When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.
Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark.
In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs.
Without some form of censorship, propaganda in the strict sense of the word is impossible. In order to conduct propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event.
A man has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.
A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society.
When all think alike, no one is thinking very much.
Very few established institutions, governments and constitutions...are ever destroyed by their enemies until they have been corrupted and weakened by their friends.
A regime, an established order, is rarely overthrown by a revolutionary movement; usually a regime collapses of its own weakness and corruption and then a revolutionary movement enters among the ruins and takes over the powers that have become vacant.
The Bill of Rights does not come from the people and is not subject to change by majorities. It comes from the nature of things. It declares the inalienable rights of man not only against all government but also against the people collectively.
The American’s conviction that he must be able to look any man in the eye and tell him to go to hell is the very essence of the free man’s way of life.
While the right to talk may be the beginning of freedom, the necessity of listening is what makes the right important.
The opposition is indispensable. A good statesmen, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters.
The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth.
Whereas each man claims his freedom as a matter of right,
the freedom he accords to other men is a matter of toleration.
It is the very essence of despotism that it can never afford to fail. This is what distinguishes it most vitally from democracy. In a despotism there is no organized opposition which can take over the power when the Administration in office has failed. All the eggs are in one basket. Everything is staked on one coterie of men. When the going is good, they move more quickly and efficiently than democracies, where the opposition has to be persuaded and conciliated. But when they lose, there are no reserves. There are no substitutes on the bench ready to go out on the field and carry the ball. That is why democracies with the habit of party government have outlived all other forms of government in the modern world. They have, as it were, at least two governments always at hand, and when one fails they have the other. They have diversified the risks of mortality, corruption, and stupidity which pervade all human affairs. They have remembered that the most beautifully impressive machine cannot run for very long unless there is available a complete supply of spare parts.
The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd.
It is perfectly true that the government is best which governs least. It is equally true that the government is best which provides most.
Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern.
In a democracy, the opposition is not only tolerated as constitutional, but must be maintained because it is indispensable.