Edmund BurkeEdmund Burke, (1729-1797) Irish-born British statesman, parliamentary orator, and political thinker

Edmund Burke Quote

“Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Edmund BurkeEdmund Burke
~ Edmund Burke

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

What a sad society and negative out look Mr. Burke here describes. It sounds like the soulless helots, patrons and slaves of the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land. I act, not because of a controlling power but because I am. Inherently free need no controls, criminals do.

David, Phoenix
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David, Phoenix Mike, Norwalk 10/4/21

What is really sad is your failure and that of those immediately below you to grasp the actual essence of Burke's observation. Burke was not a statist, not even close.  He was a staunch Lockean of republican government and individual liberty!  What he's saying is that the natural repercussions of immorality are tyranny and injustice, for where the heart of the body politic goes is where the body of their positive law will go.  They will stupidly enslave themselves.

Mike, Norwalk
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Mike, Norwalk David, Phoenix 10/4/21

Let's hope your  beyond the immediate sound bite, is in fact a greater understanding of the complete message. Your explanation is more accurate than the cherry picked statement.

David, Peoria
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David, Peoria Mike, Norwalk 11/11/21

It's accurate.  I'm familiar with the context as well.

Howard, Bangkok

Not sure what to think about this quote. In a way, he is right. That is if you consider "The Law" as a controlling party, the fact that we have no right to infringe on the liberty of another except in self defense. Also, if you consider that we usually have the government we deserve. If we insist on infringing on the rights of others, do we not deserve the same from our government. Do we not need to fix ourselves before attempting to fix others? I don't know, am I making sense? Maybe I need to research the context.

J Carlton, Calgary

I think Edmund said this far into a career as an alcoholic. His is a miserable summation of a people who have given up on ever having any liberties and become..."progressives" anxious to join the hive and "fit in".

Matthew, People's Republik of Kalifornia

"Their passions forge their fetters." And until enough (much less than 100%) of people realize that, in the words of Carl Jung, "...the salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual soul," we will never shake off the shackles our ancestors forged for us, which we reinforce and polish every time we comply with authoritarian sociopaths.

Although Burke was here displaying his justification for the global slave-states, his statement includes the seed of freedom, if we will only direct our passions with the suggestion from Lysander Spooner that we go home and content ourselves with the exercise of only such rights and powers as nature has given to us in common with the rest of mankind.

Howard, Bangkok

He's kind of right, but the controlling power should not be the state. Could not the controlling power be self restraint or ostracization from the members of society?

David, Phoenix
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David, Phoenix Howard, Bangkok 11/11/21

That's Burke's point.  The controlling power will either be inherent or external.  Inherent = liberty, external = tyranny.  Choose.

Mark, Aurora, Colorado

Unlike Norwalk Mike, I find the beauty of Truth here. Liberty is most precious gift of life, now being squandered/relinquished due to masses' proclivity to be debase and easily herded. Back "in the day", Americans were a largely moral and decent lot, a far and sad cry from the cesspool that has become consumerist America, overseen by tyrannic criminals bent on inducting us into NWO.

I believe we do possess our "proper controlling power" in Constitution and Rule of Law - trouble comes, when TPTB orchestrate breakdown of morals through MSM and glorify/allow thug class to run rampant. Thuggish anarchists and despotic tyrants put our Liberty at greater risk than all enemies we've faced yet; I pray and work for return of decency, lest we be overrun.

Joe, Glasgow

He speaketh the truth! If it is the consensual will of the people to live together in a society, then do so, but those who cannot control themselves, will be controlled by the rules and laws of that society by degrees.

E Archer, NYC

"It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." This is true.

Remember that the liberation from bondage includes the liberation of the mind as well as the body. Liberty includes throwing off the yoke of telling falsehoods. Liberation includes the breaking of habits -- dependencies and addictions that prop up servitude must be forgone. What is true at the macro level is true at the micro level. Burke's quote can certainly be used in defense of statism, but it's entirely accurate when applied to the spiritual path.

David, Mannington

Burke also said: "There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity -- the law of nature, and of nations." God was and is the controlling power within.

Ronw13, Oregon

In support of American Revolutionaries, and Catholic emancipation. Liberty and Protestantism. Emancipation from the Roman Catholics. Constitutional monarchism vs absolute Catholic monarchy. Edmund Burke apposed democracy, knowing the tyranny of majority, guided by heated passions of discontent against just minorities. The English Protestants inhabiting the American colonies. The sanctuary of Liberty and the common faith that binds them together. Old Whigs opposed the Catholic church because they saw it as a threat to liberty, or as the Elder Pitt stated, " The errors of Rome are rank idolatry, a subversion of All civil as well as religious liberty, and the utter disgrace of reason and of human nature." We can find in the USA today the," dissenters, pretenders" such as the Presbyterians leading the islamic refugee influx into America. Joined at the hip with the Roman Catholic Church and their quest for world domination through and by democracy.

Ronw13, Oregon

Kudos Archer, for bringing out the spiritual being in Burke's application of reason and understanding. The New Creature, evolving, growing over time, a unified body eternal in existence. Such is the natural nature of the Spirit of Truth, of Liberty. for sovereignty to only exist in the State or Monarchy, all else is taxed for a corner to die in. Sad but True. either the Individual is Freed, manumission from slavery, (eleutheria liberty) or not. The full extent, (apeleutheros liberty), access to the presence of God. We the People have that access ! Legal and binding Declaration and Constitution before mankind on God's behalf.

NF, North Carolina

View this quote in the context of "democratic nation building" in Afghanistan. What he's saying is that the polis needs to be self-controlled, educated, and SELF-policed in order to operate as a functioning and thriving society. It is not a comment on a police state. It is a comment in the nature of man and the necessity for sobriety, not mob or emotional rule. This is a particularly scathing rebuke of the American social-media- and cable-news-fed knee-jerking uncritical thinkers rioting in Baltimore, MD or Ferguson, MO and killing people over a cartoon in a Danish newspaper. Such people, the quote says, are quick to act on emotion and not reason. The death or absence of critical thought and self control may well lend to the death of Western civilization as we know it. (I think amoralism will do it too and faster, but that's not what we're talking about right now.)

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

Education, instead of the pseudo-education would be the course.


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