Government and politics
The Americans will always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives.
The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.
This country can claim to have no distinctive criminal class except, of course, Congress.
A bureaucrat is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants.
The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it will force those who fear it to imitate it.
Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
Americans like to talk about (or be told about) democracy but, when put to the test, usually find it to be an "inconvenience." We have opted instead for an authoritarian system disguised as a democracy. We pay through the nose for an enormous joke-of-a-government, let it push us around, and then wonder how all those assholes got in there.
In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
What luck for the rulers that men do not think.
Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!
A statesman is a politician who's been dead 10 or 15 years.
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who has never learned to walk.
A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead.
A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.
A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood of ideas in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
The American government is premised on the theory that if the individual man is to be free, his ideas, his beliefs, his ideology, his philosophy, must be placed beyond the reach of government.
Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there.
The fantastic advances in the field of communication constitute a greater danger to the privacy of the individual.
It's almost a suicidal technique. You can't lie to kids. Drug education is a uniformed policeman coming into the first grade and telling all these fucking lies [about marijuana] so that by the time [the kids are] in junior high and they've tried it, they know you're full of shit. Marijuana is a gateway drug — it teaches you disrespect for authority.
Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.
The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.
Our liberty depends upon the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.
If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.
I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
In Germany they first came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up.
The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.
Wherever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Creativity and weirdness
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or exist in extreme boredom... Make no mistake — all intellectuals are deviants in the U.S.
The chief enemy of creativity is "good" taste.
Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.
Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.
Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
Two roads diverged in the wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone.
The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.
God created the world out of nothing, but the nothingness still shows through.
Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.
If other worlds are inhabited, this world must be their lunatic asylum.
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
What difference does it make to the dead ... whether the mad destruction [of war] is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?
Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they do large misfortunes.
People that are really weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.
Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
There are experiences that most people avoid talking about because they do not fit into the reality of everyday life and defy rational explanation.
Drugs have taught an entire generation of American kids the metric system.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.... Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero! (Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow!)
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equalled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.
We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything.
Love and sex
Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.
It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.
Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.
Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.
A promiscuous person is someone who is getting more sex than you are.
Women's liberation will not be achieved until a woman can become paunchy and bald and still think that she's attractive to the opposite sex.
It is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.
The only difference between sex and death is, with death you can do it alone and nobody's going to make fun of you.
Love is what we call the situation which occurs when two people who are sexually compatible discover that they can also tolerate one another in various other circumstances.
It's not that I don't enjoy it, but it's kind of like a trip to Disneyland. You get so excited about a ride on the Matterhorn, and then when it's over, you realize you wasted all that time in line for a minute and a half upside down and the chance to throw up.
Love is a dirty trick played on us to achieve the continuation of the species.
It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations.
Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled.
Too much of a good thing is WONDERFUL.
Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there.
Life and existence
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.
Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.
In the long run, we are all dead.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you get rained out.
Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.
Traveling [in the middle of the road] was really boring so I headed for the ditch. It was a rough ride but I met more interesting people there.
Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules. The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools.
Vivere est cogitare. (To think is to live.)
Without music life would be a mistake.
When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both it's health, you worry about getting rupture or something. If everything is simply jake then you're frightened of death.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Death is the best part of life. That's why they save it for last.
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
There is much pleasure to be gained in useless knowledge.
Dying is easy, it's living that scares me to death.
Two babies were born on the same day at the same hospital. They lay there and looked at each other. Their families came and took them away. Eighty years later, by a bizarre coincidence, they lay in the same hospital, on their deathbeds, next to each other. One of them looked at the other and said, "So. What did you think?"
I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Television: chewing gum for the eyes.
Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.