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C.S. Lewis on Tyranny

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  • norgesen
    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2008
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      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
       
       
       
       
       
      God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis

      C.S. Lewis

      (1898-1963)





      Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith.

      Unpublished letter (20 February 1955).




      Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all created beings the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God.

      Reflections on the Psalms, ch. 3.




      Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.

      The Great Divorce, ch. 9.




      Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

      The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, Res Judicatae (June 1953).




      I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is going wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated.

      Of Other Worlds, p. 81.




      The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish.

      The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, Res Judicatae (June 1953).

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      The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment

      C.S. Lewis

      http://www.angelfire.com/pro/lewiscs/humanitarian.html

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      God in the Dock

       

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