March 21st, 2010

Inspirational quotations for the day

Mark Twain time travels:

…Rome’s liberties were not auctioned off in a day, but were bought slowly, gradually, furtively, little by little; first with a little corn and oil for the exceedingly poor and wretched, later with corn and oil for voters who were not quite so poor, later still with corn and oil for pretty much every man that had a vote to sell—exactly our own history over again.

And here’s de Toqueville, from Democracy in America Part II:

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances—what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?…

The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.

And finish up with my favorite (I know, I know, you’ve seen it before)—Dostoevsky,from the “Grand Inquisitor” chapter of The Brothers Karamazov:

Oh, never, never can [people] feed themselves without us [the Inquisitors and controllers]! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man?

8 Responses to “Inspirational quotations for the day”

  1. Brad Says:

    Corn is native to the americas….

  2. jon baker Says:

    Except that the word “corn” has apparently been used the way “grain” is used in the current U.S. venacular.

    An example of this would be the King James Bible, an old English Translation, where it says in 1 Corinthians 9:9 “…Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn….”

    A more modern English translation, The New International Version, 1984 edition, renders this part of the verse as “…”Do not muzzle an Ox while it is treading out the grain…..”

  3. Scott Says:

    I listened to Don MacLean’s American Pie today — a tribute to the day the music died when Buddy Holly’s plane crashed.

    Today is the day freedom dies. There’s no other example where the government has forced citizens to engage in an economic activity (buy insurance), simply because you are a citizen of this country whether you want it or need it. And if you don’t comply, you are penalized for NOT engaging in an economic activity.

    I’m a dork so I spent some time recently reading some of Reagan’s speeches. No other modern President understood how fragile freedom is, and that once lost, is nearly impossible to regain. From his 1974 CPAC speech, he said this about the Founders:

    “Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 16 gave their lives, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor. These were not an unwashed, revolutionary rebel. 24 were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants and tradesman, and 9 were farmers. These were men who had acheived security but valued freedom more.

    What price did they pay? John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. After more than a year of living almost as an animal in the forest and in caves, he returned to find his wife had died and his children had vanished. He never saw them again, his property was destroyed and he died of a broken heart—but with no regret, only pride in the part he had played that day in Independence Hall. Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships—they were sold to pay his debts. He died in rags. So it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston, and Middleton. Nelson, learning that Cornwallis was using his home for a headquarters, personally begged Washington to fire on him and destroy his home–he died bankrupt. It has never been reported that any of these men ever expressed bitterness or renounced their action as not worth the price. Fifty-six rank-and-file, ordinary citizens had founded a nation that grew from sea to shining sea, five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep.”

    As Reagan told it, many of The Founders lost their lives and most lost their fortunes so their children and those who came after them could live free. Economic freedom. Religious freedom. And politcal freedom from tyrants, dictators and despots.

    The Founders must be puking in their graves on this sad day in American history.

  4. jon baker Says:

    “The word “corn” has many different meanings depending on what country you are in. Corn in the United States is also called maize or Indian corn. In some countries, corn means the leading crop grown in a certain district. Corn in England means wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, it refers to oats. Corn mentioned in the Bible probably refers to wheat or barley.”

    From this article :

  5. Bob From Virginia Says:

    One way or another the public will deserve what it gets, a dictatorship of the bureaucrat or freemen who recognized a threat and fought it. The US may end tragically, but it will not end unjustly.

  6. Adrian Day Says:

    Bread and circuses gets ’em every time. Keep your eyes open, Joe Klein. We will yet see who is too dumb to thrive!

  7. Thomass Says:

    Brad Says:

    “Corn is native to the americas….”

    and people didn’t put macaroni in their hats either…

    Slang… it aint new.

  8. csimon Says:

    Bob from Virginia — Me thinks, most unfortunately, that you are dead on.

    Long, long ago (during the campaign) I observed and posted comments on these very pages that the methosds Obama used to entrance the massess was to promise everything to the poor and middleclass: the have-nots, and the ones not motivated to achieve using personal ambition. a dedicated work ethic, and the education available to all here — all in pursuit of success and with the plan that their children’s lives would be that much better!

    Obama said words matter. I say words, particularly his own, are cheap. This country is learning what happens when they a) vote along strict partisan lines, breaking down out system of checks an balances, considered essential to the functional development of a democratic republic

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