government are but a trust, and ... they cannot be lawfully exercised but for the good of the community.

Jun. 17, 1825 - from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
Let us thank God that we live in an age when something has influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest authority does not venture to encounter the scorching power of public reproach.

Jun. 17, 1825 - [Must we go back to bayonets now? Ed.] from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution