Liberty QOTD

Liberty Quotation for St. Patrick’s Day 2016

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Oscar Wilde

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.  And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them.  Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type.  Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it.  It is not selfish to think for oneself.  A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.  It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions.”

Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)

Liberty Quotation: John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge on the End of the Status Quo

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micklethwait and wooldridge“Our politicians have been in the business of giving us more of what we want — more education, more health care, more prisons, more pensions, more security, more entitlements.  And yet — here is the paradox — we are not happy.  Having overloaded the state with their demands, voters are furious that it works so badly.  In America the federal government has less support than George III did at the time of the American Revolution:  Just 17 percent of Americans say that they have confidence in the federal government, less than half of the 36 percent found in 1990 and a quarter of the 70 percent found in the 1960s.  More people now identify themselves as independents than they do as Republicans and Democrats.

“In short, the state is in trouble.  The mystery is why so many people assume that radical change is unlikely.  The status quo in fact is the least likely option.”

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, “The Fourth Revolution,” in Cato Policy Report (July/August 2014)

Liberty Quotation: Garry Kasparov on Liberty and Democracy

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garry_kasparov“Think of three fundamental documents that established in writing our definitions of modern civil society.  The English Bill of Rights, 1689.  The American Declaration of Independence, 1776.  The French Declaration of the Rights of Man, 1789.  So, how many times is the word “democracy” mentioned in them?  The answer is zero.  The method by which leaders were chosen was not yet a relevant issue.  The fundamental rights that defined the relationship between the government and the people, that is what mattered.”

Garry Kasparov, “The Influence of American Values,” Cato’s Letter (Summer 2014)

Liberty Quotation: Lin Yutang on the Spirit of the Scamp

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Yu-t'ang Lin“My faith in human dignity consists in the belief that man is the greatest scamp on earth. . . . In this present age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only the scamp and the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from being lost in serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient, regimented and uniformed coolies.  The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships.  He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered.  All modern civilization depends entirely upon him.”

Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living [1937]

 

Liberty Quotation: Mark Twain on Majority Rule

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Mark Twain
“When you set aside mere names & come down to realities, you find that we are ruled by a King just as other absolute monarchies are.  His name is The Majority.  He is mighty in bulk & strength . . . He rules by the right of possessing less money & less brains & more ignorance than the other competitor for the throne, The Minority.  Ours is an Absolute Monarchy.”

Mark Twain, in an unsent letter to Bayard Taylor, June 10, 1878.
(Published in Mark Twain at Large by Arthur L. Scott)

Liberty Quotation: Mises on the Individuality of Action

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Mises“All rational action is in the first place individual action.  Only the individual thinks.  Only the individual reasons.  Only the individual acts.”

Ludwig von Mises, Socialism [2d. edition 1951; the original was published in German in 1922]

James Madison on the “General Welfare” Clause of the Constitution

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James Madison“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads.  In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.”

James Madison, on the House floor during debates on a Cod Fishery bill [February 1792]