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date: 28 February 2020


  1. Oderint, dum metuant.
    Let them hate, so long as they fear.
    Accius 170–c.86 bc Roman poet and dramatist: from Atreus, in Seneca Dialogues bks. 3–5
  2. A government of laws, and not of men.
    John Adams 1735–1826 American Federalist statesman, 2nd President 1797–1801: in Boston Gazette (1774) no. 7; later incorporated in the Massachusetts Constitution (1780); see Ford
  3. The happiness of society is the end of government.
    John Adams 1735–1826 American Federalist statesman, 2nd President 1797–1801: Thoughts on Government (1776)
  4. Cicero found himself frequently confounded by Antonius. Antonius heartily agreed with him that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be be curtailed lest Rome became bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.
    usually wrongly attributed to Cicero following Congressional Record 25 April 1968, in the form ‘The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome should become bankrupt, the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence’. However the passage is not found in Cicero's works and appears to derive from this historical novel based on his life
    Taylor Caldwell 1900–85 English-born American writer: A Pillar of Iron (1965) ch. 51
  5. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.
    G. K. Chesterton 1874–1936 English essayist, novelist, and poet: The Man who was Thursday (1908) ch. 11
  6. My faith in the people governing is, on the whole, infinitesimal; my faith in The People governed is, on the whole, illimitable.
    Charles Dickens 1812–70 English novelist: speech at Birmingham and Midland Institute, 27 September 1869
  7. A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
    on federal spending
    Everett Dirksen 1896–1969 American Republican politician: attributed, perhaps apocryphal
  8. No Government can be long secure without a formidable Opposition.
    Benjamin Disraeli 1804–81 British Tory statesman and novelist; Prime Minister 1868, 1874–80: Coningsby (1844) bk. 2, ch. 1
  9. Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown: that I have reigned with your loves.
    Elizabeth I 1533–1603 English monarch, Queen of England and Ireland from 1558: The Golden Speech, 1601
  10. The State is not ‘abolished’, it withers away.
    Friedrich Engels 1820–95 German socialist: Anti-Dühring (1878) pt. 3, ch. 2
  11. If the Government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have.
    Gerald Ford 1909–2006 American Republican statesman, 38th President 1974–7: John F. Parker If Elected (1960)
  12. The state is like the human body. Not all of its functions are dignified.
    Anatole France 1844–1924 French novelist and man of letters: Les Opinions de M. Jerome Coignard (1893)
  13. My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.
    his interpretation of benevolent despotism
    Frederick the Great 1712–86 Prussian monarch, King from 1740: attributed
  14. Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.
    Bernard Ingham 1932–  British journalist: in Observer 17 March 1985
  15. I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.
    Samuel Johnson 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer: James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 31 March 1772
  16. …Duas tantum res anxius optat,
    Panem et circenses.
    Only two things does he [the modern citizen] anxiously wish for—bread and circuses.
    Juvenal 60–c.140 Roman satirist: Satires no. 10, l. 80
  17. I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal.
    John Maynard Keynes 1883–1946 English economist: letter to Duncan Grant, 15 December 1917
  18. How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read.
    Karl Kraus 1874–1936 Austrian satirist: Aphorisms and More Aphorisms (1909)
  19. We give the impression of being in office but not in power.
    Norman Lamont 1942–  British Conservative politician: speech in the House of Commons, 9 June 1993
  20. While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State.
    Lenin 1870–1924 Russian revolutionary: State and Revolution (1919) ch. 5
  21. Gouverner, c'est choisir.
    To govern is to choose.
    Duc de Lévis 1764–1830 French soldier and writer: Maximes et Réflexions (1812 ed.) ‘Politique: Maximes de Politique’ no. 19
  22. The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than it [the territory] is worth.
    Thomas Babington Macaulay 1800–59 English politician and historian: Essays Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (1843) vol. 2 ‘The War of Succession in Spain’
  23. Because it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer for a prince to be feared than loved, if he is to fail in one of the two.
    Niccolò Machiavelli 1469–1527 Italian political philosopher and Florentine statesman: The Prince (written 1513) ch. 8 (tr. Allan Gilbert)
  24. If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
    James Madison 1751–1836 American Democratic Republican statesman, 4th President 1809–17: The Federalist (1788) no. 51
  25. big brother is watching you.
    George Orwell 1903–50 English novelist: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) pt. 1, ch. 1
  26. The best government is that which governs least.
    John L. O'Sullivan 1813–95 American journalist and diplomat: in United States Magazine and Democratic Review (1837) introduction; see Thoreau
  27. Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
    Thomas Paine 1737–1809 English political theorist: Common Sense (1776) ch. 1
  28. When, in countries that are called civilized, we see age going to the workhouse and youth to the gallows, something must be wrong in the system of government.
    Thomas Paine 1737–1809 English political theorist: The Rights of Man pt. 2 (1792)
  29. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
    George Bernard Shaw 1856–1950 Irish dramatist: Everybody's Political What's What? (1944) ch. 30
  30. Sixty days of an unjust ruler are much better than one night of lawlessness.
    Ibn Taymiyyah 1263–1328 Syrian theologian: Book of Divinely Ordered Politics (c.1311–15)
  31. A fainéant government is not the worst government that England can have. It has been the great fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something.
    Anthony Trollope 1815–82 English novelist: Phineas Finn (1869) ch. 13
  32. Governments need both shepherds and butchers.
    Voltaire 1694–1778 French writer and philosopher: ‘The Piccini Notebooks’ (c.1735–50) in T. Besterman (ed.) Voltaire's Notebooks (2nd ed., 1968) vol. 2