Tag Archives: liberty

Celsius 488.33

What is the point at which the conscience burns
and thus consumes the mind with thoughts to act,
that in its darkest recess for truth yearns
to separate illusions from the facts?

And the externals that provide the fuel,
that pile the planks under the stakes we seek
upon which to transfix ourselves as fools —
how much do we require before we speak?

These embers that now scorch the gathered crowd,
how long before their heat is burnt to ash
and we, again, will curse the cold in loud
vehement wailing in the last light’s flash?

How many will bewail both fire and dark
that dare disturb their dulled complacency
while others see engulfed in the first spark
the basic tenets of democracy?

And this conflagration we now build
to smoke some evil hornets from their nests —
at what point will its appetite be filled?
Once it’s begun, the bonfire knows no rest

’til it devours all things within its touch,
its raging tempest void of care or sense;
and then, too soon is gone without so much
as a faint flicker of experience.

Unless the fire outside is taken in
and used to fuel a greater flame inside,
the burning of externals is just din
that drowns out reasoning in fratricide.

So watch that flame with care that you ignite —
with caution, choose your victims for the pyre;
and know that he who claims his match most right
is likely both mistaken, and a liar.

25 JUN 2005

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De Toqueville Rides Again

In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions themselves. Everybody there adopts great numbers of theories, on philosophy, morals, and politics, without inquiry, upon public trust; and if we look to it very narrowly, it will be perceived that religion herself holds sway there much less as a doctrine of revelation than as a commonly received opinion.

— Alexis de Toqueville, 1805-1859, Democracy in America

In other words, equality does not equal independence, and liberty does not equate to freedom, particularly of thought.

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One from General Eisenhower…

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961

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