Edmund Burke (1729-1787)

Edmund Burke was an Irish-born philosopher and statesman of the 18th century. These quotes have aged well and are perfectly applicable to the current truth.

“In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppression upon the minority.”

“You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists who—when they are not on their guard—treat the humbler part of the community with the greatest contempt whilst at the same time they pretend to make them the depositories of all power.”

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”

“Despots govern by terror. They know that he who fears God fears nothing else; and therefore they eradicate from the mind, through their Voltaire, their Helvetius, and the rest of that infamous gang, that only sort of fear which generates true courage.”

“Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it—even though but for one year—never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power but they will never look to anything but power for their relief.”

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”

“The essence of tyranny is the enforcement of stupid laws.”

“The great difference between the real leader and the pretender is that the [real leader] sees into the future, while the [pretender] regards only the present; the [pretender] lives by the day, and acts upon expediency; the [real leader] acts on enduring principles and for the immortality.”

“A coward’s courage is in his tongue.”

“They defend their errors as if they were defending their inheritance.”

“Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.”

“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.”

“A great empire and little minds go ill together.”

“This sort of people are so taken up with their theories about the rights of man that they have totally forgotten his nature.”

“All men have equal rights, but not to equal things.”

“By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.”

“People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.”

“Liberty does not exist in the absence of morality.”

“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.”

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.  They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be cured against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” C. S. Lewis

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