Quotations about   freedom

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It is all very well to talk about being the captain of your soul. It is hard, and only a few heroes, saints, and geniuses have been the captains of their souls for any extended period of their lives. Most men, after a little freedom, have preferred authority with the consoling assurances and the economy of effort it brings.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, ch. 1, sec. 3 (1929)
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Added on 18-Oct-21 | Last updated 18-Oct-21
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If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)
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Added on 25-Aug-21 | Last updated 25-Aug-21
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Of all the ways to avoid living, perfect discipline is the most admired.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 24 (2001)
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I walked in the woods and looked at the birds, and I thought: How dreadful that people shut up birds in cages. If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages, they should all be free–

Isak Dinesen (1885-1962) Danish writer [pseud. of Karen Christence, Countess Blixen]
“The Deluge at Norderney,” Seven Gothic Tales (1934)
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Freedom does not always win. This is one of the bitterest lessons of history.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
(Attributed)
Added on 3-Aug-21 | Last updated 3-Aug-21
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People say if you legalize drugs, you’re going to have a lot more junkies. And then the other side says, Oh no, no, no, we will have fewer junkies [and] they’ll be treated better. I don’t know! I just know that if you don’t have the right to put whatever you want into your own body, you’re not living in a free fucking country. Simple.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
Interview by Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason (Jan 2017)
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Added on 28-Jul-21 | Last updated 28-Jul-21
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I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry (b. 1957) British actor, writer, comedian
“Trefusis Blasphemes,” Loose Ends radio program (1986)

Reprinted in Paperweight (1992).
Added on 21-Jul-21 | Last updated 21-Jul-21
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If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?

[Puisque les tendances naturelles de l’humanité sont assez mauvaises pour qu’on doive lui ôter sa liberté, comment se fait-il que les tendances des organisateurs soient bonnes ? Les Législateurs et leurs agents ne font-ils pas partie du genre humain ? Se croient-ils pétris d’un autre limon que le reste des hommes?]

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) French philosopher, economist, politician
The Law [La Loi] (1850) [tr. Russell]
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French source.
Added on 15-Jul-21 | Last updated 15-Jul-21
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Hornblower was by now a sufficiently experienced married man to realize the advantages of allowing his wife to say what she liked as long as he could continue to do as he liked.

C S Forester
C. S. Forester (1899-1966) English novelist [Cecil Scott Forester, pen name for Cecil Louis Troughton Smith]
Hornblower and the Atropos, ch. 1 (1953)
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I hold it blasphemy to say that a man ought not to fight against authority: there is no great religion and no great freedom that has not done it, in the beginning.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Felix Holt, the Radical, ch. 46 (1866)
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Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 16-Jun-21
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Freedom only means the freedom to be stupid. Because you don’t need freedom to do what everybody thinks you should.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
“Honest Questions with Penn Jillette,” Interview by Glen Beck, CNN (2 Nov 2007)
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Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 22-Apr-21
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A Reverend Donald Wildmon in Mississippi heard something on the radio that he didn’t like. Well, Reverend, did anyone ever tell you there are two knobs on the radio? Two. Knobs. On the radio. Of course, I’m sure the reverend isn’t that comfortable with anything that has two knobs on it … But hey, Reverend, there are two knobs on the radio! One of them turns the radio off, and the other one changes the station! Imagine that, Reverend, you can actually change the station! It’s called freedom of choice, and it’s one of the principles this country was founded upon. Look it up in the library, Reverend, if you have any of them left when you’ve finished burning all the books.

George Carlin (1937-2008) American comedian
“What Am I Doing in New Jersey?” (1988)
Added on 1-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Apr-21
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I don’t want to kill anybody. I am passionately opposed to killing, but I’m even more passionately fond of freedom.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
“Fallout and Disarmament: A Debate Between Linus Pauling and Edward Teller,” KQED-TV, San Francisco (20 Feb 1958)
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Added on 23-Feb-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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I love not to be constrained to love; for love must only arise of the heart’s self, and not by no constraint.

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Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, ch. 20 (1485)
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Lancelot to Guinevere, of the Lady of Ascolat.
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The will of the nation, speaking with the voice of battle and through the amended Constitution, has fulfilled the great promise of 1776 by proclaiming “liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.” The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. No thoughtful man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people. It has freed us from the perpetual danger of war and dissolution. It has added immensely to the moral and industrial forces of our people. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both. It has surrendered to their own guardianship the manhood of more than 5,000,000 people, and has opened to each one of them a career of freedom and usefulness.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Inaugural address (4 Mar 1881)
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Added on 18-Dec-20 | Last updated 18-Dec-20
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The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. […] Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members. […] In every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.

John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) American lawyer, politician, Supreme Court Justice (1877-1911)
Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (20 Feb 1905) [majority opinion]
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Added on 30-Nov-20 | Last updated 30-Nov-20
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You are free only when you care for nobody in the world. But if you stop caring, life isn’t worth living.

Martha Albrand (1914-1981) German-American author. [b. Heidi Huberta Freybe Loewengard; also wrote as Katrin Holland, Christine Lambert]
Nightmare in Copenhagen (1954)
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Long ago, there was a noble word, “liberal,” which derives from the word “free.” Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word. Indeed, there was a time — a short but dismaying time — when many Americans began to distrust the word which derived from “free.”

One thing we must all do. We must cherish and honor the word “free” or it will cease to apply to us. And that would be an inconceivable situation.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow is Now (1963)
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Added on 2-Nov-20 | Last updated 2-Nov-20
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There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Inaugural address (4 Mar 1881)
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Added on 30-Oct-20 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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All free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Letter to B. A. Hinsdale (21 Apr 1880)
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Added on 23-Oct-20 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
Zorba the Greek (1946)

Adapted in the 1964 screenplay by Mihalis Kakogiannis as:
ZORBA: Boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else.
BASIL: Or else?
ZORBA: Or else, he never dares cut the rope and be free.

Added on 12-Oct-20 | Last updated 12-Oct-20
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Every man of every color and description has a natural right to freedom.

John Jay (1745-1829) American statesman, diplomat, abolitionist, politician, Chief Justice (1789-1795)
Letter to J. C. Dongan (27 Feb 1792)
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Added on 7-Oct-20 | Last updated 7-Oct-20
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That men should pray and fight for their own freedom, and yet keep others in slavery, is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and, perhaps, impious part, but the history of mankind is filled with instances of human improprieties.

John Jay (1745-1829) American statesman, diplomat, abolitionist, politician, Chief Justice (1789-1795)
Letter to Rev. Doctor Price (27 Sep 1785)
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Added on 23-Sep-20 | Last updated 23-Sep-20
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It says in the Constitution that we all have a guaranteed right to make fools of ourselves. I have taken every chance to reap the rewards of that guarantee. If forced to action, I mean to fight to defend that right, which includes the right to be wrong, queer, or just kooky. And how can I defend that unless I defend those kooks and queers who think (wrongly, of course) that I am kooky and queer?

John Ciardi (1916-1986) American poet, writer, critic
In Vince Clemente, “‘A Man Is What He Does With His Attention’: A Conversation with John Ciardi,” Poesis, Vol. 7 #2 (1986)
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Added on 9-Sep-20 | Last updated 11-Sep-20
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Have we done it? Have we given freedom to the black man? What is freedom? Is it mere negation? Is it the bare privilege of not being chained, of not being bought and sold, branded and scourged? If this is all, then freedom is a bitter mockery, a cruel delusion, and it may well be questioned whether slavery were not better.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Suffrage and Safety,” speech, Ravenna, Ohio (4 Jul 1865)
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In the great crisis of the war, God brought us face to face with the mighty truth, that we must lose our own freedom or grant it to the slave. In the extremity of our distress, we called upon the black man to help us save the Republic; and, amid the very thunders of battle, we made a covenant with him, sealed both with his blood and with ours, and witnessed by Jehovah, that, when the nation was redeemed, he should be free, and share with us its glories and its blessings. The Omniscient Witness will appear in judgment against us if we do not fulfill that covenant.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Suffrage and Safety,” speech, Ravenna, Ohio (4 Jul 1865)
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Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love.

Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy them, but now they call this free will.

At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Lullaby, ch. 3 (2002)
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Much of this is repeated in ch. 39.
Added on 11-Aug-20 | Last updated 11-Aug-20
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The enemies of Freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
End of an Age, ch. 4 (1948)
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For sure a foole I doe him firmely hold,
That loves his fetters, though they were of gold.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene. Book 3, Canto 9, st. 8 (1589-96)
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Added on 13-Jul-20 | Last updated 13-Jul-20
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I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.

[Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.]

Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919) Mexican revolutionary, reformer [Emiliano Zapata Salazar]
(Attributed)

Often misattributed to Che Guevara, José Martí, and other revolutionaries. Popularized by "La Pasionaria" Dolores Ibárruri, during her speeches and broadcasts in the Spanish Civil War. More discussion here.

Alternate versions/translations:
  • "I'd prefer to die standing, than to live always on my knees! [¡Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado!]"
  • "Men of the South! It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!"
  • "I would rather die standing than live on my knees!"
  • "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!"
  • "I prefer to die standing than to live forever kneeling."
  • "Prefer death on your feet to living on your knees."
Added on 29-Jun-20 | Last updated 29-Jun-20
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At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Young Men’s Lyceum, Springfield, Illinois (27 Jan 1838)
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This seems to be the source of this far more prosaic, and spurious, Lincoln quote: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Added on 16-Jun-20 | Last updated 16-Jun-20
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Indeed, just as frightened horses raise their necks up high, in the same way all those devotees of empty glory raise themselves above everything else, above cities, laws, ancestral custom, and the affairs of individual citizens. As they move from demagoguery to dictatorship, they subdue some of their neighbors as they try to make themselves superior and upright — and then they plan to enslave however so many minds remain naturally free and unenslaved.

[τῷ γὰρ ὄντι καθάπερ οἱ γαῦροι τῶν ἵππων τὸν αὐχένα μετέωρον ἐξάραντες, ὅσοι θιασῶται τῆς κενῆς δόξης εἰσίν, ἐπάνω πάντων ἑαυτοὺς ἱδρύουσι, πόλεων, νόμων, ἐθῶν πατρίων, τῶν παρ᾿ ἑκάστοις πραγμάτων· εἶτα ἀπὸ δημαγωγίας ἐπὶ δημαρχίαν βαδίζοντες καὶ τὰ μὲν τῶν πλησίον καταβάλλοντες, τὰ δὲ οἰκεῖα διανιστάντες καὶ παγίως ὀρθοῦντες, ὅσα ἐλεύθερα καὶ ἀδούλωτα φύσει φρονήματα]

Philo of Alexandria (AD c. 20-50) Hellenistic Jewish philosopher [Philo Judaeus]
On Dreams, That They Are God-Sent [Quod a Deo Mittantur Somnia or De Somniis], Book 2, ch. 12 [2.78-79] [tr. @sentantiq]
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Alt. trans.: "In real truth, as spirited horses lift their necks high, so all who are companions of vain opinion place themselves above all things, above all cities, and laws, and national customs, and above all the circumstances which affect each individual of them. Then proceeding onwards from being demagogues to being leaders of the people, and overthrowing the things which belong to their neighbours, and setting up and establishing on a solid footing what belongs to themselves, that is to say, all such dispositions as are free and by nature impatient of slavery, they attempt to reduce these also under their power." [Yonge (1855)]
Added on 8-Jun-20 | Last updated 8-Jun-20
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Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
“The Political System of the Popes,” The Rambler, n.s. 2 (Jan 1860)
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Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
Note #10, in George Watson, Lord Acton’s History of Liberty (1994)
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Added on 7-May-20 | Last updated 7-May-20
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Since the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to allow them liberty, how comes it to pass that the tendencies of organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their agents form a part of the human race? Do they consider that they are composed of different materials from the rest of mankind? They say that society, when left to itself, rushes to inevitable destruction, because its instincts are perverse. They presume to stop it in its downward course, and to give it a better direction. They have, therefore, received from heaven, intelligence and virtues that place them beyond and above mankind: let them show their title to this superiority.

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) French philosopher, economist, politician
The Law (1850)
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Alt. trans.: "If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? The organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; it so, let them show their titles to this superiority." [Source]
Added on 4-May-20 | Last updated 4-May-20
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We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“The Tercentenary of the Areopagitica,” Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
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Wings are freedom only when they are wide open in flight. On one’s back they are a heavy weight.

[Крылья — свобода, только когда раскрыты в полёте, за спиной они — тяжесть.]

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) Russian poet
Notebook 1 (1921)
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Literally "Wings -- freedom, only when opened in flight, behind their backs -- heavy."
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Let us shun extremes, not only because each extreme is in itself a positive evil, but also because each extreme necessarily engenders its opposite. If we love civil and religious freedom, let us in the day of danger uphold law and order. If we are zealous for law and order, let us prize, as the best safeguard of law and order, civil and religious freedom.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
Speech on re-election to Parliament, Edinburgh (2 Nov 1852)
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Added on 21-Jan-20 | Last updated 21-Jan-20
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Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, ch. 3 “Government and Politics” (1989)
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Added on 17-Jan-20 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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The human animal needs a freedom seldom mentioned, freedom from intrusion. He needs a little privacy quite as much as he wants understanding or vitamins or exercise or praise.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
The Province of the Heart (1959)
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Let me point out to you that freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be. One hasn’t got to have an enormous military in order to be unfree when it’s simpler to be asleep, when it’s simpler to be apathetic, when it’s simpler, in fact, not to want to be free, to think that something else is more important.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“Notes for a Hypothetical Novel,” speech, San Francisco College (22 Oct 1960)
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Later published in Nobody Knows My Name (1961).
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I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Evidence” (1), Evidence (2009)
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Reason allows us to determine when our wishes are in irrevocable conflict with reality, and then bids us to submit ourselves willingly, rather than angrily or bitterly, to necessities. We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration”(2000)
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Added on 10-Oct-19 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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I realize that all society rests upon force. But all the great creative actions, all the decent human relations, occur during the intervals when force has not managed to come to the front. These intervals are what matter. I want them to be as frequent and as lengthy as possible, and I call them “civilization”.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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Where men then are free to consult experience they will correct their practice, and make changes for the better. It follows, therefore, that the more free men are, the more changes they will make. In the beginning, possibly, for the worse; but most certainly in time for the better; until their knowledge enlarging by observation, and their judgment strengthening by exercise, they will find themselves in the straight, broad, fair road of improvement. Out of change, therefore, springs improvement; and the people who shall have imagined a peaceable mode of changing their institutions, hold a surety for their melioration. This surety is worth all other excellences. Better were the prospects of a people under the influence of the worst government who should hold the power of changing it, that those of a people under the best who should hold no such power.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
Independence Day speech, New Harmony, Indiana (4 Jul 1828)
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Democracy is not a beloved Republic really, and never will be. But it is less hateful than other contemporary forms of government, and to that extent it deserves our support. It does start from the assumption that the individual is important, and that all types are needed to make a civilization. It does not divide its citizens into the bossers and the bossed — as an efficiency-regime tends to do. The people I admire most are those who are sensitive and want to create something or discover something, and do not see life in terms of power, and such people get more of a chance under a democracy than elsewhere. They found religions, great or small, or they produce literature and art, or they do disinterested scientific research, or they may be what is called “ordinary people”, who are creative in their private lives, bring up their children decently, for instance, or help their neighbours. All these people need to express themselves; they cannot do so unless society allows them liberty to do so, and the society which allows them most liberty is a democracy.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Democracy means that people can say what they want to. All the people. It means that they can vote as they wish. All the people. It means that they can worship God in any way they feel right, and that includes Christians and Jews and voodoo doctors as well.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
The Remarkable Andrew (1942)

Based on Trumbo's 1941 book of the same name. Parallel text.
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SPARTACUS: When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Spartacus (1960) [novel by Howard Fast]
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Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny, ch. 10 (2017)
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Every man has a certain sphere of discretion, which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbors. This right flows from the very nature of man. First, all men are fallible: no man can be justified in setting up his judgment as a standard for others. We have no infallible judge of controversies; each man in his own apprehension is right in his decisions; and we can find no satisfactory mode of adjusting their jarring pretensions. If every one be desirous of imposing his sense upon others, it will at last come to be a controversy, not of reason, but of force.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Book 2, ch. 5 (1793)
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The proper method for hastening the decay of error is not by brute force, or by regulation which is one of the classes of force, to endeavor to reduce men to intellectual uniformity, but on the contrary by teaching every man to think for himself.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. 2, bk. 8, ch. 6 “Of the Enjoyment of Liberty” (1793)
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The saddest thing in my life was when I discovered that people can get their freedom from colonial masters and find themselves unfree.

Joshua Nkomo (1917-1999) Zimbawean politician, trade unionist, guerrilla leader
In The Observer (UK) (22 Apr 1984)
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What the people wanted was a government which would provide a comfortable life for them, and with this as the foremost object ideas of freedom and self-reliance and service to the community were obscured to the point of disappearing. Athens was more and more looked on as a co-operative business possessed of great wealth in which all citizens had a right to share. […] Athens had reached the point of rejecting independence, and the freedom she now wanted was freedom from responsibility. There could be only one result. […] If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms.

Edith Hamilton (1867-1963) American educator, author, classicist
The Echo of Greece, ch. 2 “Athens’ Failure” (1957)
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Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.

Richard Lovelace (1617-1657) English poet
“To Althea, from Prison,” l. 25 (1649)
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We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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