Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on October 18, 2013

in Seen and Unseen

… is from page 24 of David Hume’s 1742 essay “Of the First Principles of Government,” as this essay appears in the 1953 collection of some of Hume’s political writings, Hume: Political Essays (Charles W. Hendel, ed.):

Nothing appears more surprising to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.  When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion.  It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.

Ideas matter.  Our values matter.  The theories, formal and informal, that we carry around with us and convey to others about the way reality works matter.  The words we use matter.  The way we talk matters.

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