45 Top Quotes on Statism

Some wise words about the ever-present threat of statism:

‘The state is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ As worship of the living God shrinks, worship of the state grows. It used to be Communist societies and Muslim-majority ones where we witnessed tyranny on a large scale. But now all over the West we are seeing the rise and rise of government tyranny.

Many have warned about such things, and I have often written about this. Here are some great quotes about the matter that I have collected over the years. Since I have already done articles with quotes about statism by Chesterton, Lewis and Sheen, I will not quote them here. Their thoughts are found in these articles:

https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/02/13/chesterton-on-statism-and-tyranny/

https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/12/20/c-s-lewis-on-politics/

https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/09/06/fulton-j-sheen-on-statism/

This is just a small sampling. I have included a few quotes from American Founding Fathers, but since there are so many, I will have to do a separate piece featuring them. Here then are 45 quotes by 29 authors:

“There are two principles between which there can be no compromise – liberty and coercion.” Frederic Bastiat

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.” William F. Buckley Jr.

“There is nothing government can give you that it hasn’t taken from you in the first place.” Winston Churchill

“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” Milton Friedman

“Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.” Barry Goldwater

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom.” Barry Goldwater

“Unjust authority confers no obligation of obedience.” Alexander Hamilton

“God is the leftists’ chief rival. Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism. . . . the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.” Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Thomas Jefferson

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” Thomas Jefferson

“The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.” Paul Johnson, Modern Times

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-front for the urge to rule it.” H. L. Menken

“An atheist who is a statist is just another theist.” Stefan Molyneux

“You can imprison me and you can torture me and you can kill me, but Herr Hitler, one day you will give an account to one who is King of kings and the Lord of lords.” Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller to Adolf Hitler

“It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights – the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” P. J. O’Rourke

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.” George Orwell

“All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force.” George Orwell

“All that GAIN Power….Fear to LOSE it.” Senator Sheev Palpatine, Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

“The bigger the government the smaller the citizen. This is one of the most important realisations about society you will ever have. In fact, this understanding is the primary reason for America’s unique success as both a free and affluent society. Everything gets smaller as the government gets bigger. Freedom gets smaller, individuality gets smaller, goodness gets smaller, and human character gets smaller. This is not a political point on behalf of a political party. It is simply an observable fact. And it’s just common sense.” Dennis Prager

“We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

“Either you will control your government, or government will control you.” Ronald Reagan

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Ronald Reagan

“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.” Ronald Reagan

“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Ronald Reagan

“You know what the fastest growing religion in America is? Statism. The growing reliance on government.” Marco Rubio

“Authority is inescapable. The basic question is which authority, the authority of God or of man? If we choose man, we have no right to complain against the rise of totalitarianism, the rise of tyranny—we have asked for it. If we choose God’s authority, then we must submit to it without reservation; we must accept His infallible word and must in all things acknowledge His sovereignty. On this foundation, we are ‘founded upon the rock,’ Jesus Christ, and we shall not fall (Matt. 7:24-27).” R. J. Rushdoony, Law & Liberty

“The churches represent the great area of freedom from statist controls in many countries. This is a condition which the modern state finds intolerable and is determined to alter. The state’s great ally in this struggle is all too often the church itself. The humanism of so many churchmen makes them dedicated allies of statist objectives.” R. J. Rushdoony, Christianity and the State

“The colonists were afraid of ‘big government.’ They were even more afraid of the combination of a powerful civil government and a state church. The independence of the church was to help ensure the protection of the people from a power-hungry state. In fact, both in colonial and early constitutional America, an important aspect of church life was the preaching of election sermons, to spell out the moral and religious issues at stake in civil and political affairs. It would be a disaster if that moral voice were silenced.” R. J. Rushdoony, Our Threatened Freedom

Image of How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture
How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Schaeffer, Francis A. (Author) Amazon logo

“No totalitarian authority nor authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge that state and its actions. The Christians had that absolute in God’s revelation. Because the Christians had an absolute, universal standard by which to judge not only personal morals but the state, they were counted as enemies of totalitarian Rome and were thrown to the beasts.” Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?

“If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow from within or come from outside, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have a real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes and who speak out and act upon the absolute. This was the issue with the early church in regard to the Roman Empire, and though the specific issue will in all probability take a different form than Caesar-worship, the basic issue of having an absolute by which to judge the state and society will be the same.” Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?

“The paternal state not only feeds its children, but nurtures, educates, comforts, and disciplines them, providing all they need for their security. This appears to be a mildly insulting way to treat adults, but it is really a great crime because it transforms the state from being a gift of God, given to protect us against violence, into an idol. It supplies us with all blessings, and we look to it for all our needs. Once we sink to that level, as Lewis says, there is no point in telling state officials to mind their own business. ‘Our whole lives are their business.’ The paternalism of the state is that of the bad parent who wants his children dependent on him forever. That is an evil impulse. The good parent prepares his children for independence, trains them to make responsible decisions, knows that he harms them by not helping them to break loose. The paternal state thrives on dependency. When the dependents free themselves, it loses power. It is, therefore, parasitic on the very persons whom it turns into parasites. Thus, the state and its dependents march symbiotically to destruction.” Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction

“Top-down government breeds irresponsible individuals, and the confiscation of civil society by the state leads to a widespread refusal among the citizens to act for themselves.” Roger Scruton, How to Be a Conservative

“Mystical references to ‘society’ and its programs to ‘help’ may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.” Thomas Sowell

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” Thomas Sowell

“The last person to trust with power is someone who is dying to have it. The best person to wield power is someone who is reluctant to do so, but who will do it for a while as a civic duty. That is why term limits should make it impossible to have a whole career in politics.” Thomas Sowell

“In politics, the great non sequitur of our time is that (1) things are not right and that (2) the government should make them right.” Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice

“A number of years ago I shared a taxi with Francis Schaeffer in St. Louis. During our cab ride I asked Dr. Schaeffer: ‘What is your greatest concern for the future of America?’ Without hesitation or interval given to ponder the question, Schaeffer replied simply, ‘Statism’.” R. C. Sproul in Welfare Reformed: A Compassionate Approach

“Statism involves a philosophy of government by which the state, or government, is viewed not only as the final ruling authority but the ultimate agency of redemption. In this sense the state does not simply coexist with the church. It supplants the church. Statism can never function under God. If the state is deemed to be under God in the sense of being under God’s authority and accountable to God for its actions, then the state cannot be the ultimate authority. In the philosophy of statism, the government is conceived of as autonomous. It may take shape in an autonomous king, an autonomous dictator, an autonomous committee, or an autonomous democratic populous.” R. C. Sproul in Welfare Reformed: A Compassionate Approach

“When the state has the capacity to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.” Mark Steyn

“If a candidate is not publically committed to fewer government programs from fewer government agencies enforcing fewer government regulations with fewer government bureaucrats on less lavish taxpayer-funded pay, he’s not serious. He’s not only killing your grandchildren’s and children’s future, he’s killing yours – and you will live to see it.” Mark Steyn

“When the state does everything for you, it will soon take everything from you. You will then have no basis for personal freedom, political freedom, or economic freedom.” Margaret Thatcher

“Socialists cry ‘Power to the people’, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean – power over people, power to the State.” Margaret Thatcher

“He who is unfit to serve his fellow citizens wants to rule them.” Ludwig Von Mises

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

[2088 words]

2 Replies to “45 Top Quotes on Statism”

  1. The headline in today’s Australian reinforces your point, Bill:

    PRESSURE CAMPAIGN
    The White House Covid censorship machine
    Newly released emails show how officials unlawfully coerce social-media companies to toe the government line, ensuring Americans are exposed only to state-approved Covid information.

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