The Vital Importance of Freedom
Here are some stirring quotes about liberty:
It is always great to be part of an historic moment. I still remember when the Berlin Wall came crumbling down in November 1989. The memories of that day still excite me, and it was terrific to have been alive during those momentous times.
And we are now again experiencing such momentous events. Over the past few Saturdays we have seen hundreds of thousands of Australians marching in numerous cities in defence of freedom and against ugly statist tyranny. It has been incredible to behold – and participate in. It is inspiring so many people with a new sense of hope and optimism.
People know just how valuable liberty is, and after nearly two years of government overkill and lockdown madness, plus the ugly and unethical push for medical fascism and apartheid, people have had enough. They are rising up in the millions here and overseas demanding an end to this insanity.
A lot of great quotes about liberty are found on their banners and signs and posters. Many are from well-known sources. Yesterday I featured over twenty quotes on freedom from Os Guinness: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/11/27/guinness-on-freedom/
Here I want to feature some more of my favourite quotes on liberty from the past century or so. It is a brief selection of some of the best lines about freedom that I have been collecting over the years. As can be seen, they appear alphabetically by author:
“Liberty is the delicate fruit of a mature civilization.”
William F. Buckley
“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”
“Liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.”
“The only liberty I mean is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them.”
“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.”
“But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”
G. K. Chesterton
“A tired democracy becomes a dictatorship.”
“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.”
“We may say that the successful demagogue must denounce demagogy. We may say that the tyrant must despise popularity in order to be popular. The real question is that of the effect on freedom. Now we all agree about freedom. We all agree that we must not take liberty, except from people who take liberties. Unfortunately, it is those systems, which boast of not taking liberty, that do take liberties.”
“What’s worthwhile to point out, first and last, is that Socialism is a tyranny; that it is inevitably, even avowedly and almost justifiably, a tyranny. It’s the pretense that government can prevent all injustice by being directly responsible for practically anything that happens.”
“The excuse for the last oppression will always serve as well for the next oppression; and to that tyranny there can be no end.”
“Moral chaos will lead us to lose our freedoms. Can freedom be maintained where virtue is not flourishing?”
“A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”
“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”
“In the end, they wanted security more than they wanted freedom.”
“Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
C. S. Lewis
“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.”
“I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government… The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.”
H. L. Menken
“Most people want security in this world, not liberty.”
“The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.”
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
“Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risk, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place.”
“Individual liberty exists in inverse proportion to the size of the state. The bigger the government/state, the less liberty the individual has. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.”
“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.”
“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
“Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.”
“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”
“After the Western ideal of unlimited freedom, after the Marxist concept of freedom as acceptance of the yoke of necessity—here is the true Christian definition of freedom. Freedom is self-restriction! Restriction of the self for the sake of others!”
“If we wait for history to present us with freedom and other precious gifts, we risk waiting in vain. There is no alternative but to shoulder the burden of what we so passionately desire and bear it out of the depths.”
“It is time in the West to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.”
“Most people on the left are not opposed to freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom.”
“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.”
“Historically, freedom is a rare and fragile thing. It has emerged out of the stalemates of would-be oppressors. Freedom has cost the blood of millions, in obscure places and in historic sites ranging from Gettysburg to the Gulag Archipelago.”
“As many have warned in the past, freedom is unlikely to be lost all at once and openly. It is far more likely to be eroded away, bit by bit, amid glittering promises and expressions of noble ideas.”
“While the classical world did provide examples of democracy, these were not rooted in any general assumptions concerning equality beyond an equality of the elite. Even when they were ruled by elected bodies, the various Greek city-states and Rome were sustained by large numbers of slaves. And just as it was Christianity that eliminated the institution of slavery inherited from Greece and Rome, so too does Western democracy owe its essential intellectual origins and legitimacy to Christian ideals, not to any Greco-Roman legacy. It all began with the New Testament.”
“The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else.”
“Freedom is messy. In free societies, people fall through the cracks – drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all these tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high. Big Government is the small option: it’s the guarantee of smaller freedom, smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller opportunities, smaller lives.”
“Americans and other Westerners who want their families to enjoy the blessings of life in a free society should understand that the life we’ve led since 1945 in the Western world is very rare in human history. Our children are unlikely to enjoy anything so placid, and may well spend their adult years in an ugly and savage world unless we decide that who and what we are is worth defending.”
“Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.”
“Marxists get up early to further their cause. We must get up even earlier to defend our freedom.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
“Despotism may be able to do without faith, but democracy cannot.”
“For the Americans the ideas of Christianity and liberty are so completely mingled that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive of the one without the other.”
“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
(There are numerous quotes on the importance of freedom from the American Founding Fathers, but I will have to do a separate article on them in the near future.)
12 Replies to “The Vital Importance of Freedom”
Thanks Bill, some good quotes on Freedom/Liberty. The first one that caught my attention was GK Chesterton’s “A tired democracy becomes a dictatorship.” You could probably write an article on that one if you haven’t already as I’m seeing people join political parties that were never concerned about politics before – they just voted for their usual party before. Let’s hope more people ‘wake up’ to what our politicians are doing to this country but the other thing that came to mind was something that happened at the beginning of last week, 22nd Nov that I remember reading a piece about – Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty in defending himself. I had originally written that Donald Trump may return to office that day as something big was supposed to happen a few days before Thanksgiving (so not a good idea to predict things). Now I think it was Kyle Rittenhouse’s case that was a win for freedom to bear arms in America, if the decision had gone the other way, no one would be allowed to protect themselves etc. It was a big win that many people do not know about showing that things are starting to turn for the better in the USA in some areas.
I don’t remember the fall of the Berlin wall I was in fifth grade but I remember the August coup that ultimately led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was the first time I read anything other than the funnies in the paper and paid close attention to the network nightly news. I knew it was a important event even though I couldn’t have told you why at the time.
Thank you for crystallizing my sentiments on freedom with these quotes. I am 7 Rallies in so far and managed a moment on stage at the last one. Its exhilarating seeing the people wake up and rise up under the current encroaching evil. Resist the devil and he will flee!!!! Amen.
Love and Prayers, Pearl
Well done Pearl. Bless you.
And as mentioned, here are some terrific quotes on liberty by the American founders:
A wonderful inspiring list of quotes.
Hi Bill, if I may make a request, could you comment or even write an article on the ‘Miracle of Leipzig’ from October 1989? The Nicholas Church in Leipzig was involved in it, and while the word ‘miracle’ might be used more in a secular way than a Christian one by the average person using that phrase, the story does have a bit of a Gideon’s 300 feel to it. A month after that event, the Berlin Wall fell. One of the big things the protestors in Leipzig were angry about was lack of freedom of movement.
The Miracle of Leipzig is the name given to the decision of the East German authorities not to fire on a large crowd of protesters in October 1989, and thus show that they were not willing to kill their own people anymore. Given Communist countries’ usual willingness to use force to stop demonstrations and especially after Tiananmen a few months prior, no one was anticipating this outcome in Leipzig.
Yes a great idea Marc – working on it now!
And here it is Marc – thanks again: