Archive for the ‘Favorite Quotations’ Category

Richard Rorty’s 1998 prophecy

November 30, 2016

This 1998 quote by the philosopher Richard Rorty, in his book Achieving Our Country, is being widely circulated on the Internet.   It seems prophetic.

[M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported.

Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty

Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack.  The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.

A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out.  For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen.  In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out.  Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion.  [snip] 

All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back.   All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

I was unable to find a copy of the book in my local library system nor a low-cost copy on the Internet.   Some articles about the Rorty quote also mention this—

After my imagined strongman takes power, he will quickly make his peace with the international super-rich.

That also seems prophetic.

(more…)

The toast of Stephen Decatur

November 11, 2016

Our country, in her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong.
    ==The toast of Stephen Decatur (authentic version)

Our country, may she always be in the right!
But right or wrong, our country!
    ==The toast of Stephen Decatur (commonly quoted version)

My country, right or wrong!
If right, to be kept right.
If wrong, to be set right
`    ==Carl Schurz

“My country, right or wrong” is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case.  It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
    ==G.K. Chesterton

Stephen Decatur

Stephen Decatur

Until I looked it up, I thought the toast of Stephen Decatur was, “Our country, may it always be in the right, but right or wrong—our country!”

I could raise a glass to that toast.   My country, right or wrong, is still my country.  This doesn’t mean I have to go along when my country is in the wrong.  It does mean that whatever America’s crimes and follies, I am part of it, and it is part of me.

But “always successful” in war and diplomacy?  That is impossible, either for an individual or a nation, and, furthermore, some kinds of success are not good, either for a nation or for an individual.

Love of country should be like love of family.  Too many people think love of country is like love of God.

(more…)

Election 2016: Vote your conscience

November 8, 2016

   Our Constitution professedly rests upon the good sense and attachment of the people. This basis, weak as it may appear, has not yet been found to fail.
   Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost.
              ==John Quincy Adams

   It is better to vote for what you want and not get it, than vote for what you don’t want and get it.
              ==Eugene V. Debs

E.B. White on winding the clock

July 13, 2016

North Brooklin, Maine

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate.  Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time.  I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer.  I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly.  It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet.  But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right.  Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble.  We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat.  Hang on to your hope.  And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

Source: Letters of Note.

Hat tip to Marginal REVOLUTION

A king’s commandments to his son

June 19, 2016
  • Don’t build your life on illusions,
  • Don’t build your opinion on hypotheses,
  • Don’t build your style on imitation,
  • Don’t build your image on lies,
  • Don’t build your respect on fear,
  • Don’t build your dreams on others’ nightmares,
  • Don’t build your friendships on benefits,
  • Don’t build your heroism on foolish acts,
  • Don’t build your kingdom on the backs of the poor,
  • Don’t build your palace on the soft sands of injustice.

Source: Nusaireyat.

John Kenneth Galbraith on changing one’s mind

May 4, 2016

john-kenneth-galbraith-proof-300x169

The Dalai Lama on talking and listening

May 1, 2016

Dalai+Lama+When+you+talk

A good motto

April 27, 2016

Nanyang

Source: Marginal Revolution.

This is the motto of the School of International Relations of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Some quotations about spirituality

April 3, 2016

There is no fire like passion.
There is no shark like hatred.
There is no snare like folly.
There is no torrent like greed.
        ==Buddha

I came to the conclusion long ago that all religions were true and also that they all had some error in them, and while I hold by my own religion, I should hold other religions as dear as Hinduism. … Our innermost prayer should be that a Hindu should become a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim and a Christian a better Christian.
        ==Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mike Wallace: All is well?
Jack Kerouac: Yeah, we’re all in heaven, now really.
Wallace:  You don’t sound happy.
Kerouac: Oh, I’m tremendously sad.  I’m in great despair.
Wallace: Why?
Kerouac:  It’s a great burden to be alive. A heavy burden, a great big heavy burden.  I wish I were safe in heaven, dead.
Wallace: But you are in heaven, Jack.  You just said we all were.
Kerouac: Yeah.  If I only knew it.  If I could only hold on to what I now.
        ==New York Post, January 11, 1958

The followers of different religions quarrel about truth because they have never experienced it.  Most of them don’t even try to experience it; they are much happier quarreling, fighting and killing each other.
        ==The Ramayana

[I said to Suzuki Roshi]: “I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it.  Could you just please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?” … He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to.  He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.  But Suzuki did answer.  He looked at me and said, “Everything changes.”
        ==David Chadwick, quoted in The Sun

(more…)

An Abraham Lincoln quotation for today

April 1, 2016

April 1

Feodor Dostoyevsky on community of worship

March 20, 2016

Man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. … This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time.
        ==Feodor Dostoyevsky

What is an unjust law?

February 22, 2016

An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.

Source: Martin Luther King Jr.

The enemies of the good

February 18, 2016

In politics, it is often true that—

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

If you’re not satisfied with anything less than perfection, you might forfeit the lesser good.

But we need to remember it also is true that—

The lesser evil is the enemy of the good.

If you’re always willing to accept the lesser evil, you will never get anything good.

(more…)

Albert Camus on happiness and love

February 14, 2016

wendycamus

Source: Albert Camus on Happiness and Love Illustrated by Wendy McNaughton on Brain Pickings

In defense of reading

January 23, 2016

hattiptopetalmills971449_644412528911074_2040387977_nHat tip to Petal Mills.

Why change is hard

October 25, 2015

change

Are conservatives mean-spirited?

October 8, 2015

There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.
       ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

Half the useful work in the world consists in combating the harmful work. A little time spent in trying to appreciate facts is not time wasted.
        ==Bertrand Russell

Liberals and progressives call conservatives mean-spirited.  Conservatives complain about this even as they speak and write about “bleeding heart” liberals and progressives.

The fact is that a large part of conservatism consists of warnings against acting on your generous impulses.

This can be mean-spirited.  It can be wise.  Sometimes it is both at the same time.

A basic conservative truth is that there are many more ways to make things worse than there are to make things better.  This is true no matter how bad things are.  Another is that people are much better judges of their own interests than they are of other peoples’ interests or of the public interest.

I don’t believe that being heartless makes you more realistic, but neither do I believe that good motives guarantee good actions.

Advice from the Dalai Lama

October 4, 2015

img_1058Hat tip to jpratt27

Reinhold Niebuhr on optimism and pessimism

August 9, 2015

An adequate religion is always an ultimate optimism which has entertained all the facts which lead to pessimism.
                  ==Reinhold Niebuhr

Wisdom, skill and virtue

August 2, 2015

tiffany's1_540Hat tip to Tiffany’s Non-Blog.

Simone de Beauvoir on looking for reasons

July 26, 2015

As I now know, to look for reasons why one should not stamp on a man’s face is to accept stamping on it.
                  ==Simone de Beauvoir, Force of Circumstance.

Bruce Springsteen on self-knowledge

July 19, 2015

Self-knowledge is a kind of funny thing because the less of it you have, the more you think you have.
                    ==Attributed to Bruce Springsteen

Speak the truth

July 12, 2015

speak-the-truthHat tip to culvernaters truth seeking.

A word of advice to protesters

June 29, 2015
Micah White

Micah White

Thinking strategically, I believe it is very important never to protest directly against the police.

Because the police are actually made to absorb protest—the objective of the police is to dissipate your energy in protesting them so you’ll let alone the most sensitive parts of the repressive regime in which we live: politicians and big corporations.

We must protest more deeply.

via Micah White, PhD | Occupy Wall Street Cocreator.

Reinhold Niebuhr on being above the battle

June 7, 2015

To be in a battle means to defend a cause against its peril, to protect a nation against its enemies, to strive for truth against error, to defend justice against injustice.

To be above the battle means that we understand how imperfect the cause is we defend, that we contritely acknowledge the sins of our own nations, that we recognize the common humanity which binds us to even the most terrible foes, and that we know of our common need of grace and forgiveness.,

Reinhold Niebuhr

Hat tip to naked capitalism.