Quotations about   nation

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Agitation is the marshalling of the conscience of a nation to mold its laws.

Robert Peel (1788-1850) British statesman, Prime Minister (1834-35, 1841-46)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Sometimes quoted as "conscience of a people." Widely quoted without source in the late 19th Century (earliest ref. 1881).
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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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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“Terrorism” is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; “war” is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it.

harris-violence-of-the-weak-strong-wist_info-quote

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
“Nations Should Submit to the Rule of Law,” Clearing the Ground (1986)
Added on 19-Dec-16 | Last updated 19-Dec-16
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Every civilization rests on a set of promises: moral promises about how to behave toward each other, physical promises about how to use our economic system. If the promises are broken too often, the civilization dies, no matter how rich it may be, or how mechanically clever. Hope and faith depend upon promises; if hope and faith go, everything goes.

Herbert Agar (1897-1980) American journalist and historian
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to James Lloyd (1 Oct 1822)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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What the tender and poetic youth dreams to-day, and conjures up with inarticulate speech, is to-morrow the vociferated result of public opinion, and the day after is the character of nations.

Emerson - character of nations - wist_info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
(Attributed)

Quoted in James Comper Gray, The Biblical Museum: Old Testament (1876).
Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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Nations are never virtuous, though they might sometimes think they are.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
Solar (2010)
Added on 2-Aug-16 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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When a nation forgets her skill in war, when her religion becomes a mockery, when the whole nation becomes a nation of money-grabbers, then the wild tribes, the barbarians drive in. … Who will our invaders be? From whence will they come?

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
Letter to Tevis Clyde Smith (Jul 1923)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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What are the marks of a sick culture? It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn’t the whole population. A very bad sign. Particularism. It was once considered a Spanish vice but any country can fall sick with it.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
Added on 1-Dec-15 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions — bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.

Roosevelt - nation unity - wist_info

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Brooklyn, New York (1 Nov 1940)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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The chief business of the nation, as a nation, is the setting up of heroes, mainly bogus.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“On Being an American” (1), Prejudices: Third Series (1922)
Added on 23-Oct-15 | Last updated 23-Oct-15
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I am stressing that it is the force of ideas rather than the impact of material things that made us a great nation. It is my conviction, too, that only the power of ideas, of enduring values, can keep us a great nation. For, where there is no vision the people perish.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow Is Now (1963)
Added on 17-Jun-15 | Last updated 17-Jun-15
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Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) Scottish economist
Letter to Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster

When Sinclair had written him, after the Battle of Saratoga (Oct 1777), "If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined." In The Correspondence of Sir John Sinclair, Bt (1831).
Added on 26-Mar-15 | Last updated 26-Mar-15
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Every major industrialized nation has A BEER (you can’t be a Real Country unless you have A BEER and an airline — it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need A BEER).

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) American singer-songwriter
The Real Frank Zappa Book, ch. 12 “America Drinks & Goes Marching” (1989)
    (Source)
Added on 20-Feb-15 | Last updated 20-Feb-15
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A self-righteous country soon forgets its righteousness and remembers only the self.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Remark (1940s)

To the author, in Stephen Winsten, Days with Bernard Shaw, ch. 25 (1949)
Added on 19-Jan-15 | Last updated 19-Jan-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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At a dinner given by Periander, tyrant of Corinth, to the Seven Wise Men, including Anacharsis, the question was asked, What is the ideal state, or most perfect form of popular government? The answers given by the philosophers were as follows:—

Solon: “That in which an injury done to the least of its citizens is an injury done to all.”
Bias: “Where the law has no superior.”
Thales: “Where the rich are neither too rich, nor the poor too poor.”
Anacharsis: “Where virtue is honored, and vice detested.”
Pittacus: “Where dignities are always conferred on the good, never on the bad.”
Cleobulus: “Where the citizens fear blame more than punishment.”
Chilo: “Where the laws are more regarded, and have more authority, than the orators.”
Goethe has asked, “What government is best? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.” At another time he said, “The best government is that which makes itself superfluous.”
“Good government,” says Confucius, “obtains when those who are near are made happy, and those who are far off are attracted.”

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
(Attributed)
    (Source)

In S.A. Bent, Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men, "Solon" (1887)
Added on 18-Jun-14 | Last updated 18-Jun-14
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Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs our strength matters just as much.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 12-May-14
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For in a republic, who is “the Country”? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is “the country?” Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Papers of the Adams Family, Part 6 “Two Fragments from a Suppressed Book Called ‘Glances at History’ or ‘Outlines of History'” (1939)
Added on 27-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician’s trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, “Our Country, right or wrong,” and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Papers of the Adams Family, Part 6 “Two Fragments from a Suppressed Book Called ‘Glances at History’ or ‘Outlines of History'” (1939)
Added on 20-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Czar’s Soliloquy,” North American Review (Mar 1905)

Sometimes paraphrased: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."
Added on 1-Feb-12 | Last updated 8-Aug-19
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HAYWOOD: There are those in our own country, too, who today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made, in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat, when it seems the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient. To look the other way. Only the answer to that is: Survival as what?

Abby Mann (1927-2008) American screenwriter, producer [a.k.a. Abraham Goodman, Ben Goodman]
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Dec-14
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