Quotes

This page contains a selection of useful and inspiring quotations about freedom. You can search using the form field below.
( The quotations are ordered by the name of their originator.)

“A people averse to the institution of private property is without the first elements of freedom”
Lord Acton
“The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion for equality made vain the hope for freedom” Lord Acton
“Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. It is not for the sake of good public administration that it is required, but for security in the pursuit of the highest objects of civil society, and of private life.”
Lord Acton – The History of Freedom in Antiquity
“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear”
H. Agar – A Time for Greatness
“It is to the free and multifarious movements of human activity that civilization owes its most noteable achievements.”
C. C. Allen – Economic Fact and Fantasy
“Liberty is always also responsibility, and to be free to act is also to be responsible for action”
Ernest Barker – Principles of Social and Political Theory
“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
Frederic Bastiat
“And now that the legislators and do gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems on society, may they finally end where they should have begun. May they reject all systems and try liberty…”
Frederic Bastiat

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment of men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding”
Justice Louis Brandeis Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 (1928)

“How can there be a definite limit to the supreme power if an indefinite general happiness, left to its judgment, is to be its aim? Are the princes to be the fathers of the people, however great be the danger that they will also become its despots?”
G. H. von Berg
“Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or human happiness or a quiet conscience”.
Isaiah Berlin – Two Concepts of Liberty
“To the medieval mind a liberty was a right to the enjoyment of a specific property It was a freedom to do something with one’s own without interference by the king or any other man.”
Sir Arthur Bryant – The Makers of the Realm
“Slavery is the ultimate and greatest evil. For it is based on a denial of the dignity of the human soul.”
Arthur Bryant 1948
“I wish men to be free As much from mobs as kings – from you as me.”
Lord Byron – Don Juan
“It is in the interest of the wage-earner to have many other alternatives open to him than service under one all-powerful employer called the State”
Sir Winston Churchill 1946
“If we look to our responsibility to the generations yet unborn who will come after us, how can we fail to recognize that peace and freedom are inextricably bound up one with another and that the threat to one is a threat to both”
Sir Winston Churchill 1976
“A spontaneous economic order is more efficient than an imposed order…..A spontaneous order is inconceivable without personal freedom and, in particular, without freedom of choice”
Lord Coleraine
“Man never mounts higher than when he knows not where he is going”.
Oliver Cromwell
“We need to be more aware than we are that freedom has no built-in preservatives of its own”
Michael Dixon
“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”
Albert Einstein – My Later Years

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice” George Eliot

“Liberty is a different kind of pain from prison”
T. S. Eliot – The Family Reunion
“On the threshold of the moral world we meet the idea of Freedom, “one of the weightiest concepts man has ever formed,” once a dogma, in the course of time a hypothesis, now in the eyes of many a fiction, yet we cannot do without it, even although we may be firmly convinced that our acts are determined by laws that cannot be broken.”
Havelock Ellis – The Dance of Life.
“Individual liberty cannot in the long run survive unless the economic base of society is independent and separate from the State and buttresses the brittle self-restraint of men in power”
Philip Vander Elst
“Those who would give essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”
Benjamin Franklin
“A free society releases the energies and abilities of people to pursue their own objectives….. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process, enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life.”
Milton and Rose Friedman – Free to Choose
“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 the freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality”
Milton and Rose Friedman – Free to Choose
`In a free society, a government has no business using the power of the law or the taxpayers’ money to propagandize for some views and to prevent the transmission of others… Freedom of speech is for the listener as well as the speaker – to enable him to make his own choice among as wide an assortment of views as his fellows are inclined, for whatever reason to set forth”.
Milton Friedman – Newsweek 1969.
“There is all the difference in the world between the more fortunate among us giving of our substance in order to establish a minimum standard below which no disadvantaged person or child shall be force to live, and trying to legislate uniformity of condition. The difference is between freedom and slavery.”
Milton Friedman – Homogenized Schools, Newsweek 1972
“The rule of law does not guarantee freedom, since general law as well as personal edicts can be tyrannical. But increasing reliance on the rule of law clearly played a major role in transforming Western society from a world in which the ordinary citizen was literally subject to the arbitrary will of his master to a world in which the ordinary citizen could regard himself as his own master”
Milton Friedman – New York Times, 1971
In a free society, it is hard for “good” people to do “good”, but that is a small price to pay for making it hard for “evil” people to do “evil”, especially since one man’s good is another’s evil
Milton Friedman – New York Times Magazine 1970
“Every person shall be free to do good – at his own expense.”
Milton Friedman
“The excuse for the destruction of liberty is always the plea of necessary – that there is no alternative”
Milton Friedman – Morality and Controls
“Freedom is more precious than any gifts for which you may be tempted to give it up”
Baltasar Giracian
“A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away”
Barry Goldwater
“We shall experience the final defeat of liberalism not when immigration but when emigration is forbidden”
Jo Grimond – The Bureaucratic Blight
“The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialist promise us, and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be the freedom of economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and the responsibility of that right”
Friedrich Hayek – The Road to Serfdom
“It may be that a free society ….. carries in itself the forces of its own destruction, that once freedom has been achieved it is taken for granted and ceases to be valued, and that the free growth of ideas which is the essence of a free society will bring about the destruction of the foundations on which it depends.”
Friedrich Hayek – The Intellectuals and Socialism
“If freedom is to flourish the philosophic foundations of a free society must be kept a living intellectual issue and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of the liveliest minds.”
Friedrich Hayek – The Intellectuals and Socialism
“Freedom necessarily means that many things will be done which we do not like. Our faith in freedom does not rest on the foreseeable results in particular circumstances but in the belief that it will, on balance, release more forces for the good than the bad.”
Friedrich Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty
“The mischievous idea that all public needs should be satisfied by compulsory organization and that all the means that individuals are willing to devote to pubic purposes should be under the control of government, is wholly alien to the basic principles of a free society.”
Friedrich Hayek – Law, Legislation and Liberty
“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rest on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable”
Friedrich Hayek – Road to Serfdom
“In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance for a small minority. But this does not mean that anyone is competent, or ought to have power, to select those to whom this freedom is to be reserved.”
Friedrich Hayek – Road to Serfdom
“Liberty……….that condition of man in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as possible in society”
Friedrich Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty
“There is only one …… principle that can preserve a free society: namely, the strict prevention of all coercion except in the enforcement of general abstract rules equally applicable to all.”
Friedrich Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty
“Wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people”
Friedrich Hayek – The Road to Serfdom
“If none were to have liberty but those who understand what it is, there would not be many free men in the world.”
Lord Halifax
“The superior freedom of the capitalist system, its superior justice, and its superior productivity are not three superiorities, but one. The justice follows from the freedom and the productivity follows from the freedom and the justice.”
Henry Hazlitt – The Freeman. June 1993
“Capitalism, the system of private property and free markets, is not only a system of freedom and of natural justice – which tends in spite of exceptions to distribute rewards in accordance with production – but it is a great co-operative and creative system that has produced for our generation an affluence that our ancestors did not dare dream of.”
Henry Hazlitt – Towards Liberty
“The love of liberty is the lover of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves”
William Hazlitt – The Times
“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty of give me death.”
Patrick Henry – Virginia Convention 1795
“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.”
David Hume
“Whatever one’s race, colour or creed, one must admit the necessity of “freedom” as the environment within which the ultimate social atom, the individual, develops to the fullest extent his or her potentialities”
Graham Hutton – Agenda for a Free Society 

“The despotism of the majority is as little justifiable and as dangerous as that of one man”.
Thomas Hendry Huxley – On the National Inequality of Men 1890
“The enemies of freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot.”
W. R. Inge – The End of an Age
“……the best way to appreciate freedom is to lose it”
Michael Ivens – Pressure for Conformity
“It has always been true that there could be no liberty without law; for if everybody is free to do as he pleased there is no liberty for anybody to do as he pleases….. On the other hand every law is a restriction of liberty….. The problem has been to find out where law should end and liberty begin”
Ivor Jennings – The Queen’s Government
“In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.”
Thomas Jefferson
“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth, either in religion, law, or politics.”
Thomas Jefferson
“Timid men prefer despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty”
Thomas Jefferson
“They make a rout about universal liberty, without considering that all that is to be valued, or indeed can be enjoyed by individuals is private liberty. Political liberty is good only so far as it produces private liberty.”
Samuel Johnson
“Since every tyrant is ipso facto immoral and ruthless, it has much more freedom in the choice of its methods than an institution which still takes account of the individual”
C. G. Jung – The Undiscovered Self
“Every limitation on freedom makes the next limitation seem less shocking and more acceptable”
Anthony Lejeune – Freedom and the Politicians
“if the majority wants to oppress them, the coming of democracy will mean, for the minority, not the beginning of freedom, but the permanent loss of it.”
Anthony Lejeune – Freedom and the Politicians
“Let us never allow ourselves to think that poverty is an excuse for an invitation to totalitarianism, and if we should be tempted to think as much, let us remind ourselves that totalitarianism not only extinguishes liberty but institutionalises poverty as well”
Bernard Levin – The Times 

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet”
Abraham Lincoln
“In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs.” Walter Lippman – An Enquiry into the Principles of a Good Society
“The liberty of Man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any rule or restraint of the law, but what the legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it.”
John Locke – Two Treatises on Civil Government
“The end of the law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the state of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be where there is no law; and is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists. (For who could be free when every other man’s humour might domineer over him?) But a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those law as under which he is, and therein not to be the subject of the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.”
John Locke

“It is only within a free society that the crucial moral features of human life can be protected and preserved”
Tibor Machan
“It is unreasonable to expect any genuine social science to thrive where there is no undergirding of civil liberty.”
Masas Maruyama – Thought and Behaviour in Modern Japanese Politics
“All free communities have both been more exempt from social injustice and crime, and have attained more brilliant prosperity, than any others, or than they themselves after they have lost their freedom.”
John Stuart Mill – Representative Government
“Judgement is given to men that they may use it. Because it may be used erroneously, are men to be told that they ought not to use it at all?”
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
“The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited: he must not make himself a nuisance to other people”
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
“Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom”
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
“A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it…. They are more or less unfit for liberty; and although it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it”
John Stuart Mill
“Human liberty requires liberty of tastes and pursuits; of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow; without impediment from our fellow creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even thought they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong”
John Stuart Mill – On Liberty
“Liberalism must be intolerant of every sort of intolerance.”
Ludwig von Mises – Liberalism: In the Classical Tradition
“Where there is no market economy, the best intentioned provisions of constitutions and laws remain a dead letter.”
Ludwig von Mises – Human Action
“Servile labour disappeared because it could not stand the competition of free labour; its unprofitability sealed its doom in the market economy.”
Ludwig von Mises – Human Action
“A free press can only exist where there is private control over the means of production”
Ludwig von Mises – Human Action
“What impels every man to the utmost exertion in the service of his fellow man…. Is, in the market not compulsion on the part of gendarmes, hangmen and penal courts, it is self interest.”
Ludwig von Mises – Human Action
“No people ever yet grew rich by policies, but it is peace, industry and freedom that bring trade and wealth”
Dudley North – A Discourse Upon Trade
“Tyranny is always better organised then freedom”
Charles Peguy
“The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage”.
Pericles’ Funeral Oration 431BC
“Freedom is perhaps threatened above all by the fact that a small minority has realised that its own resolve enables it to cut like a hot knife through the butter of the great uncertain and irresolute majority”
John Peyton – The Daily Telegraph 1977
“Throughout history orators and poets have extolled liberty, but no one has told us why liberty is so important. Our attitude towards such matters should depend on whether we consider civilization as fixed or advancing…. In an advancing society, any restriction on liberty reduces the number of things tried and so reduces the rate of progress. In such a society freedom of action is granted to the individual, not because it gives him greater satisfaction but because if allowed to go his own way he will on the average serve the rest of us better than under any orders we know how to give.”
H.B. Phillips
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants: it is the creed of slaves.”
William Pitt, the Younger – House of Commons, 1783

“We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than that only freedom can make security secure”
Karl Popper – The Open Society and its Enemies
“Reason like science, grows by way of mutual criticism; the only possible way of planning its growth is to develop those institutions that safeguard…. the freedom of thought”
Karl Popper – The Open Society and its Enemies
“Lift the curtain and ‘the State’ reveals itself as a little group of fallible men in Whitehall, making guesses about the future, influenced by political prejudices and partisan prejudices, and working on projections drawn from the past by a staff of economists.”
Enoch Powell
“When we look at the astonishing material achievements of the West…. we see these things as the result, not of compulsion or government action or the superior wisdom of a few, but of that system of competition and free enterprise, rewarding success and penalising failure, which enables every individual to participate by his private decisions in shaping the future of his society.”
Enoch Powell
“It is no accident that wherever the State ha taken economic decision away from the citizen, it has deprived him of his other liberties as well.”
Enoch Powell

“Liberty – the mother not the daughter of order”
Pierre Joseph Proudhon
“Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state – and nothing else”
Ayn Rand
“Free men are not equal and equal men are not free”.
Lawrence Reed

“I confess to considerable doubts about the eventual stability of democracy, unless buttressed by constitutional safeguards and a general climate of opinion which thoroughly understands the case for liberty in general”
Lord Robbins – Liberty and Equality
“Pollution and overuse of resources stem directly from the failure of government to defend private property. If property rights were to be defended adequately, we would find that here, as in other areas of our economy and society, private enterprise and modern technology would come not as a curse to mankind but as its salvation.”
Murray Rothbard
“Most human beings, though in varying degrees, desire to control, not only their own lives but also the lives of others”
Bertrand Russell – Freedom and Government
“A generation educated in fearless freedom will have wider and bolder hopes than are possible to us”
Bertrand Russell
“Freedom incurs responsibility; that is why so many men fear it”
George Bernard Shaw – Maxims for Revolutionists

“Money…..enables us to get what we want instead of what other people think we want.”
George Bernard Shaw – The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism
“There exists no more democratic institution than the market”
J.A. Schumpeter
“It is very difficult to preserve liberty unless those who have power to legislate at any given moment are subject to general rules which express the most permanent purposes of the state.”
Arthur Shenfield – Agenda for a Free Society
“The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security, is so powerful a principle, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying the society on to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructers……. of human laws”
Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations
“The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be entrusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”
Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations
“The great advantage of the market is that is able to use the strength of self-interest to offset the weakness and partiality of benevolence, so that those who are unknown, unattractive or unimportant, will have their wants served.”
Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations

“Great nations are never impoverished by private though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct. The whole or almost the whole public revenue, is in most countries, employed in maintaining unproductive hands”
Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations
“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular”
Adlai Stevenson
“It is not our task as politicians to make out prescriptions of other people’s happiness against their will. That would be the end of Freedom”
Franz-Joseph Strauss Speech in Augsburg, 1976
“Nothing is more fertile in prodigies than the art of being free; but there is nothing more arduous than the apprenticeship of liberty….. …liberty is generally established with difficulty in the midst of storms; it is perfected by civil discord; and its benefit cannot be appreciated until it is already old”.
Alexis de Tocqueville
“Despots themselves do not deny the excellence of freedom, but they wish to keep it all to themselves”
Alexis de Tocqueville 1789
“There exists in the human heart a depraved taste for equality which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful down to their own level, and reduce men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.”
Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
Voltaire – The Friends of Voltaire
“Freedom is the opportunity for continuous initiative”
Graham Wallas
“Power is the great enemy of freedom”
Henry C. Wallich
“Freedom is like health, it is taken for granted while one has it. One becomes aware of it when it has gone.”
Henry C. Wallich – The Cost of Freedom
“Every principle that wants to command strong allegiance must make a moral case. Men want to feel that what they are doing is useful, but they want also, and mainly, to feel that it is right. Freedom is one of these principles”
Henry C. Wallich
“Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the colour of their skin”
Wendell Wilkie
“What threatens civilization today is not war, but the changing conception of life values entailed by certain political doctrines. Only by recapturing the dream of human freedom and restoring the importance of the common man’s liberties can that undermining threat to modern civilization be averted”
Lin Yutang – Reader’s Digest 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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