"What is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(1749-1832) German writer, statesman
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Reader comments about this quote:
I'm not sure "best" and "government" belong in the same sentence. As L. Neal Smith once said, government is a disease masquerading as it's own cure. A Thomas Paine quote, " Government in it's best state is but a necessary evil, in it's worse state, an intolerable one". Our government would have to improve to get up to worse.
 -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 6
    (-; jim, I like it a lot, YES ! ! ! - well said ;-) Language, with its meaning of words and concepts develops around use and experiences. No word ever developed to define the intent of the original affiliation of individual sovereigns, who at natural law had inalienable rights, and their representatives that were to be hired (directly, by vote, or otherwise) to protect their rights. The word "government" does not fit that use or experience - weather good / bad, best / worst or etc. To govern ourselves is a perception from the outside in. I, as a freeman, am from the inside out with inalienable rights as an inherent part of my "me" makeup. May be, maybe not - a government that teaches us to govern ourselves is a start towards that which is ?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 5
    Since government is defined by its monopoly on the initiation of violence, any institution teaching you to govern yourself would not fit the definition of government. Unless he meant "government" as self-flagellation...
     -- Matthew, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia     
  • 4 1
    Would that we even had a government that WOULD educate us on governing ourselves. As it is, we are taught to be perpetual wards of the state and to OBEY or else. There may not be a 'best' government, but there is certainly a 'better' government than what we have now.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 6
    It is only under the tutelage of Virtue, of which government is not a noteworthy repository, that that anyone accedes to the office of Sovereign Individual.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
  • 2
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