Government being intended to protect men from the injuries of one another, and not to direct them in their own affairs, in which no one is interested but themselves; it is plain, that their thoughts and domestic concerns are exempted entirely from its jurisdiction.

—Thomas Gordon. Cato’s Letters No. 62, An Enquiry into the Nature and Extent of Liberty; with Its Loveliness and Advantages, and the Vile Effects of Slavery, Saturday, January 20, 1722.

Tyranny has always sought to crush resistance at its source and to this end has always tried to coerce the people into uniformity of opinion. Once this jurisdiction is conceded, even on benevolent pretexts, it only serves to accustom the people to accept ever deeper inroads into their liberties. It is for this reason that any claim by government to regulate or even influence the thoughts of the people must be fiercely resisted. Actions—and only actions—fall within the jurisdiction of the law.

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