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Auberon Herbert, George Bernard Shaw, Henry David Thoreau


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"And what sort of philosophical doctrine is this -- that numbers conferunlimited rights, that they take from some persons all rights overthemselves, and vest these rights in others. ... How, then, can therights of three men exceed the rights of two men? In what possible waycan the rights of three men absorb the rights of two men, and make themas if they had never existed. ... It is not possible to suppose,without absurdity, that a man should have no rights over his own bodyand mind, and yet have a 1/10,000,000th share in unlimited rights overall other bodies and minds?"

-- Auberon Herbert

(1838-1906) English author

Source: "The Ethics of Dynamite", Contemporary Review, May 1894;reproduced in The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State, and OtherEssays by Auberon Herbert (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1978), pp.202-203




"An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it."

-- George Bernard Shaw

(1856-1950) Irish comic dramatist




"To speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves

no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better

government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his

respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. After all, the

practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a

majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because

they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the

minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in

which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as

men understand it. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not

virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? -- in which majorities decide

only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the

citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the

legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men

first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for

the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to

assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a

corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a

corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by

means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents

of injustice."

-- Henry David Thoreau


Source: Civil Disobedience (1849)


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