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Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich
It is true that liberty is precious - so precious that it must be rationed.
, by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Nov. 19, 1863 - from his Gettysburg address
I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of separation of colonies from the motherland, but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to all the world, for all future time.
1861 - from a speech in Independence Hall, Philadelphia
What I do say is that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.
A useful definition of liberty is obtained only by seeking the principle of liberty in the main business of human life, that is to say, in the process by which men educate their responses and learn to control their environment.
The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one: And Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.
1690 - from
The Second Treatise on Civil Government
Lowell, James Russell
Our American republic will endure only as long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant.
Macaulay, Lord Thomas Babbington
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water until he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
1825 - from a book review published in the
It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.
1785 - from "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments"
A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.
To infringe on individual rights in the name of a social good you have to be able to show compelling evidence that there will be benefits. Gun control does not meet that standard. ... If the government can successfully trample on personal rights behind the smoke screens of gun control and, presumably, crime control, this enhances the power of the government to do the same thing in other areas. Anyone concerned with personal liberty should be bothered by [Canadian Bill C-68, the gun registration law].
We would defend our open society by becoming an even more open society. Bureaucratic secrecy is not only corrosive of liberty, it is ultimately inefficient.
1979 - from
The RCMP vs. The People
, quoted in
Columbo's New Canadian Quotations
John Robert Columbo
John Alan Lee
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.
Feb. 12, 1979 - quoted in
Liberty, as it is conceived by current opinion, has nothing inherent about it; it is a sort of gift or trust bestowed on the individual by the state pending good behavior.
Mencken, Henry Louis
Most people want security in this world, not liberty.
The aim of democracy is to break all... free spirits to the common harness. It tries to iron them out, to pump them dry of self-respect, to make docile John Does of them. The measure of its success is the extent to which such men are brought down, and made common. The measure of civilization is the extent to which they resist and survive. Thus the only sort of liberty that is real under democracy is the liberty of the have-nots to destroy the liberty of the haves.
The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man's mind. He can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty - for example, the right to choose between two political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest - but the reality is incomprehensible to him. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely, and that is courage. The man who loves it must be willing to fight for it; blood, said Jefferson, is its natural manure. More, he must be able to endure it - an even more arduous business. Liberty means self-reliance, it means resolution, it means the capacity for doing without.
1926 - from
Notes on Democracy
[Educators] Who could imagine a pedagogue honestly believing in liberty? If he did his life would be one long stultification, for he lives in a world in which he has no rights as against his superiors, the trustees, and need grant no substantial rights to his inferiors, the students.
Nov. 30, 1924 - from "The Library" in
The American Mercury
Mill, John Stuart
The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.
1859 - from
The truth is that men are tired of liberty.
Respect for individual liberty makes it possible for human beings to live in and be aware of differentiation, a condition that, in biology, is recognized for what it is, the basis of progressive evolution, but which, in its social manifestation, receives no such recognition because of both the inequality intrinsic to all social differentiation and the ideology of equality that has spread so widely and so devastatingly in the twentieth century.
If all human beings in a population either are declared equal in their native strengths and rights, or else are persuaded to believe this, then the eventual realization of the hard truth of the matter that no amount of redistribution of wealth and status can ever obliterate inequality in one form or another must often take the form of covetousness mixed with resentment: that is, envy. ....The only remedy for the poisons created by egalitarianism in a society is emphatically not ever-greater dosages of political redistribution of wealth and status, for such dosages worsen the disease, producing fevers of avarice and envy. No, the sole remedy for this pathology is the introduction and diffusion of individual liberty as a sovereign value. Respect for individual liberty makes it possible for human beings to live in and be aware of differentiation a condition that, in biology, is recognized for what it is, the basis of progressive evolution, but which, in its social manifestation, receives no such recognition because of both the inequality intrinsic to all social differentiation and the ideology of equality that has spread so widely and so devastatingly in the twentieth century.
1982 - from
Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary
, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA
There is no principle in the conservative philosophy than that of the inherent and absolute incompatibility between liberty and equality.
Twilight of Authority
The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In any free society, the conflict between social conformity and individual liberty is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary.
... capitalism better helps the poor to escape from poverty than any other system, especially better than socialism. ... Capitalism rewards effort, talent, inventiveness, and luck [but not] equal outcomes, because ... equality can be achieved only by abandoning liberty for tyranny.
Wealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms. They have a more innocent -- not to say toddlerlike -- idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums.
Give War A Chance
The stakes seem to me to be high - either we retain a vigorous democratic polity ... or we find ourselves living, perhaps not unpleasantly, in a stifling bureaucratic state in which all our wants except liberty are provided for. That is not impossible. Socialism, like history, repeats itself: the first time as genocide, the second time as therapy.
Feb. 16, 1999 - from his lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, England
I sometimes think that the price of liberty is not so much eternal vigilance as eternal dirt.
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.
Fascist ethics begin ... with the acknowledgment that it is not the individual who confers a meaning upon society, but it is, instead, the existence of a human society which determines the human character of the individual. According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, and this need of rising the State to its rightful position.
1936 - from
The Philosophy of Fascism
Fascism finds it necessary, at the outset, to take away from the ordinary human being what he has been taught and has grown to cherish the most; personal liberty. And it can be affirmed, without falling into exaggeration, that a curtailment of personal liberty not only has proved to be, but necessarily must be, a fundamental condition of the triumph of Fascism.
1936 - from
The Philosophy of Fascism
According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, with this need of raising the State to its rightful position.
1936 - from
The Philosophy of Fascism
Liberty is the original condition of man; to renounce liberty is to renounce the quality of man.
1840 - from his essay
What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government
...liberty is an absolute right because it is to man what impenetrability is to matter, a sine qua non of existence; equality is an absolute right because without equality there is no society; security is an absolute right because in the eyes of every man his own liberty and life are as precious as another's. These three rights are absolute, that is, susceptible of neither increase nor diminution because every member of society receives as much as he gives - liberty for liberty, equality for equality, security for security, body for body, soul for soul.
1840 - from his essay
What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government
There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.
Reagan, Ronald Wilson
Where there is liberty art succeeds. In societies that are not free, art dies.
Aug. 1, 1990 - quoted in the
Let us so conduct ourselves that two centuries from now, another Congress and another President, meeting in this Chamber as we are meeting, will speak of us with pride, saying that we met the test and preserved for them in their day the sacred flame of liberty--this last, best hope of man on Earth.
1982 - from his first State of the Nation address
I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.
1989 - from his Farewell Address
Roosevelt, Franklin D.
Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.
In sum, freedom can run a monetary system as superbly as it runs the rest of the economy. Contrary to many writers, there is nothing special about money that requires extensive governmental dictation. Here, too, free men will best and most smoothly supply all their economic wants. For money as for all other activities of man, ‘liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order'.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.
Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.
Man is condemned to be free. Condemned because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does.
Oct. 29, 1945 - from a lecture delivered in Paris entitled "Existentialism is a Humanism"
The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting. ... The Court is correct in adding the qualification that this 'assumes a state of affairs in which the choice does not intrude upon a protected liberty' ... [N]o government official is "tempted" to place restraints upon his own freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say "Power tends to purify." The [Supreme] Court's temptation is in the quite opposite and more natural direction--towards systematically eliminating checks upon its own power; and it succumbs.
Jun. 29, 1992 - from his partially dissenting opinion in
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs Robert P. Casey
Shaw, George Bernard
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
1903 - from
Man and Superman
, "Maxims for Revolutionists: Crime and Punishment"
In the midst of all the exactions of government, capital has been silently and gradually accumulated by the private frugality and good conduct of individuals, by their universal, continual, and uninterrupted effort to better their own condition. It is this effort, protected by law and allowed by liberty to exert itself in the manner that is most advantageous, which has maintained the progress of England towards opulence and improvement in almost all former times...
1776 - from
The Wealth of Nations
While rationalism at the individual level is a plea for more personal autonomy from cultural norms, at the social level it is often a claim - or arrogation - of power to stifle the autonomy of others.
Spinoza, Baruch Benedict
The true aim of government is liberty.
1677 - from
A Political Treatise
Whatever ... convicts a man of weakness cannot be ascribed to his liberty.
1677 - from
A Political Treatise
All restraints upon man's natural liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ from each other only in degree.
1852 - from
An Essay On Trial By Jury
In fact, a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right to property.
That government can scarcely deemed to be free, where the rights of property are left solely dependent upon the will of a legislative body without any restraint. The fundamental maxims of a free government seem to require the rights of personal liberty and private property should be held sacred.
Szasz, Thomas Stephen
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.
The West is not just some Cold War construct, devoid of significance in today's freer, more fluid world. It rests upon distinctive values and virtues, ideas and ideals, and above all upon a common experience of liberty.
Mar. 09, 1996 - from her John Findlay Green lecture delivered at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
1982 - from Section 7. The Canadian Bill of Rights (1960) included rights to "enjoyment of property" and "due process of law" in its recognition of basic rights... the Charter does not.
Tucker, Gideon J.
No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
1866 - reported in David Friedman,
The Machinery of Freedom
(La Salle: Open Court, 1989), p. 146.
...the liberty of the Press is called the Palladium of Freedom, which means, in these days, the liberty of being deceived, swindled, and humbugged by the Press and paying hugely for the deception.
Irreverence is the champion of liberty.
The State... stands between me and my body, and tells me what kind of doctor I must employ. When my soul is sick, unlimited spiritual liberty is given me by the State. Now then, it doesn't seem logical that the State shall depart from this great policy...and take the other position in the matter of smaller consequences -- the health of the body...Whose property is my body? Probably mine...If I experiment with it, who must be answerable? I, not the State. If I choose injudiciously, does the State die? Oh, no.
1901 - from "Osteopathy"
Tytler, Alexander Fraser
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. [Tytler describes the life cycle of civilization as from Bondage to Spiritual Faith to Great Courage to Liberty to Abundance to Selfishness to Complacency to Apathy to Dependency and back into Bondage.]
1776 - from
The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic
Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.
attributed to William White
Ever insurgent let me be, Make me more daring than devout; From sleek contentment keep me free, And fill me with a buoyant doubt.
1914 - from "Prayer", published in
Liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict on a people. To know how to be free is not given equally to all men and all nations.
from "On the Subject of Dictatorship", published in
Reflections on the World Today
von Mises, Ludwig
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.
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
Respect for [the government's] authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
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
[Popular democratic government] The last hopes of mankind ... rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth. ... there remains to us a great duty of defense and preservation; and there is opened to us also a noble pursuit to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us.
Jun. 17, 1825 - from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.
Principles ... are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; and unless the progress of corruption and perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property, will long be secure in this country. And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses.
Williams, Walter E.
We shouldn't focus our energies on trying to change the hearts and minds of politicians. We should try to change the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. We must sell our fellow Americans the idea that the legitimate and moral role of government is to protect those unalienable rights to life, liberty and property.
1999 - from
More Liberty Means Less Government
Wilson, James Q.
Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness.
Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.
Sep. 9, 1912 - from a speech given in New York
The history of liberty is the history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. When we resist the concentration of power we are resisting the powers of death. Concentration of power precedes the destruction of human liberties.
Sep. 12, 1912 - from a speech given in New York
Liberty does not consist in mere declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite action.
Jul. 4, 1914 - from a speech
... liberty means, not the mere voting at elections, but the free and fearless exercise of the mental faculties and that self-posession which springs out of well-reasoned opinions and consistence practice.
Jul. 4, 1828 - from her Independence Day address at New Harmony, Indiana