Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 21, 2011

in Civil Society, History, Hubris and humility, Scientism

… is from page 798 of Will & Ariel Durant’s 1965 book The Age of Voltaire:

History would be worthless to us if it did not teach us to keep on our guard against the natural intolerance of an orthodoxy wielding power.

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SweetLiberty September 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Since when has any church, or monarch, or socialist government been intolerant?

Oh yeah – since the beginning. Never mind, answered my own question.

ArrowSmith September 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Scandinavian countries are socialist, yet very tolerant of alternative lifestyles and prostitution!

Methinks1776 September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

As long as you are ethnically identical to them and not a capitalist, they are very very tolerant of alternative lifestyles.

SweetLiberty September 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm


Cradle-to-grave socialized welfare is funded by offsets in the market, specifically limited government interference (prostitution, drugs, etc.) and minimal regulations which encourage business development. Without the costly burdens of high national security, law enforcement, and micro-managing every business like the U.S. does, Scandinavians can shift their focus and wealth to other goals.

They collectively place a much higher value on government entitlements and hand-outs than most countries; and no doubt, Scandinavians work hard to maintain their welfare state. But make no mistake – these governments are every bit as intolerant of the man who asks for freedom from high taxes as is a ruthless dictator.

ArrowSmith September 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Maybe it works there because everyone is culturally on-board with the idea. Essentially Scandinavia is like one big Viking commune.

SweetLiberty September 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

And that’s just wrong. We need to break up the commune by having them send over their nubile Scandinavian females. They can have an equal number of American liberals in exchange. Hell, I’d even go 2 or 3 to one – that’s a trade imbalance I’m willing to live with!

kyle8 September 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

But they are extremely intolerant of free speech. The Scandinavian nations have taken political correctness from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Todd Fletcher September 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

He’s wonderful, Durant is full of quotes like this. Especially I think in the later volumes. He seems to have gotten hard-bitten as the books go on, not surprising if so. History is a sorry bloodbath.

Greg Webb September 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I like the quote, but I think it is not quite right. I think that “History would be worthless to us if it did not teach us to keep on our guard against the natural intolerance of ANYBODY wielding power.”. Lord Acton said it best, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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