The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shall not covet," and "Thou shall not steal," are not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
Tacitus appears to have been as great an enthusiast as Petrarch for the revival of the republic and universal empire. He has exerted the vengeance of history upon the emperors, but has veiled the conspiracies against them, and the incorrigible corruption of the people which probably provoked their most atrocious cruelties. Tyranny can scarcely be practised upon a virtuous and wise people.
The fundamental article of my political creed is, that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor; equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don't want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.
Albert Camus, "Homage to an Exile", published as an essay in Actuelles III, originally a speech "delivered 7 December 1955 at a banquet in honor of President Eduardo Santos, editor of El Tiempo, driven out of Colombia by the dictatorship".
Even the tyrant never rules by force alone; but mostly by fairy tales. And so it is with the modern tyrant, the great employer. The sight of a millionaire is seldom, in the ordinary sense, an enchanting sight: nevertheless, he is in his way an enchanter. As they say in the gushing articles about him in the magazines, he is a fascinating personality. So is a snake. At least he is fascinating to rabbits; and so is the millionaire to the rabbit-witted sort of people that ladies and gentlemen have allowed themselves to become.
The tyrant asserts himself as a transcendence; he considers others as pure immanences: he thus arrogates to himself the right to treat them like cattle. We see the sophism on which his conduct is based: of the ambiguous condition which is that of all men, he retains for himself the only aspect of a transcendence which is capable of justifying itself; for the others, the contingent and unjustified aspect of immanence.
Nature has left this tincture in the blood, That all men wou'd be tyrants if they cou'd.
Daniel DefoeThe History of the Kentish Petition, Addenda, line 11; cited from The Shortest Way with Dissenters, and Other Pamphlets (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974) p. 100.
Of all the tyrannies on human kind The worst is that which persecutes the mind.
John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther (1687), Pt. I line 239-240
Hitler set up a tyranny: a state with a mighty police force, a growing army, a host of spies and informers, a secret espionage, backed by swift and cruel punishment, which migh vary from loss of job to imprisonment, incommunicado and without trial, to cold murder.
Para evolucionar es preciso ser libre y no podemos tener libertad si no somos rebeldes, porque nunca tirano alguno ha respetado a los pueblos pasivos; jamás un rebaño de carneros se ha impuesto con la majestad de su número inofensivo, al lobo que bonitamente los devora sin cuidarse de otro derecho que el de sus dientes. Hay que armarse, pero no de un voto inútil, que siempre valdrá tanto como el tirano quiere, sino de armas efectivas y menos candorosas cuyo uso nos traiga la evolución ascendente y no la regresiva que preconizan los luchadores pacifistas. ¡Pasividad, nunca! Rebeldía, ahora y siempre.
To evolve we must be free, and we cannot have freedom if we are not rebels, because no tyrant whatsoever has respected passive people. Never has a flock of sheep instilled the majesty of its harmless number upon the wolf that craftily devours them, caring for no right other than that of his teeth. We must arm ourselves, not using the useless vote that will always be worth only as much as a tyrant wants, but rather with effective and less naive weapons whose utilization will bring us ascendant evolution instead of the regressive one praised by pacifistactivists. Passivity, never! Rebellion—now and always.
Tyrannies invert the rule of law. They turn the law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in a faux legality. They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality.
I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush (September 23, 1800); in Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1903), vol. 10, p. 175. Carved at the base of the dome, interior of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
I consider that in no government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
As soon as the prince sets himself up above law, he loses the king in the tyrant. He does, to all intents and purposes, unking himself by acting out of and beyond that sphere which the constitution allows him to move in; and in such cases he has no more right to be obeyed than any inferior officer who acts beyond his commission.
Jonathan Mayhew, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (1750); cited from John Wingate Thornton (ed.) The Pulpit of the American Revolution (New York: Sheldon, 1860) pp. 94-5.
Attacking the press is a common ploy of autocrats and dictators who want to hide the truth. They oppose an open press that holds them accountable—and you know a country is in trouble when its leader tries to challenge and undermine press freedoms.
Cindy McCain, Stronger (2021)
Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality, is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
No tyranny is more cruel than the one practiced in the shadow of the laws and under color of justice — when, so to speak, one proceeds to drown the unfortunate on the very plank by which they had saved themselves.
Where there have been powerful governments, societies, religions, public opinions, in short wherever there has been tyranny, there the solitary philosopher has been hated; for philosophy offers an asylum to a man into which no tyranny can force it way, the inward cave, the labyrinth of the heart.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, trans. Hollingdale, “Schopenhauer as educator,” § 3.3, p. 139
We are now slaves of big companies, all of us. The Hitlers are replaced by men of power and wealth. I begin to see the need of socialism and listen to Herbert Marcuse. Before, I saw the tyranny of communism equal to the tyranny of money.
Anaïs Nin, Spring 1974, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1966–1974, p. 314
Whenever kingship approaches tyranny it is near its end, for by this it becomes ripe for division, change of dynasty, or total destruction, especially in a temperate climate … where men are habitually, morally and naturally free.
Nicole Oresme, ̆De Moneta (c. 1360), Charles Johnson's translation, The De Moneta of Nicholas Oresme, and English Mint Documents (London, 1956), Ch. 25: "That a Tyrant cannot be lasting."
Tyrants in the course of time must eventually be overthrown because of the continual opposition of the oppressed. It is an unchanging Law, a constant rule, the penalty is certain, albeit that it is very slow coming to fruition.
Francesco Mario Pagano, Saggi Politici (1783), cited from Carlo Pisacane's La Rivoluzione, Troubador, 2010, p. 160.
All hereditary government is in its nature tyranny. An heritable crown, or an heritable throne, or by what other fanciful name such things may be called, have no other significant explanation than that mankind are heritable property. To inherit a government, is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and herds.
Thomas PaineThe Rights of Man (1791), pt. 2; cited from The Political Writings of Thomas Paine (Charlestown: George Davidson, 1824) vol. 2, p. 166.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
La tyrannie est toujours mieux organisée que la liberté.
Tyranny is always better organized than freedom.
Charles PéguyŒuvres en prose: 1909-1914 (Paris: Gallimard, 1959) p. 1018; Ann and Julian Green (trans.) Basic Verities, Prose and Poetry (New York: Pantheon, 1943) p. 153.
The early years of the [nineteenth] century marked the progress of the race towards individual freedom and permanent victory over the tyranny of hereditary aristocracy, but the closing decades of the century have witnessed the surrender of all that was gained to the more heartless tyranny of accumulated wealth.
Richard F. Pettigrew, November 22, 1900 Triumphant Plutocracy: The Story of American Public Life from 1870 to 1920 (1921), p. 425
Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my Lords, that where law ends tyranny begins!
Tyranny is not a matter of minor theft and violence, but of wholesale plunder, sacred and profane, private or public. If you are caught committing such crimes in detail you are punished and disgraced; sacrilege, kidnapping, burglary, fraud, theft are the names we give to such petty forms of wrongdoing. But when a man succeeds in robbing the whole body of citizens and reducing them to slavery, they forget these ugly names and call him happy and fortunate, as do all others who hear of his unmitigated wrongdoing.
And think not God to be heedless of what the unjust do. He only respites them to a day when the eyes will stare in terror, hastening forward, their heads upraised, their gaze not returning to them, and their hearts vacant. And warn people of a day when the chastisement will come to them, then the wrongdoers will say: "Our Lord, respite us to a near term, we will respond to Thy call and follow the messengers." "Did you not swear before that there will be no passing away for you? And you dwell in the abodes of those who wronged themselves, and it is clear to you how We dealt with them and We made (them) examples for you."
The right to punish the tyrant and the right to dethrone him are the same thing; both include the same forms. The tyrant’s trial is the insurrection; the verdict, the collapse of his power; the sentence, whatever the liberty of the people requires.
For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen, A bloody tyrant, and a homicide: One rais'd in blood, and one in blood establish'd; One that made means to come by what he hath, And slaughter'd those that were the means to help him; A base foul stone, made precious by the foil Of England's chair, where he is falsely set; One that hath ever been God's enemy.
Magistrates in some acts may be guilty of tyranny, and yet retain the power of magistracy; but tyrants cannot be capable of magistracy, nor any one of the scripture-characters of righteousrulers. They cannot retain that which they have forfeited, and which they have overturned; and usurpers cannot retain that which they never had.
When what is ordered by an authority is opposed to the object for which that authority was constituted, ... one is obliged to disobey it, as did the holy martyrs who suffered death rather than obey the impious commands of tyrants.
Better a century of tyranny than one day of chaos.
Ibn Taymiyyah, Kitab al-Siyasa al-Shar'iya, as quoted in Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Oxford University Press, p. 19.
Despots themselves don't deny that freedom is a wonderful thing, they only want to limit it to themselves; they argue that everyone else is unworthy of it.
Alexis de TocquevilleL'Ancien régime et la révolution (Paris: Michel L évy Frères,  1859) p. 21; François Furet and Françoise Mélonio (eds.), Alan S. Kahan (trans.) The Old Regime and the Revolution vol. 1, p. 88.
Original text: Les despotes eux-mêmes ne nient pas que la liberté ne soit excellente; seulement ils ne la veulent que pour eux-mêmes, et ils soutiennent que tous les autres en sont tout à fait indignes.
One must distinguish well arbitrariness from tyranny. Tyranny can be exercised by means of law itself, and then is not arbitrariness; arbitrariness can be exercised in the interest of the governed, and then it is not tyrannical.
Remember, I have not appointed you as commanders and tyrants over the people. I have sent you as leaders instead, so that the people may follow your example. Give the Muslims their rights and do not beat them lest they become abused. Do not praise them unduly, lest they fall into the error of conceit. Do not keep your doors shut in their faces, lest the more powerful of them eat up the weaker ones. And do not behave as if you were superior to them, for that is tyranny over them.
Umar as quoted in Omar the Great : The Second Caliph Of Islam (1962) by Muhammad Shibli Numani, Vol. 2, p. 33
Plutocracy is an established fact not only when rich men and women rule the state but also when they rule the company and the factory. ... Still, the tyranny of money is less frightening than the kinds of tyranny that have their origins on the other side of the money/politics divide. Certainly, plutocracy is less frightening than totalitarianism; resistance is less dangerous. The chief reason for the difference is that money can buy power and influence, as it can buy office, education, honor and so on, without radically coordinating the various distributive spheres and without eliminating alternative processes and agents. ... Corrupt distributions coexist with legitimate ones, like prostitution alongside married love. But this is tyranny still, and it can make for harsh forms of domination.
Michael Walzer, Spheres Of Justice: A Defense Of Pluralism And Equality (1984), p. 317
The English monster, the center of mischief, a shame to the British Chronicle, a pattern for tyranny, murder and hypocrisie, whose bloody Tyranny will quite drown the name of Nero, Caligula, Domitian, having at last attained the height of his Ambition, for Five years space he wallowed in the blood of many Gallant and Heroick Persons.
William Winstanley, Loyal Martyrology as quoted in Conflicts with Oblivion (1935) by Wilbur Cortez Abbott, p. 159.
Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice— The weakness and the wickedness of luxury— The negligence—the apathy—the evils Of sensual sloth—produce ten thousand tyrants, Whose delegated cruelty surpasses The worst acts of one energetic master, However harsh and hard in his own bearing.
There is nothing more hostile to a city than a tyrant, under whom in the first and chiefest place, there are not laws in common, but one man, keeping the law himself to himself, has the sway, and this is no longer equal.
Euripides, Suppliants, 429. Oxford translation (revised by Buckley).
Il n'appartient, qu'aux tyrans d'être toujours en crainte.