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It is a commonplace that the characteristic virtue of Englishmen is their power of sustained practical activity, and their characteristic vice a reluctance to test the quality of that activity by reference to principles.
the indispensable thing is to break the dead organization up and to clear the ground. In the course of doing so, the individual is emancipated and his rights are enlarged; but the idea of social purpose is discredited by the discredit justly attaching to the obsolete order in which it is embodied.
What remained when the keystone of the arch was removed, was private rights and private interests, the materials of a society rather than a society itself.
for the most obvious and fundamental of all rights was property—property absolute and unconditioned—and those who possessed it were regarded as the natural governors of those who did not.
... that if gathering the acorns, or other fruits of the earth, makes a right to them, then any one may ingross as much as he will. To which I answer, Not so. The same law of nature, that does by this means give us property, does also bound that property too. ... As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his Tabour fix a property in: whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others.
They thought it a monstrous injustice that the citizen should pay one-tenth of his income in taxation to an idle Government, but quite reasonable that he should pay one-fifth of it in rent to an idle landlord
it carried without criticism into the new world of capitalist industry categories of private property and freedom of contract which had been forged in the simpler economic environment of the pre-industrial era.
The magnificent formulæ in which a society of farmers and master craftsmen enshrined its philosophy of freedom are in danger of becoming fetters used by an Anglo-Saxon business aristocracy to bind insurgent movements on the part of an immigrant and semi-servile proletariat.
... it immensely simplifies the problems of social life in complex communities. For it relieves them of the necessity of discriminating between different types of economic activity and different sources of wealth, between enterprise and avarice, energy and unscrupulous greed, property which is legitimate and property which is theft, the just enjoyment of the fruits of labor and the idle parasitism of birth or fortune.