Tag Archives: Quotes

The evils of democracy and the mob: Quotes from some of the greatest minds in history.

Fisher Ames: “A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.”

John Jay: “Pure democracy, like pure rum, easily produces intoxication, and with it a thousand mad pranks and fooleries.”

Lord Acton: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

George Washington: “It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act.”

Alexander Hamilton: “If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

Alexander Hamilton: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

James Madison: “Where a majority are united by a common sentiment, and have an opportunity, the rights of the minor party become insecure.”

James Madison: “Democracies 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.”

Alexis de Tocqueville: “The will of the nation is one of those phrases most widely abused by schemers and tyrants of all ages.”

Cicero: “No tempest or conflagration, however great, is harder to quell than mob carried away by the novelty of power.”

Cicero: “This excessive licence, which the anarchists think is the only true freedom, provides the stock, as it were, from which a tyrant grows.”

Plato: “Is it not the excess and greed of this and the neglect of all other things that revolutionizes this constitution too and prepares the way for the necessity of a dictatorship?”

Plato: “And is it not true that in like manner a leader of the people who, getting control of a docile mob, does not withhold his hand from the shedding of tribal blood, but by the customary unjust accusations brings a citizen into court and assassinates him, blotting out a human life, and with unhallowed tongue and lips that have tasted kindred blood, banishes and slays and hints at the abolition of debts and the partition of lands.”

Plato: “And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”

Plato called democracy “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!”

Polybius: “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”

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Three classic quotes on perfection

“We are not to expect perfection in this world.” ~ George Washington

“Absolute perfection is almost never a feature of a system of laws.” ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

“I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man.” ~ Alexander Hamilton

Most popular quotes from The Path to Tyranny

Amazon’s Kindle has a cool feature that enables readers to highlight passages. Amazon is then able to record this and show the most popular passages from the book. Here are most popular highlights from the Kindle version of The Path to Tyranny:

Aristotle calls democracy a perversion of constitutional government in the interest of the needy.

In 1914, John Basil Barnhill said in a debate about socialism, “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”[†]

politicians promise the right to high quality education, the right to free or affordable health care and housing, and many more so-called rights. These are not genuine rights. They are benefits at the expense of others. The rights to private property, free speech, and freedom of religion are true rights because they have no cost.

Choosing an absolute ruler and the organizational skills of a large government is often advantageous in a time of crisis, but the difficult part is rolling back the large government and tyranny after the emergency has ended, which Athens was unable to do.

Therefore, the best way to prevent invasion and coup is to maintain a small and decentralized government with a strong defense, a well-armed population, and the courage to defend one’s rights and liberty.

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek historian Polybius warned that “democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence” as the people grow more “accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others.”[14]

A drawback of large government with control over people’s lives is that it attracts ruthless men of ambition who wish to use the power of government for their own benefit.

Nevertheless, this use of government power to direct or coordinate society is a form of tyranny, because there can be no greater tyranny than an individual or group controlling the lives of an entire population, even if popularly elected.

The senators had hoped that killing Caesar would solve Rome’s problems, but the problem was not just Caesar the dictator, it was also the people’s desire to use government as a tool to redistribute land and wealth.

The tyrant also builds grand public works, acting as if he is helping the people, but his real goal is to impoverish them and keep them occupied.

 

Learning from history quotes

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” ~ Attributed to Mark Twain

“Nowhere does history indulge in repetitions so often or so uniformly as in Wall Street. When you read contemporary accounts of booms or panics the one thing that strikes you most forcibly is how little either stock speculation or stock speculators to-day differ from yesterday. The game does not change and neither does human nature.” ~ Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

Anarchists take over London. Democratic-socialism is the goal. Plato warned us about this.

London is literally aflame, or parts of it are, as the ‘anarchists’ run amok.

I put ‘anarchists’ in quotes because they are not really anarchists. They are socialists who are using Great Britain’s democratic system in an attempt to impose their undemocratic ideology (i.e. higher taxes and more government spending) upon the rest of the country.

Which reminds me of how Plato described democracy:

“A delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!” [Plato, Republic 558c.]

We don’t want democracy in Egypt! We want republicanism.

Now that Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, the media, analysts, politicians, and just about everybody else is calling for democracy in Egypt. For example:

I believe these calls for democracy are made out of ignorance of the word’s real meaning. While we want a democratic system over there, we don’t want true democracy. Alexander Hamilton said at the Constitutional Convention:

“We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

Here are some more quotes about the evils of democracy:

“Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingship derived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series.” [Polybius, The Histories 6.4.7-13.]

“And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”[Polybius, The Histories 6.9.7-9.]

“And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”[Plato, Republic 557a.]

“Democracies 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.]

“I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.” [John Adams letter to John Taylor, 1814]

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” [Lord Acton]

I for one shall hope that Egypt forms a republican and moderate government, just as Alexander Hamilton recommended for our own country more than 220 years ago.

My motto for writing!

In writing this blog or my books, I don’t discover long lost secrets or reveal previously unknown information. Instead, my motto is:

“My design was not so much to contribute new facts as to shape the narrative in such a way as to emphasize relations of cause and effect that are often buried in the mass of details.”

~ John Fiske, The American Revolution, Volume 1:vii.