William Graham Sumner

William Graham
Sumner
1840
1910

American Classical Liberal Social Scientist, Professor at Yale

Author Quotes

If you allow a political catchword to go on and grow, you will awaken someday to find it standing over you, arbiter of your destiny, against which you are powerless.

Ethnocentrism is the view of things in which one's own group is the center of everything and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it.... Each group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exalts its own divinities, and looks with contempt on outsiders.

If you ever live in a country run by a committee, be on the committee.

Every man and woman in society has one big duty. That is, to take care of his or her own self. This is a social duty. For, fortunately, the matter stands so that the duty of making the best of one's self individually is not a separate thing from the duty of filling one's place in society, but the two are one, and the latter is accomplished when the former is done

In the New Testament 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.

Everywhere you go on the continent of Europe at this hour you see the conflict between militarism and industrialism. You see the expansion of industrial power pushed forward by the energy, hope, and thrift of men, and you see the development arrested, diverted, crippled, and defeated by measures which are dictated by military considerations.

It is a beneficent incident of the ownership of land that a pioneer who reduces it to use, and helps to lay the foundations of a new State, finds a profit in the increasing value of land as the new State grows up.

Furthermore, the unearned increment from land appears in the United States as a gain to the first comers, who have here laid the foundations of a new State.

It is often said that the earth belongs to the race, as if raw land was a boon, or gift.

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

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.

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