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Pithy Sayings

Politics


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Still Hate Thatcher
[A t-shirt slogan from RedMolotov]

I want to say thank you to the president for all the bad decisions that he's making – for the bad cabinet appointments that he's made and for awakening a sleeping giant. People that have never stood up for themselves, people that have never had their voices heard, that have never put their bodies on the line are now outraged. I would like to say thank you to President Trump for his bigotry, for his sexism, for bringing all of us in the nation together to stand up and unite.
[Mekasi Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation member, quoted in No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, 2017]

Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.
[From "He Was a Crook" by Hunter S Thompson in Rolling Stone, June 16, 1994]

Only nut cases want to be president. This was true even in high school. Only clearly disturbed people ran for class president.
[From A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, 2005]

[E]lectibility to high office requires talents unrelated to those for governing and leading. ... The democratic process starts not with a proper job description but with an ability to charm TV viewers and appear either as "one of the guys" or as a remote, admired prince (or, even better, both). ... A talent for speech delivery, including the ability to read from a teleprompter while appearing to improvise, is more crucial than experience, familiarity with global issues, and leadership.
[From "Technology May Endanger Democracy" by Haim Harari in What Should We Be Worried About?, by John Brockman, 2014]

I deny everything.
[Mr Gregsbury, politician, in Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, 1839]

The only question for the U.S. is what's our national interest, and if you don't like that, I'm sorry but that's the fact.
[John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations, in a 1994 speech]

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
[From Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T E Lawrence, 1935]

Only people with a home and a secure job, and therefore an assured material future, are citizens who will adopt democracy and make it a living reality. The simple truth is that without material security there is no political freedom, no democracy, and therefore a threat to everyone from new and old totalitarian regimes and ideologies.
[From the article "Kapitalismus ohne Arbeit" by Ulrich Beck, sociologist, in Der Spiegel, number 20, 1996]

I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I do know that these corporate forces have us by the throat. And they have my children by the throat. I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.
[From Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges, 2015]

People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.
[Hugo Weaving, in the film V for Vendetta, 2005]

The state, however big, cannot make people equal or better human beings. All it can do is to treat its citizens equally, and strive to ensure that their free activities are directed towards the general good. After a century dominated by the twin totalitarianisms of Communism and Fascism, one can only hope that this lesson has been learned. As we enter the twenty-first century we must try to strengthen our democracy, both as a source of freedom and of social justice, lest the disadvantaged and the disillusioned reject it again.
[From A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes, 1996]

The people who run the world today are psychopaths. ... All they care about is the economy because that means money. A virus is sweeping through the human race. At the top, all over the world, we are rotting away as a species from the top down. The leaders have gone beyond greed to the sheer amassing of power. There is no effective morality, just power.
[Farley Mowat, quoted in Party of One by Michael Harris, 2014]

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
[Lord Acton, 1834 to 1902]

"I couldn't believe it when they told me what you were putting on the air for political commercials—it's unheard of!"
"People telling the truth, yes," I nodded. "Never been done, as far as I know. ... You see, it isn't enough to be less bad. Less bad is still bad."
[From The Merchants' War by Frederik Pohl, 1984]

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
Who will guard the guardians themselves?
[From Satire VI by Juvenal, circa 115 AD]

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
[From "The Revolutionist's Handbook" in the play Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw, 1903]

Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
[Cæsar in the play Cæsar and Cleopatra by George Bernard Shaw, 1898]

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
[Albert Einstein, 1879 to 1955]

A society that speaks with only one voice is not a stable society.
[From Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, 2016]

It [The Prisoner] is solidly grounded in the perpetual struggle between the right of the individual to be individual and the right of the state to govern. The struggle between the individual and society is seen as a perpetual struggle, but one that must be taken seriously and fought. If the individual fights, he or she is guaranteed only that the war will continue. If the individual doesn't fight, however, the war is over; the individual loses, and the future looks very bleak indeed.
[From The Official Prisoner Companion by Matthew White and Jaffer Ali, 1988]

I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered!
[Number Six in the TV series The Prisoner, 1967]

If you have an ID card, it is solely for the purpose of allowing the government to compel you to produce it. This would essentially give the government the power to demand that we show our papers. It is a very dangerous thing.
[Tom Campbell, 1952 to ?, Professor of Law]

The price of freedom is death.
[Malcolm X, quoted in Blood Brothers by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, 2016]

Entrenched paradigms never move ... until outside forces move them. And those forces always come from the bottom up. The people who sit on the throne tend to like things the way they are. They have no reason to change until they are forced to do so.
[From "Declare Your Independence" by Joel Salatin in Food, Inc. edited by Karl Weber, 2009]

Rule is not directed towards the welfare of the ruled. Rule is for power.
[From 1985 by Anthony Burgess, 1978]

A tax cut inevitably results in a spending cut. That's the part they never tell you.
[From "Tax Cuts: Part of the Problem, Not the Solution" by Trish Hennessy in Canada After Harper, edited by Ed Finn, 2015]

If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others like?
[From Candide by Voltaire, 1759]

McWorld advocates will argue that the "market" does "serve" individuals by empowering them to "choose" but the choice is always about which items to buy and consume, never about whether to buy and consume anything at all; or about the right to earn an income that makes consumption possible; or about how to regulate and contain consumption so that it does not swallow up other larger public goods that cannot be advanced in the absence of democratic public institutions.
[From Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamon R Barber, 1995]

The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.
[From Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, 2005]

Therefore, what?
[An acid query said to have been thrown by Lyndon Johnson at a group of professors who had just briefed him on the Middle Eastern situation, quoted in "How should we treat the environment" by F K Hare in Science, 1970, pages 352 to 357]

Age and Treachery will always overcome Youth and Skill.
[Original author unknown]

Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.
[Original author unknown]

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
[Science Officer Spock]

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
[From A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow, 1996]


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