Quotations about   oligarchy

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In reality, the likelihood of reaching the pinnacle of capitalist society today is only marginally better than were the chances of being accepted into the French nobility four centuries ago, though at least an aristocratic age was franker, and therefore kinder, about the odds. It did not relentlessly play up the possibilities open to all, … and so, in turn, did not cruelly equate an ordinary life with a failed one.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ch. 9 “Entrepreneurship” (2009)
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Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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It was crowded in the Curry Gardens on the corner of God Street and Blood Alley, but only with the cream of society — at least, with those people who are found floating on the top and who, therefore, it’s wisest to call the cream.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
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Added on 3-Aug-18 | Last updated 3-Aug-18
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People say law, but they mean wealth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1841)
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Added on 13-Mar-17 | Last updated 13-Mar-17
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It is not merely that the ownership of any substantial share in the national wealth is concentrated to-day in the hands of a few hundred thousand families, and that at the end of an age which began with an affirmation of the rights of property, proprietary rights are, in fact, far from being widely distributed. Nor is it merely that what makes property insecure to-day is not the arbitrary taxation of unconstitutional monarchies or the privileges of an idle noblesse, but the insatiable expansion and aggregation of property itself, which menaces with absorption all property less than the greatest, the small master, the little shopkeeper, the country bank, and has turned the mass of mankind into a proletariat working under the agents and for the profit of those who own.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 5 “Property and Creative Work” (1920)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

jones-stolen-a-railroad-wist_info-quote

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1860-1930) American labor leader [a.k.a. Mother Jones]
Speech (1903), in The Autobiography of Mother Jones, ch. 10 (1925)
Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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I’m not really rich. I’m something far more noble I’m a job creator. [Heavenly chorus] Sort of the same way Patagonian tooth-fish became Chilean sea-bass. [Heavenly chorus] But y’know what, just by suggesting, just by bringing it up, that he is going to tax me more, Comrade Obama has created an atmosphere of uncertainty that makes me skittish about creating more jobs, yeah, I have been so freaked out that today at breakfast I could barely butter my gold. You see, you poor people, you don’t get how much “uncertainty” gives us job creators the willies. It’s terrifying — like when you find out your private island has natives; or when your wife notices the maid’s kid looks just like you; or when the limo driver tries to start a conversation. So tax me at a higher rate if you like, you’re practically firing yourselves. Because I’ll tell you something, I have been so shitting in my pants about this uncertainty thing, that yesterday I let go a dozen essential workers at my compound, including my Tivo programmer, my manscaper, the liposuctionist, my gardener’s personal trainer, my dog whisperer, the lookalike I hired to foil assassination attempts, my private farmer, the lady who dispenses hand sanitizer after our pre-show prayer circle, the girl I pay to mistake me for Jon Hamm, and the guy who takes care of the shark tank. Which reminds me, I’m gonna have to let go two sharks!

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher (23 Sep 2011)
Added on 24-Feb-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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It is a basic economic proposition that as long as a relatively few men own the railroads, the telegraph, the telephone, own the oil fields and the gas fields and the steel mills and the sugar refineries and the leather tanneries — own, in short, the sources and means of life — they will corrupt our politics, they will enslave the working class, they will impoverish and debase society, they will do all things that are needful to perpetuate their power as the economic masters and the political rulers of the people.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
“The Issue,” Speech, Girard, Kansas (23 May 1908)
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Added on 28-Jan-15 | Last updated 28-Jan-15
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If I had to choose, I should detest the tyranny of one man less than that of many. A despot always has his good moments; an assembly of despots never.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary, “Tyranny” (1764) [tr. Gay (1962)]
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Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 4-Nov-14
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We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
(Attributed)
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Quoted by Raymond Lonergan in Irving Dilliard, Mr. Justice Brandeis, Great American (1941).
Added on 14-Oct-14 | Last updated 14-Oct-14
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To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged.

Norman Mailer (1923-2007) American novelist, journalist, playwright, activist
(Attributed)
Added on 21-Apr-14 | Last updated 21-Apr-14
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I hope we shall take warning from [England’s] example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to George Logan (12 Nov 1816)
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Added on 4-Mar-14 | Last updated 4-Mar-14
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Everything is un-American that tends either to government by a plutocracy, or government by a mob. To divide along the lines of section or caste or creed is un-American. All privilege based on wealth, and all enmity to honest men merely because they are wealthy, are un-American — both of them equally so. Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood — the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Letter to S. Stanwood Menken (10 Jan 1917)
Added on 29-Jan-14 | Last updated 15-Jun-16
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Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to the few because the few are more vigilant and consistent.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, # 45 (10 Apr 1753)
Added on 21-May-12 | Last updated 2-May-14
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There is something wrong in a government where they who do the most have the least. There is something wrong when honesty wears a rag, and rascality a robe; when the loving, the tender, eat a crust, while the infamous sit at banquets.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“A Lay Sermon” (1886)
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Added on 21-Aug-09 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
God in the Dock, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” (1970)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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