Note: This entry is a bit of a grab-bag of aphorisms relating to politics, law, and society, which are not already included in the other entries on democracy and equality, liberty and liberties, progress and progressives, the bourgeoisie, revolutions and revolutionaries, and Marx and Marxists.
Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. (#2,954)
Only liberty limits the abusive interventions of ignorance. Politics is the science of social structures made suitable for the common life of ignorant beings. (#18)
It is not possible to choose between injustice and disorder. They are synonyms. (#479)
Where we imprudently tolerate agglomerations, order and tyranny in the end unfortunately coincide. (#2,371)
Politics is the art of searching for the best relationship between force and ethics. (#286)
Political science is the art of quantifying the amount of freedom man can handle and the amount of servitude he needs. (#1,376)
Politics is not the art of imposing the best solutions, but of blocking the worst. (#725)
Every political solution limps, but some limp with grace. (#2,079)
What is difficult about every moral or social problem is based on the fact that its appropriate solution is not a question of all or nothing, but of more or less. (#2,826)
Social problems cannot be solved.
But we can ameliorate them by preventing our determination to alleviate just one from aggravating them all. (#1,309)
Society’s most serious ailments usually come from the imprudence with which they are treated. (#2,355)
The best organized political enterprises, just like the wisest economic measures, are only games of chance where one wins by a stroke of luck.
The statist, made conceited by his success, asserts that he knowingly bought the winning lottery ticket. (#837)
Institutions die less from infidelity to their principle than from an excess of the principle itself. (#2,209)
Let us take care not to disrespect the man who possesses the stupidity necessary for the correct functioning of institutions. (#2,208)
History clearly demonstrates that governing is a task that exceeds man’s ability. (#2,862)
A work of politics is unrepeatable, like a work of art, and equally capable of the same eternity. (#1,241)
Political blunders repeat themselves, because they are the expression of human nature.
Successes do not repeat themselves, because they are the gift of history. (#1,323)
In politics it is only worth the trouble to listen to the criticism that has principles but not guidelines. (#2,152)
When it comes to political matters, there are few who even in private do not argue at the level of a public meeting. (#2,466)
Public political discussion is not intellectually adult in any country. (#2,885)
The ideas which influence politics the least are political ideas. (#1,121)
The right to power was the central subject of politics, yesterday.
The techniques of seizing power are, today, the central subject of politics. (#1,318)
Dictatorship is the technification of politics. (#1,979)
Between the dictatorship of technology and the technology of dictatorship, man no longer finds a crack through which he can slip away. (#1,981)
To hope that the growing vulnerability of a world increasingly integrated by technology will not demand a total despotism is mere foolishness. (#1,982)
Power more surely corrupts the man who covets it than the man who exercises it. (#1,894)
When people stop fighting for the possession of private property, they will fight for the usufruct in collective property. (#30)
In the modern world it is not contrary ideas that confront each other but mere candidates for the possession of the same goods. (#2,434)
Social improvements do not come from powerful shake-ups, but from light nudges. (#1,410)
To speak of a people’s “political maturity” is characteristic of immature intelligences. (#2,246)
The phenomenon of the degradation of the people into rabble is the same, no matter whether it is into poor rabble or rich rabble. (#2,081)
Wealth is hopelessly demoralizing when no political function is attached to it.
Even plutocracy is preferable to irresponsible riches. (#1,983)
Social mobility occasions class warfare.
The enemy of the upper classes is not the inferior man who lacks every chance to rise, but rather the man who does not manage to rise when others rise. (#31)
The state of tension between social classes, a constant structural phenomenon, metamorphoses into class warfare only when a political class uses it as a tool for demagoguery. (#703)
Social conflicts, in a healthy society, are rooted between functional sectors; in a sick society between economic strata. (#868)
No social class has exploited the other social classes more brazenly than that which today calls itself “the state.” (#1,122)
In a healthy society, the state is the organ of the ruling class; in a hunchbacked society, the state is the instrument of a bureaucratic class. (#2,921)
The state will deserve respect again, when it again restricts itself to being simply the political profile of a constituted society. (#1,812)
Asking the state to do what only society should do is the error of the left. (#2,698)
The majority of the tasks that this century’s typical ruler believes he is obliged to assume are nothing more than abuses of power. (#2,853)
The modern state is the transformation of the apparatus which society developed for its defense into an autonomous organism which exploits it. (#1,527)
Unanimity, in a classless society, results not from the absence of classes, but from the presence of the police. (#1,307)
The police force is the only social structure in the classless society. (#2,854)
Enthusiasm, in leftist regimes, is a synthetic product manufactured by the police. (#1,606)
A just society would be lacking in interest.
The discrepancy between the individual and the position he occupies is what makes history interesting. (#598)
Every society is born with enemies who accompany it in silence until they ambush it at night and slit its throat. (#2,012)
Without an enemy on the borders the ruler forgets to be prudent. (#1,198)
Rulers who represent only a minority have to invent civilization in order not to perish.
The delegates of a majority, on the other hand, can be vulgar, rude, cruel, with impunity.
The greater the majority that supports him, the less cautious the ruler is, the less tolerant, the less respectful of human diversity.
When rulers deem themselves governors of all humanity, terror is near. (#631)
Terror is the natural regime for every society without traces of feudalism. (#913)
Where even the last vestige of feudal ties disappears, the increasing social isolation of the individual and his increasing helplessness fuse him into a totalitarian mass. (#2,657)
Order paralyzes. Disorder convulses.
Inscribing an instituted disorder within an all-inclusive order was the miracle of feudalism. (#1,591)
Order is the most fragile of social facts. (#2,217)
History exhibits two types of anarchy: that which emanates from a plurality of forces and that which derives from a plurality of weaknesses. (#2,477)
The difference between “organic” and “mechanical,” in social facts, is a moral one: the “organic” is the result of innumerable humble acts; the “mechanical” is the result of a decisive act of pride. (#2,588)
Where the customs and the laws permit everyone to aspire to everything, everyone lives a frustrated life, no matter what position he comes to occupy. (#2,359)
The jurist, in democracies, is not an expert in laws but in government functionaries. (#1,189)
Legislation that protects liberty down to the last detail strangles liberties. (#51)
One can only speak of the sovereignty of the law where the legislator’s function is reduced to consulting the consensus of custom in the light of ethics. (#2,761)
A healthily constituted state is one where innumerable obstacles restrict and impede the freedom of the legislator. (#2,805)
An excess of laws emasculates. (#2,548)
To reform society through laws is the dream of the incautious citizen and the discreet preamble to every tyranny.
Law is the juridical form of custom or the trampling of liberty. (#383)
The Christian knows with certainty what his personal behavior should be, but he can never state for certain that he is not making a mistake by adopting this or that social reform. (#2,923)
When the tyrant is the anonymous law, modern man believes he is free. (#2,660)
Law is the easiest method of exercising tyranny. (#2,616)
Where the law is not customary law, it is easily turned into a mere political weapon. (#2,949)
The rapid evolution of a society destroys its customs.
And imposes on the individual, in place of the silent education of traditions, the reins and the whip of laws. (#1,337)
Human warmth in a society diminishes by the same measure that its legislation is perfected. (#2,836)
Man today oscillates between the sterile rigidity of the law and the vulgar disorder of instinct.
He is ignorant of discipline, courtesy, good taste. (#1,447)
The spirit is fallible submission to norms, not infallible subjection to laws. (#1,724)
It is no longer enough for the citizen to submit—the modern state demands accomplices. (#574)
Law is not what an act of the will decrees, but what intelligence discovers. (#571)
The first revolution broke out when it occurred to some fool that law could be invented. (#900)
There are two symmetrical forms of barbarism: peoples who have nothing but customs and peoples who respect nothing but laws. (#672)
A basic postulate of democracy: the law is the citizen’s conscience. (#978)
The tissues of society become cancerous when the duties of some are transformed into the rights of others. (#1,190)
As they cannot be defined univocally, nor irrefutably demonstrated, so-called “human rights” serve as a pretext for the individual who rebels against a positive law.
The individual has no more rights than the benefit that can be inferred from another’s duty. (#2,979)
“Social justice” is the term used to claim anything to which we do not have a right. (#1,607)
The plethora of laws is a sign that nobody knows anymore how to command intelligently.
Or that nobody knows anymore how to obey freely. (#1,330)
The modern mentality does not conceive that order can be imposed without resorting to police regulations. (#1,585)
Neither a declaration of human rights, nor the proclamation of a constitution, nor an appeal to natural law, protects against the arbitrary power of the state.
The only barrier to despotism is customary law. (#2,759)
The “rational,” the “natural,” the “legitimate,” are nothing more than what is customary.
To live under a political constitution that endures, among customs that endure, is the only thing that allows us to believe in the legitimacy of the ruler, in the rationality of habits, and in the naturalness of things. (#433)
Periods of political stability are periods of religious stability. (#2,565)
Religion is socially effective not when it adopts socio-political solutions, but when it succeeds in having society be spontaneously influenced by purely religious attitudes. (#2,931)
Consent does not establish authority; it acknowledges it. (#1,817)
Popular consent is an index of legitimacy, but not a cause.
In the debate over the legitimacy of power neither its origin in the vote nor its origin in force counts.
Power is legitimate if it fulfills the mandate which the vital and ethical necessities of a society confer on it. (#572)
From behind the “will of all” the “general will” pokes its head out.
A “will” that is not volition, in reality, but a program. The program of a party. (#2,570)
Unless circumstances constrain him, there is no radically leftist Jew.
The people that discovered divine absolutism does not make deals with the absolutism of man. (#2,653)
It is enough at times that a society suppress a custom it assumes is absurd for a sudden catastrophe to show it its error. (#681)
The political errors that could most obviously be avoided are those which are most frequently committed. (#2,583)
A noble society does not wait for catastrophes to discipline it before it disciplines itself. (#2,360)
Wise politics is the art of invigorating society and weakening the State. (#55)
Society rewards screaming virtues and discreet vices. (#77)
In the society that is starting to take shape, not even the enthusiastic collaboration of the sodomite and the lesbian will save us from boredom. (#2,534)
The mechanisms of modern society encourage the annoying virtues and punish the endearing vices. (#2,341)
The basic problems of an age have never been the theme of its great literary works.
Only ephemeral literature is an “expression of society.” (#2,690)
The struggle against injustice that does not culminate in sanctity culminates in bloody upheavals. (#54)
Every rebellion against the order of man is noble, so long as it does not disguise rebelliousness against the order of the world. (#528)
Civilization is what old men manage to salvage from the onslaught of young idealists. (#119)
The only societies more odious than those which infuriate the rebellious youth are those which he innocently helps to construct. (#2,405)
Social problems are the favorite refuge of those fleeing their own problems. (#1,137)
A non-economic problem does not appear worthy, in our time, of the attention of a serious citizen. (#2,557)
When the modern consciousness suspends its economic routines, it only oscillates between political anguish and sexual obsession. (#1,514)
Modern man’s life oscillates between two poles: business and sex. (#2,180)
The most recent generations are particularly boring: believing in effect that they invented violence and sex, they copulate doctrinairely and doctrinairely kill. (#2,369)
This century has succeeded in turning sex into a trivial activity and an odious topic. (#2,456)
Sexual promiscuity is the tip society pays in order to appease its slaves. (#1,493)
Eroticism and Gnosticism are the individual’s recourse against the anonymity of mass society. (#2,501)
Modern society neglects the basic problems of man, since it barely has time to attend to those to which it gives rise. (#735)
In addition to civilized societies and semi-civilized societies, there are pseudo-civilized societies. (#2,907)
Civilization is not an endless succession of inventions and discoveries, but the task of ensuring that certain things endure. (#521)
A civilized society is one where physical pain and pleasure are not the only arguments. (#1,713)
To civilize someone is to teach him how to use what is inferior without putting a price on it.
To be civilized is to not confuse the important with the merely necessary. (#567)
In a century where the media publish endless stupidities, the cultured man is defined not by what he knows but what he does not know. (#556)
In the incoherence of a political constitution resides the only authentic guarantee of liberty. (#123)
We can only hope for a reform of society to come from the contradictions between human follies. (#2,706)
They speak emphatically of “transforming the world,” when the most to which they can aspire is to certain secondary remodelings of society. (#2,797)
Unlimited gullibility is required to be able to believe that any social condition can be improved in any other way than slowly, gradually, and involuntarily. (#2,962)
The golden rule of politics is to make only minimal changes and to make them as slowly as possible. (#2,917)
Political regimes become tolerable when they begin to hold their own principles in contempt. (#2,851)
Nothing is more dangerous than to solve ephemeral problems with permanent solutions. (#136)
The incorrigible political error of the man of good will is to presuppose naively that at every moment it is possible to do what must be done.
Here, where what is necessary is often impossible. (#1,016)
Whoever acquires experience in politics trusts only in the classic maxim: do not do today what you can leave for tomorrow. (#653)
In politics we should distrust even intelligent optimism and trust in the imbecile’s fears. (#1,457)
Nobody in politics can foresee the consequences either of what he destroys, or of what he constructs. (#2,978)
When we see that man cannot calculate the consequences of his actions, political problems do not lose their importance, but the solutions lose their interest. (#557)
Popular disturbances lack importance so long as they do not become ethical problems for the ruling classes. (#146)
Economic claims, hostility between social classes, religious differences, tend to be mere pretexts for an instinctive appetite for conflict. (#2,680)
When economic and social revolutions are not simply ideological pretexts for religious crises, after a few years of disorder everything continues as before. (#1,018)
Authentic social transformations are not the work of frustration and envy, but the consequences of epidemics of disgust and boredom. (#1,218)
Liberty lasts only so long as the state functions amid the indifference of its citizens.
Despotism threatens when the citizen agitates for or against his government. (#659)
The poor man’s patience in modern society is not virtue but cowardice. (#365)
How routine insults are today proves our ignorance in the art of living. (#150)
An aristocratic society is one where the desire for personal perfection is the animating spirit of the social institutions. (#656)
Whoever who does not agitate without rest in order to satisfy his greed always feels a little guilty in modern society. (#1,843)
Every society eventually bursts when envy expands too far. (#2,069)
In societies where the social position, instead of adhering to the person, constitutes merely a temporary commission, envy bursts out of the gate.
“La carriere ouverte aux talents” is the racetrack of envy. (#1,248)
One must beware of those who are said “to have much merit.” They always have some past to avenge. (#2,959)
The speed with which modern society absorbs its enemies could not be explained if their apparently hostile clamor were not simply an impatient demand for promotions. (#1,832)
With the appearance of “rational” relations among individuals the process of a society’s decay begins. (#1,202)
The anonymity of modern society obliges everyone to claim to be important. (#2,343)
When society is cast entirely in the mold of the state, the person vaporizes. (#1,273)
The sinister uniformity that threatens us will not be imposed by a doctrine, but by a uniform economic and social conditioning. (#2,888)
Fashion, even more than technology, is the cause of the modern world’s uniformity. (#2,972)
Modern society harbors the peculiar intention of systematically substituting political authorities for social authorities.
That is to say: administrative duties for civilizing requests. (#860)
Modern man has the ambition of replacing with objects he buys what other ages hoped to obtain from the methodical cultivation of the sentiments. (#169)
The society that does not discipline attitudes and gestures renounces social aesthetics. (#2,120)
The majority of properly modern customs would be crimes in an authentically civilized society. (#2,924)
Other ages may have been as vulgar as ours, but none had the extraordinary sounding board, the inexorable amplifier, of modern industry. (#170)
Modern society works feverishly to put vulgarity within everyone’s reach. (#2,840)
The celebrities of our time are permeated with the odor of the publicity laboratories where they are created. (#2,363)
Society until yesterday had notables; today it only has celebrities. (#2,974)
Modern society is abolishing prostitution through promiscuity. (#1,188)
Families are often purulent cells of stupidity and unhappiness, because an ironic necessity demands that the governance of such elemental structures require as much intelligence, astuteness, and diplomacy as does the governance of a state. (#836)
A modern father is one who is ready to make financial sacrifices so that his children will not prolong his life, replace him, or imitate him. (#2,055)
Modern society is proceeding simultaneously to become inhospitable to the old and to multiply their number by prolonging their lives. (#996)
A prolonged childhood—permitted by industrial society’s current prosperity—redounds merely in a growing number of infantilized adults. (#2,453)
There are no more old people, only decrepit youths. (#1,432)
Even when sin does assist in the construction of every society, modern society is the beloved child of the capital sins. (#319)
An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition.
It prefers a lie, no matter how idiotic it may be. (#1,139)
The near future will probably bring extraordinary catastrophes, but what threatens the world most certainly is not the violence of ravenous crowds, but the weariness of boring masses. (#174)
Legitimate ambitions become shy and resigning amidst the throng of fraudulent ambitions. (#184)
By intending practical ends, we always end up linking arms with neighbors we would not have wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole. (#1,686)
Whoever tries to educate and not exploit a people, or a child, does not speak to them in baby-talk. (#211)
The people wants what they suggest it should want. (#1,949)
Societal salvation is near when each person admits that he can save only himself.
Society is saved when its supposed saviors despair. (#217)
If they had fewer saviors, societies would be in less need of being saved. (#1,572)
Those who seek to abolish man’s alienation by changing the juridical structure of the economy remind one of the man who solved the problem of his marital misfortune by selling the sofa on which the adultery took place. (#879)
Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems. (#1,469)
The principle of individuation in society is belief in the soul. (#1,662)
It is not possible to hope for anything now that the State is the soul’s only recourse against its own chaos. (#1,411)
Swimming against the current is not idiotic if the waters are racing toward a waterfall. (#2,041)
When nothing in society deserves respect, we should fashion for ourselves in solitude new silent loyalties. (#2,162)
The vice which afflicts the right is cynicism, and that which afflicts the left is deceit. (#2,730)
Conservatism should not be a party but the normal attitude of every decent man. (#2,403)
Whoever declares that he is “apolitical” is an ashamed partisan of the losing side. (#2,191)
Each day we demand more from society so that we can demand less from ourselves. (#1,329)
The people has never been fêted except at the expense of another social class. (#229)
The most shameless spectacle is that of the voluptuous throbbing with which a crowd listens to the orator who adores it. (#1,997)
Even the most austere rulers end up attending the circus in order to please the crowd. (#2,756)
“People” is the sum of the defects of the people.
The rest is campaign rhetoric. (#2,070)
The people believes in the disinterestedness of its professional benefactors until they pass the bill to the people. (#1,276)
The worst demagogues are not recruited from among the poor and envious, but from among the wealthy and ashamed. (#893)
Everything can be sacrificed to the misery of the people.
Nothing should be sacrificed to its greed. (#1,402)
Nothing deserves more respect than the unfortunate people that has to beg, but nothing deserves less respect than the absurd drugs for which it clamors to remedy its misfortune. (#1,436)
The people is sometimes right when it is frightened; but is always wrong when it becomes enthusiastic. (#2,918)
For two centuries the people has borne the burden not only of those who exploit it, but also of those who liberate it.
Its back is buckling under the double weight. (#737)
The state of tension between social classes, a constant structural phenomenon, metamorphoses into class warfare only when a political class uses it as a tool for demagoguery.
No one praises the people except the man who means to sell it something or rob it of something. (#1,588)
To patronize the poor has always been, in politics, the surest way to enrich oneself. (#359)
“Social” is the adjective that serves as a pretext for all swindles. (#1,533)
“Social utility” is a criterion that slightly degrades what it seeks to justify. (#2,823)
In order to distract the people while they exploit it, stupid despots choose circus fights, whereas the astute despot prefers electoral fights. (#756)
The politician never says what he believes to be true, but rather what he considers to be effective. (#2,775)
The old despotisms limited themselves to locking man up in his private life; those of the new stamp prefer that he have nothing but a public life.
To domesticate man all one has to do is politicize all his gestures. (#912)
Love of poverty is Christian, but adulation of the poor is a mere electioneering tactic. (#719)
Modern man already knows that political solutions are ludicrous and suspects that economic solutions are too. (#230)
The most execrable tyranny is that which adduces principles we respect. (#232)
The “fatherland,” without any nationalistic bombast, is only the area which an individual contemplates around him after having climbed a hill. (#1,277)
“To liquidate” a social class, or a people, is an undertaking that angers no one in this century but the intended victims. (#254)
When they define property as a social function, confiscation is near; when they define work as a social function, slavery is on its way. (#258)
The act of despoiling an individual of his goods is called robbery, when another individual does the despoiling.
And social justice, when an entire collective entity robs him. (#967)
When a longing for purity persuades him to condemn “social hypocrisy,” man does not recover his lost integrity, but loses his shame. (#260)
Sociological categories authorize us to move about in society without paying attention to each man’s irreplaceable individuality.
Sociology is the ideology of our indifference toward our neighbor. (#268)
In order to exploit man in peace, it is most convenient to reduce him first to sociological abstractions. (#269)
The descriptive use of social anecdotes has more characterological exactitude than statistical percentages. (#2,475)
Let us tremble if we do not sense, in this abject modern world, that with each day our neighbor is less and less our fellow man. (#1,053)
Man, in order to govern, blindfolds himself with ideologies. (#1,036)
In a world of sovereign states every doctrine, no matter how universal, is eventually turned into the more or less official ideology of one of them. (#2,327)
The individual who lies to himself, just like the society that does not lie to itself, soon rots and dies. (#1,335)
Political violence leaves behind fewer corpses than rotting souls. (#278)
Modern society affords itself the luxury of letting everyone say what they want because today everybody thinks basically the same thing. (#282)
Participants in a political movement are normally ignorant of its aim, its motive, and its origin. (#2,220)
Whoever feels he is the spokesman of public opinion has been enslaved. (#589)
Honesty in politics is not stupidity except in the eyes of the swindler. (#298)
Liberal parties never understand that the opposite of despotism is not stupidity, but authority. (#329)
The necessary and sufficient condition of despotism is the disappearance of every kind of social authority not conferred by the State. (#1,945)
Authority is not delegating men, but procuring values. (#570)
Societies in agony struggle against history with the power of their laws, like the shipwrecked struggle against the waters with the power of their screams. Brief whirlpools. (#331)
Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate remedies. (#1,312)
When respect for tradition dies out, society, in its incessant desire to renew itself, consumes itself in a frenzy. (#573)
Hatred of the past is an unequivocal sign that a society is becoming more plebeian. (#1,480)
The human swarm returns submissively to the collective beehive when the night of a culture draws near. (#1,282)
Modern society only respects science as an inexhaustible provider of what it covets. (#1,369)
Today more than ever man runs after any fool who invites him along on the trip, deaf to the lookout keeping watch on the ruined roads and the collapsed bridges. (#334)
The prophet who accurately foretells the growing corruption of a society is not believed, because the more that corruption grows, the less it is noticed by the corrupt. (#335)
The victims of the most serious individual and social catastrophes are often not even aware: individuals become brutish, societies become degraded, unawares. (#2,879)
In today’s political spectrum no party is closer than any other to the truth.
There are simply some that are farther away. (#420)
The circus factions were not political parties; today’s political parties are circus factions. (#2,043)
Contemporary political parties have ended up converging even in their rhetoric. (#2,003)
As long a party keeps the same name, its programs can change. (#2,384)
The unrestricted publication of news, which is demanded by the mass media, has forced the public lie to assume, in the state, the traditional function of the secret. (#1,111)
We must remind those who infer from the social utility of myths the social utility of lies that myths are useful thanks to the truths they express. (#2,476)
Modern individualism is nothing but claiming as one’s own the opinions everyone shares. (#355)
The modern state fabricates the opinions which it later respectfully collects under the name of public opinion. (#356)
Modern society’s lack of confidence in the future, reserved until yesterday to the intelligent man, today weighs down even on the imbecile. (#1,300)
We can paint the decadence of a society, but it is impossible to define it.
Like the increasing dementia of a look. (#1,314)
Grave problems never frighten the fool.
Those men who are disquieted, for example, by the qualitative deterioration of a society, make him laugh. (#1,324)
The whims of the incompetent crowd are called public opinion, and the expert’s judgments private opinion. (#426)
Politicians, in a democracy, are the condensers of idiocy. (#380)
As long as he is not so imprudent as to write, many a political man passes for intelligent. (#2,255)
The politician attends to nothing with seriousness except to something trivial. (#1,374)
Journalists and politicians do not know how to distinguish between the development of an idea and the lengthening of a sentence. (#884)
Political activity ceases to tempt the intelligent writer, when he finally understands that there is no intelligent text that will succeed in ousting even a small-town mayor. (#2,812)
A politician may not be capable of thinking any stupidity, but he is always capable of saying it. (#441)
A man is intelligent if what seems easy to everybody else seems difficult to him.
The number of audacious solutions a politician proposes increases with the stupidity of the listeners. (#745)
To be intelligent in politics, it suffices to go up against a dumber opponent. (#456)
The practical politician dies from the consequences of the theories he disdains. (#398)
The man who denounces a politician’s intellectual limitations forgets that it is to them that he owes his successes. (#468)
Intransigence in politics tends to be an affectation making up for personal weaknesses. (#1,237)
Their accommodations to practice leave nothing of political theories but a simple memory. (#2,354)
Only the distortions of a political idea caused by the circumstances in which it acts are recorded in history. (#2,430)
Modern man does not imagine any end higher than to serve the anonymous whims of his fellow citizens. (#389)
To be effective, the abuse of power presupposes the anonymity of the oppressor or the anonymity of the oppressed.
Despotisms fail when unmistakable faces confront each other. (#1,221)
Terrorism does not arise where oppressors and oppressed exist, but where those who say they are oppressed do not confront oppressors. (#1,693)
Modern man accepts any yoke, as long as the hand imposing it is impersonal. (#1,345)
Where everyone believes he has a right to rule, everyone eventually prefers that one man alone rule.
The tyrant frees each individual from the tyranny of his neighbor. (#2,183)
With the exception of the reactionary, today we only meet candidates for [positions as] administrators of modern society. (#2,044)
In the modern state there now exist only two parties: citizens and bureaucracy. (#2,973)
The more complex the functions which the state assumes, the more subordinate the bureaucrats on whom the citizen’s fortune depends. (#1,284)
The despotic decisions of the modern state are, in the end, made by an anonymous, subordinate, pusillanimous bureaucrat, who is probably also a cuckold. (#1,535)
The modern state is a teacher who never grants his students a degree. (#1,285)
Political scientists learnedly analyze the squawking, howling, [and] growling of the animals on board, while the maelstrom of the masses silently pushes the ship from one shore to another. (#2,478)
The homogeneity of a society increases with the number of its members. (#1,989)
The atomization of society derives from the modern division of labor: where nobody knows specifically for whom he works, nor who specifically works for him. (#2,639)
An abrupt demographic expansion rejuvenates society and makes its stupidities recrudesce. (#1,363)
An overpopulated country is one where every citizen is practically anonymous. (#2,549)
Population growth disquiets the demographer only when he fears that it will impede economic progress or make it harder to feed the masses.
But that man needs solitude, that human proliferation produces cruel societies, that distance is required between men so that the spirit might breathe, does not interest him.
The quality of a man does not matter to him. (#394)
The modern machine becomes more complex every day, and every day modern man becomes more elemental. (#2,679)
Individuals, in modern society, are each day more similar to one another and each day more estranged from one another.
Identical monads clashing with each other with ferocious individualism. (#1,563)
Nothing more ominous than the 19th century’s enthusiasm for the “unity,” the “solidarity,” the “unanimity” of the human race.
Sentimental sketches of contemporary totalitarianism. (#2,556)
A totalitarian state is the structure into which societies crystallize under demographic pressures. (#402)
The state is totalitarian by its essence.
Total despotism is the form towards which it spontaneously tends. (#1,424)
Totalitarianism is the sinister fusion of religion and the state. (#1,425)
Totalitarian society is the common name for the social species whose scientific name is industrial society.
The embryo today allows us to foresee the adult animal’s deformity. (#481)
The worst totalitarianism is not that of a state or a nation, but of society: society as the all-encompassing goal of all goals. (#2,250)
He who longs for “perfect communication” among individuals, their reciprocal “perfect transparency,” their mutual “perfect possession,” as a certain high priest of the left does, longs for the perfect totalitarian society. (#1,691)
Instead of “industrial society,” it is in fashion to say “consumer society” in order to avoid the problem by pretending to confront it. (#1,557)
Industrial society is the expression and fruit of souls in which virtues destined to serve usurp the place of virtues destined to command. (#480)
The reactionary’s ideal is not a paradisiacal society. It is a society similar to the society that existed in the peaceful intervals of the old European society, of Alteuropa, before the demographic, industrial, and democratic catastrophe. (#2,947)
In order to cure the patient it injured in the 19th century, industrial society had to numb his mind in the 20th century.
Spiritual misery is the price of industrial prosperity. (#1,636)
In order to make the technician devote all his attention to his job, industrial society, without disfiguring his skull, compresses his brain. (#1,758)
To industrialize a country, it is not enough to expropriate the rich man; it is necessary to exploit the poor man. (#485)
Under the pretext of giving work to the hungry, the progressive sells the useless artifacts he produces.
The poor are industrialism’s pretext for enriching the rich man. (#486)
The ruling class of an agrarian society is an aristocracy, that of an industrial society an oligarchy. (#1,519)
The immigration of the peasant into the cities was less disastrous than that of the notable from the people.
Rural society, on the one hand, lost the structure of prestige that used to discipline it, and the notable, on the other, was transformed into an anonymous particle of the amorphous human mass. (#2,865)
The modern metropolis is not a city; it is a disease. (#2,975)
It is not just that human trash accumulates in cities—it is that cities turn what accumulates in them into trash. (#2,980)
Aristocracies are proud, but insolence is a plutocratic phenomenon.
The plutocrat believes that everything can be sold; the aristocrat knows that loyalty cannot be bought. (#2,474)
Boring, like an illustrious foreign visitor. (#2,911)
That Christianity cures social diseases, as some say, or that, on the contrary, it poisons the society that adopts it, as others assert, are theses that interest the sociologist but are of no interest for a Christian.
A convert to Christianity has converted because he believes it is true. (#445)
The separation of Church and State can suit the Church, but it is disastrous for the State because it delivers it over to pure Machiavellianism. (#2,497)
In this century of nomadic crowds profaning every illustrious place, the only homage a respectful pilgrim can render a venerable shrine is not to visit it. (#446)
Our society insists on electing its rulers so that an accident of birth, or the whim of a monarch, will not suddenly deliver power into the hands of an intelligent man. (#708)
Humanity is not ungovernable: it merely happens that rarely does a man govern who deserves to govern. (#2,479)
The world is not in such bad shape, considering the men who rule it. (#2,547)