Table of Contents

§ Observations

Henri Lefebvre, in Introduction to Modernity.

“Myths speak of power and justify it. Only with the myth of the devil is power challenged.”

Wendell Berry on Solutions, in The Gift of Good Land.

“Solutions have perhaps the most furtive habits of any creatures; they reveal themselves very hesitantly in artificial light and never enter air-conditioned rooms.”

H. David Thoreau on Technology for Technology's Sake, in Walden.

We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

R. Underwood on What She Told Me.

I told you to get bees.

Mr. Jensen, in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network.

“We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit. In which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquillised, all boredom amused.”

Anonymous on the Law, in State and Local Government in Texas. Macmillan, New York. 1948.

The law locks up the village thief
Who steals the goose from off the common,
And turns the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his sister Jane Mecom, September 20, 1787.

“It seems to me, that if Statesmen had a little more Arithmetick, or were more accustomed to Calculation, Wars would be much less frequent.”

Bernard Crick on Liberty, in In Defence of Politics.

“‘The secret of liberty is courage,’ as Pericles declaimed. It is not a very safe world anyhow. Free men stick their necks out.”

Bernard Crick on Politics, in In Defence of Politics.

“Coercion (or secession or migration) need arise only when one group or interest feels that it has no common interest in survival with the rest. Put at its most obvious, most men would simply agree that coercion needs justification: conciliation justifies itself if it works. There may not be any absolute justification of politics. Let us be brazen and simply say, ‘We prefer politics.’ But such modesty had better be somewhat truculent. For it is, after all, too hard (indeed perverse) to respect the morality and wisdom of any who, when politics is possible, refuse to act politically.”

Chris Hedges on American Fundamentalist Christians, in American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

“Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets - the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons - clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence. This is part of their attraction. They give us the rules by which we live. But once we hand over this anxiety and accept their authority, we become enslaved and they become our idols. And idols, as the Bible never ceases to tell us, destroy us.”

David Harvey on Global Poverty and Green Capitalism, in the Independent

“The problem of global poverty cannot be attacked without attacking the global accumulation of wealth. Environmental issues cannot be solved by a turn to green capitalism without confronting the corporate interests and the lifestyles that perpetuate the status quo.”

Eugene V. Debs on Rising from the Ranks.

“When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”

Honoré de Balzac on Misers, in Eugénie Grandet.

“‘Be very careful!’ the last words came from him; 'one day you will render an account to me of everything here below.' Which utterance clearly shows that a miser should adopt Christianity as his religion.”

Ibn Khaldun, in The Muqadimmah.

“We have been informed that certain criminal tyrants used to kill their prisoners in order to learn their own future from the words the prisoners would utter when they were about to be killed. It was unpleasant information they recieved from them.”

James C. Scott on Bureaucratic Abstractions, in Seeing Like a State.

“The necessarily simple abstractions of large bureaucratic institutions...can never adequately represent the actual complexity of natural or social processes. The categories that they employ are too coarse, too static, and too stylized to do justice to the world that they purport to describe.”

Jane Mecom, after the passing of her brother, B. Franklin, (in a letter to Sarah Bache) September 6, 1790.

“To make society agreeable there must be a similarity of circumstances and sentiments, as well as age. I have no such near me; my dear brother supplied all.”

Larry McMurtry on Postmistresses, in Paradise.

“Perhaps postmistresses in small places are jolly because they know the dirt on everyone and don't have to countenance any pomposity.”

T.H. Fehrenbach on Human Valor, in Lonestar.

“Human folly is far easier to explain than human valor.”

T.H. Fehrenbach on Survival in Texas, in Lonestar.

“Texans had to be pragmatic to prosper and warlike to stay alive.”

T.H. Fehrenbach on Texas and Human Rights, in Lonestar.

“Texas was never a refuge for the lowly, or oppressed, or a beacon proclaiming human rights. It was a primordial land with a Pleistocene climate, inhabited by species inherently hostile to the Anglo-Celtic breed. Some North Americans chose to conquer it, and in the process unquestionably came to look upon themselves as a sort of chosen race.”

Wendell Berry on the Commercial Revolution, in The Unsettling of America.

“Air remains the only necessity that the average user can still get for himself, and the revolution had imposed a heavy tax on that by way of pollution. Commercial conquest is far more thorough and final than military defeat.”