Jan 12, 2010

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

Edmund Burke was born today in 1729. He was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher. He is also the man who supposedly said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." What he actually said was "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

His philosophical and political writing are of most interest to me, so here are a few quotes: 

  • It cannot at this time be too often repeated; line upon line; precept upon precept; until it comes into the currency of a proverb, To innovate is not to reform".
  • All who have ever written on government are unanimous, that among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. 
  • There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
  • Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. 
  • Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. 
  • I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.
  • The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.  
  • Corrupt influence, which is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of all disorder; which loads us, more than millions of debt; which takes away vigor from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution. 

There's plenty more on Gutenberg

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