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Opening Arguments

The other Barry

This is thhe 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater's famous speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination. The most quoted line from that speech, is of course:

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

But he also said:

"Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies."

As one of the commenters notes, it's hard to think of an extremist who ever acted in defense of liberty, and the statement perhaps suggests Goldwater's own susceptibility to creating a hellish tyranny in pursuit of his own conception of good. Perhaps we are all susceptible to that impulse -- absolute power is awful when the other side has it, awesome and necessary for us because we know our cause is the just one.

Goldwater was seen as a conservative, and one of those war-loving, hate-mongering conservatives at that. But he turns out to have been pretty much of a libertarian.


Andrew J.
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 2:32pm

YOu mean a hellish tyranny like the Republican party stanglehold in Allen County and the GOP supermarjority in the statehouse?