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Phoenix of Freedom – The Death and Re-Birth of Freedom in Our Age

Created from Quotations by the Famous and Not-So-Famous Through the Years by The Centre for Personal Sovereignty


The Legitimate Purpose of Government – the Defense of Freedom

"There are only two basic ways to organize societal affairs: coercively, through government mandates, and voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"Natural rights [are] the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe, 1791

"Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind." -James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." -Declaration of Independence

"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 7, 1785

"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." -Thomas Jefferson

"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Hunter

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1782

"Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." -Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, September 6, 1789

"One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle." -James Otis, On the Writs of Assistance, 1761

The Flaws of Democracy – a Poor Crucible for Freedom

"Freedom is rarely lost in a single stroke. The danger lies in losing it bit by bit." -Dennis Patrick, former FCC Chairman

"[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." -James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

"How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism." -James Monroe, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 10, 1788

"A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins." -Benjamin Franklin

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves, at will, money from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority votes for candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, usually followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through certain definite sequences. From courage by revolution to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, and back to dependency." -Alexander Tyler, 18th Century English Professor, writing about the fall of the Athenian Republic

"It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." -James Fenimore Cooper

"The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling which they overburden the inferior number is a shilling saved to their own pockets." -James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

"We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man." -James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787

"Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what it is you want to hear." -Alan Coren

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." -Louis D. Brandeis

Freedom Arises from Civilized Behavior - Civilization is Rooted in Civility

"It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution." -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 19, 1781

"Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue." -John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." -Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

Freedom is Maintained in a Republic by Avoiding Centralization of Governmental Power through Checks and Balances on That Power

"It does seem ironic that so many politicians in this country hold the curiously benign view that government is some kind of giant nanny that will make everything okay if we just give it more money." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." -George Washington

"The founders understood that democracy would inevitably evolve into a system of legalized plunder unless the plundered were given numerous escape routes and constitutional protections such as the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, election of senators by state legislators, the electoral college, no income taxation, most governmental functions performed at the state and local levels, and myriad other constitutional limitations on the powers of the central government." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"The centralization of governmental power not only leads to the looting and plundering of the taxpaying class by the parasitic class; it also slowly destroys freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"The very principle of the American Revolution was the right of secession against tyrannical government. The founders understood that even the threat of secession would hold would-be governmental tyrants in check." -by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"Peaceful secession and nullification are the only means of returning to a system of government that respects rather than destroys individual liberty." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"At the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence in 1861 the vast majority of Northern opinion leaders still believed that a right of secession was fundamental, and that the South should be allowed to go in peace." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"If for no other reason, personal pride should prompt every governor and state legislator to take a secessionist attitude; they were not elected to be lackeys of the federal bureaucracy." -Frank Choderov, 1952

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." -Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always 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, February 22, 1787

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." -James Madison

"An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others." -James Madison, Federalist No. 58, 1788

"The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will for ever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation." -Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788

When Those Checks and Balances Fail, Freedom Dies Forever - The Rise within Democracies of Unchecked Centralized Power

"Things have changed. The social contract of strictly limited government has been breached." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression." -James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." -James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired." -Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775

"[T]he vast majority of what the central government does is unconstitutional, [and] there is almost no restraint at all on the extent to which the [parasitic, live-at-others’-expense] class can use the coercive powers of the state to plunder the [productive, taxpaying] class." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." -Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

The “Coup” – The Day Freedom Died in America

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to E. Carrington, May 27, 1788

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." -James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants." -Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, October 27, 1787

"Lincoln’s 'revolution'...overthrew the federal system of government created by the founding fathers and put into motion the forces of centralized governmental power." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"One of the first things every tyrannical government does is to monopolize the educational system in order to brainwash the young and bolster its political power." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"As soon as Lee surrendered at Appomattox the federal government began revising history to teach that secession was illegitimate." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

The Coup’s Result – A Dictatorial Political State – A Single Tyrant 5,000-Miles Away Traded for a Clique of Political Tyrants Right Here at Home

"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 struggle for independence." -Charles Austin Beard

"There's not a single element of your existence that some politician or bureaucrat doesn't feel completely justified in regulating or controlling - if he's not already doing so." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"In a political society business regulation takes on a life of its own, with agencies brimming with bureaucrats who make a living by throwing wrenches into the machinery of the free market." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"In the early part of this century, government spending amounted to under 10 percent of national income. Today, spending at all levels of government amounts to 43 percent of national income and is continuing to grow." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"The level of taxation and of government regulation is a measure of our FAILURE to civilize our society." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"Can anyone seriously maintain that a single major domestic government program has actually worked? That the private sector isn't more responsive, innovative, cost-effective, and, indeed, humane than the public sector?" -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem." -Milton Friedman

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." -P. J. O'Rourke

"The presidential election of 2000 showed that America is now divided into two great political classes: the productive, taxpaying class and the parasitic, live-at-others’-expense class." -Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Secession and Liberty

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -H. L. Mencken

"The politicians don't just want your money. They want your soul. They want you to be worn down by taxes until you are dependent and helpless. When you subsidize poverty and failure, you get more of both." -James Dale Davidson

"The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return." -Gore Vidal

"The tragedy is that, while all the wonderful movements for freedom are going on in the rest of the world, we seem to have forgotten the lessons of our forefathers here at home." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

Ignorance of the Law is No Defense, No Matter How Complex – You Cannot Win

"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 today can guess what it will be to-morrow." -Federalist No. 62, 1788

"The real problem of gridlock is not the inability of Congress to pass laws. The gridlock is our inability to repeal any of the vast inventory of previous laws, many of which are doing real damage to our society." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

Freedom Lost is Lost Forever

"Once alienated, an 'unalienable right' is apt to be forever lost." -Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, 2002

"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever." -John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1775

"There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage." -John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." -Patrick Henry

A Disarmed Populace is a Slave Populace

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -Thomas Jefferson

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States." -Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787

"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, -- who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." -George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1778

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?" -Patrick Henry

"Every good communist should know that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." -Mao Tse Tung


The Rise of Sovereign Individuality

"No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a slave." -Alexander Hamilton, 1774

"[T]he Information Revolution will liberate individuals as never before. For the first time, those who can educate themselves will be almost entirely free to invent their own work and realize the full benefits of their own productivity. Genius will be unleashed, freed from both the oppression of government and the drags of racial and ethnic prejudice. ... The ugly, the fat, the old, the disabled will vie with the young and beautiful on equal terms in utterly color-blind anonymity on the frontiers of cyberspace." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"At the highest plateau of productivity, ... Sovereign Individuals will compete and interact on terms that echo the relations among the gods in Greek myth. The elusive Mount Olympus of the next millennium will be in cyberspace - a realm without physical existence that will nonetheless develop what promises to be the world's largest economy by the second decade of the new millennium." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"[The near future will bring t]he creation of a huge new industry in the field of privacy management." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"[M]ultinational corporations [will soon be] issuing their own scrip and maintaining their own embassies." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"[People are] redefining their citizenship based not on their place of birth, but on a mutuality of interests." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"The simple fact is that the larger sense of patriotism - a love of nation, a sense of filial duty to it - is not a particularly useful predisposition to have any longer." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"The bottom line of political philosophy and therefore politics itself is, Who is going to make decisions about your life, you or somebody else? In a civil society you make the choices about your life. In a political society someone else makes those choices." -Edward H. Crane, Defending Civil Society

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

The Road to Wealth in the Information Age

"Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think." -Ayn Rand

"Money is the most egalitarian force in society. It confers power on whoever holds it." -Roger Starr

"Merit, wherever it arises, will be rewarded as never before. In an environment where the greatest source of wealth will be the ideas you have in your head rather than physical capital alone, anyone who thinks clearly will potentially be rich." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"The Information Age will be the age of upward mobility. It will afford far more equal opportunity for the billions of humans in parts of the world that never shared fully in the prosperity of industrial society. The brightest, most successful and ambitious of these will emerge as truly Sovereign Individuals." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"By 2025, the cybereconomy will have many millions of participants. Some of them will be as rich as Bill Gates, worth over $10 billion each. The cyberpoor may be those with an income of less than $200,000 a year. There will be no cyberwelfare. No cybertaxes and no cybergovernment. The cybereconomy, rather than China, could well be the greatest economic phenomenon of the next thirty years." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"In the Information Age, familiar locational advantages will rapidly be transformed by technology. Earnings capacity for persons of similar skills will become much more equal, no matter in what jurisdiction they live. This has already begun to happen. Because institutions that have employed compulsion and local advantage to redistribute income are losing power, income inequality WITHIN JURISDICTIONS will rise. Global competition will also tend to increase the income earned by the most talented individuals in each field, wherever they live, much as it does now in professional athletics. The marginal value generated by superior performance in a global market will be huge." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"From this day forward you and your global network of partners are responsible for creating work and wealth for yourselves. If you have no network you have no security. All the rules have changed. The guarantees and promises made to you by Industrial Age society are null and void and will be breached." -Barry C. Carter, Infinite Wealth

The Death of Nation States and The End of Political Tyranny

"With the economic benefits formerly captured within boundaries of nation-states falling away, the nation-states themselves will eventually collapse under their weighty liabilities." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"The good news is that politicians will no more be able to dominate, suppress, and regulate the greater part of commerce in this new realm [of cyberspace] than the legislators of the ancient Greek city-states could have trimmed the beard of Zeus. The liberation of a large part of the global economy from political control will oblige all remaining forms of government to operate on more nearly market terms. They will ultimately have little choice but to treat populations in territories they serve more like customers, and less in the way that organized criminals treat the victims of a shakedown racket." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"We expect the commercialization of sovereignty to rapidly lead to the devolution of many large territorial sovereignties." -Davidson & Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"Myths are public dreams, broadly shared, which is why the myth of nationhood persists. But myths without perspective, myths without authenticity, are fairy tales. That is what nationhood is becoming." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"With advances in information technology people are being empowered to connect, collaborate, and create wealth and self-order without bureaucracy or representative government." -Barry C. Carter, Infinite Wealth


"We stand at not one but several crossroads - at a marked point of discontinuity between past and future - as we simultaneously contemplate: a) The shift from reason-based to chaos-based logic; b) The splintering of social, political, and economic organization; and c) The collapse of producer-controlled consumer markets." -Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, The 500 Year Delta

"Breakpoint change abruptly and powerfully breaks the critical links with the past. What we are experiencing today is absolutely unprecedented in all of humanity's recorded history. We have run into change so different from anything preceding it that it totally demolishes normal standards. It has swept us into a massive transformation that will completely reorder all we know about living in this world. It demands totally new rules for success." -George Land and Beth Jarman, Breakpoint and Beyond

Getting Ready for the Leap

"[I]t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own." -Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Cooper, May 1, 1777

"There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism." -Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775

"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value." -Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776


"Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." -Winston Churchill

Let’s Go!

"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth." -Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." -Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." -George Washington, letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, 1775

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." -Benjamin Franklin, letter to Benjamin Vaughn, March 14, 1783

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