Anthony de JasayAnthony de Jasay, (1925- ) Hungarian writer

Anthony de Jasay Quote

“Self-imposed limits on sovereign power can disarm mistrust, but provide no guarantee of liberty and property beyond those afforded by the balance between state and private force.”

Anthony de JasayAnthony de Jasay
~ Anthony de Jasay

The State [1985] (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998), p. 205.

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

No such thing as self imposed limits by the state. The limits must be imposed by "We The People" And enforced by the same...

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Dan    7/17/08

"Each of us has a natural right--from God--to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?" Frederick Bastiat. There's the guarantee. Self imposed limits only means repecting the next persons right to the above and not to interfere with the exercise of them. The balance between private and state force exists in that it is the peoples right to force the state to do what it was put there to do. See to it that the above was protected and not interfered with.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Only in a machellian Kingdom would this quote be useful. In a state of laws, and a state "of, by and for" the people there is no need or place for self-imposed restrictions. The state or government is absolutely restricted from doing anything unless it is authorized by law and the people "the sovereign".

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, quit it, your scaring me. You're making way too much sense. It sounds like you've come over from the dark side ;-).

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

The difference Mike is that you think this government (your state and mine and the U S) has overstepped its authority. I don't. And you think it is okay to take up private arms against government. I don't. I think it is okay in a democracy to throw the bums out. Democracy is "government by discussion" nothing more and nothing less, plus guaranteed rights.

E Archer, NYC

I am not sure de Jasay is talking about self-imposed limits as those of the state but of the People who are the sovereigns. Taken in that contaxt, if we the people self-impose to limit our power for security, there is still no guarantee that we will actually be safer by imposing those limits. In other words, trading a little freedom for security does not work. OK, Waffler, I'll bite, what guaranteed rights do we have in a democracy?

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

The democratic principle is that each indivi is of equal worth to every other indiv including the right to have a say in a government by discussion. In a democracy the state in effect withers away because the people are the state. In monarchy or dictatorship the King and his henchmen are the State. They and their apparatus operate in secret and without any approval from the people, thus the State is a real type of alient to the people force. In a democratic governmetn operated under sunshine laws such a secretive, manipulative org like All The Kings Men does not exist. Common law rights and the bill of rights for starters.

warren, olathe

You could rewrite this quote to fit U.S. The constitution imposes limits on the government but should not disarm our natural distrust of government, nor should we allow an imbalance to occur between government and private affairs.

E Archer, NYC

The Bill of Rights confers no rights, Waffler -- it sets limits to Congress, limits for which no majorty vote can override. Just so there is no confusion, are you in agreement with the Founders that individuals have natural-born rights that no one may take away by vote or otherwise? If so, name a few. I think you will find that what you are defining is not a democracy but a nation based on the rule of law, derived from the Laws of Nature, respecting the rights of man -- in other words, a republic. Yes, there are some democratic processes for managing the commonwealth, but the private property and labors of the People are not communal property.

cal, Lewisville

Not a Democracy Waffler.  Ben Franklin said, "a republic-if you can keep it."  We have to admit it is slipping away.


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