Quotes: Hobbes Was Right

In such condition (of humanity without government), there is no place for Industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil (1651)


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    music 

If there's one thing you can say about mankind
There's nothing kind about man
—"Misery Is The River Of The World", Tom Waits

Because in all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett,
There are two kinds of men, and only two:
There's the one staying put in his proper place,
And the one with his foot in the other one's face!

    literature 

The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own servants. He will take a tenth of your harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will want your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your young men and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks and you will all be his slaves. When that day comes you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding but the Lord will not help you." But the people refused to listen to Samuel's warning. "Even so we still want a king!" they said. "We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.

Oh, what a wonderous work is a man! wrote a man.
Gore Vidal, Kalki

The truth is that every intelligent man, as you know, dreams of being a gangster and of ruling over society by force alone. As it is not so easy as the detective novels might lead one to believe, one generally relies on politics and joins the cruelest party. What does it matter, after all, if by humiliating one's mind one succeeds in dominating every one? I discovered in myself sweet dreams of oppression.
Albert Camus, The Fall

Protection is the first necessity of opulence and luxury.
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907)

Probably human cruelty is fixed and eternal. Only styles change.
Martin Amis, Time's Arrow

    film - live-action 

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!
Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man, 1949 note 

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Xerxes: Brought peace.
Reg: Oh, peace... Shut up!

I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying, he couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember, I-I-I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget.

And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond. A diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, 'My God! The genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men, trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love; but they had the strength—the strength!—to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral, and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment. Without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.
Col. Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

Romulan ambassador: (optimistically) Twenty years ago, our three governments agreed to develop this planet together.
St. John Talbot: Our new age died a quick death. And the settlers we conned into coming here, they were the dregs of the galaxy. They immediately took to fighting amongst themselves. We forbade them weapons, but they soon began to fashion their own.

So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause.
Padmť Amidala, ''Revenge of the Sith

Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. And if we can't think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit. We don't know why we go through all this pointless pain, humiliation, and decay. So there better be someone somewhere who does know. That's the God bullshit. And then there's the noble man bullshit! That man is a noble creature that can order his own world, who needs God? Well, if there's anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me: That man is full of bullshit.
Howard Beale, Network

    live-action tv 

I don't always like the way Londo does things — well, me and most civilized worlds — but you know, sometimes he's right.
Vir Cotto, Babylon 5 ("No Surrender, No Retreat")

Odo: Give me the right to set a curfew, let me do more searches of arriving passengers, give me fifty more deputies!
Kira: And this station will be just the way it was during the occupation.
Odo: Say what you like. It was safer then.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "The Maquis Pt. 1"

    western animation 

You need me, Springfield. Oh, your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down, you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!
Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons ("Sideshow Bob Roberts")

    video games 

A man does not eat an omelette without breaking eggs! Blood is the price of progress! It is the ink in which history's pages are writ! Look around you, boy! Ivalice rots from within! Your brother would carve out the root of its decay, even if it means his hands must needs be soiled!
—- Gafgarion, Final Fantasy Tactics

    web original 

Why are we all so keen on death? Could it be that everyone, deep down, shares my belief that the only quick solution for humanity's problems is to is to kill a random sampling of about one half to two third's of the world's population, grind up their meat and then feed it to the remainder?

Have you noticed that all the great series of television's current renaissance are darker than the devil's taint with a suntan? You've got Game of Thrones, where every likeable character dies horribly and sociopathy is cruise control for success. There's True Detective, a show were any given screengrab would fit in the dictionary alongside the definition of 'bleak'. Hell, the critically-acclaimed series with the happiest ending we've seen recently was Breaking Bad. What does that say about us? ...Whether you're looking at television or movies, soul-crushing sadness seems to be the new norm. Your show just won't draw in a modern audience unless it's got an antihero. Has something shifted in our culture? Can we blame this on 9/11? Or, has the darkness we used to put in our novels and saddest music just finally bled out into film and TV? Either way, it's pretty weird that the Coen Brothers started their careers mocking nihilists, then went on to make No Country for Old Men, the nihilist ... ist film ever made.

The real message isnít, in other words, that the world is broken by incompetent buffoons in power, but rather that it is held together, desperately and by the skin of its teeth, by complete and raving madmen like Malcolm Tucker. The other characters are dunces, but Tucker is actually completely mad. And yet itís hard to treat this as a particularly pleasurable fantasy. One hardly wants to live in a world run by Malcolm Tucker; it seems scarcely more satisfying or comfortable than one run by idiots. Nevertheless, itís the then reed of salvation and hope the show offers — that in the face of the right kind of bastard we might somehow all be OK.

Humans, now in a fallen condition, are continually trying to one up each other. Even members of one's own family or friends attempt to gain power over each other. As Nietzsche pointed out, virtually all human behavior is motivated by the "Will to Power." Nature even rewards people with more power as they live longer, feel happier, and have higher levels of serotonin in their brain. People band together in an attempt to dominate other groups even more thoroughly. Wars, racism, economic competition, cutting remarks at parties, domestic violence can all be traced back to the urge to dominate others.

Subtly, even attempts to equalize wealth, income, social status, racial disparities are attempts by those without power to pull down and dominate those who are currently in power. Equality of result is motivated by resentment and envy. Efforts to equalize people's conditions are movements by those who are presently less powerful to gain power over those who have dominated them. Many times these less powerful people are aided by those with power who feel guilty that they have power but then assume power over the minorities they claim to help. For example, witness the recent assertion by the Clintons that Martin Luther King and the black leadership in the Civil Rights Movement were not as effective in actually achieving their social goals until their cause was championed by white leftist liberals such as LBJ and themselves—meaning in clear language—shut up, stay in your place, and do not vote for that uppity Barack Obama.

The desire for power makes the entire project of the Left an impossibility. People are selfish, sadistic, and power-crazy. This urge for dominance will never change until the world as we know it ends. There is no exception in human history to hierarchy and inequality. A more reasonable goal is to limit those in power and induce them to serve the common good as classical liberalism sought to do.

Per The Tyranny Of Structurelessness, hierarchy tends to emerge in human interactions; the hazard of express anti-hierarchy is that the structure forms out of sight, instead of where people can keep an eye on it. In ochlocracy/mobocracy, this usually leads to rule not necessarily by a majority consensus, but by the most persistent, aggressive, and ballsiest people. On the internet, these are the people with the time to stay up late and keep posting long after everyone else has had enough, and in the real world it usually refers to anyone with the most guns.

One evening, I went to see Aleksandr Prokhanov, a far-right newspaper editor and novelist, whom Iíve known since the late eighties. In the Soviet period, he was known as the Nightingale of the General Staff...Prokhanov loathed Gorbachev and YeltsinóGorbachev for his weakness and lack of regard for the Soviet system, Yeltsin for 'hollowing out the state.' He not only favored the K.G.B.-led putsch against Gorbachev, in 1991; he was the principal author of an ominous manifesto, 'A Word to the People,' shortly before Gorbachev was put under house arrest at his vacation home in Crimea and tanks rolled into the center of Moscow...Prokhanov is now in his seventies. In the Yeltsin era, the 'democratic' media rarely invited Prokhanov on the air. These days, the Nightingale sings brightly and nationally; he appears regularly on talk shows and prime-time debates, a deliberate attempt by the regime to give voice to ascendant, approved ideas. When a liberal is trotted out to debate him, viewers invariably vote in overwhelming numbers for Prokhanovís arguments. 'I miss the nineties! They were the best!' he said with mock despair. 'I was in the opposition and was alone battling against the system! Now I am part of the system.'
The New Yorker, "Watching the Eclipse"

    real life 
We make allowance for a certain degree of selfishness in men; because we know it to be inseparable from human nature, and inherent in our frame and constitution. By this reflexion we correct those sentiments of blame, which so naturally arise upon any opposition.
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

The room being hung around with a collection of the portraits of remarkable men, among them were those of Bacon, Newton and Locke. Hamilton asked me who they were. I told him they were my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced, naming them. He paused for some time: 'The greatest man,' said he, 'that ever lived, was Julius Caesar.'

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (1937)

Usury is the cancer of the world, which only the surgeon's knife of fascism can cut out of the life of the nations.
Ezra Pound, What is Money For?

Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.

If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.
Winston Churchill, speaking in Rome on 1.20.1927 in praise of Mussolini

The Truth Apparent, apparent to everyone's eyes how are not blinded by dogmatism, is that men are perhaps weary of Liberty.

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization.
Ludwig von Mises on the Cold War

They were told that love — indiscriminate love for one's fellow man — is the highest virtue, and they obeyed....When they discovered this philosophy did not work, because in fact it cannot work, the hippies had neither the wit nor the courage to challenge it.
Ayn Rand, Apollo and Dionysus

Well, I would say that, as long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power.
F.A. Hayek on Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet

Thatcherism was the rodent slowly stirring in my viscera: the uneasy but unbanishable feeling that on some essential matters she might be right.

This was my first taste of nationalist triumphalism in wartime. There was almost no one I could speak with. A populace that had agitated for change now outdid itself to lionize uniformed killers. All bowed before the state. It taught be a crucial lesson that I would carry into every other conflict. Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours, is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that was alone is able to deliver. It reduces and at times erases the anxiety of individual consciousness. We abandon individual responsibility for a shared, unquestioned communal enterprise, however morally dubious.
Chris Hedges on the Falklands War, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Europeans have sometimes been beguiled by a despotism that comes concealed in the seductive form of an ideal — as it did in the cases of Hitler and Stalin. This fact may remind us that the possibility of despotism is remote neither in space nor in time.
Kenneth Minogue, Politics: A Very Short Introduction

Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

I really am a pessimist. I've always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It's something essentially splendid because it's not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.

Well, if we wait for an ecological disaster, it'll be too late...we'd probably have a fascist takeover—with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anybody could think of. I'd even agree to it, because there just aren't any other alternatives around right now.
Noam Chomsky on anthropocentric climate change, Understanding Power

Can I just make a special request in the magic lamp? Can we get like Netanyahu, or like Putin in for 48 hours, you know, head of the United States? I donít know. I just want somebody to get in here and get it done right so that Americans donít have to worry and wake up in the morning fearful of a group thatís murderous and horrific like ISIS.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, The Five 8.25.14