John Ralston Saul

#22225 John Ralston Saul

Voltaire's Bastards : The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (1992) .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about reason
#22226 John Ralston Saul

[T]he ideal of the rugged individual opening up the American West is still applied as an essential truth to ten million citizens living in the small area of New York City, as if ten million bulls should and could be squeezed into a china shop. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about truth
#22227 John Ralston Saul

Just as the unleashing of ideas and myths in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries cleared the way for endless changes in state and social structures, so the subsequent pinning down and splitting up of language into feudal states has now made it impossible for the citizen to participate seriously in society. The inviting humanist irony of the early days has given way to the off-putting rational cynicism and sloganeering of our time. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about time
#22228 John Ralston Saul

Elites quite naturally define as the most important and admired qualities for a citizen those on which they themselves have concentrated. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about zen
#22229 John Ralston Saul

We talk endlessly of the individual and of individualism, for example, when any sensible glance at major issues indicates that we live in an era of great conformism. Our societies turn upon democratic principles, yet the quasi totality of our leading citizens refuse to take part in that process and, instead, leave the exercise of political power to those for whom they have contempt. Our business leaders hector us in the name of capitalism, when most of them are no more than corporate employees, isolated from personal risk. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about art
#22230 John Ralston Saul

Thus the Age of Reason has turned out to be the Age of Structure; a time when, in the absence of purpose, the drive for power as a value in itself has become the principal indicator of social approval. And the winning of power has become the measure of social merit. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about time
#22231 John Ralston Saul

Neither Capitalism nor Socialism can pretend to be an ideology. They are merely methods for dividing ownership and income. What is most peculiar for such theoretically practical , which are also theoretically opposed to each other, is that neither of them has ever existed, except in a highly tentative form. And even then they are invariably mixed together. Their mutually exclusive vocabularies have more to do with basic similarities than with differences. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about wit
#22232 John Ralston Saul

[S]hould we attempt to use sensible words to deal with these problems, they will be caught up immediately in the structures of the official arguments which accompany the official modern ideologies — arguments as sterile as the ideologies are irrelevant. Our society contains no method of serious self-criticism for the simple reason that it is now a self-justifying system which generates its own logic. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about words
#22233 John Ralston Saul

A man who uses power to do evil is in theory judged to have been conscious of his acts and to be as fit for punishment as a perpetrator of premeditated murder. But the technocrat is not trained on that level. He understands events within the logic of the system. The greatest good is the greatest logic or the greatest appearance of efficiency or responsibility for the greatest possible part of the structure. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about art
#22234 John Ralston Saul

This breakdown of social order — rules of dress, sexual controls, speech patterns, family structures — has been seen as a great victory for the individual. On the other hand, it may simply be a reflection of the individual's frustration at being locked up inside a specialization. These acts of personal freedom are irrelevant to the exercise of power. So in lieu of taking a real part in the evolution of society, the individual struggles to appear as if no one has power over his personal evolution. Thus victories won for these individual liberties may actually be an acceptance of defeat by the individual. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about freedom
#22235 John Ralston Saul

Today, more than ever, women are occupying positions of influence. However, in the past they have been the exceptions to the rule and were usually obliged to hold on to their power by deforming themselves into honorary men or into magnified archetypes of the female who manipulated men. It still is not clear that women can successfully become part of the established structures without accepting these deformations. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about success
#22236 John Ralston Saul

The pinning on of stars reaches its full cynical significance when sanctified valour and bereaved families are used to lend dignity to wars stupidly fought. The courageous and their families are drawn into a circular trap. The sacrificed soldier was valorous under the orders of a commander who has rewarded his effort. The battle was therefore worth fighting. Courage made it worthwhile. The basic rule of war — that it is fought to be won — has been forgotten. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about war
#22237 John Ralston Saul

The rational elites, obsessed by structure, have become increasingly authoritarian in a modern, administrative way. The citizens feel insulted and isolated. They look for someone to throw stones on their behalf. Any old stone will do. The cruder the better to crush the self-assurance of the obscure men and their obscure methods. The New Right, with its parody of democratic values, has been a crude but devastating stone with which to punish the modern elites. The New Left, which will eventually succeed it, could easily turn out to be equally crude. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about men
#22238 John Ralston Saul

Societies grow into systems. The systems require management and are therefore increasingly wielded, like a tool or a weapon, by those who have power. The rest of the population is still needed to do specific things. But the citizens are not needed to contribute to the form or direction of the society. The more "advanced" the civilization, the more irrelevant the citizen becomes. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about power
#22239 John Ralston Saul

[T]he free market may be a good, bad or insufficient idea, but, in any case, it is just a crude commercial code. Now it is regularly equated with or given credit for or even precedence over the freedom of man. But the freedom of man is a moral statement on the human condition, both in the practical and in the humanist sense. To equate it with a school of business is to betray a certain confusion. An unconscious unease. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about freedom
#22240 John Ralston Saul

[Modern capitalism] is masterful at producing services people don't need and in large part probably don't want. It is brilliant at convincing people that they do need and want them. But it has difficulty turning itself to the production of those services which people really do need. Not only that, it often spends an enormous amount of time and effort convincing people that those services are either unrealistic, marginal or counterproductive. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about time
#22241 John Ralston Saul

The individual has been allowed out of his socially constructed cage. That, at least, is the contemporary myth. What is not clear, however, is what that liberation has to do with the fulfullment of individualism. The lessons of history seem relatively clear. Societies on the rise are simple, unadorned and relatively uncompromising. Those on the decline are given to open-mindedness, self-indulgence and the baroque. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about history
#22242 John Ralston Saul

Superficial nonconformism... leaves our rational structures indifferent. Questions of moral action and of physical appearance are increasingly irrelevant; they are categorized either as justified self-expression or conversely as suitable subjects for agitated public debate. In either case they are harmless vents. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about action
#22243 John Ralston Saul

Ifwere functioning today, he would have been hard put to avoid saying that imaginary sex is the opiate of the people. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about people
#22244 John Ralston Saul

The idea underlying such endless discussion and dreaming about the physical act is that sexual expertise confersand is therefore part of becoming an affirmed individual. This is a curious suggestion... Sex is many things — a need, a desire, an emotion, a release — but it has nothing to do with worldly sophistication, character building or even existential action. Sex, in general, is more of an obstacle than anything else for those who wish to free themselves and act as individuals... [W]e aren't dealing with a successful affirmation of responsible individualism in the real world. We are creating private dreams which compensate for the fracturing of the individual and the castration of his or her power in public life. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about life
#22245 John Ralston Saul

There is little to envy in the woman's position either. For perhaps the first time in history, she has a general sense of herself as an individual apart from men. This self-confidence gives her drive and makes her want to succeed. As a result she is eager to join the system. She does not have a clear idea of what it will do to her. Her focus is on her own past and on what men did to women — not on the male structure and what it does to men. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about women
#22246 John Ralston Saul

Societies either roll on blindly to disaster or they find the inner strength to stop themselves long enough to find ways for reform from within. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about strength
#22247 John Ralston Saul

The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense (1994) .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about doubt
#22248 John Ralston Saul

The conclusion drawn by ... most of our .

John Ralston Saul
#22249 John Ralston Saul

In helping the arms industry to work with the Pentagon to work with the security agencies to work with the oil industry to work with the environmental agencies and so on, he encourages nationwide stability. If successful he will have indirectly eliminated interference from that rival system — citizen-based democracy — which technically maintains legal control over the constitutional structures of the Republic. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about success
#22250 John Ralston Saul

Capitalism was reasonably content under Hitler, happy under Mussolini, very happy under Franco and delirious under General Pinochet. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about reason
#22251 John Ralston Saul

We are the raison d' .

John Ralston Saul
#22252 John Ralston Saul

Faith: The opposite of dogmatism. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about faith
#22253 John Ralston Saul

Freedom: An occupied space which must be reoccupied every day. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about space
#22254 John Ralston Saul

Freud, Sigmund: A man so dissatisfied with his own mother and father that he devoted his life to convincing everyone who would listen — or better still, talk — that their parents were just as bad. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about life
#22255 John Ralston Saul

Happy family: The existence and maintenance of [this] is thought to make a politician fit for public office. According to this theory, the public are less concerned by whether or not they are effectively represented than by the need to be assured that the penises and vaginas of public officials are only used in legally sanctioned circumstances. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about family
#22256 John Ralston Saul

It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about wisdom
#22257 John Ralston Saul

Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about truth
#22258 John Ralston Saul

An important newspaper baron...explains that the cause of poverty throughout the world is indolence. Ten per cent of Americans would not be on food stamps if they simply worked harder.... If only they had followed his father's advice, they'd have "stuck it to the bastards" and become really rich. This image of hundreds and hundreds of millions of millionaires sticking it to each other, there no longer being any other category of citizen to stick it to, is so all-inclusive that there is no need for others to concern themselves with this word. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about work
#22259 John Ralston Saul

[W]e have more than two options... a critique of reason does not have to be a call for the return of superstition and arbitrary power.... [O]ur problems do not lie with reason itself but with our obsessive treatment of reason as an absolute value. Certainly it is one of our qualities, but it functions positively only when balanced and limited by the others. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about power
#22260 John Ralston Saul

In the humanist ideal, the mainstream is where interesting debate, the generating of new ideas and creativity take place. In rational society this mainstream is considered uncontrollable and is therefore made marginal. The centre ground is occupied instead by structures and courtiers. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about society
#22261 John Ralston Saul

Left to its own devices the market is capable of the most miraculous of inventions and the silliest of self-delusions. It is an extreme romantic. It also has a real purpose — the same one it has always had. That is to organize the supply and exchange of goods or to finance the production of goods — thus facilitating and financing the economy. But the market cannot achieve in a regular and lasting manner its own purpose because it is only an unconscious and abstract mechanism. The factor which must be added in order to create the restraint, balance, and consciousness necessary for long-term prosperity is human leadership. That leadership takes the form of effective regulation. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about change
#22262 John Ralston Saul

In all earlier civilizations, it should be remembered, commerce was treated as a narrow activity and by no means the senior sector in society. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about society
#22263 John Ralston Saul

Moral crusade: Public activity undertaken by middle-aged men who are cheating on their wives or diddling little boys. Moral crusades are particularly popular among those seeking power for their own personal pleasure, politicians who can't think of anything useful to do with their mandates, and religious professionals suffering from a personal inability to communicate with their god. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about god
#22264 John Ralston Saul

Myrmecophaga jubata: The anteater. The existence of this predator demonstrates that thinking 71 percent of the time, as ants do, won't prevent you from being eaten. Thinking less than that, as humans do, will almost guarantee it. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about time
#22265 John Ralston Saul

Panic: A highly underrated capacity thanks to which individuals are able to indicate clearly that something is wrong.... Given their head, most humans panic with great dignity and imagination. This can be called democratic expression or practical common sense. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about imagination
#22266 John Ralston Saul

Pessimism: A valuable protection against quackery. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about protection
#22267 John Ralston Saul

It is the considered opinion of most members of our rational .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about opinion
#22268 John Ralston Saul

"The recession is over." This phrase has been used twice a year since 1973 by government leaders throughout the West. Its meaning is unclear. See: Depression. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about men
#22269 John Ralston Saul

The transnational corporations and the money markets have declared the era of human-designed regulations over. Now the market must reign. Because few people in the business community are paid to think about phrases such as "Western civilization," they don't seem to realize that they are proposing the arbitrary denial of 2,500 years of human experience. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about people
#22270 John Ralston Saul

[C]ontent [is] an obstacle to the exercise of power. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about power
#22271 John Ralston Saul

United States: .... A nation given either to unjustified over-enthusiasms or infantile furies. .

John Ralston Saul
#22272 John Ralston Saul

Venereal: From Venus, the goddess of love, this word refers to the reality of desire. With the rise of Protestantism and science, the word "disease" was tacked on in a revealing combination of categorization and moralizing. "Which disease?" "The disease of love." .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about love
#22273 John Ralston Saul

On June 22nd, [1633,] in the morning, in the great hall of the Convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Galileo was found guilty of holding a false doctrine. He went down on his knees and both abjured and condemned his own errors. He swore never to argue such doctrines again. It was thus definitely confirmed that the sun did rotate around the earth...Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Saint Mary Over Minerva. Power over wisdom. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about wisdom
#22274 John Ralston Saul

There is something silly about grown men and women striving to reduce their vision of themselves and of civilization to bean counting. .

John Ralston Saul Quotes about women

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