The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opposition than from his fervent supporters.
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.
No serious historian of politics would imagine that he had accounted for the protective tariff of the system of bounties or subsidies, for the monetary and banking laws, for the state of law in regard to corporate privileges and immunities, for the actual status of property rights, for agricultural or for labor policies, until he had gone behind the general claims and the abstract justifications and had identified the specifically interested groups which promoted the specific law.
Free institutions are not the property of any majority. They do not confer upon majorities unlimited powers. The rights of the majority are limited rights. They are limited not only by the constitutional guarantees but by the moral principle implied in those guarantees. That principle is that men may not use the facilities of liberty to impair them. No man may invoke a right in order to destroy it.
The war for liberty never ends. One day liberty has to be defended against the power of wealth, on another day against the intrigues of politicians, on another against the dead hand of bureaucrats, on another against the patrioter and the militarist, on another against the profiteer, and then against the hysteria and the passions of the mobs, against obscurantism and stupidity, against the criminal and against the overrighteous. In this campaign every civilized man is enlisted till he dies, and he only has known the
For the principle of majority rule is the mildest form in which the force of numbers can be exercised. It is a pacific substitute for civil war in which the opposing armies are counted and victory is awarded to the larger before any blood is shed.
..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.
It is all very well to talk about being the captain of your soul. It is hard, and only a few heroes, saints, and geniuses have been the captains of their souls for any extended period of their lives. Most men, after a little freedom, have preferred authority with the consoling assurances and the economy of effort which it brings.
Except in the sacred texts of democracy and in the incantations of orators, we hardly take the trouble to pretend that the rule of the majority is not at bottom a rule of force. What other virtue can there be in fifty-one percent except the brute fact that fifty-one is more than forty-nine? The rule of fifty-one per cent is a convenience, it is for certain matters a satisfactory political device, it is for others the lesser of two evils, and for others it is acceptable because we do not know any less troublesome meth
What the public does is not to express its opinions but to align itself for or against a proposal. If that theory is accepted, we must abandon the notion that democratic government can be the direct expression of the will of the people. We must abandon the notion that the people govern. Instead we must adopt the theory that, by their occasional mobilizations as a majority, people support or oppose the individuals who actually govern. We must say that the popular will does not direct continuously but that it interve
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
The disesteem into which moralists have fallen is due at bottom to their failure to see that in an age like this one the function of the moralist is not to exhort men to be good but to elucidate what the good is. The problem of sanctions is secondary.
In really hard times the rules of the game are altered. The inchoate mass begins to stir. It becomes potent, and when it strikes, it strikes with incredible emphasis. Those are the rare occasions when a national will emerges from the scattered, specialized, or indifferent blocs of voters who ordinarily elect the politicians. Those are for good or evil the great occasions in a nation's history.
The man who will follow precedent, but never create one, is merely an obvious example of the routineer. You find him desperately numerous in the civil service, in the official bureaus. To him government is something given as unconditionally, as absolutely as ocean or hill. He goes on winding the tape that he finds. His imagination has rarely extricated itself from under the administrative machine to gain any sense of what a human, temporary contraption the whole affair is. What he thinks is the heavens above him is not