Quotations

“Why do I spend so much time arguing against such obvious rubbish, which should be both self-refuting and auto-satirizing the moment someone utters it? Why not just go and read a good book?

The problem is that nonsense can and does go by default. It wins the argument by sheer persistence, by inexhaustible re-iteration, by staying at the meeting when everyone else has gone home, by monomania, by boring people into submission and indifference. And the reward of monomania? Power.”

“The Triumph of Reason?”; City Journal; July 27, 2005

“In politics as in medicine, first do no harm.”

“Heart of Darkness”; National Review; July 19, 1993

“Boundaries do not maintain themselves and are in need of maintenance and sometimes vigorous defense.”

Our Culture, What’s Left of It; 2005

“When every benefit received is a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone for gratitude.”

“What is Poverty?”; City Journal; Spring 1999

“In the welfare state, mere survival is not the achievement that it is, say, in the cities of Africa, and therefore it cannot confer the self-respect that is the precondition of self-improvement.”

“What is Poverty?”; City Journal; Spring 1999

“There is, in fact, no better way to produce shallow and superficial people than to let them live their lives entirely in the open, without concealment of anything.”

“All Sex, All the Time”; City Journal; Summer 2000

“The corrosive ideal of social justice has been etched on to the psyche of the British so that it has become the good that is the sine qua non of all other goods. If society is unjust, anything goes. The assumption of personal responsibility can be postponed until social justice (always defined by its absence, for defining it positively is rather difficult) has been attained. In the meantime, one can behave abominably, yet feel aggrieved.”

“Nasty, British and Short”; The Spectator; September 21, 1991

“A curious reversal in the locus of moral concern has taken place: people feel responsible for everything except for what they do.”

“Claiming a Right to Murder”; The Spectator; March 30, 1996

“The compression of the generations… is one of the most noticeable -though not necessarily noticed -social trends in modern Britain. Children become prematurely adult, while adults remain permanently infantilised.”

“Generation Sex”; The Spectator; September 4, 1999

“Inside every rebel, there’s a dictator trying to get out.”

“Guerrillophilia and the Sincerely Frivolous”; The New Criterion; February 2002

“Hypocrisy, said La Rochefoucauld, is the tribute that vice pays to virtue; to which, one might add, that at least it acknowledges the difference.”

“Caught With His…”; National Review; September 24, 2007

“The loss of the religious understanding of the human condition -that man is a fallen creature for whom virtue is necessary but never fully attainable -is a loss, not a gain, in true sophistication.”

“What’s Wrong With Twinkling Buttocks?”; City Journal; Summer 2003

“It is often much easier to bring about total disaster than modest improvement.”

“What We Have to Lose”; City Journal; Autumn 2001

“Where a reputation for intolerance is more feared than a reputation for vice itself, all manner of evil may be expected to flourish.”

“A Horror Story”; City Journal; Spring 1996

“Wisdom and good governance require more than the consistent application of abstract principles.”

Romancing Opiates; 2006

“A great deal of labor goes into the denial of the obvious: for the obvious is an affront to intellectuals, including me, whom it threatens with redundancy.”

“Dubai, Havana and Choosing Between Evils”; The New Criterion; October 2002

“If consequences are removed from enough actions, then the very concept of human agency evaporates, life itself becomes meaningless, and is thenceforth a vacuum in which people oscillate wildly between boredom and oblivion.”

Romancing Opiates; 2006

“Better a man with no ideas than the wrong ones.”

“Booker vs. Goncourt; or, When Silence is a Duty”; The New Criterion; January 2004

“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

Interview with Jamie Glazov; FrontPageMagazine.com; August 31, 2005

“So thoroughly have we drunk at the wells of collectivism that we see the state always as the solution to any problem, never as an obstacle to be overcome. One can gauge how completely collectivism has entered our soul -so that we are now a people of the government, for the government, by the government.”

“The Roads to Serfdom”; Spring 2005

“In the multiculturalist’s mental world, in which the savages are forever noble, there is no criterion by which to distinguish high art from low trash.”

“The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris”; City Journal; Autumn 2002

“Never has so much indifference masqueraded as so much compassion; never has there been such willful blindness.”

“Seeing Is Not Believing”; City Journal; Autumn 2000

“When young people want to praise themselves, they describe themselves as “nonjudgmental.” For them, the highest form of morality is amorality.”

“The Frivolity of Evil”; City Journal; Autumn 2004

“The Dionysian has definitively triumphed over the Apollonian. No grace, no reticence, no measure, no dignity, no secrecy, no depth, no limitation of desire is accepted. Happiness and the good life are conceived as prolonged sensual ecstasy and nothing more.”

“All Sex, All the Time”; City Journal; Summer 2000

“A golden age of felicity has not arrived: and the promise of a pill for every ill remains, as it always will, unfulfilled. Anyone who had read his Shakespeare would not have been surprised by this disappointment.”

“Why Shakespeare Is For All Time”; City Journal; Winter 2003

“One cannot but feel sorrow for people who think that by permanently disfiguring themselves they are somehow declaring their independence or expressing their individuality. The tattoo has a profound meaning: the superficiality of modern man’s existence.”

“Exposing Shallowness”; The New Criterion; June 2000

“The cult of celebrity trivializes everything it touches.”

“Pope Rosie: Pray for Us”; L.A. Times; May 20, 2007

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