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Friedrich A. Hayek: Champion of

Individual Liberty, Limited Government, and Free Markets

Group Discussion
Commanding Heights
Great Thinkers
Topics and Essays
Great Quotes


Great Quotes

 "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: "From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage." - Alexander Fraser Tytler from "The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic" published in 1776

It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences. - Aristotle, Rhetoric

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law. - Aristotle

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle

Study the past if you would define the future. - Confucius

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956), 'Prejudices: Fourth Series,' 1924

 The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. - William H. Borah

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. - Lord Acton

 It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason. - Lord Acton

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: "This is my country." - Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), letter to David Hartley, December 4, 1789

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it. - Voltaire (Attributed); originated in "The Friends of Voltaire", 1906, by S. G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. - Will Durant (1885 - 1981)

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. - H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946), Outline of History (1920)

To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains. - Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938

There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action. - Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. - Bertrand Russell

Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position. - Bertrand Russell

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. - Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals (1929) ch. 5

One of the great rewards that a belief in sin has always offered to the virtuous is the opportunity which it affords of inflicting pain without compunction. - Bertrand Russell

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. - Thomas Jefferson

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. - Thomas Jefferson

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. Thomas Jefferson  
It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.  Thomas Jefferson
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty. Thomas Jefferson

Virtually every person who commits great evil -- the Nazi, the Communist, the Islamic terrorist -- is idealistic. Idealism is morally neutral. It is good only when directed to good ends. But in young people, idealism is at least as likely to lead to bad as to good because few young people are wise -- and idealism without wisdom is very dangerous. - Dennis Prager from Grieve for Rachel Corrie's parents, but spare us the hagiography in the Jewish World Review March 25, 2003

Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter. - Paxton Hood

"What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven." unknown

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.  John Maynard Keynes


From Tomas Paine's "The Rights of Man":

Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it.  Both are despotisms.  The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it.  Who art thou, vain dust and ashes! By whatever name thou art called, whether a king, a bishop, a church, or a state, a parliament, or anything else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man and its Maker?  Mind thine own concerns.  If he believes not as thou believest, it is a proof that thou believest not as he believes, and there is no earthly power can determine between you.


 Ignorance is of a particular nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it.  It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.


 Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man.  The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection, which holds it together.  In fine, society performs for itself almost everything, which is ascribed to government, which I no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent.


The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself.  All the great laws of society are laws of nature.  They are followed and obeyed because it is the interest of the parties to do so, and not on account of any formal laws their governments may impose.  But how often is the natural propensity to society disturbed or destroyed by the operations of government!  When the latter, instead of being ingrafted on the principles of the former, assumes to exist for itself, and acts by partialities of favor and oppression, it becomes the cause of the mischief it ought to prevent.



All histories of creation agree in establishing one point, the unity of man, by which I mean that men are all of one degree, and that all men are born equal, and with equal natural rights.  These natural rights are the foundation of all their civil rights.


A few words will explain this: Natural rights are those, which appertain to man in right of his existence.  Of this kind are the rights of the mind, and also those rights of acting as an individual for his own happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.  Civil rights are those, which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society.  Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent.  Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.

Taste cannot be controlled by law. - Thomas Jefferson
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson  
It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.  - Thomas Jefferson
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty. - Thomas Jefferson

All information on this and referred pages should be distributed widely (with appropriate references to sources) to spread Hayek's principles to as many people as possible and move our countries toward more ideal conditions for all people.

Feel free to contact me with questions and comments: St. Augustine, Florida, USA - These pages last updated: July 17, 2003.

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