Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
John Stuart Mill
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
All generalizations are false, including this one.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
Otto Von Bismarck
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.
A witty saying proves nothing.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
All I know is I'm not a Marxist.
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
On American Nationalism
Where as the majority of Nationalisms are founded upon a belief in ethnic or cultural superiority; American Nationalism is is a belief in the superiority of our political ideal. This would make sense, for we feel pride in seeing ourselves as an ethnically and culturally diverse nation. America is the great "melting pot", as they say. Thus, George W. Bush's claim that Bin Laden attacked us because he "hated freedom" is a prototypical example of American Nationalism in action.
Ironically, though America is among the most nationalistic of all countries, it does not see itself as such. Indeed, this belief is seen as far back as our declaration of independence, "we hold these truths to be self-evident..." So it is with the "truths" of the American Nationalist.
Among western democracies, Americans show the greatest degree of pride in their nationality. A world values survey showed that 70% percent of Americans declared themselves "Very proud" of their nationality. In contrast, less than half of the English, French, Germans, Danish, or Dutch felt "very proud" of their nationality.
A 2001 Pew Global Attitudes Survey show that 79 percent of Americans felt that it was a good that American ideas and customs are spreading across the planet. Yet, less than 40 percent of respondents from other Western Democracies agreed. Furthermore, less than half even liked American ideas about Democracy. Yet an American Nationalist does not see such opinions as being legitimate. On the contrary, he'd probably either accuse them of being "French", or "anti-American"; and to him, to be anti-American, is to be against "universal" values.
The majority of Americans would be offended that I'd make the above statement. One cannot blame them. Unlike other countries, the majority of nationalistic behavior among Americans is voluntary. There are no laws that demand that private business fly American flags. Our pledge of allegiance is not mandated, and was in fact standardized because of the efforts of private associations lobbying congress. Frankly, the biggest champions of American Nationalism are generally little old ladies, in hideous red, white, and blue moo-moos who join leagues such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Ironic.
From my description thus far, it might seem that American Nationalism is mostly a benevolent creature -- "a dumb puppy with sharp teeth", as Johnny Depp said. Nothing could be farther from the case. American Nationalism should be rightfully ranked as being among the most dangerous forces in the world.
For one, although the United States inherited a great deal of its knowledge and opportunity from its European roots, its people did not share in the catastrophes of the two world wars. Though, many Americans fought bravely, and died in the fields of Europe; the majority of Amercians were removed from the true horrors of the war. The fire bombings, the gas attacks, the rounding up of the Jews, the holocaust, the trenches... Nothing comparable has ever happened on American soil. Europe is largely post-nationalist in this age, and the Great Wars take full credit.
Americans often wonder why the rest of the world hates them. Allow me to settle this question with a snipit from Washington Post's right-wing op/ed columnist Charles Krauthammer. Indeed, this arrogant trash reads like a satire of American nationalist arrogance:
The world apparently likes the US when it is on its knees. From that the Democrats deduce a foreign policy - remain on our knees, humble and supplicant, and enjoy the applause and 'support' of the world... The search for logic in anti-Americanism is fruitless. It is in the air the world breathes. Its roots are envy and self-loathing - by peoples who, yearning for modernity but having failed at it, find their one satisfaction in despising modernity's great exemplar. On 11th September, they gave it a rest for one day. Big deal.
This drivel's intent is fairly clear: To relinquish any responsibility America might have for its current position. And there, my friends is the real danger. Its as though the popular psyche has forgotten that Mark Twain epigram is satirical:
The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
I fear dearly for America. At this point in time (4:00 AM central-US), I've suddenly realized that this topic is too large to cover in one post. However, I do have a few last points:
The health of the US economy is no longer a domestic issue. The rest of the world would be wise to remember the historical effects of a falling economy, and fear of the rest of the world. When I say "do not make us any angerier", I mean it -- for your own sake. The majority of the public is feeling lost in these strange times. Foreign hatred does nothing besides reinforce the public's need to cling to their rockets, bombs, and f-15s.
Americans need to remember their unique place in history: Never before has a single nation weilded so much power, wealth, and influence than the United States. I say this not to entertain neo-con fantasies of "empire building", or "an american century". Rather, I'd like to remind a few people of the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world. The world is prone to following our example. Do we set an example of pre-emptive war; "do whatever we please cause' we can"? Or, do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity? I think the American electorate would be wise to think very carefully about that question.
"Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik
PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.