Thomas Szasz, RIP

Thomas Szasz, the great Hungarian champion of freedom, has passed away.

Tom was one of the great heroes of liberty of the past half century. His work had severed the chains on so many wrongfully incarcerated people.

Tom was also one libertarian who did not cast half his principles overboard after 9/11.

He will be greatly missed.

Jesse Walker has an excellent column on Szasz today.

Sheldon Richman aptly labeled Szasz “the most underappreciated libertarian.”

Though Szasz was a native Hungarian, his English was more graceful than the writing of at least 99% of Ivy League English professors. He wrote punchier, more penetrating epigrams than almost anyone else out there commenting on modern life. Here are some of my favorite Szasz lines:

*People dream of making the virtuous powerful, so they can depend on them. Since they cannot do that, people choose to make the powerful virtuous, glorifying in becoming victimized by them.

*Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.

*The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

*The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic, and to some extent even antibiotic –in short, the closest thing to a genuine panacea –known to medical science is work

*In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.

*Men often treat others worse than they treat themselves, but they rarely treat anyone better. It is the height of folly to expect consideration and decency from a person who mistreats himself.

*The stupid neither forgive or forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.

*Punishment is now unfashionable… because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.


One Response to Thomas Szasz, RIP

  1. Nicolas September 12, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    One of the great freedom fighters of modern times, was Szasz. Most libertarians ignore his ideas and are willing to cede far too much power to the state in the name of “mental health.” His writings are powerful and amazing, and deserve to be read.