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When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.

Anatole France

Anyone tempted to take the attribution of aphorisms and well-known sayings too seriously should read Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations, by Ralph Keyes. This book is unfortunately out of print. Keyes’ rules of misquotation are:

  • Axiom 1. Any Quotation That Can Be Altered Will Be.
    • Corollary 1A: Vivid words hook misquotes in the mind.
    • Corollary 1B: Numbers are hard to keep straight.
    • Corollary 1C: Small changes can have a big impact (or: What a difference an A makes).
    • Corollary 1D: If noted figures don’t say what needs to be said, we’ll say it for them.
    • Corollary 1E: Journalists are a less than dependable source of accurate quotes.
    • Corollary 1F: Famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.
  • Axiom 2. Famous Quotes Need Famous Mouths.
    • Corollary 2A: Well-known messengers get credit for clever comments they report from less celebrated mouths.
    • Corollary 2B: Particularly quotable figures receive more than their share of quotable quotes.
    • Corollary 2C: Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person.
    • Corollary 2D: Who you think said something may depend on where you live.
    • Corollary 2E: Vintage quotes are considered to be in the public domain.
    • Corollary 2F: In a pinch, any orphan quote can be called a chinese proverb.

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.

T.S. Eliot, in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, Chapter on Philip Massinger

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Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
John Maynard Keynes, New Statesman and Nation (15 July 1933)
…everything except ourselves is judged by its own properties: we praise a horse for its vigour and dexterity…we do not praise it for its harness. We praise a greyhound for its speed not for its neck-band; a hawk, for its wing not for its bells and its leg-straps. So why do we not similarly value a man for qualities which are really his? He may have a great suite of attendants, a beautiful palace, great influence and a large income: all that may surround him but it is not in him.
Michel de Montaigne, On the inequality there is between us, as translated by M. A. Screech in The Complete Essays
Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes it visible.
Paul Klee, Creative Credo, 1920, as quoted at Some Quotable Quotes for Statistics
There are two ways to slide easily through life: Namely, to believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.
Alfred Korzybski, Manhood of Humanity
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.
Winston Churchill
The obscure we always see sooner or later; the obvious always seems to take a little longer.
Edward R. Murrow
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
Certainty about the world does not make the world more certain. The easiest road to moral clarity is a refusal to learn from complex events.
Paul Wells, Macleans.Ca essay
Ideology—that is, the doctrines, opinions, or way of thinking of an individual, a class, a nation, or an empire—is as tricky a substance to use in international conflicts as poison gas. It too has a tendency to blow back onto the party releasing it.
Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, Chapter 8
The men of the higher circles are not representative men; their high position is not a result of moral virtue; their fabulous success is not firmly connected with meritorious ability. Those who sit in the seats of the high and the mighty are selected and formed by the means of power, the sources of wealth, the mechanics of celebrity, which prevail in their society. They are not men selected and formed by a civil service that is linked with the world of knowledge and sensibility. They are not men shaped by nationally responsible parties that debate openly and clearly the issues this nation now so unintelligently confronts. They are not men held in responsible check by a plurality of voluntary associations which connect debating publics with the pinnacles of decision. Commanders of power unequaled in human history, they have succeeded within the American system of organized irresponsibility.
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, concluding paragrah
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.
Abraham Lincoln
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead
Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge: fitter to bruise than polish.
Anne Bradstreet, poet (1612-1672)
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt
There is no such thing at this date of the world’s history in America as an independent press. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinion, and if you did, you know beforehand it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things. And any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allow my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours, my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it, and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and the vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks. They pull the strings, and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.
a quote found on the Internet, attributed to John Swinden, 1953, then head of the New York Times, when asked to toast an independent press in a gathering at the National Press Club
Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent.
Gore Vidal, 1991
Today the methods are different—now it’s not the threat of force that ensures the media will present things within a framework that serves the interests of the dominant institutions, the mechanisms today are much more subtle. But nevertheless, there is a complex system of filters in the media and educational institutions which ends up ensuring that dissident perspectives are weeded out, or marginalized in one way or another. And the end result is in fact quite similar: what are called opinions “on the left” and “on the right” in the media represent only a limited spectrum of debate, which reflects the needs of private power—but there’s essentially nothing beyond those “acceptable” positions. … So you see, in our system what you might call “state propaganda” isn’t expressed as such, as it would be in a totalitarian society—rather it’s implicit, it’s presupposed, it provides the framework for debate among the people who are admitted into the mainstream discussion. In fact, the nature of Western systems of indoctrination is typically not understood by dictators; they don’t understand the utility for propaganda purposes of having “critical debate” that incorporates the basic assumptions of the official doctrines, and thereby marginalizes and eliminates authentic and rational critical discussion. Under what’s sometimes been called “brainwashing under freedom,” the critics, or at least the “responsible critics” make a major contribution to the cause by bounding the debate within certain acceptable limits—that’s why they’re tolerated, and in fact even honored.
Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, 1989
The threat of a centralized, monolithic, state-controlled broadcasting system is well understood and feared in the West. What is little recognized or understood is the centralizing, ideologically monolithic, and self-protecting properties of an increasingly powerful commercial broadcasting system.
Edward Herman, The Myth of the Liberal Media, 1999
Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks the whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns somersaults when there is no whip.
George Orwell

Among the corrosive lies a nation at war tells itself is that the glory—the lofty goals announced beforehand, the victories, the liberation of the oppressed—belongs to the country as a whole; but the failure—the accidents, the uncounted civilian dead, the crimes and atrocities—is always exceptional. Noble goals flow naturally from a noble people; the occasional act of barbarity is always the work of individuals, unaccountable, confusing and indigestible to the national conscience.

This kind of thinking was widely in evidence among military and political leaders after the emergence of pictures documenting American abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. These photographs do not capture the soul of America, they argued. They are aberrant.

This belief, that the photographs are distortions, despite their authenticity, is indistinguishable from propaganda. Tyrants censor; democracies self-censor. Tyrants concoct propaganda in ministries of information; democracies produce it through habits of thought so ingrained that a basic lie of war — only the good is our doing — becomes self-propagating.

Reputation, image, perception. The problem, it seems, isn’t so much the abuse of the prisoners, because we will get to the bottom of that and, of course, we’re not really like that. The problem is our reputation. Our soldiers’ reputations. Our national self-image. These photos, we insist, are not us.

But these photos are us. Yes, they are the acts of individuals (though the scandal widens, as scandals almost inevitably do, and the military’s own internal report calls the abuse "systemic"). But armies are made of individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. Great national crimes begin with the acts of misguided individuals; and no matter how many people are held directly accountable for these crimes, we are, collectively, responsible for what these individuals have done. We live in a democracy. Every errant smart bomb, every dead civilian, every sodomized prisoner, is ours.

Philip Kennicott, A Wretched New Picture Of America, 4 May 2004, Washington Post
In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man; not such as nature may offer as the prodigy of many centuries, but such as may be expected in the ordinary successions of magistracy. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.
James Madison, The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
James Madison, Political Observations, 20 April 1795, as published in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, Vol. IV, p. 491
A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.
James Madison, Letter to W.T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822, The Writings of James Madison
In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy and the market economy. For those of us who grew up believing that capitalism is the foundation of democracy and market freedom, it has been a rude awakening to realize that under capitalism, democracy is for sale to the highest bidder and the market economy is centrally planned by global megacorporations larger than most states.
David C. Korten, The Post-Corporate World, 1999
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazies; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. They are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.
H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women, 1918
The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.
Aldous Huxley, foreword to 1946 edition of Brave New World
In Germany, they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists but I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time nobody was left to speak up.
Martin Niemoeller, Dachau, 1944 (found at Gordon’s Quotations)
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.
George Orwell

Freedom is the ability to act upon our beliefs. It expands, therefore, with the scope of the action we are prepared to contemplate. If we know that we will never act, we have no freedom: we will, for the rest of our lives, do as we are told. Almost everyone has some sense that other people should be treated as she would wish to be. Almost everyone, in other words, has a notion of justice, and for most people this notion, however formulated, sits somewhere close to the heart of their system of beliefs. If we do not act upon this sense of justice, we do not act upon one of our primary beliefs, and our freedom is restricted accordingly. To be truly free, in other words, we must be prepared to contemplate revolution.

Another reason why we do not act is that, from the days of our birth, we are immersed in the political situation into which we are born, and as a result we cannot imagine our way through it; we cannot envisage that it will ever come to an end. This is why imagination is the first qualification of the revolutionary. A revolutionary is someone who recognizes the contingency of power. What sustains coercive power is not force of arms, or even capital, but belief. When people cease to believe – to believe in it as they would believe in a god, in its omnipotence, its unassailability and its validity – and when they act upon that belief, an empire can collapse, almost overnight.

Those who possess power will surrender it only when they see that the costs – physical or psychological – of retaining it are higher than the costs of losing it. There have been many occasions on which rulers possessed the means of suppressing revolt – the necessary tanks and planes or cannons and cavalry divisions – but chose not to deploy them, because they perceived that the personal effort of retaining power outweighed the effort of relinquishing it. One of the surprises of history is the tendency of some of the most inflexible rulers suddenly to give up, for no evident material reason. They give up because they are tired, so tired that they can no longer sustain the burning purpose required to retain power. They are tired because they have had to struggle against the unbelief of their people, to reassert, through a supreme psychological effort, the validity of their power.

George Monbiot, Manifesto for a New World Order
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear, 1990

Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpropitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. …

… I have never fixed my hopes there [in the sphere of power]; I’ve always been more interested in what was happening “below,” in what could be expected from “below,” what could be won there, and what defended. All power is power over someone, and it always somehow responds, usually unwittingly rather than deliberately, to the state of mind and the behavior of those it rules over. One can always find in the behavior of power, a reflection of what is going on “below.”

Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, 1986
Journalism’s main task is to monitor Power, to locate Domination and to follow its characteristics and effects on the people, to observe the relations developing between Power and the Subjugated. Even between these two ends there is always a dialogue, an exchange of behaviours, opinions, emotions, habits, influences. Power is never a one-track, one direction action.… By monitoring Power, the media is contributing to the dialogue between the sides. They are not equal, not symetrical, and still they converse. The media reports about this conversation, but it also participates in it, by the very publication. It mediates information and by doing so it helps developing the dialogue. And the media should do the impossible: scrutinize itself as to what extend it silences or not the voice of the disadvantageous party in the dialogical relations.
Amira Haas, 2004, accepting the first Anna Lind Award on 18 June 2004 in Stockholm
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. …Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. …Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass, 1849, as quoted at ZMag’s Quote Archive
Pessimism comes from the repression of creativity.
Otto Rank, 1994
Every political villain in history first persuaded himself that the end justifies the means. Nothing but ends justify means, but they do not justify any means. Where the line is drawn among means is the determinant between civilized life and savagery. Inadmissible means devour principle and corrupt their users, often forever.
Eric Sevareid
Those great and good men foresaw that troublous times would arise, when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril, unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government.
Justice David Davis, Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (4 Wall.) (1866)
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.
Noam Chomsky, quote from www.thirdworldtraveler.com

Obviously it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship (except security censorship, which no one objects to in war time) over books which are not officially sponsored. But the chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the MOI [Ministry of Information] or any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion. In this country intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face, and that fact does not seem to me to have had the discussion it deserves.

Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news – things which on their own merits would get the big headlines – being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

…And this tolerance of plain dishonesty means much more than that admiration for Russia happens to be fashionable at this moment. Quite possibly that particular fashion will not last. For all I know, by the time this book is published my view of the Soviet régime may be the generally-accepted one. But what use would that be in itself? To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.

George Orwell, quoted from Orwell’s Preface to Animal Farm
When Saddam Hussein canceled our regularly scheduled war, Sam “Strangelove” Donaldson and his hotblooded colleagues practically climbed into the F-16s themselves to finish the job.
James Poniewozik, Salon Magazine
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.
Anatole France, 1894
We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.
Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court 1916-1939 quote from www.thirdworldtraveler.com
We cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking that created them.
Albert Einstein
It is not enough merely to provide the poor with material assistance. They have to be sufficiently empowered to change their perception of themselves as helpless and ineffectual in an uncaring world.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 21 November 1994 address to WCCD in Manila
The plural of the word ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data.’ When you reason and govern from anecdote, all you are doing is inflaming passions and skewing the debate.
Larry Bensky, 14 April 1995 from a speech in Tampa Florida; transcript by Alternative Radio
Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.
Gore Vidal, writer
The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), “that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.”
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Section 10: Of Miracles
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
H.L. Mencken
Picture a pasture open to all. It is expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on [this] commons…. What is the utility…of adding one more animal?…. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility [to the herdsman] is nearly +1…. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision-making herdsman is only a fraction of -1. Adding together the…partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to the herd. And another; and another…. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that [causes] him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is limited…. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.
Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, 1968*
Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.
Stanislaw J. Lee
… At the same time, I don’t believe that we can wave a magic wand and dispose of these problems by a change of ownership, or that all we need do to remedy the situation is bring back capitalism. The point is that capitalism, albeit on another level and not in such trivial forms, is struggling with the same problems (alienation, after all, was first described under capitalism): it is well known, for instance, that enormous private multinational corporations are curiously like socialist states; with industrialization, centralization, specialization, monopolization, and finally with automation and computerization, the elements of depersonalization and the loss of meaning in work become more and more profound everywhere. …
Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, 1986
There is now an almost religious faith in the market, a least among the elite, so that regardless of evidence, markets are assumed to be benevolent and nonmarket mechanisms are suspect.
Edward Herman, The Myth of the Liberal Media, 1999
For all their power and vitality, markets are only tools. They make a good servant but a bad master and a worse religion.
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism
The official definitions of progress confuse more with better, costs with gains, borrowing with earnings, and means with ends. To achieve real progress we must learn to distinguish these again.
Redefining Progress, in the Atlantic Monthly, 1995
Globalization today is not working for many of the world’s poor. It is not working for much of the environment. It is not working for the stability of the global economy.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, Globalization And Its Discontents, 2002, co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel prize in Economics
Even a cursory inspection of the historical record reveals that a persistent theme in American foreign policy has been the subversion and overthrow of parliamentary regimes, and the resort to violence to destroy popular organizations that might offer the majority of the population an opportunity to enter the political arena.
Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy
If Lech Walesa had been doing his organizing work in El Salvador, he would have already entered into the ranks of the disappeared, at the hands of “heavily armed men dressed in civilian clothes”; or have been blown to pieces in a dynamite attack on his union headquarters. If Alexander Dubcek were a politician in our country, he would have been assassinated like Héctor Oquelí [the social democratic leader assassinated in Guatemala, by Salvadoran death squads, according to the Guatemalan government]. If Andrei Sakharov had worked here in favor of human rights, he would have met the same fate as Herbert Anaya [one of the many murdered leaders of the independent Salvadoran Human Rights Commission CDHES]. If Ota-Sik or Václav Havel had been carrying out their intellectual work in El Salvador, they would have woken up one sinister morning, lying on the patio of a university campus with their heads destroyed by bullets of an elite army battalion.
The journal Proceso of the Jesuit University of El Salvador, quoted by John Reed in the Guardian, May 23, 1990
One is tempted to believe that some people in the White House worship Aztec gods — with the offering of Central American blood.
Julio Godoy, Guatemalan journalist whose newspaper, La Epoca, was blown up by state terrorists
People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador; they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones while parents are forced to watch. … The aesthetics of terror in El Salvador is religious.
Reverend Daniel Santiago, a Catholic priest in El Salvador
There’s a famous definition in the Gospels of the hypocrite, and the hypocrite is the person who refuses to apply to himself the standards he applies to others. By that standard, the entire commentary and discussion of the so-called War on Terror is pure hypocrisy, virtually without exception.
Noam Chomsky, Power and Terror, 2003
In brief, for the United States, Eurasian geostrategy involves the purposeful management of geostrategically dynamic states and the careful handling of geopolitically catalytic states, in keeping with the twin interests of America in the short-term preservation of its unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into increasingly institutionalized global cooperation. To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
Zbigniew Brzezinkski, National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under Ronald Reagan, etc. in The Grand Chessboard
But it was impossible to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work. Trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home. Multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons. The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on; the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose. There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.
Mark Twain
To children today, the war was something in the dusty past, as ancient as Caesar. They wonder why their parents are forever using the phrases before the war or after the war. It is because war is a watershed in the life of a nation and a person. Nothing is ever the same again. The last great war crucified some American families and made others rich. It threw up new leaders and broke the careers of some who pretended to be leaders. It broke bodies and hearts and moral values. It poisoned the meaning of existing words and kindled new words and meanings. It invented new ways to kill a thousand people and to cure fever in a child. It taught us that free men can build anything, pay for anything, endure anything, if they have the will to do so. The war that started 25 years ago began 25 years after the first world war had begun, but the lesson was not learned. It wasn’t learned because every generation starts life afresh, without memory and because pain and death are not multiplied in the human spirit. Because even 35 million deaths leave an empty place at only one family table. This presumably is what permits life to go on, and makes a next time always possible.
Eric Sevareid
In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God’s mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us — often a child — is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims.
Jimmy Carter, Oslo 2002, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize
The logic of war is power, and power has no inherent limit. The logic of peace is proportion, and proportion implies limitation. The success of war is victory; the success of peace is stability. The conditions of victory are commitment, the condtion of stability is self-restraint.
Henry Kissinger, A World Restored, Chapter 8
When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Today, our continuing progress is restricted not by the number of fishing boats but by the decreasing numbers of fish; not by the power of pumps but the depletion of aquifers; not by the number of chainsaws but by the disappearance of primary forests. While living systems are the source of such desired materials as wood, fish, or food, of utmost importance are the services that they offer, services that are far more critical to human prosperity than are nonrenewable resources. A forest provides not only the resource of wood but also the services of water storage and flood management. …

Humankind has inherited a 3.8-billion-year store of natural capital. At present rates of use and degradation, there will be little left by the end of [this] century. This is not only a matter of aesthetics and morality, it is of the utmost practical concern to society and all people.

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism
The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth… We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Ted Perry, 1971 (who presented them as the words of Chief Seattle in a film script)
We do not inherit the earth from our fathers. We borrow it from our children.
David Bower
I see you all as jockeys, and your companies are the horses you ride. You’re beating your horses on in a race, but now you can see that you are racing toward a stone wall. You see some of those ahead of you smashing into the wall, but you don’t turn around or even pause. You’re beating your horses on anyway as fast as you can.
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, addressing CEOs, bankers, and financiers in Davos Switzerland, 1996 as quoted by The Cultural Creatives

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the community, but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.

In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac with Essays on Conservation from Round River, 1949, as excerpted at Introduction to U.S. Environmental Law
For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? … It is certainly not lions and wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us, creatures that, I swear, Nature appears to have produced for the sake of their beauty and grace. … But nothing abashed us, not the flower-like tinting of the flesh, not the persuasiveness of the harmonious voice, not the cleanliness of their habits or the unusual intelligence that may be found in the poor wretches. No, for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being…
Plutarch, essayist and biographer, c.AD 46 – c.120, from the essay On the Eating of Flesh
I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.
Dimitri Merejkowski, The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci
The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.
Charles Darwin
There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.
Charles Darwin
Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.
Charles Darwin
Pain is pain, whether it be inflicted on man or on beast; and the creature who suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible to the misery of it, whilst it lasts, suffers evil… The white man…can have no right, by virtue of his color, to enslave and tyrannize over a black man… For the same reason, a man can have no natural right to abuse and torment a beast.
Dr. Humphrey Primatt, 1776
That cruelty can be extraordinarily satisfying cannot be denied, for cruelty is a magnifier of identity, a simplifier of social function, and the temporary resolution of insecurity and doubt… Cruelty relies on a rigid observance of the categorical distance between victim and oppressor.
Coral Lansbury, Old Brown Dog
But is any of this relevant in determining if humans or any other animals are “worthy” of moral consideration? What are the qualities which a being need possess before treating them “like an animal” would be unacceptable? … But it is we … who are presently calling the shots, and as such we have made those characteristics which are claimed to be exclusively human attributes the requirements for moral consideration. … It is only human arrogance that is able to find beauty and perfection exclusively in those things human.
Marjorie Spiegel, The Dreaded Comparison
Was there ever any domination that did not appear natural to those who possessed it?
John Stuart Mill, British philosopher and economist, 1806-1873, from www.thirdworldtraveler.com
Everyone’s values are defined by what they will tolerate when it is done to others.
William Greider
Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution.
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker
I do not see a delegation for the four-footed. I see no seat for the eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior, but we are after all a mere part of the Creation.
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, addressing the United Nations assembly, as quoted by The Sacred Depths of Nature
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
Abraham Lincoln
I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.
Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works
The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Thomas Edison
It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.
Albert Einstein
I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.
Henry David Thoreau
And in fasting, if he be really and seriously seeking to live a good life, the first thing from which he will abstain will always be the use of animal food, because … its use is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to the moral feeling — killing.
Leo Tolstoy
Animals are my friends … and I don’t eat my friends.
George Bernard Shaw
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Whether it is a white master brutally punishing his slave for using a tone of voice he doesn’t like, or a dairy farmer slaughtering his cows, the ramifications are immense. Weaving these disparate relationships together is a common thread: only the master’s perspective is considered.
Marjorie Speigel, The Dreaded Comparison
True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.
Milan Kundera
Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody’s property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our Christian-inspired attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote (most of them are destined to be spontaneously aborted anyway) can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees!
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker
If you deny any affinity with another person or kind of person, if you declare it to be wholly different from yourself—as men have done to women, and class has done to class, and nation has done to nation—you may hate it, or deify it; but in either case you have denied its spiritual equality, and its human reality. You have made it into a thing, to which the only possible relationship is a power relationship. And thus you have fatally improverished your own reality. You have, in fact, alienated yourself.
Ursula K. Le Guin, American SF and The Other
I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.
Charles Mayo (founder of the Mayo Clinic)
If you step back and look at the data, the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero.
Walter Willett, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, director of a study that found a close correlation between red meat consumption and colon cancer.
The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people,’ you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
How many anecdotes? Where did this all start? What is this about? I don’t know when it started, but I know when it got bad, really bad. It got bad under Ronald Reagan, who had a very active fantasy life. … He was convinced that he did things in the Second World War that he clearly hadn’t done. You can look it up. He didn’t do them. He would say these stories over and over again. He would remember what he’d done and he hadn’t done it. And he remembered things about welfare queens who had abused the privilege of welfare and bought Cadillacs and things like that. Perhaps there was one such person. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. But what does that prove? Government by anecdote. … The federal government in the Office of Technology Assessment, in the Congressional Budget Office, in the Congressional Research Service, and in several other bureaus, … is very good at generating statistics that are good points of discussion because they’re accurate. But accurate statistics have the inconvenience of destroying prejudices. And if you find, for example, that the average woman who receives public assistance in this country is on for less than two years and has only 1.5 children, very much would like to get off public assistance, but has certain inconveniences, like lack of education, drug and alcohol habits, abusive former or current mates hanging around driving her nuts, you add all those up and you find that sixty or seventy percent of the women in this country terribly need some program that would deal with all the aforementioned problems. They’re not sitting home watching TV on fat welfare checks, breeding more. There may be some, but there aren’t very many. That’s not what data says. That’s what anecdotes say.
Larry Bensky, 14 April 1995
One of the important distinctions between ideology and science is that science recognizes the limitations on what one knows. There is always uncertainty.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, Globalization And Its Discontents, 2002, co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel prize in Economics
It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings collected together are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately. It is a great consolation to me that our government, as it cherishes most its duties to its own citizens, so is it the most exact in its moral conduct towards other nations. I do not believe that in the four administrations which have taken place, there has been a single instance of departure from good faith towards other nations. We may sometimes have mistaken our rights, or made an erroneous estimate of the actions of others, but no voluntary wrong can be imputed to us. In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phaenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of its government and the probity of its citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue & interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of its people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson, 1816 letter to George Logan
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign … until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my coutry than ever before, even in the midst of war.
Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, 1864 letter
(attribution disputed at snopes.com)
The belief is common in America that the day is at hand when corporations far greater than the Erie — swaying power such as has never in the world’s history been trusted in the hands of private citizens, controlled by single men like Vanderbilt, or by combinations of men like Fisk, Gould, and Lane, after having created a system of quiet but irresistible corruption — will ultimately succeed in directing government itself. Under the American form of society, there is no authority capability of effective resistance. The national government, in order to deal with the corporations, must assume powers refused to it by its fundamental law, — and even then is exposed to the chance of forming an absolute central government which sooner or later is likely to fall into the hands it is struggling to escape, and thus destroy the limits of its power only in order make corruption omnipotent. Nor is this danger confined to America alone. The corporation is in its nature a threat against the popular institutions which are spreading so rapidly over the whole world. Wherever a popular and limited government exists this difficulty will be found in its path; and unless some satisfactory solution of the problem can be reached, popular institutions may yet find their very existence endangered.
Henry Adams, The New York Gold Conspiracy, 1870
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to the point where it becomes stronger than that of their democratic state itself.
Franklin Roosevelt
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. …We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. …In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight David Eisenhower Farewell Address to the American People, 1961
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an old institution took on a new form in the United States. Created through an unprecedented legal metamorphosis, the modern corporation was a device like nothing the world had seen before: restless, autonomous, self-perpetuating. Designed to seek profit and power, it pursued both with endless tenacity, steadily bending the framework of law and even challenging the sovereign status of the state. Where did the corporation get so much power? What is its ultimate trajectory? Perhaps no phenomenon will more deeply shape the human future than this puzzling, endlessly evolving entity.
Ted Nace, The American Invention, 2002
How many people in this room made $100,000 last year? Less than five percent of the American people make that much money. But one who did, Mikey Eisner, the head mouseketeer of Disney. In 1995 he made $100,000. Not for the year, not for the month, he didn’t make $100,000 a week; he didn’t make $100,000 a day; he made $100,000 an hour. Plus a car. Meanwhile he was knocking down the health care benefits of the minimum wage workers who were at Disney Land and Disney World.
These executives, like Michael Eisner, they get so rich that they could afford to air-condition hell. And the way they’re acting, they better be setting money aside for that project.
Jim Hightower 21 October 1997 Democracy NOW!
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
E. F. Schumacher (found at Gordon’s Quotations)
The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935)
Don’t tell me about all those millions of jobs that Bill Clinton has created; I’ve got three of them myself.
Constituent of Representative Jerrold Nadler
Every morning when the sun comes up, the gazelle wakes. He knows that he must outrun the fastest lion or he will be eaten. When the sun comes up, the lion also wakes. He knows that he must outrun the slowest gazelle or he will starve. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Look around the table. If you don’t see a sucker, get up, because you’re the sucker.
Amarillo Slim, legendary poker player
In a way, risking climate change is even more frightening than playing Russian roulette … but with the pistol pointed at the head of one’s child ….
Stephen J. Decanio, The Economics of Climate Change
Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.
Max Frisch, Postman, 1995
Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguements based upon the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of religious principle and patriotic duty.
Aldous Huxley, Propaganda in a Democratic Society, 1958
In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not forsee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.
Aldous Huxley Propaganda in a Democratic Society, 1958
To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true.
H.L. Mencken, 1919
Honorable beaters of children, sadists, uniformed and in plain clothes, distinguished Dixiecrat wearing the clothing of a gentleman, eminent Republican who opposes an accommodation with the one country with which we must live at peace in order for us and all our children to survive, my boy of fifteen left this room a few minutes ago in sound health and not jailed solely because I asked him to be in here to learn something about the procedures of the United States government and one of its committees. Had he been outside where a certain friend of mine had his head split by these goons operating under your orders, my boy today might have paid the penalty of permanent injury or a police record for desiring to come here and hear how this committee operates. If you think that I am going to cooperate with this collection of Judases, of men who sit there in violation of the United States Constitution, if you think I will cooperate with you in any way, you are insane. This body is improperly constituted. It is a kangaroo court. It does not have my respect; it has my utmost contempt.
William Mandel, KPFA programmer, 1960, testifying before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities
The government of an exclusive company of merchants is, perhaps, the worst of all governments for any country whatsoever.
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as quoted at BrainyQuote
Fighting crime by building more jails is like fighting cancer by building more cemeteries.
Paul Kelly, as quoted at UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition — Quotes
Almost certainly we are moving into an age of totalitarian dictatorships. An age in which freedom of thought will be at first a deadly sin and later on a meaningless abstraction. The autonomous individual is going to be stamped out of existence.
George Orwell, as quoted at Selections from George Orwell at conservativeforum.org
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, as quoted at BrainyQuote
Hear me people: We now have to deal with another race—small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them. These people have made many rules which the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule.
Chief Sitting Bull, speaking at the Powder River Conference, 1877, as quoted at ZMag’s Archive of Past Quotes of the Day
Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.
Noam Chomsky, Propaganda, American-style
At the age of 16, after reading a book by Tryon, Franklin made the countercultural decision to follow a Vegetable Diet. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an Inconveniency, Franklin notes, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. Notwithstanding the chiding of his peers, Franklin continued in this practice because he found that it saved him money, gave him more time to read, and increased his aptitude for his studies, since he gained that greater Clearness of Head and quicker Apprehension which usually attend Temperance in Eating and Drinking. It wasn’t long, however, before Franklin found himself unable to maintain his vow. He was traveling for the first time by ship from Boston to Philadelphia when the crew caught and fried a large quantity of codfish. Hitherto I had stuck to my Resolution of not eating animal Food, Franklin observes, and on this Occasion consider’d, with my Master Tryon, the taking every Fish as a kind of unprovoked Murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any Injury that might justify the Slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a great Lover of Fish, Franklin continues, and, when this came hot out of the Frying Pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc’d some time between Principle & Inclination, till I recollected that, when the Fish were opened, I saw smaller Fish taken out of their Stomachs: Then thought I, ‘If you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you.’ So I din’d upon Cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other People, returning only now & then occasionally to a vegetable Diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.
unknown, quoting Benjamin Franklin
No formula which expresses clearly the thought of one generation can convey the same meaning to the generation which follows.
Bishop Wescott
Such defects may be all on the surface, but they augur badly: when we see cracks in the plaster and the cladding of our walls it warns us that there are fissures in the actual masonry.
Michel De Montaigne
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
You have learnt something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something.
George Bernard Shaw’s Andrew Undershaft, Major Barbara, Act III
What do we do here when we spend years of work and thought and thousands of pounds of solid cash on a new gun or an aerial battleship that turns out just a hairsbreadth wrong after all? Scrap it. Scrap it without wasting another hour or another pound on it. Well, you have made for yourself something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It doesn’t fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it won’t scrap its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions and its old political constitutions. What’s the result? In machinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer bankruptcy every year. Don’t persist in that folly. If your old religion broke down yesterday, get a newer and a better one for tomorrow.
George Bernard Shaw’s Andrew Undershaft,, Major Barbara, Act III
Churches are suffered to exist only on condition that they preach submission to the State as at present capitalistically organized.
George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara, Preface
It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, Monticello, 13 August 1813

Quotes introducing other pages of this site

Small excerpts from some books