To live securely, happily, and independently is the end and effect of liberty; and it is the ambition of all men to live agreeably to their own humours and discretion … therefore all men are animated by the passion of acquiring and defending property, because property is the best support of that independency, so passionately desired by all men.

—Thomas Gordon. Cato’s Letters No. 68, Property and commerce secure in a free government only; with the consuming miseries under simple monarchies, Saturday, March 3, 1722.

To live freely and independently is the greatest joy known to man. Conversely, working hard for the benefit of one’s comrades, or to put a Soviet astronaut in space, or to build bigger and better missiles, did nothing but drive the Russians to drink. For seventy years the only happiness that poor, benighted people knew was to be found in the haze of vodka-induced insensibility.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove