Sunday, 2 November 2008

Scrambling around the Memory Hole

John Hurt as Winston Smith in the Ministry of Truth in the film of '1984'.

Well, not exactly bits and pieces no-one knows about, but some interesting quotes I've come across over time that in the last few days I've got around to collating. Drop them into essays and conversations as and when you see fit!

"Anyone who talks of the literature of political science risks being suspected of irony. Few political scientists write books that give their readers pleasure....fewer yet have written anything that is likely to endure....Since the second world war the academic study of politics has been dominated by an effort to replicate the methods and success of the natural sciences, The chief result has been a new genre of unreadable books." John Gray 'How to dish the Whigs' New Statesman, 27/6/97, p.45.

"Law and governments may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor and preserve themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise soon be destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence." Adam Smith, quoted in Class War (1992) Unfinished Business (Stirling: AK Press), p.42.

"...the fancied or real insecurity of capital, when not under the immediate control of its owner, together with the natural disinclination which every man has to quit the country of his birth and connection, and intrust himself with all his habits fixed, to a stange government and new laws, checks the emigration of capital. These feelings, which I would be sorry to see weakened, induce most men of property to be satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations." David Ricardo, quoted in Michael Woodin and Caroline Lucas (2004) Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto (Pluto Press), p.8.

"I sympathise, therefore, with those who would minimise rather than with those who would maximise economic entanglements between nations. Ideas, knowledge, art, hospitality, travel- these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be home-spun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible, and above all, let finance be primarily national." John Maynard Keynes, quoted in Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson (1998) The Age of Insecurity (Verso), p.229.

"As far as Trotskyism is concerned, in part it involved a recognition of very ugly things that were happening in the Soviet Union. But it never, by definition, involved any real critical analysis of those developments. After all, who was Trotsky? Trotsky was Lenin's associate. Whatever he may have said during periods when he didn't have power, either prior to the revolution or after he was kicked out, when it was easy to be a libertarian critic, it was when he did have power that the real Trotsky emerged. That Trotsky was the one who labored to destroy and undermine the popular organizations of workers in the Soviet Union, the factory councils and soviets, who wanted to subordinate the working class to the will of the maximum leader and to institute a program of militarization of labor in the totalitarian society that he and Lenin were constructing. That was the real Trotsky- not only the Trotsky who sent his troops to Kronstadt and wiped out Makhno's peasant forces once they were no longer needed to fend off the Whites, but the Trotsky who, from the very first moment of access to power, moved to undermine popular organizations and to institute highly coercive structures in which he and his associates would have absolute authority, with absolute submission of the working population to these leaders. That was the essential doctrine of Trotskyism in power, whatever he may have said before or after." Noam Chomsky in James Peck, ed., (1988) The Chomsky Reader (Serpent's Tail), pp.40-41.

"The people who write that kind of stuff never fight; possibly they believe that to write it is a substitute for fighting. It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours." George Orwell, (2000 [1938])Homage to Catalonia, (Penguin), p.209.

"I think we overestimate the value of American money and American aid to other nations. No people can make over another people. Every nation must solve its own problems; and whatever we do can only be of slight assistance....A nation that comes to rely on gifts and loans from others is too likely to postpone, the essential, tough measures necessary for its own is almost a subsidy to the business of investment bankers, and will also undoubtedly increase the business to be done by the larger banks." Republican Senator Robert Taft, in attacking the creation of the World Bank in 1945. Quoted in David C. Korten (1999) When Corporations Rule the World (Earthscan), pp.167-68.

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