"Principles are eternal. They stem not from our resolution or lack of it but from elsewhere, where in patient and infinite ranks they simply wait to be called. They can be read in history. They arise as if of their own accord when in the face of danger natural courage comes into play and honor and defiance are born. Things such as courage and honor are the mortal equivalent of certain laws written throughout the universe. The rules of symmetry and proportion, the laws of physics, the perfection of mathematics, even the principle of uncertainty, are encouragement, entirely independent of the vagaries of human will, that not only natural law but our own best aspirations have a life of their own. They have lasted through far greater abuse than abuses them now. They can be neglected, but they cannot be lost. They can be thrown down, but they cannot be broken."   Mark Helprin, "Statesmanship and Its Betrayal", Wall Street Journal, July 2, 1998.


"A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which the outside observer notices in the West in our days.  The Western world has lost its civil courage."   Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Harvard Address, June 8, 1978.

Technology and Intelligence

Interview with Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, in Salon Magazine, October 22, 1998:

"Do you think that the sheer volume of media available right now is making people stupider?

"No, I think people are about as stupid as they were when we were cave people. Evolution has not worked that fast. But the environment got more complicated, so that there are only a very few people who can actually look at all the facts in any situation and hold them all in their head and figure it out.

"The two worst things happened because of technology. Everything got more complicated. Even the smartest people can't figure out things because it's a complicated world. But at the same time, because of this instant polling (and the Net will make this even worse, when everyone can vote at home on their couch while drinking beer) you have more democracy and less ability for people to understand the issues. You couldn't have two worse things at the same time."

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastophe."

- H.G. Wells


". . . this world is run by 'practical' people:  that is to say, by people who do not know how to think, have never had any education in thinking, and who do not wish to have it.  They get on far better with lies, tub thumping, swindling, vote catching, murdering, and the rest of practical politics.  So, when a person who can think does come along, to tell them what they are doing wrong, or how to put it right, they have to invent some way of slinging mud at him, for fear of losing their power and being forced to do the right thing.  So they always screech out with one accord that the advice of this thinker is 'visionary', 'unpractical', or 'all right in theory'.   Then, when they have discredited his piece of truth by the trick of words, they can settle down to blacken his character in other ways, at leisure, and they are safe to carry on with the wars and miseries which are the results of practical politics."   T.H. White, Mistress Masham's Repose (1946).

"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, all of them imaginary."  H.L. Mencken, newspaper columnist, Baltimore Sun, 1925

"The leaders should know and the waverers should know that even from a purely political perspective it is better to fall with the truth firmly in hand than to stand for a few additional moments the prisoner of one's own ambition. It is, as well, poor politics to surrender in the face of every difficulty and danger and to stand consistently for nothing but what is safe. That is not how a political party gains adherents or even respect. It is not how a political party wins elections. It is, rather, how a political party is transformed into a blob of ooze."  Mark Helprin, "To the Wavering Republicans", The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 11, 1998.


". . . truths aren't such long-lived Methuselahs as people imagine.  A normal truth lives for--what shall I say?--seventeen to eighteen years on an average--twenty years at the most--seldom longer.  But truths as old as that are always dreadfully thin.  All the same, it isn't until then that the majority cottons on to them, and commends them to society as spiritual fodder.  But there no great nourishment in that sort of food, I can promise you that; and as a doctor, I know about these things.   All these majority truths are like last year's salt pork; they're hams that have gone sour and green and tainted.  And they're the cause of all the moral scurvy that's rotting our society!"  H. Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (1882).

Al Gore

". . . we know from Mr. Gore's book, Earth in the Balance, that he considers the internal combustion engine a 'more deadly' threat to national security 'than any military enemy', which explains why he is more concerned about traffic than China's stealing our nuclear secrets."  William McGurn, "Suburban Jungle:   There Goes the Neighborhood", The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 19, 1999, at W17.

Gun Control

"The danger to a free society is not the guns owned by the citizens but an unconstrained government, especially one that is better armed than the public. An armed society is a self-governing society, just as a disarmed people are vulnerable to arbitrary power of every kind." Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Worldnet Daily, June 14, 1999 (president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama).


"Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead.  What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus'?"

— Margaret Thatcher

“The ultimate effect of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”  Herbert Spencer

"Any government big enough to give you everything you want . . .
is big enough to take everything you've got."  Anonymous

"In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."--George Orwell

"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."

--Proverbs 29:15

"In order to be a leader a man must have followers. To have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need therefore is integrity and high purpose."

 —Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jefferson preached: "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical."

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." (Samuel Adams)

In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who moulds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions.
--Abraham Lincoln

"Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason." -- Sir John Harrington, 1612

Shakespeare's Falstaff said it best: "Can honour set to a leg? no: or an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is honour? a word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? air."

What was once a dark joke has 400 years later become the habitual outlook of a whole society.

--David Frum, "'Joy of Sex?'  Real Intimacy Was Too Close for Comfort", The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2000

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
Thomas Jefferson

An hypothesis is always more believable than the truth, for it has been tailored to resemble our ideas of truth, whereas the truth is just its clumsy old self.
                                           - Niccolo Machiavelli
                                             The Prince, 1530

"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
John Stuart Mill

"When the government fears the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny."

-- Thomas Jefferson

"A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both and deserves neither."
--Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison

"[W]hen we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.... [However, now] there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it."

- Bill Clinton  3-22-94, MTV's "Enough is Enough"

"We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary
Americans . . . ."
--William J. Clinton, USA Today, March 11, 1993

"There are a lot of very brilliant people who believe that the nation-state is fast becoming a relic of the past,"

Bill Clinton, New York Times November 25, 1997

 "What I'm trying to do is to promote a process of reorganization of the world ..."

-- President Clinton, interview with Argentine reporters, October 17, 1997.

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?

—James Madison, Federalist Paper, #62.

"Having thus taken each citizen in turn in its powerful grasp and shaped him to its will, government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society. It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform, through which even men of the greatest originality and the most vigorous temperament cannot force their heads above the crowd. It does not break men's will, but softens, bends and guides it; it seldom enjoins, but often inhibits, action; it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd."

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America at 692; edited by J.P. Mayer; translated by George Lawrence

"If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them."

                                             George Orwell

". . . unexamined assumptions have a way of becoming, by force of usage, unsound law."

    McCORMICK v. UNITED STATES, 500 U.S. 257 (1991) (JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring)

"The concept of the welfare state edged into the American consciousness and into American institutions more through the scientific bureaus of government than by any other way, and more through the problems raised by the public domain than through any other problems . . .  It began as public information and extended gradually into a degree of control and paternalism increased by every national crisis and every step of the increasing concentration of power in Washington."

Wallace Stegner, Beyond the 100th Meridian:  John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West 334 (Penguin 1992)

"The Roman Republic fell, not because of the ambition of Caesar or Augustus, but because it had already long ceased to be in any real sense a republic at all.  When the sturdy Roman plebian, who lived by his own labor, who voted without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows joined in war the terrible Roman legion, had been changed into an idle creature who craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who was fed by the state, and who directly or indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at hand, and nothing could save it.  The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing." 

                 Teddy Roosevelt

"The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser's intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture's dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes."

Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, "Altruism as Appeasement," January 1966, at 6

"Every politically-controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later. . .Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property and mind in its clutches from infancy. An octopus would sooner release its prey. A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state."

Isabel Paterson, "The God of the Machine" (1943)

"The Matrix is everywhere, it's all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."

                                                                    The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (1999)

"The State is the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."

                                                                    Frederic Bastiat

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limit of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

                                                                    Frederick Douglass

George Orwell noted that "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm"

Thomas Jefferson articulated this principle in his Autobiography:

. . . it is not by the consolidation, or concentration of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected. Were not this great country already divided into states, that division must be made, that each might do for itself what concerns itself directly, and what it can so much better do than a distant authority. Every state again is divided into counties, each to take care of what lies within its local bounds; each county again into townships or wards, to manage minuter details; and every ward into farms, to be governed each by its individual proprietor. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, & when to reap, we should soon want bread.

"The lesson of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, shows conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. ... It is in violation of the traditions of America. ... The federal government must and shall quit this business of relief. ... We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination."

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, message to Congress (Jan. 4, 1935)

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no court, can even do much to help it."

 Judge Learned Hand

"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost invariably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are."
--H.L. Mencken

"As nightfall does not come all at once," William O. Douglas added, "neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of darkness."

Churchill said, 'When great causes are on the move in the world, we find that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.'"

"Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy . . ."

Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States, 1928

"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before?" 

John Quincy Adams (July 4, 1837)

"The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing as a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."

Teddy Roosevelt

"If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable."
- John F. Kennedy

"A general Dissolution of Principles and Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole force of the Common Enemy," he said. "While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal invader. ... If Virtue and Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great Security."

Samuel Adams

Ronald Reagan, in his classic 1964 speech, “A Time For Choosing”, said “If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.”

"Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again."

Ronald Reagan

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom that it must steal in upon them by degrees and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes in order to be received.

David Hume
Of the Liberty of the Press, 1742

"We sit by and watch the Barbarian," wrote Belloc. "We tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile."

'Words must be a little wild,' said the great economist John Maynard
Keynes, 'for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.'

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

Henry Ford

Erich Fromm :

"Historically . . . those who told the truth about a particular regime have been exiled, jailed, or killed by those in power whose fury has been aroused. To be sure, the obvious explanation is that they were dangerous to their respective establishments, and that killing them seemed the best way to protect the status quo. This is true enough, but it does not explain the fact that the truth-sayers are so deeply hated even when they do not constitute a real threat to the established order. The reason lies, I believe, in that by speaking the truth they mobilize the (psychological) resistance of those who repress it. To the latter, the truth is dangerous not only because it can threaten their power but because it shakes their whole conscious system of orientation, deprives them of their rationalizations, and might even force them to act differently. Only those who have experienced the process of becoming aware of important impulses that were repressed know the earthquake-like sense of bewilderment and confusion that occurs as a result. Not all people are willing to risk this adventure, lest of all those people who profit, at least for the moment, from being blind."

Mark Twain wrote "All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity."

"Encouragement of consumption is no benefit to commerce, for the difficulty lies in supplying the means, not in stimulating the desire of consumption; and we have seen that production alone furnishes those means. Thus, it is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption."

Jean-Baptiste Say

It's a perfectly valid complaint:
An activist judge is no saint,
So, give him a jacket
That ties in the back; it
Will force him to show some restraint.

By F.R. (Bob) Duplantier

"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them."

--Joseph Story, associate justice, U.S. Supreme Court

There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature" while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled 'Nature.' " The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature", but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the "Naturist" reveals his hatred for his own race, i.e. his own self-hatred. In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate. As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women, it strikes me as a fine arrangement and perfectly "natural."


"A nation reveals itself, not only by the people it produces, but also by those it chooses to honor."

John F. Kennedy