Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
If you would know the political and moral condition of a people, ask as to the position of its women.
There is no unmixed good in human affairs; the best principles, if pushed to excess, degenerate into fatal vices. Generosity is nearly allied to extravagance; charity itself may lead to ruin; the sternness of justice is but one step removed from the severity of oppression. It is the same in the political world; the tranquillity of despotism resembles the stagnation of the Dead Sea; the fever of innovation the tempests of the ocean It would seem as if, at particular periods, from causes inscrutable to human wisdom, a universal frenzy seizes mankind; reason, experience, prudence, are alike blinded; and the very classes who are to perish in the storm are the first to raise its fury.
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-born U. S. Political Scientist, Philosopher
Exaggerated respect for athletics, an excess of coarse impressions brought about by the technical discoveries of recent years, the increased severity of the struggle for existence due to the economic crisis, the brutalization of political life: all these factors are hostile to the ripening of the character and the desire for real culture, and stamp our age as barbarous, materialistic and superficial.
[Paraphrase] The most dangerous walls are not political or military boundaries but the walls that mutually divide individual people and that divide our own souls. My presidential agenda would be to bring spirituality, moral responsibility and humility into politics and, in that respect, to make clear that there is something higher above us.
Honor is not the exclusive property of any political party.
The contradiction between what is requested of man and what can be offered to him has become so striking, the ideology so thin, the discontents in civilization so great that they must be compensated through annihilation of those who do not conform, political enemies, Jews, asocial persons, the insane. The new order of fascism is reason revealing itself as unreason.
At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
The tragedy of all political action is that some problems have no solution; none of the alternatives are intellectually consistent or morally uncompromising; and whatever decision is taken will harm somebody.
The great spiritual and political viewpoint of the West is that we are all equal and are all capable of developing into the same end product. Anybody who bothers to examine the facts can easily see we are not all equal. What we really are is not so much equal as unique. None of us is the same as anybody else. In this uniqueness is a profound Spiritual Realization: Life is infinitely creative and requires uniqueness for creativity.
All experience shows that even smaller technological changes than those now in the cards profoundly transform political and social relationships. Experience also shows that those transformations are not a priori predictable and that most contemporary “first guesses” concerning them are wrong. For all these reasons, one should take neither present difficulties nor presently proposed reforms too seriously... To ask in advance for a complete recipe would be unreasonable. We can specify only the human qualities required: patience, flexibility, intelligence.
Programmes of a political nature are important and products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outside from there.
Our purpose is to consciously, deliberately evolve toward a wise, more liberated and luminous state of being. Deep down, all of us are probably aware that some kind of mystical evolution is our true task. Yet we suppress the notion with considerable force because to admit to it is to admit that most of our political gyrations, religious dogmas, social ambitions and financial ploys are not merely counterproductive but trivial. Our mission is to jettison those pointless preoccupations and take on once again the primordial cargo of inexhaustible ecstasy.
Education as a political weapon could not exist if we respected the rights of children. If we respected the rights of children, we should educate them so as to give them the knowledge and the mental habits required for forming independent opinions; but education as a political institution endeavors to form habits and to circumscribe knowledge in such a way as to make one set of opinions inevitable.
‘Rehearse death.’ To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave. He is above, or at any rate beyond the reach of, all political powers. What are prisons, warders, bars to him? He has an open door. There is but one chain holding us in fetters, and that is our love of life. There is no need to cast this love out altogether, but it does need to be lessened somewhat so that, in the event of circumstances ever demanding this, nothing may stand in the way of our being prepared to do at once what we must do at some time or other.
If anger be the basis of our political activities, the excitement tends to become an end in itself, at the expense of the object to be achieved. side issues then assume an exaggerated importance, and all gravity of thought and action is lost; such excitement is not an exercise of strength, but a display of weakness.
Religion in American takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions... How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?
The greatest right in the world is the right to be wrong. If the Government or majorities think an individual is right, no one will interfere with him; but when agitators talk against the things considered holy, or when radicals criticise, or satirize the political gods, or question the justice of our laws and institutions, or pacifists talk against war, how the old inquisition awakens, and ostracism, the excommunication of the church, the prison, the wheel, the torture-chamber, the mob, are called to suppress the free expression of thought.
To say that people have a moral sense is not the same thing as saying that they are innately good. A moral sense must compete with other senses that are natural to humans - the desire to survive, acquire possessions, indulge in sex, or accumulate power - in short, with self-interest narrowly defined. How that struggle is resolved will differ depending on our character, our circumstances, and the cultural and political tendencies of the day. But saying that a moral sense exists is the same thing as saying that humans, by their nature, are potentially good.