Tao Te Ching
- By not interfering the sage improves the people's
- Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is
force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
- Government can do something for the people only in
proportion as it can do something to the people.
- Sometimes is it said that man cannot be trusted with
the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government
- A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain
men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to
regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not
take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of
- I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal
hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
- They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a
little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Where liberty is, there is my country.
- He that would make his own liberty secure must guard
even his enemy from oppression.
- It is much more important to
kill bad bills than to pass good ones.
George Bernard Shaw
Liberty means responsibility. That is why
most men dread it.
- All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts�pathological
personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the
corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become�drunk on violence, a
condition to which they are quickly addicted.(JFQ)
- Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit. This is the
fine point on which all the legal professions of history have based their
P. J. O'Rourke
- Giving money and power to government is like giving
whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
- When buying and selling are controlled by
legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas
are interested in dogs.
- A little government and a little luck are necessary
in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.
- No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental
ills of society. If we're looking for the sources of our troubles, we
shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity,
ignorance, greed and love of power.
- The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of
a civilized society.
- [On ancient Athens] In the end, more than freedom,
they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it
all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted
not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom
they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased
to be free and was never free again.
- Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his
search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice
towards others, and no interference with their persons or property.
- Can our form of government, our system of justice,
survive if one can be denied a freedom because he might abuse it?
- In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary
to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with
qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and
Justice Learned Hand
- Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it
dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.
- Good intentions will always be pleaded for any
assumption of power. 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.
John Stuart Mill
- The only purpose for which power can be rightfully
exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is
to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is
not a sufficient warrant. (ZMQ)
Henry David Thoreau
- I heartily accept the motto, "That government
is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted
upon more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to
this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs
not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the
kind of government which they will have. (LL)
- There will never be a really free and enlightened
State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and
independent power, from which all its own power and authority are
derived, and treats him accordingly. (LL)
- Government never furthered any enterprise but by the
alacrity with which it got out of the way.
- Freedom is like birth. Till we are fully free, we
are slaves. (LL)
- Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in
India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of
arms, as the blackest. (BB)
- Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote
freedom to err.
- There can be no compromise on moral principles. In
any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.
In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can
- The government was set to protect man from
criminals, and the Constitution was written to protect man from the
- There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power
any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when
there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many
things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking
- When "the common good" of a society is regarded as something apart from and
superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of
some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those
others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals. (JFQ)
To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature
- Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is
itself the highest political end.
- The power to tax is the power to destroy.
- Government is the great fiction, through which
everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
- To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers
in politics as well as morals.
- Men and nations behave wisely once they have
exhausted all the other alternatives.
- Democracy must be something more than two wolves and
a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
H. L. Mencken
- The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that
one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against
scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be
stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. (ZMQ)
- Men become civilised, not in proportion to their
willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
- The urge to save humanity is almost always a false
front for the urge to rule.
- Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone,
somewhere, may be happy. (Q)
- Economic independence is the foundation of the only
sort of freedom worth a damn. (Q)
- Government is actually the worst failure of
civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those
that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and
- The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the
populace alarmed - and thus clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing
it with an endless stream of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
(By now, most of the uncredited quotes come from
collections in the Libertarian Party
News, June and August 1999)
LL = Glen Raphael's
BB = Bob Bickford's
A Liberty Library
JFQ = Jet's Favorite Quotes
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Last updated: July 19, 2002