Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category


— Anonymous (attributed to many different people)


Iain M. Banks

“Ferbin’s father had had the same robustly pragmatic view of religion as he’d had of everything else. In his opinion, only the very poor and downtrodden really needed religion, to make their laborious lives more bearable. People craved self-importance, they longed to be told that they mattered as individuals, not just as part of a mass of people or some historical process. They needed the reassurance that while their life might be hard, bitter and thankless, some reward would be theirs after death. Happily for the governing class, a well-formed faith also kept people from seeking recompense in the here and now, through riot, insurrection or revolution.

“A temple was worth a dozen barracks; a militia man carrying a gun could control a small unarmed crowd only for as long as he was present; however, a single priest could put a policeman inside the head of every one of their flock, for ever.”

Iain M. Banks, Matter


Voltairine de Cleyre

 

“And now, what has Anarchism to say to all this, this bankruptcy of republicanism, this modern empire that has grown up on the ruins of our early freedom? We say this, that the sin our fathers sinned was that they did not trust liberty wholly. They thought it possible to compromise between liberty and government, believing the latter to be a ‘necessary evil,’ and the moment the compromise was made, the whole misbegotten monster of our present tyranny began to grow.”

–Voltairine de Cleyre, “Anarchism and American Traditions” (1908)


Emma Goldman

“History tells us that every oppressed class gained true liberation from its masters through its own efforts. It is necessary that woman learn this lesson, that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve her freedom reaches.  It is therefore necessary for her to begin with her inner regeneration, to cut loose from the weight of prejudices, traditions, and customs. The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved. Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism  of the sexes, or that men and women represent two antagonistic worlds.”

–Emma Goldman, “The Tragedy of Women’s Emancipation”


“I’m a white guy. I’m a well-educated intellectual who enjoys small arthouse movies, coffeehouses and classic blues. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably mistake me for a lefty urban hipster.

“And yet. I find some of the alt-right stuff exerts a pull even on me. Even though I’m smart and informed enough to see through it. It’s seductive because I am not a person with any power or privilege, and yet I am constantly bombarded with messages telling me that I’m a cancer, I’m a problem, everything is my fault.

“I am very lower middle class. I’ve never owned a new car, and do my own home repairs as much as I can to save money. I cut my own grass, wash my own dishes, buy my clothes from Walmart. I have no clue how I will ever be able to retire. But oh, brother, to hear the media tell it, I am just drowning in unearned power and privilege, and America will be a much brighter, more loving, more peaceful nation when I finally just keel over and die.

“Trust me: After all that, some of the alt-right stuff feels like a warm, soothing bath. A “safe space,” if you will. I recoil from the uglier stuff, but some of it— the “hey, white guys are actually okay, you know! Be proud of yourself, white man!” stuff is really VERY seductive, and it is only with some intellectual effort that I can resist the pull … If it’s a struggle for someone like me to resist the pull, I imagine it’s probably impossible for someone with less education or cultural exposure.”

— Blog post on “American Conservative,” quoted by Amy Chua in her upcoming Political Tribes; a portion of the book has been excerpted by The Guardian as “How America’s Identity Politics Went from Inclusion to Division.” The excerpt is well worth reading. It’s the best analysis of the identity politics phenomenon I’ve ever seen.


Jean Meslier

THEOLOGY, n. “Ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system.”

–Jean Meslier, Testament


Mark Twain

“The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave.”

–Letter to Asa Don Dickson, November 21, 1905