Quotations

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“Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  – George Orwell

 

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” – HL Mencken

 

“He that goeth about to persuade a multitude, that they are not so well governed as they ought to be, shall never want attentive and favourable hearers; because they know the manifold defects whereunto every kind of regiment is subject, but the secret lets and difficulties, which in public proceedings are innumerable and inevitable, they have not ordinarily the judgement to consider.” (Richard Hooker, Of the Law of Ecclesiastical Polity)    [In other words, it’s easy to win attention and agreement by criticizing the government; it is less easy to govern well.  – ed.]


Saruman conversing with Gandalf: “”I am Saruman, the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!’
I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
‘I liked white better,’ I said.
‘White!’ he sneered. ‘It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.’ – JRR Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

 

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  – George Orwell

 

[General Robert E.] “Lee firmly put down talk of guerrilla warfare and reminded his subordinates that they must henceforth think of ‘the country as a whole.’ To Virginia soldiers who pressed around him after the surrender, he gave the advice: ‘Go home, all you boys who fought with me, and help to build up the shattered fortunes of our old state.’  – The Great Republic, D.C. Heath and Co. (1977)

 

“The second case is that of James L. Orr of South Carolina, a secessionist who had sat in the Confederate Senate. After serving as the Johnsonian governor of his state, Orr switched to the radicals and in 1868 was rewarded with a circuit judgeship. In a private letter he explained why he now supported the Republicans: It is “important for our prominent men to identify themselves with the radicals for the purpose of controlling their action and preventing mischief to the state.”  – The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877 (New York, 1965)

 

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”  – George Orwell

 

“From 1763 to 1782, by which time the American colonies had been lost, it would be hard to think of a more dismal succession of nonentities than the men who, as First Lords of the Treasury (Prime Minister), had charge of Britain’s affairs – the Earl of Bute, George Grenville, the Marquis of Rockingham, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord North. And behind them, in key jobs, were other boobies like Charles Townshend and Lord George Germaine.

This might not have mattered quite so much if the men they faced across the Atlantic had been of ordinary stature, of average competence and character. Unfortunately for Britain – and fortunately for America – the generation that emerged to lead the colonies into independence was one of the most remarkable group of men in history – sensible, broad-minded, courageous, usually well educated, gifted in a variety of ways, mature, and long-sighted, sometimes lit by flashes of genius. It is rare indeed for a nation to have at its summit a group so variously gifted as Washington and Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Adams. And what was particularly providential was the way in which their strengths and weaknesses compensated each other, so that the group as a whole was infinitely more formidable than the sum of its parts…Great events in history are determined by all kinds of factors, but the most important single one is always the quality of the people in charge; and never was this principle more convincingly demonstrated than in the struggle for American independence.   – History of the American People, Paul Johnson

 

“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, all of them imaginary.” – HL Mencken

 

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”  – George Orwell

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