Nowhere to run


As it's Quote of the Week, the Online Library of Liberty cites Edward Gibbon (pictured) on the dangers, in terms of human freedom, of a unified empire. In a large, unified state, he says, opponents of tyranny have nowhere to escape to. That is – or was – very different from the Europe of Gibbon's day, which was divided into a number of independent countries, giving individuals the chance of going somewhere else if government became too oppressive.

"The slave of Imperial despotism, whether he was condemned to drag his gilded chain in Rome and the senate, or to wear out a life of exile on the barren rock of Seriphus, or the frozen banks of the Danube, expected his fate in silent despair. To resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly. On every side he was encompassed with a vast extent of sea and land, which he could never hope to traverse without being discovered, seized, and restored to his irritated master."

– Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)