Flash Wisdom on Authority

[From the new disinformation® book by Russ Kick, Flash Wisdom: A Curated Collection of Mind-Blowing, Perspective-Changing Quotes]

Government, the legal system, school, organized religions, the media, corporations, various economic concerns . . . there are a number of powerful, pervasive institutions that want to control you. It’s either their overt purpose or a by-product of their very existence. In order to not disintegrate, they must have at least a piece of you, if not all of you, for at least part of your life, if not all of it. They might not have been created for nefarious purposes, but this is nonetheless the effect they often have. They flatten and deaden. They exploit and punish. They’re never happy with the amount of power they have; they always seek to expand the breadth of their reach and the strength of their grip. This has not gone unnoticed by many of the finest and bravest minds throughout history. . . .

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Armenian costume, painted by Allan Ramsay, 1765.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Armenian costume, painted by Allan Ramsay, 1765.

No man has any natural authority over his fellow men. —Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul. —Walt Whitman

I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s. —William Blake

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. —R. Buckminster Fuller

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. —Mother Teresa

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. . . . If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. —Frederick Douglass

It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees. —Dolores Ibárruri

No matter what your fight, don’t be ladylike! God Almighty made women, and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. —Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . . —Lord Acton

It is honorable to be accused by those who deserve to be accused. —Latin proverb

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe in the Roman Campagna by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein.


To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. —Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

When one has been threatened with a great injustice, one accepts a smaller as a favour. —Jane Carlyle

These laws of yours are no different from spiders’ webs. They’ll restrain anyone weak and insignificant who gets caught in them, but they’ll be torn to shreds by people with power and wealth. —Anacharsis

The law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don’t understand it, or are prevented by naked misery from obeying it. —Bertolt Brecht

The more laws, the more offenders. —Thomas Fuller

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. —Fyodor Dostoevsky

Whenever the offence inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigor of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind. —Edward Gibbon

Friedrich Nietzsche by F. Hartmann.

Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. . . . Distrust all those who talk much of their justice. —Friedrich Nietzsche

It is fairly obvious that those who favor the death penalty have more affinity with assassins than those who do not. —Remy de Gourmont

All Crimes are safe, but hated Poverty. This, only this, the rigid Law pursues. —Samuel Johnson

Mendoza: I am a brigand: I live by robbing the rich. Tanner: I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor. —George Bernard Shaw

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread. —Anatole France

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist. —Archbishop Hélder Câmara

There is something wrong with the creation of this world, because the rich people think that they are the benefactors of the poor, but in fact those rich are fed and dressed by the work of these poor and live in luxury created for them by the poor. —Leo Tolstoy

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. —Edward Abbey

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. —Ivan Illich

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. —Chuck Palahniuk

The material on TV is called “programming” for a reason; it’s designed to program us as we sit passively in our seat. —Douglas Rushkoff

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. —H. L. Mencken

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. —H. G. Wells

Why is the decision by a woman to sleep with a man she has just met in a bar a private one, and the decision to sleep with the same man for $100 subject to criminal penalties? —Anna Quindlen

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. —Florynce Kennedy

If the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on. —Terence McKenna

Terrence McKenna by Jon Hanna (CC)


Outlawing drugs in order to solve drug problems is much like outlawing sex in order to win the war against AIDS. —Ronald K. Siegel

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power. —P. J. O’Rourke

There is no history of mankind, there are only many histories of all kinds of aspects of human life. And one of these is the history of political power. This is elevated into the history of the world. —Karl Popper

What is politics, after all, but the compulsion to preside over property and make other peoples’ decisions for them? —Tom Robbins

Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man should have the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with him? —Blaise Pascal

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. —H. L. Mencken

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. —Winston Churchill

Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed. —I. F. Stone

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has
to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. —H. L. Mencken

Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes. —Bertolt Brecht

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers. —Mignon McLaughlin

The stuff they teach you at school is just so they can own you. —David Guterson

Albert Einstein by Oren Jack Turner

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. —Albert Einstein

I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you. —Studs Terkel

Nobody gives you an education. If you want one, you have to take it. —John Taylor Gatto

It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life. —John Holt

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. —Isaac Asimov

If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet. —Linda Darling-Hammond

As far as I have seen, at school as well as at home they aimed at blotting out one’s individuality. —Franz Kafka

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. —Beatrix Potter

Children who live surrounded by rules, instead of learning about principles, end up becoming adept at getting around rules, finding the loopholes in rules, disguising non-compliance, or deflecting blame for non- compliance (i.e. lying about what they did). These are the skills that they then bring into adult life. —Robyn Coburn

All the time you are in school, you learn through experience how to live in a dictatorship. —Grace Llewellyn

Flash WisdomHow is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it. —Alexandre Dumas

Religions get lost as people do. —Franz Kafka

Religions are intermittently too interesting, wise, and consoling to be abandoned to “believers” alone. —The Philosophers’ Mail

Such religion as there can be in modern life, every individual will have to salvage from the churches for himself. —Lin Yutang

The language of religion is divisive partly because it tries to state what cannot be stated. —William Stafford

And what would our ideas of God, of religion, be like if they had come to us through the minds of women? Ever think of that? —Tom Robbins

[Excerpted from Flash Wisdom: A Curated Collection of Mind-Blowing, Perspective-Changing Quotes by Russ Kick, a disinformation book available from Amazon and all other good booksellers.]