The Radical Center
Published in

The Radical Center

Speaking Freely #27: Quotes for those who respect liberty and rights

Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.
Lily Tomlin • 1932 —

There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others… I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the ‘economic means’ for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.”
Franz Oppenheimer • 1864–1943

In their efforts to discredit free enterprise many conservative leaders have vied with the socialists.
F.A. Hayek • 1889–1992

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.
Yehuda Bauer • 1926–

The individual is the true reality of life. A cosmos in himself, he does not exist for the State, nor for that abstraction called “society” or the “nation,” which is only a collection of individuals.
Emma Goldman • 1869—1940

When the minds of men are once erroneously persuaded that it is the will of God to have those things done which they fancy, their opinions are as thorns in their sides, never suffering them to take rest till they have brought their speculations into practice.
Richard Hooker • 1554–1660

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 sufficient warrant.
John Stuart Mill • 1806–1873

The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, he will be able to walk better himself.
Helmut Schoeck • 1922–1993

These defenders of American morality are not merely anti-homosexual, they anti-anybody who is unlike them.
Thomas Szasz • 1920–2012

I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these [Religious Right] groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.
Barry Goldwater • 1909–1998

It is a familiar spectacle today in many parts of the underdeveloped world that administrations find time and interest in trying to control quite minute sectors of economic life, while they cannot perform the primary tasks of government.
Peter Bauer • 1915–2002

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear, walk hand in hand


If you say you love this country for its freedoms, but want to deny the same freedoms you enjoy, you sound like a hypocrite. And — just to clarify — ‘freedom’ is having the right to live as you choose. It’s not the right to choose how everyone else lives.
James van der Beek • 1977–

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.
Elie Wiesel • 1928–2016

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams • 1735–1826

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
Isaac Asimov • 1920–1992

The highest right of property is the right to exchange it for other property. That this must be so will at once appear, if it is remembered that, if all exchange of property were forbidden, or by circumstances rendered impossible, each individual would be assimilated in condition to Robinson Crusoe on his uninhabited island; that is, he would be restricted to subsisting on what he individually produced or collected, be deprived of all benefits of co-operation with his fellow-men, and of all advantages of production derived from diversity of skill or diversity of natural circumstances.
David Ames Wells • 1828–1898

Every socialistic type of government… produces bad art, produces social inertia, produces really unhappy people, and it’s more repressive than any other kind of government.
Frank Zappa • 1940–1993

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.
H.L. Mencken • 1880–1956

Conservatism has … always obtained the blind support of the common mass of mankind. The uneducated and unenterprising, those who prefer the evils they know of to the unknown, those who like to live along quietly and not be worried with ideas or emotions, have always supported the safe counsels of reactionary politics.
Oliver Brett • 1881–1963

Real freedom is not a matter of the shifting of advantage from one sex to the other or from one class to another. Real freedom means the disappearance of advantage, and primarily of economic advantage.
Suzanne LaFollette • 1893–1983

When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
Benjamin Franklin • 1706–1790

Yet let us ponder boldly — ’tis a base
Abandonment of reason to resign
Our right of thought — our last and only place
Of refuge; this, at least, shall still be mine:
Though from our birth the faculty divine
Is chain’d and tortured — cabin’d, cribb’d, confined,
And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine
Too brightly on the unprepared mind,
The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the blind.
Lord Byron • 1788–1824

Of all the miserable, unprofitable, inglorious wars in the world is the war against words. Let men say just what they like. …We have nothing to do with a man’s words or a man’s thoughts, except to put against them better words and better thoughts, and so to win in the great moral and intellectual duel that is always going on, and on which all progress depends.
Auberon Herbert • 1838–1906

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.
John Hay • 1838–1905


Your support to fund these columns is important, visit our page at Patreon. You can also make one time donations.

Follow our daily comments at Twitter. If you are looking for discounted libertarian books visit our Freeminds website. If you wish to subscribe, free of charge, to this page you can have all new essays emailed to you. Just sign up here.



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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
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.