These are quotes I found interesting for one reason or another – either they illuminate a concept, reveal an agenda or present a subtle side of an argument. I don’t agree with all the sentiments here presented, but I do think they are all worth reading. Many of them I have read on the show, but I put them together here so it would be fun to read them straight down in order.
(The names are linked to their wiki entries for your convenience. If you think any of these are false quotes please comment below or email me above. I’ve already received one question about the Lenin quote and I think it’s a good one – there doesn’t seem to be a valid citation for it, which I note in the hopes of someone finding the source if there is one.)
“Gentlemen, the time is coming when there will be two great classes, Socialists, and Anarchists. The Anarchists want the government to be nothing, and the Socialists want government to be everything. There can be no greater contrast. Well, the time will come when there will be only these two great parties, the Anarchists representing the laissez faire doctrine and the Socialists representing the extreme view on the other side, and when that time comes I am an Anarchist.”
Speech to the Yale Socialists Club (1911)
“We should never define libertarian positions in terms coined by liberals and conservatives, nor as some variant of their positions. We are not fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We are libertarians, who believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility on all issues at all times.”
“Man is a creature who can get used to anything, and I believe that is the very best way of defining him.”
House of the Dead (1860)
“Power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
“Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.”
“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
The Wealth of Nations
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
January 7, 1790
“The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right.”
“The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.”
“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
The New Freedom, 1913
“[T]he whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
In Defense of Women (1918)
“[The Federal Reserve banks] are 12 private credit monopolies that were deceitfully and disloyally foisted upon this nation by bankers who came from Europe and who repaid our hospitality by undermining our American institutions. . . . Great Britain moved to consolidate her gains. After the treacherous signing away of America’s rights at the 7 power conference at London in July 1931 which put the Federal Reserve system under the control of the Bank of International Settlements, Great Britain began to tighten the hangman’s noose around the neck of the United States.” (1933)
On describing Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as civilized men: “I shall define a civilized man as one who can give a serious answer to a serious question and whose circle of mental reference is not limited to mere acquisition of profit.”
IMPACT: essays on ignorance and the decline of American civilization, p. 167 (1960)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
“When I was a student I marvelled at the ingenuity of Henri Pirenne writing his history in a prison camp. Now, it seems to me to be the only way such a work could have been brought to a successful conclusion. Escape from libraries can be an intellectual liberation: deprived of his books even H.A.L. Fisher might have discovered some patterns in history.”
The Making of the Modern Near East, 1986
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“Unrestricted submarine warfare, unrestricted air bombing – this is total war. Time and the Ocean and some guiding star and High Cabal have made us what we are.”
“The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”
“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.”(Tragedy & Hope)
“We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. . . . It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”
(1991 Bilderberg Group meeting, Baden, Germany)
“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
“[O]bjectives of the International Free World Association: ‘The creation of the machinery for a world government in which the United Nations will serve as a nucleus is a necessary task of the present in order to prepare in time the foundations for a future world order.’
“We are at present working discreetly but with all our might, to wrest this mysterious force called sovereignty out of the clutches of the local national states of our world. And all the time we are denying with our lips what we are doing with our hands, because to impugn the sovereignty of the local national states of the world is still a heresy for which a statesman or a publicist can be, perhaps not quite burnt at the stake, but certainly ostracized and discredited.” (1931) Arnold Toynbee was director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British sister of the Council on Foreign Relations).
“[R]egionalization is in keeping with the Tri-Lateral Plan which calls for a gradual convergence of East and West, ultimately leading toward the goal of one world government. National sovereignty is no longer a viable concept.”
“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ”
(Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era)
“Another threat, less overt but no less basic, confronts liberal democracy. More directly linked to the impact of technology, it involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control. Under such circumstances, the scientific and technological momentum of the country would not be reversed but would actually feed on the situation it exploits.… Persisting social crisis, the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the steppingstones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society.”
(Brzezinski is rumored to have “discovered” the charismatic Barack Obama when their paths crossed at Columbia University in the 1980s.)
on creating the Taliban to provoke the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
“Which is more important from the perspective of world history? The Taliban, or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A bunch of excited Islamists, or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
“True, that might be the case. They hope that in a sense Syria would redeem what happened originally in Iraq. But I think what we have to bear in mind is that in this particular case the regional situation as a whole is more volatile than it was when they invaded Iraq, and perhaps their views are also infected by the notion, shared by some Israeli right-wingers, that Israel’s strategic prospects are best served if all of its adjoining neighbors are destabilized. I happen to think that is a long-term formula for disaster for Israel, because its byproduct, if it happens, is the elimination of American influence in the region, with Israel left ultimately on its own. I don’t think that’s good for Israel, and, to me, more importantly, because I look at the problems from the vantage point of American national interest, it’s not very good for us.”
“Breaking up Lebanon into five provinces precedes the fate that awaits the entire Arab world, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and all the Arab peninsula; in Lebanon, it is already an accomplished fact. The disintegration of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously homogenous provinces, like Lebanon, is Israel’s top priority, in the long run, on its eastern front. In the short run, the objective is the military dissolution of these States. Syria will be divided into several States, according to the ethnic communities, so that the coast will become an Alaouite Shiite State; the Alep region, a Sunni State; Damas, another Sunni State hostile to its northern neighbor; the Druses will make up their own State, which will perhaps extend to our Golan, and in any case in Haouran and northern Jordan. This State will guarantee peace and security in the area in the long run: that is an objective that is, now within our reach.”
1982 (Oded Yinon was a member of Israeli Foreign Ministry at this time.)
‘“What we in America call terrorists are really groups of people that reject the international system…that was set up by the victors of world war one on the basis largely of what would facilitate their influence in the Middle East.”
(2007, Istanbul, Turkey)
“I can think of no faster way to unite the American people behind George W. Bush than a terrorist attack on an American target overseas. And I believe George W. Bush will quickly unite the American people through his foreign policy.”
“Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will willingly be relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by their world government.”
Evian, France, May 1992.
“Thank you for that wonderful tribute to Henry Kissinger yesterday. Congratulations. As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through Generaal Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today.”
Remarks by National Security Adviser Jones at 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy, 2009
(To the best of my knowledge, Kissinger nor Scowcroft nor Berger had at this time any elected or appointed position or any official role in the United States government while General Jones was taking orders from them. This is truly a deep state.)
“David Rockefeller’s newest international cabal [the Trilateral Commission] … is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the United States …The Trilateral Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power — political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical. All this is to be done in the interest of creating a more peaceful, more productive world community. What the Trilateralists truly intend is the creation of a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nation-states involved. They believe the abundant materialism they propose to create will overwhelm existing differences. As managers and creators of the system they will rule the future.”
With No Apologies, 1979
“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic favor, 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 have 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 of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Ceasar.”
Given the perversity of reform, moralistic extremism in the pursuit of liberal democracy could generate a strong tide toward authoritarian efficiency.
The Unauthorized Biography of Barack Obama, p. 54
“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
(Graham Fuller was CIA Chief of Kabul, Afghanistan & father of Samantha Fuller Tsarnaev, former aunt-in-law of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused Boston Marathon Bomber and alleged lone wolf radical Islamist.)
‘My dear, and recently departed, Washington friend, John Judge, liked to say that if you want to call him a “conspiracy theorist” you have to call others “coincidence theorists”.’
“We suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.”
“Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Regarding regime change in Iraq from PNAC’s defining document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” written in September of 2000, and signed off on by JEB Bush among others.
“The simple principle is this: ‘Do we want to allow a means of communications between people which, even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the home secretary personally, that we cannot read?’ And my answer to that is, ‘No, we must not.’”
“Th[e Obamacare] bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark [Pauly] was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
October 17, 2013, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
“Man is a creature who can get used to anything, and I believe that is the very best way of defining him.”
House of the Dead (1860-2)
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
(from Ike’s farewell address 1961 – the original version of this speech called it the “military-industrial-congressional complex”)
“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. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
(From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953)
“Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded…Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. . . .So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. . . . it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.. . . foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. . . .. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”
(From President Washington’s farewell address, transcribed onto this page on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.)
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting. And I know I’m not going to make very many friends saying this, but it’s about our rights–all of our rights–to be able to protect ourselves from all of you guys up there.”
While testifying before Congress following the Luby’s Massacre in which she lost her parents.
“I PROPOSE an Amendment for Peace, to the Constitution of the United States:
• The removal of the members of the land armed forces from within the continental limits of the United States and the Panama Canal Zone for any cause whatsoever is prohibited.
• The vessels of the United States Navy, or of the other branches of the armed service, are hereby prohibited from steaming, for any reason whatsoever except on an errand of mercy, more than five hundred miles from our coast.
• Aircraft of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is [sic] hereby prohibited from flying, for any reason whatsoever, more than seven hundred and fifty miles beyond the coast of the United States.”
“I don’t know whether you’ve had a conversation with Milton Friedman, but an argument with Milton Friedman is a pretty strenuous affair.”
“A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition”
quoting from UN Habitat I
“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable….”
“The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.”
*I cannot find a reference for this quote, if you can, please comment below. If I can’t find a reference, I’ll have to conclude it’s a false quote.
“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”
“Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”
“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”
“Our government … teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
“Those who won our independence … valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”
Irving Kristol gets a section of his own. While many of the quotes above refer to the undermining of the United States, Kristol focused specifically on undermining the Republican Party. Neo-conservatives would claim his ideas saved the Republican Party, but saved it for what, you might ask after reading these quotes. I wrote a two-part article on Kristol and his role in creating neo-conservatism as he himself laid out in his book, Neo-conservatism, the Autobiography of an Idea. For my summary and analysis of his book, click here. Below, I bolded some of the more shocking passages.
“I have been a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-socialist, a neoliberal, and finally a neoconservative.” (What was that Lenin said? Control the what now?)
“[The Republican] party has never fully reconciled itself to the welfare state, and therefore has never given comprehensive thought to the question of what a conservative welfare state would look like. . . .The idea of a welfare state is in itself perfectly consistent with a conservative political philosophy–as Bismarck knew, a hundred years ago. In our urbanized, industrialized, highly mobile society, people need governmental action of some kind if they are to cope with many of their problems: old age, illness, unemployment, etc. They need such assistance; they demand it; they will get it. The only interesting political question is: How will they get it? This is not a question the Republican party has faced up to, because it still feels, deep down, that a welfare state is inconsistent with such traditional American virtues as self-reliance and individual liberty.”
“The basic principle behind a conservative welfare state ought to be a simple one: Wherever possible, people should be allowed to keep their own money—rather than having it transferred (via taxes) to the state—on condition that they put it to certain defined uses.”
“If the Republican party were capable of thinking politically–i.e., thinking in terms of shaping the future–it would realize that its first priority is to shape the budget, not to balance it. Then it could go to the electorate with the proper political questions: How do you want the budget balanced? By more taxes for more governmental services? Or by lower taxes, lower governmental expenditures and incentives for the citizen to provide for his own welfare.
“Obviously there is some risk in such a bold approach. The budget, for a while, would indeed be in a perilous condition if some such Republican programs were passed while Democratic programs were not cut back. But that is the only way to permit the American people to choose their future—by making the choice, not only a clear cut one, but a necessary one.
“Unless and until the Republican party is willing to overcome its book-keeping inhibitions and become a truly political party, it will be of only marginal significance which faction is in control, or which candidate it proposes.“
“One wonders what would happen if all the money spent on Great Society programs had been used to institute, in however modest a way, just two universal reforms: (1) children’s allowance, as already described, and (2) some form of national health insurance? My own surmise is that the country would be in much better shape today. We would all –including the poor among us—feel that we were making progress, and making progress together, rather than at the expense of one another.
“Yes such reforms are expensive and technically “wasteful,” in that they distribute benefits to all, needy or not. But to stress this aspect of the matter is to miss the point: Social reform is an inherently political activity, and is to be judged by political, not economic or sociological, criteria. When I say social reform is “political,“ I mean that its purpose is to sustain the polity, to encourage a sense of political community, even of fraternity. To the degree that it succeeds in achieving these ends, a successful social reform—however liberal or radical its original impulse –is conservative in its ultimate effects. Indeed, to take the liberal or radical impulse, which is always with us, and slowly to translate that impulse into enduring institutions which engender larger loyalties is precisely what the art of government, properly understood, is all about.”
“Coping with a religious revival, however, is something that conservatives and the Republican party are not yet prepared to do. Religious people always create problems since their ardor tends to outrun the limits of politics in a constitutional democracy. But if the Republican party is to survive, it must work at accommodating these people. In a sense, the influx of the religious into American politics is analogous to the influx of European immigrants into our urban centers between 1870 and 1914. They created many problems, but the Democrats welcomed them while the Republicans shunned them. That was the origin of the natural Democratic majority.
“The Democrats are never going to be able to welcome the religious, but if the Republicans keep them at arm’s length instead of embracing them, and shaping their political thinking, a third party and a restructuring of American politics are certain. One way or another, in the decades ahead they will not be denied.”
“I recently attended a couple of private dinners in Washington with foreign-policy experts, both in the administration and out. These were all more or less conservatives–no”doves”–and I was shocked to hear every discussion of policy turn around such questions as: “Dare we propose such a course of action to the American people?” “What will they think?” “How will they respond?” Constant reference was made to opinion polls as indicating how difficult the making of foreign policy now is [i.e. since Viet Nam]. But surely it is evident that, on matters of foreign policy, opinion polls are not worth the paper they are written on.
“The American people know–their common sense tells them–that [foreign policy] is a subject (economic policy is another) about which they know little, and that their opinions are not reasoned opinions, only shallow attitudes that are waiting to be shaped or reshaped into firm opinion. That shaping is the task of political leadership, which has to lead–to make decisions and then be judged by the results. The kind of timid deference to supposed popular opinion now visible in Washington’s elites only serves to diminish popular confidence in their wisdom and their competence.”