Wisdom on War, Peace, Liberty


Americans are smart at doing stupid things.
-- comment of a Marshall Islander in the film HALF-LIFE, an Australian documentary about the US 1954 hydrogen bomb explosion in the Marshall Islands.

When a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country's rivers and streams, that country is no longer fit to live in.
-- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

The sneakiest form of literary subtlety, in a corrupt society, is to speak the plain truth. The critics will not understand you; the public will not believe you; your fellow writers will shake their heads.

It's a fool's life, a rogue's life, and a good life if you keep laughing all the way to the grave.

The rebel is doomed to a violent death. The rest of us can look forward to sedated expiration in a coma inside an oxygen tent, with tubes inserted in every bodily orifice.

One thing more dangerous than getting between a grizzly sow and her cub is getting between a businessman and a dollar bill.

The mad scientist was once only a creature of gothic romance; now he is everywhere, busy torturing atoms and animals in his laboratory.

-- Edward Abbey

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for natural land and the west; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizzly, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breath deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound men with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.
-- Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang and many other works

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated, and well supported in logic and argument than others.
-- Douglas Adams

"The whole fabric of society will go to wrack if we really lay hands of reform on our rotten institutions. From top to bottom the whole system is a fraud, all of us know it, laborers and capitalists alike, and all of us are consenting parties to it."
-- Henry Adams, American historian, 1838-1918

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.
-- Susan B. Anthony

"Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty."
--Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (1951)

The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.
-- Steve Biko, murdered by South African Apartheid regime

If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize to all the widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. Then I would announce, in all sincerity, to every corner of the world, that America's global interventions have come to an end, and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the USA but now -- oddly enough -- a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. There would be more than enough money. One year's military budget of 330 billion dollars is equal to more than $18,000 an hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated.
-- William Blum, author of "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II," and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/WhyTerroristsHateAmer.html

the Earth's present brief tenants are indeed the last who will have the opportunity to know wildness as we have known it, unless we pass it on.
-- David Brower

Two views are vying for the allegiance of humankind. One is the status quo - more industrialized growth, leading to a computerized world of 12 billion people surviving as a global ant heap. The other is a transformed civilization based on wisdom, restraint and caring.
-- Jerry Brown, Earth Island Journal, Winter 1997 (www.earthisland.org)

A paranoid is a man who knows a little of what's going on
-- William Burroughs


War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
--Marine Corp General Smedley Butler

"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."
... Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street ... I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras `right' for American fruit companies in 1903...
We must give up the Prussian ideal - carrying on offensive warfare and imposing our wills upon other people in distant places. Such doctrine is unAmerican and vicious...
There must be no more reactionary and destructive intelligence work. The true domestic enemies of our nation - hunger, injustice and exploitation - should concern the military intelligence; not the subversive shadows of their own creation ..."
-- Major General Smedley Butler, from "In Time of Peace: The Army," Common Sense, November, 1935

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.


Extinction is not something to contemplate. It is something to rebel against.
-- Dr. Helen Caldicott

"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding."
-- Albert Camus

My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear; IS MY MOUTH, out of which comes all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency.
-- Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

that [surveillance] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology ...
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
-- Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), 1975, quoted in James Bamford "The Puzzle Palace"

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn't.
-- Leonard Cohen, musician

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.
-- Confucius

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten
-- Cree Indian Prophecy

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
-- Philip K. Dick

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress ... People might not get all that they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.
-- Frederick Douglass, freed slave and abolitionist, speech at Canandaigua, NY, August 4, 1857, partially reprinted in "Thoughts for All Times," Washington, DC: Frederick Douglass National Historical Site, 1990, p. 6

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.
Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.
-- Frederick Douglass - July 4, 1852

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
-- Justice William O. Douglas, US Supreme Court (1939-75)

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
-- Albert Einstein http://members.tripod.com/dear_mr_president/plea_for_peace/quotes.html
(the FBI and Einstein) www.wsws.org/articles/2002/sep2002/eins-s03.shtml

Through the release of atomic energy, our generation has brought into the world the most revolutionary force since the prehistoric discovery of fire. This basic power of the universe cannot be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms. For there is no secret and there is no defense; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world. ... We scientists recognize our inescapable responsibility to carry to our fellow citizens an understanding of the simple facts of atomic energy and its implications for society. In this lies our only security and our only hope -- we believe that an informed citizenry will act for life and not death.
-- Albert Einstein, 1947

"The world is too dangerous to live in – not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen."
-- Albert Einstein

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are not even capable of forming such opinions.
-- Albert Einstein

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience ... In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell speech to the nation, January 17, 1961

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 iron.
-- Dwight Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
-- Dwight Eisenhower

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
-- Dwight Eisenhower in a letter to his brother Edgar, November 8, 1954

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels -- men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
-- Dwight Eisenhower

I've seen how history has been shaped for you without your knowing it. I believe, also, that unless we do something about it, history will continue to be shaped by powers responsive only to the priorities of maintaining power. And that is relevant to the way we live, both today and tomorrow.
-- Gaeton Fonzi, former investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
-- Anatole France

Why do they make still more gigantic planes, still heavier bombs and, at the same time, prefabricated houses for reconstruction? Why should millions be spent daily on the war and yet there's not a penny available for medical services, artists or for poor people?
Why do some people have to starve, while there are surpluses rotting in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?
I don't believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone, are guilty of the war. Oh no, the little man is just as guilty, otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.
-- Anne Frank, May 3, 1944

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of Truth and Love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it, always.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmitted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmitted into a power that can move the world.
-- Mahatma Gandhi (quoted in Homepower magazine Dec 2001/Jan 2002)

Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi, one of the most influential figures in modern social and political activism, considered these traits to be the most spiritually perilous to humanity.

Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Science without Humanity
Knowledge without Character
Politics without Principle
Commerce without Morality
Worship without Sacrifice

more quotes at sfheart.com/Gandhi.html

On this subject I do not wish to think or speak or write with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her baby from the fire into which it has fallen – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.
-- William Lloyd Garrison on slavery from the Liberator, 1831

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders ... All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism.
-- Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (at the Nuremberg Trials)

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832

Theories have four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so.
-- J.B.S. Haldane

Inspiration is not garnered from litanies of what is flawed; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. Healing the wounds of the Earth and its people does not require saintliness or a political party. It is not a liberal or conservative activity. It is a sacred act
-- Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest

The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.
-- President Rutherford B Hayes

Secrecy is the cornerstone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy...censorship. When any government, or any church, for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mightily little force is needed to control a man who has been hoodwinked; Contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything. You cannot conquer a free man; The most you can do is kill him.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100

Being a pacifist between wars is as easy as being a vegetarian between meals.
I'm not disturbing the peace. I'm disturbing the war.
-- Ammon Hennacy

People are frustrated not having their voice of reason confirmed. And everyone has that voice of reason that goes, "This is bull man. What I'm watching is bull."
And yet, the media does not confirm it. So after a while, people get...they begin to think they're insane. And that's the bummer about it. And that's why I love non-mainstream stuff because you actually hear honest emotion. And that's what you won't hear on mainstream tv, ever, is honest emotion.
-- Bill Hicks

The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one.
-- Adolf Hitler, promise to the Reichstag (Parliament) on the occasion of the imposition of "temporary" dictatorship following the 1933 Reichstag Fire. www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/enabling.htm

One of the greatest attractions of patriotism -- it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous.
-- Aldous Huxley

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Perhaps the forces that menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.
-- Aldous Huxley

There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.
-- Sen. Daniel Inouye during Iran-contra hearings, 1987

By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them.
-- William James

The Spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.
-- Thomas Jefferson

I hope we shall crush ... in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
-- Thomas Jefferson

What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine ... imprisonment or death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment inflict on his fellow men a bondange one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
-- Thomas Jeffersion, 1786

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
-- Thomas Jeffersion, 1816

I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.
–Thomas Jeffersion to Cornelius C. Blatchly, 21 OCT. 1822

The only conceivable hope of stopping their militaristic global ambitions is for the rest of the world to oppose them. There might then be some hope that the American public would wake up to what sort of a government they currently have. The reawakening of American democracy is the only hope for a future world that is not ridden by terrorism and global warfare.
-- Terry Jones was a member of the Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy troupe, archived at www.counterpunch.org/jones03182003.html

“The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community”
-- Carl Jung


"For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
-- President John F. Kennedy, Yale University Commencement, June 11, 1962

Martin Luther King, Jr:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted"

"For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions ... Now I feel quite differently.  I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values."

"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody."

I'm not a consensus leader. I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. ... Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.
On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient?
And then expedience comes along and asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
Conscience asks the question - is it right?
-- Martin Luther King, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," March 31, 1968 (in response to critics who urged silence on the issue of the War on Viet Nam)

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. ....
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. ....
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
-- April 4, 1967

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
--Henry Kissinger

This is more than a war against terrorism. This is a war against the citizens of all countries. The current elites are creating so much fear that people don't know how to respond. But they must remember. This is a move to implement a world dictatorship within the next five years. There may not be another chance.
- Dr. Johannes Koeppl, a former German defense ministry official and NATO advisor


The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.
-- Stanley Kubrick

War is Over - if you want it
-- John Lennon and Yoko Ono

The most merciful thing in the world ... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."
-- H. P. Lovecraft
, "The Call of Cthulhu"

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear... kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor... with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it...
-- General Douglas MacArthur (1957)

"You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them."
-- Wangari Muta Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner

If we are going to manage our resources sustainability, efficiently, if we are going to share them equitably, we need democratic space. It is impossible to manage resources responsibly and sustainably in a dictatorship, because in such a situation you have a few people controlling the resources at the expense of the many, and therefore, you cannot have peace. Sooner or later, you have conflict. And when we look at many of the wars that have been fought today and have been fought in the past, they are over resources.
-- Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai on the Environment, the War in Iraq, Debt and Women's Equality, By Amy Goodman Democracy Now! March 8, 2005

"What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap between the government and the people. And it became always wider.....the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think....for people who did not want to think anyway gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about.....and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated.....by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.....
"Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'.....must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.....Each act is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next.
"You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone.....you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
"That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed.
"You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father.....could never have imagined."
-- Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

Today's children are the first generation to grow up in a world that has the power to destroy itself. Bravery consists in recognizing danger clearly enough to prepare for it and to try to protect the things one is living for ... Those who are involving themselves in preventable tasks are teaching the children an invaluable lesson -- that the new dangers can be faced and met by new kinds of actions.
-- anthropologist Margaret Mead, Red Book, 1962

If I were 21 I would walk the earth. I would go barefoot longer; I'd learn how to throw a Frisbee, I'd go braless if I were a woman and I would wear no underwear if I were a man. I'd play cards and wear the same pair of jeans until they were so stiff they could get up and strut around the room by themselves. ... So don't take the short road. Fool around. Have fun. ... You're not going to get this time back. Don't panic and go to graduate school and law school. This nation has enough frightened, dissatisfied yuppies living in gated communities, driving S.U.V.'s and wondering where their youth went.
We need you to walk the earth, so that other nations can see the beauty of American youth, rather than seeing our young in combat fatigues behind the barrel of an M-16.
-- James McBride, an author and jazz musician who addressed Pratt University graduates in 2005

World War III will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.
-- Marshall McLuhan, 1970

And despite what the revisionists would have us believe about him, JFK rejected war against a smaller, weaker, poorer country, began to work for détente with the Soviets, and threatened to "scatter the CIA to the four winds." Now, that was leadership for a new generation. And at that time, we had a choice; but Kennedy correctly pointed out that what we really wanted was not a Pax Americana imposed with American weapons of war; not even a peace for our time; but, instead a peace for all time.
Snipers' bullets took that America away from us. And almost in rapid succession, bullets took Martin King and Bobby Kennedy from us, too. It came to my attention during my last days in Congress that Bobby was considering King for his running mate. Now, imagine the America we might have had. But when confronted with evil back then, what did we do?
-- Representative Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia, October 2003

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
-- H.L. Mencken

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.
-- H. L. Mencken

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.
-- HL Mencken

On July 26, 1920, the acerbic and cranky scribe [Mencken] wrote in The Baltimore Sun: " . . . all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily (and) adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.
-- Edward R. Murrow

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
-- George Orwell, 1984

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.
-- Michael Parenti

the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed. ....
The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner....
Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay.....
The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.
-- Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel Laureate for Literature, from his acceptance speech

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
-- M. Planck

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
-- President Theodore Roosevelt

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Arundhati Roy on IN's Gag of Taslima Nasreen
Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you some of the things that she said, not from Dwikhandito, but from an interview she gave to Anthony McIntyre, The Blanket in 2006. She says, "It's not true that Islam is good for humanity. It's not at all good. Islam completely denies human rights." Elsewhere she talks about what she calls the venomous snake of Islam. To me that sounds as if it goes perhaps beyond a simple critique and into deliberate provocation.
Arundhati Roy: It sounds like Donald Rumsfeld or some Christian fundamentalist.
Karan Thapar: And you would rile at him so why not rile at her?
Arundhati Roy: Yeah, but I wouldn't say ban him or kill him. I would say what a ridiculous person. What a ridiculous thing. How can you start reacting to everything like that? We have an infinite number of stupidities in the world. How can you start having your foundations rocked by every half-wit?
Karan Thapar: Let's put it like this, does freedom of speech necessarily include the right to offend?
Arundhati Roy: Obviously it includes the right to offend otherwise it wouldn't be the freedom of speech.

Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.
-- Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
-- Bertrand Russell

"It is my conviction that culture works very effectively to make invisible and even 'impossible' the actual affiliations that exist between the world of ideas and scholarship, on the one hand, and the world of brute politics, corporate and state power, and military force, on the other."
-- Edward Said

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
-- Mario Savio, Berkeley Free Speech Movement, December 3, 1964

For me all of this started with the non-violent direct action in defense of nature, which I didn't see as being a ritual at the beginning. But when I think about it now it actually seems to me to be a ritual activity - to go to that place where humankind meets wild nature, that line where nature's being bulldozed and plowed and pushed back, and to stand right on that line, not looking at nature with the eye to conquest but looking back as part of nature saying "No" to this whole thing. That was really the biggest turning point of my life, the first time that I was involved in something like that.
-- John Seed

This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege - my *privilege* to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I've got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
-- George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)

It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it.
-- Upton Sinclair


I'm not a radical; I'm just a moderate of time that has not yet come. I'm like a bad comedian. I get the punch line right but my timing is all off...
-- Sam Smith, The Progressive Review

The new world order emanates from a mandarin class that is neither left or right. Its members often are the sort of which it has been said that when they are alone in a room, there is no one there. In such a culture the marketplace of ideas essentially shuts down. There is no longer any real politics, only deals. No victories, only leveraged buyouts. No ideology; only brand loyalty. No conservative and liberal, only Coke and Pepsi...–
-- Sam Smith

Recent decades have been characterized by the invasive influence of an arrogant, autistic, and amoral class of late 20th century MBAs and similar members of the technocratic elite. This class junked sixty years of social democracy, helped wreck the economy, made every American worker a temp-in-waiting, carpet bombed the English language, trashed every moral concept in their way, and twisted reality so effectively they even convinced many that they were sex objects.

And they are everywhere. You will find them running schools and universities and managing once great museums. They talk mush, think mush, market mush, report mush, and defend mush. They attempt to make up in certitude what they lack in wisdom; they can't tell the difference between a phrase and a product; and they create infantile and self-serving distortions of economic principles that they declare to be the only principles in life worth observing. They are, in the end, just so many more televangelists, but with themselves as God. Perhaps worst of all, they are without the capacity for shame. Like other sociopaths, they are remorseless.

The fraud, the huckster, the salesman are not new phenomena in America; what is new is that they now so strongly control every estate of our society. Those of a nature that would have once caused Americans to close the door, hang up, or say "no thank you," now teach our children, run our government, and tell us what to think. They are the Enron generation, filled with postmodern version of Willy Loman: "He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He' s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

We have assigned a wealth of practical tasks to those who think in abstractions, speak in cliches, use paperwork as a pacifier, and convert morality, policies and human aspiration into a bunch of numbers or legal restrictions. Perhaps most sadly - and most dangerously - they have learned their values from sources far removed from the thinking of those philosophers, writers and politicians who gave America its greatest moments..
-- Sam Smith


The true measure of a person's worth is not what they say they believe in, but what they do in defense of those beliefs. If you are not acting on your beliefs, then they probably aren't real. 
-- Edward Snowden

It is best to think of this as a revolution, not of guns, but of consciousness, which will be won by seizing the key myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ecstasies, so that life won't seem worth living unless one is on the transforming energy's side.
-- Gary Snyder

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be When there's no help in truth!
-- Sophocles (c. 496-406 BCE) [Oedipus Rex]

we are called to act as if we truly believe that the Earth is a living, conscious being that we're part of, that human beings are interconnected and precious, and that liberty and justice for all is a desirable thing.
-- Starhawk

Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.
-- I.F. Stone

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter the swamp as a sacred place - a "sanctum sanctorum." There is the strength, the marrow of nature.
-- Henry David Thoreau

No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up.
-- Lily Tomlin

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
-- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect.
-- Mark Twain

An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.
-- Mark Twain, "A Tramp Abroad"

All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it.
-- Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens (1835-1910)

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
- Mark Twain, 1894

Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.
-- Sir Peter Ustinov

The greatest danger facing America today is the secret political warfare program the Bush Regime has hidden within its Homeland Security apparatus.
-- Douglas Valentine www.douglasvalentine.com/article_security.html

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
-- Voltaire

It is the characteristic of the most stringent censorships that they give credibility to the opinions they attack.
-- Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)


"I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
"It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
"Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' day is not.
"So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
"What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
"And all music is."
-- Kurt Vonnegut, "Breakfast of Champions," 1973

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses, took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.
The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
-- Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse Five," 1969

(a friend in DC who worked for the now dismantled Congressional Office of Technology Assessment co-authored a report on nuclear disarmament that had this quote on the back cover)

Human beings will generally exercise power when they can get it, and they will exercise it most undoubtedly in popular governments under pretense of public safety.
-- Daniel Webster

The covert operators that I ran with would blow up a 747 with 300 people to kill one person. They are total sociopaths with no conscience whatsoever.
-- Gene Wheaton, former Pentagon CID Investigator www.constitution.org/ocbpt/ocbpt_08.htm

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.
-- Oscar Wilde "The Critic as Artist Pt. 2"

The remnants of American liberalism are in a state of denial. They continue to treat the offensive against democratic rights as an aberration or misunderstanding. They seek to obscure from the American people the fact that a fundamental shift has taken place in the direction of dictatorial forms of rule.
-- World Socialist Web Site

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.
-- Frank Zappa

The last election just laid the foundation of the next 500 years of Dark Ages.
-- Frank Zappa, in 1981

Let's not be too tough on our own ignorance. It's the thing that makes America great. If America weren't incomparably ignorant, how could we have tolerated the last eight years?
-- Frank Zappa, in 1988

Question Authority - and the authorities will question you.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you NOT to be?
You are a child of God.  Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-- 1994 Inaugural Speech, Nelson Mandela
written by Marianne Williamson


Q&A with Alfred Brwonell
Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia
By Kera Abraham

Alfred Brownell is the president and founder of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia, aka "Green Advocates," based in Monrovia. Charles Taylor was elected Liberia's president in 1997 but soon became a tyrannical warlord, smuggling arms and diamonds to fuel conflict within Liberia and in neighboring regions. Taylor presided over a brutal civil war that left 300,000 Liberians dead and the economy in shambles. In 2003, the U.N. indicted Taylor with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In late 2005, Liberians elected Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson president. Working with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW), Green Advocates is now helping to put in place Liberia's first framework environmental laws. A leading Liberian newspaper credited Brownell for ushering in a new era of freedom in Liberia.


As Liberia enters a new democratic era, what governments can serve as a model?

Well, it's kind of difficult. For awhile, we were looking to America to promote democracy and the rule of law, given the historical ties between Liberia and America. But when you read in the newspapers that Americans are afraid of their phones being tapped and being arrested without charge, that is scary for Liberians, because we look to the Americans for guidance on these issues. There is a saying: "When America sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold."

Should Americans be concerned about the way U.S.-based companies behave abroad?

Yes, Americans need more education about what their companies do abroad. The negative image that people in other countries have of the U.S. is not so much because of individual American citizens; they are because of your corporations and the kinds of policies they pursue beyond your borders. For an individual who has not come to the U.S. or had interactions with Americans, all they see is this terrible corporate power, like Firestone, using children as slaves to make profits and dumping all of its industrial waste into poor communities. So how do you think poor innocent villagers view Firestone? They know it is an American company, and that's it!

Why doesn't the Liberian government penalize Firestone?

How do you enforce the law against Firestone when Firestone's income is more than the income of the whole country? Firestone is a multinational corporation that made $20.5 billion last year. The country of Liberia had about $88 million last year. This is how these powerful companies have unbridled influence over very poor developing countries. They have all the resources, so they abuse and violate the laws with impunity. If we don't document these things, report them and talk about them, these companies are not going to reform.

What's your message to Americans?

We want to see new policies for how the U.S. will superintend its multinational corporations. There is a need to hold those multinationals accountable, to conduct congressional-level investigations on the behavior of these companies overseas. And there is a need to strengthen the capacity for foreign plaintiffs in countries like Liberia to come to the U.S. and hold those companies accountable. Now, the only instrument that foreign plaintiffs have against U.S. companies and individuals is the Alien Tort Claims Act, and we are seeing an effort to roll back the strength of that act.

When a country obtains great power,
it becomes like the sea:
all streams run downward into it.
The more powerful it grows,
the greater the need for humility.
Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.

Tao Te Ching
(551-479 BCE) 
translated by Stephen Mitchell 1988 
ISBN 0-06-016001-2

"A man must descend very low to find the force to rise again." -- Hasidic poem

Dom Helder Pessoa Camara (dec.), former Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, who spoke out in the 1960s about Brazil's military dictatorship.
"When I feed the poor, I am called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I am called a communist."