The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Speaking Freely #25: Quotes for those who respect liberty and rights

When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.
Erich Fromm • 1900–1980

Hannah Arendt

Men have been found to resist the most powerful monarchs and to refuse to bow down before them, but few indeed have been found to resist the crowd, to stand up alone before misguided masses, to face their implacable frenzy without weapons and with folded arms to dare a no when a yes is demanded.
Hannah Arendt • 1906–1975

If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! — and listens to their testimony.
James Baldwin • 1924–1987

Moral beliefs concerning matters of conduct which do not interfere with the protected sphere of other persons do not justify coercion. …The most conspicuous instance of this in our soceity is the that of the treatment of homosexuality. …Private practices among adults, however abhorrent it may be to the majority, is not a proper subject of coercive action for the state whose object is to minimize coercion.
F.A. Hayek • 1889–1992

We believe nothing so firmly as what we least know.
Michael de Montaigne • 1553–1592

Trade is based on the only fundamental principle or common rule of action, which moves all men to exchange products in order to supply wants. Mutual benefit has been the motive of barter, trade, and commerce for all time; mutual service is the motive of every exchange of products for mutual profit — free or unrestricted trade is therefore based upon a principle or common rule of action, governing all races…
Edward Atkinson • 1827–1905

The beneficial effect of state intervention, especially in the form of legislation, is direct, immediate, and so to speak, visible, while its evil effects are gradual and indirect and lay out of sight … Hence the majority of mankind must almost of necessity look with undue favor upon governmental intervention.
A.V. Dicey • 1835–1922

In the sphere of economics an action, a habit, an institution, or a law engenders not just one effect but a series of effects. Of these effects only the first is immediate; it is revealed simultaneously with its cause, it is seen. The others merely occur successively, they are not seen; we are lucky if we foresee them. ….The entire difference between a bad and a good Economist is apparent here. A bad one relies on the visible effect while the good one takes account both of the effect one can see and of those one must foresee.
Frédéric Bastiat • 1801–1850

The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.
Christopher Hitchens • 1949–2011

I was brought up to believe that there is no virtue in conforming meekly to the dominant opinion of the moment. I was encouraged to believe that simple conformity results in stagnation for a society, and that American progress has been largely owing to the opportunity for experimentation, the leeway given initiative, and to a gusto and a freedom for chewing over odd ideas.
Jane Jacobs • 1916–2006

Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.
Coretta Scott King • 1927–2006

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
Charles Darwin • 1809–1886

Although I am a strong political conservative, I now believe that the costs of our fruitless struggle against illegal drugs are not worth the modest benefits likely to be achieved.
Ernest van den Haag • 1914–2002

Beware of the man who wants to set things in order. Setting things in order always involves acquiring mastery over others — by tying them hand and foot.
Denis Diderot • 1713–1784

History has witnessed the failure of many endeavors to impose peace by war, cooperation by coercion, unanimity by slaughtering dissidents…. A lasting order cannot be established by bayonets.
Ludwig von Mises • 1881–1973

The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.
H.L. Mencken • 1880–1956

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me.
Barry Goldwater • 1909–1998

Eric Hoffer

The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.
Eric Hoffer • 1902–1983

The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbor to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.
A.E. Houseman • 1859–1936

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A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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