History

With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by plan-conforming, conscious organization. The struggle for individual existence disappears... Only from that time will man himself, with full consciousness, make his own history - only from that time will the social causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly growing measure, the results intended by him. It is the ascent of man from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.

One intellectual excitement has, however, been denied me. Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen.

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They finally won by their defeats.

It is pleasant to be transferred from an office where one is afraid of a sergeant-major into an office where one can intimidate generals, and perhaps this is why History is so attractive to the more timid among us. We can recover self-confidence by snubbing the dead.

Nothing in history has turned out to be more impermanent than military victory.

Truth isn’t outside power, or lacking in power: contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, truth isn’t the reward of free spirits, the child of protracted solitude, nor the privilege of those who have succeeded in liberating themselves. Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctions; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true.

We are living the events which for centuries to come will be minutely studied by scholars who will undoubtedly describe these days as probably the most exciting and creative in the history of mankind. But preoccupied with our daily chores, our worries and personal hopes and ambitions, few of us are actually living in the present.

Human history begins with man's act of disobedience which is at the same time the beginning of his freedom and development of his reason.

History is constantly repeating itself, making only such changes of programme as the growth of nations and centuries requires.

The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity.

I hold the relay race theory of history: progress in human affairs depends upon accepting, generation after generation, the individual duty to oppose the evils of the time.

Those who are versed in the history of their country, in the history of the human race, must know that rigorous state prosecutions have always preceded the era of convulsion; and this era, I fear, will be accelerated by the folly and madness of our rulers. If the people are discontented, the proper mode of quieting their discontent is, not by instituting rigorous and sanguinary prosecutions, but by redressing their wrongs and conciliating their affections. Courts of justice, indeed, may be called in to the aid of ministerial vengeance; but if once the purity of their proceedings is suspected, they will cease to be objects of reverence to the nation; they will degenerate into empty and expensive pageantry, and become the partial instruments of vexatious oppression. Whatever may become of me, my principles will last forever. Individuals may perish; but truth is eternal. The rude blasts of tyranny may blow from every quarter; but freedom is that hardy plant which will survive the tempest and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavorable soil.

The steady pressure to consume, absorb, participate, receive, by eye, ear, mouth and mail involves a cruelty to intestines, blood pressure, and psyche unparalleled in history. We are being killed with kindness. We are being stifled with culture and material joys.

A current time-slice theory makes the justificational status of a belief wholly a function of what is true of the cognizer at the time of belief. An historical theory makes the justificational status of a belief depend on its prior history. Since my historical theory emphasizes the reliability of the belief-generating processes, it may be called ‘historical reliabilism.’

What is national freedom if not a people's inner freedom to cultivate its abilities along the beaten path of its history?

Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.

A generation which ignores history has no past - and no future.

Journalism allows it's readers to witness history. Fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.

In the pioneer days of our history it was easy to love one's neighbor and respect his rights, when possibly the neighbor lived at a distance of four or five miles and the relations were not intimate enough to occasion a clash of interests. Now one finds that society rather than another individual is his neighbor.

A great man is a gift, in some measure of a revelation of God. A great man, living for high ends, is the divinest thing that can be seen on earth. The value and interest of history are derived chiefly from the lives and services of the eminent men whom it commemorates.