Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.
January 28, 1852
Speech to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society
[The link about his speech has some interesting history about the frequent misattribution of the “eternal vigilance…” quote.
Also note they had the same problem with democrats then as we do today.—Joe]
We in theory might be awake and vigilant as can be. In today’s terms that means watching and understanding the Progressive process of degradation, even documenting it in detail, certainly funding it, as things go all to hell.
Seeing, yet doing nothing, we will have brought the worst upon ourselves. Those who best understand the process and most accurately documented it will have been the most guilty. Anyone else can claim ignorance.
Another dynamic, which may be the prevailent one, is an un-spoken, unorganized contest to see who can claim the greater victimhood, for victimhood, it is silently asserted, absolves one from responsibility. We thus allow ourselves to assert duty, but absolve ourselves from acting on it. I’m doing that right this instant. “What am I supposed to do? I’m only one person!” (says ten million people).
“We must constantly train and equip our people and upgrade our technology to meet these ever-growing and ever-changing challenges. Eternal vigilance is the price for continuing security.”
James R. Schlesinger (1929-2014)
Here we see the ease with which a famous quote can be turned on its head by changing one word. Liberty is replaced with security, as though they’re the same thing. Also, “We” and “our people” are now two separate populations, one “training”, “equipping”, molding, shaping and pretending to care for the other. In Schlesinger’s variation on the quote then, we’ve been led away from the founding principles and into a Progressive security police state. The ruse has a built-in immune system too, in the form of “Times are different now, and the situation is fluid (so shut up and get on board)”. All totally Progressive in nature.
Schlesinger’s is a brilliantly-crafted quote. In the Republican Party, liberty has been replaced with wholesale coercion by slight-of-hand and we’re expected to keep on cheering as though nothing happened.
As I’ve pointed out many times also, “liberty” can have polar opposite meanings, depending on the person’s allegiance. The most hard-core communist and the enlightened American libertarian patriot will both agree with “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.
Each side claims to advocate liberty. One wants liberation from right, so as to do wrong, and the other wants liberation from wrong, so as to do right. Even that last sentence will be interpreted in polar opposite ways, depending on your allegiance.
And “vigilance”; what is that? Is it merely watching people pave the way to hell on Earth using wealth confiscated from us, or does it also involve rising up and stopping it? I bring up the term “Vigilance Committee” (later shortened to “vigilantes”) for another example of how one word or phrase can have very different meanings depending on the audience and the speaker.
To be fair, I don’t think he was talking about Democrats, as in the political party. Note the small “d” in “democrats”, meaning merely those who believe in democracy.
Of course. I was trying to be funny.
Pingback: Quote of the day—NRA-ILA | The View From North Central Idaho