nolite confidere in principibus.
Put not your trust in Princes.
Psalms 146:3 (Septuagint 145:3, Vulgate 145:2)
For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour'd with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.
John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, §20
At left: the Liberty Tree Flag of 1775
Who else will I fail to save from the Capitol's vengeance?
Katniss Everdeen, Catching Fire, The Second Book of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press, 2009, p.41
Numquid resina non est in Galaad?
Is there no balm in Gilead?
It is clear to me now that the
Republic no longer functions.
Queen Amidala [Natalie Portman, Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, 1999]
Our rulers are theoretically "our" representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regettable, but they are vices, and if left to generate their own consequences, vices soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults alone. Instead, democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a steam of improving "messages" from authority. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority. They are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. We should never doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step toward totalitarianism.
Kenneth Minogue, The Servile Mind, How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life [Encounter Books, 2010, pp.2-3]
The statesman who should attempt to direct people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.
A prince who is not wise himself cannot be wisely counseled...
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince [Daniel Donno translation, Bantam, 1981, p. 82; cf. wisdom]
I have a friend who once told me the difference between cats and dogs. When you get up in the morning and feed your dog, he looks up at you and thinks: "She comes, finds my food and pours it for me -- she must be a god." A cat thinks: "She comes, finds my food and pours it out for me -- I must be a god."
Politicians -- no matter how they started out, with what modesty or inner sense of stability -- tend to wind up as cats.
Peggy Noonan, "The Humble Pope, and the Beltway Cats," The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, August 3-4, 2013, A13
How small of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure! Still to ourselves in every place consigned, Our own felicity we make or find. With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy.
Three things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me, the moral law within me, and the Bank of England.
Enklinobarangus (), with apologies to Immanuel Kant
Minds are of three kinds: one is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinkings of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is excellent, and the third is worthless.
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince [Daniel Donno translation, Bantam, 1981, p. 80]
People who openly despise individualism, liberalism, limited government, civil society, and the armed self-defense of citizens have no business calling others "Fascists" or "Nazis." Yet it is their favorite accusation.
...universal spying as the principle of government. People were encouraged -- and compelled -- to spy upon one another, but this was obviously not how the state defended itself against real dangers; rather, it was a way of pushing the principle of totalitarianism to its extreme. As citizens, people were supposed to live in a perfect unity of goals, desires, and thoughts -- all expressed through the mouth of the leader. As individuals, however, they were expected to hate one another and to live in constant mutual hostility. Only thus could the isolation of individuals from one another achieve perfection. In fact, the unattainable ideal of the system seems to have been one where everyone is at the same time an inmate of a concentration camp and a secret police agent.
Leszek Koakowski (1927-2009), "The Marxist Roots of Stalinism," 1975, Is God Happy? Selected Essays, Basic Books, 2013, pp.100-101
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.
Alexander Tytler (variously attributed)