Some of the greatest thinkers of all time have cautioned us about our ignorance as governments gain their strength. Literary greats, philosophers, scholars, politicians, and entertainers alike have heightened our awareness with their warnings. Here’s a list of 20 famous quotes that still ring true today – and perhaps more so than ever before.
- “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
2. “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” – James Bovard
3. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky
4. “Men are swayed more by fear than by reverence.” – Aristotle
5. “To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured (and) commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.” – Pierre Joseph Proudhon
6. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” – George Orwell
7. “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” – Voltaire
8. “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…” – H.L. Mencken
9. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master.” – George Washington
10. “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” – George Orwell
11. “Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.” – Frank Zappa
12. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower
13. “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” – Edward R. Murrow
14. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” – Rousseau
15. “When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.” – Ron Paul
16. “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed, without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
17. “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” – Tacitus – The Annals of Imperial Rome
18. “Whenever governments adopt a moral tone – as opposed to an ethical one – you know something is wrong.” – John Ralston Saul
19. “The state was made for man, not man for state.” – Albert Einstein
20. “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson
But most importantly, we should remember this:
“People should not be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” – Alan Moore, V for Vendetta.
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