Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Government

Governments have always been a compromise, a middle ground between the elite and powerful in a society and the lower rungs, the poor and powerless. Most of political history could be described as a pendulum swinging back and forth between these two interest groups. When the more intelligent and skillful become too powerful, the common result is tyranny and despotism. When the poor and uneducated attain power, the result is most-often chaos and anarchy. The better the government, the more balance between these two sides.

Machiavelli describes 6 kinds of governments: monarchical, aristocratic, democratic and their shadow sides tyranny, oligarchy, and anarchy. History repeats over and over as the cycles of corruption from monarchies to tyrannies, from aristocracies to oligarchies, from democracies to anarchy spin not only between the pairs but also between all six. As Will Durant saw, “Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.” The longest-lasting and most successful political systems thread a careful balance between these styles rather than going too far in any of these six directions.

Governmental systems - like religions and cultures - easily fall into blind belief, superstition, and war. History demonstrates though, over and over again, how many different ways of organizing society work well and also don't work at all. Like religious belief doesn't assure or guarantee enlightened goodness, political beliefs don't assure or guarantee just and prosperous countries. The same political system can work extremely well in one particular place and period of history, not work at all in another time and place. While we tend to put our faith and hope in a particular political belief system, the underlying and real forces may be more the goodness of the people, their openness to seeing clearly, and their ability to respond authentically to their unique, world realities.

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Quotes (95)

“The town may be changed but the well cannot be changed. It neither decreases nor increases… Thus the well is the symbol of that social structure which is independent of all political forms… Life is also inexhaustible. It grows neither less nor more; it exists for one and for all.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 1 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 48, "The Well"
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

51. Mysterious Goodness

“The state must thrive economically while limiting expenditures, foster appropriate values and behavior among the populace, implement rewards and punishments, employ the worthy, and refrain from disturbing and harming the people.”

Jiang Ziya 姜子牙 1
"Master of Strategy"
from Six Secret Strategic Teachings

Themes: Government

“The best civilization considers the least injury done to the poorest, most powerless individual as an insult to the entire governmental structure.”

Solon 638 – 558 BCE via Shan Dao
Founder of Athenian democracy

Themes: Government

“A righteous government is of all the most to be wished for […] To effect this I shall work now and ever more.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dinshaw Jamshedji Irani
(Zoroaster)

from Avesta

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

“When leaders work for personal reward, honesty fails and deception rules.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

53. Shameless Thieves

“Oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Government

“Knowing how to cultivate oneself is to know how to govern others; knowing how to govern others is to know how to govern the empire, the state, and the family.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

“How can the wise man who has charge of governing the empire fail to restrain hate and encourage love? When there is universal love in the world it will be peaceful and happy; when there is mutual hate, it will be filled with suffering, disorder, and unhappiness.”

Mozi 墨子 470 – 391 BCE via Shan Dao
(Mòzǐ)
Chinese personification of Newton, da Vinci, and Jesus

“[citizens] considered poverty among their fellow citizens as their own disgrace and measured their well-being not by being able to outdo each other, but by the absence of want among the whole people”

Isocrates Ἰσοκράτης 436 – 338 BCE via Edith Hamilton

“The greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which is concerned with the ordering of states.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE via Edith Hamilton

Themes: Government

“The end of democracy is freedom; of oligarchy, wealth; of aristocracy, the maintenance of education and national institutions; of tyranny, the protection of the tyrant.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE
from Nicomachean Ethics

“Do not let finely meshed nets be cast in ponds and lakes and the fish and turtles will be more than can be consumed; let axes enter the mountain groves only at the appropriate time and the timber will be more than can be used.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner
(Mengzi)
from Book of Mencius 孟子

“The first step of good government is assuring that the people have enough food and fuel, enough resources to nourish their living and mourn their dead.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via James Legge, Shan Dao
(Mengzi)
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Themes: Government

“Those who say they would have good government without its correlate, misrule, do not understand the great principles of the universe, nor the nature of all creation.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Government

“The straightening board was created because of warped wood, and the plumb line came into being because of things that are not straight. Rulers are established and ritual and rightness are illuminated because the nature is evil.”

Xun Kuang 荀況 310 – 235 BCE
(Xún Kuàng, Xúnzǐ)
Early Confucian philosopher of "basic badness"

“If you cook a small fish, don’t remove its entrails, don’t scrape off its scales, and don’t stir it. If you do, it will turn to mush. Likewise, too much government makes those below rebel.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

60. Less is More

“Others learn how to govern the world. Sages learn how to govern themselves and how to uphold the truth of the Way.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

Themes: Government

64. Ordinary Mind

“Rulership was set up because the strong oppressed the weak, the many did violence to the few, the cunning fooled the simple, the bold attacked the timid, people kept knowledge to themselves and did not teach, people accumulated wealth and did not share it. So the institution of rulership was set up to equalize and unify them.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1 via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

Themes: Government

78. Water

“The Way of Rulership is not the means by which one acts; it is the means by which one does not act.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

Themes: Government

“In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE
from De Re Publica, 54-51 BCE

Themes: Government Power

“All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“When good governance prevails in the empire, [the scholar] is in evidence. When it is without good governance, he withdraws. It is better, O scholar, to retire early. After all, what is Confucianism to us? Confucius and the bandit So-and-So: Are they not both dust?”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE

“If the right man preaches the wrong way, the way will follow the man and become right. If the wrong man preaches the right way, the way will follow the man and become wrong.”

Joshu, Zhàozhōu Cōngshěn 趙州從諗 778 – 897 CE

41. Distilled Life

“When a child is born, families want it to be intelligent. But through intelligence, I have only wrecked my whole life. So I can only hope the baby will prove ignorant and stupid; crown a tranquil life by becoming a Cabinet Minister.”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE via On the Birth of His Son (tr: Arthur Waley, Shan Dao)
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Themes: Family Government

“We bind ourselves together by taking hold of each others's hands so firmly and forming a circle so strong that if a tree should fall upon it, it could not shake nor break it, so that our people and grandchildren shall remain in the circle in security, peace, and happiness.”

Deganawida 1 via Hiawatha
(“The Great Peacemaker”)

“Without army, no king; without revenues, no army; without taxes, no revenue; without agriculture, no taxes; without just government, no agriculture”

Ibn Khaldun أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي 1332 – 1406 CE

53. Shameless Thieves

“When a prince, a nobility, and the power of the people are combined under the same constitution, these three powers will watch and keep each other reciprocally in check.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via Luigi Ricci
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

Themes: Government

“Monarchies quickly becomes Tyrannies, Aristocracies Oligarchies, Democracies degenerate into Anarchy… no precaution can prevent them from sliding into their opposites because of how closely the virtue resembles the vice.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via Shan Dao
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

18. The Sick Society

“all kinds of governments are defective; those three which we have qualified as good because they are too short lived, and the three bad ones because of their inherent viciousness.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via Luigi Ricci
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

Themes: Government

“The nature of justice consists in the keeping of valid covenants… Where there is no Commonwealth, there is nothing unjust.”

Thomas Hobbes 1588 – 1679 CE

“For forms of government, let fools contest;
What’er is best administer’d is best.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from An Essay on Man, 1736

Themes: Government

“The best form of government? The rich will tell you an aristocracy, the people will reply a democracy; kings along prefer royalty. Why then is almost all the world governed by monarchs? Men are rarely worthy of governing themselves.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Raymond Naves, Shan Dao
from Philosophical Dictionary

“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Government

“there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered,,, [that it] can only end in despotism when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE

“As force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded, and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.”

David Hume 1711 – 1776 CE
"One of the most important philosophers"

“The first person who enclosed a piece of land said, 'This is mine' and convinced foolish others to believe him became the founder of civil society
creating the beginnings of crime, war, myriad horror and misfortunes.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE via GDH Cole, Shan Dao

Themes: Crime Government

“According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign has only three duties... first, the duty of protecting the society from violence and invasion; second, the duty of protecting every member of society from every other member of it; third, erecting and maintaining certain public works and institutions... because the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals”

Adam Smith 1723 – 1790 CE
''The Father of Economic Capitalism"
from Wealth of Nations

“Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”

Immanuel Kant 1724 – 1804 CE
from Critique Of Pure Reason

“The function of the true State is to impose the minimum restrictions and safeguard the maximum liberties of the people, and it never regards the person as a thing.”

Immanuel Kant 1724 – 1804 CE
from Critique Of Pure Reason

“Government is—or should be—instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people… When it is found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, the majority has an unalienable right to reform, alter or abolish it.”

George Mason 1725 – 1792 CE
First American abolitionist, founding father, and Constitutional savior
from Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

“We hold these truths to be Self evident: that all Men are created equal and independent… [with] Rights inherent and unalienable… the preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; that to Secure these ends, Governments are instituted”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE
from original draft Declaration of Independence

Themes: Government

“Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE
from Common Sense, 1776

“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government… government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worse state, an intolerable one.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

58. Goals Without Means

“Either force or corruption has been the principle of every modern government... This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be founded on principles of honesty, not of mere force. We have seen no instance of this since the days of the Roman republic, not do we read of any before that.”

Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826 CE

“. . . in no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.”

Jeremy Bentham 1748 – 1832 CE
from Constitutional Code

“Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart.”

Jeremy Bentham 1748 – 1832 CE
from Principles of Morals and Legislation

Themes: Government

“No revolution is the fault of the people but always the fault of the government.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Faust, part I

“Society [culture] is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness. Society is a blessing; government even in its best state a necessary evil, a tyranny; and because—even in its best state—an evil, we should have as little of it as the general peace of human society will permit.”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

“Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor... Government by its very nature counteracts the improvement of original mind,”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

“Democracy stimulates literature and retards art; aristocracies impose taste but frown upon enthusiasm and originality; absolute government stifles freedom, innovation, and thought.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

“The freest government cannot long endure when the tendency of the law is to create a rapid accumulation of property in the hands of a few, and to render the masses poor and dependent.”

Daniel Webster 1782 – 1852 CE
America's greatest orator
from The Cry for Justice, Sinclair

“the state is essentially no more than an institution for the protection of the whole against attacks from without and the protection of its individual members from attacks by one another... the necessity for the state ultimately depends on the acknowledged injustice of the human race: without this no one would ever have thought of the state since no one would have needed to fear any encroachment”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Government

“The less government we have the better—the fewer laws, and the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse... is the individual... the appearance of the wise man; of whom the existing government is but a shabby imitation.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from Politics

Themes: Government

“The greatest of all evils is a weak government.”

Disraeli, Benjamin 1804 – 1881 CE
(Earl of Beaconsfield )
Political balance between mob rule and tyranny

Themes: Government

“A man's support for absolute government is in direct proportion to the contempt he feels for his country.”

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805 – 1859 CE
Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality

Themes: Government

“Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Themes: Government

30. No War

“The state is nothing but an instrument of oppression of one class by another - no less so in a democratic republic than in a monarchy.”

Friedrich Engels 1820 – 1895 CE
Businessman-philosopher, political theorist

Themes: Government

“As soon as there is no longer any class of society to be held in subjection, there is nothing more to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a state, is no longer necessary.”

Friedrich Engels 1820 – 1895 CE
Businessman-philosopher, political theorist
from Anti-Dühring, 1878​

Themes: Government

“Concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then.”

Lucy Parsons 1853 – 1942 CE
(Eldine Gonzalez)
Political activist “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”

“Christ is not the lifeless harmless image he has hitherto been to you, but a rallying center for revolutionary influence which all established States and Churches fight”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare

Themes: Government

“The art of government is the organization of idolatry.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Maxims for Revolutionists

Themes: Government

“There is no antithesis between authoritarian government and democracy. All government is authoritarian; and the more democratic a government, the more authoritarian because with the people behind it, it can push its authority further than any Tsar or foreign despot dare do.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from New Republic, 1937

Themes: Government

“Government is founded on property, property is founded on conquest, and conquest is founded on Power.”

Arthur Desmond 1859 – 1929 CE
from Might Is Right

“Government can easily exist without law, but law cannot exist without government... government is necessary if anything worthy to be called civilization is to exist, but all history shows that any set of men entrusted with power over another set will abuse their power if they can do so with impunity.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Unpopular Essays

“The task of Government is that of application and encouragement. A wise Government seeks to provide the opportunity through which the best of individual achievement can be obtained, while at the same time it seeks to remove such obstruction, such unfairness as springs from selfish human motives.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
(FDR)
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

Themes: Government

“do not think that since you are an ephemeral animal you cannot interfere in the government of the cosmos. Alas! If you only knew your strength, you would already have overstepped human limits.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Government

“A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: Government

18. The Sick Society

“If we were to judge forms of government from their prevalence and duration in history, we should have to give the palm to monarchy; democracies, by contrast, have been hectic interludes.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

Themes: Government

“the essential government of mankind remains in that most deep-rooted of all historic institutions, the family.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Government Family

“Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from The Story of Philosophy

“I would characterize the Confucian political ideal as strictly anarchism, in which moral culture of the people making government unnecessary become the ideal. If it is asked why the people of Chinatown in New York never have any use for the the police, the answer is Confucianism. There never were any police in China for 4000 years.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from Wisdom of China and India

“All the present bureaucracies of political governments, great religious organizations, and all big businesses find that physical success for all humanity would be devastating to the perpetuation of their ongoing activities.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

58. Goals Without Means

“Freedom unexercised may be freedom forfeited. The preservation of freedom is in the hands of the people themselves - not of the government.”

Margaret Chase Smith 1897 – 1995 CE

“I believe that in time we will have reached the point where we will deserve to be free of government.”

Jorge Luis Borges 1899 – 1986 CE
Literary Explorer of Labyrinthian Dreams, Mirrors, and Mythologies

Themes: Government
We believe that to govern perfectly it is necessary to avoid governing too much.

James Hilton 1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Themes: Government

75. Greed
58. Goals Without Means

“The best way to govern is to leave the people alone and to follow the course of taking no action. This ideal of laissez faire originated in Taoism.”

Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷 1901 – 1994 CE
from Way of Lao Tzu

“Although I consider our political world to be the best of which we have any historical knowledge, we should beware of attributing this fact to democracy or to freedom. Freedom is not a supplier who delivers goods to our door.”

Karl Popper 1902 – 1994 CE
Major Philosopher of Science
from On Freedom (1958)

Themes: Government

“The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.”

Hannah Arendt 1906 – 1975 CE
Fearless researcher into the darker reaches of the human psyche
from Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)

Themes: Government

“Governments maintain this sense in a mild form by seeing to it that the laws are so complex that every citizen is inadvertently guilty of some crime, making it possible to convict anyone when convenient.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Beyond Theology (1964)

“Institutions are not pretty. Show me a pretty government. Healing is wonderful, but the American Medical Association? Learning is wonderful, but universities? The same is true for religion... religion is institutionalized spirituality.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“When people don't understand that the government doesn't have their interests in mind, they're more susceptible to go to war.”

Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010 CE
Historian of the oppressed and defeated

“If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“From the divine right of kings through the deadly teachings of Hitler and Mao to the mumbojumbo of economists, government by theory has done endless ill.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Lao Tzu - A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

“A great government wouldn't chop and hack at human nature, trying to make leaders out of sow's ears.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Lao Tzu - A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

28. Turning Back

“This is a mystical statement about government–and in our minds those two realms are worlds apart. I cannot make the leap between them. I can only ponder it.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Government

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“Although almost all our attention goes toward the surface, the form of government; the deep importance and influence has much less to do with the description, the name - much more to with integrity of the people involved.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –
from Tao Te Ching — The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words

58. Goals Without Means

“Government needs to be the size of the problems it’s facing. If small problems, a small government; if no problems, no government; if large problems, a large government is needed. Our problems today - climate change, terrorism, the unprecedented gap between rich and poor; adapting to a radically changing world, etc. - are gigantic and global. Therefore we need a large government. Only a unified, global government will be able to successfully face this scale of global problems. Once faced and solved, we can go back to less and less government.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“It is certain, I think, that the best government is the one that governs the least. But there is a much-neglected corollary: the best citizen is the one who least needs governing.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

75. Greed

“Suits obviously had helped to promote bad government… Of late he had become frightened of the government for the first time in his life, the way the structure of democracy had begun debasing people rather than enlivening them in their mutual concern. The structure was no longer concerned with the purpose for which it was designed, and a small part of the cause was probably that all politicians and bureaucrats wore suits.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”
from Legends of the Fall​

“Gaviotas is not a community that can be replicated. What needs to be replicated is the Gaviotas way of thinking.”

Paulo Lugari 1944 CE – via Alan Weisman

80. A Golden Age

“Confucius taught the art of government as it should be. Machiavelli taught government as it is in fact… concerned with power, how to get and how to keep it. The ruler governs for his own benefit, not for the benefit of those he rules…. as useful today to corporate CEOs as it is to politicians, ethics consists of one maxim: ‘Do others in before they do you in.’”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

“Despotism has persisted through history because the alternative was often worse... democracy is a form of government that threads the needle—a course between the violence of anarchy and the violence of tyranny—exerting just enough force to prevent people from preying on each other without preying on the people themselves.”

Steven Pinker 1954 CE – via Shan Dao
Humanistic scientist, insightful cultural commentaror
from Enlightenment Now

“it is amazing what feats of organization our government can accomplish—if you don't mind waiting until it's too late”

Neal Stephenson 1959 CE –
(Stephen Bury)
Speculative futurist and cultural social commentator

from The Cobweb

Sources

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

by Henry David Thoreau

Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi

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