When Barry Goldwater wrote “The Conscience of a Conservative” in 1960, which became a surprise bestseller, it marked a crucial event in the history of the conservative movement.

The book, which elaborates on Goldwater’s conservative ideology as contrasted with that of Republicans and Democrats alike in the post-Depression era, has withstood the test of time.

Barry Goldwater on the cover of Time, June 23, 1961. (Image Source: Time)

Barry Goldwater on the cover of Time, June 23, 1961. (Image Source: Time)

Many of the then Arizona senator and future GOP presidential nominee’s arguments about the size and scope of government continue to resonate in the battle between the Tea Party and GOP Establishment today.

As a means of gauging the elements of Goldwater’s book that have had the most profound impact on readers by remaining relevant today, we looked to Amazon Kindle’s popular highlights feature — which measures the most highlighted passages within a given book — as a proxy. Below are the 10 most popular quotes from Goldwater’s book based on the feature, ranked in descending order by number of highlights.

1. “[the] first principle of totalitarianism: that the State is competent to do all things and is limited in what it actually does only by the will of those who control the State.”

2. “Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty.”

3. “Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals, on the other hand,— in the name of a concern for “human beings”— regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society.”

4. “The Conservative knows that to regard man as part of an undifferentiated mass is to consign him to ultimate slavery.”

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5. “With this view of the nature of man [the conservative belief in the primacy of the individual], it is understandable that the Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.”

6. “Secondly, the Conservative has learned that the economic and spiritual aspects of man’s nature are inextricably intertwined. He cannot be economically free, or even economically efficient, if he is enslaved politically; conversely, man’s political freedom is illusory if he is dependent for his economic needs on the State.”

7. “We have seen that unions perform their natural function when three conditions are observed: association with the union is voluntary; the union confines its activities to collective bargaining; the bargaining is conducted with the employer of the workers concerned.”

8. “it is Socialism that subordinates all other considerations to man’s material well-being. It is Conservatism that puts material things in their proper place— that has a structured view of the human being and of human society, in which economics plays only a subsidiary role.”

9. “Subscribing to the egalitarian notion that every child must have the same education, we have neglected to provide an educational system which will tax the talents and stir the ambitions of our best students and which will thus insure us the kind of leaders we will need in the future.”

10. “Let us henceforth make war on all monopolies— whether corporate or union. The enemy of freedom is unrestrained power, and the champions of freedom will fight against the concentration of power wherever they find it.”

 

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