Several by Sobran

Today’s Washington is about as attentive to the Tenth Amendment as the Unitarian Church is to the Book of Revelation.

A belief in moral absolutes should always make us more, not less, critical of both sides in any conflict. This doesn’t mean that both sides are equally wrong; it means that since we all fall short of moral perfection, even the side whose cause is truly righteous may commit terrible acts of violence in defense of that cause — and, worse, may feel quite justified in committing them. That is the difference between being righteous and being self—righteous. Moral standards are absolute; but human fidelity to them is always relative.

A Christian can believe that God ‘ordained’ the ‘powers that be’ — including political rulers and slaveholders — for purposes too deep for us to understand fully, and that while they last we must provisionally accept them; but that they were not meant to last forever.

All in all, the framers would probably agree that it’s better to impeach too often than too seldom. If presidents can’t be virtuous, they should at least be nervous.

By today’s standards King George III was a very mild tyrant indeed. He taxed his American colonists at a rate of only pennies per annum. His actual impact on their personal lives was trivial. He had arbitrary power over them in law and in principle but in fact it was seldom exercised. If you compare his rule with that of today’s U.S. Government you have to wonder why we celebrate our independence.

Controlling the interpretation of the Constitution is vital to the leftist agenda of expanding the federal government’s power. That means keeping the federal judiciary as liberal as possible and treating the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal legacy as sacrosanct.

Democracy has proved only that the best way to gain power over people is to assure the people that they are ruling themselves. Once they believe that, they make wonderfully submissive slaves.

Destroying white civilization is the inmost desire of the league of designated victims we call minorities.

Even if we are all doomed to live under the state, it doesn’t follow that there is, or even can be, such a thing as a good state.

Freedom has ceased to be a birthright; it has come to mean whatever we are still permitted to do.

Government has ceased to mean upholding and reinforcing the traditional rights and morals of the governed; it now means compulsion in the service of social engineering.

Government is the agent of those who are too refined to do their own mugging.

How odd that Americans, and not just their presidents, have come to think of their Constitution as something separable from the government it’s supposed to constitute. In theory, it should be as binding on rulers as the laws of physics are on engineers who design bridges; in practice, its axioms have become mere options. Of course engineers don’t have to take oaths to respect the law of gravity; reality gives them no choice. Politics, as we see, makes all human laws optional for politicians.

If one person in America had starved over the last 20 years, you, reader, would know his name. The media would see to that. It would be the most thoroughly documented death since John Kennedy’s.

If we need women in our defense forces, we must not need much defense.

In a few more days we will celebrate Xmas, the day we commemorate the birth of you—know—who … It seems the modern consensus of enlightened people that his name should be used in polite society only when cursing … [P]oliticians are often eager to associate themselves personally with you—know—who, even — and especially — when they rather flagrantly ignore his injunctions…. He was out of step then, and he is out of step now. He is eternally out of step, and eternally more powerful than those who keep in step. You know who I mean.

In the current political vocabulary, ‘need’ means wanting to get someone else’s money. ‘Greed,’ which used to mean what ‘need’ now means, has come to mean wanting to keep your own. ‘Compassion’ means the politician’s willingness to arrange the transfer.

It would be a healthy exercise for every politician to look in the mirror every morning and remind himself that he holds office only because, in a two—man race against another mediocrity, a modest majority of those half—informed people who imagined that their votes mattered reckoned that he was the lesser evil. And they weren’t too sure about that.

It’s a curious fact about Americans that in their most fiercely patriotic moods they are willing to set aside their Constitution, the guarantor of their freedom, in order to prosecute war — yet they insist that the war is for ‘freedom.’

It’s a real enigma why people are so averse to real free market capitalism even now. Here we are, in the century that has seen Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot — and we’re still being warned against the ‘robber barons’ of the 19th century. I don’t know that Jay Gould or John D. Rockefeller ever killed anyone. The State has killed countless people, and yet we’re always supposed to remain on guard against these ‘greedy villains’ of yesteryear.

It’s in politics that men are always aggravating the hopeless tangle of their laws, obscuring the simplest principles and making a mockery of liberty.

Legalizing abortion to get government out of the bedroom is like legalizing cannibalism to get government out of the kitchen.

Liberalism is really piecemeal socialism, and socialism always attacks three basic social institutions: religion, the family, and private property. Religion, because it offers a rival authority to the state; the family, because it means a rival loyalty to the state; and property, because it means material independence of the state.

Liberalism’s fatal flaw … is that it has no permanent norms, only a succession of enthusiasms espoused by minor prophets. Each of these seems like a hot new idea to liberals, but soon goes to irksome and destructive extremes.

Liberals have a new wish every time their latest wish is granted. Conservatives should make them spell out their principles and ideals. Instead of doing this, conservatives allow liberals to pursue incremental goals without revealing their ultimate destination. So, thanks to the negligence of their opponents, liberals control the terms of every debate by always demanding ‘more’ while never defining ‘enough.’ The predictable result is that they always get more, and it’s never enough.

Liberals see the Constitution itself as ‘living’ and ‘evolving’ that is, gradually turning into something that would have been unrecognizable to its authors.

Like psychoanalysis, constitutional jurisprudence has become a game without rules. By defying the plain meaning of words, ignoring context and history, and using a little ingenuity, you can make the Constitution mean anything you like.

Loyalty to your country should never require you to lie about it.

Man is the only creature disposed to kill huge numbers of members of his own species, and his instrument is usually the state.

Mass democracy guarantees stupidity. Masses of people, even if they’re individually intelligent, can only act stupidly.

Most Americans aren’t the sort of citizens the Founding Fathers expected; they are contented serfs. Far from being active critics of government, they assume that its might makes it right.

Nothing annoys a ‘progressive’ like refugees from Communism, who give the lie to the Great Socialist Dream.

Now whatever you think of the liberal agenda on its merits, until very recently nobody thought the Constitution meant what liberals now say it means.

Politics is the conspiracy of the unproductive but organized against the productive but unorganized.

Power tempts even the best of men to take liberties with the truth.

Since outright slavery has been discredited, ‘democracy’ is the only remaining rationale for state compulsion that most people will accept.

So when the wolf pounces on your lamb, just ignore the pitiful bleating and remind yourself that this is a democracy, where every sheep can freely express its preference for which kind of wolf it wants to be eaten by. Many sheep, perhaps understandably, prefer a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which is after all the basic idea of democracy. So far it has worked pretty well. The wolves all agree on that, and they want to spread democracy everywhere.

Some people don’t mind a little constitutional sophistry in a good cause; and for liberals, centralizing all power in the federal government is always a good cause. Since most Americans don’t know or care what the Constitution says, let alone what their ancestors thought it meant, the great liberal snow job has been very successful.

Tax time approaches, and Americans are as always paying H & R Block billions to help them save some of their wealth from their ravenous government. Pitiful, in a way: it underlines the grim but unacknowledged fact that the government is their enemy and they have to hire protection from it. But don’t we enjoy ‘self—government’? Well, if we have it, I’d hardly say we enjoy it. True, we aren’t being taxed by the monarch of Great Britain, but our American—born rulers claim far more of our wealth than the British monarchs ever did.

The chances of your being harmed by terrorists are mathematically minute. The chance of your being robbed by your own government? That’s easy: 100 per cent.

The hypocrite recognizes the honest man as his deadly enemy.

The liberal understanding of ‘the separation of church and state’ means that as the area of politics expands, the area of private freedom — religious and otherwise — shrinks.

The measure of the state’s success is that the word anarchy frightens people, while the word state does not.

The most fundamental purpose of government is defense, not empire.

The most successful revolutions aren’t those that are celebrated with parades and banners, drums and trumpets, cannons and fireworks. The really successful revolutions are those that occur quietly, unnoticed, uncommemorated. We don’t celebrate the day the United States Constitution was destroyed; it didn’t happen on a specific date, and most Americans still don’t realize it happened at all. We don’t say the Constitution has ceased to exist; we merely say that it’s a ‘living document.’ But it amounts to the same thing.

The prevailing notion is that the state should be neutral as to religion, and furthermore, that the best way to be neutral about it is to avoid all mention of it. By this sort of logic, nudism is the best compromise among different styles of dress. The secularist version of ‘pluralism’ amounts to theological nudism.

The prospect of a government that treats all its citizens as criminal suspects is more terrifying than any terrorist. And even more frightening is a citizenry that can accept the surrender of its freedoms as the price of ‘freedom.’

The real triumph of the state occurs when its subjects refer to it as ‘we,’ like football fans talking about the home team.

The Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was meant to inhibit only the federal government, not the states. The framers, as The Federalist Papers attest (see No. 28), saw the state militias as forces that might be summoned into action against the federal government itself, if it became tyrannical.

The U.S. Constitution serves the same function as the British royal family: it offers a comforting symbol of tradition and continuity, thereby masking a radical change in the actual system of power.

The welfare state is institutionalized crime — ‘organized plunder,’ as the French economist Frederic Bastiat called it. It systematizes what is intrinsically wrong: forcing some people to support others. The Democrats favor the indefinite expansion of the welfare state, perpetually increasing the ratio of force to freedom in society.

The words of Jesus, including those Jefferson and the Jesus Seminar have blue—pencilled, have a unique permanence. They don’t merely survive as aphoristic wisdom; they have an authority in our hearts, even when we try to deny them. They command. We can obey or rebel. That is why Jesus is still not only loved but hated — and why those who hate him feel they have to profess to love him.

There has never been a humane communist regime. Marxism is inherently totalitarian. It recognizes no moral limits on the state. It’s the most convenient ideology for aspiring tyrants; it also retains its appeal for intellectuals, who have proved equally skillful at rationalizing abuses of power and at exculpating themselves.

Voters who live off taxpayers are the Democrats’ ace in the hole. The Democrats created big programs and never let the recipients forget it. This gives them an initial advantage of tens of millions of votes in any presidential election.

War has all the characteristics of socialism most conservatives hate: Centralized power, state planning, false rationalism, restricted liberties, foolish optimism about intended results, and blindness to unintended secondary results.

War is just one more big government program.

Wartime always brings expansions of state power, together with erosions of moral and constitutional standards.

We have been living amidst one of the great revolutions of human history, and we hardly know it: the penetration of the State into every aspect of human life and society. Some people regard this as good and ‘progressive,’ others regard it as tyrannical; but either way, it’s a fact, a transformation as great as, say, the Industrial Revolution. Absolutely nothing is now beyond the scope of State power.

We would be much worse without Christianity; but we wouldn’t know it.

What a blessing ‘terrorism’ is for the state! It’s the ideal distraction from the day—to—day reality of the state’s chief activity: wringing from its subjects the wealth they produce. Last September (2001) a handful of fanatics, armed only with box—cutters, provided a new rationale for the trillion—dollar swindle. A bonanza! I don’t know what these ‘terrorists’ thought they were achieving: Making the infidel respect Allah? If so, they were wrong. You might as well try to make the U.S. government respect the U.S. Constitution.

When you internalize an author whose vision or philosophy is both rich and out of fashion, you gain a certain immunity from the pressures of the contemporary. The modern world, with its fads, propaganda, and advertising, is forever trying to herd us into conformity. Great literature can help us to remain fad—proof.