As individuals, we need to stop expecting shortcuts. We need to learn to reject rewards we haven’t earned. When someone asks us something we don’t know, we need to be confident enough to say so, and suggest someone who might. Because we all want a meritocracy, and the only way we get one is by being brave enough to believe it can actually happen. If we keep acting like an industry of frauds who would be thrown out were it not for our self-aggrandizement and our politicking, we will have exactly that industry. As individuals, we’ll be better hustlers than we will developers. Fuck that shit.
We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to all others, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. Yet most people believe that love is constituted by the object, not by the faculty. In fact, they even believe that it is proof of the intensity of their love when they do not love anybody except the "loved" person. [..] Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right object - and that everything goes by itself afterward. This attitude can be compared to that of the man who wants to paint but who, instead of learning the art, claims that he just has to wait for the right object - and that he will paint beautifully when he finds it.
"The Art of Loving" (1956)
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.
Mass education was designed to turn independent farmers into docile, passive tools of production. That was its primary purpose. And don't think people didn't know it. They knew it and they fought against it. There was a lot of resistance to mass education for exactly that reason. It was also understood by the elites. Emerson once said something about how we're educating them to keep them from our throats. If you don't educate them, what we call "education," they're going to take control - "they" being what Alexander Hamilton called the "great beast," namely the people. The anti-democratic thrust of opinion in what are called democratic societies is really ferocious. And for good reason. Because the freer the society gets, the more dangerous the great beast becomes and the more you have to be careful to cage it somehow.
When does a kid get to sit in a yard with a stick anymore? You know, just sit there with a fucking stick. Do today's kids even know what a stick is? You know, you sit in the yard with a stick and you dig a fucking hole; and you look at the hole and you look at the stick and you have a little fun.
Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
Watergate was a matter of a bunch of guys from the Republican National Committee breaking in a Democratic Party office for essentially unknown reasons and doing no damage. Okay, that's petty burglary, it's not a big deal. Well, at the exact time that Watergate was discovered, there were exposures in the courts and through the Freedom of Information Act of massive FBI operations to undermine political freedom in the United States, running through every administration back to Roosevelt, but really picking up under Kennedy. It was called "COINTELPRO" (short for "Counterintelligence Program"), and it included a vast range of things.

It included Gestapo-style assassination of a Black Panther leader; it included organizing race riots in an effort to destroy the black movements; it included attacks on the American Indian Movement, on the women's movement, you name it. It included fifteen years of FBI disruption of the Socialist Worker's Party - that meant regular FBI burglaries, stealing membership lists and using them to threaten people, going to businesses and getting members fired from their jobs, and so on. Well, that fact alone-the fact that for fifteen years the FBI had been burglarizing and trying to undermine a legal political party - is already vastly more important than the fact that a bunch of Keystone Kops broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters one time. The Socialist Workers Party is a legal political party, after all - the fact that they're a weak political party doesn't mean they have less rights than the Democrats. And this wasn't a bunch of gangsters, this was the national political police: that's very serious. And it didn't happen once in the Watergate office complex, is was going on for fifteen years, under every administration. And keep in mind, the Socialist Workers Party episode is just some tiny footnote to COINTELPRO. In comparison to this, Watergate is a tea party.

Well, look at the comparison in treatment - I mean, you're aware of the comparison in treatment, that's why you know about Watergate and you don't know about COINTELPRO. So what does that tell you? What it tells you is, people in power will defend themselves. The Democratic Party represents about half of corporate power, and those people are able to defend themselves; the Socialist Workers Party represents no power, the Black Panthers don't represent any power, the American Indian Movement doesn't represent any power - so you can do anything you want to them.

Or take a look at the Nixon administration's famous "Enemies List," which came out in the course of Watergate…You've heard of that, but did you hear about the assassination of Fred Hampton? No. Nothing ever happened to any of the people who were on the Enemies List, which I know perfectly well, because I was on it - and it wasn't because I was on it that it made the front pages. But the FBI and the Chicago police assassinated a Black Panther leader as he lay in his bed one night during the Nixon administration (On December 4, 1969). Well, if the press had any integrity at all, if the Washington Post had any integrity, what they would have said is, "Watergate is totally insignificant and innocuous, who cares about any of that in comparison with these other things." But that's not what happened, obviously. And that just shows again, very dramatically, how the press is lined up with power.
"Understanding Power" (2002)
The conclusion to be drawn from [the Bank of England’s executive director for Financial Stability Andy] Haldane's work is that an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.
Work on whatever your current priority is, after an hour of meta reasoning but not a year of meta reasoning. If you’re still like, “No, no, we must think more meta” after a year, then I don’t believe you’re the sort of person who will ever act.
Let's take robots on assembly lines: If it's used to free up the workforce for more creative work, say, controlling production, making decisions about it, finding creative ways to act and so on, then it's to the good. If it's used as a device to maximize profit and throw people into the trashcan, then it's not good.
Any one who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory. Good culture is born of a good disposition; and since the cause is more to be praised than the effect, I will rather praise a good disposition without culture, than good culture without the disposition.
Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people that were oppressing them.
It can be hidden only in complete silence and perfect passivity, but its disclosure can almost never be achieved as a willful purpose, as though one possessed and could dispose of this "who" in the same manner he has and can dispose of his qualities. On the contrary, it is more than likely that the "who," which appears so clearly and unmistakably to others, remains hidden from the person himself, like the daimon in Greek religion which accompanies each man throughout his life, always looking over his shoulder from behind and thus visible only to those he encounters. This revelatory quality of speech and action comes to the fore where people are with others and neither for (the doer of good works) nor against them (the criminal) that is, in sheer human togetherness. Although nobody knows whom he reveals when he discloses himself in deed or word, he must be willing to risk the disclosure.
"The Human Condition"
I mean, what's the elections? You know, two guys, same background, wealth, political influence, went to the same elite university, joined the same secret society where you're trained to be a ruler - they both can run because they're financed by the same corporate institutions. At the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama said, 'only in this country, only in America, could someone like me appear here.' Well, in some other countries, people much poorer than him would not only talk at the convention - they'd be elected president. Take Lula. The president of Brazil is a guy with a peasant background, a union organizer, never went to school, he's the president of the second-biggest country in the hemisphere. Only in America? I mean, there they actually have elections where you can choose somebody from your own ranks. With different policies. That's inconceivable in the United States.
Interview by Wallace Shawn, October 19, 2004
'I feel, you know, I hurt, please help.' I'm saying words, man, and if I look at an audience and they ain't understanding me, it's just like getting kicked in the teeth.
Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
We should stop calling feminists 'feminists' and just start calling people who are not feminist 'sexist,' and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they're bad.
Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.
[Q: Isn't there a certain calculus that someone who is sitting in the shoes of a Condoleezza Rice can make, that they're responsible for the best outcome for American citizens, and there's an upside of going into Iraq which is we get one of the greatest material possessions in world's history, and there're downsides which are: we upset the international community, and maybe there's more terrorism. Couldn't you envision a calculus where they say, sure, that's the reason, and it's a good reason, let's do it. What's the flaw in the calculus?]

Oh, I think that's exactly their calculus. But then we ought to just be honest and say, "Look, we're a bunch of Nazis." So fine, let's just drop all the discussion, we save a lot of trees, we can throw out the newspapers and most of the scholarly literature, and just come out, state it straight, and tell the truth: we'll do whatever we want because we think we're gonna gain by it. And incidently, it's not American citizens who'll gain. They don't gain by this. It's narrow sectors of domestic power that the administration is serving with quite unusual dedication...
Talk titled "Why Iraq?" at Harvard University, November 4, 2002
The business of buying weapons that takes place in the Pentagon is a corrupt business - ethically and morally corrupt from top to bottom. The process is dominated by advocacy, with few, if any, checks and balances. Most people in power like this system of doing business and do not want it changed.
Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. 'Patriotism' is its cult... Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.