The 39 Most Interesting Tibor Machan Quotes

Tibor Machan was a well known philosopher who wrote extensively on liberty and individual rights. He was quite influential in his writings on liberty and freedom but the influence was more in an academic way and he is relatively unknown by most people He passed away in March 2016 but his writings live on to influence philosophical thinking in our current era.

Machan wrote 40 books and over 100 academic papers so he left behind an extensive record of his thinking and philosophy. If you would like to learn more about his philosophy, we would highly recommend his book: Human Rights and Human Liberties: A Radical Reconsideration of the American Political Tradition

His quotes are very focused on the topics of liberty and individual rights. Enjoy!

“The right to private property translates into as concrete an indicator as possible the practical requirements for respecting the rights to life and liberty. It makes clear that those rights require a sphere of personal jurisdiction secured by property law.” –Tibor R. Machan

“People are learning to depend on government to do a great deal for them that it shouldn’t be doing at all.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Politicians are leaches, mostly.”  — Tibor R. Machan

“The education of citizens in the philosophy of freedom must be the concern of all those who consider the free society the proper kind of social system under which man can live with his fellow men.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Not only does the system of private property respect the rights of individuals to the fruits of their labor and good judgments…but the alternative of public control seems to be inherently irrational.” –Tibor R. Machan

“What capitalism and liberalism stress is that each individual ought to be protected in his or her liberty to act as he or she chooses.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Human beings are first and foremost moral agents…This implies that any decent society must make room for free choice for individuals…to make the moral agency of individual human beings a real, practical possibility.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Just as market agents can make bad judgments, so can those who would intervene with the behavior of market agents.” –Tibor R. Machan

“An unfree system is to the extent of its lack of freedom a dehumanized system. What needs to be accepted is that the utopian dream of making people perfect through limiting or regulating voluntary, self- regarding conduct is a dangerous dream, not some beautiful ideal.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Collective planning is not only inefficient but morally reprehensible. It implies the undermining of the moral nature of individual human beings.” –Tibor R. Machan

“All the moral virtues require, for their exercise in human community life, the protection of the rights to life, liberty, and property.” –Tibor R. Machan

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“Whereas the meaning of the right to liberty had been that one ought to be free to go it on his own initiative, without uninvited intrusion from others—which also meant that other people could not be conscripted to be one’s means for even the most benign objectives—today one has a “human right” to nearly everything one values or likes.” –Tibor R. Machan

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“It is not the business of a legal system to make people good, to get them to behave well, to engineer their perfection. Rather, it is to provide them room in the company of others to take up the challenge of their moral nature! And this challenge is most accessible to them in a legal system in which there exists strict adherence to the principle of private property rights.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Liberty, limited government, and natural or human rights…are not subject to majority rule.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Virtually all attacks on liberty…rest upon a basic moral error. This is the error of confusing basic rights with what is morally or ethically right.” –Tibor R. Machan

“What one discovers about basic rights is that they represent liberties, and liberty implies the possibility of choosing a “wrong” course of action as much as a “right” one…Our basic rights, therefore, must be understood as essentially liberties; and these liberties are given political expression through Constitutional guarantees against government interference.” –Tibor R. Machan

“A constitution only spells out certain prohibitions and procedural rules, not goals. It does not specify the goals for society but makes goal-seeking possible to all members of society…to serve the innumerably varied purposes of individuals with equal respect for everyone’s task of pursuing the best possible purpose that he or she has come to identify.” –Tibor R. Machan

“The liberal tradition…sees human freedom (from aggression by others) as valuable in itself, because it is a constituent part of human goodness.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Collectivism is a mistake in part because no collective capacities exist apart from those which individuals create through pooling their individual faculties and other resources.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Equality as moral agents…must rest on natural, individual, human rights to life, liberty, and property, and be protected in an integrated, principled manner.” –Tibor R. Machan

“There is good reason that governments do not create rights for us—we have them, instead, by virtue of our human nature.” –Tibor R. Machan

“To be sure, there are risks associated with living as free men and women. But they are not so great as the risks involved in allowing bureaucrats to violate our rights to free judgment and action, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Only when a person has a defined sphere of authority will he have the capacity to make meaningful, concrete moral judgments…That is the first reason why private property rights are necessary for human community life: that sphere can be threatened, attacked, and undermined, and so it must be secure.” –Tibor R. Machan

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“It doesn’t seem to occur to…critics of liberty that without the right to private property it is not possible to choose to pursue…allegedly higher goals.” –Tibor R. Machan

“No community…has priority over the adult individual’s personal responsibility to decide what to do in his life. Those communities are in fact derivative of the decisions and choices made by innumerable individuals.” –Tibor R. Machan

“All interests are private and vested. The only bona fide public interest is one that actually benefits everyone equally. And there are very few such projects in any community—mostly they amount to keeping the peace and preserving the rule of law.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Perhaps the worst thing about modern industrial life has been the power of political authorities to grant special privileges to some enterprises to violate the rights of third parties whose permission would be too expensive to obtain.” –Tibor R. Machan

“Human beings…do not belong to anything or anyone. Their lives are their own, something that obviously rankles those who would gladly seize the chance to run them.” –Tibor R. Machan

“To put it plainly, “leaving things up to the market” means not interfering with what people do with their own resources.” –Tibor R. Machan

“If your rights can be repealed whenever a bunch of neighbors decides they should be repealed, you obviously have no rights at all. And that is not a good social setting in which to attempt to live one’s life.” –Tibor R. Machan

“The marketplace…succeeds precisely because there is no central direction and each member is free to pursue his own objectives. A free society has no purpose. Rather, it exists because it enables its members to achieve their own purposes, which they do by using spontaneous institutions to coordinate their activities.” –Tibor R. Machan” –Tibor R. Machan

“The system of private property rights…is the greatest moderator of human aspirations, keeping them in balance with the diverse and reasonable aspirations of all others.” –Tibor R. Machan

“One of the most important forms [of vigilance] in a relatively free society such as ours is to unfailingly meet arguments promoting the violation of human freedom.” –Tibor R. Machan

“What the founders were saying is…we are all equal as human beings. We are all equal in facing the task of living our lives, of choosing what to do, and in seeking to better our lot. And no one must upset this equality. No one must violate anyone’s rights.” –Tibor R. Machan

“The central novelty of the American polity was its transfer of sovereignty…to the individual human being. …It is the individual person’s life as a project to embark upon with complete authority.” –Tibor R. Machan

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“This right to life, this right to liberty, and this right to pursue one’s happiness is unabashedly individualistic, without in the slightest denying at the same time our thoroughly social nature. It’s only that our social relations, while vital to us all, must be chosen – that is what makes the crucial difference.” –Tibor R. Machan

“If welfare and equality are to be primary aims of law, some people must necessarily possess a greater power of coercion in order to force redistribution of material goods. Political power alone should be equal among human beings; yet striving for other kinds of equality absolutely requires political inequality.” –Tibor R. Machan

“It is only within a free society that the crucial moral features of human life can be protected and preserved.”–Tibor R. Machan

“The institution of taxation is not a civilized but a barbaric method to fund anything, because it amounts to nothing less than outright extortion, a gross violation of human liberty.” –Tibor R. Machan

If you appreciate these quotes, you will like our collection of Ayn Rand Quotes too!

Video: Tibor Machan’s thoughts on Ayn Rand

Tibor Machan was one of the founding partners in Reason Enterprises, which started publishing Reason magazine in 1971. He became editor in the spring of 1971 and worked with the magazine through the ’70s and ’80s as an associate editor and senior editor.

In 1978 he co-founded the Reason Foundation with Manny Klausner and Bob Poole. Today Machan holds the R. C. Hoiles Chair of Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University in Orange, California.

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We hope you enjoyed these quotes from Tibor Machan. He still remains rather elusive and unknown to most people. He was both insightful and inspirational and he made a significant contribution to the freedom movement. His passion for liberty shines through his writings. If you would like to learn more, we would highly recommend his book: Human Rights and Human Liberties: A Radical Reconsideration of the American Political Tradition

Image Credit: Rainer Ebert from Heidelberg, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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