Quotations about:
    violence


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War is an act of violence, which in its application knows no bounds

[Der Krieg ist ein Akt der Gewalt, und es gibt in der Anwendung derselben keine Grenzen.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 1 “What Is War? [Was ist der Krieg?],” § 3 (1.1.3) (1832) [tr. Graham (1873)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds.
[tr. Graham/Maude (1908)]

War is an act of force, and to the application of that force there is no limit.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

War is an act of force, and there is no logical limit to the application of that force.
[tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]

 
Added on 31-Jan-23 | Last updated 31-Jan-23
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War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. Countess duels go to make up a war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers. Each tries through physical force to compel the other to do his will; his immediate aim is to throw his opponent in order to make him incapable of further resistance. War is thus an act of force to compel the enemy to do our will.

[Der Krieg ist nichts als ein erweiterter Zweikampf. Wollen wir uns die Unzahl der einzelnen Zweikämpfe, aus denen er besteht, als Einheit denken, so tun wir besser, uns zwei Ringende vorzustellen. Jeder sucht den anderen durch physische Gewalt zur Erfüllung seines Willens zu zwingen; sein nächster Zweck ist, den Gegner niederzuwerfen und dadurch zu jedem ferneren Widerstand unfähig zu machen. Der Krieg ist also ein Akt der Gewalt, um den Gegner zur Erfüllung unseres Willens zu zwingen.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 1 “What Is War? [Was ist der Krieg?],” § 2 (1.1.2) (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance. War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will.
[tr. Graham (1873)]

War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. If we would combine into one conception the countless separate duels of which it consists, we would do well to think of two wrestlers. Each tries by physical force to compel the other to do his will; his immediate object is to overthrow his adversary and thereby make him incapable of any further resistance. War is thus an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

 
Added on 24-Jan-23 | Last updated 24-Jan-23
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Violent zeal for truth has a hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
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Added on 23-Jan-23 | Last updated 23-Jan-23
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The object of what we call deportment and good manners is to attain that which can otherwise be attained only by force or not even by force.

[Durch das, was wir Betragen und gute Sitten nennen, soll das erreicht werden, was außerdem nur durch Gewalt, oder auch nicht einmal durch Gewalt zur erreichen ist.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Elective Affinities [Die Wahlverwandtschaften], Part 2, ch. 5, “From Ottilie’s Journal [Aus Ottiliens Tagebuche]” (1809) [tr. Hollingdale (1971)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

That which we call politeness and good breeding effects what otherwise can only be obtained by violence, or not even that.
[Niles ed. (1872)]

 
Added on 23-Jan-23 | Last updated 23-Jan-23
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When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you — pull your beard, flick your face — to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.

John Lennon (1940-1980) English rock musician, singer, songwriter
Interview, Bed-Ins for Peace, Montreal, Canada (1 Jun 1969)
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Added on 29-Dec-22 | Last updated 29-Dec-22
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Break the skin of civilization and you find the ape, roaring and red-handed.

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
Letter to Harold Preece (early 1928)
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Added on 21-Dec-22 | Last updated 21-Dec-22
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All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Letter to Heinrich Zangger (6 Dec 1917), in Collected Papers, Vol. 8, # 403 (1987) [tr. Hentschel]
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Added on 30-Nov-22 | Last updated 30-Nov-22
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It is supposed to be true that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. I don’t believe knowing can save us. What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood, and this is a thing that even God — who knows all that can be known — seems powerless to change.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
All the Pretty Horses, ch. 4 (1992)
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See Santayana.
 
Added on 15-Nov-22 | Last updated 14-Nov-22
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The existence of inequality exposes everyone to the risk of being inferior, which in turn stimulates aggressive competition to inflict the inferior status on others (such as by enslaving, impoverishing, or degrading them). In other words, inequality stimulates shame and shame stimulates inequality; shame stimulates violence and violence stimulates shame; inequality leads to violence and violence leads to inequality.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 2 (2001)
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Added on 6-Sep-22 | Last updated 6-Sep-22
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The purpose of violence is to force respect from other people. The less self-respect people feel, the more they are dependent on respect from others; for without a certain minimal amount of respect, from others or the self, the self begins to feel dead inside, numb and empty. That is how the most violent criminals told me they felt, and it is clear that it is the most intolerable of all feelings (though it is actually an absence of feeling, lack of the feeling of pride, or self-love). When people lack self-respect, and feel they are incapable of eliciting respect from others in the form of admiration for their achievements or their personalities, they may see no way to get respect except in the form of fear, which I think of as a kind of ersatz substitute for admiration; and violence does elicit fear, as it is intended to. For example, I have spoken to many violent criminals who spoke of how gratifying it was to see fear in the eyes of their victims.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 1 (2001)
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Added on 30-Aug-22 | Last updated 30-Aug-22
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Unequal societies are not only the most violent; they are also the least productive.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 5 (2001)
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Added on 23-Aug-22 | Last updated 23-Aug-22
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We cannot learn what causes violence and how we could prevent it as long as we are thinking in the traditional moral and legal terms. The only questions that this way of thinking can ask take the form: “How evil (or heroic) was this particular act of violence, and how much punishment (or reward) does the person who did it deserve?” But even if it were possible to gain the knowledge that would be necessary to answer those questions (which it is not), answers would still not help us in the least to understand what causes violence or how we could prevent it — these are empirical not moral questions.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, Introduction (2001)
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Added on 9-Aug-22 | Last updated 9-Aug-22
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I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed or humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Interview in Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, ch. 13 (2015)
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Added on 26-Jul-22 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self-esteem.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
(Attributed)
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Quoted by Jon Ronson in "Jon Ronson: By the Book," New York Times (9 Apr 2015). When asked what one book he would require a US President to read, he named Gilligan's Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, and then, having said he's talked with Gilligan, Ronson gives the quotation above, and this is the form it's usually given, often then cited to the book.

In the actual book, Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, ch. 5 (1997), Gilligan has:

The different forms of violence, whether toward individuals or entire populations, are motivated (caused) by the feeling of shame. The purpose of violence is to diminish the intensity of shame and replace it as far as possible with its opposite, pride, thus preventing the individual from being overwhelmed by the feeling of shame. Violence toward others, such as homicide, is an attempt to replace shame with pride.

 
Added on 19-Jul-22 | Last updated 19-Jul-22
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The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid that they are wimps.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, ch. 3 (1997)
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Added on 12-Jul-22 | Last updated 12-Jul-22
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There are things in the breast of mankind which are best
In darkness and secrecy hid;
For you never can tell, when you’ve opened a hell,
How soon you can put back the lid.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“The Sons of the Suburbs” (1916)
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On bloodthirstiness in war by previously peaceful people.

Originally written for the Christmas 1916 issue of Blighty, a magazine for servicemen. It was rejected, eventually to be published in the Sunday Pictorial (19 Jan 1936). It was never included by Kipling in any of his collections.
 
Added on 30-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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We are told by some of the Jewish Rabbins, that the first Murder was occasioned by a religious Controversy; and if we had the whole History of Zeal from the Days of Cain to our own Times, we should see it filled with so many Scenes of Slaughter and Bloodshed, as would make a wise Man very careful how he suffers himself to be actuated by such a Principle, when it only regards Matters of Opinion and Speculation.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #185 (2 Oct 1711)
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Added on 18-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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We vainly accuse the fury of Gunnes, and the new inventions of death; ’tis in the power of every hand to destroy us, and wee are beholding unto every one wee meete hee doth not kill us.

[We vainly accuse the fury of guns, and the new inventions of death; it is in the power of every hand to destroy us, and we are beholden unto every one we meet he doth not kill us.]

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, Part 1, sec. 43 (1643)
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Added on 13-Oct-21 | Last updated 13-Oct-21
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We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted to battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.

Robert Ardrey (1908-1980) American playwright, screenwriter and science writer
African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man (1961)
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Added on 22-Sep-21 | Last updated 22-Sep-21
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The very presence of a weapon provokes a man to use it.

[αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 16, l. 294 (16.294) [Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
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(Greek (Source)), repeated in 19.13.

In Book 16, Odysseus offers this as part of the argument Telemachus can use to the suitors to explain why he has stripped the hall of weapons -- that, should the weapons remain, they might tempt drunken people to violence. Book 19, back at the hall, Odysseus repeats almost the same instructions to Telemachus. The same Greek is used for this phrase in both passages; some translators use the same language, others make changes to it.

Epigram (and title inspiration) in Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself (2006) -- "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence." Abercrombie was a fan of the Rome: Total War game, which included in its load pages the translation, "The blade itself incites to violence.

BOOK 16, l. 294

  • "Steel itself, ready, draws a man to blows." [tr. Chapman (1616)]
  • "One drawn sword draws another." [tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 276]
  • "Oft ready swords in luckless hour incite / The hand of wrath, and arm it for the fight." [tr. Pope (1725)]
  • "For the view / Itself of arms incites to their abuse." [tr. Cowper (1792), l. 348]
  • "Steel itself oft lures a man to fight." [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 37]
  • "Steel itself wooes men to battle!" [tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]
  • "For the steel blade itself lures men to blood." [tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 462]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man thereto." [tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
  • "For this is said aright, / That e'en of himself the iron draws on a man to smite." [tr. Morris (1887)]
  • "Steel itself draws men on." [tr. Palmer (1891)]
  • "For the sight of arms sometimes tempts people to use them." [tr. Butler (1898)]
  • "For of itself does the iron draw a man to it." [tr. Murray (1919)]
  • "Iron of itself tempts man's frailty." [tr. Lawrence (1932)]
  • "Tempered iron can magnetize a man." [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
  • "Iron all of itself works on a man and attracts him." [tr. Lattimore (1965)]
  • "For iron of itself can tempt a man." [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
  • "Iron has powers to draw a man to ruin." [tr. Fagles (1996)]
  • "There's a force in iron that lures men on." [tr. D. C. H. Rieu (2002)]
  • "For iron itself draws a man to employ it." [tr. Merrill (2002)]
  • "Iron of itself draws a man on." [tr. Verity (2016)]
  • "Weapons themselves can tempt a man to fight." [tr. Wilson (2017)]
  • "For iron of itself attracts a man." [tr. Green (2018)]
  • "Iron attracts a man all on its own." [tr. Johnston (2019)]
  • "And beckoning, the iron itself drags the man." [Source]

BOOK 19, l. 13 -- items in italics are the same as their Book 16 counterparts.

  • "As loadstones draw the steel, so steel draws man." [tr. Chapman (1616)]
  • "One drawn sword draws another." [tr. Hobbes (1675)]
  • "By sight of swords to fury fired." [tr. Pope (1725)]
  • "For the view / Itself of arms incites to their abuse." [tr. Cowper (1792)]
  • "Steel itself oft lures a man to fight." [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 2]
  • "The sight of iron tempts to use it!" [tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]
  • "For the steel blade itself / Lures men to blood." [tr. Musgrave (1869)]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man thereto." [tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
  • "For e'en of himself the Iron to battle draweth men." [tr. Morris (1887)]
  • "Steel itself draws men on." [tr. Palmer (1891)]
  • "For the sight of arms sometimes tempts people to use them." [tr. Butler (1898)]
  • "For of itself does the iron draw a man towards it." [tr. Murray (1919)]
  • "Iron has that attraction for men." [tr. Lawrence (1932)]
  • "The very presence of a weapon provokes a man to use it." [tr. Rieu (1946)]
  • "Iron itself can draw men's hands." [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
  • "Iron all of itself works on a man and attracts him." [tr. Lattimore (1965)]
  • "For iron of itself can tempt a man." [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
  • "Iron has powers to draw a man to ruin." [tr. Fagles (1996)]
  • "Steel has a way of drawing a man to it." [tr. Lombardo (2000)]
  • "There's a force in iron that lures men on." [tr. D. C. H. Rieu (2002)]
  • "For iron itself draws a man to employ it." [tr. Merrill (2002)]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man on." [tr. Verity (2016)]
  • "For iron of itself attracts a man." [tr. Green (2018)]
  • "For iron by itself / can draw a man to use it." [tr. Johnston (2019)]
 
Added on 8-Sep-21 | Last updated 24-Jan-22
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Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware of those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware of those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff’s office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
“The Perfect Mirror,” Christian Century (18-25 Mar 1998)
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Added on 30-Jul-21 | Last updated 30-Jul-21
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Violence is often caused by a surfeit of morality and justice, at least as they are conceived in the minds of the perpetrators.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
The Better Angels of our Nature, ch. 3 (2011)
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Added on 7-Jul-21 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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Still, the danger of the practice of violence, even if it moves consciously within a non-extremist framework of short-term goals, will always be that the means overwhelm the end. If goals are not achieved rapidly, the result will not merely be defeat but the introduction of the practice of violence into the whole body politic. Action is irreversible, and a return to the status quo in case of defeat is always unlikely. The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Reflections on Violence,” New York Review of Books (27 Feb 1969)
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Added on 27-May-21 | Last updated 27-May-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
“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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MORDEN: Think about it, Captain. Look at the long history of human struggle. Six thousand years of recorded wars, bloodshed, atrocities beyond description. But look at what came out of all that. We’ve gone to the stars. Split the atom. Written sonnets. We would never have evolved this far if we hadn’t been at each other’s throats, evolving our way up inch by inch.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×22 “Z’Ha’Dum” (28 Oct 1996)
 
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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).
 
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What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Indianapolis (4 Apr 1968)
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Added on 28-Jul-20 | Last updated 28-Jul-20
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The man that lays his hand on woman,
Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
Whom ’twere gross flattery to name a coward.

No picture available
John Tobin (1770-1804) British playwright
The Honey Moon, Act 2, sc. 1 [Duke] (1805)
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Don’t flang him off the bluff, boys. Tain’t christian.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
Outer Dark (1968)
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Added on 27-Jan-20 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
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Wisdom is publicly rejected, affairs are pursued with force,
A good speaker is spurned, and the wretched warrior is loved.
Men strive not with educated speeches but instead with insults
attack one another and enter into mutual enmity.
They seize property suddenly not by the right of law but with swords
As they seek sovereignty and wander with the power of the mob.

[Pellitur e medio sapientia, vi geritur res,
spernitur orator bonus, horridus miles amatur.
haut doctis dictis certantes nec maledictis
miscent inter sese inimicitiam agitantes,
non ex iure manum consertum, sed magis ferro
rem repetunt regnumque petunt, vadunt solida vi.]

Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer
Annales, Book 8, Sec. 3, l. 262-8
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On public discourse during wars. Fragment quoted by Cicero in Epistle 171.

Alt. trans.: "Pushed away from the centre good sense, force rules the day, / despised the good orator, the horrid soldier cherished. / Fighting, not with learned words or curses, / they clash with one another, pushing hostilities, / laying hand onto one another not rightfully, but rather with the sword / they seek material gain and strive for power, advancing with brute force."
 
Added on 23-Jan-20 | Last updated 23-Jan-20
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There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
In Richard B. Woodward, “Cormac McCarthy’s Venomous Fiction,” New York Times (19 Apr 1992)
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Certainly it is presumptuous to say that we cannot improve, and that Man, who has only been in power for a few thousand years, will never learn to make use of his power. All I mean is that, if people continue to kill one another as they do, the world cannot get better than it is, and that, since there are more people than formerly, and their means for destroying one another superior, the world may well get worse. What is good in people — and consequently in the world — is their insistence on creation, their belief in friendship and loyalty for their own sakes; and, though Violence remains and is, indeed, the major partner in this muddled establishment, I believe that creativeness remains too, and will always assume direction when violence sleeps.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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I’d be the first to say that some historical victories have been won by violence; the U.S. Revolution is certainly one of the foremost. But the Negro revolution is seeking integration, not independence. Those fighting for independence have the purpose to drive out the oppressors. But here in America, we’ve got to live together. We’ve got to find a way to reconcile ourselves to living in community, one group with the other. The struggle of the Negro in America, to be successful, must be waged with resolute efforts, but efforts that are kept strictly within the framework of our democratic society. This means reaching, educating and moving large enough groups of people of both races to stir the conscience of the nation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 24-Mar-19 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
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More quotes by King, Martin Luther

It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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More quotes by King, Martin Luther

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 11 “Where Do We Go from Here?” (1958)
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More quotes by King, Martin Luther

History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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More quotes by King, Martin Luther

When I put a question to him about socialism in agriculture, he explained with glee how he had incited the poorer peasants against the richer ones, “and they soon hanged them from the nearest tree — ha! ha! ha!” His guffaw at the thought of those massacred made my blood run cold.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Unpopular Essays, “Eminent Men I Have Known” (1950)

Referring to an 1920 interview in Moscow with V. Lenin.
 
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We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies , bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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When the rich rob the poor it’s called business. When the poor fight back it’s called violence.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently, but incorrectly attributed to Twain, no earlier than 2015. It appears to have been an anonymous phrase coined in the Occupy Movement in 2011. See here for more information.
 
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Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 17 [Isabella Linton] (1847)
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There is no lasting hope in violence, only temporary relief from hopelessness.

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (1919-1988) American educator, diplomat
(Attributed)
 
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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I may look calm, but in my head I’ve killed you five times.

Sig Lines
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All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

Frank Herbert (1920-1986) American writer
Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
 
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It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to F. A. Van der Kamp (27 Dec 1816)
 
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What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the Earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.

king-craziest-most-murderous-wist_info-quote

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Cell, “Gaiten Academy,” ch. 16 (2006)
 
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“Okay,” I said to Teldra. “Look. I’ll concede that, over the years, I’ve learned that there’s no point in making a bad situation worse, and that it’s less work to talk yourself out of a tough spot than to slice your way out, and that words, while potentially deadly, are less deadly than Morganti daggers. But I don’t think that is quite the same thing as being courteous.”

“I believe, Lord Taltos, that it is very much the same thing.”

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Issola (2001)
 
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In such a regime, I say, you died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest — without asking to be paid.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, critic [Albert Chinualumogu Achebe]
A Man of the People (1966)
 
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“Violence,” came the retort, “is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“Bridle and Saddle,” Astounding (Jun 1942)

Retitled "The Mayors" in Foundation (1951). The phrase appears multiple times in the story. See Johnson.
 
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You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the cross and think, “How could a man suffer like that and forgive?” Not, “Romans are pussies — he still has his eyes.”

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher, “New Rules” (13 May 2011)

Discussing Christians who support torturing terrorists.
 
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I do not kill everyone with whom I have a difference of opinion and I would not want anyone reading this memoir to think that I do.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
 
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War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him — but to make him do what you want him to do. Not killing — but controlled and purposeful violence.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Starship Troopers, ch. 5 [Zim] (1959)
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Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that, among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to James C. Conkling (26 Aug 1863)
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ZOE: Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin’?

BOOK: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

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Cheryl Cain (contemp.) American television screenwriter
Firefly, 1×10 “War Stories” (6 Dec 2002)
 
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JAYNE: I just don’t get it. How’s a man get so wrong? Cuttin’ on his own face, rapin’ and murdering. Hell, I’ll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman. Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly only when I’m gettin’ paid. But these Reavers — last ten years they show up like the bogeyman from stories. Eating people alive? Where’s that get fun?

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Serenity (2005)
 
Added on 16-Apr-15 | Last updated 16-Apr-15
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