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Favorite Quotes

See also: Quotes on the Logic of Liberty; my quotes on John Cobin’s “304 Quotations on Liberty, property rights, or related to the need to be free”.

“Because the concept of property, for instance, is so basic that everyone seems to have some immediate understanding of it, most people never think about it carefully and can, as a consequence, produce at best a very vague definition. But starting from imprecisely stated or assumed definitions and building a complex network of thought upon them can lead only to intellectual disaster. For the original imprecisions and loopholes will then pervade and distort everything derived from them. To avoid this, the concept of property must first be clarified.” —Hans-Hermann Hoppe, TSC, ch. 2

“in truth private property and Western civilization are but two names for the same thing” —Sylvester Petro, “Feudalism, Property, and Praxeology,” in Samuel Blumenfeld, ed., Property in a Humane Economy, 1974

“How could an idiotic universe have produced creatures whose mere dreams are so much stronger, better, subtler than itself? . . . Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there?” A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis

“Surely, if every man has the right to own his own body, and if he must grapple with the material objects of the world in order to survive, then the sculptor has the right to own the product he has made, by his energy and effort, a veritable extension of his own personality.” —Murray Rothbard, For A New Liberty
Edmund Burke had it right when he said, “In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!” (Liberty Fund Edition of Vindication of Natural Society).

“… the free-rider argument proves far too much. After all, civilization itself is a process of all of us ‘free-riding’ on the achievements of others. We all free-ride, every day, on the achievements of Edison, Beethoven, or Vermeer.” Murray Rothbard, “The Myth of Neutral Taxation,” also in Economic Controversies, p. 478 et pass.

“If there is any society among robbers and murderers, they must at least, according to the trite observation, abstain from robbing and murdering one another.” Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, [1759] 1982), II.II.3.

“Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense services from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.” Rothbard, Anatomy of the State

“since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.” —Bastiat

“a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” —Thomas Paine, Introduction, Common Sense

“…you will not summon me.” —Dave Chappelle

“[T]he great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” John F. Kennedy, Commencement Address at Yale University, Pub. Papers 470 (June 11, 1962)

“The Institutes of Gaius are a product of this activity; for it is necessary that a great deal of detailed and special work shall be done in a science before a good handbook on the subject can be written for the use of students.” —A.H.J. Greenidge, “Historical Introduction,” p. li (§ 20) (emphasis added), in Gaius, Institutes of Roman Law, with a translation and commentary by Edward Poste, 4th ed., revised and enlarged by E.A. Whittuck (Oxford: 1904)1

“Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back” —Donald Kingsbury

“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'” —Chesterton

“Again and again, simultaneous invention marks the progress of technology as if there is something ripe about the moment.” Matt Ridley, How Innovation Works

“Whenever we act, we employ means to achieve a valued end. This end is a state of affairs that the actor prefers to the actual (and impending) state of affairs. Both states of affairs, at the beginning of action and at its conclusion, are constellations of means (goods) at an actor’s disposal, describing the circumstances or conditions under which he must act.” —Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Great Fiction, ch. 17 (emphasis added)

“The best thing about Kinsella is that he exposes that most people emotional fools who are incapable of forming and completing a rational argument. Regardless of whom I think is right or wrong, it’s fun to watch.” —Flollo McRoogle

“This cult of origins and roots is an insult to the potentiality of the soul.” —Leon Wiesltier, disagreeing with the anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-modernist views of Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin.

“Law reflects but in no sense determines the moral worth of a society. The values of a reasonably just society will reflect them- selves in a reasonably just law. The better the society, the less law there will be. In Heaven there will be no law, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. The values of an unjust society will reflect themselves in an unjust law. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed.” —Grant Gilmore

“It’s easy to refute an argument if you first misrepresent it.” —William Keizer

“Law is a set of widely recognized and enforceable rules that identify owners of contested or contestable scarce resources in accordance with three basic principles of justice: (a) original appropriation (homesteading), (b) consensual permission (license) and title transfer (contract), and (c) rectification (restitution) for torts (offenses); and in accordance with rules previously developed for the same purpose (precedent).” —Kinsella

“I read your letter in some distress. My my: a blend of mysticism and utilitarianism, holism and Buddhism, all this adds up to what friend of mine would call “my second favorite thing.” My first favorite? Who knows—it’s a tie between a bunch of things: an example—being kicked in the groin by a concentration camp guard. Frankly, I consider the whole thing gibberish. I’ve know some others who have gone the same route, but usually it takes a pre-immersion in California and its outré life-style. A word of caution? The only point I can make at this juncture is to relay a wise word form that great and hard-hitting Thomist work: Father Toohey’s Notes on Epistemology. Toohey said: look with great mistrust on any philosophic concept that employs capital letters: e.g., your “Absolute Self.” —Murray Rothbard

First, consider the artificial atmosphere of mystery and solemnity with which the philosopher has surrounded such words as “substance” and “being” and “reality” by printing them in the singular and adorning them with a capital letter. Let the capital letter be banished, and let the words be printed in the plural or, if they must be used in the singular, let them be preceded by the indefinite article; and then, if any mystery still clings to them, at least it will not be mystery of our own creation. —John J. Toohey, Notes on Epistemology, pp. 139–40

“relief is granted to those who err, not to fools.”

In context:

“A letter of the deified Pius says that a mistake of law does not avail one who fails to rely on the lex Falcidia. The Emperors Severus and Antoninus also said in a rescript: “An undue payment made by way of fideicommissum cannot be recovered unless made by mistake. The heirs of Gargilianus paid money under his will to the res publica of Cirta to build an aqueduct. They not merely failed to take the normal security for the return by the citizens of the surplus over what the lex Falcidia allows, but even stipulated that the money should not be converted to other uses, and knowingly allowed it to be spent on an aqueduct. Hence, they cannot reclaim the money from the town of Cirta as being more than was owed, since it is unjust both to recover money paid for an aqueduct, and to make the res publica pay from its own assets for a work, the credit for which goes wholly to another’s generosity. But if they reclaim the money on the ground that they failed by mistake to rely on the lex Falcidia, they should know that mistake of fact, not law avails and that relief is granted to those who err, not to fools.”
—The Roman jurist Paul, “Mistake of Law and Fact, sole book,” in The Digest of Justinian, translation edited by Alan Watson, Vol. I (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), 22.6.9.5, p. 197.

It is argued that if the State is abolished, it will merely be reestablished. Murray Rothbard argues that this is unlikely because any gang of bandits attempting to establish a new state would not be considered legitimate by a public that had tasted true liberty and was no longer being subjected to government propaganda. He further states, “But suppose — just suppose — that despite all these handicaps and obstacles, despite the love for their new-found freedom, despite the inherent checks and balances of the free market, suppose anyway that the State manages to reestablish itself. What then? Well, then, all that would have happened is that we would have a State once again. We would be no worse off than we are now, with our current State. And, as one libertarian philosopher has put it, ‘at least the world will have had a glorious holiday.'” Rothbard

“[E]every good can be a good only for those definite economic subjects with respect to whom every one of the subjective economic “conditions precedent” is fulfilled. Only for those persons who feel or experience the particular want to the satisfaction of which a given thing is adapted; only those persons who are aware of the thing’s adaptability; only those who possess the knowledge or skill necessary to use the given thing; and, finally, only those persons who possess the actual power of disposal over the thing—only for these persons is the given thing a good.” —Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, “Whether Legal Rights and Relationships Are Economic Goods,” George D. Huncke, trans., in Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Shorter Classics of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (South Holland, Ill.: Libertarian Press, 1962 [1881]), p. 43

bene speremus! hominum enim vestigia video.” [“Let us be of good cheer, for I see the traces of man.”] —Aristippus, quoted in Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

“One of the things I like to do every few days,” said Stephan Kinsella, “is go to my book shelf, pull down a book,” and at this point I thought he was going to say “and reacquaint myself with it as if it were an old friend.” Instead he said, “pull down a book and throw it away.” Jeff Tucker

 

“So @NSKinsella were discussing how hard it is to come up with universal principles of human life. He pointed out one universal: “When you call up some corporation for help with your account, the lady says ‘well the computer is really slow right now, not sure what’s going on’.” —Jeff Tucker

Rothbard’s Law: “People tend to specialize in what they’re worst at.” —See Oliver Burkeman, “This column will change your life: why do we undervalue what we’re good at?“, The Guardian (Jul. 27, 2013); LPedia.

On humility and knowing one’s place:

“I’m for the King of Glome and the gods of Glome while I live. But if the King and the gods fall out, you great ones must settle it between you. I’ll not fight against powers and spirits.” —C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

“The world inclines to Socialism because the great majority of people want it.  They want it because they believe that Socialism will guarantee a higher standard of living.  The loss of this conviction would signify the end of Socialism.” –Mises, Socialism

“Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” -Samuel Johnson

“The general rule of law is that the noblest of human productions — knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas — became, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” —Justice Louis Brandeis, 1918 (dissenting)

“Although it is usual to speak of money as a measure of value and prices, the notion is entirely fallacious. So long as the subjective theory of value is accepted, this question of measurement cannot arise.” —Mises, “On the Measurement of Value,” in The Theory of Money and Credit, trans. H.E. Batson (1912; reprint, Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 1980), p. 51. Also: “Money is neither a yardstick of value nor of prices. Money does not measure value. Nor are prices measured in money: they are amounts of money.” Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, 3rd rev. ed., trans. J. Kahane (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Press, 1981), p. 99; see also Mises, Human Action, pp. 96, 122, 204, 210, 217, and 289.

“No honorable philosophical problems are supposed to be made to simply disappear through a definitional trick.” —Peter Janich, Euclid’s Heritage: Is Space Three-Dimensional

“Ownership means full control of the services that can be derived from a good. This catallactic notion of ownership and property rights is not to be confused with the legal definition of ownership and property rights as stated in the laws of various countries. It was the idea of legislators and courts to define the legal concept of property in such a way as to give to the proprietor full protection by the governmental apparatus of coercion and compulsion, and to prevent anybody from encroaching upon his rights. As far as this purpose was adequately realized, the legal concept of property rights corresponded to the catallactic concept.

Human Action, Ch. XXIV, sec. 4.

 

Mises elaborates in Socialism:

“Regarded as a sociological category ownership appears as the power to use economic goods. An owner is he who disposes of an economic good.

“Thus the sociological and juristic concepts of ownership are different. This, of course, is natural, and one can only be surprised that the fact is still sometimes overlooked. From the sociological and economic point of view, ownership is the *having* of the goods which the economic aims of men require. This *having* may be called the natural or original ownership, as it is purely a physical relationship of man to the goods, independent of social relations between men or of a legal order. The significance of the legal concept of property lies just in this — that it differentiates between the physical *has* and the legal *should have*. The Law recognizes owners and possessors who lack this natural *having*, owners who do not have, but ought to have. In the eyes of the Law ‘he from whom has been stolen’ remains owner, while the thief can never acquire ownership. “Economically, however, the natural *having* alone is relevant, and the economic significance of the legal *should have* lies only in the support it lends to the acquisition, the maintenance, and the regaining of the natural *having*.

https://mises.org/library/what-libertarianism

possession is actual control—“the factual authority that a person exercises over a corporeal thing.”[1]

[1]Yiannopoulos, Propertysupra note 8, § 301 (emphasis added); see also Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3421 (“Possession is the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing, movable or immovable, that one holds or exercises by himself or by another who keeps or exercises it in his name.” [emphasis added])

Property is a word with high emotional overtones and so many meanings that it has defied attempts at accurate all-inclusive definition. The English word property derives from the Latin proprietas, a noun form of proprius, which means one’s own. In the United States, the word property is frequently used to denote indiscriminately either the objects of rights … or the rights that persons have with respect to things. Thus, lands, automobiles, and jewels are said to be property; and rights, such as ownership, servitudes, and leases, are likewise said to be property. This latent confusion between rights and their objects has its roots in texts of Roman law and is also encountered in other legal systems of the western world. Accurate analysis should reserve the use of the word property for the designation of rights that persons have with respect to things.” A.N. Yiannopoulos, Louisiana Civil Law Treatise, Property (West Group, 4th ed. 2001), §§ 1, 2

Mises on memory of prices:

“If the memory of all prices of the past were to fade away, the pricing process would become more troublesome, but not impossible as far as the mutual exchange ratios between various commodities are concerned. It would be harder for the entrepreneurs to adjust production to the demand of the public, but it could be done nonetheless. It would be necessary for them to assemble anew all the data they need as the basis of their operations. They would not avoid mistakes which they now evade on account of experience at their disposal. Price fluctuations would be more violent at the beginning, factors of production would be wasted, want-satisfaction would be impaired. But finally, having paid dearly, people would again have acquired the experience needed for a smooth working of the market process.”

I.e., Mises envisions that calculation is possible even if there are NO “current” prices. Because he is imagining the entrepreneur forecasting some future time when money prices will have emerged and he is trying to compare competing uses for his resources at some future date. It is future prices that are compared against future prices. Right? Unless I’m missing something.

On possessives:

LeFevre on Intellectual Property and the “Ownership of Intangibles”

LeFevre also highlights the confusion that often comes from the linguistic use of possessives:

It is quite common for one or both spouses in a marriage contract to presume that their opposite number is actually a possession of theirs. Our language gives credence to this supposition for it is usual to hear a man refer to his partner as “my wife.” She is not his in a property sense.

“When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, “This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,” the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything—you can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.” —Robert Heinlein

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.” —Ayn Rand, “Francisco’s Money Speech

“Is there a need to reform taxes? Most certainly. Always and everywhere. You can always make a strong case against all forms of taxation and all tax codes and all mechanisms by which a privileged elite attempts to extract wealth from the population. And this is always the first step in any tax reform: get the public seething about the tax code, and do it by way of preparation for step two, which is the proposed replacement system. Of course, this is the stage at which you need to hold onto your wallet.” —Lew Rockwell

“What we need is an amendment forbidding the circumvention of the Constitution. It could read: ‘The Constitution shall not be circumvented.” I just got a big laugh from any lawyers who may be reading this.” –Joe Sobran, “Constitutional Legerdemain,” syndicated column of April 11, 1996 (reprinted in Sobran’s, May 1996, Vol. 3, no. 5, page 12) (quoted here)

“the ultimate reason for the breakup of the libertarian-conservative alliance accomplished with the John Randolph Club: … while the libertarians were willing to learn their cultural lesson the conservatives did not want to learn their economics.” —Hoppe

Grecia captaferum victorem cepit (“Greece, the captive, made her savage victor captive”; Horace, 65–8 B.C., Epistles, II, 1, v. 156) [alt: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artis intulit agresti Latio, “Captive Greece took captive her fierce conqueror, and introduced her arts into rude Latium.”)

 

sapere aude (“dare to be wise”) —Horace

No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_J._Tucker

“The reaction from the other Randian side, represented by Rasmussen, is different. He has fewer difficulties recognizing the nature of my argument but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next comeback. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.” —Hans-Hermann Hoppe

“But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: ‘Your money, or your life.’ And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a ‘protector,’ and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to ‘protect’ those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful ‘sovereign,’ on account of the ‘protection’ he affords you. He does not keep ‘protecting’ you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.”

– Lysander Spooner, No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority, Section III)

I once inhaled a pretty full dose of ether, with the determination to put on record, at the earliest moment of regaining consciousness, the thought I should find uppermost in my mind. The mighty music of the triumphal march into nothingness reverberated through my brain, and filled me with a sense of infinite possibilities, which made me an archangel for the moment. The veil of eternity was lifted. The one great truth which underlies all human experience, and is the key to all the mysteries that philosophy has sought in vain to solve, flashed upon me in a sudden revelation. Henceforth all was clear: a few words had lifted my intelligence to the level of the knowledge of the cherubim. As my natural condition returned, I remembered my resolution; and, staggering to my desk, I wrote, in ill-shaped straggling letters, the all-embracing truth still glimmering in my consciousness. The words were these (children may smile; the wise will ponder): “A strong smell of turpentine prevails throughout.””Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Price advantage and a chance to avoid the state by tax evasion is no substitute for integrity. Many who appear as Agoric enterprisers have cheated or otherwise betrayed their customers. Indeed, I have personally found it necessary to be especially careful when dealing with a person calling himself libertarian. All too often, the self-styled libertarian has demonstrated a lack of concern for even fundamental honesty. Many have already experienced this lack among conventional marketeers and more of the same is not helpful.

… While I would not personally subscribe to the practice, many would-be customers of Agoric enterprises discover to their dismay that if they are cheated through black market patronage, legal action against their suppliers is out of the question. Agoric enterprises cannot succeed without building customer confidence. Persons who are cozened into buying simply because of a warm fellow-feeling philosophically lose both the feeling and the philosophy when confronted with misrepresentation, poor quality and deception with no recourse.”

“Indeed, the merit of any philosophy is discovered by the character of its adherents. In this regard, it is clear that many who say they are libertarians are merely employed in obtaining protective coloration.” —Robert LeFevre, in “Return to Babylon,” in New Libertarian Manifesto, at pp. 116–17

“There can be no socialism without a state, and as long as there is a state there is socialism. The state, then, is the very institution that puts socialism into action; and as socialism rests on aggressive violence directed against innocent victims, aggressive violence is the nature of any state.” —Hans-Hermann Hoppe, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, pp. 148-49; emphasis added (From Re: Is the Vatican a State?)

“What does conservatism today stand for? It stands for war. It stands for power. It stands for spying, jailing without trial, torture, counterfeiting without limit, and lying from morning to night. … There comes a time in the life of every believer in freedom when he must declare, without any hesitation, to have no attachment to the idea of conservatism.” —Lew Rockwell

A strong smell of turpentine prevails throughout. —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Let me state this as plainly as possible. The enemy is the state. There are other enemies too, but none so fearsome, destructive, dangerous, or culturally and economically debilitating. No matter what other proximate enemy you can name – big …business, unions, victim lobbies, foreign lobbies, medical cartels, religious groups, classes, city dwellers, farmers, left-wing professors, right-wing blue-collar workers, or even bankers and arms merchants – none are as horrible as the hydra known as the leviathan state. If you understand this point – and only this point – you can understand the core of libertarian strategy.” —Lew Rockwell

No, I’m not a pessimist. At some point the world shits on everybody. Pretending it ain’t shit makes you an idiot, not an optimist.”Justin (shitmydadsays)

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” —Murray N. Rothbard

“Essentially, economic analysis consists of: (1) an understanding of the categories of action and an understanding of the meaning of a change in values, costs, technological knowledge, etc.; (2) a description of a situation in which these categories assume concrete meaning, where definite people are identified as actors with definite objects specified as their means of action, with definite goals identified as values and definite things specified as costs; and (3) a deduction of the consequences that result from the performance of some specified action in this situation, or of the consequences that result for an actor if this situation is changed in a specified way. And this deduction must yield a priori-valid conclusions, provided there is no flaw in the very process of deduction and the situation and the change introduced into it being given, and a priori—valid conclusions about reality if the situation and situation-change, as described, can themselves be identified as real, because then their validity would ultimately go back to the indisputable validity of the categories of action.”– Hans-Hermann Hoppe, TSC p. 142

Socialists are what machine guns and walls were made for!” —Sudha Shenoy

“the sound of money is a fair compensation for the smell of the food” —Sufism story

“It is easier to commit murder than to justify it.”–Papinian (Aemilius Papinianus), quoted in Barry Nicholas, An Introduction to Roman Law, p. 30 n.2 (1962)

“I mean by [the ‘State’] that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought into being by extra economic power. And in contrast to this, I mean by Society, the totality of concepts of all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man …. ” –Oppenheimer, in his introduction to The State

“To those who ask it [‘Why do you use the word “selfishness” to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things that you mean?’], my answer is: ‘For the reason that makes you afraid of it.'”–Ayn Rand

“There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others. … I propose … to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others “the economic means” for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.” … The state is an organization of the political means” –Oppenheimer, The State

“the rise of Anglo-Saxon copyright was a saga of publishing interests attempting to protect a concentrated market and a central government attempting to apply a subtle form of censorship to the new technology of the printing press.” —Justin Hughes

“Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.” —Samuel Johnson

… we observe every day men, and even legislators, pretending to reason concerning political justice and the general principles of law, as if there we no such distinction as that which has been here pointed out, and who seem to have scarcely the most distant comprehension that there is a natural code discoverable by the light of reason, to which alone reference ought to be had when any law … is brought into question either for the purpose of enactment or repeal. Instead of reasoning like legislators, such persons merely contend as lawyers; they but inquire what is, or what has been, not what ought to be; and, provided they can find a precedent, think they have no need to trouble themselves with any farther investigation as to right or wrong. They pronounce the two cabalistic words, “vested right,” and think themselves at once entrenched behind an impregnable fortress, without considering it as at all incumbent upon them to show that the investiture is consistent with real and natural right.

Samuel Read

“Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur” (Anything said in Latin sounds profound)

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” —Samuel Johnson

“If there is any society among robbers and murderers, they must at least, according to the trite observation, abstain from robbing and murdering one another.” —Adam Smith

“It’s so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial achievement which is not mine!” —Ayn Rand

“If you vote, don’t complain.” —Andrew Galambos

“Galileo had a rare gift for provoking enmity; not the affection alternating with rage which Tycho aroused, but the cold, unrelenting hostility which genius plus arrogance minus humility creates among mediocrities.” —Arthur Koestler

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  –Plato

“You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition’s given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia. What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you… all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars… while you could only dream of getting out… getting anywhere… getting all the way to the FBI.” —Hannibal Lecter [NOG]

“At present, when any doubt arises in any particular case as to what the true rule of the unwritten [i.e., judge-found, common-law developed] law is, it is at once assumed that the rule most in accordance with justice and sound policy is the one which must be declared to be the law.  The search is for that rule.  The appeal is squarely made to the highest considerations of morality and justice.  These are the rallying points of the struggle.  The contention is ennobling and beneficial to the advocates, to the judges, to the parties, to the auditors, and so indirectly to the whole community.  The decision then made records another step in the advance of human reason towards that perfection after which it forever aspires.  But when the law is conceded to be written down in a statute, and the only question is what the statute means, a contention unspeakably inferior is substituted.  The dispute is about words.  The question of what is right or wrong, just or unjust, is irrelevant and out of place.  The only question is what has been written.  What a wretched exchange for the manly encounter upon the elevated plane of principle!” — James C. Carter

For Einstein, the lengthy quest for his revolutionary theory of general relativity wast he best of times and the worst of times. As he described it later, “The years of searching in the dark for a truth that one feels but cannot express, the intense desire and the alternations of confidence and misgivings until one breaks through to clarity and understanding, are known only to him who has himself experienced them.” —Hans C. Ohanian

“How can the great suck of self ever hope to be a fat cat dozing in the sun?” —Walker Percy

On footnotes: “There are references to bulky volumes, where at the foot of every page the notes run along, like little angry dogs barking at the text.” —S.M. Crothers

“A Volvo is a beautifully engineered, well-built statement that the owner has the soul of a dung beetle.” —Fred Reed

“The total complex of the rules according to which those at the helm employ compulsion and coercion is called law. Yet the characteristic feature of the state is not these rules, as such, but the application or threat of violence.” —Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government

“No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.” —Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

“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. … 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

“I never knew anyone who collected things who was good for anything else.” —anon.

“The matter does not appear to me now as it appears to have appeared to me then.” —Baron Bramwell, in Andrews v. Styrap (Ex. 1872) 26 L.T.R. (N.S.) 704, 706

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” —Puddleglum, in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia book The Silver Chair (excerpt)

“She felt as soft in my hands as a nestling dove.” —Mary Renault, The King Must Die

“Society, however, cannot subsist among those who are at all times ready to hurt and injure one another. The moment that injury begins, the moment that mutual resentment and animosity take place, all the bands of it are broke asunder, and the different members of which it consisted are, as it were, dissipated and scattered abroad by the violence and opposition of their discordant affections. If there is any society among robbers and murderers, they must at least, according to the trite observation, abstain from robbing and murdering one another. Beneficence, therefore, is less essential to the existence of society than justice. Society may subsist, though not in the most comfortable state, without beneficence; but the prevalence of injustice must utterly destroy it.” —Adam Smith

“Reunions are for losers.” —Tom DiLorenzo

“Good faith shall govern the conduct of the obligor and the obligee in whatever pertains to the obligation.” –La. Civ. Code Art. 1759

Re a reported exchange “many years ago between the Chief Justice of Texas and an Illinois lawyer visiting that state. ‘Why is it,’ the visiting lawyer asked, ‘that you routinely hang horse thieves in Texas but oftentimes let murderers go free?’ ‘Because,’ replied the Chief Justice, ‘there never was a horse that needed stealing!’” —People v. Skiles, 115 Ill.App. 816, 827, 450 N.E.2d 1212, 1220 (1983) (quoted here)

“A working wife is worth three rent houses.” —J. Lanier Yeates

  1. This important work was mostly lost until found in nearly complete form in a palimpsest in Verona in 1816. The activity referred to is various work described in preceding sections, e.g. p. l (§ 19): “The literary activity in the domain of law, during the period which intervened between the accession of Augustus and the time of Gaius, was of the most varied character. Religious law (Jus Pontificlum) attracted the attention of Capito. Labeo wrote on the Twelve Tables. The Praetor’s Edict was the subject of studies by Labeo, Masurius Sabinus, Pedius and Pomponius. The Edict of the Curule Aediles was commented on by Caelius Sabinus. Salvius Julianus, besides his redaction of the Edicts, produced a work known as Digesta, which perhaps assumed the form of detailed explanations of points of law systematically arranged. Comprehensive works on the Civil Law were furnished by Masurius Sabinus and Caius Cassius Longinus. Other jurists produced monographs on special branches of law, as the younger Nerva on Usucapion, Pedms on Stipulations, Pomponius on Fideicommissa. Some lawyers wrote commentaries on the works of their predecessors. It was thus that Aristo dealt with Labeo, and Pomponins with Sabinus. Other works took the form of Epistolae, which furnished opinions on special cases which had been submitted to their author, and collections of Problems (Quaestiones). Nor was history neglected. There must have been much of it in Labeo’s commentary on the Twelve Tables; and Pomponius wrote a Handbook (Enehiridion), which contained a sketch of the legal history of Rome from the earliest times.” []

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