The average educated man in America has about as much knowledge of what a political idea is as he has of the principles of counterpoint. Each is a thing used in politics or music which those fellows who practice politics or music manipulate somehow. Show him one and he will deny that it is politics at all. It must be corrupt or he will not recognize it. He has only seen dried figs. He has only thought dried thoughts. A live thought or a real idea is against the rules of his mind.
The differences between revolution in art and revolution in politics are enormous. Revolution in art lies not in the will to destroy but in the revelation of what has already been destroyed. Art kills only the dead.
The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.
The ordinary politician has a very low estimate of human nature. In his daily life he comes into contact chiefly with persons who want to get something or to avoid something. Beyond this circle of seekers after privileges, individuals and organized minorities, he is aware of a large unorganized, indifferent mass of citizens who ask nothing in particular and rarely complain. The politician comes after a while to think that the art of politics is to satisfy the seekers after favors and to mollify the inchoate mass with noble sentiments and patriotic phrases.
The teaching of politics is that the Government, which was set for protection and comfort of all good citizens, becomes the principal obstruction and nuisance with which we have to contend… The cheat and bully and malefactor we meet everywhere is the Government.
The Twist was a guided missile, launched from the ghetto into the very heart of suburbia. The Twist succeeded, as politics, religion, and law could never do, in writing in the heart and soul what the Supreme Court could only write on the books.
There is a schizophrenic nature in modern politics. A leader is expected to have a religious faith but he is not supposed to let it influence him in his duties. Somehow, the truths that determine everything else about his existence are not allowed to influence how he conducts himself in public life. Not only that, his principles are usually considered so personal that the public is not even allowed to know for certain what they are. This passes for noble statecraft in our time. It was once thought cowardice.
There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause.
To bemoan the messiness of politics is not just a folly it betrays a dangerous impatience with basic realities. It is like becoming disturbed that people do not fall in love sensibly -- and so deciding to computerize the problem.
We ought to reverence books; to look on them as useful and mighty things. If they are good and true, whether they are about religion, politics, farming, trade, law, or medicine, they are the message of Christ, the maker of all things -- the teacher of all truth.