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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

“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

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

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

“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.

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

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

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.

“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.” —Robert LeFevre

“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

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

“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

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

“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 anything 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

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