Intriguing Quotes

Love your country, but never trust its government.
— Robert A. Heinlein
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master.
— George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790
Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?
— Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
— Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819
A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
— Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
— Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient... The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
— Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue.
— Barry Goldwater
I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.
— Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861
No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.
— 16 Am. Jur. Sec. 177 late 2d, Sec 256
The state calls its own violence ‘law’, but that of the individual ‘crime’.
— Max Stirner
Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.
— John F. Kennedy
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere.
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 1787
& what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that his people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Col. William S. Smith, 1787
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
— Patrick Henry, speech of June 5 1788
A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
— John Stuart Mill, writing on the U.S. Civil War in 1862
You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.
— Attributed to Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948)
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
— John F. Kennedy
The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.
— Alexis de Tocqueville
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
— Daniel Webster
What, then is law [government]? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
— Frederic Bastiat, The Law
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal.
— Frederic Bastiat, The Law
Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.
— General George Stark.
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would ... [be] the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
— Henry David Thoreu
The power to tax involves the power to destroy;...the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create....
— Chief Justice John Marshall, 1819
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.
— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
You [should] not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.
— Lyndon Johnson, former President of the U.S.
The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
— Will Rogers
The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.
— R. Buckminster Fuller
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.
— C. S. Lewis
It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much ... to forget it.
— James Madison.
A ‘‘decay in the social contract’‘ is detectable; there is a growing feeling, particularly among middle-income taxpayers, that they are not getting back, from society and government, their money’s worth for taxes paid. The tendency is for taxpayers to try to take more control of their finances ...
— IRS Strategic Plan, (May 1984)
It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
— James Madison, Federalist Papers 62
I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
— James Madison, 1794
... every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. .... The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.
— John Locke, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government
The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.
— John Locke, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government
The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.
— Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921
Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.
— Mohandas Ghandi
The real point of audits is to instill fear, not to extract revenue; the IRS aims at winning through intimidation and (thereby) getting maximum voluntary compliance.
— Paul Strassel, former IRS Headquarters Agent, Wall St. Journal 1980
Don’t ever think you know what’s right for the other person. He might start thinking he knows what’s right for you.
— Paul Williams, ‘Das Energi’
The IRS has become morally corrupted by the enormous power which we in Congress have unwisely entrusted to it. Too often it acts like a Gestapo preying upon defenseless citizens.
— Senator Edward V. Long
All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
— Ambrose Bierce
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum — I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.
— Ambrose Bierce
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
— Oscar Wilde
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
— Oscar Wilde
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
— William James
A paranoid is a man who knows a little of what’s going on.
— William Burroughs
Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.
— Edward Abbey
Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
— Kurt Vonnegut
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
— Confucius
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
— Krishnamurti
We monsters are necessary to nature also.
— Marquise De Sade
I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed, there would be no more wars.
— Abbie Hoffman
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
— Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
What luck for rulers, that men do not think.
— Adolf Hitler
Life becomes fully understandable only the moment we realise that we are all mad.
— Mark Twain
Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.
— Mark Twain
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Will, pure will, without the troubles and complexities of intellect — how happy! how free!
— Friedrich Nietzsche
For what is liberty but the unhampered translation of will into act?
— Dante Alighieri
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
— Aleister Crowley
Do what Thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
— Aleister Crowley
Love is the Law, Love under Will
— Aleister Crowley
Every man and every woman is a Star
— Aleister Crowley
Fortunately we have learnt to combine these ideas, not in the mutual toleration of sub-contraries, but in the affirmation of contraries, that transcending of the laws of intellect which is madness in the ordinary man, genius in the Overman who hath arrived to strike off more fetters from our understanding.
— Aleister Crowley
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think they’ll hate you.
— Anonymous
All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance.
— Anonymous
Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.
— David Hume
I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.
— Charles Schultz
It is not certain that everything is certain, neither is it certain that everything is uncertain.
— Hans Kung
The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow men.
— Robert Ingersoll
If voting could change anything, it would be illegal.
— Graffiti
A law is not a law without coercion behind it.
— James Garfield
The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.
— Tacitus
The ideal government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone — one which barely escapes being no government at all.
— H. L. Mencken
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: it’s one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him.... One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them.
— H. L. Mencken
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.
— H. L. Mencken
The United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion.
— George Washington & John Adams, in a diplomatic message to Malta.
This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.
— John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
— Thomas Jefferson, 1814
The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
— Thomas Jefferson, 1823
I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
— Thomas Jefferson
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.... Do not be frightened from this inquiry from any fear of its consequences. If it ends in the belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise...
— Thomas Jefferson, in a 1787 letter to his nephew
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe simply because it has been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is written in Holy Scriptures. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of Teachers, elders or wise men. Believe only after careful observation and analysis, when you find that it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. Then accept it and live up to it.
— The Buddha, from the Kalama Sutta
The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.
— Abraham Lincoln
...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn’t say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a ‘compelling interest’ in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances.
— Harry Browne, 1996 USA presidential candidate, Libertarian Party
The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.
— David Friedman
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part.
— Benjamin Franklin
The price of liberty is, always has been, and always will be blood. The person who is not willing to die for his liberty has already lost it to the first scoundrel who is willing to risk dying to violate that person’s liberty. Are you free?
— Andrew Ford
See, when the GOVERNMENT spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of TAXPAYERS, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs.
— Dave Barry
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
— Thomas Jefferson

See also John Perry Barlow’s essay and the Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond on this last quote.

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