Politics

943 – “The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.”

-Aristotle

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787 – “Liberty sets the mind free, fosters independence and unorthodox thinking and ideas. But it does not offer instant prosperity or happiness and wealth to everyone. This is something that politicians in particular must keep in mind.”

–Boris Yeltsin, 1st President of the Russian Federation
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783 – James Madison on Factionalism and Partisanship

“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society.”

–James Madison, 4th President of the United States of America

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758 – “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

–Noam Chomsky
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654 – Henry Steele Commager on Governments and Criticism

“If government, or those in positions of power and authority, can silence criticism by the argument that such criticism might be misunderstood somewhere, there is an end to all criticism, and perhaps an end to our kind of political system. For men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.”

–Henry Steele Commager (more…)

615 – Rutherford B Hayes on Extreme Partisanship in the Wake of President Garfield’s Assassination

“One of lessons [of the assassination of James A Garfield], perhaps its most important lesson, is the folly, the wickedness, and the danger of the extreme and bitter partisanship which so largely prevails in our country. This partisan bitterness is greatly aggravated by that system of appointments and removals which deals with public offices as rewards for services rendered to political parties or to party leaders. Hence crowds of importunate place-hunters of whose dregs [Charles J] Guiteau[, Garfield’s assassin] is the type. The required reform will be accomplished whenever the people imperatively demand it, not only of their Executive, but also of their Legislative Officers. With it, the class to which the assassin belongs will lose their occupation, and the temptation to try “to administer government by assassination” will be taken away.”

–Rutherford B Hayes, 19th President of the United States of America
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