Quotations about   aggression

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[Fascism] imagines the masses not as a pluralistic citizenry but as a primal horde whose power can be awakened by playing upon atavistic feelings of hatred and belonging. Its chosen leader must exhibit strength: his refusal to compromise and readiness to attack are seen as signs of tough-mindedness, while any concern for constitutionality or the rule of law are disdained as signs of weakness. The most powerful myth, however, is that of the embattled collective. Critics are branded as traitors, while those who do not fit the criteria for inclusion are vilified as outsiders, terrorists, and criminals.

Peter E Gordon
Peter E, Gordon (b. 1966) American intellectual historian
“Why Historical Analogy Matters,” New York Review of Books (7 Jan 2020)
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Added on 16-Sep-21 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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I don’t have much truck with the “religion is the cause of most of our wars” school of thought because that is manifestly done by mad, manipulative and power-hungry men who cloak their ambition in God.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
“I create gods all the time — now I think one might exist,” Daily Mail (21 Jun 2008)
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Added on 13-Jul-21 | Last updated 13-Jul-21
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Indignation is the seducer of thought. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.

George Jean Nathan (1892-1958) American editor and critic
“Undeveloped Notes,” The Smart Set (Aug 1922)
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Reprinted in The World in Falseface, "Art & Criticism," #64 (1923).
Added on 30-Nov-20 | Last updated 30-Nov-20
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Compassion is not a popular virtue. Very often when I talk to religious people, and mention how important it is that compassion is the key, that it’s the sine qua non of religion, people look kind of balked, and stubborn sometimes, as much to say, “What’s the point of having religion if you can’t disapprove of other people?”

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
NOW Interview with Bill Moyers, PBS (1 Mar 2002)
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Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“On Violence,” Crises of the Republic (1972)
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Added on 25-Aug-20 | Last updated 25-Aug-20
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To believe that man’s aggressiveness or territoriality is in the nature of the beast is to mistake some men for all men, contemporary society for all possible societies, and, by a remarkable transformation, to justify what is as what needs must be; social repression becomes a response to, rather than a cause of, human violence.

Leon Eisenberg (1922-2009) American psychiatrist and medical educator
“The Human Nature of Human Nature,” Science (14 Apr 1972)
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Based on an address at Faculty of Medicine Day, McGill University Sesquicentennial Celebration, Montreal, Canada (1 Oct 1971).
Added on 4-Aug-20 | Last updated 4-Aug-20
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Some people idealize force and pull it into the foreground and worship it, instead of keeping it in the background as long as possible. I think they make a mistake, and I think that their opposites, the mystics, err even more when they declare that force does not exist. I believe that it exists, and that one of our jobs is to prevent it from getting out of its box. It gets out sooner or later, and then it destroys us and all the lovely things which we have made. But it is not out all the time, for the fortunate reason that the strong are so stupid.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
Added on 4-Sep-19 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Fireside Chat” radio address (29 Dec 1940)
Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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In case signals can neither be seen nor perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy.

Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) British admiral
Memorandum before the Battle of Trafalgar (9 Oct 1805)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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We learned from Hitler at Munich that success only feeds the appetite of aggression.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Press conference (28 Jul 1965)

Defending his decision to to not withdraw US troops from Vietnam.
Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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[T]here are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) American theologian and clergyman
“Christian Faith and the World Crisis,” Christianity and Crisis (10 Feb 1941)
Added on 12-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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But all history has taught us the grim lesson that no nation has ever been successful in avoiding the terrors of war by refusing to defend its rights — by attempting to placate aggression.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
“Security in the Free World,” broadcast speech (15 Mar 1959)
Added on 3-May-16 | Last updated 3-May-16
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There is — in world affairs — a steady course to be followed between an assertion of strength that is truculent and a confession of helplessness that is cowardly.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
State of the Union Address (2 Feb 1953)
Added on 7-May-15 | Last updated 7-May-15
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So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Notes on Nationalism” (May 1945)
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Added on 6-Feb-12 | Last updated 16-Feb-21
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The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Reflections on Violence,” New York Review of Books (27 Feb 1969)
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Reprinted as "On Violence," Crises of the Republic (1969)
Added on 25-Mar-11 | Last updated 15-Jun-21
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Aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease.

Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) American politician, US President (1977-1981), Nobel laureate [James Earl Carter, Jr.]
Address to the Nation (4 Jan 1980)

On Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
Added on 4-Jun-08 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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But it must be remembered that, in spite of the proverb, it takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Patriotism,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1915)

Sometimes quoted as "while wolves remain of a different opinion."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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