It is an illusion to suppose that a dictator makes himself; at most he seizes an opportunity made for him by passive, stupid, incompetent, and, above all, unsatisfied and fearful men.
It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that “you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.
Civil disobedience . . . is not our problem. . . . Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government. . . . Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
Abuse of power comes as no surprise.
The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men.
I’m against political jokes. Too often they get elected to office.
For millennia, every attempt at civilization foundered because nations lacked the most essential information. Now we lurch forward, overburdened by hordes of misinformation. Sometimes I think our future existence will depend on whether we can keep false information from proliferating too rapidly. If our power to verify the facts does not keep pace, then distortions of information will eventually choke us.
If you think you have it tough, read history books.
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. . . . If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost.
A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.
We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.
The less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag.
What happens to people living in a society where everyone in power is lying, stealing, cheating, and killing, and in our hearts we all know this, but the consequences of facing all these lies are so monstrous, we keep on hoping that maybe the corporate government administration and media are on the level with us this time.
Americans remind me of survivors of domestic violence.
There is always the hope that this is the very, very, very last time one’s ribs get rebroken again.
There are no simple lessons in history . . . It is human nature that repeats itself, not history.
I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them!