Monday, April 2, 2018

A Few Quotes

     Any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch, or of its predecessor Eternity Road, will know how much I like a good quote. I collect them. There are times when, like a condom long relegated to the back compartment of one’s wallet, they clamor at me from the rear of my skull, demanding to be used. Some get more column-inches than others, of course, but all are worthy of the occasional appearance in pixels.

     As it’s Monday morning, I slept poorly, and I have no particular topic in mind for the day’s rant, have a few good quotes as placeholders until I can goose my bile glands into production. But first, a bit of mood-setting snark from a highly quotable American:

     “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Really, Ralph?

1. Democracy

     It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge. – John Edward Emmerich Dalberg, a.k.a. “Lord Acton”
     No government based on the naked principle that the majority ought to govern, however true the maxim in its proper sense, and under proper restrictions, can preserve its liberty for even a single generation. The history of all has been the same — violence, injustice and anarchy, succeeded by the government of one, or a few, under which the people seek refuge from the more oppressive despotism of the many. – John C. Calhoun
     The day will come when a multitude of people will choose the legislature. Is it possible to doubt what sort of a legislature will be chosen? On the one side is a statesman preaching patience, respect for rights, strict observance of public faith. On the other is a demagogue ranting about the tyranny of capitalism and usury and asking why anyone should be permitted to drink champagne and to ride in a carriage while thousands of honest people are in want of necessaries. Which of the candidates is likely to be preferred by a workman? When Society has entered on this downward progress, either civilization or liberty must perish. Either some Caesar or Napoleon will seize the reins of government with a strong hand, or your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire in the fifth, with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged Rome came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your country, by your own institutions. – Thomas Babington Macauley

2. Government

     The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. – William E. Borah
     Power, like the diamond, dazzles the beholder, and also the wearer; it dignifies meanness; it magnifies littleness; to what is contemptible, it gives authority; to what is low, exaltation. -- Charles Colton
     The craving for power which characterizes the governing class in every nation is hostile to any limitation of the national sovereignty. -- Albert Einstein
     The typical lawmaker of today is a man devoid of principle - a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would cheerfully be in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism. -- H. L. Mencken
     The State claims and exercises the monopoly of forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or alien. – Albert Jay Nock
     It is a curious anomaly. State power has an unbroken record of inability to do anything efficiently, economically, disinterestedly or honestly; yet when the slightest dissatisfaction arises over any exercise of social power, the aid of the agent least qualified to give aid is immediately called for. Does social power mismanage banking practice in this or that special instance — then let the State, which never has shown it itself able to keep its own finances from sinking promptly into the slough of misfeasance, wastefulness and corruption, intervene to "supervise" or "regulate" the whole body of banking practice, or even take it over entirely. Does social power, in this or that case, bungle the business of railway-management — then let the State, which has bungled every business it has ever undertaken, intervene and put its hand to the business of "regulating" railway operation. – Albert Jay Nock

3. Envy

     There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue. – Erich Fromm
     The danger signs appear in this order: First, it becomes apparent that government is absorbing too great a share of the available talent and energy; there is a decline, therefore, in individual initiative and the spirit of inertia takes its place. Second, there is a decline in the sense of property, and the spirit of envy takes its place. Third, there is a decline of freedom, and the spirit of dependence takes its place. Fourth, there is a decline in the sense of purpose, and the spirit of rebellion takes its place. All this adds up to a decline in the sense of individual responsibility, and so to a decline of individuality itself. And while the technical trend of the age goes to make the individual matter more, politically the trend is to make him matter less. -- C. Northcote Parkinson
     There are two contrasting social processes in which the envious man plays a considerable role: inhibiting processes, which serve tradition by thwarting innovation, and the destructive processes of revolution. The ostensible contradiction disappears as soon it is realized that in both cases envy is the motive for the same action: the sarcasm, sabotage and menacing Schadenfreude toward anyone who seeks to introduce something new, and the gloating spiteful envy with which revolutionaries seek to tear down the existing order and its symbols of success. – Helmut Schoeck
     No one admits publicly, and hence public opinion does not admit, that ingratitude is the norm. It is astounding that countless benefactors allow themselves to be persuaded over and over that ingratitude with the resultant hatred is a rare and special case. – Helmut Schoeck
     There is no vice of which a man can be guilty, no meanness, shabbiness, no unkindness which excites so much indignation am his contemporaries, friends and neighbors, as his success. This is the unpardonable crime, which reason cannot defend, humility mitigate...The man who writes as we cannot write, speaks as we cannot speak, labours as we cannot labour, thrives as we cannot thrive, has accumulated on his own person all the offences of which man can be guilty. Down with him! Why cumbereth he the ground? – Helmut Schoeck

4. Rights

     Each of us has a natural right — from God -- to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. -- Frederic Bastiat
     A government is free in proportion to the rights it guarantees the minority. – Alf Landon
     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 of any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. -- John Locke
     Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself - that is my doctrine. – Thomas Paine
     Either rights exist, or they do not exist. If they exist, they involve absolute consequences...Furthermore, if a right exists, it exists at every moment. It is absolute today, yesterday, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in summer as in winter, not when it pleases you to declare it in force. – Louis Thiers

5. Truth

     There’s a sucker born every minute – Phineas T. Barnum
     Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality. – Thomas Stearns Eliot
     A man that should call everything by its right name would hardly pass the streets without being knocked down as a common enemy. – Sir George Savile
     It takes two to speak the truth — one to speak, and another to hear. – Henry David Thoreau
     Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense. – Gautama Buddha

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