What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.
Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.
Politicians are interested in people, not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.
Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.
There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled; cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense; for war is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
It has been the one song of those that thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret. … but the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead. … Better that right councils be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of the affairs of a nation have it under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
And blood in torrents pour
He that is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion.
One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
When you read the history of the human family, it slowly comes to you that all the world’s oceans once fell as tears.
No kind of bomb ever built will extinguish hatred.
How did we get here?
|We have the best Congress money can buy.
You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.
When money speaks truth is silenced.
|Politicians are the only human beings in the world who are expected to take thousands of dollars from perfect strangers on important matters and not be affected by it.
To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.
The race of men, while sheep in credulity, are wolves for conformity.
Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
Whenever people say, 'We mustn't be sentimental,' you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add 'We must be realistic,' they mean they are going to make money out of it.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
For a most enlightening view of our involvement in Iraq, in the words of those bringing us the catastrophe go to: What I Heard about Iraq
Patriotism A time comes when silence is betrayal
|Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
George Jean Nathan
You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'
Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when wrong to be put right.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and the government when it deserves it.
My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders.
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
What American presidents have said:
|Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating His laws.
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers from abroad.
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 by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
I am not one of those who believe that a great army is the means of maintaining peace, because if you build up a great profession those who form parts of it want to exercise their profession.
They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.
To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day hero ... assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an un-winnable urban guerilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability.
What generals have said about war:
War is hell.
|Every war is a national calamity whether victorious or not.
General Von Moltke
I am tired and sick of war. It's glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants … we know more of war than we do of peace, more of killing than we do of living.
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.
I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger- men" to point out enemies, its "muscle-men" to destroy enemies, its "brain-men" to plan war preparations and a "Big Boss," Super-Nationalism-Capitalism.
It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot, and are hot to go to war, see it another, ... We are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started?
Sage advise from a mixed lot:
|Harry S. Truman||
Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.
A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.
You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
When anger rises, think of the consequences.
There is no way to peace; peace is the way.
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It is in the nature of tyranny to deride the will of the people as the voice of the mob, and to denounce the cry for freedom as the roar of anarchy.
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.
I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control; with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.
Wisdom of the people:
A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
Swords and guns have no eyes.
No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.
The value of possessing good sense is in using it.
When money speaks, the truth keeps silent.
The believer is happy; the doubter is wise.
Remember for the sake of our republic:
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.
The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts.
Despotism sits nowhere so secure as under the effigy and ensigns of Freedom.
Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purpose is beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.
The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.
No one can terrorize the whole nation, unless we all are his accomplices.
When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.
So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.
An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.
|Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
There is a law that man should love his neighbor as himself. In a few hundred years it should be as natural to mankind as breathing or the upright gait; but if he does not learn it he must perish.
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
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.
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
What next, where next?
Any nations right to a form of government and economic system of its own choosing is inalienable. Any nations attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.
The United States seems destined by providence to plague the Americas with miseries in the name of liberty.
He who has once begun to live by rapine always finds reasons for taking what is not his.
Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
One should respect public opinion in so far as it is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
What I Heard about Iraq by Eliot Weinberger, London Review of Books
Things we have all heard over the last few years, but put together this way it is most revealing and chilling.
I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world--this makes it hard to plan the day.
So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from war, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.
|If you have any quotes you think would add to this collection, please send it to me|