Quotations by Lippmann, Walter


There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“Journalism and the Higher Law,” Liberty and the News (1920)

See Rabelais.
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The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“Roosevelt is Gone,” Today and Tomorrow (14 Apr 1945)
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Added on 17-Jun-09 | Last updated 7-Nov-13
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This is the way of greatness. In the supreme moments of history, terms like duty, truth, justice, and mercy — which in our torpid hours are tired words — become the measure of decision. … The straight and righteous path is the shortest and the surest.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“The Fascination of Greatness,” Today and Tomorrow (7 Sep 1943)
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Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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Our faults and sins seem all the bigger when they are seen by the world against the excessively self-righteous picture that is our official version of ourselves.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“The Grace of Humility,” New York Herald Tribune (24 Sep 1957)
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I generalized rashly: That is what kills political writing, this absurd pretence that you are delivering a great utterance. You never do. You are just a puzzled man making notes about what you think. You are not building the Pantheon, then why act like a graven image? You are drawing sketches in the sand which the sea will wash away.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“Books and Things,” The New Republic, (7 Aug 1915)

After reading a book on politics he didn't like.
Added on 2-Jan-08 | Last updated 2-Jan-08
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When all think alike, no one thinks very much.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Corrupt, stupid grasping functionaries will make at least as big a muddle of socialism as stupid, selfish and acquisitive employers can make of capitalism.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Toleration is not merely a generous byproduct of the American system: it is its essential principle.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Mar-04 | Last updated 15-Mar-04
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Industry is a better horse to ride than genius.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)

Quoted in Celebrity Register, ed. C. Amory, E. Blackwell (1963)
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Industry is a better horse to ride than genius.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
(Attributed)

Quoted in C. Amory and E. Blackwell (eds.) Celebrity Register (1963)

Added on 29-Jul-09 | Last updated 29-Jul-09
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Once you touch the biographies of human beings, the notion that political beliefs are logically determined collapses like a pricked balloon.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals (1929)
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He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals (1929)

Full text.
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He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, 11.3 (1929)
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To understand is not only to pardon, but in the end to love.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, 15.3 (1929)
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Happiness cannot be the reward of virtue; it must be the the intelligible consequence of it.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, 7.7 (1929)
Added on 21-Jul-11 | Last updated 21-Jul-11
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The emotion of love, in spite of the romantics, is not self-sustaining; it endures only when the lovers love many things together and not merely each other.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, Part III, ch. 14 “Love in the Great Society” (1929)

Usually elided as "Love endures only when ..." Full text.

Added on 22-Jul-09 | Last updated 22-Jul-09
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Religion, patriotism, race, and sex are the favorite red herrings of foul political method — they are the most successful because they explode so easily and flood the mind with those unconscious prejudices which make critical thinking difficult.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics (1913)
Added on 20-Apr-12 | Last updated 20-Apr-12
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Unless the reformer can invent something which substitutes attractive virtues for attractive vices, he will fail.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics, ch. 2 (1914)
Added on 31-Oct-13 | Last updated 31-Oct-13
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When philosophers try to be politicians, they generally cease to be philosophers.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics, ch. 3 (1914)
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I have always thought that Machiavelli derives his bad name from a too transparent honesty. Less direct minds would have found high-sounding ethical sanctions in which to conceal the real intent. … Machiavelli’s morals are not one bit worse than the practices of the men who rules the world today.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics, ch. 7 (1913)

Full text.
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The responsibility for insurrections rests in the last analysis upon the unimaginative greed and endless stupidity of the dominant classes. […] Confronted with the deep insurgency of labor what do capitalists and their spokesmen do? They resist every demand, submit only after a struggle, and prepare a condition of war to the death.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics, ch. 9 (1914)
Added on 3-Sep-13 | Last updated 3-Sep-13
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Many a time I have wanted to stop talking and find out what I really believed.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
Observer (27 Mar. 1938)
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The Many can elect after the Few have nominated.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
Public Opinion, 14.6 (1922)
Added on 3-Dec-09 | Last updated 3-Dec-09
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[Machiavelli] has a worse name and more disciples than any political thinker who ever lived.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
Public Opinion, 17.2 (1922)
Added on 17-Oct-11 | Last updated 17-Oct-11
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Man cannot be made free by laws unless they are in fact free because no man can buy and no one can coerce them. That is why the Englishman’s belief that his home is his castle and that the King cannot enter it, like the American’s convictions that he must be able to look any man in the eye and tell him to go to hell, are the very essence of the free man’s way of life.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
The Method of Freedom (1934)
Added on 30-Sep-10 | Last updated 30-Sep-10
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One might say that a nation is politically stable when nothing of radical consequence is determined by its elections.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
The Phantom Public, 12.1 (1930)
Added on 23-Nov-09 | Last updated 23-Nov-09
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With exceptions so rare that they are regarded as miracles and freaks of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good, but whether it is popular — not whether it will work well and prove itself, but whether the active talking constituents like it immediately.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
The Public Philosophy (1955)
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There is a deep disorder in our society which comes not from the machinations of our enemies and from the adversities of the human condition, but from within ourselves.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
The Public Philosophy, 1.1 (1955)
Added on 8-Oct-13 | Last updated 8-Oct-13
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A large part of the mischief and folly of the world comes from rushing in, taking a position, the not knowing how to retreat. There is something about making a speech or writing an article which perverts the human mind. When an utterance is published, the Rubicon has been crossed and the bridges have been burned. It seems to end the inquiry, and after that we almost cease to be interested in the truth, being so preoccupied to prove that we already possess it.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
Columnn, New York Herald Tribune (10 Oct 1953)
Added on 16-Apr-09 | Last updated 16-Apr-09
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