Freedom Quote of the Week: 2004 Archives

Week of October 10, 2004

Doris Jenelle Thompson Cubbison

Doris Jenelle Thompson Cubbison
July 14, 1913 - October 6, 2004

Neither our natural attachment to life nor our courage in bearing suffering, neither earthly wisdom nor even faith — however great — none of these can preserve us from sorrow for the dead. Death is a twofold phenomenon: there is the death of the departed, and the suffering and deadening in our own soul, occasioned by this painful process of separation. But the path of hopeless sorrow, gloom, and despondency is forbidden to the Christian. He must not recoil when faced with suffering nor remain impotently passive before it. He must exert his spiritual powers to the utmost in order to pass through suffering, and to emerge from it stronger, deeper, wiser. No matter if we are weak in our faith and unstable in our spiritual life — the love we bear for the departed is not weak; and our sorrow is so deep precisely because our love is so strong. Through the tension of our love, we too shall cross the fatal threshold which they have crossed. By an effort of our imagination, let us enter into the world which they have entered; let us give more place in our life to that which has now become their life; and slowly, imperceptibly, our sorrow will be turned into joy which no man can take from us.

— Alexander Elchaninov, Diary of a Russian Priest, 1967.

Week of September 12, 2004

It is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against "high-pressure" advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only. However, nobody believes that any kind of advertising would have succeeded in making the candlemakers hold the field against the electric bulb, the horsedrivers against the motorcars, the goose quill against the steel pen and later against the fountain pen. But whoever admits this implies that the quality of the commodity advertised is instrumental in bringing about the success of an advertising campaign. Then there is no reason to maintain that advertising is a method of cheating the gullible public.It is certainly possible for an advertiser to induce a man to try an article which he would not have bought if he had known its qualities beforehand. But as long as advertising is free to all competing firms, the article which is better from the point of view of the consumers' appetites will finally outstrip the less appropriate article, whatever methods of advertising may be applied. The tricks and artifices of advertising are available to the seller of the better product no less than to the seller of the poorer product. But only the former enjoys the advantage derived from the better quality of his product.


The idea that business propaganda can force the consumers to submit to the will of the advertisers is spurious. Advertising can never succeed in supplanting better or cheaper goods by poorer goods.

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Chapter XV, part 13.

Week of September 5, 2004

It is frequently said in defense of wartime controls and centralization of power that liberty is a luxury to be enjoyed in peacetime when things are normal, that we cannot afford the luxuries of liberty during emergencies like the present. One who makes such a statement, if he makes it seriously, does not really understand and believe in liberty. He is one who cannot be depended upon to act in its behalf. He is one who will willingly enslave his fellowmen "in order to defend their liberties." His devotion to liberty is a sham, and he can be expected to conclude later that, if controls and centralized power are desirable in wartime, they are also desirable in peacetime. ...

Relinquish liberty for purposes of defense in an emergency? Why? It would seem that in an emergency, of all times, one needs his greatest strength. So if liberty is strength and slavery is weakness, liberty is a necessity rather than a luxury, and we can ill afford to be without it—least of all during an emergency.

Suppose that a clergyman were to admonish the members of his flock to abandon the practice of Christianity during every emergency because it is a luxury, good only for normal times. If he were to say that, we would certainly believe him to be a religious quack and of negative worth. We would conclude that he did not really believe justice, goodness, and strength to be embodied in religious faith. It is the same with all self-styled lovers of liberty who call for its abandonment during every emergency. They must be counted out of the forces for liberty. Indeed, should they not be counted among the enemies of liberty?

The only person who can effectively defend liberty is one who believes in it and considers it to be the embodiment of strength rather than of weakness. All others will do the wrong thing and support the wrong cause when the chips are down. If by this test the defenders of liberty turn out to be few, then the cause of liberty is that much more desperate than we had assumed.

— F.A. Harper, In Search of Peace, 1951.
(Thanks to Jeff Tucker for pointing out this great quote.)

Week of August 29, 2004

As I sat in my place [in the House of Commons], listening to the speeches, a very strong sense of calm came over me, after the intense passions and excitements of the last few days. I felt a serenity of mind and was conscious of a kind of uplifted detachment from human and personal affairs. The glory of Old England, peace-loving and ill prepared as she was, but instant and fearless at the call of honour, thrilled my being and seemed to lift our fate to those spheres far removed from earthly facts and physical sensation.

— Winston S. Churchill, writing of September 3, 1939, in his Memoirs of The Second World War (an abridgement of the six volumes of The Second World War), 1959.

Week of August 22, 2004

In observance of the 250th anniversary of the birth of King Louis XVI, August 23, 1754 [did you know he was only 38 when he was killed? Yikes!].

I pity with all my heart our brothers who may be in error but I do not claim to judge them, and I do not love them less in Christ, as our Christian charity teaches us, and I pray to God to pardon all my sins. I have sought scrupulously to know them, to detest them and to humiliate myself in His presence. ... I beg all those whom I might have offended inadvertently (for I do not recall having knowingly offended any one), or those whom I may have given bad examples or scandals, to pardon the evil which they believe I could have done them. I beseech those who have the kindness to join their prayers to mine, to obtain pardon from God for my sins. I pardon with all my heart those who made themselves my enemies, without my have given them any cause, and I pray God to pardon them, as well as those who, through false or misunderstood zeal, did me much harm.

— Last Testament of King Louis XVI, December 25, 1792.

Week of August 15, 2004

Austro-Hungarian Empire Flag

The flag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, flown in observance of the birthday of Emperor Karl (August 17, 1887), the birthday of Emperor Francis Joseph (August 18, 1830), the birthday of Crown Prince Rudolf (August 21, 1858), and Austro-Hungarian Flag Day (August 18)... all this week! Plus the beatification of Emperor Karl (August 3, 2004).

Week of August 8, 2004

In commemoration of the centennial of the birth of the child-martyr Grand Duke Alexis Nicolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia (pictured below), August 12 [July 30 on the Orthodox calendar], 1904.

Child-Martyr Grand Duke Alexis Nicolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia

In all these months of war with Japan and the 1905 Revolution, Nicholas and Alexandra had only one brief moment of unshadowed joy. On August 12, 1904, Nicholas wrote in his diary: "A great never-to-be-forgotten day when the mercy of God has visited us so clearly. Alix gave birth to a son at one o'clock. The child has been called Alexis."

— Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1967.

Week of July 25, 2004

In observance of following events ninety years ago this week, in 1914:

July 26
First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill ordered the British Third Fleet not to demobilize following exercises, ensuring the Fleet would be prepared for the imminent onset of hostilities.

July 28
Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia following the latter's rejection of an Austrian ultimatum connected to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife the month before.

July 29
Austria bombed Belgrade, the Serbian capital, concurrent with Russia's mobilization of troops along the Austrian border.

July 30
Austria and Russia declared general mobilization. Germany urged Russian restraint, which led Czar Nicholas II to rescind his order for general mobilization and redirect mobilization against Austria only.

July 31
Austria, on the other hand, declared full mobilization, causing Czar Nicholas to change his mind again and re-declare general mobilization. Germany thus declared "pre-mobilization" and issued ultimata against both Russia and France.


and also in observance of the 95th anniversary of the birth of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, July 31, 1909.

World War I, surely, is a far more crucial historic event than most Americans credit. Modern man is overoccupied with stems and leaves, he willfully disregards the roots. George F. Kennan is perfectly right when he says, "All lines of inquiry lead back to World War I." Had World War I been terminated earlier, the old Germany with certain modifications would have survived. About this Kennan wrote in 1951, "Yet, today, if one were offered a chance of having back again the Germany of 1913, a Germany run by conservative but relatively moderate people, no Nazis and no Communists, able to play a part again in the balancing-off of Russian power in Europe—well, there would be objections to it from many quarters, and it wouldn't make everybody happy; but in many ways it wouldn't be so bad, in comparison with our problem of today. Now think what this means. When you tally up the final score of the two wars, in terms of their ostensible objectives, you find if there has been any gain at all, it is pretty hard to discern.

— Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited.

Week of July 11, 2004

Marx, although a man of broad knowledge, had one blind spot: he was ignorant of the true character of economics. He did not realize that economics can only be understood in close relationship to the other humanities (and certain sciences), and therefore should not be studied in vacuo. Ironically, this very weakness was largely instrumental in making Marxism successful. Marxist economics—yet another instance of a false but clear idea—can be explained to the merest child in a matter of minutes. (Conversely, to explain the workings of the free market economy to an adult would take weeks of hard work.) Because it was easily grasped, Marxism flooded the world within a few decades, as had other simplistic ideologies and religions, such as Islam and the Enlightenment; this same sort of simplicity gave rise to the French Revolution and national socialism. Christianity, on the other hand, took three centuries to triumph.

— Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited.

Week of July 4, 2004

I am an American, Michael. Try to understand. I've been around the world enough to know — mind, body, heart and soul — that there is no place else for me to be. There is no other political ideal worth fighting for than that which was born — for the first time in human history — right here on this continent, and which is, to me, inextricably connected to this land.

In his November 1916 installment of the "Red Wheel" series of novels, Solzhenitsyn brought me to tears with his story of Colonel Vorotyntsev taking leave from the front, experiencing the compulsion to get down on his knees and kiss the stones of the square at the Kremlin, all because of how the history of his homeland moved his heart. I understood that completely.

I don't know how to impart that, but it is as real in me as I am, in myself.

I've told you before and I'll tell you again right now: I would happily die in an American prison before I ever ran away from this place.

This is it: this fight, in this place. When this light goes out, it could be a thousand years before it fires again, if ever.

I'm not going anywhere.

— Billy Beck, "Not Me," June 14, 2004.

Week of June 27, 2004

In observance of the 90th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the event which precipitated the first world war, June 28, 1914, and the signing of the Versailles Treaty, which ended the first world war, June 28, 1919.

The Treaty of Versailles itself was not the great evil which finally brought the National Socialists into power. It is not difficult to vindicate the letter of Versailles; it is the spirit which makes it inexcusable. It is the spirit of Versailles which brough no material advantage whatsoever to the victors but gave the National Socialists a powerful weapon into their hands. Was it necessary to copy Herr von Bismarck's bad dramatic taste in choosing the Mirror Hall of Versailles, birthplace of the Second Reich, as the stage for the scene where the German delegates were made to sign the fateful document? They signed the death warrant of the Second Reich which was a none too glorious period in German history but a mild one in comparison with the one bound to follow. Could not another day have been picked than the fifth anniversary of the assassination in Sarayevo and the four hundredth anniversary of the election of the greatest ruler of the First Reich — Charles V?** Was it necessary to celebrate in such solemn form the fact that murder does pay?

— Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (writing as "Francis Stuart Campbell"), The Menace of the Herd, 1943, pp. 153-4 and note on p. 153.

** The date was June 28. There is, of course, a possibility (taking the poor educational background of the delegates into consideration) that they were not intentionally mischievous.

Week of June 20, 2004

In commemoration of Virginia's ratification of the U.S. Constitution [the Virginia ratification convention is one of my favorite historical events], June 25, 1788.

The impunity and indifference with which our constitutional protections have been trashed can lead to only two logical conclusions: (a) Those who have been elected to represent We the People have knowingly committed high crimes against the true sovereign. As such, immediate removal would be the most genteel of punishments. (b) Those who have been elected to represent We the People have unknowingly committed high crimes against the true sovereign. As such, immediate removal would be the most genteel of punishments.

— Wayne Dennis Holt

Week of June 13, 2004

If the plans of the Neo-Cons depended on mass support for imperialism within the US, they would be doomed to failure. The attacks of 11 September, however, have given American imperialists the added force of wounded nationalism — a much deeper, more popular and more dangerous phenomenon.... Another attack on the American mainland would further inflame that nationalism, and strengthen support for even more aggressive and ambitious "retaliations." The terrorists may hope that they will exhaust Americans' will to fight, as the Vietcong did; if so, they may have underestimated both the tenacity and the ferocity of Americans when they feel themselves to be directly attacked. The capacity for ruthlessness of the nationalist or Jacksonian element in the American democratic tradition — as in the firebombing of Japan and North Korea, neither of which had targeted American civilians — has been noted by Walter Russell Mead, and was recently expressed by MacGregor Knox, an American ex-soldier, now a professor at the LSE: Europeans "may believe that the natural order of things as they perceive it — the restraint of American power through European wisdom — will sooner or later triumph. But such expectations are delusional. Those who find militant Islam terrifying have clearly never seen a militant democracy."

— Anatol Lieven, "A Trap of Their Own Making," London Review of Books, May 8, 2003.

Week of June 6, 2004

In memory of President Ronald Reagan, who died June 5, 2004, and will be laid to rest later this week.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan
February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004
Portrait by Baron von Lind.

Week of May 30, 2004

In commemoration of the centenary of Winston Churchill's "crossing the floor" — leaving the Conservative Party in protest of their protectionist trade policies and joining the Liberal Party instead — May 31, 1904.

Again, our Free Trade plan is quite simple. We say that every Englishman shall have the right to buy whatever he wants, wherever he chooses, at his own good pleasure, without restriction or discouragement from the State. ... It is a sober fact that every single item, however inconsiderable, in all that vast catalogue of commodities came to our shores because some Englishman desired it, paid for it, and meant to turn it to his comfort or his profit. ...Now, the Free-traders declare that both the selling and the buying of these things were profitable to us: that what we sold, we sold at a good profit for a natural and sufficient return; that what we bought, we bought because we thought it worth our while to buy, and thought we could turn it to advantage. And in this way commerce is utterly different from war, so that the ideas and the phraseology of the one should never be applied to the other; for in war both sides lose whoever wins the victory, but the transactions of trade, like the quality of mercy, are twice blessed and confer a benefit on both parties. Furthermore, the fact that this great trade exists between nations binds them together in spite of themselves, and has in the last thirty years done more to preserve the peace of the world than all the Ambassadors, Prime Ministers, and Foreign Secretaries and Colonial Secretaries put together.

Winston Churchill, address to the Free Trade meeting at Birmingham, England, November 11, 1903, reprinted in For Free Trade, 1906.

Week of May 23, 2004

In memory of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, one of my heroes as well as probably my favorite writer, who died five years ago on May 26, 1999.

There is also another aspect of nineteenth-century nationalism of greater importance and gravity. The national collectivism of that period, with a steadily increasing statism lurking around the corner, persuaded the forlorn and helpless individual that he is merely the part of a whole. Seventeenth-century pantheism already had affirmed that we and the universe are a "part" of God. Spinoza no less than Calvin with his predestination and denial of free will had blazed the trail leading to an integral depreciation of person and personality. Now we see the urban slave depressed by his inferiority, partly real and partly imaginary, clamoring for a God or some "divine corporation" whose part he could be and whose divine essence he could share. People began now to be primarily members of a nation, a class, a political party, and many organized their lives accordingly. We see no longer men and women giving solemn oaths of loyalty to a ruler, an order, a spiritual head, as in the days of old. They cease to serve according to their own free will and choice because they are now under the pressure of a valuable collective, horizontal, or vertical stratification of society which forces them to a blind, instinctive, and often unreasonable homage to a group interest. Whosoever will not submit to the group discipline, does not yield to the group authority or dares to separate himself from the "group soul," is considered a traitor.

— Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (writing as "Francis Stuart Campbell"), The Menace of the Herd, 1943.

Week of May 16, 2004

In memory of Lysander Spooner, who died on May 17, 1887.

There is no particle of truth in the notion that the majority have a right to rule, or to exercise arbitrary power over, the minority, simply because the former are more numerous than the latter. Two men have no more natural right to rule one, than one has to rule two. Any single man, or any body of men, many or few, have a natural right to maintain justice for themselves, and for any others who may need their assistance, against the injustice of any and all other men, without regard for their numbers; and majorities have no right to do any more than this. The relative numbers of the opposing parties have nothing to do with the question of right. And no more tyrannical principle was ever avowed than that the will of the majority ought to have the force of law, without regard to its justice; or, what is the same thing, that the will of the majority ought always to be presumed to be in accordance with justice. Such a doctrine is only another form of the doctrine that might makes right.

— Lysander Spooner, "Limitations Imposed upon the Majority," chapter 12 of An Essay on the Trial by Jury.

Week of May 9, 2004

In commemoration of Virginia's call upon the other colonies to declare themselves independent of Great Britain, May 15, 1776.

Forasmuch as all the endeavours of the United Colonies, by the most decent representations and petitions to the King and Parliament of Great Britain, to restore peace and security to America under the British Government, and a reunion with that people upon just and liberal terms, instead of a redress of grievances, have produced, from an imperious and vindictive Administration, increased insult, oppression, and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction...Resolved, unanimously, That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain.

Preamble and Resolution of the Virginia Convention, 1776.

Week of May 2, 2004

"Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may be surely prophesied."

— Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle," originally delivered as a lecture in 1854, then revised by the author and published posthumously in 1863.

Week of April 25, 2004

"The public schools could provide better education if we gave them more money." This is false. We give them far too much money. They spend it on gimmicks and gadgets and programs and proposals and whole legions of apparatchiks and uneducated busybodies and Ladies Bountiful manquées. The private schools just don’t have that kind of money. That’s why they’re often so much better. If we were to enrich the private schools, most of them would hire the recently disemployed values clarification facilitators and start offering courses in environmental awareness enhancement and creative expression of self-as-individual-self through collage. In a few years, we would have thousands of private schools just as bad as the public schools are now. Furthermore, bad private schools, unlike bad public schools, can do as they damn well please just as long as they can find buyers for what they choose to sell, and they will care no more for our opinions, or yours, than the mongers of obscene T-shirts care about our quaint canons of taste. The people who run the government schools can at least be ridiculed and humiliated in public.

— Richard Mitchell ("The Underground Grammarian"), "Voucher, smoucher," February 1981.

Week of April 18, 2004

"The majority is always in the wrong. Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."

— Mark Twain, private notebook, 1905.

Week of April 11, 2004

"There was really nothing complex about [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt. He was of a well-known type found in every city and state in political life. He is the well-born, rich gentleman with a taste for public life, its importance and honors, who finds for himself a post in the most corrupt political machines, utters in campaigns and interviews the most pious platitudes about public virtue while getting his own dividends out of public corruption one way or another. In any case, they are a type in which the loftiest sentiments and pretensions are combined with a rather low-grade political conscience.

"In the case of Roosevelt, with his somewhat easy approach to official virtue, his weakness for snap judgments, his impulsive starts in unconsidered directions, his vanity, his lack of a settled political philosophy, his appetite for political power and his great capacity as a mere politician, the Presidency became in his hands an instrument of appalling consequences."

— John T. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth, 1948.
(I contend, by the way, that that second paragraph is also a magnificent description of Bill Clinton.)

Week of April 4, 2004

"The War between the States has a remote origin, and it cannot be understood apart from the chief movements of European history since the Reformation. It was another war between America and Europe, and 'America,' in the second great attempt, won. The South was the last stronghold of European civilization in the western hemisphere, a conservative check upon the restless expansiveness of the industrial North, and the South had to go. The South was permanently old-fashioned, backward-looking, slow, contented to live upon a modest conquest of nature, unwilling to conquer the earth's resources for the fun of the conquest; contented, in short, to take only what man needs; unwilling to juggle the needs of man in the illusory pursuit of abstract wealth. It is a mistake to suppose that the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 freed 'America' from the bonds of the European tradition: that somewhat mottled blessing required for its success one more surrender — that of Lee at Appomattox in 1865. The War between the States was the second and decisive struggle of the Western spirit against the European — the spirit of restless aggression against a stable spirit of ordered economy — and the Western won."

— Allen Tate, Jefferson Davis: His Rise & Fall, A Biographical Narrative, 1929, p. 301.

Week of March 28, 2004

In commemoration of the fall of Richmond, Virginia to Union forces, April 3, 1865.

"Swift now was the descent to Avernus. Grant was moving to run an iron ring around Richmond and Petersburg and Sherman had swept across South Carolina into North Carolina and would soon be on his way to join Grant. Lee's army was fast melting away by desertion, and he informed Davis on Sunday, April 2, that it would be impossible to hold his lines and advised the government to evacuate Richmond. Davis' family had already left, and now trains were got ready to carry away what specie remained, the most important government archives, and the principal officials. Government property, consisting of tobacco warehouses, armories, magazines, and storehouses were ordered fired. The flames spread to many business houses and even residences, and soon an important part of Richmond lay in ashes, long to be referred to as the 'burnt district.' Consternation reigned as the retreating soldiers marched through the city taking away as much food as they could carry and turning over the rest to the populace. The gutters ran with whiskey from the staved barrels, and worthless Confederate money and bonds (and even some of the priceless archives) were scattered over the streets or burned. The defeated and dispirited people were stunned. The Richmond Whig declared, 'If there lingered in the hearts of our people one spark of affection for the Davis dynasty, this ruthless, useless, wanton handing over to the flames their fair city, their homes and altars, has extinguished it forever.'"

— E. Merton Coulter, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, 1950, p. 559.

Week of March 21, 2004

"Powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. Or as Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek said, 'in government, the scum rises to the top.'"

— Dr. Walter E. Williams

Week of March 14, 2004

In memory of those who were killed in the terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spain, on March 11, 2004.

"The history of Europe for the last two centuries lies in that link between two ideas which are essentially unrelated. Liberalism and democracy are confused in our heads, and frequently, when we want the one, we shout for the other. It is therefore a good thing, every once in a while, to polish up the two ideas and examine into their actual meaning. "Liberalism and democracy happen to be two things which begin by having nothing to do with each other, and end by having, so far as tendencies are concerned, meanings that are mutually antagonistic. Democracy and liberalism are two answers to two completely different questions."Democracy answers this question — 'who ought to exercise the public power?' The answer it gives is — the exercise of public power belongs to the citizens as a body."But this question does not touch on what should be the realm of public power. It is solely concerned with determining to whom such power belongs. Democracy proposes that we all rule; that is, that we are sovereign in all social acts."Liberalism, on the other hand, answers this other question — 'regardless of who exercises the public power, what should its limits be?' The answer it gives is — 'whether the public power is exercised by an autocrat or by the people, it cannot be absolute; the individual has rights which are over and above any interference by the state.' This, then, tends to limit the intervention of the public power."The foregoing analysis shows the unrelated character of the two principles. It is possible to be very liberal and not at all democratic, or very democratic and not at all liberal."

José Ortega y Gasset, "The Meaning of Castles in Spain," Invertebrate Spain, Mildred Adams, trans., 1937.

Week of March 7, 2004

In commemoration of the death of French philosopher Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, Comte de Tracy, a precursor of the Austrian School, March 10, 1836.

"Destutt Tracy is, in my judgment, the ablest living writer on intellectual subjects, or the operations of the understanding. ... He has lately published a third work, on Political Economy, comprising the whole subject within about the same compass; in which all its principles are demonstrated with the severity of Euclid, and, like him, without ever using a superfluous word. I have procured this to be translated, and have been four years endeavoring to get it printed; but as yet, without success. In the meantime, the author has published the original in France, which he thought unsafe while Bonaparte was in power."

— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, 1816.

Week of February 29, 2004

"Any reduction of the public sector, any shift of activities from the public to the private sphere, is a net moral and economic gain."

— Murray N. Rothbard, "The Fallacy of the 'Public Sector'", New Individualist Review, 1961.

Week of February 22, 2004

In memory of Stefan Zweig, who died on February 22, 1942.

"Again and again in history, we can trace the workings of the law that one who has appealed to force must use force to the bitter end, and one who has established a reign of terror must intensify terror to frightfulness."

Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy, 1951.

Week of February 15, 2004

"It is the hope for a new messiah. That indeed is what the presidency has come to. But any man who accepts this view is not a free man. He is not a man who understands what constitutes civilized life. The man who accepts what [Woodrow] Wilson calls for [the president as "leader of the nation"] is an apostle of total state and a defender of collectivism and despotism.

"Conservatives used to understand this. In the [19th] century, all the great political philosophers -– men like John Randolph and John Taylor and John C. Calhoun -– did. In this century, the right was born in reaction to the imperial presidency. Men like Albert Jay Nock, Garet Garrett, John T. Flynn, and Felix Morley called the FDR presidency what it was: a U.S. version of the dictatorships that arose in Russia and Germany, and a profound evil draining away the very life of the nation.

"They understood that FDR had brought both the Congress and the Supreme Court under his control, for purposes of power, national socialism, and war. He shredded what was left of the Constitution, and set the stage for all the consolidation that followed. Later presidents were free to nationalize the public schools, administer the economy according to the dictates of crackpot Keynesian economists, tell us who we must and who we must not associate with, nationalize the police function, and run a egalitarian regime that extols non-discrimination as the sole moral tenet, when it is clearly not a moral tenet at all. Later conservatives like James Burnham, Wilmoore Kendall, and Robert Nisbet, understood this point too.

"Yet who do modern conservatives extol? Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR. Reagan spoke of them as gods and models, and so did Bush and Gingrich. In the 1980s, we were told that Congress was the imperial branch of government because Tip O'Neill had a few questions about Reagan's tax-and-spend military buildup, and his strategy for fostering global warfare while managing world affairs through the CIA. All this was bolstered by books by Harvey Mansfield, Terry Eastland, and dozens of other neoconservatives who pretended to provided some justification for presidential supremacy and its exercise of global rule. More recently even Pat Buchanan repeated the 'Ask not...' admonition of John F. Kennedy, that we should live to serve the central government and its organizing principle, the presidency."

— Lew Rockwell, "Down with the Presidency!", 1996.

Week of February 8, 2004

Economically ignorant moralism is as objectionable as morally callous economism. Ethics and economics are two equally difficult subjects, and while the former needs discerning and expert reason, the latter cannot do without humane values.

Wilhelm Roepke

Week of February 1, 2004

For the Sixteenth Amendment corroded the American concept of natural rights; ultimately reduced the American citizen to a status of subject, so much so that he is not aware of it; enhanced Executive power to the point of reducing Congress to innocuity; and enabled the central government to bribe the states, once independent units, into subservience. No kingship in the history of the world ever exercised more power than our Presidency, or had more of the people’s wealth at its disposal. We have retained the forms and phrases of a republic, but in reality we are living under an oligarchy, not of courtesans, but of bureaucrats.It had to come to that. The theory of republican government is that sovereignty resides in the citizen, who lends it to his elected representative for a specified time. But a people whose wealth is siphoned into the coffers of its government is in no position to stand up to it; with its wealth goes its sovereignty, its sense of dignity. People still vote, of course, but their judgment in the ballot booth is unduly influenced by handouts from their government, whether these be in the form of 'relief,' parity prices, or orders for battleships. Though it is not exactly an over-the-counter transaction, the citizen’s conscience is bought. Nor are voters immune to the propaganda issued by the bureaucrats, in their own behalf, and paid for by the voters themselves.

— Frank Chodorov, The Income Tax: Root of All Evil, 1954.

Week of January 25, 2004

If there is one well-established truth in political economy, it is this:

That in all cases, for all commodities that serve to provide for the tangible or intangible needs of the consumer, it is in the consumer’s best interest that labor and trade remain free, because the freedom of labor and of trade have as their necessary and permanent result the maximum reduction of price.

And this:

That the interests of the consumer of any commodity whatsoever should always prevail over the interests of the producer.

Now in pursuing these principles, one arrives at this rigorous conclusion:

That the production of security should, in the interests of the consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition.

Whence it follows:

That no government should have the right to prevent another government from going into competition with it, or to require consumers of security to come exclusively to it for this commodity.

Gustave de Molinari, "The Production of Security," 1849.

Week of January 18, 2004

Lizard's First Rule Of Government: All debates over the structure and form of government boil down to "Do we wish to be ruled by idiots, or by fiends?"

Lizard's Corollary: In America, we have historically chosen "All Of The Above".

— Blogger and pundit "Mr. Lizard"

Week of January 11, 2004

"It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line, they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.

Henry George

Week of January 4, 2004

In honor of the birth of Florence King, one of my favorite writers, January 5, 1935.)

"When they came for the smokers I kept silent because I don't smoke. When they came for the meat eaters I kept silent because I'm a vegetarian. When they came for the gun owners I kept silent because I'm a pacifist. When they came for the drivers I kept silent because I'm a bicyclist. They never did come for me. I'm still here because there's nobody left in the secret police except sissies with rickets."

— Florence King