Self Governing Quotes

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Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.
G.I. Gurdjieff
Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly -- that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion -- these are the two things that govern us.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Stories)
Not being able to govern events, I govern myself
Michel de Montaigne
The Second Amendment is timeless for our Founders grasped that self-defense is three-fold: every free individual must protect themselves against the evil will of the man, the mob and the state.
Tiffany Madison
Why Not You? Today, many will awaken with a fresh sense of inspiration. Why not you? Today, many will open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them. Why not you? Today, many will choose to leave the ghost of yesterday behind and seize the immeasurable power of today. Why not you? Today, many will break through the barriers of the past by looking at the blessings of the present. Why not you? Today, for many the burden of self doubt and insecurity will be lifted by the security and confidence of empowerment. Why not you? Today, many will rise above their believed limitations and make contact with their powerful innate strength. Why not you? Today, many will choose to live in such a manner that they will be a positive role model for their children. Why not you? Today, many will choose to free themselves from the personal imprisonment of their bad habits. Why not you? Today, many will choose to live free of conditions and rules governing their own happiness. Why not you? Today, many will find abundance in simplicity. Why not you? Today, many will be confronted by difficult moral choices and they will choose to do what is right instead of what is beneficial. Why not you? Today, many will decide to no longer sit back with a victim mentality, but to take charge of their lives and make positive changes. Why not you? Today, many will take the action necessary to make a difference. Why not you? Today, many will make the commitment to be a better mother, father, son, daughter, student, teacher, worker, boss, brother, sister, & so much more. Why not you? Today is a new day! Many will seize this day. Many will live it to the fullest. Why not you?
Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
Most gun control arguments miss the point. If all control boils fundamentally to force, how can one resist aggression without equal force? How can a truly “free” state exist if the individual citizen is enslaved to the forceful will of individual or organized aggressors? It cannot.
Tiffany Madison
Support for the arts -- merde! A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore!
Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land)
For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.
Jonathan Swift
In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else's mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one's own place and economy. In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers... Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else's legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed? The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth - that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community - and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
Being a victim is more palatable than having to recognize the intrinsic contradictions of one's own governing philosophy.
Tom Clancy (The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan, #3))
Today, many will choose to live free of conditions and rules governing their own happiness. Why not you? Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people's opinions is greater than your dedication to your own emotions! Today's a new day!
Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
The world, viewed philosophically, remains a series of slave camps, where citizens – tax livestock – labor under the chains of illusion in the service of their masters.
Stefan Molyneux
Representative government is artifice, a political myth, designed to conceal from the masses the dominance of a self-selected, self-perpetuating, and self-serving traditional ruling class.
Giuseppe Prezzolini
Independence has nothing to do with whether or not someone chooses to be single or to be married, to have children or to not have children. Independence by definition is about self-governing. About choosing for yourself. About making your own decisions.
Krista Ritchie (Some Kind of Perfect (Calloway Sisters #5))
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am -- not stuck in the middle, but hovering above the entire farcical spectrum, weeping as I behold my fellow man's devotion to political illusion and self-destruction.
Robert Higgs
When enough people understand reality, tyrants can literally be ignored out of existence. They can't ever be voted out of existence.
Larken Rose
There is no greatness apart from self control. Development that does not include self government will only guarantee our mediocrity.
Graham Cooke
When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we in essence accept that the state owns our bodies.
Ron Paul
[I]n the end this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a Queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin.
Elizabeth I (Collected Works)
The not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
With the need for the self in the time of another / I left my seaport grim and dear / knowing good work could be made / in the state governed by both Hope and Despair.
Roman Payne
May it [American independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately... These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them. [Letter to Roger C. Weightman on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, 24 June 1826. This was Jefferson's last letter]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
The process of discovering your fearless self is of refinement, not adding. The best way to reconnect with your freedom is to look at the rules you have that govern your freedom.
Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
Ronald Reagan
When individuals and communities do not govern self, they risk being ruled by external forces that care less about the well-being of the village.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
The vast majority of people are unthinking prejudice machines.
Stefan Molyneux
Ira furor brevis est: animum rege: qui nisi paret imperat. (Anger is a brief madness: govern your mind [temper], for unless it obeys it commands.)
Horatius (The Odes of Horace)
Our greatest duty to our children is to love them first.  Secondly, it is to teach them.  Not to frighten, force, or intimidate our children into submission, but to effectively teach them so that they have the knowledge and tools to govern themselves.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, and Grumblings for Every Day of the Year)
A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame… as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world…aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure. [...] “My point is that one person is responsible. Always. [...] In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.
Robert A. Heinlein (The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress)
There can be no socialism without a state, and as long as there is a state there is socialism. The state, then, is the very institution that puts socialism into action; and as socialism rests on aggressive violence directed against innocent victims, aggressive violence is the nature of any state.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics)
Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement.
John Stuart Mill (On Liberty)
Badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
As for my own part I care not for death, for all men are mortal; and though I be a woman yet I have as good a courage answerable to my place as ever my father had. I am your anointed Queen. I will never be by violence constrained to do anything. I thank God I am indeed endowed with such qualities that if I were turned out of the realm in my petticoat I were able to live in any place in Christendom.
Elizabeth I (Collected Works)
The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)
He became another data point in the American experiment of self-government, an experiment statistically skewed from the outset, because it wasn't the people with sociable genes who fled the crowded Old World for the new continent; it was the people who didn't get along well with others.
Jonathan Franzen (Freedom)
Stains were a patchwork of mistakes you couldn't get rid of. They showed the world your real self, even the parts you didn't want it to see.
Cammie McGovern (Say What You Will)
Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law. Moreover, equality should not be confused with perfection, for man is also imperfect, making his application of equality, even in the most just society, imperfect. Otherwise, inequality is the natural state of man in the sense that each individual is born unique in all his human characteristics. Therefore, equality and inequality, properly comprehended, are both engines of liberty.
Mark R. Levin (Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America)
Perhaps if we could popularise through the techniques of branding and consumerism, a different idea, a different narrative, perhaps the world can change. After all it changes constantly and incessantly, it's just the perceptions that we have are governed by people with self-interest and are not inalignment with the health and safety of us as individuals or as a planet.
Russell Brand
They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter.
Eugene V. Debs (Works of Eugene Victor Debs)
Three of the ten principles governing the City of Joy are (a) tell the truth, (b) stop waiting to be rescued, and (c) give away what you want the most.
Eve Ensler (In the Body of the World)
That so many of the well fed young television-watchers in the world's most powerful democracy should be so completely indifferent to the idea of self-government, so blankly uninterested in freedom of thought and the right to dissent, is distressing, but not too surprising. "Free as a bird", we say, and envy the winged creatures for their power of unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
The aim is not therefore to liberate some 'essential self' by throwing off the burden of government and the State, but to develop the self in creative and voluntary relations with others.
Peter Marshall
They don't go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop? If lewdies are good that's because they like it, and I wouldn't ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop. And I was patronizing the other shop. More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of the brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
Among the many other questions raised by the nebulous concept of “greed” is why it is a term applied almost exclusively to those who want to earn more money or to keep what they have already earned—never to those wanting to take other people’s money in taxes or to those wishing to live on the largesse dispensed from such taxation. No amount of taxation is ever described as “greed” on the part of government or the clientele of government.
Thomas Sowell (The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy)
If you personally advocate that I be caged if I don't pay for whatever "government" things YOU want, please don't pretend to be tolerant, or non-violent, or enlightened, or compassionate. Don't pretend you believe in "live and let live," and don't pretend you want peace, freedom or harmony. It's a simple truism that the only people in the world who are willing to "live and let live" are voluntaryists. So you can either PRETEND to care about and respect your fellow man while continuing to advocate widespread authoritarian violence, or you can embrace the concepts of self-ownership and peaceful coexistence, and become an anarchist.
Larken Rose
The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.
Calvin Coolidge
It is possible I can make very little of myself; but this little is everything, and better than what I allow to be made out of me by the might of others, by the training of custom, religion, the laws, the State.
Max Stirner (The Ego and Its Own)
Her Majesty's government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.
Mark Steyn (America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It)
People who cannot restrain their own baser instincts, who cannot treat one another with civility, are not capable of self-government... without virtue, a society can be ruled only by fear, a truth that tyrants understand all too well
Charles W. Colson (How Now Shall We Live?)
For so long Marianne and Albrecht and many of their friends had known Hitler was a lunatic, a leader whose lowbrow appeal to people's most selfish, self-pitying emotions and ignorance was an embarrassment for their country.
Jessica Shattuck (The Women in the Castle)
Government control gives rise to fraud, suppression of Truth, intensification of the black market and artificial scarcity. Above all, it unmans the people and deprives them of initiative, it undoes the teaching of self-help…
Mahatma Gandhi
It may sound reactionary, I know. But we can all feel it. We've changed the way we think of ourselves as citizens. We don't think of ourselves as citizens in the old sense of being small parts of something larger and infinitely more important to which we have serious responsibilities. We do still think of ourselves as citizens in the sense of being beneficiaries--we're actually conscious of our rights as American citizens and the nation's responsibilities to us and ensuring we get our share of the American pie. We think of ourselves now as eaters of the pie instead of makers of the pie. So who makes the pie? ... Something has happened where we've decided on a personal level that it's all right to abdicate our individual responsibility to the common good and let government worry about the common good while we all go about our individual self-interested business and struggle to gratify our various appetites.
David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)
But are we even capable of maintaining a Republic anymore? Are there enough citizens willing to do the hard work that self-rule requires, or have we become a people who would rather be cared for, fed, clothed, housed, and told what's best for us by a parentlike state? Unfortunately, the evidence suggests the latter.
Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine)
Self-governance does not mean no one is responsible. It means everyone is.
Heather Marsh (Binding Chaos)
Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That 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. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
John Stuart Mill (On Liberty)
[Short Talk on Sylvia Plath] Did you see her mother on television? She said plain, burned things. She said I thought it an excellent poem but it hurt me. She did not say jungle fear. She did not say jungle hatred wild jungle weeping chop it back chop it. She said self-government she said end of the road. She did not say humming in the middle of the air what you came for chop.
Anne Carson
Hold tight to what is most yourself, Don't squander it, don't let your life Be governed by what disturbs you.
Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Birds Through a Ceiling of Alabaster: Three Abbasid Poets)
Leaders will love to be poor and see their people rich, than to be rich and see their people poor. This is their mission.
Israelmore Ayivor (Leaders' Ladder)
My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.
George Bernard Shaw
What I saw in Flint was a microcosm of the way the government treats the undocumented everywhere, making the conditions in this country as deadly and toxic and inhumane as possible so that we will self-deport. What I saw in Flint was what I had seen everywhere else, what I had felt in my own poisoned blood and bones. Being killed softly, silently, and with impunity.
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (The Undocumented Americans)
Each individual possesses a conscience which to a greater or lesser degree serves to restrain the unimpeded flow of impulses destructive to others. But when he merges his person into an organizational structure, a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority.
Stanley Milgram
ANDRÉ: Okay. Yes. We’re bored now. We’re all bored. But has it ever occurred to you, Wally, that the process which creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating unconscious form of brainwashing created by a world totalitarian government based on money? And that all of this is much more dangerous, really, than one thinks? And that it’s not just a question of individual survival, Wally, but that somebody who’s bored is asleep? And somebody who’s asleep will not say no?
Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With André)
There must be only three supreme values which govern a person's life: Reason, Purpose, and Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge--Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve--Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man's virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.
Ayn Rand
And now please note that I have raised my right hand. And that means that I'm not kidding, that whatever I say next I believe to be true. So here it goes: The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime wasn't our contribution to the defeat of the Nazis, in which I played such a large part, or Ronald Reagan's overthrow of Godless Communism, in Russia at least. The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime is how African-American citizens have maintained their dignity and self-respect, despite their having been treated by white Americans, both in and out of government, and simply because of their skin color, as though they were contemptible and loathsome, and even diseased." "If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The civil magistrate cannot function without some ethical guidance, without some standard of good and evil. If that standard is not to be the revealed law of God… then what will it be? In some form or expression it will have to be the law of man (or men) - the standard of self-law or autonomy. And when autonomous laws come to govern a commonwealth, the sword is certainly wielded in vain, for it represents simply the brute force of some men’s will against the will of other men.
Greg L. Bahnsen
These people were content with their environment, and felt no particular objection to an impersonal steel and concrete landscape, no qualms about the invasion of their privacy by government agencies and organizations, and if anything welcoming these intrusions, using them for their own purposes. These people were the first to master a new kind of 20th century life. They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never disappointed. Alternatively, their real needs might emerge later.
J.G. Ballard (High-Rise)
The tenth plank in Karl Marx's Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of "free education for all children in public schools." There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools.…one of them [was that] ‘It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be.’ It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.
Ezra Taft Benson
A man who rightly governs self, may also govern family without the crippling cowardice, crutch of control.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
Are we ready to hand over our future to the elite, one supposedly world-changing initiative at a time? Are we ready to call participatory democracy a failure, and to declare these other, private forms of change-making the new way forward? Is the decrepit state of American self-government an excuse to work around it and let it further atrophy? Or is meaningful democracy, in which we all potentially have a voice, worth fighting for?
Anand Giridharadas (Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World)
Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature such as self preservation? (CIA Document, Project ARTICHOKE, MORI ID 144686, 1952) As cited by Dr Ellen P. Lacter, p57
Orit Badouk Epstein (Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs)
But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of the brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?" nah, that's too serious. How's about: “There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self-defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?
Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Thomas Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence)
...our children must learn...to face full responsibility for their actions, to make their own choices and cope with the results...the whole democratic system...depends upon it. For our system is founded on self-government, which is untenable if the individuals who make up the system are unable to govern themselves.
Eleanor Roosevelt
The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Note to self: Overthrow government of magical Britain at earliest convenience.
Eliezer Yudkowsky (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality)
There is no greatness apart from self control. Development that does not include personal government will only guarantee our mediocrity.
Graham Cooke
Leaders say "no" to corruption. Anyone playing a role in governance, and is not ready to do this is not a leader.
Israelmore Ayivor (Leaders' Ladder)
Liberty demands self-government, but not the right to interfere with others.
Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals)
The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breaches or fraud by the others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man's deadliest enemy, from the role of of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against the victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.
Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
It is not for a man to put himself in such an attitude to society, but to maintain himself in whatever attitude he find himself through obedience to the laws of his being, which will never be one of opposition to a just government, if he should chance to meet with such.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden & Civil Disobedience)
When you really want something, and you couple that with an understanding of your nature, of your spiritual being, and the law that govern you, you will keep going, regardless of what's happened. Nothing will stop you.
Bob Proctor
Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law.
Mark R. Levin (Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America)
Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
Thomas Jefferson
I grant men the land, the government, the wealth, all the chances. I accept that you have to hold all the cards, since that's the only way you know how to play; but I refuse to swallow your disrespect.
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro): Vocal Score)
Today Plato is nearly forgotten. His beliefs include the notion that people who govern should be intelligent, rational, self-controlled, and in love with wisdom, an idea that has long been discredited.
Bobby Henderson (The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster)
For the most part, people strenuously resist any redefinition of morality, because it shakes them to the very core of their being to think that in pursuing virtue they may have been feeding vice, or in fighting vice they may have in fact been fighting virtue.
Stefan Molyneux
Nowadays the job of the judge is not to do justice. The judge is more of a functionary . He's like a civil servant whose job is to interpret words written down by another branch of the government, whether those words are just or not.
N. Stephan Kinsella
Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self-government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statute, to reserving those things for a privileged few?
Barack Obama (A Promised Land)
When men reject reason, they have no means left for dealing with one another — except brute, physical force.
Ayn Rand
Liberty is no less a blessing because oppression has so long darkened the mind that it can not appreciate it.
Lucretia Mott
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.” ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER
Leslie Kean (UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record)
Colonel Cargill was so awful a marketing executive that his services were much sought after by firms eager to establish losses for tax purposes. His prices were high, for failure often did not come easily. He had to start at the top and work his way down, and with sympathetic friends in Washington, losing money was no simple matter. It took months of hard work and careful misplanning. A person misplaced, disorganized, miscalculated, overlooked everything and open every loophole, and just when he thought he had it made, the government gave him a lake or a forest or an oilfield and spoiled everything. Even with such handicaps, Colonel Cargill could be relied on to run the most prosperous enterprise into the ground. He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
Joseph Heller (Catch-22)
The question deserves to be asked: Is hating one's nation really such a bad thing? Or perhaps more importantly, after the crimes our government has committed, what moral self-respecting person can truly love this nation?
Michelle Templet
The truth is Canada is a cloud-cuckoo-land, an insufferably rich country governed by idiots, its self-made problems offering comic relief to the ills of the real world out there, where famine and racial strife and vandals in office are the unhappy rule.
Mordecai Richler (Barney's Version)
We have a right to decide how we want our bodies to look and feel, but unfortunately we do not exercise these rights. Instead, we tend to drift along, victims of our own ignorance of the fact that we can have what we want, if we are willing to take that first step toward developing the self-discipline to govern our thoughts.
Holly Mosier
Prayer is subversive activity. It involves a more or less open act of defiance against any claim by the current regime.... [As we pray,] slowly but surely, not culture, not family, not government, not job, not even the tyrannous self can stand against the quiet power and creative influence of God's sovereignty.
Eugene H. Peterson (The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction)
The future is not Big Government. Self-serving politicians. Powerful bureaucrats. This has been tried, tested throughout history. The result has always been disaster. President Obama, your agenda is not new. It's not change, and it's not hope.
Rush Limbaugh
People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet—
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Just what is it that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people.
Woodrow Wilson
Collectivism is the "philosophy" of every cockroach and sewer rat: "If I want it, I must need it, and if I need it, I have a right to it, and if I have a right to it, it doesn't matter what I have to do to get it." The fact that such an inherently animalistic, short-sighted, anti-human viewpoint is now painted by some as compassionate and "progressive" does not make it any more sane, or any less dangerous.
Larken Rose
Not the free individual but the lost individual; not Independence but isolation; not self-discovery but self-obsession; not the conquer but to be conquered; these are major states of mind in contemporary imaginative literature.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
Because, if you stop to think of it, the three Rules of Robotics are the essential guiding principles of a good many of the world’s ethical systems. Of course, every human being is supposed to have the instinct of self-preservation. That’s Rule Three to a robot. Also every ‘good’ human being, with a social conscience and a sense of responsibility, is supposed to defer to proper authority; to listen to his doctor, his boss, his government, his psychiatrist, his fellow man; to obey laws, to follow rules, to conform to custom—even when they interfere with his comfort or his safety. That’s Rule Two to a robot. Also, every ‘good’ human being is supposed to love others as himself, protect his fellow man, risk his life to save another. That’s Rule One to a robot. To put it simply—if Byerley follows all the Rules of Robotics, he may be a robot, and may simply be a very good man.
Isaac Asimov (I, Robot (Robot, #0.1))
People have a hard time accepting free-market economics for the same reason they have a hard time accepting evolution: it is counterintuitive. Life looks intelligently designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that there must be an intelligent designer--a God. Similarly, the economy looks designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that we need a designer--a government. In fact, emergence and complexity theory explains how the principles of self-organization and emergence cause complex systems to arise from simple systems without a top-down designer.
Michael Shermer
Genuine freedom is not based upon the negative psychology of release. Its roots are in positive acts of dedication to ends and values. Freedom presupposes the autonomous existence of values which men wish to be free to follow and measure up to.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
If biologists have ignored self-organization, it is not because self-ordering is not pervasive and profound. It is because we biologists have yet to understand how to think about systems governed simultaneously by two sources of order, Yet who seeing the snowflake, who seeing simple lipid molecules cast adrift in water forming themselves into cell-like hollow lipid vesicles, who seeing the potential for the crystallization of life in swarms of reacting molecules, who seeing the stunning order for free in networks linking tens upon tens of thousands of variables, can fail to entertain a central thought: if ever we are to attain a final theory in biology, we will surely, surely have to understand the commingling of self-organization and selection. We will have to see that we are the natural expressions of a deeper order. Ultimately, we will discover in our creation myth that we are expected after all.
Stuart A. Kauffman
This week, Zuma was quoted as saying, 'When the British came to our country, they said everything we are doing was barbaric, was wrong, inferior in whatever way.' But the serious critique of Zuma is not about who is a barbarian and who is civilised. It is about good governance, and this is a universal value, as relevant to an African village as it is to Westminster. If you are unable to keep your appetites in check, you are inevitably going to live beyond your means. And this means you are going to become vulnerable to patronage and even corruption. That is why Jacob Zuma's 'polygamy' is his achilles heel.
Mark Gevisser
Accountability is the essence of democracy. If people do not know what their government is doing, they cannot be truly self-governing. The national security state assumes the government secrets are too important to be shared, that only those in the know can see classified information, that only the president has all the facts, that we must simply trust that our rulers of acting in our interest.
Garry Wills (Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State)
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.
India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages. India was the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity... of self-government and democracy. In many ways, Mother India is the mother of us all.
Will Durant
There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral - immoral from the scientific point of view.' 'Why?' 'Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here ofr. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion - these are the two things that govern us. And yet [...] I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream - I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all maladies of medievalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal - to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. [...] We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. ... The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.
Oscar Wilde
When it comes down to it, government is simply an abandonment of responsibility on the assumption that there are people, other than ourselves, who really know how to manage things. But the government, run ostensibly for the good of the people, becomes a self-serving corporation. To keep things under control, it proliferates law of ever-increasing complexity and unintelligibility, and hinders productive work by demanding so much accounting on paper that the record of what has been done becomes more important than what has actually been done. [...] The Taoist moral is that people who mistrust themselves and one another are doomed.
Alan W. Watts
The Republican Party has used objection, obstruction, and filibustering not only to block the necessary processes of government but also in order to make ordinary Americans deeply cynical about Washington. Republicans perpetually run against government and come out on top. But, in the process, they are undermining the foundations of self-rule in a representative democracy.
Mike Lofgren (The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted)
Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. For this purpose I shall examine the consequences of certain economical phenomena, by placing in opposition to each other those which are seen, and those which are not seen.
Frédéric Bastiat
Every jump of technical progress leaves the relative intellectual development of the masses a step behind, and thus causes a fall in the political-maturity thermometer. It takes sometimes tens of years, sometimes generations, for a people’s level of understanding gradually to adapt itself to the changed state of affairs, until it has recovered the same capacity for self-government as it had already possessed at a lower stage of civilization.
Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon)
Trick-cyclist or assuager of discontents, whatever his title, the psychiatrist had now passed into history, joining the necromancers, sorcerers and other practitioners of the black sciences. The Mental Freedom legislation enacted ten years earlier by the ultraconservative UW government had banned the profession outright and enshrined the individual’s freedom to be insane if he wanted to, provided he paid the full civil consequences for any infringements of the law. That was the catch, the hidden object of the MF laws. What had begun as a popular reaction against ‘subliminal living’ and the uncontrolled extension of techniques of mass manipulation for political and economic ends had quickly developed into a systematic attack on the psychological sciences. Over-permissive courts of law with their condoning of delinquency, pseudo-enlightened penal reformers, ‘Victims of society’, the psychologist and his patient all came under fierce attack. Discharging their self-hate and anxiety onto a convenient scapegoat, the new rulers, and the great majority electing them, outlawed all forms of psychic control, from the innocent market survey to lobotomy. The mentally ill were on their own, spared pity and consideration, made to pay to the hilt for their failings. The sacred cow of the community was the psychotic, free to wander where he wanted, drooling on the doorsteps, sleeping on sidewalks, and woe betide anyone who tried to help him.
J.G. Ballard (The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard)
Before OkCupid profiles became mandated by the Galactic Government, the only way to find a mate was to self-induce brain-damage and beg strangers for sex in public. The fact that anyone ever achieved sexual congress during these dark times is a remarkable testament to man's will to survive.
Simon Rich (The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories)
The whole idea of "leaners" and "lifters" is the central teaching of the right wing ideologue, Ayn Rand, who penned books like The Virtue of Selfishness. It’s a self-serving crock. Rand found out the hard way. After a lifetime proselytising on behalf of the "producers" and denouncing anyone needing government assistance as "parasites," when Rand became old and sick, she discovered that even a bestselling author could not afford health care in the neoliberal US. She availed herself of Medicare and ended her life on what she had despised – social security. ~ an edited extract from "The Life of I: the new culture of narcissism" ~Anne Manne~
Anne Manne
To Arendt’s point about post-revolution stability deriving from pre-revolutionary experience in self government, it’s worth remembering that two of Henry’s less chatty fellow burgesses became the first and third presidents of the United States. Andrew O’Shaughnessy, referring to the masterminds of the 2013 government shutdown and no doubt alluding to the freshman senator who was its ringleader, told me, “Experience is terribly important. You’ll notice that the congressmen who want to hold up the government are all junior people and new to the game. And of course they will say, ‘Oh, it’s Washington cynicism, where they all compromise and work out backroom deals.’ But that’s actually how democracy works.” Which is exactly how government operations resumed on October 17, 2013: a bipartisan group of old-school senators with the combined age of Stonehenge started hashing out a bargain drafted by third-term moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who, prior to her election sixteen years earlier, had spent twelve years working behind the scenes as a legislative aide to her predecessor.
Sarah Vowell (Lafayette in the Somewhat United States)
Because the state uses violence to achieve its ends, and there is no rational end to the use of violence, states grow until they destroy civilized interactions through the corruption of money, contracts, honesty, family and self-reliance. No state in history has ever been contained. It’s only taken a little more than a century for the US – founded on the idea of limited government, to break the bonds of the constitution, institute the income tax, take control of the money supply and the educational system and begin its catastrophic expansion.
Stefan Molyneux
It is not until one visits old, oppressed, suffering Europe, that he can appreciate his own government, "he observed, "that he realizes the fearful responsibility of the American people to the nations of the whole earth, to carry successfully through the experiment... That men are capable of self-government.
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)
These self-styled liberals and progressives are honestly convinced that they are true democrats. But their notion of democracy is just the opposite of that of the nineteenth century. They confuse democracy with socialism. They not only do not see that socialism and democracy are incompatible but they believe that socialism alone means real democracy. Entangled in this error, they consider the Soviet system a variety of popular government.
Ludwig von Mises (Omnipotent Government)
reject expressed belief – and exchange it for the possibility of genuine change.The believers’ formula is a deception and they are deceived – which is a negation of their purpose. Faith is denial, and the metaphor for faith is idiocy, hence it always fails. To make their power more secure, governments force religion down the throats of their slaves, and it always succeeds. Few people escape it; therefore the honour of those who do is all the greater. When faith perishes, the ‘Self ’ comes into its own.
Austin Osman Spare (Book of Pleasure in Plain English)
And of the sixth day yet remained There wanted yet the master work, the end Of all yet done: a creature who not prone And brute as other creatures but endued With sanctity of reason might erect His stature and, upright with front serene, Govern the rest, self-knowing, and from thence Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven, But grateful to acknowledge whence his good Descends, thither with heart and voice and eyes Directed in devotion to adore And worship God supreme who made him chief Of all His works.
John Milton (Paradise Lost)
I am trying to stress a point which they do not sufficiently emphasize, or tend to overlook altogether-namely, that the organism is not a mosaic aggregate of elementary physico-chemical processes, but a hierarchy in which each member, from the sub-cellular level upward, is a closely integrated structure, equipped with self-regulatory devices, and enjoys an advanced form of self-government.
Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in the Machine)
Those people who live in an Independent nation should know how important it is to support independence not only in the government but also in arts, literature, films, newspapers, and business. Innovation, growth, and self-motivation comes from independent artists, journalists, authors, and inventors; not from the Big What which has held 90% of the market since the 1900s. Encourage innovation by supporting the Indies. That's where new opportunities are found!
Kailin Gow
Marxism, like all other totalitarian movements in our century, must be seen as kind of secular pattern of redemption , designed to bring hope and fulfillment to those who have come to feel alienated , frustrated, and excluded from what they regard as their rightful place in a community. In its promise of unity and belonging lies much of the magic of totalitarian mistery, miracle, and authority. Bertrand Russell has not exaggerated in summing up the present significance of Marxism somewhat as follows: dialectical materialism is God; marx the Messiah; Lenin and Stalin the apostles; the proletariat the elect; the Communist party the Church; Moscow the seat of Church; the Revolution the second coming; the punishment of capitalismo hell; Trotsky the devil; and the communist commonwealth kingdom come.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
but,brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick... more badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies,and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self... But what I do I do because I like to do.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
At this stage of the game, I don’t have the time for patience and tolerance. Ten years ago, even five years ago, I would have listened to people ask their questions, explained to them, mollified them. No more. That time is past. Now, as Norman Mailer said in Naked and the Dead, ‘I hate everything which is not in myself.’ If it doesn’t have a direct bearing on what I’m advocating, if it doesn’t augment or stimulate my life and thinking, I don’t want to hear it. It has to add something to my life. There’s no more time for explaining and being ecumenical anymore. No more time. That’s a characteristic I share with the new generation of Satanists, which might best be termed, and has labeled itself in many ways, an ‘Apocalypse culture.’ Not that they believe in the biblical Apocalypse—the ultimate war between good and evil. Quite the contrary. But that there is an urgency, a need to get on with things and stop wailing and if it ends tomorrow, at least we’ll know we’ve lived today. It’s a ‘fiddle while Rome burns’ philosophy. It’s the Satanic philosophy. If the generation born in the 50’s grew up in the shadow of The Bomb and had to assimilate the possibility of imminent self destruction of the entire planet at any time, those born in the 60’s have had to reconcile the inevitability of our own destruction, not through the bomb but through mindless, uncontrolled overpopulation. And somehow resolve in themselves, looking at what history has taught us, that no amount of yelling, protesting, placard waving, marching, wailing—or even more constructive avenues like running for government office or trying to write books to wake people up—is going to do a damn bit of good. The majority of humans have an inborn death wish—they want to destroy themselves and everything beautiful. To finally realize that we’re living in a world after the zenith of creativity, and that we can see so clearly the mechanics of our own destruction, is a terrible realization. Most people can’t face it. They’d rather retreat to the comfort of New Age mysticism. That’s all right. All we want, those few of us who have the strength to realize what’s going on, is the freedom to create and entertain and share with each other, to preserve and cherish what we can while we can, and to build our own little citadels away from the insensitivity of the rest of the world.
Anton Szandor LaVey (The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey)
The right of self defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest possible limits...and [when] the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.
George Tucker
People and their values are almost infinitely diverse, and people will never agree on many elements of social arrangements that might be subjected to uniform rules of governance. Hence, the greater the scope of strictly individual self-determination, the lesser the scope of governance, and the greater the tolerance with which people live and let live among their fellows, the more peaceful and flourishing society will be
Robert Higgs
Antidemocracy, executive predominance, and elite rule are basic elements of inverted totalitarianism. Antidemocracy does not take the form of overt attacks upon the idea of government by the people. Instead, politically it means encouraging what I have earlier dubbed “civic demobilization,” conditioning an electorate to being aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy. The intense pace of work and the extended working day, combined with job insecurity, is a formula for political demobilization, for privatizing the citizenry. It works indirectly. Citizens are encouraged to distrust their government and politicians; to concentrate upon their own interests; to begrudge their taxes; and to exchange active involvement for symbolic gratifications of patriotism, collective self-righteousness, and military prowess. Above all, depoliticization is promoted through society’s being enveloped in an atmosphere of collective fear and of individual powerlessness: fear of terrorists, loss of jobs, the uncertainties of pension plans, soaring health costs, and rising educational expenses.
Sheldon S. Wolin (Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism)
A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie. One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster. After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life. This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues. They adopt a single axiom: government is bad, immigration is bad, capitalism is bad, patriarchy is bad. Then they filter and screen their experiences and insist ever more narrowly that everything can be explained by that axiom. They believe, narcissistically, underneath all that bad theory, that the world could be put right, if only they held the controls.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
There are only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power. Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented Middle Group to come into being, or it loses its own self-confidence and willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree. A ruling class which could guard against all of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.
George Orwell
If the Bahreini royal family can have an embassy, a state, and a seat at the UN, why should the twenty-five million Kurds not have a claim to autonomy? The alleviation of their suffering and the assertion of their self-government is one of the few unarguable benefits of regime change in Iraq. It is not a position from which any moral retreat would be allowable.
Christopher Hitchens (A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq)
Well, then he would be at war with the government, and death was an unfortunate side effect of any revolution. Change always had a price tag. But once he took over, the people would realize he was a better ruler than the disorganized, self-interested mob that called themselves Congress -- men who didn't know anything, being led by a president who knew even less.
C.J. Hill (Slayers (Slayers, #1))
But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick. They don't go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop? And I was patronizing the other shop. More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
The degree of ignorance cannot easily be expressed. We may say, for instance, that nearly two-thirds of them cannot read or write. This but partially expresses the fact. They are ignorant of the world about them, of modern economic organization, of the function of government, of individual worth and possibilities,—of nearly all those things which slavery in self-defence had to keep them from learning. Much that the white boy imbibes from his earliest social atmosphere forms the puzzling problems of the black boy’s mature years. America is not another word for Opportunity to all her sons.
W.E.B. Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folk)
No matter what your background, no matter how low your station in life, there must be no limit on your ability to reach for the stars, to go as far as your God-given talents will take you. Trust the people; believe every human being is capable of greatness, capable of self-government . . . only when people are free to worship, create, and build, only when they are given a personal stake in deciding their destiny and benefiting from their own risks, only then do societies become dynamic, prosperous, progressive, and free.
Ronald Reagan (An American Life)
Confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion—and it is the substitution that makes us believe a past experience can be ruined. The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Liberals habitually work themselves into a lather about the antics of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, but they are really just political gargoyles looking for ratings as they whip up the GOP faithful. The true danger lies in an ostensibly neutral journalism that most Americans count on to tell them what is going on in the world but which too often acts as a stenographer for powerful and self-serving factions in government operating under a cloak of anonymity.
Mike Lofgren (The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted)
When I was older, I found Iqbal's work hugely inspirational. He argued against an unquestioning acceptance of Western democracy as the self-governing model, and instead suggested that by following the rules of Islam a society would tend naturally towards social justice, tolerance, peace and equality. Iqbal's interpretation of Islam differs very widely from the narrow meaning that is sometimes given to it. For Iqbal, Islam is not just the name for certain beliefs and forms of worship. The difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim is not merely a theological one - it is a difference of a fundamental attitude towards life.
Imran Khan (Pakistan: A Personal History)
Protestantism's evolution away from hierarchy and authority has enormous consequences for America and the world. On the one hand, the democratization of religion runs parallel to political democratization. The king of England, questioning the pope, inspires English subjects to question the king and his Anglican bishops. Such dissent is backed up by a Bible full of handy Scripture arguing for arguing with one's kIng. This is the root of self-government in the English-speaking world.
Sarah Vowell (The Wordy Shipmates)
Thus, it is a political axiom that power follows property. But it is now a historical fact that the means of production are fast becoming the monopolistic property of Big Business and Big Government. Therefore, if you believe in democracy, make arrangements to distribute property as widely as possible. Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you want to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society's merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity. In this sphere, wisdom, which may be defined as the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense and available information, is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?
Barbara W. Tuchman (The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam)
democracy is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs. What is at stake in democratic politics is whether ordinary men and women can recognize that their concerns are best protected and cultivated under a regime whose actions are governed by principles of commonality, equality, and fairness, a regime in which taking part in politics becomes a way of staking out and sharing in a common life and its forms of self-fulfillment. Democracy is not about bowling together but about managing together those powers that immediately and significantly affect the lives and circumstances of others and one’s self.
Sheldon S. Wolin
I see things in windows and I say to myself that I want them. I want them because I want to belong. I want to be liked by more people, I want to be held in higher regard than others. I want to feel valued, so I say to myself to watch certain shows. I watch certain shows on the television so I can participate in dialogues and conversations and debates with people who want the same things I want. I want to dress a certain way so certain groups of people are forced to be attracted to me. I want to do my hair a certain way with certain styling products and particular combs and methods so that I can fit in with the In-Crowd. I want to spend hours upon hours at the gym, stuffing my body with what scientists are calling 'superfoods', so that I can be loved and envied by everyone around me. I want to become an icon on someone's mantle. I want to work meaningless jobs so that I can fill my wallet and parentally-advised bank accounts with monetary potential. I want to believe what's on the news so that I can feel normal along with the rest of forever. I want to listen to the Top Ten on Q102, and roll my windows down so others can hear it and see that I am listening to it, and enjoying it. I want to go to church every Sunday, and pray every other day. I want to believe that what I do is for the promise of a peaceful afterlife. I want rewards for my 'good' deeds. I want acknowledgment and praise. And I want people to know that I put out that fire. I want people to know that I support the war effort. I want people to know that I volunteer to save lives. I want to be seen and heard and pointed at with love. I want to read my name in the history books during a future full of clones exactly like me. The mirror, I've noticed, is almost always positioned above the sink. Though the sink offers more depth than a mirror, and mirror is only able to reflect, the sink is held in lower regard. Lower still is the toilet, and thought it offers even more depth than the sink, we piss and shit in it. I want these kind of architectural details to be paralleled in my every day life. I want to care more about my reflection, and less about my cleanliness. I want to be seen as someone who lives externally, and never internally, unless I am able to lock the door behind me. I want these things, because if I didn't, I would be dead in the mirrors of those around me. I would be nothing. I would be an example. Sunken, and easily washed away.
Dave Matthes
I write, and I feel how the correct and precise use of words is sometimes like a remedy to an illness. Like a contraption for purifying the air, I breathe in and exhale the murkiness and manipulations of linguistic scoundrels and language rapists of all shades and colors. I write and I feel how the tenderness and intimacy I maintain with language, with its different layers, its eroticism and humor and soul, give me back the person I used to be, me, before my self became nationalized and confiscated by the conflict, by governments and armies, by despair and tragedy.
David Grossman (Writing in the Dark: Essays on Literature and Politics)
But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick. They don't go into what is the cause of goodness, so why the other shop? If lewdies are good that's because they like it, and I wouldn't ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop. And I was patronizing the other shop. More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me or our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning tbey of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines? I am serious with you brothers, over this. But what I do I do because I like to do.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
It's like this, Bunny Boy, if you walk up to an oak tree or a bloody elm or something - you know, one of those big bastards - one with a thick, heavy trunk with giant roots that grow deep in the soil and great branches that are covered in leaves, right, and you walk up to it and give the tree a shake, well, what happens?' (...) 'I really don't know, Dad,' (...) 'Well, nothing bloody happens, of course!' (...) 'You can stand there shaking it till the cows come home and all that will happen is your arms will get tired. Right?' (...) 'Right, Dad,' he says. (...) 'But if you go up to a skinny, dry, fucked-up little tree, with a withered trunk and a few leaves clinging on for dear life, and you put your hands around it and shake the shit out of it - as we say in the trade - those bloody leaves will come flying off! Yeah?' 'OK, Dad,' says the boy (...) 'Now, the big oak tree is the rich bastard, right, and the skinny tree is the poor cunt who hasn't got any money. Are you with me?' Bunny Junior nods. 'Now, that sounds easier than it actually is, Bunny Boy. Do you want to know why?' 'OK, Dad.' 'Because every fucking bastard and his dog has got hold of the little tree and is shaking it for all that it's worth - the government, the bloody landlord, the lottery they don't have a chance in hell of winning, the council, their bloody exes, their hundred snotty-nosed brats running around because they are too bloody stupid to exercise a bit of self-control, all the useless shit they see on TV, fucking Tesco, parking fines, insurance on this and insurance on that, the boozer, the fruit machines, the bookies - every bastard and his three-legged, one-eyed, pox-riden dog are shaking this little tree,' says Bunny, clamping his hands together and making like he is throttling someone. 'So what do you go and do, Dad?' says Bunny Junior. 'Well, you've got to have something they think they need, you know, above all else.' 'And what's that, Dad?' 'Hope... you know... the dream. You've got to sell them the dream.
Nick Cave (The Death of Bunny Munro)
when two things are contrary or diametrically opposed to one another, to receive the one is to reject the other. Since there is no affinity or friendship between the gospel and the world, to receive the gospel is to reject the world. This demonstrates just how radical the act of receiving the gospel can be. To receive and follow the gospel call is to reject all that can be seen with the eye and held in the hand in exchange for what cannot be seen.1 It is to reject personal autonomy and the right to self-government in order to enslave oneself to a Messiah who died two thousand years ago as an enemy of the state and a blasphemer. It is to reject the majority and its views in order to join oneself to a berated and seemingly insignificant minority called the church. It is to risk everything in this one and only life in the belief that this impaled prophet is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. To receive the gospel is not merely to pray a prayer asking Jesus to come into one’s heart, but it is to put away the world and embrace the fullness of the claims of Christ.
Paul David Washer (The Gospel's Power & Message)
Government cannot be religious and self-assertive at the same time. Religious experience needs a spontaneity which laws inevitably suppress. And you cannot govern without laws. Your laws eventually must replace morality, replace conscience, replace even the religion by which you think to govern. Sacred ritual must spring from praise and holy yearnings which hammer out a significant morality. Government, on the other hand, is a cultural organism particularly attractive to doubts, questions and contentions. I see the day coming when ceremony must take the place of faith and symbolism replaces morality.
Frank Herbert (Dune Messiah (Dune #2))
Not so very long ago, however, such self-governing peoples were the majority of humankind. Today, they are seen from the valley kingdoms as “our living ancestors,” “what we were like before we discovered wet-rice cultivation, Buddhism and civilization.” on the contrary, I argue that hill peoples are best understood as runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have, over the course of two millennia, been fleeing the oppressions of state-making projects in the valleys — slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare.
James C. Scott (The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia)
If you accept a democratic system, this means that you are prepared to put up with those of its workings, legislative or administrative, with which you do not agree as well as with those that meet with your concurrence. This willingness to accept, in principle, the workings of a system based on the will of the majority, even when you yourself are in the minority, is simply the essence of democracy. Without it there could be no system of representative self-government at all. When you attempt to alter the workings of the system by means of violence or civil disobedience, this, it seems to me, can have only one of two implications; either you do not believe in democracy at all and consider that society ought to be governed by enlightened minorities such as the one to which you, of course, belong; or you consider that the present system is so imperfect that it is not truly representative, that it no longer serves adequately as a vehicle for the will of the majority, and that this leaves to the unsatisfied no adequate means of self-expression other than the primitive one of calling attention to themselves and their emotions by mass demonstrations and mass defiance of established authority.
George F. Kennan
A particularly strategic maneuver is to decide that if we don’t understand something it must be wrong. After all, wrong is simpler than not knowing. Wrong means I am not stupid or failing. See all that sneaky, slimy projection happening there? Projection shields us from personal responsibility. It obscures our shame and confusion and places the onus for reconciling it on the body of someone else. We don’t have to work to understand something when it is someone else’s “fault.” We don’t have to undo the shame-based beliefs we were brought up with. We don’t have to question our parents, friends, churches, synagogues, mosques, government, media. We don’t have to challenge or be challenged.
Sonya Renee Taylor (The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love)
Cognitive science has something of enormous importance to contribute to human freedom: the ability to learn what our unconscious conceptual systems are like and how our cognitive unconscious functions. If we do not realize that most of our thought is unconscious and that we think metaphorically, we will indeed be slaves to the cognitive unconscious. Paradoxically, the assumption that we have a radically autonomous rationality as traditionally conceived actually limits our rational autonomy. It condemns us to cognitive slavery - to an unaware and uncritical dependence on our unconscious metaphors. To maximize what conceptual freedom we can have, we must be able to see through and move beyond philosophies that deny the existence of an embodied cognitive unconscious that governs most of our mental lives.
George Lakoff (Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought)
In the United States I saw how the market liberates the individual and allows people to be free to make personal choices. But the biggest drawback was that the market always pushes things to the side of the powerful. I thought the poor should be able to take advantage of the system in order to improve their lot. Grameen is a private-sector self-help bank, and as its members gain personal wealth they acquire water-pumps, latrines, housing, education, access to health care, and so on. Another way to achieve this is to let abusiness earn profit that is then txed by the government, and the tax can be used to provide services to the poor. But in practice it never works that way. In real life, taxes only pay for a government bureaucracy that collects the tax and provides little or nothing to the poor. And since most government bureaucracies are not profit motivated, they have little incentive to increase their efficiency. In fact, they have a disincentive: governments often cannot cut social services without a public outcry, so the behemoth continues, blind and inefficient, year after year.
Muhammad Yunus (Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty)
Jubal shrugged. "Abstract design is all right-for wall paper or linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror, which is not abstract at all but very human. What the self-styled modern artists are doing is a sort of unemotional pseudo-intellectual masturbation. . . whereas creative art is more like intercourse, in which the artist must seduce- render emotional-his audience, each time. These ladies who won't deign to do that- and perhaps can't- of course lost the public. If they hadn't lobbied for endless subsidies, they would have starved or been forced to go to work long ago. Because the ordinary bloke will not voluntarily pay for 'art' that leaves him unmoved- if he does pay for it, the money has to be conned out of him, by taxes or such." "You know, Jubal, I've always wondered why i didn't give a hoot for paintings or statues- but I thought it was something missing in me, like color blindness." "Mmm, one does have to learn to look at art, just as you must know French to read a story printed in French. But in general terms it's up to the artist to use language that can be understood, not hide it in some private code like Pepys and his diary. Most of these jokers don't even want to use language you and I know or can learn. . . they would rather sneer at us and be smug, because we 'fail' to see what they are driving at. If indeed they are driving at anything- obscurity is usually the refuge of incompetence. Ben, would you call me an artists?” “Huh? Well, I’ve never thought about it. You write a pretty good stick.” “Thank you. ‘Artist’ is a word I avoid for the same reasons I hate to be called ‘Doctor.’ But I am an artist, albeit a minor one. Admittedly most of my stuff is fit to read only once… and not even once for a busy person who already knows the little I have to say. But I am an honest artist, because what I write is consciously intended to reach the customer… reach him and affect him, if possible with pity and terror… or, if not, at least to divert the tedium of his hours with a chuckle or an odd idea. But I am never trying to hide it from him in a private language, nor am I seeking the praise of other writers for ‘technique’ or other balderdash. I want the praise of the cash customer, given in cash because I’ve reached him- or I don’t want anything. Support for the arts- merde! A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore! Damn it, you punched one of my buttons. Let me fill your glass and you tell me what is on your mind.
Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land)
You revolutionists' the other continued, with leisurely self-confidence, 'are the slaves of the social convention, which is afraid of you; slaves of it as much as the very police that stands up in the defence of that convention. Clearly you are, since you want to revolutionize it. It governs your action, too, and thus neither your thought nor your action can ever be conclusive. (...) 'You are not a bit better than the forces arrayed against you -- than the police, for instance. The other day I came suddenly upon Chief Inspector Heat at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. He looked at me very steadily. But I did not look at him. Why should I give him more than a glance ? He was thinking of many things -- of his superiors, of his reputation, of the law courts, of his salary, of newspapers -- of a hundred things. But I was thinking of my perfect detonator only. He meant nothing to me. He was as insignificant as -- I can't call to mind anything insignificant enough to compare him with -- except Karl Yundt perhaps. Like to like. The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket. Revolutions, legality -- counter moves in the same game; forms of idleness at bottom identical. He plays his little game -- so do you propagandists.
Joseph Conrad (The Secret Agent)
There are members of our body politic who tell us that the public interest is best served when government action is reduced to a minimum and especially when it is kept negative in character. But just now, the nation as a whole seems to be moving rather swiftly and decisively—as is the world as a whole—in the opposite direction. More and more, we Americans are initiating new forms of positive government action for the common good. Between these two tendencies the struggle becomes every day more open and more intense. And as we wage that conflict it is well to remember that the logic of the Constitution gives no backing to either of the two combatants, as against the other. We are left free, as any self-governing people must leave itself free, to determine by specific decisions what our economy shall be. It would be ludicrous to say that we are committed by the Constitution to the economic cooperations of socialism. But equally ludicrous are those appeals by which, in current debate, we are called upon to defend the practices of capitalism, of "free enterprise," so-called, as essential to the freedom of the American Way of Life. The American Way of Life is free because it is what we Americans freely choose—from time to time—that it shall be.
Alexander Meiklejohn (Political Freedom: The Constitutional Powers of the People)
A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake. Perhaps the recent incidents represented a last attempt by Wilder and the airline pilots to rebel against this unfolding logic? Sadly, they had little chance of success, precisely because their opponents were people who were content with their lives in the high-rise, who felt no particular objection to an impersonal steel and concrete landscape, no qualms about the invasion of their privacy by government agencies and data-processing organizations, and if anything welcomed these invisible intrusions, using them for their own purposes. These people were the first to master a new kind of late twentieth-century life. They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never disappointed. Alternatively,
J.G. Ballard (High-Rise)
State philosophy reposes on a double identity: of the thinking subject, and of the concepts it creates and to which it lends its own presumed attributes of sameness and constancy. The subjects, its concepts, and also the objects in the world to which the concepts are applied have a shared, internal essence: the self-resemblance at the basis of identity. Representational thought is analogical; its concern is to establish a correspondence between these symmetrically structured domains. The faculty of judgment is the policeman of analogy, assuring that each of these terms is honestly itself, and that the proper correspondences obtain. In thought its end is truth, in action justice. The weapons it wields in their pursuit are limitive distribution (the determination of the exclusive set of properties possessed by each term in contradistinction to the others: logos, law) and hierarchical ranking (the measurement of the degree of perfection of a term’s self-resemblance in relation to a supreme standard, man, god, or gold: value, morality). The modus operandi is negation: x = x = not y. Identity, resemblance, truth, justice, and negation. The rational foundation for order. The established order, of course: philosophers have traditionally been employees of the State. The collusion between philosophy and the State was most explicitly enacted in the first decade of the nineteenth century with the foundation of the University of Berlin, which was to become the model of higher learning throughout Europe and in the United States. The goal laid out for it by Wilhelm von Humboldt (based on proposals by Fichte and Schleiermacher) was the ‘spiritual and moral training of the nation,’ to be achieved by ‘deriving everything from an original principle’ (truth), by ‘relating everything to an ideal’ (justice), and by ‘unifying this principle and this ideal to a single Idea’ (the State). The end product would be ‘a fully legitimated subject of knowledge and society’ – each mind an analogously organized mini-State morally unified in the supermind of the State. More insidious than the well-known practical cooperation between university and government (the burgeoning military funding of research) is its philosophical role in the propagation of the form of representational thinking itself, that ‘properly spiritual absolute State’ endlessly reproduced and disseminated at every level of the social fabric.
Gilles Deleuze (A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia)
We may regard totalitarianism as a process of the annihilation of individuality, but, in more fundamental terms, it is the annihilation, first, of those social relationships within which individuality develops. It is not the extermination of individuals that is ultimately desired by totalitarian rulers, for individuals in the largest number are needed by the new order. What is desired is the extermination of those social relationships which, by their autonomous existence, must always constitute a barrier to the achievement of the absolute political community. The individual alone is powerless. Individual will and memory, apart from the reinforcement of associative tradition, are weak and ephemeral. How well the totalitarian rulers know it. (…) To destroy or diminish the reality of the smaller areas of society, to abolish or restrict the range of cultural alternatives offered individuals by economic endeavor, religion, and kinship, is to destroy in time the roots of the will to resist despotism in its large forms.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
Almost as an article of faith, some individuals believe that conspiracies are either kooky fantasies or unimportant aberrations. To be sure, wacko conspiracy theories do exist. There are people who believe that the United States has been invaded by a secret United Nations army equipped with black helicopters, or that the country is secretly controlled by Jews or gays or feminists or black nationalists or communists or extraterrestrial aliens. But it does not logically follow that all conspiracies are imaginary. Conspiracy is a legitimate concept in law: the collusion of two or more people pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal or immoral end. People go to jail for committing conspiratorial acts. Conspiracies are a matter of public record, and some are of real political significance. The Watergate break-in was a conspiracy, as was the Watergate cover-up, which led to Nixon’s downfall. Iran-contra was a conspiracy of immense scope, much of it still uncovered. The savings and loan scandal was described by the Justice Department as “a thousand conspiracies of fraud, theft, and bribery,” the greatest financial crime in history. Often the term “conspiracy” is applied dismissively whenever one suggests that people who occupy positions of political and economic power are consciously dedicated to advancing their elite interests. Even when they openly profess their designs, there are those who deny that intent is involved. In 1994, the officers of the Federal Reserve announced they would pursue monetary policies designed to maintain a high level of unemployment in order to safeguard against “overheating” the economy. Like any creditor class, they preferred a deflationary course. When an acquaintance of mine mentioned this to friends, he was greeted skeptically, “Do you think the Fed bankers are deliberately trying to keep people unemployed?” In fact, not only did he think it, it was announced on the financial pages of the press. Still, his friends assumed he was imagining a conspiracy because he ascribed self-interested collusion to powerful people. At a World Affairs Council meeting in San Francisco, I remarked to a participant that U.S. leaders were pushing hard for the reinstatement of capitalism in the former communist countries. He said, “Do you really think they carry it to that level of conscious intent?” I pointed out it was not a conjecture on my part. They have repeatedly announced their commitment to seeing that “free-market reforms” are introduced in Eastern Europe. Their economic aid is channeled almost exclusively into the private sector. The same policy holds for the monies intended for other countries. Thus, as of the end of 1995, “more than $4.5 million U.S. aid to Haiti has been put on hold because the Aristide government has failed to make progress on a program to privatize state-owned companies” (New York Times 11/25/95). Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: “Do you actually think there’s a group of people sitting around in a room plotting things?” For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers. But where else would people of power get together – on park benches or carousels? Indeed, they meet in rooms: corporate boardrooms, Pentagon command rooms, at the Bohemian Grove, in the choice dining rooms at the best restaurants, resorts, hotels, and estates, in the many conference rooms at the White House, the NSA, the CIA, or wherever. And, yes, they consciously plot – though they call it “planning” and “strategizing” – and they do so in great secrecy, often resisting all efforts at public disclosure. No one confabulates and plans more than political and corporate elites and their hired specialists. To make the world safe for those who own it, politically active elements of the owning class have created a national security state that expends billions of dollars and enlists the efforts of vast numbers of people.
Michael Parenti (Dirty Truths)
As soon as my log-in sequence completed, a window popped up on my display, informing me that today was an election day. Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.
Ernest Cline (Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1))
From the beginning, Judeo-Christian principles have been the foundation for American public dialogue and government policy. They serve as the solid basis for political activism in support of a better socioeconomic environment. Found in American homes, truth from the Hebrew Christian Bible has enabled individual liberty to prevail over secular empires because it is a practical message about reality from man’s Creator. In their quest for liberty, Americans focused upon the conspicuously self-evident “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” It is the governing character of these principles (laws), such as humility, the Golden Rule, and the Ten Commandments, that leads to success. This is the sure foundation upon which man’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” rests. Called “virtue” by America’s Founding Fathers, the impartial and divine element frees man to do what is right. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
David A. Norris (Restoring Education: Central to American Greatness Fifteen Principles That Liberated Mankind from the Politics of Tyranny)
People aren’t really needed for anything else in the Griftopia, but since Americans require the illusion of self-government, we have elections. To make sure those elections are effectively meaningless as far as Wall Street is concerned, two things end up being true. One is that voters on both sides of the aisle are gradually weaned off that habit of having real expectations for their politicians, consuming the voting process entirely as culture-war entertainment. The other is that millions of tenuously middle-class voters are conned into pushing Wall Street’s own twisted greed ethos as though it were their own. The Tea Party, with its weirdly binary view of society as being split up cleanly into competing groups of producers and parasites—that’s just a cultural echo of the insane greed-is-good belief system on Wall Street that’s provided the foundation/excuse for a generation of brilliantly complex thievery. Those beliefs have trickled down to the ex-middle-class suckers struggling to stay on top of their mortgages and their credit card bills, and the real joke is that these voters listen to CNBC and Fox and they genuinely believe they’re the producers in this binary narrative. They don’t get that somewhere way up above, there’s a group of people who’ve been living the Atlas dream for real—and building a self-dealing financial bureaucracy in their own insane image.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
Cheryl was aided in her search by the Internet. Each time she remembered a name that seemed to be important in her life, she tried to look up that person on the World Wide Web. The names and pictures Cheryl found were at once familiar and yet not part of her conscious memory: Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Dr. Louis 'Jolly' West, Dr. Ewen Cameron, Dr. Martin Orne and others had information by and about them on the Web. Soon, she began looking up sites related to childhood incest and found that some of the survivor sites mentioned the same names, though in the context of experiments performed on small children. Again, some names were familiar. Then Cheryl began remembering what turned out to be triggers from old programmes. 'The song, "The Green, Green Grass of home" kept running through my mind. I remembered that my father sang it as well. It all made no sense until I remembered that the last line of the song tells of being buried six feet under that green, green grass. Suddenly, it came to me that this was a suicide programme of the government. 'I went crazy. I felt that my body would explode unless I released some of the pressure I felt within, so I grabbed a [pair ofl scissors and cut myself with the blade so I bled. In my distracted state, I was certain that the bleeding would let the pressure out. I didn't know Lynn had felt the same way years earlier. I just knew I had to do it Cheryl says. She had some barbiturates and other medicine in the house. 'One particularly despondent night, I took several pills. It wasn't exactly a suicide try, though the pills could have killed me. Instead, I kept thinking that I would give myself a fifty-fifty chance of waking up the next morning. Maybe the pills would kill me. Maybe the dose would not be lethal. It was all up to God. I began taking pills each night. Each-morning I kept awakening.
Cheryl Hersha (Secret Weapons: How Two Sisters Were Brainwashed To Kill For Their Country)
The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers, under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman's-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self-Reliance and Other Essays)
There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral—immoral from the scientific point of view." "Why?" "Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty hat one owes to one's self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet, I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream—I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal—to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray (Collector's Edition): Including the Uncensored 13 Chapter Version & The Revised 20 Chapter Version)
In a highly popular statement, we are told that the family has progressed from institution to companionship. But, as Ortega y Gasset has written, “people do not live together merely to be together. They live together to do something together”. To suppose that the present family, or any other group, can perpetually vitalize itself through some indwelling affectional tie, in the absence of concrete, perceived functions, is like supposing that the comradely ties of mutual aid which grow up incidentally in a militar unit will along outlast a condition in which war is plainly and irrevocably banished . Applied to the family, the argument suggests that affection and personality cultivation can somehow exist in a social vacum, unsupported by the determining goals and ideals of economic and political society.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
Already the people murmur that I am your enemy because they say that in verse I give the world your me. They lie, Julia de Burgos. They lie, Julia de Burgos. Who rises in my verses is not your voice. It is my voice because you are the dressing and the essence is me; and the most profound abyss is spread between us. You are the cold doll of social lies, and me, the virile starburst of the human truth. You, honey of courtesan hypocrisies; not me; in all my poems I undress my heart. You are like your world, selfish; not me who gambles everything betting on what I am. You are only the ponderous lady very lady; not me; I am life, strength, woman. You belong to your husband, your master; not me; I belong to nobody, or all, because to all, to all I give myself in my clean feeling and in my thought. You curl your hair and paint yourself; not me; the wind curls my hair, the sun paints me. You are a housewife, resigned, submissive, tied to the prejudices of men; not me; unbridled, I am a runaway Rocinante snorting horizons of God's justice. You in yourself have no say; everyone governs you; your husband, your parents, your family, the priest, the dressmaker, the theatre, the dance hall, the auto, the fine furnishings, the feast, champagne, heaven and hell, and the social, "what will they say." Not in me, in me only my heart governs, only my thought; who governs in me is me. You, flower of aristocracy; and me, flower of the people. You in you have everything and you owe it to everyone, while me, my nothing I owe to nobody. You nailed to the static ancestral dividend, and me, a one in the numerical social divider, we are the duel to death who fatally approaches. When the multitudes run rioting leaving behind ashes of burned injustices, and with the torch of the seven virtues, the multitudes run after the seven sins, against you and against everything unjust and inhuman, I will be in their midst with the torch in my hand.
Julia de Burgos Jack Agüero Translator
Government as we now know it in the USA and other economically advanced countries is so manifestly horrifying, so corrupt, counterproductive, and outright vicious, that one might well wonder how it continues to enjoy so much popular legitimacy and to be perceived so widely as not only tolerable but indispensable. The answer, in overwhelming part, may be reduced to a two-part formula: bribes and bamboozlement (classically "bread and circuses"). Under the former rubric falls the vast array of government "benefits" and goodies of all sorts, from corporate subsidies and privileges to professional grants and contracts to welfare payments and health care for low-income people and other members of the lumpenproletariat. Under the latter rubric fall such measures as the government schools, the government's lapdog news media, and the government's collaboration with the producers of professional sporting events and Hollywood films. Seen as a semi-integrated whole, these measures give current governments a strong hold on the public's allegiance and instill in the masses and the elites alike a deep fear of anything that seriously threatens the status quo.
Robert Higgs
Nothing could be further from the truth. All identities, without exception, have been socially constructed: the Han, the Burman, the American, the Danish, all of them. Quite often such identities, particularly minority identities, are at first imagined by powerful states, as the Han imagined the Miao, the British colonists imagined the Karen and the Shan, the French the Jarai. Whether invented or imposed, such identities select, more or less arbitrarily, one or another trait, however vague-religion, language, skin color, diet, means of subsistence-as the desideratum. Such categories, institutionalized in territories, land tenure, courts, customary law, appointed chiefs, schools, and paperwork, may become passionately lived identities. To the degree that the identity is stigmatized by the larger state or society, it is likely to become for many a resistant and defiant identity. Here invented identities combine with self-making of a heroic kind, in which such identifications become a badge of honor
James C. Scott (The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia)
No society can last in conditions of anarchy. This is self-evident and I am in full agreement. But my aim is not the establishment of an anarchist society or the total destruction of the state. Here I differ from anarchists. I do not believe that it is possible to destroy the modern state. It is pure imagination to think that some day this power will be overthrown. From a pragmatic standpoint there is no chance of success. Furthermore, I do not believe that anarchist doctrine is the solution to the problem of organization in society and government. I do not think that if anarchism were to succeed we should have a better or more livable society. Hence I am not fighting for the triumph of this doctrine. On the other hand, it seems to me that an anarchist attitude is the only one that is sufficiently radical in the face of a general statist system.
Jacques Ellul (The Ethics of Freedom)
The sun is sitting on whom I was in order that I can become the type of person that I wish to be. The beauty of twilight is that it enhances everything. Personal change requires the courage to let go of personal security and venture into a new worlds. I look forward exploring personal thoughts and behaviors, and probing community customs and rituals. I hope to meet new people, expand knowledge of the world, eclipse my egoistical way of living, and devolve a lifestyle that in is synch with the natural rhythmic flow of that governs all lifeforms that inhabit this crusty rock and the watery world of rivers, seas, and oceans. I resolve to accept witnessing the splendor of nature as sufficient to satisfy all my wants and desires while also seeking to increase self-control, and attempt to sprinkle kindness upon the doorsteps leading to other people’s hearts.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
The political merchandisers appeal only to the weak­nesses of voters, never to their potential strength. They make no attempt to educate the masses into becoming fit for self-government; they are content merely to manipulate and exploit them. For this pur­pose all the resources of psychology and the social sciences are mobilized and set to work. Carefully se­lected samples of the electorate are given "interviews in depth." These interviews in depth reveal the uncon­scious fears and wishes most prevalent in a given so­ciety at the time of an election. Phrases and images aimed at allaying or, if necessary, enhancing these fears, at satisfying these wishes, at least symbolically, are then chosen by the experts, tried out on readers and audiences, changed or improved in the light of the information thus obtained. After which the political campaign is ready for the mass communicators. All that is now needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look "sincere." Under the new dispen­sation, political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The person­ality of the candidate and the way he is projected by the advertising experts are the things that really mat­ter. In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to con­centrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most -- and prefera­bly (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat. The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to over-simplify complex is­sues. From a pulpit or a platform even the most con­scientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchan­dise the political candidate as though he were a deo­dorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.
Aldous Huxley
It was a fact generally acknowledged by all but the most contumacious spirits at the beginning of the seventeenth century that woman was the weaker vessel; weaker than man, that is. ... That was the way God had arranged Creation, sanctified in the words of the Apostle. ... Under the common law of England at the accession of King James I, no female had any rights at all (if some were allowed by custom). As an unmarried woman her rights were swallowed up in her father's, and she was his to dispose of in marriage at will. Once she was married her property became absolutely that of her husband. What of those who did not marry? Common law met that problem blandly by not recognizing it. In the words of The Lawes Resolutions [the leading 17th century compendium on women's legal status]: 'All of them are understood either married or to be married.' In 1603 England, in short, still lived in a world governed by feudal law, where a wife passed from the guardianship of her father to her husband; her husband also stood in relation to her as a feudal lord.
Antonia Fraser (The Weaker Vessel)
Our Revolution commenced on more favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records, to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.
Thomas Jefferson
As it is not a settled question, you must clear your mind of the fancy with which we all begin as children, that the institutions under which we live, including our legal ways of distributing income and allowing people to own things, are natural, like the weather. They are not. Because they exist everywhere in our little world, we take it for granted that they have always existed and must always exist, and that they are self-acting. That is a dangerous mistake. They are in fact transient makeshifts; and many of them would not be obeyed, even by well-meaning people, if there were not a policeman within call and a prison within reach. They are being changed continually by Parliament, because we are never satisfied with them.... At the elections some candidates get votes by promising to make new laws or to get rid of old ones, and others by promising to keep things just as they are. This is impossible. Things will not stay as they are. Changes that nobody ever believed possible take place in a few generations. Children nowadays think that spending nine years in school, oldage and widows’ pensions, votes for women, and short-skirted ladies in Parliament or pleading in barristers’ wigs in the courts are part of the order of Nature, and always were and ever shall be; but their great-grandmothers would have set down anyone who told them that such things were coming as mad, and anyone who wanted them to come as wicked.
George Bernard Shaw (The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism)
Meditation I KNOW there is a Power for Good which is responding to me and bringing into my experience everything that is necessary to my unfoldment, to my happiness, to my peace, to my health, and to my success. I know there is a Power for Good that enables me to help others and to bless the whole world. So I say quietly to myself: There is one Life, that Life is God, that Life is perfect, that Life is my life now. It is flowing through me, circulating in me. I am one with Its rhythm. My heart beats with the pulsation of the Universe, in serenity, in peace, and in joy. My whole physical being is animated by the Divine Spirit, and if there is anything in it that does not belong, it is cast out because there is One Perfect Life in me now. And I say to myself: I am daily guided so that I shall know what to do under every circumstance, in every situation. Divine Intelligence guides me in love, in joy, and in complete self-expression. Desiring that the Law of Good alone shall control me, I bless and prosper everything I am doing; I multiply every activity; I accept and expect happiness and complete success. Realizing that I am one with all people, I affirm that there is a silent Power flowing through me and them, which blesses and heals and prospers, makes happy and glad their pathway. And realizing that the world is made up of people like myself, I bless the world and affirm that it shall come under the Divine government of Good, under the Divine providence of Love, and under the Divine leadership of the Supreme Intelligence. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Ernest Shurtleff Holmes (Living the Science of Mind)
Fascism talks ideology, but it is really just marketing—marketing for power. It is recognizable by its need to purge, by the strategies it uses to purge, and by its terror of truly democratic agendas. It is recognizable by its determination to convert all public services to private entrepreneurship, all nonprofit organizations to profit-making ones—so that the narrow but protective chasm between governance and business disappears. It changes citizens into taxpayers—so individuals become angry at even the notion of the public good. It changes neighbors into consumers—so the measure of our value as humans is not our humanity or our compassion or our generosity but what we own. It changes parenting into panicking—so that we vote against the interests of our own children; against their health care, their education, their safety from weapons. And in effecting these changes it produces the perfect capitalist, one who is willing to kill a human being for a product (a pair of sneakers, a jacket, a car) or kill generations for control of products (oil, drugs, fruit, gold).
Toni Morrison (The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations)
But you see, "libertarian" has a special meaning in the United States. The United Statesis off the spectrum of the main tradition in this respect: what's called "libertarianism" here is unbridled capitalism. Now, that's always been opposed in the European libertarian tradition, where every anarchist has been a socialist—because the point is, if you have unbridled capitalism, you have all kinds of authority: you have extreme authority. If capital is privately controlled, then people are going to have to rent themselves in order to survive. Now, you can say, "they rent themselves freely, it's a free contract"—but that's a joke. If your choice is, "do what I tell you or starve," that's not a choice—it's in fact what was commonly referred to as wage slavery in more civilized times, like the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example. The American version of "libertarianism" is an aberration, though—nobody really takes it seriously. I mean, everybody knows that a society that worked by American libertarian principles would self-destruct in three seconds. The only reason people pretend to take it seriously is because you can use it as a weapon. Like, when somebody comes out in favor of a tax, you can say: "No, I'm a libertarian, I'm against that tax"—but of course, I'm still in favor of the government building roads, and having schools, and killing Libyans, and all that sort of stuff. Now, there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard [American academic]—and if you just read the world that they describe, it's a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it. This is a world where you don't have roads because you don't see any reason why you should cooperate in building a road that you're not going to use: if you want a road, you get together with a bunch of other people who are going to use that road and you build it, then you charge people to ride on it. If you don't like the pollution from somebody's automobile, you take them to court and you litigate it. Who would want to live in a world like that? It's a world built on hatred. The whole thing's not even worth talking about, though. First of all, it couldn't function for a second-and if it could, all you'd want to do is get out, or commit suicide or something. But this is a special American aberration, it's not really serious.
Noam Chomsky (Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky)
Slavery is so vile and miserable an Estate of Man, and so directly opposite to the generous Temper and Courage of our Nation; that 'tis hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a Gentleman, should plead for't.. And truly, I should have taken Sr. Rt: Filmer's "Patriarcha" as any other Treatise, which would perswade all Men, that they are Slaves, and ought to be so, for such another exercise of Wit, as was his who writ the Encomium (Praise) of Nero, rather than for a serious Discourse meant in earnest, had not the Gravity of the Title and Epistle, the Picture in the Front of the Book, and the Applause that followed it, required me to believe, that the Author and Publisher were both in earnest. I therefore took it into my hands with all the expectation and read it through with all the attention due to a Treaties, that made such a noise at its coming abroad and cannot but confess my self mightily surprised, that in a Book which was to provide Chains for all Mankind, I should find nothing but a Rope of Sand, useful perhaps to such, whose Skill and Business it is to raise a Dust, and would blind the People, the better to mislead them, but in truth is not of any force to draw those into Bondage, who have their Eyes open, and so much Sense about them as to consider, that Chains are but an Ill wearing, how much Care soever hath been taken to file and polish them.
John Locke (Second Treatise of Government)
Says the Cardinal: "Freethought leads to Atheism, to the destruction of social and civil order, and to the overthrow of government." I accept the gentleman's statement; I credit him with much intellectual acumen for perceiving that which many freethinkers have failed to perceive: accepting it, I shall do my best to prove it, and then endeavor to show that this very iconoclastic principle is the salvation of the economic slave and the destruction of the economic tyrant. ... Hence the freethinker who recognizes the science of astronomy, the science of mathematics, and the equally positive and exact science of justice, is logically forced to the denial of supreme authority. For no human being who observes and reflects can admit a supreme tyrant and preserve his self-respect. No human mind can accept the dogma of divine despotism and the doctrine of eternal justice at the same time; they contradict each other, and it takes two brains to hold them. The cardinal is right: freethought does logically lead to atheism, if by atheism he means the denial of supreme authority.
Voltairine de Cleyre (The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader)
He’s ruined that magic,” this aide said of Trump. “The disdain he shows for our country’s foundation and its principles. The disregard he has for right and wrong. Your fist clenches. Your teeth grate. The hair goes up on the back of your neck. I have to remind myself I said an oath to a document in the National Archives. I swore to the Constitution. I didn’t swear an oath to this jackass.” As this aide saw it, there has been a silent understanding within the national security community that diplomatic, military, and intelligence officers were doing the right thing, quietly risking their lives to protect the American way of life. This aide saw Trump’s move against Brennan as one of the first steps of undercutting America’s democratic system of government and the belief system upon which it was founded. According to the aide, it was the president declaring, “It’s not okay to disagree with me. I can remove you from this work and your career. “If he wanted to, how far could he push this?” this aide asked. “Look back. Did people in the 1930s in Germany know when the government started to turn on them? Most Americans are more worried about who is going to win on America’s Got Talent and what the traffic is going to be like on I-95. They aren’t watching this closely. “I like to believe [Trump] is too self-engrossed, too incompetent and disorganized to get us to 1930,” this aide added. “But he has moved the bar. And another president that comes after him can move it a little farther. The time is coming. Our nation will be tested. Every nation is. Rome fell, remember. He is opening up vulnerabilities for this to happen. That is my fear.” —
Philip Rucker (A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not recommending one form of love over another. I don’t know if prudent or reckless love is the better, monied or penniless love the surer, heterosexual or homosexual love the sexier, married or unmarried love the stronger. I may be tempted towards didacticism, but this isn’t an advice column. I can’t tell you whether or not you’re in love. If you need ask, then you probably aren’t, that’s my only advice… But I can tell you why to love. Because the history of the world, which only stops at the half-house of love to bulldoze it into rubble, is ridiculous without it. The history of the world becomes brutally self-important without love. Our random mutation is essential because it is unnecessary. Love won’t change the history of the world (that nonsense about Cleopatra’s nose is strictly for sentimentalists), but it will do something much more important: teach us to stand up to history, to ignore its chin-out strut. I don’t accept your terms, love says; sorry, you don’t impress, and by the way what a silly uniform you’re wearing. Of course, we don’t fall in love to help out with the world’s ego problem; yet this is one of love’s surer effects.’ Love and truth, that's the vital connection, love and truth. [. . .] How you cuddle in the dark governs how you see the history of the world.
Julian Barnes (A History of the World in 10½ Chapters)
What a skeletal wreck of man this is. Translucent flesh and feeble bones, the kind of temple where the whores and villains try to tempt the holistic domes. Running rampid with free thought to free form, and the free and clear. When the matters at hand are shelled out like lint at a laundry mat to sift and focus on the bigger, better, now. We all have a little sin that needs venting, virtues for the rending and laws and systems and stems are ripped from the branches of office, do you know where your post entails? Do you serve a purpose, or purposely serve? When in doubt inside your atavistic allure, the value of a summer spent, and a winter earned. For the rest of us, there is always Sunday. The day of the week the reeks of rest, but all we do is catch our breath, so we can wade naked in the bloody pool, and place our hand on the big, black book. To watch the knives zigzag between our aching fingers. A vacation is a countdown, T minus your life and counting, time to drag your tongue across the sugar cube, and hope you get a taste. WHAT THE FUCK IS ALL THIS FOR? WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON? SHUT UP! I can go on and on but lets move on, shall we? Say, your me, and I’m you, and they all watch the things we do, and like a smack of spite they threw me down the stairs, haven’t felt like this in years. The great magnet of malicious magnanimous refuse, let me go, and punch me into the dead spout again. That’s where you go when there’s no one else around, it’s just you, and there was never anyone to begin with, now was there? Sanctimonious pretentious dastardly bastards with their thumb on the pulse, and a finger on the trigger. CLASSIFIED MY ASS! THAT’S A FUCKING SECRET, AND YOU KNOW IT! Government is another way to say better…than…you. It’s like ice but no pick, a murder charge that won’t stick, it’s like a whole other world where you can smell the food, but you can’t touch the silverware. Huh, what luck. Fascism you can vote for. Humph, isn’t that sweet? And we’re all gonna die some day, because that’s the American way, and I’ve drunk too much, and said too little, when your gaffer taped in the middle, say a prayer, say a face, get your self together and see what’s happening. SHUT UP! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! I’m sorry, I could go on and on but their times to move on so, remember: you’re a wreck, an accident. Forget the freak, your just nature. Keep the gun oiled, and the temple cleaned shit snort, and blaspheme, let the heads cool, and the engine run. Because in the end, everything we do, is just everything we’ve done.
Stone Sour (Stonesour)
Let us fool ourselves no longer. At the very moment Western nations, threw off the ancient regime of absolute government, operating under a once-divine king, they were restoring this same system in a far more effective form in their technology, reintroducing coercions of a military character no less strict in the organization of a factory than in that of the new drilled, uniformed, and regimented army. During the transitional stages of the last two centuries, the ultimate tendency of this system might b e in doubt, for in many areas there were strong democratic reactions; but with the knitting together of a scientific ideology, itself liberated from theological restrictions or humanistic purposes, authoritarian technics found an instrument at hand that h as now given it absolute command of physical energies of cosmic dimensions. The inventors of nuclear bombs, space rockets, and computers are the pyramid builders of our own age: psychologically inflated by a similar myth of unqualified power, boasting through their science of their increasing omnipotence, if not omniscience, moved by obsessions and compulsions no less irrational than those of earlier absolute systems: particularly the notion that the system itself must be expanded, at whatever eventual co st to life. Through mechanization, automation, cybernetic direction, this authoritarian technics has at last successfully overcome its most serious weakness: its original dependence upon resistant, sometimes actively disobedient servomechanisms, still human enough to harbor purposes that do not always coincide with those of the system. Like the earliest form of authoritarian technics, this new technology is marvellously dynamic and productive: its power in every form tends to increase without limits, in quantities that defy assimilation and defeat control, whether we are thinking of the output of scientific knowledge or of industrial assembly lines. To maximize energy, speed, or automation, without reference to the complex conditions that sustain organic life, have become ends in themselves. As with the earliest forms of authoritarian technics, the weight of effort, if one is to judge by national budgets, is toward absolute instruments of destruction, designed for absolutely irrational purposes whose chief by-product would be the mutilation or extermination of the human race. Even Ashurbanipal and Genghis Khan performed their gory operations under normal human limits. The center of authority in this new system is no longer a visible personality, an all-powerful king: even in totalitarian dictatorships the center now lies in the system itself, invisible but omnipresent: all its human components, even the technical and managerial elite, even the sacred priesthood of science, who alone have access to the secret knowledge by means of which total control is now swiftly being effected, are themselves trapped by the very perfection of the organization they have invented. Like the Pharoahs of the Pyramid Age, these servants of the system identify its goods with their own kind of well-being: as with the divine king, their praise of the system is an act of self-worship; and again like the king, they are in the grip of an irrational compulsion to extend their means of control and expand the scope of their authority. In this new systems-centered collective, this Pentagon of power, there is no visible presence who issues commands: unlike job's God, the new deities cannot be confronted, still less defied. Under the pretext of saving labor, the ultimate end of this technics is to displace life, or rather, to transfer the attributes of life to the machine and the mechanical collective, allowing only so much of the organism to remain as may be controlled and manipulated.
Lewis Mumford
What does Africa — what does the West stand for? Is not our own interior white on the chart? black though it may prove, like the coast, when discovered. Is it the source of the Nile, or the Niger, or the Mississippi, or a Northwest Passage around this continent, that we would find? Are these the problems which most concern mankind? Is Franklin the only man who is lost, that his wife should be so earnest to find him? Does Mr. Grinnell know where he himself is? Be rather the Mungo Park,the Lewis and Clark and Frobisher,of your own streams and oceans; explore your own higher latitudes — with shiploads of preserved meats to support you, if they be necessary; and pile the empty cans sky-high for a sign. Were preserved meats invented to preserve meat merely? Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice. Yet some can be patriotic who have no self-respect, and sacrifice the greater to the less. They love the soil which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit which may still animate their clay. Patriotism is a maggot in their heads.What was the meaning of that South-Sea Exploring Expedition,with all its parade and expense, but an indirect recognition of the fact that there are continents and seas in the moral world to which every man is an isthmus or an inlet, yet unexplored by him, but that it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
The advantages of a hereditary Monarchy are self-evident. Without some such method of prescriptive, immediate and automatic succession, an interregnum intervenes, rival claimants arise, continuity is interrupted and the magic lost. Even when Parliament had secured control of taxation and therefore of government; even when the menace of dynastic conflicts had receded in to the coloured past; even when kingship had ceased to be transcendental and had become one of many alternative institutional forms; the principle of hereditary Monarchy continued to furnish the State with certain specific and inimitable advantages. Apart from the imponderable, but deeply important, sentiments and affections which congregate around an ancient and legitimate Royal Family, a hereditary Monarch acquires sovereignty by processes which are wholly different from those by which a dictator seizes, or a President is granted, the headship of the State. The King personifies both the past history and the present identity of the Nation as a whole. Consecrated as he is to the service of his peoples, he possesses a religious sanction and is regarded as someone set apart from ordinary mortals. In an epoch of change, he remains the symbol of continuity; in a phase of disintegration, the element of cohesion; in times of mutability, the emblem of permanence. Governments come and go, politicians rise and fall: the Crown is always there. A legitimate Monarch moreover has no need to justify his existence, since he is there by natural right. He is not impelled as usurpers and dictators are impelled, either to mesmerise his people by a succession of dramatic triumphs, or to secure their acquiescence by internal terrorism or by the invention of external dangers. The appeal of hereditary Monarchy is to stability rather than to change, to continuity rather than to experiment, to custom rather than to novelty, to safety rather than to adventure. The Monarch, above all, is neutral. Whatever may be his personal prejudices or affections, he is bound to remain detached from all political parties and to preserve in his own person the equilibrium of the realm. An elected President – whether, as under some constitutions, he be no more than a representative functionary, or whether, as under other constitutions, he be the chief executive – can never inspire the same sense of absolute neutrality. However impartial he may strive to become, he must always remain the prisoner of his own partisan past; he is accompanied by friends and supporters whom he may seek to reward, or faced by former antagonists who will regard him with distrust. He cannot, to an equal extent, serve as the fly-wheel of the State.
Harold Nicholson
Yet what moved Our Blessed Lord to invective was not badness but just such self-righteousness as this…He said that the harlots and the Quislings would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the self-righteous and the smug. Concerning all those who endowed hospitals and libraries and public works, in order to have their names graven in stone before their fellow men, He said, “Amen I say to you, they have received their reward” (Matt. 6:2). They wanted no more than human glory, and they got it. Never once is Our Blessed Lord indignant against those who are already, in the eyes of society, below the level of law and respectability. He attacked only the sham indignation of those who dwelt more on the sin than the sinner and who felt pleasantly virtuous, because they had found someone more vicious than they. He would not condemn those whom society condemned; his severe words were for those who had sinned and had not been found out…He would not add His burden of accusation to those that had already been hurled against the winebibbers and the thieves, the cheap revolutionists, the streetwalkers, and the traitors. They were everybody’s target, and everybody knew that they were wrong…And the people who chose to make war against Our Lord were never those whom society had labeled as sinners. Of those who sentenced Him to death, none had ever had a record in the police court, had ever been arrested, was ever commonly known to be fallen or weak. But among his friends, who sorrowed at His death, were coverts drawn from thieves and from prostitutes. Those who were aligned against Him were the nice people who stood high in the community—the worldly, prosperous people, the men of big business, the judges of law courts who governed by expediency, the “civic-minded” individuals whose true selfishness was veneered over with public generosity. Such men as these opposed him and sent Him to His death.
Fulton J. Sheen (Peace of Soul: Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy by the Century's Most Acclaimed Catholic Bishop)
To understand a child we have to watch him at play, study him in his different moods; we cannot project upon him our own prejudices, hopes and fears, or mould him to fit the pattern of our desires. If we are constantly judging the child according to our personal likes and dislikes, we are bound to create barriers and hindrances in our relationship with him and in his relationships with the world. Unfortunately, most of us desire to shape the child in a way that is gratifying to our own vanities and idiosyncrasies; we find varying degrees of comfort and satisfaction in exclusive ownership and domination. Surely, this process is not relationship, but mere imposition, and it is therefore essential to understand the difficult and complex desire to dominate. It takes many subtle forms; and in its self-righteous aspect, it is very obstinate. The desire to "serve" with the unconscious longing to dominate is difficult to understand. Can there be love where there is possessiveness? Can we be in communion with those whom we seek to control? To dominate is to use another for self-gratification, and where there is the use of another there is no love. When there is love there is consideration, not only for the children but for every human being. Unless we are deeply touched by the problem, we will never find the right way of education. Mere technical training inevitably makes for ruthlessness, and to educate our children we must be sensitive to the whole movement of life. What we think, what we do, what we say matters infinitely, because it creates the environment, and the environment either helps or hinders the child. Obviously, then, those of us who are deeply interested in this problem will have to begin to understand ourselves and thereby help to transform society; we will make it our direct responsability to bring about a new approach to education. If we love our children, will we not find a way of putting an end to war? But if we are merely using the word "love" without substance, then the whole complex problem of human misery will remain. The way out of this problem lies through ourselves. We must begin to understand our relationship with our fellow men, with nature, with ideas and with things, for without that understanding there is no hope, there is no way out of conflict and suffering. The bringing up of a child requires intelligent observation and care. Experts and their knowledge can never replace the parents' love, but most parents corrupt that love by their own fears and ambitions, which condition and distort the outlook of the child. So few of us are concerned with love, but we are vastly taken up with the appearance of love. The present educational and social structure does not help the individual towards freedom and integration; and if the parents are at all in earnest and desire that the child shall grow to his fullest integral capacity, they must begin to alter the influence of the home and set about creating schools with the right kind of educators. The influence of the home and that of the school must not be in any way contradictory, so both parents and teachers must re-educate themselves. The contradiction which so often exists between the private life of the individual and his life as a member of the group creates an endless battle within himself and in his relationships. This conflict is encouraged and sustained through the wrong kind of education, and both governments and organized religions add to the confusion by their contradictory doctrines. The child is divided within himself from the very start, which results in personal and social disasters.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Education and the Significance of Life)
Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or the government. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope. Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope sees in our enemy our own face. Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey. The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing. I cannot promise you fine weather or an easy time. I cannot pretend that being handcuffed is pleasant. If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.
Chris Hedges
I believe this movement will prevail. I don’t mean it will defeat, conquer, or create harm to someone else. Quite the opposite. I don’t tender the claim in an oracular sense. I mean that the thinking that informs the movement’s goals will reign. It will soon suffuse most institutions, but before then, it will change a sufficient number of people so as to begin the reversal of centuries of frenzied self-destructive behavior. Some say it is too late, but people never change when they are comfortable. Helen Keller threw aside the gnawing fears of chronic bad news when she declared, “I rejoice to live in such a splendidly disturbing time!” In such a time, history is suspended and thus unfinished. It will be the stroke of midnight for the rest of our lives. My hopefulness about the resilience of human nature is matched by the gravity of our environmental and social condition. If we squander all our attention on what is wrong, we will miss the prize: In the chaos engulfing the world, a hopeful future resides because the past is disintegrating before us. If that is difficult to believe, take a winter off and calculate what it requires to create a single springtime. It’s not too late for the world’s largest institutions and corporations to join in saving the planet, but cooperation must be on the planet’s terms. The “Help Wanted” signs are everywhere. All people and institutions including commerce, governments, schools, churches and cities, need to learn from life and reimagine the world from the bottom up, based on the first principles if justice and ecology. Ecological restoration is extraordinarily simple: You remove whatever prevents the system from healing itself. Social restoration is no different. We have the heart, knowledge, money and sense to optimize out social and ecological fabric. It is time for all that is harmful to leave. One million escorts are here to transform the nightmares of empire and the disgrace of war on people and place. We are the transgressors and we are the forgivers. “We” means all of us, everyone. There can be no green movement unless there is also a black, brown and copper movement. What is more harmful resides within is, the accumulated wounds of the past, the sorrow, shame, deceit, and ignominy shared by every culture, passed down to every person, as surely as DNA, as history of violence and greed. There is not question that the environmental movement is most critical to our survival. Our house is literally burning, and it is only logical that environmentalists expect the social justice movement to get on the environmental bus. But is actually the other way around; the only way we are going to put out this fire is to get on the social justice bus and heal our wounds, because in the end, there is only one bus. Armed with that growing realization, we can address all that is harmful externally. What will guide us is a living intelligence that creates miracles every second, carried forth by a movement with no name.
Paul Hawken
Because by definition they lack any such sense of mutuality or wholeness, our specializations subsist on conflict with one another. The rule is never to cooperate, but rather to follow one's own interest as far as possible. Checks and balances are all applied externally, by opposition, never by self-restraint. Labor, management, the military, the government, etc., never forbear until their excesses arouse enough opposition to force them to do so. The good of the whole of Creation, the world and all its creatures together, is never a consideration because it is never thought of; our culture now simply lacks the means for thinking of it. It is for this reason that none of our basic problems is ever solved. Indeed, it is for this reason that our basic problems are getting worse. The specialists are profiting too well from the symptoms, evidently, to be concerned about cures -- just as the myth of imminent cure (by some 'breakthrough' of science or technology) is so lucrative and all-justifying as to foreclose any possibility of an interest in prevention. The problems thus become the stock in trade of specialists. The so-called professions survive by endlessly "processing" and talking about problems that they have neither the will nor the competence to solve. The doctor who is interested in disease but not in health is clearly in the same category with the conservationist who invests in the destruction of what he otherwise intends to preserve. The both have the comfort of 'job security,' but at the cost of ultimate futility. ... This has become, to some extent at least, an argument against institutional solutions. Such solutions necessarily fail to solve the problems to which they are addressed because, by definition, the cannot consider the real causes. The only real, practical, hope-giving way to remedy the fragmentation that is the disease of the modern spirit is a small and humble way -- a way that a government or agency or organization or institution will never think of, though a person may think of it: one must begin in one's own life the private solutions that can only in turn become public solutions.
Wendell Berry (The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture)
Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief. Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's Horroxes, Boerhaaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things? Why? Because of this: -- one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction. Is this the entropy written in our nature? If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers [sic] races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword. A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave & because I must begin somewhere. I hear my father-in-law's response. 'Oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. But don't tell me about justice! Ride to Tennessee on an ass & convince the red-necks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed Whites! Sail to the Old World, tell 'em their imperial slaves' rights are as inalienable as the Queen of Belgium's! Oh, you'll grow hoarse, poor & grey in caucuses! You'll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!' Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
Thomas Jefferson's Letter to John Holmes on the Missouri Statehood Question – April 20, 1820 I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected; and, gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. Of one thing I am certain, that as the passage of slaves from one State to another, would not make a slave of a single human being who would not be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would make them individually happier, and proportionally facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by dividing the burthen on a greater number of coadjutors. An abstinence too, from this act of power, would remove the jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regulate the condition of the different descriptions of men composing a State. This certainly is the exclusive right of every State, which nothing in the constitution has taken from them and given to the General Government. Could Congress, for example, say, that the non- freemen of Connecticut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate into any other State? I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect. Th. Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Two centuries ago, the United States settled into a permanent political order, after fourteen years of violence and heated debate. Two centuries ago, France fell into ruinous disorder that ran its course for twenty-four years. In both countries there resounded much ardent talk of rights--rights natural, rights prescriptive. . . . [F]anatic ideology had begun to rage within France, so that not one of the liberties guaranteed by the Declaration of the Rights of Man could be enjoyed by France's citizens. One thinks of the words of Dostoievski: "To begin with unlimited liberty is to end with unlimited despotism." . . . In striking contrast, the twenty-two senators and fifty-nine representatives who during the summer of 1789 debated the proposed seventeen amendments to the Constitution were men of much experience in representative government, experience acquired within the governments of their several states or, before 1776, in colonial assembles and in the practice of the law. Many had served in the army during the Revolution. They decidedly were political realists, aware of how difficult it is to govern men's passions and self-interest. . . . Among most of them, the term democracy was suspect. The War of Independence had sufficed them by way of revolution. . . . The purpose of law, they knew, is to keep the peace. To that end, compromises must be made among interests and among states. Both Federalists and Anti-Federalists ranked historical experience higher than novel theory. They suffered from no itch to alter American society radically; they went for sound security. The amendments constituting what is called the Bill of Rights were not innovations, but rather restatements of principles at law long observed in Britain and in the thirteen colonies. . . . The Americans who approved the first ten amendments to their Constitution were no ideologues. Neither Voltaire nor Rousseau had any substantial following among them. Their political ideas, with few exceptions, were those of English Whigs. The typical textbook in American history used to inform us that Americans of the colonial years and the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras were ardent disciples of John Locke. This notion was the work of Charles A. Beard and Vernon L. Parrington, chiefly. It fitted well enough their liberal convictions, but . . . it has the disadvantage of being erroneous. . . . They had no set of philosophes inflicted upon them. Their morals they took, most of them, from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Their Bill of Rights made no reference whatever to political abstractions; the Constitution itself is perfectly innocent of speculative or theoretical political arguments, so far as its text is concerned. John Dickinson, James Madison, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, and other thoughtful delegates to the Convention in 1787 knew something of political theory, but they did not put political abstractions into the text of the Constitution. . . . Probably most members of the First Congress, being Christian communicants of one persuasion or another, would have been dubious about the doctrine that every man should freely indulge himself in whatever is not specifically prohibited by positive law and that the state should restrain only those actions patently "hurtful to society." Nor did Congress then find it necessary or desirable to justify civil liberties by an appeal to a rather vague concept of natural law . . . . Two centuries later, the provisions of the Bill of Rights endure--if sometimes strangely interpreted. Americans have known liberty under law, ordered liberty, for more than two centuries, while states that have embraced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, with its pompous abstractions, have paid the penalty in blood.
Russell Kirk (Rights And Duties: Reflections On Our Conservative Constitution)