Quotations about   interests

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I’m a pacifist about certain things. I’m a pacifist in the way I define national interest. I use this example frequently: If the Mexicans decided to cross the Texas border with firearms, I would be down there in a moment with a rifle and a whistle to direct the troops to repel them. If the United States is attacked, I will defend it. My problem is the United States’ defending the interests of the Union Oil Company or the United Fruit Company. Those are not American interests. They’re private-money interests, and that bothers me a great deal.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
“The Initial Shock,” Interview by Sheldon Hackney, Humanities (Nov/Dec 1996)
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Added on 10-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Jun-21
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Fairness for everyone would be possible only if everyone’s interests were the same, if everyone were in agreement as to what baseline considerations must be in place for a procedure to be labeled “fair.” But if that were the case, the question of fairness would never be raised. It is raised precisely because everyone’s interests are not the same, and since different interests will generate different notions of fairness (the debate between those who call for equality of access and those who call of equality of opportunity is an example), any regime of fairness will always be unfair in the eyes of those for whom it was not designed.

Stanley Fish (b. 1938) American literary theorist, legal scholar, author
There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, And It’s A Good Thing, Too, Part 1, ch. 5 (1994)
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Added on 4-Jun-21 | Last updated 4-Jun-21
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It is often said that governing is the art of compromise. But this is not a statement about governing; it is rather about the values of democracy. Legislating in the common interest means not confusing one’s own values with the common values. It requires giving equal weight to values that one does not share. But too often, commitment to this principle appears weak — a failure to stand by one’s principles.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
“Democracy and the Demagogue,” New York Times (12 Oct 2015)
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Added on 10-May-21 | Last updated 10-May-21
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The conception of men as united to each other, and of all mankind as united to God, by mutual obligations arising from their relation to a common end, which vaguely conceived and imperfectly realized, had been the keystone holding together the social fabric, ceased to be impressed upon men’s minds, when Church and State withdrew from the centre of social life to its circumference. What remained … was private rights and private interests, the materials of a society rather than a society itself.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 2 “Rights and Functions” (1920)
Added on 29-Dec-16 | Last updated 29-Dec-16
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All the gang of those who rule us
Hope our quarrels never stop
Helping them to split and fool us
So they can remain on top.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
“Solidarity song [Solidaritätslied]” (1931) [tr. Willett]
Added on 12-Nov-15 | Last updated 12-Nov-15
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The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.

Stendhal (1783-1842) French writer [pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle]
Letter (c. 1818)

Variants:
  • "The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his are the same."
  • "The shepherd ... can never convince his flock of sheep that his interests and theirs are identical."
Added on 6-Aug-15 | Last updated 6-Aug-15
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The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.

Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) American educator and educational philosopher
Great Books: The Foundation of a Liberal Education (1954)
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Added on 13-Dec-13 | Last updated 15-Jul-20
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