Adam Smith thinks many candidates for high political office act as if they are above the law (1759)

The economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) contrasts how people from “the middling and inferior stations of life” acquire their reputations and their fortune with those from “the superior stations of life”:

Philip Wicksteed on “non-tuism” in economic relations (1910)

The English philosopher and economist Philip H. Wicksteed (1844-1927) argues that what motivates an economic relation between two individuals is not pure “egoism” on the part of the participants but what he terms its “non-tuism” or impersonal aspects:

Joseph Priestley on the presumption of liberty (1771)

The English radical theologian Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) argued that, if it were not clear how much the government should interfere in people’s lives, then it should leave things “to take their natural course”:

Frédéric Bastiat’s theory of plunder (1850)

The French economist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) developed a theory of plunder in the late 1840s which he defined in the following way:

Jeremy Bentham on how the interests of the many (the people) are always sacrificed to the interests of the few (the sinister interests) (1823)

The English lawyer and utilitarian political philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) scathingly denounces the English political system which had emerged during the 18th century. A trinity of statesmen, lawyers, and priests had gathered around the monarch forming a “sinister interest” of privilege which exploited the ordinary people:

James Bryce on the autocratic oligarchy which controls the party machine in the American democratic system (1921)

The British jurist and diplomat Viscount James Bryce (1838-1922) argues that American politics is controlled by an autocratic oligarchy of professional politicians and party bosses who provide benefits to their clients and supporters at taxpayer expence:

Yves Guyot warns that a new ruling class of managers and officials will emerge in the supposedly “classless” socialist society of the future (1908)

The French economist and politician Yves Guyot (1843-1928) very quickly realised that socialism would not lead to a peaceful and classless society as promised, but would result in a new form of class rule of party officials:

The Leveller John Lilburne argues from prison that the King and the Magistrate must obey the law like everyone else (1648)

While in prison once again the Leveller John Lilburne (1615-1657) demanded his day in court and fulminated against the arbitrary acts of the magistrates who put him in prison:

Auberon Herbert warns that the use of force is like a wild and dangerous beast which can easily get out of our control (1906)

At the very end of his life the English individualist thinker Auberon Herbert (1838-1906) gave a powerful speech at the University of Oxford in which he denounced the use of violence in all its forms, especially its political forms:

John Taylor and the rhetoric of liberty and tyranny (1814)

The Jeffersonian Republican John Taylor (1753-1824) warns us against the abuse of political phrases which are often used “to gull prejudice and varnish tyranny” by powerful vested interests:

John Lilburne shows defiance to the tyrants who would force him to pay tythes to the Church (1648)

The Leveller soldier and pamphleteer John Lilburne (1615-1657) was imprisoned many times for his beliefs during the 1630s and onwards. In this pamphlet “A Defiance to Tyrants” (Jan. 1648) he says he has an obligation to refuse to obey unjust laws, such as compulsory payments to the Church:

Adam Smith on the dangers of faction and privilege seeking (1759)

Smith argues that “hostile factions” are constantly struggling to gain new government privileges and protect the ones they already have:

Algernon Sidney on how the absolute state treats its people like cattle (1698)

The English radical republican Algernon Sidney (1623-1683) argues that absolute rule over others means that the people are treated like so many oxen who are only fed so “that they may be strong for labour, or fit for slaughter”:

Henry George on the scramble to get government favors known as trade “protection” (1886)

The late 19th century American free trader Henry George (1839-1897) dismisses the argument that governments can identify which industries truly deserve government favors like trade protection. Instead we are likely to see a “scramble” for such favors at the pubic trough:

William Fox on the hypocrisy of those who do not want to be dependent on foreign trade (1844)

The English M.P. and free trade orator William Johnson Fox (1786-1864) points out the hypocrisy of the protectionists who urge the nation to put “England First” by only buying things made there:

Mises on how the “boon” of a tariff privilege is soon dissipated (1949)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) argued in Human Action that those granted the political privilege of tariff protection enjoyed a boon that would be short lived as the gains would be competed away by new entrants:

Tocqueville warns how administrative despotism might come to a democracy like America (1840)

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) predicted that above the “crowd of similar and equal men” in a democracy will emerge “an immense and tutelary power” which will create a new kind of despotism:

Charles Murray on the pursuit of happiness (1988)

The American policy analyst Charles Murray cogently observes that people do not need to be taught how to pursue happiness since they do this naturally and spontaneously, “unless impeded”:

Bastiat on disbanding the standing army and replacing it with local militias (1847)

The French economist and free trade activist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) dreams of slashing the size of the French government’s budget by abolishing the standing army and replacing it with local militias:

Diderot argues that the laws must be based upon natural rights and be made for all and not for one (1755)

The editor of the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot (1713-1784), wrote a provocative article on “Natural Rights” (1755) in which he argued that by reasoning about the human condition a set of universally valid principles could be derived which were applicable to Kings, aristocrats, and ordinary people alike:

Mises on cosmopolitan cooperation and peace (1927)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was no advocate of “Germany or Austria First”. He preferred instead a “cosmopolitan and ecumenical” liberalism and humanism:

Diderot on the nature of political authority (1751)

The editor of the great 18th century French Encyclopedia, Denis Diderot (1713-1784), opened the project with an essay challenging the very nature of Kingly political authority in mid-18th century France:

Michel Montaigne on the danger of becoming accustomed to state power (1580)

The French Renaissance sceptic and humanist Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) warned that those who are “inured to monarchy” do not hate “subjection itself” but crave any “master” they can find to live under:

Guizot on the legitimacy of state power and its limits (1851)

The French historian and politician François Guizot (1787-1874) reflects on the nature of political power and the role of representative government in keeping it within limits. He believed the “will of the people” had to be strictly limited by “reason, justice, and truth” in order not to violate the liberty of others:

Guizot on liberty and reason (1851)

The French historian and politician François Guizot (1787-1874) argues that the exercise of political power over others is only legitimate in so far as it conforms to reason: