The absolute prerequisite for successful self-government in any people is the power of self-restraint
which refuses to follow either the wild-eyed extremists of radicalism or the dull-eyed extremists of reaction. Either set of extremists will wreck the Nation just as certainly as the other. (September 12, 1918.)
Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star, 213. SELF-GOVERNMENT — RESPONSIBILITIES OF. You cannot give self-government to anybody. He has got to earn it for himself. You can give him the chance to obtain self-government, but he himself out of his own heart must do the governing.
He must govern himself. That is what it means. That is what self-government means. . . . There must be control. There must be mastery, somewhere, and if there is no self- control and self-mastery, the control and the mastery will ultimately be imposed from without. (At University of Wisconsin, Madison, April 15, 1911.) Mem. Ed. XV, 548; Nat. Ed. XIII, 594.
When I say that I believe not only in the right of the people to rule, but in their duty to rule themselves and to refuse to submit to being ruled by others, I am not using a figure of speech, I am speaking of a vital issue which fundamentally affects our whole American life. I not merely admit but insist that in all government, and especially in popular government, there must be control; and, furthermore, that if control does not come from within it must come from without. Therefore it is essential that any people which engages in the difficult experiment of self-government should be able to practice self-control.
There are peoples in the world which have proved by their lamentable experiences that they are not capable of this self-control; but I contend that the American people most emphatically are capable of it. I hold that in the long run, taken as a whole, our people can and will govern themselves a great deal better than any small set of men can govern them. (At St. Louis, Mo., March 28, 1912.) Mem. Ed. XIX, 234; Nat. Ed. XVII, 172.
SELF-GOVERNMENT AND TYRANNY. The truth is, that a strong nation can only be saved by itself, and not by a strong man, though it can be greatly aided and guided by a strong man. A weak nation may be doomed anyhow, or it may find its sole refuge in a despot; a nation struggling out of darkness may able to take its first steps only by the help of a master hand, as was true of Russia, under Peter the Great; and if a nation, whether free or unfree, loses the capacity for self-government, loses the spirit of sobriety and of orderly liberty, then it has no cause to complain of tyranny; but a really great people, a people really capable of freedom and of doing mighty deeds in the world, must work out its own destiny, and must find men who will be its leaders—not its masters.
(1900.) Mem. Ed. XIII, 458; Nat. Ed. X, 334.
We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims;
Resistance is futile.
If you think you can, you are correct.
If you think you can't, you are correct.