Lazy Luddite Log

27.6.06

Quota

I have been looking over saved messages in my yahoo account and coming across old 'signature' quotes I had appended to my messages in the past. Now (ever since I got this blog) my sig is simply a link to Lazy Luddite Log but before that I would have quotes at the end of my messages and only change the quote every several months. For interest sake I will put all those past sig quotes here...


I don't know what it is I'm looking for
And until it's found I won't be sure

- From 'On the Shoreline' by Genesis


Abiline (adjective):
Descriptive of the pleasing coolness
on the reverse side of the pillow.

- From 'The Deeper Meaning of Liff'
by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd


And he that breaks a thing to find out
what it is has left the path of wisdom.

- Gandalf the Grey in 'Lord of the Rings'


A society that will trade a little liberty for a
little order will lose both, and deserve neither.

- Thomas Jefferson


They all have some significance to me in one way or another. The Genesis line resonated with me at a time in which I felt like life was some kind of maze in which I was lost (this feeling returns from time-to-time). Naturally it works better as part of the overall song.

The redefining of Abiline is important to me as it says to me that there are things for which we lack words but still all share as experiences. Till the moment I had read 'Meaning of Liff' I had never known that anyone but me turns over pillows in the hope of finding that ellusive coolness.

One of my favourite bits of Lord of the Rings (which is omitted from the movies) is an argument between Gandalf and Saruman in which this line seems particularly significant. It seems overly cautious a philosophy but in the context of the story makes perfect sense.

And finally I was using the Jefferson quote during a time in which governments were responding to international terrorism by curbing the rights of those they serve. It was intended to be a comment on the danger of such action. At the time a surprising number of friends (who I can only assume are with me on objecting to governments using terrorism as a justification for limiting civil rights) expressed reservations about me using that quote. I wonder why. Seems a fine statement to me even if it may overstate the case.

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4 Comments:

  • 'A society that will trade a little liberty for a
    little order will lose both, and deserve neither'
    - Thomas Jefferson

    I've never been able to figure how that statement is true. It seems to be saying that no liberty can be sacrificed for order, as order will not follow from reduced liberty.

    As I see it, though, we do trade liberty for order in our society, and with enforcement, the trade-off seems to me to work on balance. eg: Drivers are not at liberty to travel at 100kph through areas of regular heavy pedestrian traffic = safer and more orderly towns and cities.

    I do see that the quote is being used as a caution against ceding too much liberty for too little order with regard to counter-terrorism laws, and I agree that that is bad, and is happening. Still, I'm not sure that that is exactly what Mr Jefferson said.

    By Blogger Jac, At 03 July, 2006  

  • If the quote was expanded upon to recognise the complex relationship between freedom and stability in all contingencies then it would cease to be a powerful and resonant statement and become just another paragraph in some political sociology textbook.

    From what I have read it seems Jefferson was erring on the side of caution. At the time oppression was the norm and a condition that other conditions were very likely to revert to. As such every effort needed to be made to preserve any kind of liberty won and if push came to shove then too much was better than too little.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 12 July, 2006  

  • The context really helps, thanks. Powerful resonant rallying cries made in times of oppression deserve far more leeway for 'overstating the case'.

    By Blogger Jac, At 12 July, 2006  

  • I do have to be careful however to note that the American settlers at the time of the Declaration of Independence (1776) were far from the most oppressed society in history. Indeed the comparative civility of the British may well have been a contributing factor in the success of the American Revolution.

    It is a very complex bit of history as I have only recently began to understand from reading both non-fiction and fictional texts on the topic.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 17 July, 2006  

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