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Friday, October 18, 2019

Quote of the Day

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites,—in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity,—in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption,—in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." -- EDMUND BURKE, “Letter to a Member of the National Assembly,” 1791.—The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, vol. 4, pp. 51–52 (1899).

This quote was embedded in an interesting speech by US Attorney General William Barr.


Clovis said...

As Barr himself is showing us, those ideals are easier said than done.

Bret said...

Definitely easier said than done.

I think it was an amazing stroke of luck that we had just the right balance of religious morality coupled with ideas of individual liberty at just the right times (from the Magna Carta and before to our immigration to this continent to the constitution) that our passions were adequately fettered to avoid falling to men's base appetites while still having enough passion to drive freedom and material progress forward.

And that progression is not necessarily the only way things could have turned out so amazingly well. But there are a nearly infinite number of ways they could have turned out oh-so-much worse (like they have nearly everywhere else and every other time).

Hey Skipper said...

And here is Burke's antithesis.

Makes one wonder how it is OK to punch Nazis, but communists proceed unmolested.

Clovis said...


Given your society looks to be drifting away from those ideals under your tacit support, I wonder if your nostalgic outlook here is a way to come to grips with it.