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Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves, and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“The Three Evils,” Keynote Speech, National Conference for New Politics, Chicago (31 Aug 1967)
Added on 7-Mar-23 | Last updated 7-Mar-23
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We first debase the nature of man by making him a slave, and then very coolly tell him that he must always remain a slave because he does not know how to use freedom. We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate. Truly, human selfishness never invented a rule, which worked so charmingly both ways!

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) American abolitionist, activist, journalist, suffragist
An Appeal on Behalf of That Class of Americans Called Africans, ch. 6 (1833)
Added on 1-Mar-23 | Last updated 1-Mar-23
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Altruism is a hard master; but so is opportunism.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
Added on 22-Dec-22 | Last updated 22-Dec-22
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In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Speech, Republican Club, New York City (12 Feb 1909)
Added on 18-Nov-22 | Last updated 14-Nov-22
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The nature of liberal democracy prevents propagandistic statements from being banned, since among the liberties it permits is the freedom of speech. But since humans have characteristic rational weaknesses and are susceptible to flattery and manipulation, allowing propaganda has a high likelihood of leading to tyranny, and hence to the end of liberal democracy.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Propaganda Works, ch. 1 (2015)
Added on 14-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Oct-21
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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?

To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.

To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.

To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.

To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.

To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.

To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.

To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.

To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.

To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.

The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.

The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
Added on 13-Oct-21 | Last updated 13-Oct-21
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When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this was bound to happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries without any consideration the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition.

Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) German Nazi politician, propagandist, bureaucrat
Nature and Form of National Socialism [Wesen und Gestalt des Nationalsozialismus], Pamphlet (1935)

Quoted in Office of the United States, Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. 1, ch. 7, doc. 2412-PS (1946)
Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-21
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The mistake is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions — even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)
Added on 12-May-21 | Last updated 12-May-21
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I would rather be defeated than make capital out of my religion.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Speech, Chatauqua (1 Apr 1880)
Added on 8-Jan-21 | Last updated 8-Jan-21
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In truth, prosperity tries the souls of even the wise; how then should men of depraved character like these make a moderate use of victory?

[Quippe secundae res sapientium animos fatigant, ne illi corruptis moribus victoriae temperarent.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 8 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "A series of prosperity is often too much even for the wisest and best disposed: that men corrupted should make a temperate use of their victory could not be expected." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "For success unhinges the minds even of wise men; how then should they who were so depraved use their victory with moderation?" [tr. Rose (1831)]
  • "For success tries the minds of wise men, much less could they, when their morals were corrupted, use their victory with moderation." [Source (1841)]
  • "Success unsettles the principles even of the wise, and scarcely would those of debauched habits use victory with moderation." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Since even the wise have their temper tried by prosperity, much less could men of this abandoned character use their success with moderation." [tr. Pollard (1882)]
  • "Successful situations overwhelm the minds even of the wise; still less wouild those men of corrupt morals moderate their victory." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 17-Nov-20 | Last updated 17-Nov-20
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One is reminded of the dialectical definition, by the wry Polish intellectual, of capitalism and communism. Capitalism, it is said, is a system wherein man exploits man. And communism — is vice versa.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The End of Ideology, Introduction (1961 ed.)

Usually quoted with just the last two sentences, and misattributed directly to Bell.
Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

[Lorsque la Spoliation est devenue le moyen d’existence d’une agglomération d’hommes unis entre eux par le lien social, ils se font bientôt une loi qui la sanctionne, une morale qui la glorifie.]

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) French philosopher, economist, politician
Economic Sophisms [Sophismes économiques], 2nd Series, ch. 1 “Physiology of plunder Physiologie de la spoliation” (1848)

Alt. trans. "When Spoliation has become the means of existence of an agglomeration of men united by social bonds, they soon make themselves a law which sanctions it, a morality which glorifies it."
Added on 26-Jul-19 | Last updated 26-Jul-19
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GRACCHUS: You know, this republic of ours is something like a rich widow. Most Romans love her as their mother, but Crassus dreams of marrying the old girl, to put it politely.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Spartacus (1960) [novel by Howard Fast]
Added on 6-Nov-18 | Last updated 6-Nov-18
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Good general-purpose manners nowadays may be said to consist in knowing how much you can get away with.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
“Manners,” Collected Impressions (1950)
Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Polish-English novelist [b. Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski]
A Personal Record (1912)
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 21-Jun-17
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The superstitious man is to the knave, what the slave is to the tyrant; nay more — the superstitious man is governed by the fanatic, and becomes a fanatic himself.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
“Superstition,” Philosophical Dictionary (1764) [tr. Fleming (1901)]

Alt. trans.: "The superstitious man is to the rascal what the slave is to the tyrant." [tr. Besterman (1971)]
Added on 8-Jun-17 | Last updated 8-Jun-17
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The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“On Stupidity” (1942)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 22-Mar-17
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[The] “robbing of the poor because he is poor,” is especially the mercantile form of theft, consisting in taking advantage of a man’s necessities in order to obtain his labor or property at a reduced price. The ordinary highwayman’s opposite form of robbery — of the rich, because he is rich — does not appear to occur so often to the old merchant’s mind; probably because, being less profitable and more dangerous than the robbery of the poor, it is rarely practice by persons of discretion.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last, ch. 3 (1800)
Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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POLLY PEACHUM: The law is simply and solely made for the exploitation of those who do not understand it or of those who, for naked need, cannot obey it.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
Die Dreigroschenoper [The Three-Penny Opera], Act 3, sc. 1 (1928)

Alt. trans.: "The law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don't understand it, or are prevented by naked misery from obeying it."
Added on 1-Oct-15 | Last updated 1-Oct-15
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There are but two ways of rising in the world: either by your own industry or by the folly of others.

[Il n’y a au monde que deux manières de s’élever, ou par sa propre industrie, ou par l’imbécillité des autres.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 6 “Of Gifts of Fortune [Des Biens de Fortune],” § 52 (6.52) (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There is but two ways of rising in the World, by your own Industry, and another's Weakness.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

There are only two ways of rising in the World, by your own Industry, or by the Weakness of others.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

There are but two ways of rising in the World, by your own Industry, or the Weakness of others.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

There are only two ways of getting on in the world: either by one's own cunning efforts, or by other people's foolishness.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

Johnson - lowest white man best colored man somebody to look down on - wist.info quote

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Comment (1960)

On racist graffiti in Tennessee, seen earlier in the day. Recalled in Bill Moyers, "What a Real President Was Like," Washington Post (1988-11-13).

More discussion here: Did Lyndon B. Johnson Say This About The 'Lowest White Man' and 'Best Colored Man'? | Snopes.com.
Added on 16-Jan-13 | Last updated 14-Jul-23
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Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Equality (1931)

Sometimes cited an English proverb, or attributed to Isaiah Berlin.
Added on 11-Jan-13 | Last updated 4-Sep-16
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One of the benefits that oppression confers upon the oppressors is that the most humble among them is made to feel superior; thus, a poor white in the South can console himself with the thought that he is not a “dirty nigger” — and the more prosperous whites cleverly exploit this pride. Similarly, the most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
The Second Sex, Introduction (1950) [tr. Parshley (1952)]

See Johnson.
Added on 3-Jan-12 | Last updated 16-Jun-23
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There are more Fools than Knaves in the World,
Else the Knaves would not have enough to live upon.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Prose Observations, “Sundry Thoughts”
Added on 29-Apr-11 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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Up to now, America has not been a good milieu for the rise of a mass movement. What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation. Unlike those anywhere else, the masses in America have never despaired of the present and are not willing to sacrifice it for a new life and a new world.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
“The Negro Revolution,” The Temper of Our Time (1967)

Frequently misquoted as "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."

Originally published in the New York Times Magazine (1964-11-29).
Added on 14-Dec-10 | Last updated 14-Jul-23
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A man who does not possess himself enough to hear disagreeable things without visible marks of anger and change of countenance, or agreeable ones without sudden bursts of joy and expansion of countenance, is at the mercy of every artful knave or pert coxcomb.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #183 (22 May 1749)
Added on 11-May-09 | Last updated 12-Oct-22
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The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.

Abigail Van Buren
Abigail Van Buren (1918-2013) American columnist [a.k.a. Dear Abby, pen name for Pauline Phillips]
“Dear Abby” column (16 May 1974)

The earliest variation on this thought appears to be from Paul Eldridge.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Nov-21
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It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

John Philpot Curran
John Philpot Curran (1750-1817) Irish lawyer and politician
Speech before Privy Council, Dublin (10 Jul 1790)

On the right of election of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Commonly paraphrased: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Nov-20
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