Civil Discourse Quotes

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The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
It is taboo in our society to criticize a persons religious faith... these taboos are offensive, deeply unreasonable, but worse than that, they are getting people killed. This is really my concern. My concern is that our religions, the diversity of our religious doctrines, is going to get us killed. I'm worried that our religious discourse- our religious beliefs are ultimately incompatible with civilization.
Sam Harris
We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, "people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us".
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
I can do everything with my language but not with my body. What I hide by my language, my body utters. I can deliberately mold my message, not my voice. By my voice, whatever it says, the other will recognize "that something is wrong with me". I am a liar (by preterition), not an actor. My body is a stubborn child, my language is a very civilized adult...
Roland Barthes (A Lover's Discourse: Fragments)
If the idea of loving those whom you have been taught to recognize as your enemies is too overwhelming, consider more deeply the observation that we are all much more alike than we are unalike.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.
Edward W. Said (Orientalism)
Reading list (1972 edition)[edit] 1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey 2. The Old Testament 3. Aeschylus – Tragedies 4. Sophocles – Tragedies 5. Herodotus – Histories 6. Euripides – Tragedies 7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War 8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings 9. Aristophanes – Comedies 10. Plato – Dialogues 11. Aristotle – Works 12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus 13. Euclid – Elements 14. Archimedes – Works 15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections 16. Cicero – Works 17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things 18. Virgil – Works 19. Horace – Works 20. Livy – History of Rome 21. Ovid – Works 22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia 23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania 24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic 25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion 26. Ptolemy – Almagest 27. Lucian – Works 28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations 29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties 30. The New Testament 31. Plotinus – The Enneads 32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine 33. The Song of Roland 34. The Nibelungenlied 35. The Saga of Burnt Njál 36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica 37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy 38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales 39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks 40. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy 41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly 42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 43. Thomas More – Utopia 44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises 45. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel 46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion 47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays 48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies 49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote 50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene 51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis 52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays 53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences 54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World 55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals 56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan 57. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy 58. John Milton – Works 59. Molière – Comedies 60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises 61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light 62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics 63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education 64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies 65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics 66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology 67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe 68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal 69. William Congreve – The Way of the World 70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge 71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man 72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws 73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary 74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones 75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying 'this is mine', and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
What am I driving at? At this idea: that no one colonizes innocently, that no one colonizes with impunity either; that a nation which colonizes, that a civilization which justifies colonization—and therefore force—is already a sick civilization, a civilization which is morally diseased, which irresistibly, progressing from one consequence to another, one denial to another, calls for its Hitler, I mean its punishment.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
All of us in combat were inextricably dependent on each other for our very lives. We were not only fighting for our country, we were fighting for each other. • I know that part of what I was fighting for was the freedom we all cherish so dearly, including freedom of speech, but this is different. Having the right to free speech does not mean you have a right to your own facts or your own truth. Having free speech is not a free pass to spew hatred or to abandon civil discourse. • The commitment and sacrifice of military members extends beyond combat. The sacrifices are real and exist twenty-four/seven regardless if we are in peacetime or war. • In some way, we are like Plato’s prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn our heads. We only see shadows on the cave wall. We are oblivious to the larger, more colorful and more desirable world outside of the cave. • I think where religion may go astray is when leaders and followers of a specific religious doctrine or tradition mistake the vehicle of religion for truth itself.
Ron Garan (Floating in Darkness - A Journey of Evolution)
Adult politicians have been ignoring this issue and playing politics on gun safety issues for years. Meanwhile, my generation has been getting shot and killed in schools across the country. Listen to how these politicians speak to each other; watch how they treat each other on local or national levels. How can we expect to see any meaningful change on gun violence if politicians on either side of the aisle are incapable of civil discourse?
Mark M. Bello (Betrayal High (A Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Book 5))
The concept of civil discourse was the creation of a privileged class that didn’t want their lives disrupted by protests or emotional arguments. “Revolutions don’t happen at polite dinner parties,” James wrote,
Eli Saslow (Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist)
Incivility is contagious—often spreading by way of righteous indignation until even those without legitimate grievance have come down with symptoms and taken sides.
Diane Kalen-Sukra (Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What to Do About It)
The first man, who, after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say, "This is mine," and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
In terms of our elected officials, I think we need to ask...: How far should we go with our need to know before we completely veer off into the personal and the private and leave behind any chance of having a legitimate debate or discussion or discourse about the issues at hand?
John Lewis (Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement)
History reveals that the seeds of the new system of control were planted well before the end of the Civil Rights Movement. A new race-neutral language was developed for appealing to old racist sentiments, a language accompanied by a political movement that succeeded in putting the vast majority of blacks back in their place. Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial caste system without violating law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding "law and order" rather than "segregation forever.
Michelle Alexander
How do we nurture both families and communities, promote a civil discourse, and approach problems with solutions and hope instead of fear and blame?
Jim Wallis ((Un)Common Good, The: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided)
People are surprised, they become indignant. They say: “How strange! But never mind — it’s Nazism, it will pass!” And they wait, and they hope; and they hide the truth from themselves, that it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before they were its victims, they were its accomplices; that they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem, but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.
Teju Cole (Known and Strange Things: Essays)
By weaponizing the discourse of human rights to justify the use of force against governments that resisted the Washington consensus, this group of well-connected liberals was able to stir support where the neocons could not. Their brand of interventionism appealed directly to the sensibility of the Democratic Party's metropolitan base, large swaths of academia, the foundation-funded human rights NGO complex, and the New York Times editorial board. The xhibition of atrocities allegedly committed by adversarial governments, either by Western-funded civil society groups, major human rights organizations or the mainstream press, was the military humanists' stock in trade, enabling them to mask imperial designs behind a patina of "genocide prevention." With this neat tactic, they effectively neutralized progressive antiwar elements and tarred those who dared to protest their wars as dictator apologists.
Max Blumenthal (The Management of Savagery: How America's National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump)
When it becomes more profitable to make fun of someone or berate them for their beliefs than it is to offer a constructive alternative, intellectual discourse is threatened. And, when a people can no longer rely on intellectual discourse, the society is bound to fall.
Eric Robert Morse (Juggernaut: Why The System Crushes The Only People Who Can Save It)
The same people who wear shirts that read “fuck your feelings” and rail against “political correctness” seem to believe that there should be no social consequences for [voting for Trump]. I keep hearing calls for empathy and healing, civility and polite discourse. As if supporting a man who would fill his administration with white nationalists and misogynists is something to simply agree to disagree on. Absolutely not. You don’t get to vote for a person who brags about sexual assault and expect that the women in your life will just shrug their shoulders. You don’t get to play the victim when people unfriend you on Facebook, as if being disliked for supporting a bigot is somehow worse than the suffering that marginalized people will endure under Trump. And you certainly do not get to enjoy a performance by people of color and those in the LGBT community without remark or protest when you enact policies and stoke hatred that put those very people’s lives in danger. Being socially ostracized for supporting Trump is not an infringement of your rights, it’s a reasonable response by those of us who are disgusted, anxious, and afraid. I was recently accused by a writer of “vote shaming” – but there’s nothing wrong with being made to feel ashamed for doing something shameful.
Jessica Valenti
it is Nazism, yes, but that before they were its victims, they were its accomplices; that they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole edifice of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
History reveals that the seeds of the new system of control were planted well before the end of the Civil Rights Movement. A new race-neutral language was developed for appealing to old racist sentiments, a language accompanied by a political movement that succeeded in putting the vast majority of blacks back in their place. Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial caste system without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding “law and order” rather than “segregation forever.” The Birth of Mass Incarcerati
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
Nothing is more difficult than to equalize the action of the government in reference to the various and diversified interests of the community; and nothing more easy than to pervert its powers into instruments to aggrandize and enrich one or more interests by oppressing and impoverishing the others; and this, too, under the operation of laws couched in general terms—and which, on their face, appear fair and equal. Nor is this the case in some particular communities only. It is so in all—the small and the great, the poor and the rich—irrespective of pursuits, productions, or degrees of civilization; with, however, this difference, that the more extensive and populous the country, the more diversified the condition and pursuits of its population; and the richer, more luxurious, and dissimilar the people, the more difficult is it to equalize the action of the government, and the more easy for one portion of the community to pervert its powers to oppress and plunder the other.
John C. Calhoun (A Disquisition on Government and Selections from the Discourse)
The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed beauty all around when there's love at home.
Quentin L. Cook
I worry about how aggressive and vicious our discourse has become. I don’t think all is lost, however. I believe that there are ways that we can get our public debates back on track, because civility and manners are a matter of choice.
Dana Perino (And the Good News Is...: Lessons and Advice on How to Put Your Best Self Forward)
Colonization and civilization? In dealing with this subject, the commonest curse is to be the dupe in good faith of a collective hypocrisy that cleverly misrepresents problems, the better to legitimize the hateful solutions provided for them.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
Taylor and I are going to go to the boardwalk tonight. Will one of you guys drop us off?” Before my mother or Susannah could answer, Jeremiah said, “Ooh, the boardwalk. I think we should go to the boardwalk too.” Turning to Conrad and Steven, he added, “Right, guys?” Normally I would have been thrilled that any of them wanted to go somewhere I was going, but not this time. I knew it wasn’t for me. I looked at Taylor, who was suddenly busy cutting up her scallops into tiny bite-size pieces. She knew it was for her too. “The boardwalk sucks,” said Steven. Conrad said, “Not interested.” “Who invited you guys anyway?” I said. Steven rolled his eyes. “No one invites anyone to the boardwalk. You just go. It’s a free country.” “Is it a free country?” my mother mused. “I want you to really think about that statement, Steven. What about our civil liberties? Are we really free if-“ “Laurel, please,” Susannah said, shaking her head. “Let’s not talk politics at the dinner table.” “I don’t know of a better time for political discourse,” my mother said calmly.
Jenny Han (The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1))
belief that where there is a problem, there must be a solution, I shall conclude with the following suggestions. We must, as a start, not delude ourselves with preposterous notions such as the straight Luddite position as outlined, for example, in Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Americans will not shut down any part of their technological apparatus, and to suggest that they do so is to make no suggestion at all. It is almost equally unrealistic to expect that nontrivial modifications in the availability of media will ever be made. Many civilized nations limit by law the amount of hours television may operate and thereby mitigate the role television plays in public life. But I believe that this is not a possibility in America. Once having opened the Happy Medium to full public
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
CHAPTER XXVI.—A new Prince in a City or Province of which he has taken Possession, ought to make Everything new. Whosoever becomes prince of a city or State, more especially if his position be so insecure that he cannot resort to constitutional government either in the form of a republic or a monarchy, will find that the best way to preserve his princedom is to renew the whole institutions of that State; that is to say, to create new magistracies with new names, confer new powers, and employ new men, and like David when he became king, exalt the humble and depress the great, "filling the hungry with good things, and sending the rich empty away." Moreover, he must pull down existing towns and rebuild them, removing their inhabitants from one place to another; and, in short, leave nothing in the country as he found it; so that there shall be neither rank, nor condition, nor honour, nor wealth which its possessor can refer to any but to him. And he must take example from Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander, who by means such as these, from being a petty prince became monarch of all Greece; and of whom it was written that he shifted men from province to province as a shepherd moves his flocks from one pasture to another. These indeed are most cruel expedients, contrary not merely to every Christian, but to every civilized rule of conduct, and such as every man should shun, choosing rather to lead a private life than to be a king on terms so hurtful to mankind. But he who will not keep to the fair path of virtue, must to maintain himself enter this path of evil. Men, however, not knowing how to be wholly good or wholly bad, choose for themselves certain middle ways, which of all others are the most pernicious, as shall be shown by an instance in the following Chapter.
Niccolò Machiavelli (Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius)
The most pressing environmental problem we face today is not climate change. Rather it is pollution in the public square, where a smog of adversarial rhetoric, propaganda and polarization stifles discussion and debate, creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems.
James Hoggan (I'm Right and You're an Idiot - 2nd Edition: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up)
For now the country holds to the common theory that emancipation and civil rights were redemptive, a fraught and still-incomplete resolution of the accidental hypocrisy of a nation founded by slaveholders extolling a gospel of freedom. This common theory dominates much of American discourse, from left to right.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by easy electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone. However, only the most naive utopian can believe that this new humane civilization will develop, like some dream of “progress,” in a straight line. We have first to transcend our prehistory, and escape the gnarled hands which reach out to drag us back to the catacombs and the reeking altars and the guilty pleasures of subjection and abjection. “Know yourself,” said the Greeks, gently suggesting the consolations of philosophy. To clear the mind for this project, it has become necessary to know the enemy, and to prepare to fight it.
Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything)
Barred by law from invoking race explicitly, those committed to racial hierarchy were forced to search for new means of achieving their goals according to the new rules of American democracy. History reveals that the seeds of the new system of control were planted well before the end of the Civil Rights Movement. A new race-neutral language was developed for appealing to old racist sentiments, a language accompanied by a political movement that succeeded in putting the vast majority of blacks back in their place. Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial caste system without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding “law and order” rather than “segregation forever.
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
Eli met us there and handed me my bag of weapons, one hand holding Bruiser back. I left the men there, but my hearing was better than human, and I heard Eli say, “You hurt her and I’ll skin you alive and feed your carcass to the wild boars in the swamps. You copy?” “I do. And I’ll break your arm if you ever accost me again. Civilized discourse is acceptable. Your hand upon my person is not.
Faith Hunter (Broken Soul (Jane Yellowrock, #8))
When he sent to Voltaire his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, with its arguments against civilization, letters, and science, and for a return to the natural condition as seen in savages and animals, Voltaire replied: “I have received, sir, your new book against the human species, and I thank you for it . . . . No one has ever been so witty as you are in trying to turn us into brutes; to read your book makes one long to go on all fours.
Will Durant (The Story of Philosophy)
Minor segments of earlier history may have been rescued or 'retrieved' -- e.g. Greek 'democracy,' Aristotle, the Magna Carta, etc. -- but these remain subservient, if not instrumental, to the imperatives of the modern historical narrative and to the progress of 'Western civilization.' African and Asia, in most cases, continue to struggle in order to catch up, in the process not only forgoeing the privilege of drawing on their own traditions and historical experiences that shaped who they were and, partly, who they have become but also letting themselves be drawn into devastating wars, poverty, disease and the destruction of their natural environment. Modernity, whose hegemonic discourse is determined by the institutions and intellectuals of the powerful modern West, has not offered a fair shake to two-thirds of the world's population, who have lost their history and, with it, their organic ways of existence.
Wael B. Hallaq (The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity's Moral Predicament)
Her companion's discourse now sunk from its hitherto animated pitch, to nothing more than a short, decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met; and Catherine, after listening and agreeing as long as she could,with all the civility and deference of the youthful female mind, fearful of hazarding an opinion of its own in opposition to that of a self-assured man, especially where the beauty of her own sex is concerned, ventured at length to vary the subject...
Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)
When Rousseau sent to Voltaire his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, with its arguments against civilization...Voltaire replied: "I have received, sir, you new book against the human species, and I thank you for it... No one has ever been so witty as you are in trying to turn us into brutes; to read your book makes one long to go on all fours. As, however it is now some sixty years since I gave up the practice, I feel that it is unfortunately impossible for me to resume it." (Chapter on Voltaire, p.247/543)
Will Durant (The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers)
History reveals that the seeds of the new system of control were planted well before the end of the Civil Rights Movement. A new race-neutral language was developed for appealing to old racist sentiments, a language accompanied by a political movement that succeeded in putting the vast majority of blacks back in their place. Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial caste system without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding “law and order” rather than “segregation forever.
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
…95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil […] Political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened…. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying… How can any of this possibly help me, the average citizen, deliberate about whom to choose to decide my country’s macroeconomic policy, or how even to conceive for myself what that policy’s outlines should be, or how to minimize the chances of North Korea nuking the DMZ and pulling us into a ghastly foreign war, or how to balance domestic security concerns with civil liberties? Questions like these are all massively complicated, and much of the complication is not sexy, and well over 90 percent of political commentary now simply abets the uncomplicatedly sexy delusion that one side is Right and Just and the other Wrong and Dangerous. Which is of course a pleasant delusion, in a way—as is the belief that every last person you’re in conflict with is an asshole—but it’s childish, and totally unconducive to hard thought, give and take, compromise, or the ability of grown-ups to function as any kind of community.
David Foster Wallace (David Foster Wallace: The Interview)
Chatter then will be phatic discourse that has become an end in itself, but sports chatter is something more, a continuous phatic discourse that deceitfully passes itself off as talk of the City and its Ends. Born as the raising to the nth power of that initial (and rational) waste that is sports recreation, sports chatter is the glorification of Waste, and therefore the maximum point of Consumption. On it and in it the consumer civilization man actually consumes himself (and every possibility of thematizing and judging the enforced consumption to which he is invited and subjected).
Umberto Eco (Travels in Hyperreality (Harvest Book))
CNN and The New York Times are called fake news by some people on our side, while the president personally thanks infowars.com and its founder Alex Jones for “standing up for the values that makes this country great.” Jones, it must be noted, has rarely met a bizarre conspiracy that he didn’t fully embrace and is one of the most egregious polluters of civil discourse in America. He believes, for instance, that 9/11 was perpetrated by the American government and that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, in which twenty first-graders were killed, was a hoax staged by the government as a pretext to confiscate our guns. Those grieving parents that we all saw were—according to Jones—paid actors. It was disheartening to learn that in the days immediately following his election, as President-Elect Trump was receiving the well wishes of world leaders, he also took time to place a call to this man to let him know how important his support had been to the success of his campaign. Giving away one’s agency and becoming captive to such outlandish and vile alternative facts would be bad enough were one an average person, quietly living his or her life. But giving away one’s agency to such a confusion of fact and fantasy when one has power—well, that is truly dangerous.
Jeff Flake (Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle)
As the rules of acceptable discourse changed, however, segregationists distanced themselves from an explicitly racist agenda. they developed instead the racially sanitized rhetoric of cracking down on crime rhetoric that is now freely used by politicians of every stripe. Conservative politicians who embraced this rhetoric purposely failed to distinguish between the direct action tactics of civil rights activists, violent rebellion to the inner cities, And traditional crimes of an economic or violent nature. Instead, as Marc Mauer of the sentencing project has noted, "all of this phenomenon or subsumed under the heading of "crime in the streets.
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
Mr. Rohan,” she heard Beatrix ask, “are you going to marry my sister?” Amelia choked on her tea and set the cup down. She sputtered and coughed into her napkin. “Hush, Beatrix,” Win murmured. “But she’s wearing his ring—” Poppy clamped her hand over Beatrix’s mouth. “Hush!” “I might,” Cam replied. His eyes sparkled with mischief as he continued. “I find your sister a bit lacking in humor. And she doesn’t seem particularly obedient. On the other hand—” One set of French doors flew open, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass. Everyone on the back terrace looked up in startlement, the men rising from their chairs. “No,” came Win’s soft cry. Merripen stood there, having dragged himself from his sickbed. He was bandaged and disheveled, but he looked far from helpless. He looked like a maddened bull, his dark head lowered, his hands clenched into massive fists. And his stare, promising death, was firmly fixed on Cam. There was no mistaking the bloodlust of a Roma whose kinswoman had been dishonored. “Oh, God,” Amelia muttered. Cam, who stood beside her chair, glanced down at her questioningly. “Did you say something to him?” Amelia turned red as she recalled her blood-spotted nightgown and the maid’s expression. “It must have been servants’ talk.” Cam stared at the enraged giant with resignation. “You may be in luck,” he said to Amelia. “It looks as if our betrothal is going to end prematurely.” She made to stand beside him, but he pressed her back into the chair. “Stay out of this. I don’t want you hurt in the fray.” “He won’t hurt me,” Amelia said curtly. “It’s you he wants to slaughter.” Holding Merripen’s gaze, Cam moved slowly away from the table. “Is there something you’d like to discuss, chal?” he asked with admirable self-possession. Merripen replied in Romany. Although no one save Cam understood what he said, it was clearly not encouraging. “I’m going to marry her,” Cam said, as if to pacify him. “That’s even worse!” Merripen moved forward, murder in his eyes. Lord St. Vincent swiftly interceded, stepping between the pair. Like Cam, he’d had his share of putting down fights at the gambling club. He lifted his hands in a staying gesture and spoke smoothly. “Easy, large fellow. I’m sure you can find a way to resolve your differences in a reasonable fashion.” “Get out of my way,” Merripen growled, putting an end to the notion of civilized discourse. St. Vincent’s pleasant expression didn’t change. “You have a point. There’s nothing so tiresome as being reasonable. I myself avoid it whenever possible. Still, I’m afraid you can’t brawl when there are ladies present. It might give them ideas.
Lisa Kleypas (Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1))
Civic flattery - or a political culture that allows people to appear to engage in civic discourse without ever having their opinions, or even their claims of fact, seriously challenged - is ultimately more damaging to democracy than civic enmity. When we incorporate civic flattery into our personal relationships, we get shallow, insincere friendships. When we use it as the basis for political alliances, we get echo chambers. And when a skilled political manipulator flatters a large portion of the population in an attempt to acquire and consolidate power, we get perhaps the most dangerous test that a democratic society can ever face: the emergence of a demagogue.
Michael Austin (We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America's Civic Tradition)
Sometimes people say to me they’re against all forms of violence. A few weeks ago, I got a call from a pacifist activist who said, “Violence never accomplishes anything, and besides, it’s really stupid.” I asked, “What types of violence are you against?” “All types.” “How do you eat? And do you defecate? From the perspective of carrots and intestinal flora, respectively, those actions are very violent.” “Don’t be absurd,” he said. “You know what I mean.” Actually I didn’t. The definitions of violence we normally use are impossibly squishy, especially for such an emotionally laden, morally charged, existentially vital, and politically important word. This squishiness makes our discourse surrounding violence even more meaningless than it would otherwise be, which is saying a lot.
Derrick Jensen (Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization)
What the turbulent months of the campaign and the election revealed most of all, I think, was that the American people were voicing a profound demand for change. On the one hand, the Humphrey people were demanding a Marshall Plan for our diseased cities and an economic solution to our social problems. The Nixon and Wallace supporters, on the other hand, were making their own limited demands for change. They wanted more "law and order," to be achieved not through federal spending but through police, Mace, and the National Guard. We must recognize and accept the demand for change, but now we must struggle to give it a progressive direction. For the immediate agenda, I would make four proposals. First, the Electoral College should be eliminated. It is archaic, undemocratic, and potentially very dangerous. Had Nixon not achieved a majority of the electoral votes, Wallace might have been in the position to choose and influence our next President. A shift of only 46,000 votes in the states of Alaska, Delaware, New Jersey, and Missouri would have brought us to that impasse. We should do away with this system, which can give a minority and reactionary candidate so much power and replace it with one that provides for the popular election of the President. It is to be hoped that a reform bill to this effect will emerge from the hearings that will soon be conducted by Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana. Second, a simplified national registration law should be passed that provides for universal permanent registration and an end to residence requirements. Our present system discriminates against the poor who are always underregistered, often because they must frequently relocate their residence, either in search of better employment and living conditions or as a result of such poorly planned programs as urban renewal (which has been called Negro removal). Third, the cost of the presidential campaigns should come from the public treasury and not from private individuals. Nixon, who had the backing of wealthy corporate executives, spent $21 million on his campaign. Humphrey's expenditures totaled only $9.7 million. A system so heavily biased in favor of the rich cannot rightly be called democratic. And finally, we must maintain order in our public meetings. It was disgraceful that each candidate, for both the presidency and the vice-presidency, had to be surrounded by cordons of police in order to address an audience. And even then, hecklers were able to drown him out. There is no possibility for rational discourse, a prerequisite for democracy, under such conditions. If we are to have civility in our civil life, we must not permit a minority to disrupt our public gatherings.
Bayard Rustin (Down The Line)
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley re marked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
It would seem that the author’s name, unlike other proper names, does not pass from the interior of a discourse to the real and exterior individual who produced it; instead, the name seems always to be present, marking off the edges of the text, revealing, or at least characterizing, its mode of being. The author’s name manifests the appearance of a certain discursive set and indicates the status of this discourse within a society and a culture. It has no legal status, nor is it located in the fiction of the work; rather, it is located in the break that founds a certain discursive construct and its very particular mode of being. As a result, we could say that in a civilization like our own there are a certain number of discourses that are endowed with the “author-function”, while others are deprived of it. A private letter may well have a signer_ it does not have an author; a contract may well have a guarantor_ it does not have an author. An anonymous text posted on a wall probably has a writer_ but not an author. The author-function is therefore characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within a society.
Michel Foucault (What is an Author?)
Here is how I propose to end book-banning in this country once and for all: Every candidate for school committee should be hooked up to a lie detector and asked this question: “Have you read a book from start to finish since high school?” or “Did you even read a book from start to finish in high school?” If the truthful answer is “no,” then the candidate should be told politely that he cannot get on the school committee and blow off his big bazoo about how books make children crazy. Whenever ideas are squashed in this country, literate lovers of the American experiment write careful and intricate explanations of why all ideas must be allowed to live. It is time for them to realize that they are attempting to explain America at its bravest and most optimistic to orangutans. From now on, I intend to limit my discourse with dimwitted Savonarolas to this advice: "Have somebody read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution out loud to you, you God damned fool!" Well--the American Civil Liberties Union or somebody like that will come to the scene of trouble, as they always do. They will explain what is in the Constitution, and to whom it applies. They will win. And there will be millions who are bewildered and heartbroken by the legal victory, who think some things should never be said--especially about religion. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hi ho.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage)
It is not an overstatement to say the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States would not have been possible in the post–civil rights era if the nation had not fallen under the spell of a callous colorblindness. The seemingly innocent phrase, “I don’t care if he’s black . . .” perfectly captures the perversion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that we may, one day, be able to see beyond race to connect spiritually across racial lines. Saying that one does not care about race is offered as an exculpatory virtue, when in fact it can be a form of cruelty. It is precisely because we, as a nation, have not cared much about African Americans that we have allowed our criminal justice system to create a new racial undercaste. The deeply flawed nature of colorblindness, as a governing principle, is evidenced by the fact that the public consensus supporting mass incarceration is officially colorblind. It purports to see black and brown men not as black and brown, but simply as men—raceless men—who have failed miserably to play by the rules the rest of us follow quite naturally. The fact that so many black and brown men are rounded up for drug crimes that go largely ignored when committed by whites is unseen. Our collective colorblindness prevents us from seeing this basic fact. Our blindness also prevents us from seeing the racial and structural divisions that persist in society: the segregated, unequal schools, the segregated, jobless ghettos, and the segregated public discourse—a public conversation that excludes the current pariah caste. Our commitment to colorblindness extends beyond individuals to institutions and social arrangements. We have become blind, not so much to race, but to the existence of racial caste in America. More
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
If we consider this official or elite multiculturalism as an ideological state apparatus we can see it as a device for constructing and ascribing political subjectivities and agencies for those who are seen as legitimate and full citizens and others who are peripheral to this in many senses. There is in this process an element of racialized ethnicization, which whitens North Americans of European origins and blackens or darkens their 'others' by the same stroke. This is integral to Canadian class and cultural formation and distribution of political entitlement. The old and established colonial/racist discourses of tradition and modernity, civilization and savagery, are the conceptual devices of the construction and ascription of these racialized ethnicities. It is through these 'conceptual practices of power' (Smith, 1990) that South Asians living in Canada, for example, can be reified as hindu or muslim, in short as religious identities.....We need to repeat that there is nothing natural or primordial about cultural identities - religious or otherwise - and their projection as political agencies. In this multiculturalism serves as a collection of cultural categories for ruling or administering, claiming their representational status as direct emanations of social ontologies. This allows multiculturalism to serve as an ideology, both in the sense of a body of content, claiming that 'we' or 'they' are this or that kind of cultural identities, as well as an epistemological device for occluding the organization of the social....an interpellating device which segments the nation's cultural and political space as well as its labour market into ethnic communities....Defined thus, third world or non-white peoples living in Canada become organized into competitive entities with respect to each other. They are perceived to have no commonality, except that they are seen as, or self-appellate as, being essentially religious, traditional or pre-modern, and thus civilizationally backward. This type of conceptualization of political and social subjectivity or agency allows for no cross-border affiliation or formation, as for example does the concept of class.
Himani Bannerji
IN HIS 2005 COLLECTION of essays Going Sane, Adam Phillips makes a keen observation. “Babies may be sweet, babies may be beautiful, babies may be adored,” he writes, “but they have all the characteristics that are identified as mad when they are found too brazenly in adults.” He lists those characteristics: Babies are incontinent. They don’t speak our language. They require constant monitoring to prevent self-harm. “They seem to live the excessively wishful lives,” he notes, “of those who assume that they are the only person in the world.” The same is true, Phillips goes on to argue, of young children, who want so much and possess so little self-control. “The modern child,” he observes. “Too much desire; too little organization.” Children are pashas of excess. If you’ve spent most of your adult life in the company of other adults—especially in the workplace, where social niceties are observed and rational discourse is generally the coin of the realm—it requires some adjusting to spend so much time in the company of people who feel more than think. (When I first read Phillips’s observations about the parallels between children and madmen, it so happened that my son, three at the time, was screaming from his room, “I. Don’t. Want. To. Wear. PANTS.”) Yet children do not see themselves as excessive. “Children would be very surprised,” Phillips writes, “to discover just how mad we think they are.” The real danger, in his view, is that children can drive their parents crazy. The extravagance of children’s wishes, behaviors, and energies all become a threat to their parents’ well-ordered lives. “All the modern prescriptive childrearing literature,” he concludes, “is about how not to drive someone (the child) mad and how not to be driven mad (by the child).” This insight helps clarify why parents so often feel powerless around their young children, even though they’re putatively in charge. To a preschooler, all rumpus room calisthenics—whether it’s bouncing from couch cushion to couch cushion, banging on tables, or heaving bowls of spaghetti onto the floor—feel normal. But to adults, the child looks as though he or she has suddenly slipped into one of Maurice Sendak’s wolf suits. The grown-up response is to put a stop to the child’s mischief, because that’s the adult’s job, and that’s what civilized living is all about. Yet parents intuit, on some level, that children are meant to make messes, to be noisy, to test boundaries. “All parents at some time feel overwhelmed by their children; feel that their children ask more of them than they can provide,” writes Phillips in another essay. “One of the most difficult things about being a parent is that you have to bear the fact that you have to frustrate your child.
Jennifer Senior (All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood)
Supreme Court ruled in Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) that the creche was not objectionable if it was in the context of other “secular” Christian symbols, many mainstream Jews were distressed. They worried that Christianity was creeping back into the public square. Although Chabad, like some other Orthodox groups, had no objection to the ruling—after all, they wanted to display Menorahs in public spaces, and if Lynch opened the door to Christian displays, it would do the same for Jews—most American Jews instinctively embraced what Richard John Neuhaus, a Roman Catholic priest and American public intellectual, called “the naked public square.” Ironically, in Israel, even secular Israelis implicitly agreed with American Chabad. They instinctively felt that for civic life to be meaningful, the public square should not be overly naked. Neuhaus agreed. He argued that a meaningful public moral discourse had to be based on tradition of some sort. Otherwise, he said, “politics becomes civil war carried on by other means.” Either we have some shared, essentially agreed-upon tradition that sets the tone and content of our society, or internecine cultural warfare becomes virtually unavoidable.
Daniel Gordis (We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel)
Ordinary conversations between persons who confront each other are good only when they are carried on civilly. We are not thinking merely of civilities according to conventions of social politeness. Such conventions are not really important. What is important is that there is an intellectual etiquette to be observed. Without it, conversation is bickering rather than profitable communication. We are assuming here, of course, that the conversation is about a serious matter on which men can agree or disagree. Then it becomes important that they conduct themselves well. Otherwise, there is no profit in the enterprise. The profit in good conversation is something learned.
Mortimer Adler How to read a book
They talked about the way society is in fact controlled through the imposition of false needs, and how criticism of society is effectively and systematically suppressed by being infiltrated into institutions. They spoke of a closed technological society which creates a new totalitarianism, and in it there is no place for those outside the process of production. About the fact that the only way out of the comfortable, rationalized, undemocratic freedom offered by developed industrial civilization is through rebellion. About the fact that revolution is possible only through awareness but that awareness in itself demands revolution.
Daša Drndić (Belladonna)
— Vous n'êtes pas sûr de ce que vous dites ? Vous allez de nouveau changer, vous déplacer par rapport aux questions qu'on vous pose, dire que les objections ne pointent pas réellement vers le lieu où vous vous prononcez ? Vous vous préparez à dire encore une fois que vous n'avez jamais été ce qu'on vous reproche d'être ? Vous aménagez déjà l'issue qui vous permettra, dans votre prochain livre, de resurgir ailleurs et de narguer comme vous le faites maintenant : non, non je ne suis pas là où vous me guettez, mais ici d'où je vous regarde en riant. — Eh quoi, vous imaginez-vous que je prendrais à écrire tant de peine et tant de plaisir, croyez-vous que je m'y serais obstiné, tête baissée, si je ne préparais — d'une main un peu fébrile — le labyrinthe où m'aventurer, déplacer mon propos, lui ouvrir des souterrains, l’enfoncer loin de lui-même, lui trouver des surplombs qui résument et déforment son parcours, où me perdre et apparaître finalement à des yeux que je n'aurai jamais plus à rencontrer. Plus d'un comme moi sans doute, écrivent pour n'avoir plus de visage. Ne me demandez pas qui je suis et ne me dites pas de rester le même : c'est une morale d'état civil; elle régit nos papiers. Qu'elle nous laisse libres quand il s'agir d'écrire.
Michel Foucault (The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language)
Although cable news has, I believe, done much damage in undercutting civility in political discourse—a civility to which more journalists and newscasters aspired in the pre-cable era—it is insufficient to simply single out blowhards like Bill O’Reilly, or Fox News overlord Roger Ailes, or on the left, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, formerly of MSNBC. The problem is partly that there’s money in staging the televisual equivalent of cockfighting.
Heather Hendershot (Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line)
We need to bring our voices and perspectives to the table calmly, with respect for ourselves and one another, recognizing that we do not live alone. America has never been and will never be homogeneous. We are here to bump up against each other. We need to bring our faith and values not just to specific issues but to the process of engaging in civil discourse.
Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth Silvers (I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations)
The great culture shapers today are the entertainment and marketing industries—from the shows we watch, to the music we listen to, to the lifestyle shaping advertisements. However, these industries are accountable to no one, except their shareholders.
Diane Kalen-Sukra
Our religion was the religion of a Book. Man must be educated on Earth for Heaven. John Quincy Adams
Paul C. Nagel (John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life)
[14] It is in accordance with this plan of action above all that one should train oneself. As soon as you leave the house at break of day, examine everyone whom you see, everyone whom you hear, and answer as if under questioning. What did you see? A handsome man or beautiful woman? Apply the rule. Does this lie within the sphere of choice, or outside it? Outside. Throw it away. [15] What did you see? Someone grieving over the death of his child? Apply the rule. Death is something that lies outside the sphere of choice. Away with it. You met a consul? Apply the rule. What kind of thing is a consulship? One that lies outside the sphere of choice, or inside? Outside. Throw that away too, it doesn’t stand the test. Away with it; it is nothing to you. [16] If we acted in such a way and practised this exercise from morning until night, we would then have achieved something, by the gods. [17] But as things are, we’re caught gazing open-mouthed at every impression that comes along, and it is only in the schoolroom that we wake up a little, if indeed we ever do. Afterwards, when we go outside, if we see someone in distress, we say, ‘He’s done for,’ or if we see a consul, exclaim, ‘A most fortunate man’; if an exile, ‘Poor wretch!’; if someone in poverty, ‘How terrible for him; he hasn’t money enough to buy a meal.’ [18] These vicious judgements must be rooted out, then; that is what we should concentrate our efforts on. For what is weeping and groaning? A judgement. What is misfortune? A judgement. What is civil strife, dissension, fault-finding, accusation, impiety, foolishness? [19] All of these are judgements and nothing more, and judgements that are passed, moreover, about things that lie outside the sphere of choice, under the supposition that such things are good or bad. Let someone transfer these judgements to things that lie within the sphere of choice, and I guarantee that he’ll preserve his peace of mind, regardless of what his circumstances may be. [20] The mind is rather like a bowl filled with water, and impressions are like a ray of light that falls on that water. [21] When the water is disturbed, the ray of light gives the appearance of being disturbed, but that isn’t really the case. [22] So accordingly, whenever someone suffers an attack of vertigo, it isn’t the arts and virtues that are thrown into confusion, but the spirit in which they’re contained; and when the spirit comes to rest again, so will they too.
Epictetus (Discourses, Fragments, Handbook)
But speech that preaches hate? That turns neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, that threatens to divide rather than unite? Speech that by its definition allows for no chance at rebuttal much less debate or civil discourse?
C.J. Lyons (Open Grave (Beacon Falls, #3))
A boxer derives the greatest advantage from his sparring partner – and my accuser is my sparring partner. He trains me in patience, civility and even temper.
Epictetus (Discourses and Selected Writings (Classics))
The disintegration of the Roman constitution led directly to civil war. This may be where America is heading. Even now as we turn the pages of Polybius’s discourse, we find a lucid analysis of republican principles and also discover, in ancient Rome, a distant mirror of ourselves.
J.R. Nyquist
including those in high-level government positions. President Trump and some of his associates have retweeted and reposted videos, cartoons, memes, and comments on various social media platforms that come from the alt-right and those affiliated with them. The retweeters give license to people who share these sentiments to engage in racist, antisemitic, and extremist rhetoric. And the more this kind of invective is repeated, the more it has a way of bleeding beyond its original borders and becoming part of the national discourse. As that happens, ideas that were once considered to be outside the pale of civil conversation become mainstreamed.
Deborah E. Lipstadt (Antisemitism: Here and Now)
President Trump and some of his associates have retweeted and reposted videos, cartoons, memes, and comments on various social media platforms that come from the alt-right and those affiliated with them. The retweeters give license to people who share these sentiments to engage in racist, antisemitic, and extremist rhetoric. And the more this kind of invective is repeated, the more it has a way of bleeding beyond its original borders and becoming part of the national discourse. As that happens, ideas that were once considered to be outside the pale of civil conversation become mainstreamed.
Deborah E. Lipstadt (Antisemitism: Here and Now)
The pioneering parapsychology researcher Dean Radin writes: “Sometimes skeptics offer constructive critiques [but] many critiques are bizarrely irrational and positively drip with emotion. … [T]here’s something peculiar about psi that seems to push otherwise calm, rational scientists beyond civil discourse and into rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth frenzies
Eric Wargo (Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious)
As much as we like to say "every vote counts", a much richer understanding of what creates and maintains thriving democracies is "every heart counts".
Diane Kalen-Sukra (Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What to Do About It)
You may believe that civilization deafens us with tens of thousands of voices, but listen well to that clamour, for with each renewed burst so disparate and myriad, an ancient force awakens, drawing each noise ever closer, until the chorus forms but two sides, each battling the other. The bloody lines are drawn, fought in the turning away of faces, in the stoppering of ears, the cold denial, and all discourse, at the last, is revealed as futile and worthless.
Steven Erikson (The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6))
- Love, which is a kind of permission to come closer than ordinary norms of good behavior might usually sanction. - Back rubs. - Which enables us to see each other without clothes on, for example, in lust and shame. - Examining perfections, imperfections. - Which allows us to say wounding things to each other which would not be kosher under the ordinary rules of civilized discourse.
Donald Barthelme (Great Days)
Machiavelli’s fusion of Polybius and Aristotle yielded a future of gloom. The Romans had read Polybius to discover how a great empire would be doomed if it failed to keep Aristotle’s balance of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy—the One, the Few, and the Many. Machiavelli’s reading was far more pessimistic. Not just Rome, but every free society is doomed from the start. Real republics exist in real time, not on some eternal plane like Plato’s literary version. “All human affairs are ever in a state of flux and cannot stand still,” the Discourses explains, meaning that every society will experience either constant improvement or decline.
Arthur Herman (The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization)
Peter thought he’d be greeted as a liberator, that Gawker was a scourge that once eliminated would allow for open, collaborative discussion. If anything, the opposite has happened. The candidate he helped put in office embodies many of the bullying traits that Thiel claimed to abhor. Trump would also come to actively stymie expression, threatening to “open up” the libel laws in this country and pressuring NFL owners to fire the players who kneeled during the national anthem. This must hit Thiel sometimes, perhaps in the quiet cabin of his Gulfstream, that the man in the White House is essentially the opposite of everything he had spent his life believing in, that Trump threatened the very libertarian freedoms and open civil discourse that Thiel had spent his money protecting. To know he is associated with that, in certain ways responsible for it, might be the most unintended consequence of all.
Ryan Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue)
To be clear: Racial epithets; slurs based on gender, sexuality, or ethnicity; and other personal attacks and denigrations have no place in civil society or discourse. However, Baer is suggesting that we should put in place what the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly called prior restraints on free speech. Baer’s pseudosophisticated model applied at our nation’s colleges and universities would result in regular censorship. This is dangerous because students are supposed to learn to debate and overcome bad ideas with words, facts, and reason rather than violence, censorship, or government suppression. In fact, this is exactly what happened when Charles Murray tried to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont in March 2017.13 Rather than listen to his arguments and debate him, students attacked Murray and another professor. After successfully disrupting a planned speech by Murray, the students tracked Murray and a professor down to where they had fled and assaulted them. The professor, Allison Stranger, was ultimately hospitalized. Applying Baer’s model to society at-large would bring about a system of government-led speech oppression that would place the United States in the company of China, Russia, and North Korea.
Newt Gingrich (Trump's America: The Truth about Our Nation's Great Comeback)
The life-world is thus peripherally present in any thought or activity we undertake. Yet whenever we attempt to explain this world conceptually, we seem to forget our active participation within it. Striving to represent the world, we inevitably forfeit its direct presence. It was Husserl’s genius to realize that the assumption of objectivity had led to an almost total eclipse of the life-world in the modern era, to a nearly complete forgetting of this living dimension in which all of our endeavors are rooted. In their striving to attain a finished blueprint of the world, the sciences had become frightfully estranged from our direct human experience. Their many specialized and technical discourses had lost any obvious relevance to the sensuous world of our ordinary engagements. The consequent impoverishment of language, the loss of a common discourse tuned to the qualitative nuances of living experience, was leading, Husserl felt, to a clear crisis in European civilization. Oblivious to the quality-laden life-world upon which they themselves depend for their own meaning and existence, the Western sciences, and the technologies that accompany them, were beginning to blindly overrun the experiential world—even, in their errancy, threatening to obliterate the world-of-life entirely.6
David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World (Vintage))
At Lincoln’s second inaugural, a drunken Johnson, who had had one too many whiskeys that morning, plunged into a long, rambling, incoherent discourse, shouting about his humble origins and lecturing the assembled dignitaries from the Supreme Court and the diplomatic corps (“With all your fine feathers and gew-gaws”) that they were merely “creatures of the people.” Then, as he took his oath, Johnson visibly and audibly slobbered upon the Bible.
Jay Winik (April 1865: The Month That Saved America)
A man’s power to connect his thought with its proper symbol, and so to utter it, depends on the simplicity of his character, that is, upon his love of truth and his desire to communicate it without loss. The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. When simplicity of character and the sovereignty of ideas is broken up by the prevalence of secondary desires—the desire of riches, of pleasure, of power, and of praise—and duplicity and falsehood take place of simplicity and truth, the power over nature as an interpreter of the will is in a degree lost; new imagery ceases to be created, and old words are perverted to stand for things which are not; a paper currency is employed, when there is no bullion in the vaults. In due time the fraud is manifest, and words lose all power to stimulate the understanding or the affections. Hundreds of writers may be found in every long-civilized nation who for a short time believe and make others believe that they see and utter truths, who do not of themselves clothe one thought in its natural garment, but who feed unconsciously on the language created by the primary writers of the country, those, namely, who hold primarily on nature. But wise men pierce this rotten diction and fasten words again to visible things; so that picturesque language is at once a commanding certificate that he who employs it is a man in alliance with truth and God. The moment our discourse rises above the ground line of familiar facts and is inflamed with passion or exalted by thought, it clothes itself in images. A man conversing in earnest, if he watch his intellectual processes, will find that a material image more or less luminous arises in his mind, contemporaneous with every thought, which furnishes the vestment of the thought. Hence, good writing and brilliant discourse are perpetual allegories. This imagery is spontaneous. It is the blending of experience with the present action of the mind. It is proper creation. It is the working of the Original Cause through the instruments he has already made.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Thus, a civil war in India is a wish of a god who does not believe in caste.
Kancha Ilaiah (Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution)
identity politics is valid, then the idea that education should make the educated a member of a larger intellectual culture is invalid. If the premise of identity politics is true, then the idea on which America rests is false. If the premise of identity politics is true, then there is in no meaningful sense a universal human nature, and there are no general standards of intellectual discourse, and no ethic of ennobling disputation, no process of civil persuasion toward friendly consent, no source of legitimacy other than power, and we all live immersed in our tribes, warily watching other tribes across the chasms of our “differences.” No sensible person wants to live in such a society.
George F. Will (The Conservative Sensibility)
scurrilous (SKUR-ih-luss). Offensive to civilized discourse; verbally abusive; vulgar; coarse; slanderous. Because they were made on the floor
David Olsen (Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers: Over 2,300 Emotive, Evocative, Descriptive Synonyms, Antonyms, and Related Terms Every Writer Should Know)
Discourse, it's good for the soul.... civil... or otherwise, which.... do YOU prefer??
Robert Armstrong
Be constantly civil. Martin Luther King Jr. had shown without fail his fortitude on abiding the laws of civility. In the confines of darkness, ugliness and violence, he held on to his belief of practiced civil discourse. He never gave in to the anger or the emotion he feels, instead he tried to rise above it, and he showed it in the remarkable speeches he gave. He showed his fight in a civil way.
Larry Berg (Martin Luther King, Jr.: Life Lessons from the King Who Had a Dream: Martin Luther King Jr Revealed (Martin Luther King Jr., King biography Book 1))
In his campaign for the presidency, Reagan mastered the "excision of the language of race from conservative public discourse"… For example, when Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign at the annual Neshoba County fair near Philadelphia, Mississippi - the town were three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964 - he assured the crowd "I believe and states rights," and promised to restore to states and local government the power that properly belonged to them. His critics promptly alleged that he was signaling a racial message to his audience, suggesting allegiance with those who resisted desegregation, but Reagan firmly denied it, forcing liberals into a position that would soon become familiar, arguing that something is racist but finding it impossible to prove in the absence of explicitly racist language. (48)
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
My commitment is to urge us all toward moderation and good will toward fellow citizens. If we can set aside unworthy emotions that deepen our political divide, concentrate on finding solutions to the problems our country and communities face, we can then work toward a brighter future with less rancor but firm in our purpose. Or, we can feed our primitive fight or flight impulse by lashing out in social media and then duck into our silos. If we do that, the unhealthy polarization of the time of Trump will get even worse.
Jeff Rasley (Polarized! The Case for Civility in the Time of Trump: An Experiment in Civil Discourse on Facebook)
I know that [civilized men] do nothing but boast incessantly of the peace and repose they enjoy in their chains.... But when I see [barbarous man] sacrifice pleasures, repose, wealth, power, and life itself for the preservation of this sole good which is so disdained by those who have lost it; when I see animals born free and despising captivity break their heads against the bars of their prison; when I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness and endure hunger, fire, the sword, and death to preserve only their independence, I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
It would be a great step toward a truly civil society if we understood that our public discourse isn’t based on “hard facts,” that all our wisdom is finite, and that nobody’s opinion (not even yours or mine) is the final word.
Walter Truett Anderson (We the Planet: Evolutionary Governance and Biophilia in the Anthropocene)
Or, si l’on compare la diversité prodigieuse d’éducations et de genres de vie qui règne dans les différents ordres de l’état civil, avec la simplicité et l’uniformité de la vie animale et sauvage, où tous se nourrissent des mêmes aliments, vivent de la même manière, et font exactement les mêmes choses, on comprendra combien la différence d’homme à homme doit être moindre dans l’état de nature que dans celui de société, et combien l’inégalité naturelle doit augmenter dans l’espèce humaine par l’inégalité d’institution.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
...civility doesn't require consensus or the suspension of criticism. It is simply the ability to disagree productively with others while respecting their sincerity and decency.
Ravi Iyer and Jonathan Haidt
The attention of civil rights advocates has been largely devoted to other issues, such as affirmative action. During the past twenty years, virtually every progressive, national civil rights organization in the country has mobilized and rallied in defense of affirmative action. The struggle to preserve affirmative action in higher education, and thus maintain diversity I the nation's most elite colleges and universities, has consumed much of the attention and resources of the civil rights community and dominated racial justice discourse I the mainstream media, leading the general public to believe that affirmative action is the main battleground in U.S. race relations--even as our prisons fill with black and brown men.
Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
There was work for everyone to do, even the women—especially the women. They had to adjust quickly to the sudden absence of fathers and husbands and sons, to the idea that things would never be as they had been. They had no vote, no straightforward access to political discourse, no influence in how the battles were waged. Instead they took control of homes, businesses, plantations.
Karen Abbott (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War)
I ask: which of the two, civil or natural life, is more likely to become insufferable to those who live it? We see about us practically no people who do not complain about their existence; many even deprive themselves of it to the extent they are able, and the combination of divine and human laws is hardly enough to stop this disorder. I ask: has anyone ever heard of a savage man who was living in liberty ever dreaming of complaining about his life and of killing himself?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
What is peculiar about such interpositions of media is that their role in directing what we will see or know is so rarely noticed. A person who reads a book or who watches television or who glances at his watch is not usually interested in how his mind is organized and controlled by these events, still less in what idea of the world is suggested by a book, television, or a watch. But there are men and women who have noticed these things, especially in our own times. Lewis Mumford, for example, has been one of our great noticers. He is not the sort of a man who looks at a clock merely to see what time it is. Not that he lacks interest in the content of clocks, which is of concern to everyone from moment to moment, but he is far more interested in how a clock creates the idea of "moment to moment." He attends to the philosophy of clocks, to clocks as metaphor, about which our education has had little to say and clock makers nothing at all. "the clock," Mumford has concluded, "is a piece of power machinery whose 'product' is seconds and minutes." In manufacturing such a product, the clock has the effect of disassociating time from human events and thus nourishes the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences. Moment to moment, it turns out, is not God's conception, or nature's. It is man conversing with himself about and through a piece of machinery he created. In Mumford's great book Technics and Civilization, he shows how, beginning in the fourteenth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, and then time-savers, and now time-servers. In the process, we have learned irreverence toward the sun and the seasons, for in a world made up of seconds and minutes, the authority of nature is superseded. Indeed, as Mumford points out, with the invention of the clock, Eternity ceased to serve as the measure and focus of human events. And thus, though few would have imagined the connection, the inexorable ticking of the clock may have had more to do with the weakening of God's supremacy than all the treatises produced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment; that is to' say, the clock introduced a new form of conversation between man and God, in which God appears to have been the loser. Perhaps Moses should have included another Commandment: Thou shalt not make mechanical representations of time.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
Integral to this was the regime’s unchanging manichean discourse – i.e. its ideological and cultural discourse of the civil war as a battle of “morality vs. iniquity”, of “martyrs against barbarians”.
Helen Graham (The War and Its Shadow: Spain's Civil War in Europe's Long Twentieth Century (The Canada Blanch / Sussex Academic Studies on Contemporary Spain))
Reading the Gospels, one could argue that Jesus was not particularly civil. He denounced his enemies as hypocrites and accused his friends of lack of faith. He insulted people who asked favors of him and was rude to the people of his hometown. All of this can be interpreted, perhaps, as prophetic discourse; and prophets are not supposed to be polite. The word of God is always two-edged, as sharp as any sword.
Francis George
I looked at him sitting there at my desk, in my chair, drinking from my mug, and I discovered that I did not want to have a pleasant chat with someone who was working so hard to become me. But what I really wanted to do with him required a little more privacy than we had here in the heart of police headquarters, as well as a long stretch of uninterrupted time and a few rolls of duct tape. But of course, someone at the network might miss Robert sooner or later, and so the realities of civilized discourse left me no choice except to play the game properly. So I reached across the desk—my desk—and grabbed a pastelito from the box.
Jeff Lindsay (Dexter's Final Cut (Dexter, #7))
As did ancient Israel, America progressively redefined what was right and wrong, adopting a new morality to replace the old. It now called evil “good,” and good “evil.” What it had once celebrated, it now condemned, and what it had once worshipped, it now reviled. And on the other hand, what it had once condemned, it now celebrated and what it had once reviled, it now worshipped. American culture grew increasingly carnal, materialistic, coarse, vulgar, and self-indulgent. Instead of being “a light to the world” as its founders had envisioned, America was now saturating the world with pornography. And while Israel had killed thousands of its children on the altars of its new gods, America killed not thousands but millions of its unborn children on the altars of its pleasures and convenience. Its collective hands were covered in blood. As for those within America who refused to go along with its moral and spiritual apostasy, those who remained faithful to God and His ways, they were now increasingly marginalized in the nation’s newly apostate culture, mocked in its media, vilified in its public discourse, and increasingly in danger of persecution. America, brought into existence and dedicated by its founders to be a vessel of God’s purposes, had now transformed into its very opposite: a civilization turned in upon itself, at war against its own foundations, and at war with God. Those who founded America not only foretold its future blessings—but also gave warning. It was this: if America ever turned away from God, then the same judgments that fell upon ancient Israel would fall upon America.3 The appearance of the same harbingers in America that had once appeared in the last days of ancient Israel matches their prophecies.
Jonathan Cahn (The Mystery of the Shemitah: The 3,000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future, the World's Future, and Your Future!)
Good-bye, Richard.” So much for civil discourse. So much for modern men discussing a modern problem in an enlightened manner. I was thinking that it might be fun to beat him to death.
Robert Crais (Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7))
Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse—constraints like reasonableness, internal coherence, civility, and candor. However
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. —Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook VP of user growth
Jen Lancaster (Welcome to the United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic)
And, indeed, if we consider how much of our lives is taken up by the needs of nature; how many years are wholly spent, before we come to any use of reason; how many years more before that reason is useful to us to any great purposes, how imperfect our discourse is made by our evil education, false principles, ill company, bad examples, and want of experience; how many parts of our wisest and best years are spent in eating and sleeping, in necessary businesses and unnecessary vanities, in worldly civilities and less useful circumstances, in the learning arts and sciences, languages, or trades; that little portion of hours that is left for the practices of piety and religious walking with God, is so short and trifling, that, were not the goodness of God infinitely great, it might seem unreasonable or impossible for us to expect of him eternal joys in heaven, even after the well spending those few minutes which are left for God and God’s service, after we have served ourselves and our own occasions.
Jeremy Taylor (Holy Living and Dying)
Contemporary man seems to have lost, to a certain extent, the flavor of this joy (the joy of penance). He has also lost the deep sense of that spiritual effort that makes it possible to find oneself again in the whole truth of one’s interior being. Many causes and circumstances, which are difficult to analyze,…contribute in this connection. Our civilization—especially in the West—closely connected with the development of science and technology, catches a glimpse of the need of intellectual and physical effort, but it has lost to a considerable extent the sense of the effort of the spirit, the fruit of which is man seen in his interior dimensions. When all is said and done, man living in the currents of this civilization very often loses his own dimension; he loses the interior sense of his own humanity. The effort that leads to the fruit, just mentioned, becomes alien to this man as well as the joy that comes from it: the great joy of finding again and of meeting the joy of conversion (metanoia), the joy of penitence. Discourse at the Vatican, February 28, 1979
Pope John Paul II (A Year with John Paul II)
[W]e would do better to treat terrorists as common criminals, people who have broken the laws recognized by all civil societies. To treat them as soldiers is to increase their power, respectability, and commitment.
Nel Noddings (Peace Education: How We Come to Love and Hate War)
In a speech at Stanford, Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former VP of user growth, told the audience, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created [at Facebook] are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”135 When asked about his children’s online habits, he added, “They’re not allowed to use this shit.
Jen Lancaster (Welcome to the United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic)
In other words, the essential thing here is to see clearly, to think clearly—that is, dangerously—and to answer clearly the innocent first question: what, fundamentally, is colonization? To agree on what it is not: neither evangelization nor philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. To admit once and for all, without flinching at the consequences, that the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
First, we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and "interrogated," all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been distilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
And I say that between colonization and civilization there is an infinite distance; that out of all the colonial expeditions that have been undertaken, out of all the colonial statutes that have been drawn up, out of all the memoranda that have been dispatched by all the ministries, there could not come a single human value.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and interrogated, all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been instilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
In order to think through things clearly, we need other opinions and viewpoints in order to navigate into the nuance. We need civil debate to present opposing viewpoints and point out our blind spots. We need the ability to speak freely and civilly to one another.
Eric Overby (Legacy)
crucial for understanding that more celebrated book. For in writing the Discourses, Machiavelli discovered a basic paradox: When it comes to liberty, nothing fails like success.
Arthur Herman (The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization)
education combined with the restoration of civility in public discourse can reduce the vitriol that widens the fissures in society that Russia and others exploit.
H.R. McMaster (Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World)
Unlike wellness or witchcraft, social justice culture has it all. It’s capable of taking American intuitionalism and giving it a clear shape, a clear theology. It provides a compelling nontheistic vision of why the world is the way it is, locating original sin in the structures of society itself and liberation in self-examination and solidarity. It provides a clear-cut enemy: Donald Trump, and the scores of straight white men like him who have benefited from a corrupted status quo. It provides a sense of purpose: the call to self-love (for the marginalized) and to self-denial (for the unduly privileged). It provides a framework for legitimizing emotion, rather than oppressive rationality, as the source of moral knowledge; the discourse of lived experience and embodied identity reaffirm the importance of subjectivity. In the absence of transcendent notions of the soul, or of a universal, knowable truth, or of an objective foundation of being, social justice provides a coherent framework about why and how our personal experiences are authoritative. And it has succeeded in galvanizing a moral community—a church—through its ideology and its rituals of purgation and renewal. If social justice is indeed America’s new civil religion—or, at least, one of them—it comes by that claim fairly. In
Tara Isabella Burton (Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World)
First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and interrogated, all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been instilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery. And then one fine day the bourgeoisie is awakened by a terrific reverse shock: the gestapos are busy, the prisons fill up, the torturers around the racks invent, refine, discuss. People are surprised, they become indignant. They say: “How strange! But never mind — it’s Nazism, it will pass!” And they wait, and they hope; and they hide the truth from themselves, that it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before they were its victims, they were its accomplices; that they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
With the poet, it is gold and silver, but with the philosopher it is iron and corn, which have civilized men, and ruined mankind.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation Of The Inequality Among Mankind)
the weakening of the discourses constructing political identities in terms of left and right has not meant the disappearance of the need for a we/they distinction. Such a distinction is still very much alive; however, today it is increasingly established through a moral vocabulary. We could say that the distinction between left and right has been replaced by the one between right and wrong. This indicates that the adversarial model of politics is still with us, but the main difference is that now politics is played out in the moral register, using the vocabulary of good and evil to discriminate between 'we the good democrats' and 'they the evil ones'. This can be seen, for instance, in the reactions to the rise of right-wing populist parties, where moral condemnation has generally replaced a properly political type of struggle. Instead of trying to grasp the reasons for the success of right-wing parties, the 'good' democratic parties have often limited themselves to calling for a 'cordon sanitaire' to be established in order to stop the return of what they see as 'the brown plague'. Another example of this moralization of politics is when President George W. Bush opposes the civilized 'us' to the barbarian 'others'. To construct a political antagonism in this way is what I call the 'moralization of politics'. This is something that we can see at work in many different areas nowadays; the inability to formulate the problems facing society in a political way and to envisage political solutions to these problems leads to framing an increasing number of issues in moral terms. This is, of course, not good for democracy because when the opponents are not defined in a political but in a moral way, they cannot be seen as adversaries, but only as enemies. With the evil ones, no agonistic debate is possible. They have to be eliminated.
Chantal Mouffe (Agonistics: Thinking the World Politically)
The interval between the first and second wars in Iraq (1991 and 2003) has seen a remarkable shift from Clausewitz to Sun Tzu in the discourse about contemporary warfare. Clausewitz enjoyed an undreamed of renaissance in the USA after the Vietnam War and seemed to have attained the status of master thinker. On War enabled many theorists to recognize the causes of America’s traumatic defeat in Southeast Asia, as well as the conditions for gaining victory in the future. More recently, however, he has very nearly been outlawed. The reason for this change can be found in two separate developments. Firstly, there has been an unleashing of war and violence in the ongoing civil wars and massacres, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, in the secessionist wars in the former Yugoslavia, and in the persistence of inter-communal violence along the fringes of Europe’s former empires. These developments seemed to indicate a departure from interstate wars, for which Clausewitz’s theory appeared to be designed, and the advent of a new era of civil wars, non-state wars, and social anarchy. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War seemed to offer a better understanding of these kinds of war, because he lived in an era of never-ending civil wars. Secondly, the reason for the change from Clausewitz to Sun Tzu is connected with the ‘revolution in military affairs’. The concepts of Strategic Information Warfare (SIW) and fourth generation warfare have made wide use of Sun Tzu’s thought to explain and illustrate their position. The ‘real father’ of ‘shock and awe’ in the Iraq War of 2003 was Sun Tzu, argued one commentator in the Asia Times. Some pundits even claimed triumphantly that Sun Tzu had defeated Clausewitz in this war, because the US Army conducted the campaign in accordance with the principles of Sun Tzu, whereas the Russian advisers of the Iraqi army had relied on Clausewitz and the Russian defence against Napoleon’s army in 1812. The triumphant attitude has long been abandoned.
Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Clausewitz's Puzzle: The Political Theory of War)
These remarks reflect the expansive reach of the discourse on law and order, which since the 1970s tended to conflate "crime" with civil rights protests in the South and with the widespread turmoil generated by racism in the North. The moral panic produced by this discourse increasingly meant that the "law and order" slogan served as a proxy for more explicit calls to suppress Black movements and ultimately also to criminalize indiscriminately broad swaths of the Black population. By 1994, the deindustrialization of the U.S. economy, produced by global economic shifts, was having a deleterious impact on working-class Black communities. The massive loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, especially in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, had the result, according to Joe William Trotter, that "the black urban working class nearly disappeared by the early 1990s." Combined with the disestablishment of welfare state benefits, these economic shifts caused vast numbers of Black people to seek other—sometimes "illegal"—means of survival. It is not accidental that the full force of the crack epidemic was felt during the 1980s and early '90s. During this period there were few signs of governmental effort to address the circumstances responsible for the rapid impoverishment of working-class Black communities, and the 1994 Crime Bill was emblematic of the turn to carceral "solutions" as a response to the impact of forces of global capitalism. As Cedric Robinson has pointed out, capitalism has always been racial capitalism, and the Crime Bill was a formidable indication that Republicans and Democrats in Washington were united in their acceptance of punitive strategies to stave off the effects of Black impoverishment.
Angela Y. Davis (Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019)
But our strength is what it has always been—our judicious patience. The Americans are incapable of behaving patiently. They change their government and their policies as often as the seasons. Their dysfunctional civil discourse is unable to deliver an international strategy that endures for more than a handful of years. They’re governed by their emotions, by their blithe morality and belief in their precious indispensability. This is a fine disposition for a nation known for making movies, but not for a nation to survive as we have through the millennia. . . . And where will America be after today? I believe in a thousand years it won’t even be remembered as a country. It will simply be remembered as a moment. A fleeting moment.
Elliot Ackerman (2034: A Novel of the Next World War)
Our civilization, he says, suffers from vital exhaustion. In the century of Louis XIV, when the appetite for living was great, official culture placed the accent on the negation of pleasure and of the flesh; repeated insistently that mundane life can offer only imperfect joys, that the only true source of happiness was in God. Such a discourse, he asserts would no longer be tolerated today. We need adventure and eroticism because we need to hear ourselves repeat that life is marvelous and exciting; and it's abundantly clear that we rather doubt this.
Michel Houellebecq (Whatever)
Citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Steve Miska
Accelerating progress requires building on foundational innovations, or as Bernard of Chartres stated - “standing on the shoulders of giants”. In the fractured society we live in, the lack of civil discourse makes it difficult to find a stable place where “we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants”. - Tom Golway
Tom Golway
The most ominous danger we face comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations, and the press, that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact, helping us distinguish lies from truth, and facilitate justice.
Chris Hedges (America: The Farewell Tour)
Europe would have done better to tolerate the non-European civilizations at its side, leaving them alive, dynamic' and prosperous, whole and not mutilated; that it would have been better to let them develop and fulfill themselves than to present for our admiration, duly labeled, their dead and scattered parts; that anyway, the museum by itself is nothing; that it means nothing, that it can say nothing, when smug self-satisfaction rots the eyes, when a secret contempt for others withers the heart, when racism, admitted or not, dries up sympathy; that it means nothing if its only purpose is to feed the delights of vanity; that after all, the honest contemporary of Saint Louis, who fought Islam but respected it, had a better chance of knowing it than do our contemporaries (even if they have a smattering of ethnographic literature), who despise it. No, in the scales of knowledge all the museums in the world will never weigh so much as one spark of human sympathy.
Aimé Césaire (Discourse on Colonialism)
The freedoms that we cherish are meaningless without our commitments to one another: to civil discourse, to actively educating the next generation, to welcoming strangers, to loving our neighbors. The beginning of freedom is the beginning of responsibility.
Dara Horn (People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present)