Quotes Suitable for Framing: Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke Quote


Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. 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.

Edmund Burke,  Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791

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  1. Anzlyne: He is addressing here the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Prudence– and though not exactly spoken, Fortitude.
    Thank you, Anzlyne. All I could think of was America,The Beautiful.

  2. Sadly what came to my mind was how the so much the opposite in being taught and lived in our culture today.

  3. This is at the root of all politics. Those who will not control themselves provide opportunity for power-hungry tyrants to act “in the name of public safety.”

  4. I’m not seeing it in those terms. We have seen that the decay of family life has social effects which require resort to administrative controls (police and prisons), but that’s been done half-heartedly and belatedly. More of what we’ve seen (after a couple of generations of cleansing state and local politics of the worst rogues and the extirpation of creatures like Theodore Bilbo) has been the escalating distaste for democratic institutions among professional-managerial types, the co-incident implosion of professionalism among attorneys (especially law professors and appellate judges), and the race-to-the-swift among electoral politicians advancing first and foremost the most blatant hucksters (e.g. the Clintons). Co-incident with that, academic life is now a stew of smelly orthodoxies and organized appetites and most of the clergy are notable for their unseriousness. It is not tyranny we face, but idiocracy. The man who identified the incipient pathology in our public life was not Burke, but Ray Bradbury.

  5. Idiocracy is but a step. Dissatisfaction with the status quo and two-bit ideologues simply set the stage for the charismatic Great Leader that all such decadent spirals eventually produce. Your POV of the current landscape is impeccable; it’s 5 to 10 years from now when eventualities will start to coalesce.
    Of course it can be reversed but such a tsunami of stupidity usually takes a cataclysm to undo. Hopefully Don’s predicted miracle of great proportion will occur.
    PS – And Robert Heinlein.

  6. simply set the stage for the charismatic Great Leader that all such decadent spirals eventually produce.

    Nope. Not unless there’s some horrific crisis (see Spain, 1934-36). Contemporary electoral institutions have outside the United States proven remarkably durable in the face of much worse than we face here (see Greece or Argentina).

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