Tyranny, Tyrants and Tyrannical Systems

[torture] “presupposes, it requires, it craves the abrogation of our capacity to imagine others’ suffering, dehumanizing them so much that their pain is not our pain. It demands this of the torturer, placing the victim outside and beyond any form of compassion or empathy, but also demands of everyone else the same distancing, the same numbness…” Ariel Dorfman, from his new book “Torture: A Collection”
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“...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing.” Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837
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“…So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.” Voltaire, François Marie Arouet (1694-1778), Philosophical Dictionary, 1764
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“A Jap’s a Jap. There is no way to determine their loyalty... This coast is too vulnerable. No Jap should come back to this coast except on a permit from my office.” General John L. DeWitt, head, Western Defense Command; before the US House Naval Affairs Subcommittee
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“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear.” Cicero Marcus Tullius, born on January 3, 106 BC and was murdered on December 7, 43 BC
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“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” Edward R. Murrow
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“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), US Founding Father
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“A new fascism promises security from the terror of crime. All that is required is that we take away the criminals’ rights—which, of course, are our own. Out of our desperation and fear we begin to feel a sense of security from the new totalitarian state.” Gerry Spence, lawyer and author, source: Give Me Liberty, 1998
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“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
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“Today the tyrant rules not by club or fist, but, disguised as a market researcher, he shepherds his flocks in the ways of utility and comfort.” Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)
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“A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.” Aristotle
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“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage— torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral color when it is committed by ‘our’ side. … The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” George Orwell
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“All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” The Declaration of Independence (1776)
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“All of history attests that the centralization and concentration of power breed despotism.” H.A.Scott Trask
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“Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.” Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
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“An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein – and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans.” David Frum, speechwriter for USA president, George W Bush
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“For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Paul Wolfowitz, USA Deputy Defense Secretary in an interview in the July 2003 issue of magazine Vanity Fair
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“The US and other Western governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and ignored Amnesty International’s campaign on behalf of the thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians killed in the 1988 attacks on Halabja. Once again, the human rights record of a country is used selectively to legitimize military actions.” Amnesty International
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“A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.” Aristotle
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“Another nation is made out to be utterly depraved and fiendish, while one’s own nation stands for everything that is good and noble. Every action of the enemy is judged by one standard - every action of oneself by another. Even good deeds by the enemy are considered a sign of particular devilishness, meant to deceive us and the world, while our bad deeds are necessary and justified by our noble goals, which they serve.” Eric Fromm
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“Any excuse will serve a tyrant.” Aesop (c. 550 B.C.), legendary Greek fabulist, The Wolf and the Lamb
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“Anyone who tells you that ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ is whistling past the graveyard of history. There is no ‘house rule’ that bars tyranny coming to America. History is replete with republics whose people grew complacent and descended into imperial butchery and chaos.” Mike Vanderboegh (1953- ), Alabama Minuteman
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“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness.” Justice William O. Douglas
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“It is also in the interests of a tyrant to keep his people poor, so that they may not be able to afford the cost of protecting themselves by arms and be so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for rebellion.” Aristotle in Politics, J. Sinclair translation, pg. 226, 1962
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“Ask yourself why totalitarian dictatorships find it necessary to pour money and effort into propaganda for their own helpless, chained, gagged slaves, who have no means of protest or defense. The answer is that even the humblest peasant or the lowest savage would rise in blind rebellion were he to realize that he is being immolated, not to some incomprehensible ‘noble purpose’, but to plain, naked, human evil.” Ayn Rand
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“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” Aldous Huxley
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“Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don’t regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression.” Gerard K. O’Neill
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“Because we fear the responsibility for our actions, we have allowed ourselves to develop the mentality of slaves. Contrary to the stirring sentiments of the Declaration of Independence, we now pledge “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” not to one another for our mutual protection, but to the state, whose actions continue to exploit, despoil, and destroy us.” Butler D. Shaffer
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“But they don’t use law—they use law for their interests. They don’t go by law, international, federal, local—nothing! They go by whatever is expedient to protect the interests that are at stake.” Malcolm X, answer to question, Militant Labor Forum, January 7, 1965)
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“Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.” Simone Weil
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“Christopher Columbus is a symbol, not of a man, but of imperialism. Imperialism and colonialism are not something that happened decades ago or generations ago, but they are still happening now with the exploitation of people. The kind of thing that took place long ago in which people were dispossessed from their land and forced out of subsistence economies and into market economies—those processes are still happening today.” - John Mohawk, Seneca, 1992
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“Conformities are called for much more eagerly today than yesterday... skeptics, liberals, individuals with a taste for private life and their own inner standards of behavior, are objects of fear and derision and targets of persecution for either side... in the great ideological wars of our time.” Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) - Source: Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, 1950
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“Confronted with such a tight regulation, can man pretend to be free because the tyranny he is subjected to derives from the law? Of course, the legal power is not called “tyranny” since it appears to be established by the general will in the common interest, and since, in any event, occurrences of arbitrary power are infrequent. But a master’s equity does not mean that his subjects are not slaves. ... And when their servitude lasts and their thoughts follow their behavior, the state becomes totalitarian and subjection is complete. Since it is legal servitude, the regime is still said to be democratic. Such is the hypocrisy of political language.” Georges Ripert, Le Déclin du Droit. Étude sur la législation contemporaine (Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 1949), p. 69
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“Criminal, n. A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.” Howard Scott
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“Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” H.L. Mencken
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“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like the evil spirits at the dawn of day.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to Pierre S. du Pont de Nemours, 24 April 1816
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“Fortunately, many people would prefer to live a simple life in a good society than a life of riches and power in a horrible society.” Randy Schutt, Inciting Democracy
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“Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of ‘emergency’. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And ‘emergency’ became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.” Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), 31st US President
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“Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires.” Edward W. Said, “Orientalism 25 Years Later,” Counterpunch.org website, 4 August 2003
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“Sovereignty over any foreign land is insecure.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC-65), Roman philosopher and playwright


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