Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Libertarian Quotations

Some people on Reddit have started  several collections of favorite Libertarian quotations.  Here are a some of the best ones.  And if you want another overdose, you can go here.  I apologize for not having time to look up every attribution and format the quotation marks.  This was a cut'n'paste job.

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." Robert Heinlein

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." George Washington

"Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that “freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license,” and they will define freedom out of existence." -Voltarine de Cleyre

"It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master." - Ayn Rand

"Government is a gang of thieves writ large." -Murray Rothbard

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

"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." -H. L. Mencken

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe." - Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." - Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." - Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." - Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." - Thomas Jefferson

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." - Thomas Jefferson

"Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils." - John Stark

"What individualism teaches us is that society is greater than the individual only in so far as it is free. In so far as it is controlled or directed, it is limited to the powers of the individual minds which control or direct it." - F.A Hayek

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

"When robbery becomes the purpose of law, and the policeman's duty becomes, not the protection, but the plunder of property, then it is an outlaw who has to become a policeman." ~ Ragnar Danneskjöld

"All men are brothers and each man is free."- Rose Wilder Lane

"The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion of equality made vain the hope for freedom." - Lord Acton "

"Is it just or reasonable, that most voices against the main end of government should enslave the less number that would be free? more just it is, doubtless, if it come to force, that a less number compel a greater to retain, which can be no wrong to them, their liberty, than that a greater number, for the pleasure of their baseness, compel a less most injuriously to be their fellow-slaves. They who seek nothing but their own just liberty, have always right to win it and to keep it, whenever they have power, be the voices never so numerous that oppose it." - John Milton

"The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit." - Milton Friedman

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal". - Martin Luther King Jr.

"Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue." - Barry Goldwater

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

"Today, wanting someone else’s money is called ‘need,’ wanting to keep your own money is called ‘greed,’ and ‘compassion’ is when politicians arrange the transfer." - Joseph Sobran

"Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods." - H.L. Mencken

"There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. Then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. Then I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income." - Milton Friedman

"If goods do not cross borders, armies will" - Bastiat

"Socialism works until you run out of other people's money" - Thatcher

"A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to chose his master once in a term of years." - Lysander Spooner

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" - Obvious 

"No intelligent man has any respect for an unjust law." -R.A.H.

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Frederic Bastiat

"A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground." - H. L. Mencken

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." - Frederic Bastiat

"If we can’t trust people with freedom, how can we trust them with power?" ~ Unknown

"None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." ~ H.D. Thoreau

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? ~ Patrick Henry

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." ~ Samuel Adams

"There is no freedom without the freedom to say 'no'." ~ Michael Rivero

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." ~ Anatole France

"When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil." ~ Thomas Jefferson

"It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere." ~ Voltaire

"Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." ~ George Bernard Shaw

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." ~ William Pitt

"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." ~ James Madison

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” ~ George Washington

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” ~ Groucho Marx

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” ~ P.J. O’Rourke

“The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is rendered to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." ~ Henry.L. Mencken

"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure." ~ Robert LeFevre

“A tyrant is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.” ~ Plato

"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth." ~ Lucy Parsons

"In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place." ~ Mohandas Gandhi

"It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind." ~ Voltaire

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." ~ Emma Goldman

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have."

"The funny thing is a government big enough to give you everything you want is the government that collapses on the people receiving from it."

This one is more of a parable than a quote:

Suppose that one man takes your car from you at gunpoint. Is this right or wrong? Most people would say that the man who does this is a thief who is violating your property rights.
Okay, now let's suppose that it's a gang of FIVE men that forcibly takes your car from you. Still wrong? Still stealing? Yup.
Now suppose that it's ten men that stop you at gunpoint, and before anything else they take a vote. You vote against them taking your car, but the ten of them vote for it and you are outvoted, ten to one. They take the car. Still stealing?
Let's add specialization of labor. Suppose it's twenty men and one acts as negotiator for the group, one takes the vote, one oversees the vote, two hold the guns, one drives. Does that make it okay? Is it still stealing? Suppose it's one hundred men and after forcibly taking your car they give you back a bicycle. That is, they do something nice for you. Is it still stealing?
Suppose the gang is two hundred strong and they not only give you back a bicycle but they buy a bicycle for a poor person as well. Is it still wrong? Is it still stealing?
How about if the gang has a thousand people? ten thousand? A million? How big does this gang have to be before it becomes okay for them to vote to forcibly take your property away without your consent? When, exactly, does the immorality of theft become the alleged morality of taxation?

"About fifteen years ago a conservative columnist wrote that Americans are faced with a choice between the Stupid Party and the Evil Party. And that once in a while the two parties get together and do something that’s both stupid and evil, and that’s called bipartisanship." Tom Woods

"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 the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to Complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage." - Alexander Tytler (but I've seen this attributed to aboud a dozen different writers)

"The humanitarian wishes to be a prime mover in the lives of others. He cannot admit either the divine or the natural order, by which men have the power to help themselves. The humanitarian puts himself in the place of God.
But he is confronted by two awkward facts; first, that the competent do not need his assistance; and second, that the majority of people … positively do not want to be "done good" by the humanitarian…. Of course, what the humanitarian actually proposes is that he shall do what he thinks is good for everybody. It is at this point that the humanitarian sets up the guillotine." - Isabel Paterson

"The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished — The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be." - Lao Tzu

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges  "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."~ Publius Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56 – AD 117)

"Few prefer liberty, most just want fair masters."

"What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man. Without liberty, the brain is a dungeon, where the chained thoughts die with their pinions pressed against the hingeless doors." - Robert G. Ingersoll

"Get off my lawn."

If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life. — Henry David Thoreau

America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. – James Bovard

War is just one more big government program. – Joseph Sobran

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. – John Adams (1814)

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. – Thomas B. Reed (1886)

If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all. – Jacob Hornberger (1995)

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. – P.J. O’Rourke

The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates. – Tacitus

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. – George Washington

No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. – Mark Twain (1866)

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him. – Robert Heinleinpermalink

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
permalink - C.S. Lewis

The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: "Your money, or your life." And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. - Spooner

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. - Spooner

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave. - still more Spooner

The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves "the government," are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman. - even more Spooner, who knew a good thing when he found it.

"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." - Denis Diderot

"Everyone's a collectivist until it's their turn to be fed into the sausage grinder for the 'greater good."

"If you're wondering why big business doesn't endorse libertarianism, it is the same reason that drug dealers oppose legalization."

"If it is humiliating to be ruled, how much more humiliating it is to choose one's rulers."

"For every person hewing to the root of the tree of evil there are a hundred hacking at its branches." - Henry David Thoreau

"Experience has taught the lesson, without a single exception, that no arbitrary prohibition law was ever obeyed, and that it's enactment brings no settlement of the question, but rather leaves it like a burr on the body politic to irritate and enflame." - Gov. Malcolm Patterson, from his statement when vetoing prohibition in the state of Tennessee in 1911. Regardless, the state legislature overrode his veto.

"If men are good, you don't need government; if men are evil or ambivalent, you don't dare have one." -- Robert LeFevre

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken

Libertarianism is a people’s movement and a liberation movement. It seeks the sort of open, noncoercive society in which the people, the living, free, distinct people, may voluntarily associate, disassociate, and, as they see fit, participate in the decisions affecting their lives. This means a truly free market in everything from ideas to idiosyncrasies. It means people free collectively to organize the resources of their immediate community or individualistically to organize them; . . . Liberty means the right to shape your own institutions. It opposes the right of those institutions to shape you simply because of accreted power or gerontological status. - Karl Hess

From the Easy Rider script:
George : "They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em."
Billy: "Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut."
George: "Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom."
Billy: "What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what it's all about."
George: "Oh, yeah, that's right. That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em."
Billy: "Well, it don't make 'em runnin' scared."
George: "No, it makes 'em dangerous. Buh, neh! Neh! Neh! Neh! Swamp!"

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. - James Madison

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." -Thomas Jefferson

"I share the Founders’ vision of limited government who's only legitimate authority is the protection of the rights and property of the people, and the ability of people to voluntarily join with others to help their communities and themselves. I don’t agree with the conservatives who want government to play the role of morals policemen, and I don’t agree with the nanny state liberals. I’m a libertarian." - UNKNOWN
If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. - John Stuart Mill

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. - John Stuart Mill  (do a bit of Googling on the term "Classical Liberal" before using this one !)

"Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear." -Ayn Rand

Any excuse will serve a tyrant. ~ Aesop

"A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny!"-Thomas Jefferson

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."-V for Vendetta

"By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention." - Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book 4, Chapter 2

"The essence of libertarianism: leave people alone without coercion, and they will, as a consequence of their natural inclinations, engage in productive activity that benefits everyone."

"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." - H. L. Mencken

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." ~Thomas Jefferson

"There’s an old saying about the definition of a liberal, as opposed to a radical: a liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to." - unknown
"You cannot fight and beat revolutions as you can fight and beat nations. You can kill a man, but you simply can't kill a rebel. For the proper rebel has an ideal of living, while your ideal is to kill him so that you may preserve yourself. And the reason why no revolution or religion has ever been beaten is that rebels die for something worth dying for, the future, but their enemies die only to preserve the past, and makers of history are always stronger than makers of empires."

"War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them... Other values, such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them." -Randolph Bourne

"It is only when our rights are infringed or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense" - President James Monroe

"Besides, citizens only allow themselves to be oppressed in proportion as hurried on by a blind ambition, and looking rather below than above them, they come to love authority more than independence. When they submit to fetters, it is only to be better able to fetter others in their turn." - JJ Rousseau, 2nd discourse

"The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin." -Sun Tzu; Art of War

While it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from Nature at all ... it is considered by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no one has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land ... Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. - Thomas Jefferson

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers. - John Jay, FEDERALIST No. 2

If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? - Hillel, Pirke Avot

The Libertarians, of whom I'm rather fond, are running Harry Browne (as their nominee for President). Libertarians are, just as they claim, principled and consistent- they believe in individual liberty. Commendable as they are, and despite their reliability as allies in civil liberties struggles, you may notice that Libertarians sometimes prove that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and that there is a difference between logic and wisdom.-  Molly Ivins


J H P said...

"If Government is the answer, it was a stupid question"

I'm afraid I don't know where is it from.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

I think it was a bumpersticker company. Seriously. I think I read that someplace.

J H P said...

Maybe one such as this:

And a merry Christmas to the Whited Sepulchre!