February 6, 2006


Donald B. Hawthorne

One of those periodic clean-up efforts at home led to the discovery of some random quotes which I had been collecting. Here they are:

From a description of Carroll Quigley's The Evolution of Civilizations in the Liberty Fund Catalog:

The Evolution of Civilizations is a comprehensive and perceptive look at the factors behind the rise and fall of civilizations.

Quigley defines a civilization as "a producing society with an instrument of expansion." A civilization's decline is not inevitable but occurs when its instrument of expansion is transformed into an institution - that is, when social arrangements that meet real social needs are transformed into social institutions serving their own purposes regardless of real social needs.

From Lee Edwards in the book entitled Educating for Liberty: The First Half-Century of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

It is the duty of ISI to remind conservatives that in politics there are no permanent victories or defeats, only permanent things like wisdom, courage, prudence, and justice.

From Richard Epstein in his book entitled Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism:

Legal and political institutions can take us only so far...There is no automatic safeguard against the scourges of totalitarianism. All that we can hope to do is improve the odds, and toward that end the most powerful bulwark is a determined citizenry that internalizes the basic lessons of human history.

From Michael Potemra in the July 14, 2003 edition of National Review:

Those lessons are clear enough - "private property and limited government" - but they are not self-enforcing. Their survival depends, as does much else, on human virtue.

From James Bowman in the the June 2004 edition of Crisis Magazine:

The debate - if you can call it that - about gay marriage is not really about gays but about marriage. What kind of thing is it? Those who take a sacramental view of the matter are horrified at the idea of gay marriage not because of "homophobia" but because it represents the culmination of the process of desacralization that began with the liberalization of restrictions on divorce...If two people pledging a union "until death do us part" is now a mere mockery of words that used to mean something but are now never uttered without the tacit stipulation, "or until I get tired of you," why shouldn't the mockery be extended further to make the two people of the same sex?

Far better, it seems to me, to get the law out of the "marriage" business altogether, since there is no more marriage anyway. Why not pass "civil unions" legislation and make it apply to all domestic partnerships, hetero- or homosexual? True, we would have to bite the bullet and accept that it's worth the huge increase in business to divorce - or de-unioning - lawyers just to underline our commitment to equal rights, especially "the right to happiness." But that's the price we must pay for our attachment to the doctrine of true psychic reality and, with it, the belief that feelings matter more than loyalty in marriage...

From Charles Krauthammer's June 2004 article entitled The Clinton Legacy:

Clinton's autobiography, appearing as it does in such close conjunction to the national remembrance of Reagan, invites the inevitable comparison.

The contrast is obvious.

Reagan was the hedgehog who knew - and did - a few very large things: fighting and winning the Cold War, reviving the economy, and beginning a fundamental restructuring of the welfare state.

Clinton was the fox. He knew - and accomplished - small things. His autobiography is a perfect reflection of that - a wild mishmash of remembrance, anecdote, appointment calendar and political payback. This themeless pudding of a million small things is just what you would expect from a president who once gave a Saturday radio address on school uniforms.

From George Will (unfortunately my notes say pages 366-367 but don't give the source):

An ancient Greek poet said, "The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing."...But Reagan is much more of a hedgehog than a fox. He knows a few simple, powerful things. He understands the economy of leadership...He knows it is necessary to have a few priorities, a few themes. He knows how often - again, the peculiar patience of politics - you must repeat them when building a following. He knows what Dr. Johnson knew - that people more often need to be reminded than informed...Rhetoric is a systematic eloquence. At its best, it does not induce irrationality. Rather it leavens reason, fusing passion to persuasion. Rhetoric has been critical to Reagan's presidency.

From former Congressman J. C. Watts in the January 24, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal's Political Diary:

I can confidently say I saw this train coming years ago. The arrogance factor among some [Congressional] leaders, members and their staffs who were smitten with power and arrogance was starting to run amok even six years ago. By the way, if there are ever term limits on members of Congress, we might consider term limits on staff as well. It's all about access to power, and that access morphs quickly into greed.

From George Santayana's book entitled The Life of Reason, Volume 1:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.