Have you ever spoken with someone who has just discovered a new television show, and they’re going absolutely bananas about how you need to watch it too? “Oh, I just know you’re going to love The Foolish Man and the German Shepherd Dog,” they’ll coo. “I know the title sounds a little weird, but it stars an actor I love, and there’s this one episode where the German Shepherd Dog gets jam on his necktie before a big job interview that will split you in half with laughter!” And you kind of have to smile and promise you’ll watch it, and ask them to please stop touching you.
Libertarians are the same way about liberty. “Don’t you love liberty?” they will ask you. “Well, how would you like more liberty? Imagine how much more liberty everyone could have if we only did X, Y and Z! I love liberty so much I’d squirt it on my waffles every morning if only it were viscous instead of an abstract concept!”
But in the libertarian’s defense, liberty really is that good.
To be sure, no libertarian who hasn’t had key parts of their brain deactivated with giant magnets will argue that liberty should extend to harming others. “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins” is one of the foundational rules of libertarianism. No, liberty is about living your life the way you would like to.
Liberty can be very productive. Write a book that challenges the status quo effectively enough and you can compel people to voluntarily change their lives for the better. Explore a taboo theme in a great movie, and you won’t have to worry about puritans manifesting themselves outside of your house in order to burn it down. Challenge an aspiring tyrant’s claims and woo away their supporters – you may just prevent an atrocity.
Liberty can also be thoroughly unproductive. You may only wish to wear khaki shorts on the beach, drink cinnamon schnapps, and play terrible ukulele songs. You will torture fellow beachgoers’ ears by doing this and possibly bother some seagulls, but you will be happy. And free. And hungover throughout half of your lifetime, in all fairness, but the other half should be pleasant enough.
Never accept limits to your liberty in consideration of greater protection. The people offering you that protection are by far the most dangerous thing you will ever encounter. And although liberty must be earned by the hardest of people making the greatest of sacrifices, it is as vulnerable as a Fabergé egg in a daycare for children with inner ear infections. Forfeit even the tiniest little piece of it, and the despots, the bureaucrats, and the sadists who infest government will inevitably clamor for the next. And the next. And the next.
Give a mouse a cookie and he will ask for a glass of milk. With that, here are some of our favorite quotes about liberty.
Quotes About Liberty
Famous Liberty Quotes
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