If transported to modern times, George Orwell would not have been surprised at all.
I’ve been collecting quotes for decades, and you can find hundreds of my favorites here. Here are a few that I discovered recently:
“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. ”
“Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.
If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neocorporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.
If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whose hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.
The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering.
Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.”
Every Organization rests upon a mountain of secrets.
If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”
“The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it.”
No man is rich enough to buy back his past.
“Science dies without the free flow of information. The same can be said of democracy.” -Charles Pierce, of Esquire.
“Noah’s Ark: Because the largest and most thorough act of genocide in history makes a great children’s story.”
– On Facebook
I don’t write them; I merely collect them. There’s no particular topic. These are some of the quotes I’ve enjoyed and collected over the past couple of months:
“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something.”
Mitch Hedberg (1968 – 2005)
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
Upton Sinclair (1878 – 1968)
“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”
“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. Then they build monuments to you.”
— Nicholas Klein
Trade Union Address for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 1918
“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.”
Jerry Seinfeld (1954 – )
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005)
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”
Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)
“Be careful who you pick as your enemies as you have a tendency to become like them”.
Bill Russell/Boston Celtics
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an
evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.”
“Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”
― Jon Stewart
“Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that “Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,” as if that makes you somehow cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liar s and panderers The government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.”
“We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”
“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” Frederick Douglass
“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.”
Gore Vidal (1925 – )
“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.”
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
― Howard Zinn
“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
I decided to spend an hour collecting some of my favorite quotes of George Orwell. It’s amazing how timeless he was, which is another way of saying that he understood human beings extremely well. Here are some of his quotes:
All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.
Enlightened people seldom or never possess a sense of responsibility.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.
Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.
One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.
Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.
The whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish day-dream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.
The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being, but to remind him that he is already degraded.
To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.
There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.
War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
A DI reader named Mike Baker provided me with his collection of quotes on quite a few topics, including a section he titled “War and Peace.” It is largely from Mike’s collection that I selected the following quotes:
War is not the continuation of politics with different means, it is the greatest mass-crime perpetrated on the community of man.
It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. ~Alfred Adler
“In war, truth is the first casualty.”
A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.
“War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle.”
– Thomas Carlyle
If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
–Moshe Dayan (1915 – 1981)
History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
It’ll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.
~Author unknown, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs
Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953
[More . . . ]
I really enjoy a good quote; it’s like getting a novel in a sentence or two. Here’s are some quotes that I’ve collected over the past couple of months. No particular topic. I hope you enjoy them:
“The initial mystery that attends any journey is how did the traveler reach his starting point in the first place.”
Louise Bogan, Journey Around my Room
“The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.”
Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)
“Things are going to get unimaginably worse, and they are never, ever going to get better again!”
Kurt Vonnegut (at a graduation speech) (mentioned by Lawrence Krauss at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo )
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Voltaire (1694 – 1778)
“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
“It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.”
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940), “The Crack-Up” (1936)
“My point in Sexual Personae is that one cannot make any kind of firm line between high art and pornography. In fact, porn permeates the high art tradition.”
Camille Paglia Vamps and Tramps, p. 123
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics. You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode. So forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here today.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo “A Universe from Nothing” (min 16:40)
[More . . . ]
Like many people, I’m a collector of quotes. This batch includes some of my favorite quotes concerning the freedom of speech and press:
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of
“The one thing that’s worse than hearing about all that violence and all that bad news on
television is not being permitted to hear it.”
“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution–not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”
John F. Kennedy http://surftofind.com/secrecy
“When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to
keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without
newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the
latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading
“If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”
“Nothing could be more irrational than to give the people power, and to withhold from them
information without which power is abused. A people who mean to be their own governors must
arm themselves with power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular
information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps
“To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs
which have been obtained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.”
[More . . . ]
Here are some more quotes I have collected over the past few months. No particular overall topic here:
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.
Don Marquis (1878 – 1937)
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.
Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)
“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.
Jean Giraudoux (1882 – 1944)
There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980)
A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
“Almost nobody’s competent, Paul. It’s enough to make you cry to see how bad most people are at their jobs. If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.” http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut
The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.
Anatole France (1844 – 1924)
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire.
If one sticks too rigidly to one’s principles, one would hardly see anybody.
Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.
Robertson Davies, “What’s Bred in the Bone”
It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
Alfred Adler (1870 – 1937)
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.
Jack Handey (1949 – ), Deep Thoughts
I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
Franklin P. Adams (1881 – 1960)
The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983)
To the living we owe respect. To the dead we owe only the truth. – Voltaire
A newspaper consists of just the same number of words, whether there be any news in it or not.
Henry Fielding (1707 – 1754)
“Why do you write strong female characters?”
Answer by Joss Whedon: “Because you’re still asking me that question.” http://mlkshk.com/p/8TNP
You can pretend to be serious; you can’t pretend to be witty.
Sacha Guitry (1885 – 1957)
I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.
E. V. Lucas
“If every trace of every single religion were wiped out and nothing were passsed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”
-Penn Jillette, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales