Quotations

Politics

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 1
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
Thomas Jefferson
“A criminal statute cannot rest upon an uncertain foundation. The crime, and the elements constituting it, must be so clearly expressed that the ordinary person can intelligently choose, in advance, what course it is lawful for him to pursue.”
Majority Decision by the United States Supreme Court in Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385 (1926)
“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. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable. ”
H. L. Mencken
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Patrick Henry to the Virginia Legislature at St. Johns Church in Richmond Virginia, 1775
“Finding terrorism plots is not a problem that lends itself to data mining. It's a needle-in-a-haystack problem, and throwing more hay on the pile doesn't make that problem any easier.”
Bruce Schneier, We're Giving Up Privacy and Getting Little in Return, May 31, 2006
“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
Benito Mussolini
“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.
“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 [American Rifleman, December 1991, pg. 14]
“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are Conservative.”
John Stuart Mill, Letter to the Conservative MP, Sir John Pakington (March 1866)
“I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting part about being president... [I] don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation. ”
G W Bush (to National Security Council)
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. ”
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Norvell (June 11, 1807)
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a [...] method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”
Aldous Huxley, Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961 Audio - Transcript
“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
Voltaire
“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”
John Adams - Letter to George Wythe, April 1776, on the foundation of government in the colonies
“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”
GK Chesterton
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
GK Chesterton

War

“Naturally, the common people don't want war.... but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. ”
Hermann Goering (interview, Nuremburg Diary)
“War's a game, which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play at.”
William Cowper, The Task (bk. V, l. 187)
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
John Stuart Mill, Dissertations and Discussions (1868) Vol.1 p. 26
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower - From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

Copyrights and Patents

“Monopolistic companies are nothing more than a tax imposed upon [the people] in order to provide their governments with a new instrument of tyranny. ”
Marquis de Condorcet - L'es quisse
“Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet . . . Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.”
Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Notebook, May 23, 1903
“I wonder what kind of world is it where anyone can sing anyone else's song.”
Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes, 1996
“The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”
The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8
“When I was recently asked to write a television script, the studio insisted that I sign four copies of an affidavit giving it all rights to my writing ‘throughout the Universe in perpetuity.’ I telephoned a studio lawyer to see if I could keep a few moons of Jupiter. The lawyer became angry and pointed to the section of the affidavit in which I recognized that the studio ‘becomes the Author of the Writer's Work.’ ‘We mean it,’ the lawyer said.”
Charles Mann, The Atlantic Online, September, 1998,
“I wasn't opposed to the VCR.”
Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) in an interview with the Harvard Political Review, published January 25, 2003
“I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Bostron strangler is to the woman home alone.”
Jack Valenti, testifying during the Home Recordings of Copyrighted Works hearings before the Subcomittee on Courts, Civil Liberties, and the Administration of Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives of the United States, Ninety-Seventh Congress, Second Session, Monday, April 12, 1982
“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...He who receives an idea from me, receives instructions himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should be 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 ... Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.”
Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to Isaac McPherson, 1813
“Patents once served to make research and development efforts pay off. Meanwhile, instead of serving innovation, the patent system has been twisted to become a means of mining the territory and neutralising unwanted innovators by sending them lawyers to screw them up at a moment where they are raising funds or looking for customers.”
Jean-Michel Yolin, president of the "Innovation" section in the French Ministery of Economics
“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. ... The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.”
Bill Gates, 1991, quoted by Fred Warshofsky in "The Patent Wars" of 1994 from an internal memo

Business

“I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”
Ellen Goodman
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”
Charles Mackay

Censorship

“As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends. ”
Jeremy Bentham
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
Noam Chomsky - The Common Good, page 43

Animal Rights

“The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’ ”
Jeremy Bentham

Love and Friendship

“I have said farewell to [my friend] a thousand times. I have said it every time I let him know how dear he was to me, every time my words or actions affirmed our love. Farewell is said by the living, in life, every day. It is said with love and friendship, with the affirmation that the memories are lasting if the flesh is not.”
Drizzt Do'Urden, journal, Legacy of the Drow

Misc

“In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.”
Bertrand Russell, 1927, speaking before the South London branch of the National Secular Society
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ”
Mahatma Gandhi