Joe Sobran quotes, 02/13/2007
"Memory is the enemy of tyranny."




"I call the present system 'Post-Constitutional America.' As I sometimes put it, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government."



from 'How Tyranny Came to America' Bumper sticker from
LibertyStickers.com!
"I think it's vital to be able to admit your own mistakes, especially those you make by parroting your environment. If you can laugh at yourself, you are assured of a lifetime of entertainment."

'Everybody Knows', Sept. 14, 2006

"...I'm disillusioned with the GOP. It was bad enough when I thought they were unprincipled. Now, however, it's worse, because they do have a principle after all: war. ... Next to the violence of war, I hate the philosophical fallout. This Bush administration has managed to pervert the meaning of
conservatism: in most Americans' minds, for the next generation, the word will mean, above all, militarism."

Glorious War!, August 31, 2006

"As long as there is government, the wrong men will rule. This is not a prediction. It's an axiom."
 
Blaming Bush, May 04, 2006

government: a system of promising something for nothing, while the taxpayer gets nothing for plenty

"The scandal of our time is that so many important people have failed to say what is obvious and urgent: that this president is out of his mind. Whether it's clinical madness or fanaticism, it's something more serious, and more dangerous, than stupidity. And the men around him can't or won't restrain him."

Apocalypse Now?, April 27, 2006




"Faith in war is the closest thing America has to a national religion. It is closely allied to our faith in Great Presidents. As for those who didn't trust our Great Presidents, such as copperheads and isolationists, their name is mud.


So trying to talk Americans out of going to war is a fool's errand, like trying to persuade Yosemite Sam to hold his fire for just a minute. If you get any reply at all, it will be a truism: "The only thing these varmints understand is hot lead."

As the old rabbis used to ask, "Have your ears heard what your lips have just uttered?" It's no use trying to make people listen to you when they won't even listen to themselves."

'Bush's Latest Idea', March 21, 2006

"(George W. Bush) has achieved a remarkable consensus: Nearly everyone who adheres to any political principle, left or right, agrees that he is a dreadful failure, indeed a disaster. And we are doomed to more than two more years of his rule, not to mention generations of aftermath.

The Bush Revolution paragraph



indentNothing has made America more hated around the world than Bush's "global democratic revolution," whose chief fruit has been more of the grisly terrorism that democracy was supposed to vanquish. Even worse than the harm he has already done is the future he has sentenced us to - endless war, crushing debt, and other irritations."

The Bush Revolution, July 27, 2006

"Modern tyranny has made a specialty of perverting language, reducing it to an instrument of propaganda and control. It thrives on a populace without long memories and traditions, which provide anchorage and the ability to measure the present against the past."

'It Can't Transpire Here', July 20, 2006

"Why does corruption in government always surprise us? Why do we expect anything else from it? Government is organized force. It takes our wealth and makes war. And we think honest men would do that work?"

Jesus' Government, April 4, 2006

"The essence of government is force: whatever its end, its means is compulsion. Government forces people to do what they would not otherwise choose to do, or it forces them to refrain from doing what they would otherwise do. So, when we say 'government should do x,' we are really saying, 'people should be forced to do x.' It should be obvious that force should be used only for the most serious reasons, such as preventing and punishing violence. The frivolous, improper, or excessive use of force is wrong. We used to call it tyranny. Unfortunately, too many people think that calling for the government to do x is merely a way of saying that x is desirable. And so we are increasingly forced to do things that are not genuine social duties but merely good ideas. The result is that the role of state coercion in our lives grows greater and greater."

"Civics for Suckers, Lesson One: In a two-party system, you can get the evils of both parties at the same time. Maybe you voted Republican because you hated the way the Democrats always inch in the general direction of socialism. The joke's on you! The Republicans start a war and simultaneously accelerate the drive toward socialism."

'We the Sheep', March 07, 2006

"What we call "foreign policy" now largely means how and where, not whether, American power will be exerted beyond the seas. (Americans who think America should behave like other countries are 'isolationists,' whereas other countries that behave like America are 'rogue nations.')"

Bush's Helpful Critics, February 1, 2005

"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."


The Myth of 'Limited Government'

"Freedom is coming to mean little more than the right to ask permission."


"War is just one more big government program."

"Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your government is doing to you." (1990)

"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." (1991)

"Politicians never accuse you of "greed" for wanting other people's money - only for wanting to keep your own money."

"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"."


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

"...(W)e no longer fully have what our ancestors, who framed and ratified our Constitution, thought of as freedom - a careful division of power that prevents power from becoming concentrated and unlimited. The word they usually used for concentrated power was consolidated - a rough synonym for fascist. And the words they used for any excessive powers claimed or exercised by the state were usurped and tyrannical. They would consider the modern 'liberal' state tyrannical in principle; they would see in it not the opposite of the fascist, communist, and socialist states, but their sister.

If Washington and Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they'd notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it - powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it's a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote.

I call the present system 'Post-Constitutional America.' As I sometimes put it, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government."

from 'How Tyranny Came to America'


"Maybe we should resign ourselves to the unflattering truth: our political system isn't hospitable to men of stature. If a Thomas Jefferson should seek public office today, he wouldn't get far. Our system would weed him out early."

"Attacking" President Bush, 11/27/03  

"It's a little odd for an invading force to impose 'self-government' on a conquered people. Self-government usually occurs when there are no foreigners specifying how it's to be done."

"The U.S. Government today is no more guided by the U.S. Constitution than the Unitarian Church is guided by the Book of Revelation."


"The most astounding fact about our time is its great addiction to the state. Even after all the horrors of the past century, people still believe implicitly in the state; whereas, if they learned from experience, they would all talk about states in general the way Jews talk about Hitler.

Today a state is considered a success not when it produces net benefits for its own subjects (no state does that), but when it inflicts more harm on foreigners than on its natives. We forgive whatever it does to us, so long as it stands ready to commit even worse crimes against others. This is what we now mean by defense. Of course our ancestors had different ideas; but what did they know?"

Addicts of the State, May 17, 2002

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

"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."

"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."

"If you want government to intervene domestically, you're a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you're a conservative.  If you want government to intervene everywhere, you're a moderate. If you don't want government to intervene anywhere, you're an extremist." (1995)

"The Civil War wasn't just a victory of North over South; it was a victory for centralized government over the states and federalism. It destroyed the ability of the states to protect themselves against the destruction of their reserved powers. Must we all be happy about this? [Abraham] Lincoln himself -- the real Lincoln, that is -- would have deprecated the unintended results of the war. Though he sometimes resorted to dictatorial methods, he never meant to create a totalitarian state. It's tragic that slavery was intertwined with a good cause, and scandalous that those who defend that cause today should be smeared as partisans of slavery. But the verdict of history must not be left to the simple-minded and the demagogic."

"Like most war leaders, he [Lincoln] grossly distorted and exaggerated the motives of his enemy. He constantly insisted that the South wanted to 'destroy' the Union, when it merely wanted to withdraw from it. He called honorable men like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee 'traitors,' though they never betrayed anyone in their lives. He accused the South of 'aggression,' when it was the South that was being invaded, and truly destroyed, by the Union armies. Having assured the country that he had neither the power nor the inclination to disturb slavery, Lincoln made the destruction of slavery his lofty war aim in the middle of the war."

"...[T]yranny may creep in under the outward forms of traditional law."

"...God has made the world as it is and no human will can repeal its moral order."

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

"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."

"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."

How Might Makes Right, March 23, 2002

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

"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."

"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'."

"The best argument for anarchism is the twentieth century."

"What is patriotism, if not fidelity to your country's best traditions? And if "We the People," having spoken through our Constitution, find our state officers ignoring our fundamental law, it is they who are disloyal and rebellious. They hold their power in trust, conditionally and temporarily; they weren't born to rule us, but hold office at our pleasure. And if we allow them to abuse and usurp power with impunity, we have nobody to blame but ourselves."

from "A Surfeit of Patriotism", March 2, 2002

"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."

"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."

"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."

"De-Christianizing America has been high on the progressive agenda, and, thanks to the government (especially the federal courts), it has been a great success. Nor can we overlook the contribution of the entertainment industry, which now determines what passes for 'culture.' The main practical vehicle of de-Christianization has been the Sexual Revolution. A few radicals have called for the abolition of the family, but most liberals have been more discreet, avoiding hostile rhetoric while quietly but constantly pursuing policies that result in lower birthrates and fatherless children."

"Altering the Constitution has become the daily business of the Federal Government which the document is supposed to guide and limit. Both Congress and the judiciary assume, and exercise, countless powers they aren't entitled to."

"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."

"Tyranny seldom announces itself. ...In fact, a tyranny may exist without an individual tyrant. A whole government, even a democratically elected one, may be tyrannical."

"Chattel slavery in this country was abolished in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment. But tax slavery was instituted in 1913 by the Sixteenth Amendment, which gave the federal government limitless power to tax incomes. That is the chief reason most of us now work nearly half the year just to pay taxes."

"What rights you have, or whether you have any rights at all, depends entirely on whether you are deemed 'progressive' (up to date) or 'reactionary' (attached to tradition). The 'progressive' forces want to destroy freedom, yes, but their real goal is the destruction of normal life itself. That's why they attach a sacramental importance to abortion as well as to the filthiest couplings imaginable."

"Both Clintons are among the most ethically uninhibited people ever to enter, let alone inhabit, the White House."

"...[T]oday's Washington is about as attentive to the Tenth Amendment as the Unitarian Church is to the Book of Revelation."

"Because the state can no longer protect us from crime, it wants to take away from us the means of protecting ourselves. This is the logic of gun control."

"When the government gives things names, you should keep your sense of irony handy."


On abortion (6/29/95):

"Abortion has replaced socialism as the chief moral fad of the progressive-minded. Socialism failed. Abortion works ... It is an act so foul that few people would defend it unless they knew large numbers currently agreed with them. Even so, it has to be defended in euphemisms... that obscure the concrete reality of scalding, poisoning, or mutilating a tiny living thing ...

The chief art of our time is lending a gloss of glamour to sordid acts ... Abortion can't be portrayed as the cutting up of a living human being. It has to be presented abstractly, as some sort of moral and constitutional achievement. The gross act is etherealized into an "issue," pitting civic-minded people against the boors. No pictures, please. Only vulgar pro-lifers whould want to force anyone to watch."


On Jesus (4/2/96):

"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."


On extremism (1/4/96):

"It's hard for Americans to see what difference one religion or another can make, because we have generally shared a single vague "civil religion," which the sociologist John Murray Cuddihy calls "the religion of civility." Our shared public faith has been a watered-down Protestantism in which manners tend to displace dogma. But over time civility itself has become a dogma. It has become uncivil to insist on truth, or to debate it. We are expected to be "moderate," without asking what this may mean. Liberalism wants us to "set aside our differences," as if our differences don't really matter as much as the things on which we can all agree with liberalism itself. You can almost define a liberal as one who demands that others reach his conclusions from their premises ... Conservatives, who take profound disagreement for granted, rarely call their opponents "extremists." The word has become the pet charge of liberals who want to stigmatize and deny legitimacy to conservatives. Mr. Clinton and Vice President Gore even call others "extremists" for holding the same views on abortion they used to espouse themselves ... A liberal who refuses to violate his principles is an "idealist." A conservative who refuses to violate his principles is an "extremist."


On dictatorship (2/8/96):

"Our stereotyped image of dictatorship is one-man rule. A single man (usually recognized by his funny mustache) somehow imposes his will on an entire population, who endure his autocracy in fearful silence. In truth, successful dictators are usually very popular. Their regimes are distinguished not by silence but by roaring crowds and festive rallies... Tyranny requires more than suppression. It has to make as many people as possible dependent on the regime for jobs and other benefits."


"Why should a government that increasingly limits the sphere of freedom, privacy and choice in every other area show such consistent favor to sexual libertarianism alone? Because the traditional code is designed to support the family as the basic unit of society, and the family, like religion and private property, is one of the foundations of liberty and resistance to monolithic state power.

Without religion, the state faces no rival moral authority. Without property, freedom has no material basis, and everyone becomes dependent on the state for support. And without the family, the individual belongs almost wholly to the state, with no stable competing loyalty.

The sexual revolution is really an attack on the cellular structure of society. Under communism, "free love," including abortion, was the only freedom left, because it's the only freedom the total state finds congenial. Citizenship ceases to be just one aspect of identity and becomes your only identity...The state continually releases us from our duties to our families as it increases our obligations to itself. You can leave your spouse, abort your children, abandon your parents. But you can't divorce the state."


"The New York Times and The Washington Post chose to mark the silver anniversary of Roe vs. Wade with cover stories in their weekly magazines on the plight of "abortion providers," as politesse now terms the destroyers of incipient human lives. Forty million abortions, and we're supposed to worry about how tough it is to be an abortionist these days. Neither article mentioned the profit motive, the angle that usually preoccupies these liberal dailies. Abortion "providers" were portrayed as selfless humanitarians besieged by religious fanatics. They are, in the words of Jack Hitt in the Times, "helping another person exercise a constitutional right." Making money apparently has nothing to do with their willingness to do what most doctors shrink from doing."

Roe v. Wade at 25 (1/98)


"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."

Why is "diversity" the favorite word of monotonous people? The instant you hear it, your nervous system braces itself for a torrent of cliches. Liberals are lucky the rest of us don't demand reparations for decades of boredom. If boredom were officially recognized as a form of suffering, the full extent of liberal guilt would be incalculable.

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

 "Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don't understand The Federalist Papers, but they understand government checks with their names on them."

"...[T]he Constitution conferred only a few specific powers on the federal government, all others being denied to it (as the Tenth Amendment would make plain). Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of the U.S. population today -- subtle logicians like you -- can grasp such nuances. Too bad. The Constitution wasn't meant to be a brain-twister."


On Clinton:

"Politicians used to understand, without being told, that they didn't necessarily have whatever it takes to fill our lives with meaning. Their job was to fill potholes. But Clinton was formed by the '60s -- not by the radicalism of the New Left, but by the soft, corny idealism of the Kennedys, the Kerner Commission, the mainline churches and all the other apostles of Dialogue, including the broadcast talk shows...The Clintons hope, in the short time allotted to them, to elevate us all to their plane.

As you may have noticed, people who are big on "dialogue" usually expect to do most of the talking. They may let others talk too, but they want to control the format and have the last word, and the last word is usually foreordained before the dialogue begins.

...But nobody could possibly take [Clinton's] words to heart. They have all the moral weight of a commercial jingle. His is a politics of meaninglessness."


On Jews and Christians (4/97):

"When people complain (usually furtively) about "the Jews," they aren't usually talking about observant Orthodox Jews; they mean those Jews who reject Judaism and are defined not by their own ancestral religion, but by their antagonism to other religions; just as the Nazis were defined not by their ancestors' Christianity, but by their own antagonism to Jews and other non-Aryan races. These alienated Jews might better be called ex-Jews.

The alienated Jews have led the way for the alienated Christians... Some of these ex-Christains still insist on calling themselves Christians, though they treat the classic creeds and scriptures the way the Supreme Court treats the Constitution: as malleable "living documents."


"Liberalism is driven by a mysterious antagonism to the moral traditions of the Many. In any society the Few rule the Many, but in most societies the ruling elite shares the general moral outlook of the majority of the population and there is no basic conflict between the rulers and the ruled. In today's America, so alien to our ancestors, it is different. The Few not only hate the traditions of the Many; they have conducted a relentless propaganda campaign against those traditions, variously called 'education,' 'eradicating prejudice,' and 'consciousness-raising.' They coin new-fangled words like 'homophobia' to stigmatize deep-seated popular attitudes; they publicize and memorialize minor local incidents, like vicious murders of homosexuals, making them symbols of the moral attitudes they want to condemn. In pursuit of this agenda, the Many must be made to feel guilty about their natural feelings. And the government must be empowered to engineer a mass psychological transformation, until those feelings cease to exist. The process must begin with children in the public schools, where state propaganda will teach them that homosexuality is normal. The desire of the Few to control and change even the inner lives of the Many is of course a totalitarian ambition. Liberals denounce 'sexual McCarthyism' as they practice what might be called sexual Stalinism. As Stalin aspired to create the 'New Soviet Man,' liberals want to produce new, sexually 'liberated' children, with homosexual propaganda as one of their tools."

"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."

"EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A VICTIM. And the paradox is that victim status accrues precisely to those who can acquire enough clout to make others afraid of them. Victimhood has become one of the fruits of power. Anyone can be an underdog; the trick is to be a registered, pedigreed underdog."

"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."

"I've often marveled that modern man has more faith in the State than medieval man had in the Church. Though the State's utopian promises have been kept by fraud at best, and war and mass murder at worst, its authority has hardly been impaired by experience -- probably because it has taken charge of education and erased its subjects' memory of its own crimes. ... By now even ordinary people should talk about the State in the same mordant tones in which Jews talk about Hitler. But modern man not only still obeys the State (he has little choice) but still expects it to better the human condition. He thinks of Hitler as an unfortunate anomaly, with whom his own rulers have taught him they have nothing whatever in common...."

"What is rare is a liberal who doesn't think his liberalism is in itself sufficient proof that his heart is in the right place, even when he's supporting late-term abortion: the liberal position is by definition the 'compassionate' position."

"Robbing one man is a crime; robbing millions is a social policy."

"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."

"The Constitution didn't 'grow'; it was never supposed to. Written law must be stable, or it isn't law. A government that can change the very meaning of old words is tyrannical. What really happened -- fairly recently, in historical terms -- is that the courts were taken over by liberal zealots who saw the judiciary as a potential instrument of raw power. After all, justices are appointed for life; they don't face the people at the polls and can t be held responsible for the consequences of their rulings. So by disguising their desires as constitutional mandates, the courts have been able to impose their will on the whole country, uninhibited by reason, tradition, or any other force."

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

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