Category Archives: Quotable

I haven’t seen this many people gathered in one place since they took the group photo of all the criminals and lawbreakers in the Reagan administration.  225 of them so far.  225 different people in Ronald Reagan’s administration have either been fired, arrested, indicted, or convicted… of either breaking the law or violating the ethics code.  Edwin Meese alone has been investigated by three separate special prosecutors and there’s a fourth one waiting for him in Washington right now.  Three separate special prosecutors have had to look into the activities of the attorney general!  And the attorney general is the nation’s leading LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICER!  This is what you gotta remember.  This is the Ronald Reagan administration–these are the LAW AND ORDER people.  These are the people who are against street crime.  They want to put street criminals in jail to make life safer for business criminals.  They’re against street crime so long as it isn’t WALL Street.

–– George Carlin from his 1988 HBO What Am I Doing in New Jersey? as quoted in Last Words p 238


I had a left-wing, humanitarian, secular humanist, liberal inclination on the one hand, which implied positions on myriad issues.  On the other I had prejudices and angers and hatreds toward various classes of people.  None of which included skin color or ethnicity or religion.  Well–religion, yes.  I used to get angry at blue-collar right-wingers, but that passed, because I saw that in the end they were just a different sort of victim.

I felt discomfort at having received positions on issues, simply because of my preference for the left of center, for people’s rights over property rights.  I was beginning to find that a lot of my positions clashed.  The habits of liberals, their automatic language, their knee-jerk responses to certain issues, deserved the epithets the right-wing stuck them with.  I’d see how true they often were.  Here they were, banding together in packs, so that I could predict what they were going to say about some event or conflict and it wasn’t even out of their mouths yet.  I was very uncomfortable with that.  Liberal orthodoxy was as repugnant to me as conservative orthodoxy.

–– George Carlin from Last Words p 232


Bertrand Russell on Valuing Free Thought

From the essay The Value of Free Thought quoting from page 95 onward (perhaps written in 1944):

The theory of the Nazis, however, is definitely worse [than Soviet Marxism under Stalin].  Let us consider its salient points.  There is a master race, the Germans, which i sdivinely ordained to rule the rest of mankind, not for their good, but for its own.  Originally it was thought that races akin to the Germans shared some of their merits, but this turned out to be a mistake; in Norway, for instance, there are no genuine Nordics except Quisling and a handful of followers.  Non-Aryans are specially wicked, and the most wicked of non-Aryans are the Jews.  The Japanese, on the other hand, are so virtuous that they may count as honorary Aryans.

The Germans, alas, have been corrupted by Jewish influences, notably Christ and Marx.  What they were before this unfortunate poison got into their blood may be seen in the pages of Tacitus.  When it has been eliminated, they will again perceive that war is the noblest of human activities, and the opportunity of tyranny its most splendid reward.  Other nations, strange to say, seem blind to the superiority of the Germans, but it was hoped that tanks and planes would prove efficient missionaries of the new creed.  This hope, however, is now rapidly fading.

No such tissue of nonsense could have been believed by any population trained to examine evidence scientifically, and to base tis opinions on rational grounds.  Self-esteem, personal, national, or human, is one of the great sources of irrational belief; in the case of the Nazis, the self-esteem is national.  Education should be directed, in part, to teaching the young to think independently of their prejudices, especially their collective prejudices, which are politically the most harmful.  But this is not done anywhere; every national government finds national self-esteem useful, every rich government finds admiration of the plutocracy useful, every obscurantists government finds credulity useful.  Nowhere, therefore, except among the esoteric elite of a few universities, is anything done to promote an honest attempt to decide questions according to the evidence.  And so credulous populations are left defenseless against the wiles of clever politicians, who lead them through inflated self-esteem to hatred, from hatred to war, from war to universal misery.  The modern advances in the art of propaganda have been met with no corresponding advances in training to resist propaganda.  And so the populations of the world, one by one as ‘civilization’ reaches them, go down into a dark pit of madness, where all that is worth preserving perishes in aimless slaughter.

The creed that I am preaching, if it can be called a creed, is a simple one: that, if you have an opinion about any matter, it should be based on ascertained facts, not upon hope or fear or prejudice.

From my small hardbound copy of Understanding History (1957).