Crises and Power
U.S. Foreign Policy

Quotes on Power

About the book Crisis and Leviathan

Center on Peace & Liberty “C” Quotes
On Power


Janet Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985)
American Novelist

“A wise man distrusts his neighbor. A wiser man distrusts both his neighbor and himself. The wisest man of all distrusts his government.”

“You see, when a nation threatens another nation the people of the latter forget their factionalism, their local antagonisms, their political differences, their suspicions of each other, their religious hostilities, and band together as one unit. Leaders know that, and that is why so many of them whip up wars during periods of national crisis, or when the people become discontented and angry. The leaders stigmatize the enemy with every vice they can think of, every evil and human depravity. They stimulate their people’s natural fear of all other men by channeling it into a defined fear of just certain men, or nations. Attacking another nation, then, acts as a sort of catharsis, temporarily, on men’s fear of their immediate neighbors. This is the explanation of all wars, all racial and religious hatreds, all massacres, and all attempts at genocide.”

“Do not believe for an instant that the world’s conspiring elite in every nation have so much as a serious quarrel among them. They have just one object: control through tribute. Your slavery, through tribute, and mine. . . Behind this attack are the self-styled elite, secure in their own power and riches. . . ”

John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)
7th Vice President of the United States and U. S. Senator

“The object of a Constitution is to restrain the Government, as that of laws is to restrain individuals.”

“Irresponsible power is inconsistent with liberty, and must corrupt those who exercise it.”

“A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks.”

“To maintain the ascendancy of the Constitution over the lawmaking majority is the great and essential point on which the success of the [American] system must depend; unless that ascendancy can be preserved, the necessary consequence must be that the laws will supersede the Constitution; and, finally, the will of the Executive, by influence of its patronage, will supersede the laws . . . ”

“The government of the absolute majority is but the government of the strongest interests; and when not effectively checked, is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised. [To read the Constitution is to realize that] no free system was ever farther removed from the principle that the absolute majority, without check or limitation, ought to govern.”

“It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty.”

“The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party.”

“Whatever amount is taken from the community in the form of taxes, if not lost, goes to them in the shape of expenditures or disbursements. The two--disbursements and taxation--constitute the fiscal action of the government. Such being the case, it must necessarily follow that some one portion of the community must pay in taxes more than it receives back in disbursements, while another receives in disbursements more than it pays in taxes. It is, then, manifest, taking the whole process together, that taxes must be, in effect, bounties to that portion of the community which receives more in disbursements than it pays in taxes, while to the other which pays in taxes more than it receives in disbursements they are taxes in reality - burdens instead of bounties. This consequence is unavoidable. It results from the nature of the process, be the taxes ever so equally laid. . . . The necessary result, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is to divide the community into two great classed: one consisting of those who, in reality, pay the taxes and, of course, bear exclusively the burden of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are recipients of their proceeds through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or in fewer words, to divide it into tax-payers and tax-consumers.”   

Albert Camus (1913-1960)
French Philosopher and Author
1957 Nobel Prize-Winner for Literature

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”

“It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.”

“Before the terrifying prospects now available to humanity, we see even more clearly that peace is the only goal worth struggling for. This is no longer a prayer but a demand to be made by all peoples to their governments—a demand to choose definitively between hell and reason.” [On the bombing of Hiroshima, August 8, 1945]

“What is a rebel? A man who says no.”

“Every revolutionary ends up either by becoming an oppressor or a heretic.”

“Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.”

Edwin Cannan (1861-1935)
English Economist and Author

“During the war addition to material equipment at home and foreign property abroad wholly ceased. The labor thus set free was made available for war-production and for the production of immediately-consumable peace-goods. [Moreover] every one conversant with business knows that renewals, if not repairs, have been very seriously postponed in all branches of production and that stocks of everything have run down enormously. The labor which would in ordinary times have been keeping up the material equipment was diverted to war-production and the production of immediately consumable peace-goods. . . . It was chiefly the tapping of these resources that enabled the country as a whole to get through the war with so little privation.” [regarding World War I]

Benjamin N. Cardozo (1870-1938)
Associate Justice, U. S. Supreme Court

“The great ideals of liberty and equality are preserved against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles.”

“Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.”

Richard Carlile (1790-1843)
English Journalist and Reformer

“Free discussion is the only necessary Constitution--the only necessary Law of the Constitution.”

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
Scottish Philosopher and Author

“War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.”

“A Parliament speaking through reporters to Buncombe and the twenty-seven millions, mostly fools.”

“What, speaking in quite unofficial language, is the net purport and upshot of war? To my knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these, by certain ‘Natural Enemies’ of the French, there are successively selected during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men: she has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing they are selected; all dressed in red; and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there till wanted. And now to that same spot, in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending; till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition; and Thirty stands fronting Thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word ‘Fire!’ is given: and they blow the souls out of one another; and in place of sixty brisk, useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury, and anew shed tears for.

“Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the Devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart; were the entirest strangers; nay, in so wide a Universe, there was even, unconsciously, by Commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton! Their Governors had fallen out; and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.--Alas, so is it in Deutschland, and hitherto in all other lands; still as of old, ‘what devilry soever Kings do, the Greeks must pay the piper!’--In that fiction of the English Smollett, it is true, the final Cessation of War is perhaps prophetically shadowed forth; where the two Natural Enemies, in person, take each a Tobacco-pipe filled with Brimstone; light the same, and smoke in one another's faces, till the weaker gives in: but from such predicted Peace-Era, what blood-filled trenches, and contentious centuries, may still divide us!”

Cato the Younger [Marcus Porcius Cato of Utica] (95-46 B.C.)
Roman Statesman and Orator

“He who first called money the sinews of the state seems to have said this with special reference to war.”

“I would not be beholden to a tyrant, for his acts of tyranny. For it is but usurpation in him to save, as their rightful lord, the lives of men over whom he has no title to reign.”

Zechariah Chafee, Jr. (1885-1957)
Legal Scholar

“The real value of freedom is not to the minority that wants to talk, but to the majority that does not want to listen.”

William Henry Chamberlin (1897-1969)

“The proliferation of bureaucrats and its invariable accompaniment, much heavier tax levies on the productive part of the population, are the recognizable signs, not of a great, but of a decaying society. Historians know that both phenomena were especially marked in the declining eras of the Roman Empire in the West and of its successor state, the Eastern or Byzantine Empire.”

“Famine was quite deliberately employed [in the Soviet Union] as an instrument of national policy, as the last means of breaking the resistance of the peasantry to the new system where they are divorced from personal ownership of the land and obligated to work on the conditions which the state may demand from them. . . This famine may fairly be called political because it was not the result of any overwhelming natural catastrophe or such complete exhaustions of the country’s resources in foreign and civil wars. . . ”

“A very good case can be made, on moral as well as economic grounds, for a system in which the individual is required to stand on his own feet, not to lean on the state for handouts. Character, resourcefulness, capacity are formed and developed in struggle with obstacles, not in waiting passively for benefits from outside.”

“One of the most insidious consequences of the present burden of the personal income tax is that it strips many middle class families of financial reserves and seems to lend support to campaigns for socialized medicine, socialized housing, socialized food, socialized everything. The personal income tax has made the individual vastly more dependent on the State and more avid for State handouts. It has shifted the balance in America from an individual-centered to a State-centered economic and social system.”

John Jay Chapman (1862-1933)
American Essayist and Poet

“Attack another’s rights and you destroy your own.”

“The world of politics is always twenty years behind the world of thought.”

G. K. [Gilbert Keith] Chesterton (1874-1936)
English Essayist

“The only defensible war is a war of defense.”

“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”

“When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it.”

“I have formed a very clear conception of patriotism. I have generally found it thrust into the foreground by some fellow who has something to hide in the background. I have seen a great deal of patriotism; and I have generally found it the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

“It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.”

“Despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.”

Frank Chodorov [Fishel Chodorowsky] (1887-1966)
American Essayist and Journalist

“Economics is not politics. One is a science, concerned with the immutable and constant laws of nature that determine the production and distribution of wealth; the other is the art of ruling. One is amoral, the other is moral. Economic laws are self-operating and carry their own sanctions, as do all natural laws, while politics deals with man-made and man-manipulated conventions. As a science, economics seeks understanding of inavariable principles; politics is ephemeral, its subject matter being the day-to-day relations of associated men. Economics, like chemistry, has nothing to do with politics. The intrusion of politics into the field of economics is simply an evidence of human ignorance or arrogance, and is as fatuous as an attempt to control the rise and fall of tides.”

“Freedom is essentially a condition of inequality, not equality. It recognizes as a fact of nature the structural differences inherent in man--in temperament, character, and capacity--and it respects those differences. We are not alike and no law can make us so.”

“The State is our enemy, that its administrators and beneficiaries are a ‘professional criminal class.’”

“All wars come to an end, at least temporarily. But the authority acquired by the state hangs on; political power never abdicates. Note how the ‘emergency’ taxes of World War 11 have hardened into permanent fiscal policy. While a few of the more irritating war agencies were dropped, others were enlarged, under various pretexts, and the sum total is more intervention and more interveners than we suffered before 1939.”

“If we would reform our education system basically, we must desocialize it. We must put it back where it belongs, in the hands of parents. Theirs is the responsibility for the breeding of children, and theirs is the responsibility for the upbringing. The first error of public schooling is the shifting of this responsibility, the transformation of the children of men into wards of the state.”

“In America it is the so-called capitalist who is to blame for the fulfillment of Marx’s prophecies. Beguiled by the state’s siren song of special privilege, the capitalists have abandoned capitalism.”

“When war or the need of ameliorating mass poverty strains the purse of the state to the limit, and further indirect impositions are impossible or threaten social unrest, the opposition must give way. The state never relinquishes entirely the prerogatives it acquires during an emergency, and so, after a series of wars and depressions direct taxation became a fixture of our fiscal policy, and those upon whom it falls must content themselves to whittling down the levies or trying to transfer them from shoulder to shoulder.”

“Economic isolationism--tariffs, quotas, embargoes and general governmental interference with international trade--is an irritant that can well lead to war, or political interventionism. To build a trade wall around a country is to invite reprisals, which in turn make for misunderstanding and mistrust. Besides, free trade carries with it an appreciation of the cultures of the trading countries, and a feeling of good will among the peoples engaged. Free trade is natural, protectionism is political.”

“If we assume that the individual has an indisputable right to life, we must concede that he has a similar right to the enjoyment of the products of his labor. This we call a property right. The absolute right to property follows from the original right to life because one without the other is meaningless; the means to life must be identified with life itself. If the State has a prior right to the products of one’s labor, his right to existence is qualified. Aside from the fact that no such prior right can be established, except by declaring the State the author of all rights, our inclination (as shown in the effort to avoid paying taxes) is to reject this concept of priority. Our instinct is against it. We object to the taking of our property by organized society just as we do when a single unit of society commits the act. In the latter case we unhesitatingly call the act robbery, a malum in se. It is not the law which in the first instance defines robbery, it is an ethical principle, and this the law may violate but not supersede. If by the necessity of living we acquiesce to the force of law, if by long custom we lose sight of the immorality, has the principle been obliterated? Robbery is robbery, and no amount of words can make it anything else.”

“A historical study of taxation leads inevitably to loot, tribute, ransom--the economic purposes of conquest. The barons who put up toll-gates along the Rhine were tax-gatherers. So were the gangs who ‘protected,’ for a forced fee, the caravans going to market. The Danes who regularly invited themselves into England, and remained as unwanted guests until paid off, called it Dan-negeld; for a long time that remained the basis of English property taxes. The conquering Romans introduced the idea that what they collected from subject peoples was merely just payment for maintaining ‘law and order.’ For a long time the Norman conquerors collected catch-as-catch-can tribute from the English, but when by natural processes an amalgam of the two peoples resulted in a nation, the collections were regularized in custom and law and were called taxes. It took centuries to obliterate the idea that these exactions served but to keep a privileged class in com-fort and to finance their internecine wars; in fact, that purpose was never denied or obscured until constitutionalism diffused political power.”

“There are more people in the low income brackets than in the high brackets; there are more small bequests than large ones. Therefore, in the aggregate, those least able to meet the burden of soak-the-rich taxes bear the brunt of them. The attempt to offset this inequity by a system of graduations is unreal. Even a small tax on an income of one thousand dollars a year will cause the payer some hardship, while a fifty percent tax on fifty thousand dollars leaves something to live on comfortably. There is a vast difference between doing without a new automobile and making a patched-up pair of pants do more service. It should be remembered, too, that the worker’s income is almost always confined to wages, which are a matter of record, while large incomes are mainly derived from business or gambling operations, and are not so easily ascertainable; whether from intent to avoid paying the full tax, or from the necessary legal ambiguities which make the exact amount a matter of conjecture or bookkeeping, those with large incomes are favored. It is the poor who are soaked most heavily by soak-the-rich taxes.”

“There cannot be a good tax nor a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion.”

“It would be hard on the Europeans if they fell into Soviet hands; but not any worse than if we precipitated a war in which their homes became the battlefield.”

“The pertinent question: if Americans did not want these wars should they have been compelled to fight them?”

“The only beneficiaries of income taxation are the politicians, for it not only gives them the means by which they can increase their emoluments, but it also enables them to improve their importance. The have-nots who support the politicians in the demand for income taxation do so only because they hate the haves; . . . the sum of all the arguments for income taxation comes to political ambition and the sin of covetousness.” [from The Income Tax: Root of All Evil]

“To put it bluntly: Communism will not be imported from Moscow; it will come out of Wall Street and Main Street.” [from “Misguided Patriotism,” Human Events, March 14, 1947, pp. 1-4]

“[I]t would be hard on the Europeans if they fell into Soviet hands; but not any worse than if we precipitated a war in which their homes became the battlefield.” [from “A War to Communize America,” The Freeman, November 1954, pp. 171-174]

“[T]he State acquires power... and because of its insatiable lust for power [it] is incapable of giving up any of it. The State never abdicates.” [from “The New Imperialism,” The Freeman, November 1954, p. 162]

(Avram) Noam Chomsky (1928-)
Linquistic Scholar, Political Philosopher and Author

“For the totalitarian mind, adherence to state propaganda does not suffice: one must display proper enthusiasm while marching in the parade.”

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

“In every society, there will emerge a caste of propagandists who labor to disguise the obvious, to conceal the actual workings of power, and to spin a web of mythical goals and purposes, utterly benign, that allegedly guide national policy. A typical thesis of the propaganda system is that ‘the nation’ is guided by certain ideals and principles, all of them noble radical priorities.”

“If we hope to do something serious to avert nuclear catastrophe, we must be willing to face certain additional questions. We must inquire into the domestic factors that drive the Pentagon system. U.S. planners have turned to military Keynesianism as a device of economic management. The Pentagon system has come to serve as the state sector of the economy, offering a guaranteed market for high technology production, subsidizing industrial research, and in general, serving as a system of industrial policy planning. In fact, every advanced industrial economy has a substantial component of state coordination and planning, and as a number of commentators have observed, the Pentagon system in the U.S. is rather similar in its functioning to such agencies as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in Japan. There is, however, a crucial difference, since MITI is oriented towards commercial sales whereas our system of state planning is oriented toward military production, in effect, the production of high technology waste.”

“I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.”

“If the left is understood to include ‘Bolshevism,’ then I would flatly dissociate myself from the left.”

“The ‘conservatives’ who are calling for an end to school lunches for hungry children are also demanding an increase in the budget for the Pentagon, which was established in the late 1940s in its current form because--as the business press was kind enough to tell us--high tech industry cannot survive in a ‘pure, competitive, unsubsidized, ‘free enterprise’ economy,’ and the government must be its “saviour.’”

“People who believe in a better way of life know that the way we live now is criminal. Denial of freedoms, death by starvation and exploitation, denigration of people’s capabilities everywhere. If you see that these outcomes are socially produced, then you understand that every person who dies as a result was effectively murdered. Once you accept the possibility of attaining a humanist alternative, you have to be a terrible hypocrite, coward or cynic to live passively with the contrast beteween what is and what could be.”

“If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can’t live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.”

“If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, then every Post-War American president would have to be hanged.”

“There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change--and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”

Sir Winston L. S. Churchill (1874-1965)
British Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, First Lord of the Admiralty
Author and 1953 Nobel Prize-Winner in Literature

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

“If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.”

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

“I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be good. . . and it would spread a lively terror. . . . ”

“. . . we are not a young people with an innocent record and a scanty inheritance. we have engrossed to ourselves . . . an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us.”

“Our whole nation must be organized, must be socialized if you like the word.”

“Fascismo’s triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism . . . it proved the necessary antidote to the Communist poison.”

“One may dislike Hitler’ system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.”

“I like the man [Stalin].”

“I have had very nice talks with the old Bear [Stalin]. I like him the more I see him. Now they respect us & I am sure they wish to work with us.”

“There is no use prowling round the three year old graves of Smolensk.” [referring to the Soviet mass murders of Polish officers in the forest of Katyn]

“The story of the human race is war.”

“No legislation at present in view interests the democracy. All their minds are turning more and more to the social and economic issue. This revolution is irresistable. They will not tolerate the existing system by which wealth is acquired, shared and employed. . . . They will set their faces like flint against the money power—heir of all other powers and tyrannies overthrown—and its obvious injustices. And this theoretical repulsion will ultimately extend to any party associated in maintaining the status quo. . . . minimum standards of wages and comfort, insurance in some effective form or other against sickness, unemployment, old age, these are the questions and the only questions by which parties are going to live in the future. Woe to Liberalism, if they slip through its fingers.”

“My heart was filled with admiration of the patient genius which had added these social bulwarks to the many glories of the german race. . . . [I am setting out to] thrust a big slice of Bismarckianism over the whole underside of our industrial system.” [upon visiting the Bismarckian welfare state and central economic planning system]

“I am on the side of those who think that a greater collective sentiment should be introduced into the State and the municipalities. I should like to see the State undertaking new functions.”

“The whole tendency of civilization is, however, towards the multiplication of the collective functions of society. The ever-growing complications of civilization create for us new services which have to be undertaken by the State, and create for us an expression of existing services. . . . There is a pretty steady determination . . . to intercept all future unearned increment which may arise from the increase in the speculative value of the land. These will be an ever-widening area of municipal enterprise. . . . I go further; I should like to see the State embark on various novel and adventurous experiments. . . . I am very sorry we have not got the railways of this country in our hands. We may do something better with the canals.”

“The Board of Trade was to act as the ‘intelligence department’ of the Government, forecasting trade and employment in the regions so that the Government could allocate contracts to the most deserving areas. At the summit . . . would be a Committee of National Organization, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to supervise the economy.”

“Three or four years ago, I was myself a loud alarmist. . . . In spite of the risks which wait on prophecy, I declare my belief that a major war is not imminent, and I still believe that there is a good chance of no war taking place in our lifetime. . . . I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism and Nazism, I would choose Communism.” [Fall 1937]

“The twin roots of all of our evils, Nazi tyranny and Prussian militarism, must be estirpated. Until this is achieved, there are no sacrifices we will not make and no lengths in violence to which we will not go.” [September 21, 1943]

“Why are we making a fuss about the Russian deportations in Rumania of Saxons [Germans] and others? . . . I cannot see the Russians are wrong in making 100 or 150 thousand of these people work their passage. . . . I cannot myself consider that it is wrong of the Russians to take Rumanians of any origin they like to work in the Russian coal-fields.” [January 1945]

“You must rank me and my colleagues as strong partisans of national compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle to the grave.” [1945]

“The president [Franklin Roosevelt] made it clear that he would look for an incident which would justify him in opening hostilities.”

“A lie is half-way around the world before truth even puts on its boots.”

“Our power placed us above the rest.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

“The more laws, the less justice.”

“An unjust peace is better than a just war.”

“Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.”

“In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power.”

“Justice consists in doing no injury to men; decency in giving them no offense.”

“Laws are inoperative in war.”

“Liberty consists in the power of doing that which is permitted by the law.”

“Nature abhors annihilation.”

“The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt.”

“Liberty is rendered even more precious by the recollection of servitude.”

“A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?”

“The sinews of war are infinite money.”

“I prefer the most unfair peace to the most righteous war.”

Carl P. G. von Clausewitz (1780-1831)
Author and Director of the Berlin Military Academy

“Politics is the womb in which war develops.”

“The difficulty of accurate recognition constitutes one of the most serious sources of friction in war. . . . War has a way of masking the stage with scenery crudely daubed with fearsome appartions.”

“The military machine--the army and everything related to it--is basically very simple and therefore seems easy to manage. But we should bear in mind that none of its components is of one piece: each piece is composed of individuals, every one of whom retains his potential of friction. . . . A battalion is made up of individuals, the least important of whom may chance to delay things or somehow make them go wrong.”

“The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation form their purposes.”

“War is not an exercise of the will directed at an inanimate matter.”

“War is the domain of physical exertion and suffering.”

“War is the province of danger.”

“Let us not hear of generals who conquer without bloodshed.”

Henry Clay (1777-1852)
U. S. Senator, Speaker of the House of Representatives

“All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with liberty.”

“I would rather be right than President.”

“An oppressed people are authorized whenever they can to rise and break their fetters.”

“All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy; upon these everything is based. . . . Let him who elevates himself above humanity, above its weaknesses, its infirmities, its wants, its necessities, say, if he pleases, I will never compromise; but let no one who is not above the frailties of our common nature disdain compromises.”

“By following the policy we have adhered to since the days of Washington we have prospered beyond precedent; we have done more for the cause of liberty in the world than arms could effect; we have shown to other nations the way to greatness and happiness. But if we should involve ourselves in the web of European politics, in a war which could effect nothing, . . . where, then, would be the last hope of the friends of freedom throughout the world? Far better it is . . . that, adhering to our wise pacific system, and avoiding the distant wars of Europe, we should keep our own lamp burning brightly on this western shore, as a light to all nations, than to hazard its utter extinction amidst the ruins of fallen or falling republics in Europe.”

“The arts of power and its minions are the same in all countries and in all ages. It marks its victim; denounces it; and excites the public odium and the public hatred, to conceal its own abuses and encroachments.”

Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929)
French Prime Minister

“War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.”

“War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.”

“America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to denegration without the usual interval of civilization.”

“A collective tyrant, spread over the length and breadth of the land, is no more acceptable than a single tyrant ensconced on his throne.”

“I don’t know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.”

“We made war to the end--to the very end of the end.”

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)
22nd and 24th President of the United States

“I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan to indulge in benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds. . . I find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.”

“He mocks the people who proposes that the government shall protect the rich and that they in turn will care for the laboring poor.”

“Minds do not act together in public; they simply stick together; and when their private activities are resumed, they fly apart again.”

“The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity.”

“When more of the people’s sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of free government.”

“Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”

“I do not believe that the power and duty of the general Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering. . . . A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. . . . Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Governemnt and weakens the sturdiness of our National character.”

Bill Clinton [William Jefferson Blythe III] (1946-)
42nd President of the United States,
Governor and Attorney General of Arkansas

“The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.”

“We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans.” [USA Today, March 11, 1993]

“We still will have the freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement, but we may have to have more discipline in doing it. . . .”

“I am here because I want to redefine the meaning of citizenship in America. . . If you’re asked in school ‘What does it mean to be a good citizen?’ I want the answer to be, ‘Well, to be a good citizen, you have to obey the law, you’ve got to go to work or be in school, you’ve got to pay your taxes and--oh, yes, you have to serve . . .’”

“No government really rooted in limited, parliamentary democracy should have the power to make its citizens fight and kill and die in a war they may oppose, a war which even possibly may be wrong, a war which, in any case, does not involve immediately the peace and freedom of the nation.”

“You know the one thing that is wrong in this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say.”

“The purpose of government is to rein in the rights of the people.”

“You can’t say you love your country and hate your government.”

“If the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution inhibit the government’s ability to govern the people, we should look to limit those guarantees.”

“I can spend your money better than you can.”

“Any president that lies to the American people should have to resign.”

“Today we can declare: Government is not the problem, and government is not the solution. We, the American people, we are the solution.”

“The era of big government is over.” [State of the Union Address, January 23, 1996]

Frank I. Cobb (1869-1923)
American Journalist

“The Bill of Rights is a born rebel. It reeks with sedition. In every clause it hakes its fist in the face of constituted authority… It is the one guarantee of human freedom to the American people.”

Richard Cobden (1804-1865)
Member of Parliament, Orator, and Author

“The progress of freedom depends more upon the maintenance of peace and the spread of commerce and the diffusion of education than upon the labor of Cabinets or Foreign Offices.”

“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is--in extending our commercial relations--to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

“I yield to no one in sympathy for those who are struggling for freedom in any part of the world; but I will never sanction an interference which shall go to establish this or that nationality by force of arms, because that invades a principal which I wish to carry out in the other direction--the prevention of all foreign interference with nationalities for the sake of putting them down. . . .”

“. . . protection takes from one man’s pocket, and allows him to compensate himself by taking an equivalent from another man’s pocket, and if that goes on in a circle through the whole community, it is only a clumsy process of robbing all to enrich none, and simply has this effect, that it ties up the hands of industry in all directions.”

“To set myself right with those hon. Gentlemen who profess to have great regard for liberty everywhere, I beg to state that I yield to no one in sympathy for those who are struggling for freedom in any part of the world; but I will never sanction an interference which shall go to establish this or that nationality by force of arms, because that invades a principle which I wish to carry out in the other direction--the prevention of all foreign interference with nationalities for the sake of putting them down. . . . Are we to be the Don Quixotes of Europe, to go about fighting for every cause where we find that some one has been wronged? In most quarrels there is generally a little wrong on both sides; and, if we make up our minds always to interfere when any one is being wronged, I do not see always how we are to choose between the two sides. It will not do always to assume that the weaker party is in the right, for little States, like little individuals, are often very quarrelsome, presuming on their weakness, and not unfrequently abusing the forbearance which their weakness.”

“You who shall liberate the land will do more for your country than we have done in the liberation of its trade.”

“Look not to the politicians; look to yourselves.”

“I am opposed to any armed intervention in the affairs of other countries. I am against any interference by the Government of one country in the affairs of another nation, even if it be confined to moral suasion. Nay, I go further, and disapprove of the formation of a society or organization of any kind in England for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.” [Richard Cobden and Foreign Policy, p. 108]

“[W]e shall do no good until we can bring home to the conviction and conscience of men the fact that, as in the slave-trade we had surpassed in guilt the whole world, so in foreign wars we have been the most aggressive, quarrelsome, warlike and bloody nation under the sun.” [Richard Cobden and Foreign Policy, p. 122]

“Wars have ever been but another aristocratic mode of plundering and oppressing commerce.” [Richard Cobden and Foreign Policy, p. 122]

Henry Steele Commager (1903-1998)
Historian and Author

“Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.”

“Freedom is not a luxury that we can indulge in when at last we have security and prosperity and enlightenment; it is, rather, antecedent to all of these, for without it we can have neither security nor prosperity nor enlightenment.”

“America was born of revolt, flourished on dissent, became great through experimentation.”

“Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”

“If our democracy is to flourish, it must have criticism; if our government is to function it must have dissent.”

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
French Philosopher and Author

“Social positivism only accepts duties, for all and towards all. Its constant social viewpoint cannot include any notion of rights, for such notion always rests on individuality. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. These obligations then increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service. . . . Any human right is therefore as absurd as immoral. Since there no divine rights anymore, this concept must therefore disappear completely as related only to the preliminary regime and totally inconsistent with the final state where there are only duties based on functions.”

“The greatest problem, then, is to raise social feeling by artificial effort to the position which in the natural condition is held by selfish feeling.”

François-Charles-Louis Comte (1782-1837)
French Philosopher, Journalist and Economist

“Newspapers could be of great utility, but the great importance which they attach to simple literary discussions, the indifference they have for anything which smacks of legislation, and the habit they have acquired of adulation (of the government), prevents one from hoping that they will busy themselves in enlightening citizens of their true interests. What they do not do, I propose to undertake.” [Journal des économistes, June 1846, vol. XIV, p.271]

“The revolution which brought about in France the fall of the Imperial government, without changing at all the direction of my ideas, forced me to choose a means of publication different from that which I had at first proposed. It seemed to me that in treating in succession questions of politics or legislation which circumstances threw up I would achieve my aim most surely and promptly. Observations applied to those events which one witnesses have greater impact than those observations made from a distance. The freedom to publicly present one's opinions, which the previous government had completely destroyed, was eventually proclaimed and it was imperative to take advantage of it. Because it is the same of liberty and power, one runs the great risk of losing it if one does not seize it the very instant when it appears.” [Traité de législation, 3rd ed, p. xiii]

H. Benjamin Constant (1767-1830)
French Philosopher and Author

“First ask yourselves, Gentlemen, what an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a citizen of the United States of America understand today by the word ‘liberty’. For each of them it is the right to be subjected only to the laws, and to be neither arrested, detained, put to death of maltreated in any way by the arbitrary will of one or more individuals. It is the right of everyone to express their opinion, choose a profession and practice it, to dispose of property, and even to abuse it; to come and go without permission, and without having to account for their motives or undertakings. It is everyone’s right to associate with other individuals, either to discuss their interests, or to profess the religion which they or their associates prefer, or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way which is more compatible with their inclinations or whims. Finally, it is everyone’s right to exercise some influence on the administration of the government, either by electing all or particular officials, or through representations, petitions, demands to which the authorities are more or less compelled to pay heed. Now compare this liberty with that of the ancients. The latter consisted in exercising collectively, but directly, several parts of the complete sovereignty; in deliberating, in the public square, over war and peace; in forming alliances with foreign governments; in voting laws, in pronouncing judgments; in examining the accounts, the acts, the stewardship of the magistrates; in calling them to appear in front of the assembled people, in accusing, condemning or absolving them. But if this was what the ancients called liberty, they admitted as compatible with this collective freedom the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community.”

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
30th President of the United States, 29th U. S. Vice President
Governor of Massachusetts

“If ever the citizen comes to feel that our government does not protect him in the free and equal assertion of his rights at home and abroad, he will withdraw his allegiance from that government, as he ought to, and bestow it on some more worthy object.”

“Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. You can display no greater wisdom than by resisting proposals for needless legislation. It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”

“Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.”

“Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”

“The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free.”

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
American Novelist

“Individuality is the aim of political liberty. By leaving the citizen as much freedom of action and of being as comports with order and the rights of others, the institutions render him truly a freeman. He is left to pursue his means of happiness in his own manner.”

“It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which the masses of men exhibit their tyranny.”

“If we would have civilization and the exertion indispensable to its success, we must have property; if we have property, we must have its rights; if we have the rights of property, we must take those consequences of the rights of property which are inseparable from the rights themselves.”

“Liberty is not a matter of words, but a positive and important condition of society. Its greatest safeguard after placing its foundations in a popular base, is in the checks and balances imposed on the public servants.”

George Copway [Kah-ge-ga-bowh] (1818-1863)
Native American Chief of the Ojibwa

“Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation. . . . This fear of the Nation's censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social, honorable compact.”

William Cowper (1731-1800)
English Poet, Writer and Translator

“War is a game which were their subjects wise, kings would not play at.”

Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
American Author and Poet

“These stupid peasants, who, throughout the world, hold potentates on their thrones, make statesmen illustrious, provide generals with lasting victories, all with ignorance, indifference, or half-witted hatred, moving the world with the strength of their arms, and getting their heads knocked together in the name of God, the king, or the stock exchange--immortal, dreaming, hopeless asses, who surrender their reason to the care of a shining puppet, and persuade some toy to carry their lives in his purse.”

“They were going to look at war, the red animal--war, the blood swollen god.”

Crazy Horse [Tashunca-uitco] (?-1877)
Native American Chief of the Oglala Sioux

“I was hostile to the white man. . . . We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be let alone. Soldiers came . . . in the winter..and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came . . . They said we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape . . . but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. After that I lived in peace, but the government would not let me alone. I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting . . . They tried to confine me..and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.”

Benedetto Croce (1899-1949)
Italian Minister of Education, Philosopher, Historian, Senator, and Author

“Morality, and the ideal of freedom which is the political expression of morality, are not the property of a given party or group, but a value that is fundamentally and universally human. . . . No people will be truly free till all are free.”

David “Davy” Crockett (1786-1836)
U. S. Congressman and Frontiersman

“We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. . . . Money with them (corrupt politicians) is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

“Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”

“I would rather be beaten and be a man than to be elected and be a little puppy dog. I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearless and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried that to be hypocritically immortalized.”

Oliver Cromwell (1649-1658)
British Lord General of the Army, Lord Protector of the Realm
Member of Parliament

“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

“Let peace be sought through war.”

John Philpot Curran (1750-1814)
Member, Irish House of Commons, Judge, and Orator

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

George William Curtis (1824-1892)
American Journalist and Essayist

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”

“Every great crisis of human history is a pass of Thermopylae, and there is always a Leonidas and his three hundred to die in it, if they can not conquer.”

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”