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Quotations by Michael Parenti

"Conservatives are fond of telling us what a wonderful, happy, prosperous nation this is. The only thing that matches their love of country is the remarkable indifference they show toward the people who live in it."

"The dirty truth is that the rich are the great cause of poverty."

"The dirty truth is that many people find fascism to be not particularly horrible."

"Every ruling class has wanted only this: all the rewards and none of the burdens. The operational code is: we have a lot; we can get more; we want it all."

"Revolutions are not push button affairs; rather, they evolve only if there exists a reservoir of hope and grievance that can be galvanized into popular action."

"The real danger we face is not from terrorism but what is being done under the pretext of fighting it."

"Conservative pundits have a remarkable amount of free speech."

"Conservatives have nothing against incumbency when it is their people who are filling the slots."

"To complain about how the media are dominated by liberals, Limbaugh has an hour a day on network television, an hour on cable, and a radio show syndicated by over 600 stations."

"The mass media are class media."

"Union busting has become a major industry with more than a thousand consulting firms teaching companies how to prevent workers from organizing and how to get rid of existing unions."

"Maintaining silence about a dirty truth is another way of lying, a common practice in high places.

"Russia became a juicy chunk of the Third World, with immense reserves of cheap labor, a vast treasure of natural resources, and industrial assets to be sold off at giveaway prices."

"You will have no sensation of a leash around your neck if you sit by the peg. It is only when you stray that you feel the restraining tug."

"The media have been tireless in their efforts to suppress the truth about the gangster state."

"To make the world safe for those who own it, politically active elements of the owning class have created a national security state that expends billions of dollars and enlists the efforts of vast numbers of people."

"Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was a member of the Salvadoran aristocracy. He could not have risen to the top of the church hierarchy otherwise. But after he began voicing critical remarks about the war and concerned comments about the poor, he was assassinated."

"One does not have to be a Marxist to know there is something very wrong in this society."

"When change threatens to rule, then the rules are changed."

"In the end I created a career of my own, concentrating on my writing and lecturing, reaching larger audiences than I would had I ended up with tenure and a full teaching load. It was Virginia Woolf who said that it is terrible to be frozen out of a sacred tradition-but even more terrible to be frozen into it."

"It may come as a surprise to some academics, but there is a marked relationship between economic power and political power."

"The close relationship between politics and economics is neither neutral nor coincidental. Large governments evolve through history in order to protect large accumulations of property and wealth."

"Profits are what you make when not working."

"It is ironic that people of modest means sometimes become conservative out of a scarcity fear bred by the very capitalist system they support."

"The Federalists also used bribes, intimidation, and fraud against opponents of the Constitution."

"Actually, the New Deal's central dedication was to business recovery rather than social reform."

"The rich have grown richer, but their tax rate has declined. The poor have grown poorer, but their taxes have increased."

"Twelve states in the Great Plains have a wind energy potential greater then the electric use of our entire nation."

"The trick is to steal big."

"One mechanism of repression is the grand jury."

"Even though the crime rate has dropped in recent years, the United States has more police per capita then any other nation in the world."

"The two party electoral system performs the essential function of helping to legitimate the existing social order."

"Those who control the wealth of this society have an influence over political life far in excess of their number."

"There is a century-old saying, "The dollar votes more times than the man."

"The peculiar danger of executive power is that it executes."

"Conservatives insist that government should be " run more like a business." One might wonder how that could be possible, since government does not market goods and services for the purpose of capital accumulation."

"The crucial role communists played in organizing industrial unions in the 1930s and struggling for social reforms, peace, and civil rights strengthened rather then undermined democratic forces."

"All economic and political institutions are contrivances that should serve the interests of the people. When they fail to do so, they should be replaced by something more responsive, more just, and more democratic. Marx said this, and so did Jefferson. It is a revolutionary doctrine, and very much an American one."

“Radical views that are outside the mainstream generally (but not always) are more reliable than the dominant view because they are more regularly challenged and tested against evidence. They do not get to float freely down the mainstream; they must swim against the current. They cannot rest on the orthodox power to foreclose dissent, and they are not supported by the unanimity of bias that passes for objectivity.”

“Conventional opinions fit so comfortably into the dominant paradigm as to be seen not as opinions but as statements of fact, as 'the nature of things.' The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us. The most powerful ideologies are not those that prevail against all challengers but those that are never challenged because in their ubiquity they appear as nothing more than the unadorned truth.”

“Global warming is already acting upon us with an accelerated feedback and compounded effect that may be irreversible! We do not have eons or centuries or many decades. Most of us alive today may not even have the luxury of saying 'Après moi, le déluge' because we will be around to experience it ourselves. And if you think it will be 'interesting' or 'exciting,' ask the tsunami survivors if that’s how they felt. This time the plutocratic drive to 'accumulate, accumulate, accumulate' may take all of us down, once and forever.”

“Ecology's implications for capitalism are too momentous for the capitalist to contemplate. [The plutocrats] are more wedded to their wealth than to the Earth upon which they live, more concerned with the fate of their fortunes than with the fate of humanity. The present ecological crisis has been created by the few at the expense of the many.  In other words, the struggle over environmentalism is part of the class struggle itself, a fact that seems to have escaped many environmentalists but is well understood by the plutocrats---which is why they are unsparing in their derision and denunciations of the 'eco-terrorists' and 'tree huggers.' ”

“The god who presides over the Judeo-Christian belief system bears a disquieting resemblance to those imperfect creations known as human beings. This suggests that either he really did fashion us in his own image or we fashioned him in ours. ”

“The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.”

“If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling into lockstep behind the leader whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship, not democracy.”

“The American way is to criticize and debate openly, not to accept unthinkingly the doings of government officials of this or any other country.”

“The worst forms of tyranny, or certainly the most successful ones, are not those we rail against but those that so insinuate themselves into the imagery of our consciousness, and the fabric of our lives, as not to be perceived as tyranny.”

“Far from being reluctantly propelled into hostilities by popular war fever, leaders incite that fever in order to gather support for their war policies. Thereby do they attempt to distract the public from pressing domestic matters, serve the overseas interests of U.S. investors, justify gargantuan military budgets, and present themselves as great leaders.”

“My point is that it's incorrect to say that the Iraq policy isn't working. It is working. It is doing what they want. They have got control of the oil and they are exporting it, and they have stripped a government that was 90% state owned and they are privatizing it. ... They have taken a country that was self defining and self developing and is now an impoverished prostrate devastated country where people will line up to work for slave wages or become members of the police or army because it's the only job they can get and serve as adjuncts to U.S. imperialism.”

“Between 1831 and 1891, US armed forces -- usually the Marines -- invaded Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, Argentina, and Chile a total of thirty-one times, a fact not many of us are informed about in school. The Marines intermittently occupied Nicaragua form 1909 to 1933, Mexico from 1914 to 1919, and Panama from 1903 to 1914. To 'restore order' the Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, killing over two thousand Haitians who resisted 'pacification.'”

“A nation as such does not give aid to another nation. More precisely, the common citizens of our country, through their taxes, give to the privileged elites of another country. As someone once said: foreign aid is when the poor people of a rich country give money to the rich people of a poor country.”

“If one looks into the genealogies of many 'old families,' one discovers episodes of slave trafficking, bootlegging, gun running, opium trading, falsified land claims, violent acquisition of water and mineral rights, the extermination of indigenous peoples, sales of shoddy and unsafe goods, public funds used for private speculations, crooked deals in government bonds and vouchers, and payoffs for political favors. One finds fortunes built on slave labor, indentured labor, prison labor, immigrant labor, female labor, child labor, and scab labor -- backed by the lethal force of gun thugs and militia. 'Old money' is often little more than dirty money laundered by several generations of possession.”

“In societies that worship money and success, the losers become objects of scorn. Those who work the hardest for the least are called lazy. Those forced to live in substandard housing are thought to be the authors of substandard lives. Those who do not finish high school or cannot afford to go to college are considered deficient or inept.”

“The goal of a good society is to structure social relations and institutions so that cooperative and generous impulses are rewarded, while antisocial ones are discouraged. The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: ruthless, competitive, conniving, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment -- or at least much handicap -- to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.”

“In almost every enterprise, government has provided business with opportunities for private gain at public expense. Government nurtures private capital accumulation through a process of subsidies, supports, and deficit spending and an increasingly inequitable tax system. From ranchers to resort owners, from brokers to bankers, from auto makers to missile makers, there prevails a welfare for the rich of such magnitude as to make us marvel at the corporate leaders’ audacity in preaching the virtues of self-reliance whenever lesser forms of public assistance threaten to reach hands other than their own.”

“The guiding principle of ruling elites was--and still is: When change threatens to rule, then the rules are changed.”

“Candidates who win while spending less than their opponents still usually have to spend quite a lot. While not a surefire guarantor of victory, a large war chest—-even if not the largest--is usually a necessary condition. Money may not guarantee victory, but the lack of it usually guarantees defeat. Without large sums, there is rarely much of a campaign, as poorly funded 'minor' candidates have repeatedly discovered.”

Copyright © 1992 - 2008 Michael Parenti. All rights reserved.