William Graham Sumner

William Graham
Sumner
1840
1910

American Classical Liberal Social Scientist, Professor at Yale

Author Quotes

Gentlemen, the time is coming when there will be two great classes, Socialists, and Anarchists. The Anarchists want the government to be nothing, and the Socialists want government to be everything. There can be no greater contrast. Well, the time will come when there will be only these two great parties, the Anarchists representing the laissez faire doctrine and the Socialists representing the extreme view on the other side, and when that time comes I am an Anarchist.

It is remarkable that jealousy of individual property in land often goes along with very exaggerated doctrines of tribal or national property in land.

A differentiation arises between ourselves, the we-group, or in-group, and everybody else, or the others-groups, out-groups.

Great captains of industry are as rare as great generals

It is the tendency of the social burdens to crush out the middle class, and to force society into an organization of only two classes, one at each social extreme.

A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things. Nature has set upon him the process of decline and dissolution by which she removes things which have survived their usefulness.

He who would be well taken care of must take care of himself.

A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son.

History is only a tiresome repetition of one story.

Doctrines are the most fearful tyrants to which men ever are subject because doctrines get inside of a man’s own reason and betray him against himself.

Every group stigmatizes anyone who fails in zeal, labor, and sacrifices for group interests.

Hunger love, vanity, and fear. There are four great motives of human action.

It is the supreme test of government whether its machinery is adequate for repressing the selfish undertakings of cliques formed on special interests and saving the public from raids of plunderers.

Persecution of a dissenter is always popular I the group which he has abandoned. Toleration of dissent is no sentiment of the masses.

There is no state of readiness for war; the notion calls for never-ending sacrifices.

If you want a war, nourish a doctrine. doctrines are the most fearful tyrants to which men ever are subject, because doctrines get inside of a man’s own reason and betray him against himself. Civilized men have done their fiercest fighting for doctrines.

I am entitled to make the most I can of myself without hindrance from anybody, but I am not entitled to any guarantee that I shall make as much of myself as somebody else makes of himself.

It is taught that willing and voluntary service to others is the highest duty and glory in human life... The men of talent are constantly forced to serve the rest. They make the discoveries and inventions, order the battles, write the books, and produce the works of art. The benefit and enjoyment go to the whole. There are those who joyfully order their own lives so that they may serve the welfare of mankind.

Socialists are filled with the enthusiasm of equality... Equality of possession or of rights and equality before the law are diametrically opposed to each other. The object of equality before the law is to make the state entirely neutral.

The four great motives which move men to social activity are hunger, love, vanity, and fear of superior powers. If we search out the causes which have moved men to war we find them under each of these motives or interests.

The men who start out with the notion that the world owes them a living generally find that the world pays its debt in the penitentiary or the poorhouse.

What is the real relation between happiness and goodness? It is only within a few generations that men have found the courage to say that there is none.

Author Picture
First Name
William Graham
Last Name
Sumner
Birth Date
1840
Death Date
1910
Bio

American Classical Liberal Social Scientist, Professor at Yale