"John Stuart Mill, On Liberty:
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. That is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of; else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition; even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions."

— Cited in “Great Books”, David Denby

"How much authority is necessary, and how much freedom should the individual have? Hobbes had answered the question with a concentration of absolute power in the sovereign, Locke with an insistence on limited sovereignty and rights."

— “Great Books”, David Denby

"People came to this country for either money or freedom. If you don’t have money, you cling to your freedoms all the more angrily. Even if smoking kills you, even if you can’t afford to feed your kids, even if your kids are getting shot down by maniacs with assault rifles. You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to. That’s what Bill Clinton figured out—that we can’t win elections by running against personal liberties. Especially not against guns, actually."

—  “Freedom: A Novel”, Jonathan Franzen

"The law ought always to trust people with the care of their own interest, as…they must generally be able to judge better of it than the legislator can do."

— "On the Wealth of Nations", P.J. O’Rourke

"Any definition of liberty that is not based on a right to property and a right to the same rights as all other people have is meaningless. What we have is ours, and nobody can push us around. This is practically all we mean when we say we are free. Other rights derive from these, when we even bother with those other rights."

— "On the Wealth of Nations", P.J. O’Rourke

"The inauguration of Thomas Jefferson was the first held in the new capital city of Washington, D.C. In his inaugural address, Jefferson attempted to move beyond party distinctions and unify the country once again. “We are all Republicans; We are all Federalists,” he said. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its Republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”"

— “Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time” – Kerwin Swint

"

There is divine judgement, there is the judgement of a State and the judgement of society, but there is one supreme judgement: the judgement of one sinner over another. A sinner can measure the power of the totalitarian state and find it limitless: through propaganda, hunger, loneliness, infamy, obscurity, labour camps and the threat of death, this terrible power can fetter a man’s will. But every step that a man takes under the threat of poverty, hunger, labour camps and death is at the same time an expression of his own will. Every step Kaltuft had taken – from the village to the trenches, from being a man-in-the-street to being a member of the National Socialist Party – bore the imprint of his will. A man may be led by fate, but he can refuse to follow. He may be a mere tool in the hands of destructive powers, but he knows it is in his interest to assent to this. Fate and the indivudal may have different ends, but they share the same path.

The man who pronounces judgement will be neither a pure and merciful heavenly being, nor a wise justice who watches over the interests of society and the state, neither a saint nor a righteous man – but a miserable, dirty sinner who has been crushed by Fascism, who has himself experienced the terrible power of the State, who has himself bowed down, fallen, shrunk into timidity and submissiveness. And this judge will say:

‘Guilty! Yes, there are men in this terrible world who are guilty.’

"

—  “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

People struggling for their particular good always attempt to dress it up as a universal good. They say: my good coincides with the universal good; my good is essential not only to me but to everyone; in achieving my good, I serve the universal good.

And so the good of a sect, class, nation or State assumes a specious universality in order to justify its struggle against an apparent evil.

Even Herod did not shed blood in the name of evil; he shed blood in the name of his particular good. A new force had come into the world, a force that threatened to destry him and his family, to destroy his friends and his favourites, his kingdom and his armies.

But it was not evil that had been born; it was Christianity. Humanity had never before heard such words: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged. For what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again… But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

And what did this doctrine of peace and love bring to humanity? Byzantine iconoclasticism; the tortures of the Inquisition; the struggles against heresy in France, Italy, Flanders and Germany; the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism; the intrigues of the monastic orders; the conflict between Nikon and Avvakum; the crushing yoke that lay for centuries over science and freedom; the Christians who wiped out the heathen population of Tasmania; the scoundrels who burn whol Negro villages in Africa. This doctrine caused more suffering than all the crimes of the people who did evil for its own sake…

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"If Fascism should ever be fully assured of its final triumph, the world will choke in blood. If the day ever dawns when Fascism is without armed enemies, then its executioners will know no restraint: the greatest enemy of Fascism is man."

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

A conversation between two Bolsheviks in a Siberian gulag:

‘Listen now,’ he said, sitting up in bed. ‘Listen, my friend. This will be the last time I call you like this.’

‘Don’t talk like that,’ said Abarchuk. ‘You’re going to live!’

‘I’d sooner undergo torture, but I have to say this… You listen too,’ he added, turning to the corpse. ‘What I’m going to say has to do with you and your Nastya… This is my last duty as a revolutionary and I must fulfil it… You’re someone very special, comrade Abarchuk. And we met at a very special time – our best time, I think… Let me begin now. First. We made a mistake. And this is what our mistake has led to. Look! You and I must ask this peasant to pardon us… Give me a fag. What am I saying? No repentance can expiate what we’ve done. I have to say this… Secondly. We didn’t understand freedom. We crushed it. Even Marx didn’t value it – it’s the base, the meaning, the foundation that underlies all foundations. Without freedom there can be no proletarian revolution… Thirdly. We go through the camp, we go through the taiga, and yet our faith is stronger than anything. But this faith of ours is a weakness – a means of self-preservation. On the other side of the barbed wire, self-preservation tells people to change – unless they want to die or be sent to a camp. And so Communists have created idols, put on uniforms and epaulettes, begun preaching nationalism and attack in the working class. If necessary, they’ll revive the Black Hundreds… But here in the camp, the same instinct tells people not to change, not to change during all the decades they spend here – unless they want to be buried straight away in a wooden jacket. It’s the other side of the coin.’

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

Linda Grant’s Introduction:

Grossman takes us into the minds of a group of soldiers waiting in the forest: one is full of dire forebodings, one is singing, one is chewing bread and sausage and thinking about the sausage, one is trying to identify a bird, one worries about whether he’d offended his friend, one is composing a farewell poem to autumn, one is remembering a girl’s breasts, one is missing his dog. This passage leads to the substance of Grossman’s central thought, which at the time he was writing could lead to the arrest of a Soviet citizen: ‘The only true and lasting meaning of the struggle for life lies in the individual, in his modest peculiarities, and his right to these peculiarities.’

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

From Linda Grant’s Introduction:

For Grossman, communism and fascism are ephemera. What matters, what endures, is the individual and the ordinary act of human kindness, indeed the often senseless act of kindness, as when an old Russian woman, about to hoist a brick in the face of a captured German soldier, instead finds to her own incomprehension that she has reached into her pocket and given him a piece of bread. And in the years to come, will still never be able to understand why she did it.

"

“Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"They remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in this world….. The moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave."

— “The White Tiger: A Novel” -by Aravind Adiga

"Our liberty can grow only when the liberties of all our fellow men are secure; and he who would enslave others ends only by chaining himself, for chains have two ends, and he who holds the chain is as securely bound as he whom it holds."

— “Make Gentle The Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy” - Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

"

President Kennedy then went on to point out that “Law is the strongest link between man and freedom”.

I wonder in how many countries of the world people think of law as the “link between man and freedom.”

We know that in many, law is the instrument of tyranny, and people think of law as little more than the will of the state, or the party – not of the people.

In a democratic society law is the form which free men give to justice. The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution – not by the Courts – nor by the officers of the law – nor by the lawyers – but by the men and women who constitute our society – who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law.

"

— “Make Gentle The Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy” - Maxwell Taylor Kennedy