Anthology of Classical Quotes

Compiled by Joe McCarthy

“There are many things to be said on behalf of this exclusive attention of ours to liberty, and of the relaxed habits of government which it has engendered. It is very easy to mistake or to exaggerate the sort of anarchy from which we are in danger through them. We are not in danger from Fenianism, fierce and turbulent as it may show itself; for against this our conscience is free enough to let us act resolutely and put forth our overwhelming strength the moment there is any real need for it. In the first place, it never was any part of our creed that the great right and blessedness of an Irishman, or, indeed, of anybody on earth except an Englishman, is to do as he likes; and we can have no scruple at all about abridging, if necessary, a non-Englishman’s assertion of personal liberty. The British Constitution, its checks, and its prime virtues, are for Englishmen. We may extend them to others out of love and kindness; but we find no real divine law written on our hearts constraining us so to extend them. And then the difference between an Irish Fenian and an English rough is so immense, and the case, in dealing with the Fenian, so much more clear! He is so evidently desperate and dangerous, a man of a conquered race, a Papist, with centuries of ill-usage to inflame him against us, with an alien religion established in his country by us at his expense, with no admiration of our institutions, no love of our virtues, no talents for our business, no turn for our comfort! Show him our symbolical Truss Manufactory on the finest site in Europe, and tell him that British industrialism and individualism can bring a man to that, and he remains cold! Evidently, if we deal tenderly with a sentimentalist like this, it is out of pure philanthropy.” — Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy.

“There are very few persons who consider themselves fit to sit in judgment on the astronomical, physical, and chemical ideas which are destined to enter social circulation; and everybody is willing that those ideas should direct corresponding operations; and here we see the beginning of intellectual government. Can it be supposed that the most important and the most delicate conceptions, and those which by their complexity are accessible to only a small number of highly prepared understandings, are to be abandoned to the arbitrary and variable decisions of the least competent minds? If such an anomaly could be imagined permanent, a dissolution of the social state must ensue… the convergence of minds requires the renunciation by the greater number of their right of individual inquiry on subjects above their qualifications, and requiring, more than any others, a real and permanent agreement.” — Auguste Comte, Course of Positive Philosophy.

Brahma is said to have produced the world by a kind of fall or mistake; and in order to atone for his folly, he is bound to remain in it himself until he works out his redemption. As an account of the origin of things, that is admirable! According to the doctrines of Buddhism, the world came into being as the result of some inexplicable disturbance in the heavenly calm of Nirvana, that blessed state obtained by expiation, which had endured so long a time—the change taking place by a kind of fatality. This explanation must be understood as having at bottom some moral bearing; although it is illustrated by an exactly parallel theory in the domain of physical science, which places the origin of the sun in a primitive streak of mist, formed one knows not how. Subsequently, by a series of moral errors, the world became gradually worse and worse—true of the physical orders as well—until it assumed the dismal aspect it wears to-day. Excellent! The Greeks looked upon the world and the gods as the work of an inscrutable necessity. A passable explanation: we may be content with it until we can get a better. Again, Ormuzd and Ahriman are rival powers, continually at war. That is not bad. But that a God like Jehovah should have created this world of misery and woe, out of pure caprice, and because he enjoyed doing it, and should then have clapped his hands in praise of his own work, and declared everything to be very good—that will not do at all! In its explanation of the origin of the world, Judaism is inferior to any other form of religious doctrine professed by a civilized nation; and it is quite in keeping with this that it is the only one which presents no trace whatever of any belief in the immortality of the soul.” — Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Suffering of the World.

“A ‘doctrine of duties’ which is other than a philosophical science takes its material from existing relationships and shows its connection with the moralist’s personal notions or with principles and thoughts, purposes, impulses, feelings, &c., that are forthcoming everywhere; and as reasons for accepting each duty in turn, it may tack on its further consequences in their bearing on the other ethical relationships or on welfare and opinion. But an immanent and logical ‘doctrine of duties’ can be nothing except the serial exposition of the relationships which are necessitated by the Idea of freedom and are therefore actual in their entirety, to within the state.  

“The bond of duty can appear as a restriction only on indeterminate subjectivity or abstract freedom, and on the impulses either of the natural will or of the moral will which determines its indeterminate good arbitrarily. The truth is, however, that in duty the individual finds his liberation; first, liberation from dependence on mere natural impulse and from the depression which as a particular subject he cannot escape in his moral reflections on what ought to be and what might be; secondly, liberation from the indeterminate subjectivity which, never reaching reality or the objective determinacy of action, remains self-enclosed and devoid of actuality. In duty the individual acquires his substantive freedom.” — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of Right.

We deny the snobbish English assumption that the uneducated are the dangerous criminals. We remember the Roman Emperors. We remember the great poisoning princes of the Renaissance. We say that the dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them. They accept the essential ideal of man; they merely seek it wrongly. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. But philosophers dislike property as property; they wish to destroy the very idea of personal possession. Bigamists respect marriage, or they would not go through the highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as marriage. Murderers respect human life; they merely wish to attain a greater fulness of human life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life itself, their own as much as other people’s.” — G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday.

“Thus Men make Laws to obviate every Inconveniency they meet with; and as Times discover to them the Insufficiency of those Laws, they make others with an Intent to enforce, mend, explain or repeal the former; till the Body of Laws grows to such an enormous Bulk, that to understand it is a tedious prolix Study, and the Numbers that follow and belong to the Practise of it, come to be a Grievance almost as great as could be fear’d from Injustice and Oppression.” — Bernard Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honor, and the Usefulness of Christianity in War.

“Ambition is a desire which increases and strengthens all the affects, and that is the reason why it can hardly be kept under control. For so long as a man is possessed by any desire, he is necessarily at the same time possessed by this. Every noble man, says Cicero, is led by glory, and even the philosophers who write books about despising glory place their names on the title page.” — Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics.

“Honor! tut, a breath. There’s no such thing in nature; a mere term invented to awe fools.” — Ben Jonson, Volpone.

“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.” – Bertolt Brecht, Galileo.

“Treason doeth never prosper. What’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” — Sir John Harrington.

“But we are now beginning to realise that these centuries, so self-satisfied, so perfectly rounded-off, are dead within. Genuine vital integrity does not consist in satisfaction, in attainment, in arrival. As Cervantes said long since: “The road is always better than the inn.” When a period has satisfied its desires, its ideal, this means that it desires nothing more; that the wells of desire have been dried up. That is to say, our famous plenitude is in reality a coming to an end. There are centuries which die of self-satisfaction through not knowing how to renew their desires, just as the happy drone dies after the nuptial flight.” — José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses.

“A World-historical individual is not so unwise as to indulge a variety of wishes to divide his regards. He is devoted to the One Aim, regardless of all else. It is even possible that such men may treat other great, even sacred interests, inconsiderately; conduct which is indeed obnoxious to moral reprehension. But so mighty a form must trample down many an innocent flower-crush to pieces many an object in its path.” — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History.

“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning, they shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid general applause from all the wits, who believe that it is a joke.” — Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

“But always, always man must wait the final day, and no man should ever be called happy before burial.” — Ovid, Metamorphoses

“The mere words socialism and communism draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, nature-cure quack, pacifist and feminist in England.” – George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.

“If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is insignificant, if a bottomless void never satiated lay hidden beneath all–what then would life be but despair? If such were the case, if there were no sacred bond which united mankind, if one generation arose after another like the leafage in the forest, if the one generation replaced the other like the song of birds in the forest, if the human race passed through the world as the ship goes through the sea, like the wind through the desert, a thoughtless and fruitless activity, if an eternal oblivion were always lurking hungrily for its prey and there was no power strong enough to wrest it from its maw–how empty then and comfortless life would be!” — Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

“The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Confessions

“Pleasure is worthless: pleasure bought with pain is worse. The greedy never have enough: never want too much for yourself. The jealous man grows thin as his neighbor grows fat; no Sicilian tyrant could invent a fiercer torment than envy. Let your temper rule you let anger run wild and you’ll wish you’d never done what it made you do; your violence eager your bitterness unchecked your vengeance accomplished. Anger’s a transient insanity: check your passion or your passion checkmates you.” — Horace, Epistles

“T is bad, and may be better — all men’s lot:
Most men are slaves, none more so than the great,
To their own whims and passions, and what not;
Society itself, which should create
Kindness, destroys what little we had got:
To feel for none is the true social art
Of the world’s stoics — men without a heart.” — Lord Byron, Don Jua 

“Then Ezekiel said. ‘The philosophy of the east taught the first principles of human perception: some nations held one principle for the origin & some another; we of Israel taught that the Poetic Genius (as you now call it) was the first principle and all the others merely derivative, which was the cause of our despising the Priests & Philosophers of other countries, and prophecying that all Gods would at last be proved to originate in ours & to be the tributaries of the Poetic Genius; it was this that our great poet King David desired so fervently & invokes so pathetic’ly, saying by this he conquers enemies & governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God that we cursed in his name all the deities of surrounding nations, and asserted that they had rebelled; from these opinions the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be subject to the Jews. ‘This’ said he, ‘like all firm perswasions, is come to pass; for all nations believe the Jews’ code and worship the Jews’ god, and what greater subjection can be?'” — William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

“Pride always has ruin and shame close at its heels.” — Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

“The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of these social lies against which an independent, intelligent man must wage war. Who is it that constitute the majority of the population in a country? Is it the clever folk, or the stupid? I don’t imagine you will dispute the fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority all the world over. But, good Lord!–you can never pretend that it is right that the stupid folk should govern the clever ones.” — Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

“Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?” – Joseph Stalin

“Mind you, I’m anti-German all right–I think they’re probably just as bad as we are.” — Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith

“…the thing that you can’t get is the thing that you want…” — Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

“For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of intermarriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion.” — Tacitus, Germania

“The Master said, “If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others.” — Confucius, The Analects

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” — Psalm 23:4

“First I must bring a reproach against you that applies equally to both sides. At Olympia, and Thermopylae, and Delphi, and a score of other places too numerous to mention, you celebrate before the same altars ceremonies common to all Hellenes; yet you go cutting each other’s throats, and sacking Hellenic cities, when all the while the barbarian yonder is threatening you!” — Aristophanes, Lysistrata

“Nature brings forth families; the most natural state therefore is also one people, with a national character of its own. For thousands of years this character preserves itself within the people and, if the native princes concern themselves with it, it can be cultivated in the most natural way: for a people is as much a plant of nature as is a family, except that it has more branches. Nothing therefore seems more contradictory to the true end of governments than the endless expansion of states, the wild confusion of races and nations under one scepter. An empire made up of a hundred peoples and a 120 provinces which have been forced together is a monstrosity, not a state-body.” — Johann Gottfried von Herder, Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind

“The attempt of Alexander the Great to fuse Greeks and Persians together was a complete failure, and we have recently had experience in the real strength of Anglo-German community of feeling. But “people” is a linkage of which one is conscious. In ordinary usage, one designates as one’s “people” — and with feeling — that community, out of the many to which one belongs, which inwardly stands nearest to one. And then he extends this concept, which is really quite particular and derived from personal experience, to collectivities of the most varied kinds. For Caesar the Arverni were a “civitas”; for us the Chinese are a “nation.” On this basis, it was the Athenians and not the Greeks who constituted a nation, and in fact there were only a few individuals who, like Isocrates, felt themselves primarily as Hellenes. On this basis, one of two brothers may call himself a Swiss and the other, with equal right, a German. These are not philosophical concepts, but historical facts. A people is an aggregate of men which feels itself a unit. The Spartiates felt themselves a people in this sense; the “Dorians” of 1100, too, probably, but those of 400 certainly not. The Crusaders became genuinely a people in taking the oath of Clermont; the Mormons in their expulsion from Missouri, in 1839; the Mamertines by their need of winning for themselves a stronghold of refuge. Was the formative principle very different with the Jacobins and Hyksos? How many peoples may have originated in a chief’s following or a band of fugitives? Such a group can change race, like the Osmanli, who appeared in Asia Minor as Mongols; or language, like the Sicilian Normans; or name, like Achaeans and Danaoi. So long as the common feeling is there, the people as such is there.” — Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

“In a stupid nation the man of genius becomes a god: everybody worships him and nobody does his will.” — George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

 “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” — George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

“I welcome all signs that a more virile, warlike age is about to begin, which will restore honor to courage above all. For this age shall prepare the way for one yet higher, and it shall gather the strength that this higher age will require one day — the age that will carry heroism into the search for knowledge and that will wage wars for the sake of ideas and their consequences. To this end we now need many preparatory courageous human beings … — human beings who know how to be silent, lonely, resolute, and content and constant in invisible activities; … human beings distinguished as much by cheerfulness, patience, unpretentiousness, and contempt for all great vanities as by magnanimity in victory and forbearance regarding the small vanities of the vanquished; … human beings … accustomed to command with assurance but instantly ready to obey when that is called for — equally proud, equally serving their own cause in both cases, more endangered human beings, more fruitful human beings, happier beings! For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is — to live dangerously!” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science


“Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


“I cannot bear so base a method which your fashionable people generally affect; there is nothing I detest so much as the contortions of these great time-and-lip servers, these affable dispensers of meaningless embraces, these obliging utterers of empty words, who view every one in civilities, and treat the man of worth and the fop alike. What good does it do if a man heaps endearments on you, vows that he is your friend, that he believes in you, is full of zeal for you, esteems and loves you, and lauds you to the skies, when he rushes to do the same to the first rapscallion he meets? No, no, no heart with the least self-respect cares for esteem so prostituted; he will hardly relish it, even when openly expressed, when he finds that he shares it with the whole universe. Preference must be based on esteem, and to esteem every one is to esteem no one. Since you abandon yourself to the vices of the times, zounds! you are not the man for me. I decline this over-complaisant kindness, which uses no discrimination. I like to be distinguished; and, to cut the matter short, the friend of all mankind is no friend of mine.” — Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere, The Misanthrop

‘Tis not that a wise man may not live everywhere content, and be alone in the very crowd of a palace; but if it be left to his own choice, the schoolman will tell you that he should fly the very sight of the crowd: he will endure it if need be; but if it be referred to him, he will choose to be alone. He cannot think himself sufficiently rid of vice, if he must yet contend with it in other men. Charondas punished those as evil men who were convicted of keeping ill company. There is nothing so unsociable and sociable as man,  the one by his vice, the other by his nature. And Antisthenes, in my opinion, did not give him a satisfactory answer, who reproached him with frequenting ill company, by saying that the physicians lived well enough amongst the sick, for if they contribute to the health of the sick, no doubt but by the contagion, continual sight of, and familiarity with diseases, they must of necessity impair their own.”  — Michel de Montaigne, Of Solitude


“The student of man is, more than any other scientist, influenced by the atmosphere of his society. This is so because not only are his ways of thinking, his interests, the questions he raises, all partly socially determined as in the natural sciences, but in his case the subject matter itself, man, is thus determined.” –Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness


“In making his way through life, a man will find it useful to be ready and able to do two things: to look ahead and to overlook: the one will protect him from loss and injury, the other from disputes and squabbles. No one who has to live amongst men should absolutely discard any person who has his due place in the order of nature, even though he is very wicked or contemptible or ridiculous. He must accept him as an unalterable fact – unalterable, because the necessary outcome of an eternal, fundamental principle; and in bad cases he should remember the words of Mephistopheles: es muss auch solche Käuze geben – there must be fools and rogues in the world. If he acts otherwise, he will be committing an injustice, and giving a challenge of life and death to the man he discards. No one can alter his own peculiar individuality, his moral character, his intellectual capacity, his temperament or physique; and if we go so far as to condemn a man from every point of view, there will be nothing left him but to engage us in deadly conflict; for we are practically allowing him the right to exist only on condition that he becomes another man – which is impossible; his nature forbids it.” — Arthur Schopenhauer, Our Relations to Others.

“Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

“The speculative line of demarcation where obedience ought to end and resistance must begin is faint, obscure, and not easily definable. It is not a single act, or a single event, which determines it. Governments must be abused and deranged, indeed, before it can be thought of; and the prospect of the future must be as bad as the experience of the past.” — Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France.

“Let this, then, be the law about abuse, which shall relate to all cases:-No one shall speak evil of another; and when a man disputes with another he shall teach and learn of the disputant and the company, but he shall abstain from evilspeaking; for out of the imprecations which men utter against one another, and the feminine habit of casting aspersions on one another, and using foul names, out of words light as air, in very deed the greatest enmities and hatreds spring up. For the speaker gratifies his anger, which is an ungracious element of his nature; and nursing up his wrath by the entertainment of evil thoughts, and exacerbating that part of his soul which was formerly civilized by education, he lives in a state of savageness and moroseness, and pays a bitter penalty for his anger. And in such cases almost all men take to saying something ridiculous about their opponent, and there is no man who is in the habit of laughing at another who does not miss virtue and earnestness altogether, or lose the better half of greatness.” — Plato, Laws.

Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the earth – Cursed are the weak, for they shall inherit the yoke.

“Blessed are the powerful for they shall be reverenced among men – Cursed are the feeble for they shall be blotted out.

“Blessed are the bold for they shall be masters of the world – Cursed are the humble, for they shall be trodden under hoofs.

“Blessed are the victorious, for victory is the basis of right – Cursed are the vanquished for they shall be vassals forever.

“Blessed are the battle-blooded, beauty shall smile upon them – Cursed are the poor in spirit, they shall be spat upon.

“Blessed are the audacious, for they have imbibed true wisdom – Cursed are the obedient, for they shall breed creeplings.

“Blessed are the iron-handed, the unfit shall flee before them – Cursed are the haters of battle, subjugation is their portion.

“Blessed are the death-defiant, their days shall be long in the land – Cursed are the feeble-brained, for they shall perish amidst plenty.

“Blessed are the destroyers of false hope, they are the true Messiahs – Cursed are the God-adorers, they shall be shorn sheep.

“Blessed are the valiant for they shall obtain great treasure – Cursed are the believers in good and evil for they are frightened by shadows.

“Blessed are they who believe in nothing, never shall it terrorize their minds – Cursed are the “lambs of God,” for they shall be bled whiter than snow.

“Blessed is the man who hath powerful enemies, they shall make him a hero – Cursed is he who “doeth good” unto others, he shall be despised.

“Blessed is the man whose foot is swift to serve a friend, he is a friend indeed – Cursed are the organizers of charities, they are propagators of plagues.

“Blessed are the wise and brave for in the struggle they shall win – Cursed are the unfit, for they shall be righteously exterminated.

“Blessed are the sires of noble maidens, they are the salt of the earth – Cursed the mothers of strumous tenderlings, for they shall be ashamed.

“Blessed are the mighty-minded, for they shall ride the whirl-winds – Cursed are they who teach lies for truth, and truth for lies, for they are – abomination.

“Blessed are the unmerciful, their posterity shall own the world – Cursed are the famous wiselings, their seed shall perish off the earth. Thrice cursed are the vile, for they shall serve and suffer.” — Ragnar Redbeard, Might is Right.

“1. The revolutionary is a dedicated man. He has no interests of his own, no affairs, no feelings, no attachments, no belongings, not even a name. Everything in him is absorbed by a single exclusive interest, a single thought, a single passion – the revolution.

“2. In the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken every tie with the civil order and the entire cultivated world, with all its laws, proprieties, social conventions and its ethical rules. He is an implacable enemy of this world, and if he continues to live in it, that is only to destroy it more effectively.

“3. The revolutionary despises all doctrinairism and has rejected the mundane sciences, leaving them to future generations. He knows of only one science, the science of destruction. To this end, and this end alone, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. To this end he will study day and night the living science: people, their characters and circumstances and all the features of the present social order at all possible levels. His sole and constant object is the immediate destruction of this vile order.

“4. He despises public opinion. He despises and abhors the existing social ethic in all its manifestations and expressions. For him, everything is moral which assists the triumph of revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything which stands in its way.

“5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless towards the state and towards the whole of educated and privileged society in general; and he must expect no mercy from them either. Between him and them there exists, declared or undeclared, an unceasing and irreconcilable war for life and death. He must discipline himself to endure torture.

“6. Hard towards himself, he must be hard towards others also. All the tender and effeminate emotions of kinship, friendship, love, gratitude and even honor must be stifled in him by a cold and single-minded passion for the revolutionary cause. There exists for him only one delight, one consolation, one reward and one gratification – the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction. In cold-blooded and tireless pursuit of this aim, he must be prepared both to die himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the way of its achievement.

“7. The nature of the true revolutionary has no place for any romanticism, any sentimentality, rapture or enthusiasm. It has no place either for personal hatred or vengeance. The revolutionary passion, which in him becomes a habitual state of mind, must at every moment be combined with cold calculation. Always and everywhere he must be not what the promptings of his personal inclinations would have him be, but what the general interest of the revolution prescribes…..

“13. The revolutionary enters into the world of the state, of class and of so-called culture, and lives in it only because he has faith in its speedy and total destruction. He is not a revolutionary if he feels pity for anything in this world. If he is able to, he must face the annihilation of a situation, of a relationship or of any person who is part of this world – everything and everyone must be equally odious to him. All the worse for him if he has family, friends and loved ones in this world; he is no revolutionary if he can stay his hand.

“14. Aiming at merciless destruction the revolutionary can and sometimes even must live within society while pretending to be quite other than what he is. The revolutionary must penetrate everywhere, among all the lowest and the middle classes, into the houses of commerce, the church, the mansions of the rich, the world of the bureaucracy, the military and of literature, the Third Section [Secret Police] and even the Winter Palace.

“15. All of this foul society must be split up into several categories: the first category comprises those to be condemned immediately to death. The society should compose a list of these condemned persons in order of the relative harm they may do to the successful progress of the revolutionary cause, and thus in order of their removal.

“16. In compiling these lists and deciding the order referred to above, the guiding principal must not be the individual acts of villainy committed by the person, nor even by the hatred he provokes among the society or the people. This villainy and hatred, however, may to a certain extent be useful, since they help to incite popular rebellion. The guiding principle must be the measure of service the person’s death will necessarily render to the revolutionary cause. Therefore, in the first instance all those must be annihilated who are especially harmful to the revolutionary organization, and whose sudden and violent deaths will also inspire the greatest fear in the government and, by depriving it of its cleverest and most energetic figures, will shatter its strength.” — Sergei Nechayev, Catechism of a Revolutionist.

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.” — George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman.

“Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!” — Mikhail Bakunin, The German Reaction.

“After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies, and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements. Fascism denies that numbers, as such, can be the determining factor in human society; it denies the right of numbers to govern by means of periodical consultations; it asserts the irremediable and fertile and beneficent inequality of men who cannot be leveled by any such mechanical and extrinsic device as universal suffrage. Democratic regimes may be described as those under which the people are, from time to time, deluded into the belief that they exercise sovereignty, while all the time real sovereignty resides in and is exercised by other and sometimes irresponsible and secret forces. Democracy is a kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive, tyrannical, and destructive than one, even if he be a tyrant.” — Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism.

“Many lands saw Zarathustra, and many peoples: thus he discovered the good and bad of many peoples. No greater power did Zarathustra find on earth than good and bad. No people could live without first valuing; if a people will maintain itself, however, it must not value as its neighbour valueth. Much that passed for good with one people was regarded with scorn and contempt by another: thus I found it. Much found I here called bad, which was there decked with purple honours. Never did the one neighbour understand the other: ever did his soul marvel at his neighbour’s delusion and wickedness. A table of excellencies hangeth over every people. Lo! it is the table of their triumphs; lo! it is the voice of their Will to Power. It is laudable, what they think hard; what is indispensable and hard they call good; and what relieveth in the direst distress, the unique and hardest of all,—they extol as holy. Whatever maketh them rule and conquer and shine, to the dismay and envy of their neighbours, they regard as the high and foremost thing, the test and the meaning of all else.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra.

“God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should observe what elements mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards the child because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of gold or silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries. For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it?” — Socrates speaking; Plato, The Republic.


“Give me the man who will defy to the death any power on earth or in heaven that sets
itself up against his own will and conscience: he alone is the brave man.” — George Bernard Shaw, Arms and the Man.

 “Evil exists in the world not to create despair but activity. We are not patiently to submit to it, but to exert ourselves to avoid it. It is not only the interest but the duty of every individual to use his utmost efforts to remove evil from himself and from as large a circle as he can influence, and the more he exercises himself in this duty, the more wisely he directs his efforts, and the more successful these efforts are, the more he will probably improve and exalt his own mind and the more completely does he appear to fulfil the will of his Creator.” — Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population.

“The incomparable success of Marxism is due to the prospect it offers of fulfilling those dream-aspirations and dreams of vengeance which have been so deeply embedded in the human soul from time immemorial. It promises a Paradise on earth, a Land of Heart’s Desire full of happiness and enjoyment, and—sweeter still to the losers in life’s game—humiliation of all who are stronger and better than the multitude.” — Ludwig von Mises, Socialism.

“As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the laborers are turned into proletarians, their means of labor into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labor and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the laborer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many laborers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the co-operative form of the labor-process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labor into instruments of labor only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labor, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. Thus integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.” — Karl Marx, Capital, vol. I.

“It is to be noted that Jesus never says that impoverished people are necessarily good, or wealthy people necessarily bad. That would not have been true. Wealthy people are, as a class, better than impoverished people, more moral, more intellectual, more well-behaved. There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else.” — Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism.

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. The ancient philosophers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek, were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches, none so rich in inward. We know not much about them. It is remarkable that we know so much of them as we do. The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race. None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty. Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature, or art. There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly. They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a noble race of men. But why do men degenerate ever? What makes families run out? What is the nature of the luxury which enervates and destroys nations? Are we sure that there is none of it in our own lives? The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life. He is not fed, sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries. How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden.