Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Inequality

"Friendship, like love, is self-forgetful. The only inequality is knows is one that exalts the object, and humbles self." - Henry Giles

"The doctrine of equality!... But there exists no more poisonous poison: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice... ‘Equality for equals, inequality for unequals’ - that would be the true voice of justice: and, what follows from it, ‘Never make equal what is unequal’." -

"True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality the inequality of success; the glorious inequality of talent, of genius, for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world." - Felix Schelling, fully Felix Emmanuel Schelling

"Inequality is as dear to the American heart as liberty itself." - William Dean Howells

"That's part of American greatness, is discrimination. Yes, sir. Inequality, I think, breeds freedom and gives man opportunity." - Lester Maddox, fully Lester Garfield Maddox

"Insatiable ambition, the thirst of raising their respective fortunes, not so much from real want as from the desire to surpass others, inspired all men with a vile propensity to injure one another, and with a secret jealousy, which is the more dangerous, as it puts on the mask of benevolence, to carry its point with greater security. In a word, there arose rivalry and competition on the one hand, and conflicting interests on the other, together with a secret desire on both of profiting at the expense of others. All these evils were the first effects of property, and the inseparable attendants of growing inequality." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"The great inequality in manner of living, the extreme idleness of some, and the excessive labor of others, the easiness of exciting and gratifying our sensual appetites, the too exquisite foods of the wealthy which overheat and fill them with indigestion, and, on the other hand, the unwholesome food of the poor, often, bad as it is, insufficient for their needs, which induces them, when opportunity offers, to eat voraciously and overcharge their stomachs; all these, together with sitting up late, and excesses of every kind, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, mental exhaustion, the innumerable pains and anxieties inseparable from every condition of life, by which the mind of man is incessantly tormented; these are too fatal proofs that the greater part of our ills are our own making, and that we might have avoided them nearly all by adhering to that simple, uniform and solitary manner of life which nature prescribed." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"One instance of the innate and ineradicable inequality of men is their tendency to fall into two classes of leaders and followers. The latter constitute the vast majority; they stand in need of an authority which will make decisions for them and to which they for the most part offer an unqualified submission. This suggests that more care should be taken than hitherto to educate an upper stratum of men with independent minds, not open to intimidation and eager in the pursuit of truth, whose business it would be to give direction to the dependent masses." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"All souls are equal before God, so far as mere worldly eminence is concerned. Their inequality rests solely upon the degree that they have realized the eternal will by their own choice." - William Torrey Harris

"Inequality emanates from man being dependent upon and employed by another." - Liu Shih-p’ei

"The time and study, the genius, knowledge, and application requisite to qualify an eminent teacher of the sciences, are at least equal to what is necessary for the greatest practitioners in law and physic. But the usual reward of the eminent teacher bears no proportion to that of the lawyer or physician... The inequality is upon the whole, perhaps, rather advantageous than hurtful to the public. It may somewhat degrade the profession of a public teacher; but the cheapness of literary education is surely an advantage which greatly overbalances this trifling inconveniency." - Adam Smith

"Wherever there is great property there is great inequality... The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government." - Adam Smith

"The mind of the thinker and the student is driven to admit, though it be awe-struck by apparent injustice, that this inequality is the work of God. Make all men equal today, and God has so created them that they shall be all unequal tomorrow." - Anthony Trollope

"There is always inequality in life… Life is unfair." -

"Inequality is the cause of all local movements." - Leonardo da Vinci, fully Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

"An earthly kingdom cannot exist without inequality of persons. Some must be free, others serf, some rulers, other subjects." - Martin Luther

"Men are certainly not born free and equal in natural qualities; when they are born, the predicates “free” and “equal” I the political sense are not applicable to them; and as they develop year by year, the differences in the political potentialities with which they really are born, become more and more obviously converted into actual differences - the inequality of political faculty shows itself to be a necessary consequence of the inequality of natural faculty." - Thomas Henry Huxley, aka T.H. Huxley and Darwin's Bulldog

"It is a wise man who said that there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals. " - Felix Frankfurter

"The Procrustean bed is not a symbol of equality. It is no less inequality to have equality among unequals." - Felix Frankfurter

"The doctrine of equality!... But there exists no more poisonous poison: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice... ‘Equality for equals, inequality for unequals’ - that would be the true voice of justice: and, what follows from it, ‘Never make equal what is unequal’. " - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality - an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order." - F. A. Hayek, fully Friedrich August Hayek or von Hayek

"The extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil among others, the ease of stimulating and gratifying our appetites and our senses, the over-elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often go withotu altogether, so hat they over-eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary way of life that nature ordained for us. " -

"The extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil among others, the ease of stimulating and gratifying our appetites and our senses, the over-elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often go without altogether, so that they over-eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary way of life that nature ordained for us. " - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Custom is the great leveller. It corrects the inequality of fortune by lessening equally the pleasures of the prince and the pains of the peasant." -

"Don’t be deceived when they tell you things are better now. Even if there’s no poverty to be seen because the poverty’s been hidden. Even if you ever got more wages and could afford to buy more of these new and useless goods which industries foist on you and even if it seems to you that you never had so much, that is only the slogan of those who still have much more than you. Don’t be taken in when they paternally pat you on the shoulder and say that there’s no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason to fight because if you believe them they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretence of bringing them culture. Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them they’ll send you out to protect their gold in wars whose weapons, rapidly developed by servile scientists, will become more and more deadly until they can with a flick of the finger tear a million of you to pieces." - Jean-Paul Marat

"We are firmly convinced that the most imperfect republic is a thousand times better than the most enlightened monarchy. In a republic, there are at least brief periods when the people, while continually exploited, is not oppressed; in the monarchies, oppression is constant. The democratic regime also lifts the masses up gradually to participation in public life--something the monarchy never does. Nevertheless, while we prefer the republic, we must recognise and proclaim that whatever the form of government may be, so long as human society continues to be divided into different classes as a result of the hereditary inequality of occupations, of wealth, of education, and of rights, there will always be a class-restricted government and the inevitable exploitation of the majorities by the minorities. The State is nothing but this domination and this exploitation, well regulated and systematised." - Mikhail Bakunin, fully Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin

"Society cannot exist without inequality of fortunes and the inequality of fortunes could not subsist without religion. Whenever a half-starved person is near another who is glutted, it is impossible to reconcile the difference if there is not an authority who tells him to." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"Nothing is more obviously false than that the remedy for the inequality among men consists in their return to the condition of savages and beasts. Philosophy will never be understood if we approach the study of its mysteries with so narrow and illiberal conceptions of its universality." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Or, to go a step further, let us glance at what science has done to establish rational foundations for physical and moral health. Science tells us how we ought to live in order to preserve the health of our own bodies, how to maintain in good conditions of existence the crowded masses of our population. But does not all the vast amount of work done in these two directions remain a dead letter in our books? We know it does. And why? Because science today exists only for a handful of privileged persons, because social inequality which divides society into two classes — the wage-slaves and the grabbers of capital-renders all its teachings as to the conditions of a rational existence only the bitterest irony to nine-tenths of mankind." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"A common danger tends to concord. Communism is the exploitation of the strong by the weak. In Communism, inequality comes from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"Communism is the exploitation of the strong by the weak. In property, inequality of conditions is the result of force, under whatever name it be disguised: physical and mental force; force of events, chance, fortune; force of accumulated property… In communism, inequality springs from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence. This damaging equation is repellent to the conscience, and causes merit to complain; for, although it may be the duty of the strong to aid the weak, they prefer to do it out of generosity, — they never will endure a comparison. Give them equal opportunities of labor, and equal wages, but never allow their jealousy to be awakened by mutual suspicion of unfaithfulness in the performance of the common task." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"People differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community." - Pope Leo XIII, born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci NULL

"In recent years, long-established expectations about doing business have given way under the pressures of the modern economy. Too many companies are driven more by the need to ensure that investors get good quarterly returns. Too often, this means that they view most employees as costs, not investments, and that they expend less concern on job training, employee profit sharing, family-friendly policies, shared decision-making, or even fair pay raises. Even workers' jobs may be sacrificed as executive seek short-term profits by moving production to countries where wages are lower and environmental and other regulations less stringent. Instead of We're all in this together, the message from the top is frequently, you're on your own. The growing inequality of incomes has serious implications for children. America's turbo-charged economy has produced cheaper and better goods and greater efficiency, but it also has created serious social dislocations that undermine family and community values." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"There is a two-tier economy where the top 10% is doing quite well, the top 1% spectacularly. But the top 1% of the richest people in this country have financial wealth equal to the combined 95% of the American people. That's a very unhealthy inequality which is even troubling Alan Greenspan." - Ralph Nader

"Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"A man with a half-volition goes backwards and forwards, and makes no way on the smoothest road; a man with a whole volition advances on the roughest, and will reach his purpose, if there be even a little wisdom in it." - Thomas Carlyle

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Thomas Jefferson

"Does history support a belief in God? If by God we mean not the creative vitality of nature but a supreme being intelligent and benevolent, the answer must be a reluctant negative" - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its basic principles." - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"No man can frequent the company of the great philosophers without changing his mind and widening his views on a thousand vital points." - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"It is not known precisely where angels dwell -- whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God's pleasure that we should be informed of their abode." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"See how today's achievement is only tomorrow's confusion; See how possession always cheapens the thing that was precious." - William Howells, fully William Dean Howells, aka The Dean of American Letters