Favourite Quotes

This page is liable to frequent changes! I may well add links to my own commentaries on some of them, too.

The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. [Still true today, and for the foreseeable future.]
 – Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi

Alas, nuclear proponents have now found a new generation of the gullible.
 – Walt Patterson link

There are some things in the world we can’t change – gravity, entropy, the speed of light, the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and well being. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die.
Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere.
 – David Suzuki, in his speech accepting the Right Livelihood Award.

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.
 – Ursula Le Guin at the National Book Awards in New York, 19th November 2014

Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.
 – attributed to John Maynard Keynes

Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.
 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (again)

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders...and millions have been killed because of this obedience...Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves... (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
 – Howard Zinn

Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
 – Martin Luther King Jr., in his Nobel Lecture, December 11th 1964

We are witnessing a transfer of wealth of unfathomable size. It is a transfer of wealth from the public hands, from the hands of government collected from regular people in the form of taxes, into the hands of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world. Needless to say the very individuals and corporations that created this crisis.
 – Naomi Klein

It’s odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian, don’t hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to rid the world of evil-doers.
 – Arundhati Roy, in her book An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire

Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.
 – Benjamin Franklin

The phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants” is bothering me this morning. It’s normal folk like us all the way down. That’s the point.
 – Michael Williams

The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.
 – Bertolt Brecht

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements – transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting – profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later, this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
 – Carl Sagan, in The Demon-Haunted World

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reason, for it is senseless and dangerous.
 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in After Ten Years

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.
 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (yet again)

Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out.
 – Anon – many variations by various people.

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.
 – Richard Feynman.

Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth anti-death penalty anti-public prayer (M 6:5); but was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay; and was a long-haired brown-skinned homeless community-organizing anti-slut-shaming Middle Eastern Jew. [to which I would add, “who loved the Samaritans, the Jews’ despised neighbours at the time.”]
 – John Fugelsang

He alone is great and happy who requires neither to command nor to obey in order to secure his being of some importance in this world.
 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (generally referred to simply as “Goethe.”)

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.
 – William Blake

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
 – Richard Buckminster Fuller
[I don’t concur exactly with this one – but it does contain an important truth. Commentary to come.]