This is part 1 of a collection of quotes from Jeffery Tucker’s collection of classics in the liberty tradition.

I downloaded the entire collection to my tablet before leaving for my travels and have been collecting great quotes as I go. I have now read them all. There isn’t any general theme here except that everything included has made me smile, balk or given me any other kind of strong reaction. My supporting comments should lend some context.

An honest admission: there are no quotes here from A Theory of Capitalism and Socialism, Against Intellectual Property or Anthem, simply because I had read them before and couldn’t be bothered to go through them again looking for good quotes. Sorry!

I had also read The Law before, but it’s so short it was worth the time quoting the timeless Bastiat zingers.

And to Jeffrey: 25 more? 🙂

The Rise and Fall of Society by Frank Chodorov

“Price control does not stop wanting or bidding; it simply creates what propaganda calls a “black market,” which is in fact the true market, somewhat distorted but nevertheless true. It may be illegal but it is highly moral, for it arises from the individual’s right to himself, to the product of his labors, and to the pursuit of happiness which is the essence of living.”

I felt this was a fairly radical view more in keeping with modern literature, but so on point.

“The very premise of the law is that violation or evasion will ensue from its enactment, that it will not be self-enforcing; therefore, the heart of the law is a punishment clause. No law is worth the paper it is printed on without such a clause, and no law has any effect unless it is implemented with a corps of enforcers. Therein lies the secret of the accumulation and perpetuation of political power.”

Amazingly to me, some have actually claimed that the state does not use force at all. I’ve never found the appropriate words to explain it before I read this.

“Ideologically, the bureaucracy is always “leftist” (if by that term is meant the enlargement of State power), not so much by persuasion but because of personal interest and the psychology of the trade. A bureaucrat is a socialist, or communist, because his business requires him to think like a socialist or a communist.”

Right? The state is incompatible with any ideology that places high value on individual freedom.

Essentials of Economics by Faustino Ballve

“no law or government has succeeded or indeed can succeed in preventing every man from striving after his own and his loved ones’ earthly well-being in the way he considers most suitable by making use of his faculty of free choice”

I’m beginning to realise that this is a key economic insight. Self-interest is as much of a law as the law of gravity, so naturally, policy that doesn’t recognise this is as foolish as a law against gravity, and the consequences are as disastrous.

“The excellence of metallic money in free circulation consists in the fact that it renders impossible the abuse of the power of the government to dispose of the possessions of its citizens by means of its monetary policy and thus serves as the solid foundation of economic liberty within each country and of free trade between one country and another.”

Which make it a wonder why not more capitalists pay attention to central banks’ policies?

“Practically every socialist regime has to be nationalist, and vice versa: in either case what is involved is simply a form of totalitarianism. It is not possible to put a nationalist economic policy into effect without taking over control of production and distribution, and this is what socialism is essentially. On the other hand, it is impossible to take over control of production and distribution without inevitably putting into effect a policy of economic nationalism. In both cases there is but one producer and distributor, viz., the state.”

This ^

“Economics is not about anything that could be expressed in mathematical terms; its domain is rather that of imagination and invention, of adventure into the unknown, of a hazardous enterprise that is not for the cowardly.”

I’m a sucker for any line that makes ‘the dismal science’ sound rockin’ awesome.

Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises

“We cannot hope ever to discover the ultimate and most profound secrets of the universe. But the fact that we can never fathom the meaning and purpose of our existence does not hinder us from taking precautions to avoid contagious diseases or from making use of the appropriate means to feed and clothe ourselves, nor should it deter us from organising society in such a way that the earthly goals for which we strive can be most effectually attained.”

In other words, I have no idea why you’re looking for the meaning of life in economics.

The following 5 quotes speak for themselves I think.

“Liberalism is distinguished from socialism, which likewise professes to strive for the good of all, not by the goal at which it aims, but by the means that it chooses to attain that goal.”

“It is ideas that group men into fighting factions, that press the weapons into their hands, and that determine against whom and for whom the weapons shall be used. It is they alone, and not arms, that, in the last analysis, turn the scales.”

“Liberalism proclaims tolerance for every religious faith and every metaphysical belief, not out of indifference for these “higher” things, but from the conviction that the assurance of peace within society must take precedence over everything and everyone.”

“nowhere and at no time has there ever been a people which has raised itself without private property above a condition of the most oppressive penury and savagery”

“The foundation of any and every civilization, including our own, is private ownership of the means of production. Whoever wishes to criticize modern civilization, therefore, begins with private property. It is blamed for everything that does not please the critic, especially those evils that have their origin in the fact that private property has been hampered and restrained in various respects so that its full social potentialities cannot be realized.”

I think of this next one now every time someone I know proposes a law or central plan – are they interested in having a political discussion or merely fantasising out loud about how a society Kinged by themselves would be run?

“Everyone who preaches the right of the stronger considers himself as the stronger. He who espouses the institution of slavery never stops to reflect that he himself could be a slave. He who demands restrictions on the liberty of conscience demands it in regard to others, and not for himself. He who advocates an oligarchic form of government always includes himself in the oligarchy, and he who goes into ecstasies at the thought of enlightened despotism or dictatorship is immodest enough to allot to himself, in his daydreams, the role of the enlightened despot or dictator, or, at least, to expect that he himself will become the despot”

Ha, brilliant!

“A liberal government is a contradictio in adjecto. Governments must be forced into adopting liberalism by the power of the unanimous opinion of the people; that they could voluntarily become liberal is not to be expected.”

“Life—fortunately, we hasten to add—is never at rest. There is never a standstill in the economy, but perpetual changes, movement, innovation, the continual emergence of the unprecedented.”

A stunning truth put in more scientific terms in Mises’ Socialism.

“No one has a right to thrust himself into the affairs of others in order to further their interest, and no one ought, when he has his own interests in view, to pretend that he is acting selflessly only in the interest of others.”

See my own article How to spot a fake revolution

“The liberal demands that every person have the right to live wherever he wants. This is not a “negative” demand. It belongs to the very essence of a society based on private ownership of the means of production that every man may work and dispose of his earnings where he thinks best.”

Why is this such a radical notion to many libertarians/conservatives?

Mises predicted the EU disaster a fair few decades before everybody else:

“Thus, what is needed is not the replacement of national chauvinism by a chauvinism that would have some larger, supranational entity for its object, but rather the recognition that every sort of chauvinism is mistaken. The old, militaristic methods of international politics must now give way to new, peaceful methods aiming at cooperative effort, and not at mutual warfare.”


“The geographer, with map in hand, may, no doubt, very well view the European continent (with the exception of Russia) as a unity if he is so minded; but this does not create among the inhabitants of that region any feeling of community or solidarity on which the statesman could base his plans.”


“… even if the goal of the Pan-European movement could be achieved, the world would not be in the least the better for it. The struggle of a united European continent against the great world powers outside its territory would be no less ruinous than is the present struggle of the countries of Europe among themselves.”

Part 2 coming soon!