Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions. Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.
- Clive James, "The Meaning of Recognition"
"Far less is expected of humans in the twenty-first century than was expected in the nineteenth. Today's society operates around the belief that people can't cope on their own, or face the challenges of life."
- Frank Furedi, author of "Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability In An Uncertain Age"
"When important issues affecting the life of an individual are decided by somebody else, it makes no difference to the individual whether that somebody else is a king, a dictator, or society at large."
- James Taggart
Freedom is not synonymous with an easy life.... There are many difficult things about freedom: It does not give you safety, it creates moral dilemmas for you; it requires self-discipline; it imposes great responsibilities; but such is the nature of Man and in such consists his glory and salvation.
- Margaret Thatcher
But what is freedom? Freedom from what? There is nothing to take man's freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.
"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills."
"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy"
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."
"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."
- Thomas Paine
The best things in life are not free - the best thing in life is being free.
Freedom and diversity
guard each other.
- Clive James
Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom.
- Thomas Jefferson
People wrongly think that tolerance means merely not disapproving, whereas true tolerance means disapproving while yet permitting.
- Christopher Ricks
"About seventy-five years ago I learned that I was not God. And so, when the people of the various States want to do something and I can't find anything in the Constitution expressly forbidding them to do it, I say, whether I like it or not: Damn it, let 'em do it."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Supreme Court Justice
"Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong."
- John Diefenbaker, former Canadian Prime Minister
A man may purposely, consciously choose for himself even the harmful and the stupid, even the stupidest thing - just so that he will have the right to wish the stupidest thing, and not be bound by the duty to have only intelligent wishes. For this most stupid thing, this whim of ours, gentlemen, may really be more advantageous to us than anything on earth, especially in certain cases. In fact, it may be the most advantageous of all advantages even when it brings us obvious harm and contradicts the most sensible conclusions of our reason concerning our advantage. Because, at any rate, it preserves for us the most important and most precious thing - our personality, our individuality."
There are two freedoms,
the false where one is free to do what he likes, and the true where he
is free to do what he ought.
- Charles Kingsley
"When a ban is proposed
on what someone else wants to do we tend to ask ourselves: 'Would I want
to do it?' If the answer is 'No', then we generally go along with it. Instead
we should ask: 'Does it hurt anyone else if they do it?' If the answer
to that one is 'No', then the law should be dumped."
- John Humphrys, "The London Times"
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
Freedom is not only
the absence of external restraints. It is also the absence of irresistible
internal compulsions, unmanageable passion, and uncensorable highlights.
- George Will
"Individuals have to accept responsibility for their own bad choices. If every time we choose a turd, society, at great expense, simply allows us to redeem it for a pepperoni, then not only will we never learn to make smart choices, we will also surrener the freedom to choose, because a choice without consequences is no choice at all."
- Tom Robbins, "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas"
"There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
- FA Harper
Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.
- Woodrow Wilson
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
- Mikhail Bakunin
There are laws that enslave men, and laws that set men free.
Those who say life is worth living at any cost have already written for themselves an epitaph of infamy, for there is no cause and no person they will not betray to stay alive.
"What a free society offers to the individual is much more than what he would be able to do if only he were free."
"A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom."
"The case for individual freedom rests largely on the recognition of the inevitable and universal ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievements of our ends and welfare depend. "
This age ... defines
self-fulfillment apart from, even against, the community. The idea of citizenship
has become attenuated and is now defined almost exclusively in terms of
- George Will
Perhaps then, I might
finish by putting in a word for modern individualism. We are social animals
because, as we evolved, reciprocating favours from others in our community
assisted our survival and the passing down of our genes. We learn to pick
out those who we think will return our favours, and therefore have a strong
sense of who we regard as a friend. The trouble is that our instinct leads
us to regard others as foe. The very same natural propensity to be communal
and socially cohesive, makes us aggressive to outsiders. It has created
pogroms, civil strife, war.
In recent years we have become more civilised. The group that we regard as like us, as a friend, as liable to reciprocate our favours, has grown enormously. The free market and modern technology have helped. This has weakened the bond we feel with our immediate community and we see ourselves more as individuals. Social relations have become shallower, but our network wider. We have lost through this, but we have also gained. We fight fewer wars, we kill each other less often, we treat minorities much better, we are less aggressive to outsiders. Doubtless we have become more individualistic and some individuals too selfish. But look at the strife in the world. Look at the Middle East, or Congo, or Somalia... Is it really the case that our biggest social problem is excessive individualism?
- Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"
European democracy was originally imbued with a sense of Christian responsibility and self-discipline, but these spiritual principles have been gradually losing their force. Spiritual independence is being pressured on all sides by the dictatorship of self-satisfied vulgarity, of the latest fads, and of group interests.
- Anjana Anhuja, "Adam Smith Was Right", "The Times"
"You are basing (what
should be) the rightful conduct of the State on the least capable people
in society, and in that way I suspect that you are making more and more
people less capable".
- Kenneth Minogue, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics
It is by no means a
paradox to say that real freedom rests upon self-discipline, and this is
the basic virtue which only stable families seem able to provide. Marriage,
for example, is an institution commonly supported by conservatives because
it is an act of moral seriousness. The fact that the more casual cohabitations
of contemporary life commonly fail to generate self-reliance in their children
is recognized by conservatives as probably the most alarming problem of
So it is a false paradox to charge conservatives with inconsistency when they insist on linking personal freedom with the moral order. The great enemy of this false paradox was Margaret Thatcher, whose dominance of British politics throughout the Eighties awoke Britain from its postwar slumbers. She was attacked as libertarian and "authoritarian" at the same time, and those who hated her could only explain her policies in terms of selfishness.
Is it vice, however, to link rewards to how people perform? Has not the collapse of Communism taught a useful lesson about the fate of economies detached from incentives? Indeed, is it selfish to work for the things one wants for oneself and others? It would only be selfish if modern production were a zero-sum game, in which what I achieved meant that much less for you. Such a view is contradicted by the history of modern economic growth.
- Kenneth Minogue, "National Review"
What is the relation
between high policy and low morals? The answer is basically simple: low
morals amount to giving in to impulse, and impulsiveness soon lands one
in the arms of the bureaucracy. This means that the United States, like
other Western countries, contains two roughly distinct sets of people:
those independent souls who manage their own lives — let us call them the
Individualists — and those whose lives constantly place them in contact
with authority in the form of policemen, social workers, prison officers,
and so on — we may call them the Impulsives. Some examples of Impulsives
will be horribly familiar. Promiscuous teenage girls soon find themselves
"one-parent families" supervised by a social worker and living on welfare.
Those caught with their fingers in the till will soon be keeping the police
and prison services in business — and then probation officers.
- Kenneth Minogue, "National Review"
The permissive society
begins in liberation and ends in compulsion. It ends that way because society
depends on orderliness, and if it doesn't come from within, it must come
- Kenneth Minogue, "National Review"
All feminists (like
all Marxists) are intellectuals in the sense that they understand the world
in terms of theory, but many of them are inevitably, as the old joke goes,
intellectuals without an intellect... What became unmistakable in the 1960s,
however, was that ideologies are remarkable sets of abstract propositions
lacking both the competence of practice and the reflectiveness of theory.
An ideological movement is a collection of people many of whom could hardly
bake a cake, fix a car, sustain a friendship or a marriage, or even do
a quadratic equation, yet they believe they know how to rule the world.
The university, in which it is possible to combine theoretical pretension
with comprehensive ineptitude, has become the natural habitat of the ideological
enthusiast. A kind of adventure playground, carefully insulated from reality
in order to prevent absent-minded professors from bumping into things as
they explore transcendental realms, has become the institutional base for
civilizational self-hatred. Feminists have, however, been so far protected
from one major disaster which bids fair to destroy to plausibility of Marxists:
they have never attained the total revolutionary power they seek in order
to engineer society closer to their ideas. Just such power was acquired
by Marxists in many of the less sophisticated parts of the world, and their
governmental bungling has left whole populations impoverished, demoralized,
slaughtered, and genuinely oppressed... If your rulers start taking Marx
seriously, run for your lives. Millions have done so, but survival is only
to the swift.
- Kenneth Minogue, "The Goddess That Failed", "National Review"
"I am not a number, I am a free man. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own."
- Ramsey Clark
"And now I see the
face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have
sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and
peace and pride."
"This god, this one word: 'I' "
"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries."
"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote: a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority."
"No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as the right to enslave."
"The idea that 'The Public Interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: That the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others."
"The man who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave." "It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there is service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be master."
"The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."
Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state--and nothing else.
"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."
"An individualist is a man who says: "I will not run anyone's life - nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule or be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone - nor sacrifice anyone to myself."
There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money-if a gun is held to his head.
When those who are against conservative policies don't have sufficient opposition arguments, they call love of freedom "selfish. " Of course it is-in the sense that breathing is selfish. But because you want to breathe doesn't mean you want to suck the breath out of every person you encounter.
- Thomas B. Macauley
"Society exists for the benefit of its members, not the members for the benefit of society."
"Why you fool, it's
the educated reader who *can* be gulled. All our difficulty comes with
the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes
it for granted that they're all propaganda and skips the leading articles.
He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about
girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is
our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people
who read the highbrow weeklies, don't need reconditioning. They're all
right already. They'll believe anything." ... "Don't you see that the educated
reader *can't* stop reading the highbrow weeklies whatever they do? He
can't. He's been conditioned."
- C.S. Lewis, "That Hideous Strength" (1946)
If what I do is against god's law, then let god come down here and arrest me.
- Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:29
I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.
- John Foster Dulles
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- F Lee Bailey
"It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve."
The less justified
a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is
to claim all
excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding, when it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business.
- from "Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements"
The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own.
We clamor for equality chiefly in matters in which we ourselves cannot hope to attain excellence. To discover what a man truly craves but knows he cannot have we must find the field in which he advocates absolute equality. By this test Communists are frustrated Capitalists.
We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
The only index by which to judge a government or a way of life is by the quality of the people it acts upon. No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion — it is an evil government.
Whoever originated the cliche that money is the root of all evil knew hardly anything about the nature of evil and very little about human beings... The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.
It is not at all simple to understand the simple.
The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people.
In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.
What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds.
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