Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wisdom of the Ages

Freedom has long been held as the most precious thing in life. For a free society, the threats to that freedom have come in two forms: those from without, and those from within. The enemies from without are overt, whereas the enemies from within are subtle. The notion that the state is the seat of power, and not the people themselves is a dangerous one that threatens the freedom of every citizen.

The following are a selection of quotes from statesman and philosophers that have come before us:

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master.

[On the government emerging out of the French Revoltion] It is systematic; it is simple in its principle; it has unity and consistency in perfection. In that country entirely to cut off a branch of commerce, to extinguish a manufacturer, to destroy the circulation of money, to violate credit, to suspend the course of agriculture, even to burn a city, or to lay waste a province of their own, does not cost them a moment’s anxiety. To them, the will, the wish, the want, the liberty, the toil, the blood of individuals is as nothing. Individuality is left out of their scheme of Government. The state is all in all.

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should I think be steadfastly resisted to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the government the government should not support the people.

Liberals generally,—there may have been exceptions, but I do not know who they were,—joined in the agitation for an income-tax, in utter disregard of the fact that it meant writing the principle of absolutism into the Constitution. Nor did they give a moment’s thought to the appalling social effects of an income-tax; I never once heard this aspect of the matter discussed. Liberals were also active in promoting the “democratic” movement for the popular election of senators. It certainly took no great perspicacity to see that these two measures would straightway ease our political system into collectivism as soon as some Eubulus, some mass-man overgifted with sagacity, should manoeuvre himself into popular leadership; and in the nature of things, this would not be long.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people, has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

Hat tip to Bob Belvedere. Read all the rest of the great quotes Bob has assembled over at his Live Free or Die.


  1. I'll confess to mostly skimming, but, What a treasure-house!

  2. I was referring to the collection of quotes, in case you weren't sure which link I'd followed first. ;)

    But what a beautiful girl.

    Kind of an uncomfortable surprise at first, like taking a breather from a party and wandering in on someone's privacy, but I had been thinking about the Roger Scruton quote about female beauty just few minutes before, which made it seem even more incongruous somehow. And I'm not at all clear about about the whole "Cleavage War" business, but, then, maybe I'm not supposed to be!

    I'm babbling -- way too short on sleep.

  3. What?! Is Belevedere fighting yet another cleavage war? That man is incorrigible!

    Treasure-house, forsooth!

  4. Please don't make me have to go google "cleavage war."

    Well, maybe I'll just ask April -- these young people know everything.

  5. Belvedere is no kid, though at times it's hard to tell. Bob Belvedere and Robert Stacy McCain periodically fight 'cleavage wars' in which each attempts to out-do the other in .... oh bother!

  6. Stacy and I are both warriors fighting to preserve the natural cleavocracy. Down with pneumatics!

    NICHOLAS: Thanks for the mention.

    CATHY: Don't be afraid - I'm quite harmless [except to Bolshes].

  7. Oh, it does tie in to the natural-versus-enhanced discussion. And so the preference for vintage ... glamor.

    As for the quotes -- isn't it amazing that there can be such a wealth of smart so widely available, and yet we are absolutely swamped with stupid?