The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Libertarian Quotes #18

“The breakdown of theological authority, the rise of scientific spirit and the growth of capitalism were inter-related phenomena.”
Sir Samuel Brittan • 1933 —

“Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan [Muslim], and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman depends on the Quaker’s word. At the breaking up of this pacific and free assembly, some withdraw to the synagogue, and others to take a glass. This man goes and is baptized in a great tub, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: that man has his son’s foreskin cut off, whilst a set of Hebrew words (quite unintelligible to him) are mumbled over his child. Others retire to their churches, and there wait for the inspiration of heaven with their hats on, and all are satisfied.”
Voltaire • 1694–1778

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
Hannah Arendt •1906–1975

“In transactions of trade, it is not to be supposed that, like gaming, what one party gains the other must lose. The gain to each may be equal. If A has more corn than he can consume, but wants cattle, and B has more cattle, but wants corn, an exchange is gain to each; hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increased.”
Benjamin Franklin • 1706–1790

“If there were omniscient men, if we could know not only all that affects the attainment of our present wishes but also all our future wants and desires, then there would be little case for liberty — while liberty of the individual, in turn, would of course make complete foresight impossible. Liberty is essential in order to leave room for the unforeseeable and unpredictable: we want it because we have learnt to expect from it the opportunity of realizing many of our aims. It is because every individuals knows so little, and in particular because we rarely know which of us knows best, that we trust the independent and competitive efforts of many to induce the emergence of what we shall want when we see it.”
F.A. Hayek •1899–1992

“In the last decades of the nineteenth century, and the first decades of the twentieth, the favorite weapons of Imperialism were commercial weapons — protective tariffs, prohibitions of imports, premiums on exports, freight discriminations, and the like. Less attention was paid to the use of another powerful imperialistic weapon — limitations on emigration and immigration. This is becoming more significant now. The ultima ratio of imperialism is, however, war. Beside war, all other weapons that it may use appear merely insufficient auxiliaries.”
Ludwig Mises •1881–1973

“The nations of the West lay between the competing tyrannies of local magnates and of absolute monarchs, when a force was brought upon the scene which proved for a time superior alike to the vassal and his lord… The only influence capable of resisting the feudal hierarchy was the ecclesiastical hierarchy; and they came into collision, when the process of feudalism threatened the independence of the Church by subjecting the prelates severally to that form of personal dependence on the kings which was peculiar to the Teutonic state. To that conflict of four hundred years we owe the rise of civil liberty. If the Church had continued to buttress the thrones of the king whom it anointed, or if the struggle had terminated speedily in an undivided victory, all Europe would have sunk down under a Byzantine or Muscovite despotism. For the aim of both contending parties was absolute authority.”
Lord Acton •1834–1902

“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”
Frédéric Bastiat •1801–1850

“Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.”
Adam Ferguson • 1723–1816

Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufacturers and agriculture.”
Henry David Thoreau • 1817–1862

“Render possessions ever so equal, men’s different degrees of art, care, and industry, will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and, instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community.”
David Hume •1711–1776

Ronald Reagan in 1980 Debate Opposing Border Wall

“Rather than talking about putting up a fence [on Mexican border], why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit. And then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they can go back. And open the border both ways.”
Ronald Reagan • 1911–2004

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Sir Isaac Newton • 1643–1727

“Commerce first taught nations to see with good will the wealth and prosperity of one another. Before, the patriot, unless sufficiently advanced in culture to feel the world his country, wished all countries weak, poor, and ill-governed, but his own: he now sees in their wealth and progress a direct source of wealth and progress to his own country. It is commerce which is rapidly rendering war obsolete, by strengthening and multiplying the personal interests which are in natural opposition to it.”
John Stuart Mill • 1806–1873

“When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty.”
Confucius • 551 BC-379 BC

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Rudyard Kipling • 1865–1936

“Every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberties by every other man.”
Herbert Spencer • 1820–1903

“I thank the heroes, the destroyers of prejudice and fear — the dethroners of savage gods — the extinguishers of hate’s eternal fire — the heroes, the breakers of chains — the founders of free states — the makers of just laws — the heroes who fought and fell on countless fields — the heroes whose dungeons became shrines — the heroes whose blood made scaffolds sacred — the heroes, the apostles of reason, the disciples of truth, the soldiers of freedom — the heroes who held high the holy torch and filled the world with light.

With all my heart I thank them all.”
Robert Ingersoll • 1833–1899

“Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.”
Buddha • 563BC — 483 BC

Richard Cobden from History Alive

“Can you by legislation add one farthing to the wealth of the country? You may, by legislation, in one evening, destroy the fruits and accumulation of a century of labour; but I defy you to show me how, by the legislation of this House, you can add one farthing to the wealth of the country. That springs from the industry and intelligence; you cannot do better than leave it to its own instincts. If you attempt by legislation to give any direction to trade or industry, it is a thousand to one that you are doing wrong; and if you happen to be right, it is work of supererogation, for the parties for whom you legislate would go right without you, and better than with you.”
Richard Cobden • 1804–1865

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.