Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

C. Wright Mills, fully Charles Wright Mills

American Sociologist, Radical Social Theorist and Critic

"The aim of the college, for the individual student, is to eliminate the need in his life for the college; the task is to help become a self-educating man."

"If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you say will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift of the coming hell."

"As a social and as a personal force, religion has become a dependent variable. It does not originate; it reacts. It does not denounce; it adapts. It does not set forth new models of conduct and sensibility; it imitates. Its rhetoric is without deep appeal; the worship it organizes is without piety. It has become less a revitalization of the spirit in permanent tension with the world than a respectable distraction from the sourness of life."

"The immediate cause of World War III is the preparation of it."

"Much work is merely a way to make money; much leisure is merely a way to spend it."

"The mass production of distraction is now as much a part of the American way of life as the mass production of automobiles."

"It is always easier to locate an external enemy than grapple with an internal condition."

"Nationalism is today the world’s idolatrous religion. "

"Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues – and in terms of the problems of history-making. Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed by relating them to personal troubles – and to the problems of the individual life."

"Prestige involves at least two persons: one to claim it and another to honor the claim… In the status system of a society these claims are organized as rules and expectations which regulate who successfully claims prestige, from whom, in what ways, and on what basis. The level of self-esteem enjoyed by given individuals is more or less set by this status system."

"Our criteria for judging institutions should always include the quality of the men and women they develop and select."

"Prestige is the shadow of money and power. Where these are, there it is. "

"The verbal Christian belief in the sanctity of life has not been affected by the impersonal barbarism of twentieth century war."

"The [advertiser’s] formula is: to make people ashamed of last year’s model; to hook up self-esteem itself with the purchasing of this year’s; to create a panic for status, and hence a panic of self-evaluation, and to connect its relief with the consumption of specified commodities."

"The life of an individual cannot be adequately understood without references to the institutions within which his biography is enacted. "

"The aim of college, for the individual student, is to eliminate the need in his life for the college; the task is to help him become a self-educating man."