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Those who love their country never wish to rule it.

ABRAHAM MILLER, Unmoral Maxims

A government is the complexion of the people--healthy as they are healthy, diseased as they are diseased.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

A government is a living organism. Like every living thing its prime characteristic is a blind, unreasoned instinct to survive. You hit it, it will fight back.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, Stranger in a Strange Land

The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

JOHN ADAMS, Notes for an oration at Braintree, Spring 1772

A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

JAMES MADISON, letter to W. T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822

The worst thing in this world, next to anarchy, is government.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

The family is the basic cell of government: it is where we are trained to believe that we are human beings or that we are chattel, it is where we are trained to see the sex and race divisions and become callous to injustice even if it is done to ourselves, to accept as biological a full system of authoritarian government.

GLORIA STEINEM, speech, July 1981

Government resembles the wall which surrounds our lands; a needful protection, but rearing no harvests, ripening no fruits. It is the individual who must choose whether the enclosure shall be a paradise or a waste.


There are but two sorts of government: one where men show their teeth at each other, and one where men show their tongues and lick the feet of the strongest.


So long as honest men neglect to vote;
So long as good men leave the cares of state
To weak, incompetent, or careless hands,
Or place them in the grip of scheming knaves,
Our safety is imperiled. Every man
On Freedom's ramparts must a warder be,
To warn of danger when the foe appears;
To meet the onset when the foe assaults.
Else--vain our hopes, and else the temple grand,
Of all our rights, and birth-right liberties,
Ere long will fall, and crumble in the dust,
A ruin, more abject and dire than Rome
Or Carthage was.


Contempt for government undermines its ability to protect all citizens. Good government should be based on facts. It should invest in maintenance of basic services, whether infrastructure repairs or public health, and be prepared for crises. Above all, it should attract the best and most professional people to public service. Unless we believe that public service is an honorable calling, we will never motivate talented people to join or achieve high performances. But none of this is possible unless those in positions of public trust carry out their jobs honorably, with respect for the institutions and the public they serve.

ROSABETH MOSS KANTER, America the Principled

The mischiefs of anarchy have been equaled by the mischiefs of government.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

To leave a people to themselves, is generally the best service their rulers can render.


In all governments, there must of necessity be both the law and the sword; laws without arms would give us not liberty, but licentiousness; and arms without laws would produce not subjection, but slavery. The law, therefore, should be unto the sword, what the handle is to the hatchet; it should direct the stroke and temper the force.


Government has almost always been a barrier against which intellect has had to struggle; and society has made its chief progress by the minds of private individuals, who have outstripped their rulers, and gradually shamed them into truth and wisdom.


We want government to stave off lawlessness and war and chaos and economic misery so that we can wholeheartedly enjoy the pure goodness of life.

GARRISON KEILLOR, "Art Appreciation," A Prairie Home Companion, Nov. 17, 2009

The State is composite: part ass, part vulture, but principally milch-cow.

ABRAHAM MILLER, Unmoral Maxims

No people are so easy to govern as the intelligent, and none are so hard to govern as the ignorant.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

While all other Sciences have advanced, that of Government is at a stand; little better understood; little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Jul. 9, 1813

Many have been thought capable of governing, until they have been called to govern.


The Government of Man should be the Monarchy of Reason; it is too often a Democracy of Passions, or an Anarchy of Humours.

BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE, Moral and Religious Aphorisms

Which is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

Let the people think they govern, and they will be govern'd.

WILLIAM PENN, Some Fruits of Solitude

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.

JAMES MADISON, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Oct. 17, 1788

Government! Three fourths parasitic and the other fourth stupid fumbling.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, Stranger in a Strange Land

When government disappears, it's not as if paradise will take its place. When governments are gone, other interests will take their place.

LAWRENCE LESSIG, keynote address at the "One Planet, One Net" symposium, October 10, 1998

The best discharge of government is government of our selves, and there we must begin.

BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE, Moral and Religious Aphorisms

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Read David Hume's essay: Of the Origin of Government

Read David Hume's essay: Of the First Principles of Government


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