a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not
all mean the same thing. With some, the word means: for each man
to do as he pleases with himself and with the product of his
labor. With others, the same word means: for some men to do as
they please with other men and the product of other men's labor.
The fullness of time, I am convinced, will prove to the world
which is the true definition of the word; and my earnest hope
remains that the United States of America shall yet lead the way
in the proving.
The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone; but
without honesty, the brave and able man is merely a civic wild
beast who should be hunted down by every lover of righteousness.
Theodore Roosevelt (12 May 1900)
You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have
taken at the start of my battle, and for those who wish to know
the day of my return, I shall now repeat it to the hearing of the
world: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never
live my life for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live
Ayn Rand [Fountainhead (1943)]
Philosophy is not the province of primitivism, where drudgery and
sustenance preoccupies each inhabitant, but is exercised in the
realm of sophisticated cultures, where every civilized
advancement benefits each community member, directly or
indirectly, by the multiplication of options, of potential, of
possibility. Each instance of self indulgence, of self
absorption, of self restraint merely limits the individual, but
will not retard society until the accumulated inhibitions stifle
expansion by their mass. A society which is not predominantly
composed of persons who are willing and able to share their
freedoms will devolve into some type of cloister, of dungeon, of
cantonment, that will exchange hope for fear. People who are
unwilling to live for each other are, by definition, unwilling to
die for each other, and so shall die alone, frightened and
bewildered by the hostility of neighbors and strangers. A once
great civilization will then be rent and reduced to a new dark
Men are eager to tread underfoot what they have once too much
Titus Lucretius Carus
There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle
between the State and the Individual; between the State which
demands and the individual who attempts to evade such demands.
Because the individual, left to himself, unless he be a saint or
hero, always refuses to pay taxes, obey laws, or go to war.
Benito "Il Duce" Mussolini
Fascist ethics begin ... with the acknowledgment that it is not
the individual who confers a meaning upon society, but it is,
instead, the existence of a human society which determines the
human character of the individual. According to Fascism, a true,
a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has
risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The
curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, and this
need of rising the State to its rightful position.
Mario Palmieri [The Philosophy of Fascism
Palestine means Palestine in its entirety – from the
[Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River. We cannot give up a
single inch of it. Why should we recognize Israel's Right to
Exist? We can found a state on any piece of the land, and this
will not mean we give up on any other part of the land.
Mahmoud Al-Zahar (25 January 2006)
Altogether, national hatred is something peculiar. You will
always find it strongest and most violent where there is the
lowest degree of culture.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I said these things in an [Egyptian] parliament session dealing
with the Inter-Arab Agreement on Combating Terrorism. I noticed
that the report of the [Parliamentary] Committee for Defense and
National Security and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry were
inaccurate when [they] dealt with terrorism, since [they] dealt
with it in general [terms]. I specifically wanted to explain that
[the term] 'terrorism' is not a curse when given its true
meaning. [When interpreted accurately,] it means opposing
occupation as it exists in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq!...
From my point of view, bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi are
not terrorists in the sense accepted by some. I support all their
activities, since they are a thorn in the side of the Americans
and the Zionists... [On the other hand,] he who kills Muslim
citizens is neither a jihad fighter nor a terrorist, but a
criminal and a murderer. We must call things by their proper
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from
the Muslim Brotherhood)
Most of the world today not only is in denial concerning the
truly appalling likely consequences of the rise of radical Islam,
it often refuses to even accept unambiguous evidence of its
It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let
me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your
terrorist co-conspirators, Mister Reid. We are Americans. We have
been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here
and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this
court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for
individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for
justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You
are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you
that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much
stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or
your attorney who does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You
are not – you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with
terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign
documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring
them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court.
You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You are no
warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of
criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very
real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first
were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where
the press and where the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no
big deal." You are no big deal. What your able counsel and what
the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and
what I have, as honestly as I know how, tried to grapple with, is
why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here
to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you
have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself
what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty,
and admit you are guilty, of doing. And I have an answer for you.
It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it
comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you
hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our
freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live
as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not
believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the
very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to
shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much
that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone
can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly,
individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your
lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed
appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other
judges. We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know
that the way we treat you, Mister Reid, is the measure of our own
liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will
bare any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look
around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to
long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow, it will
be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this
courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people
will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not
war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President
of the United States through his officers will have to come into
courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be
judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that
evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense
of justice. See that flag, Mister Reid? That's the flag of the
United States of America. That flag will fly there long after
this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it
William Young [District Court judge ruling (30 Jan
2003) re: United States v Richard C. Reid, the Islamic terrorist
who was intercepted while attempting to activate a "shoe bomb" on
an airline, and who proclaims himself to be a soldier at war with
I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as
American citizens. The time is come ... when we ought to hear
about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship.
Representing a profound attitude of fairness between man and man,
and more particularly between the individual and government, Due
Process is compounded of history, reason, the past course of
decisions, and stout confidence in the strength of the democratic
faith which we profess.
Felix Frankfurter [obiter dictum Joint Anti-Fascist
Refugee Committee v McGrath (1951)]
I love my country too much to be a nationalist.
I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I
heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting
America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the
balance of my lifetime.
Albert Einstein (1947)
Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not
Arnold Joseph Toynbee (Oct 1958)
In the future, I will answer anyone who attacks me for my views,
especially since all the organizations, without exception –
judicial and other, in Egypt and abroad – are [nothing but]
'market stalls' full of spies that receive bribes from the
Americans. In the future I will tell them that America and Israel
are the only violent [parties], and that they are responsible for
the wave of killing and violence that is sweeping over the world!
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from
the Muslim Brotherhood)
I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to
fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people
themselves refuse to go to war.
War means fighting and fighting means killing.
Nathan Bedford Forrest ("Wizard of the Saddle")
Israel has occupied what they claim is their historic homeland,
but we too have a long history of occupation by Romans and
Persians, of dislocation by Crusaders and British, and we are
still here, after they have all gone, fighting for what belongs
to us, for what has always belonged to us.
paraphrase of Mahmoud Al-Zahar
To many people the past seems inevitable and the future
impossible. History is seen to have arisen not from unpredictable
flows of genius and heroism, but more or less inevitably, from
preordained patterns of natural resources and population.
History is like the planks of a shipwreck ... because more is
missing than is present, we must guess at its form and function.
paraphrase of Roger Bacon
The past is a bullet streaking into the future to kill
civilization as we know it, while the present is a struggle over
the target. We will never know how the point of impact was
If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall
find that we have lost the future.
Winston L.S. Churchill
The degeneracy of the times has always been a
favorite theme, but one which is liable to mislead, and ever must
be so, for the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of
the present are not only seen, but are felt,
whereas the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of the
past are not only unfelt, but are mostly unseen, because
the mists of oblivion hide all but the more conspicuous objects
and events from our view. While, therefore, different periods of
history may be compared, it is very difficult to compare
the present with any other time.
John Peter Altgeld
I'd like to let you in on a little secret: there's no such thing
as history. History is the name given to events
in order to mark them for our forgetfulness. Nothing is really
past us, in the same way that nothing is really with us. It all
changes between blinks of the eye – no two moments the
same. Those ignorant of history are not doomed to repeat it
– that would be a staggering achievement – they are
simply doomed to ignorance of everything else.
T. Jefferson Parker (1991)
History never looks like history when you are living through it.
It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels
John W. Gardner
Don't fix it if it ain't broke!
If it ain't broke, then it ought to be! ... we don't need
perfection, we need jobs!
riposte to modern maxim
The Army does not solve its problems, it overwhelms them!
unknown supply officer in WWII north African
Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (11 Dec 1972)
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me.
They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the
business of government; they have only a talent for getting and
holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search
out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to
promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is
worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting
A to satisfy B. In other words,
government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of
an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
Henry Louis Mencken
Government is not reason, it is force; like fire, it's a
dangerous servant of a fearful master.
In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us,
Make us your slaves, but feed us.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it
more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake
to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is
not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new
programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the
Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on
the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to
discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first
determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I
should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents'
interests, I shall reply that I was informed
that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am
doing the very best I can.
An attacking army is more dangerous but a retreating army is more
Winners conquer, losers destroy.
What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living
might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been
employed in works of public utility; what an extension of
agriculture even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers
rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges,
acqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices, and
improvements ... might not have been obtained by spending those
millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in
Benjamin Franklin [27 July 1783 letter to Sir Joseph
If everyone thought that someone else, instead of them, should
get killed in war, then fighting would have to cease ... but with
all these cowards quaking in cellars and deserters hiding in
attics, there would be nobody to work the fields and run the
factories, so the children would starve, the women would be
enslaved, and the bullies would take over everything! ... just so
some frightened little boys don't have to get hurt. Once the war
is over they won't be able to fight, so they may as well die now!
Anything worth living for is worth dying for. And anything worth
dying for is certainly worth living for.
Joseph Heller [Catch-22 (1961)]
War is like love, it always finds a way.
Bertolt Brecht [Mother Courage and Her
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket
fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger
and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This
world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the
sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of
its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of
Dwight David Eisenhower
Strike against war, for without you no battles
can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas
bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness
that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not
dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an
army of construction!
The doctrine that might makes right has covered the earth with
misery. While it crushes the weak, it also destroys the strong.
Every deceit, every cruelty, every wrong, reaches back sooner or
later and crushes its author. Justice is moral health, bringing
happiness, wrong is moral disease, bringing mortal death.
John Peter Altgeld
How little, after all, do we shape our actions by reason when
once the senses feel their strength ... and how hideously ugly
does the truth appear when our senses have forced us to nurse a
Rex Stout (1914)
Not long ago, art and civilization took a horribly wrong and
mistaken turn. My proof of this is not merely the contrast
between this and other ages of art but the unparalleled
devastation of this century — by war, by mass bondage, by
the neglect of what is humane. In arrogating to ourselves powers
that we did not have or that we could not handle, we have been
the cause of untold suffering and destruction. Though it cannot
be undone, it can be left behind.
Perhaps I know why it is man alone who laughs: He alone suffers
so deeply that he had to invent laughter.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the
citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a
double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it
narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever
pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the
leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.
Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by
patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and
gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am
Gaius Julius Caesar
Patriotism is the first refuge and last virtue of the vicious.
paraphrase of Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie
There is no necessary connection between the desire to lead and
the ability to lead, and even less to the ability to lead
somewhere that will be to the advantage of the led. Leadership is
more likely to be assumed by the aggressive than by the able, and
those who scramble to the top are more often motivated by their
own inner torments than by any demand for their guidance.
Berger Evans [The Spook of Spooks and other
Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor
slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he
can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?
Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia,
nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is
understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who
determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag
the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist
dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice
or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they
are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for [their] lack
of patriotism and [for] exposing the country to danger. It works
the same in every country.
Hermann Wilhelm Goering
compiled by Ed Staff