I pride myself with having discerned even then the symptoms of what is so clear today, when a kind of family circle has gradually been formed, linking representatives of all nations, jolly empire-builders in their jungle clearings, French policemen, the unmentionable German product, the good old churchgoing Russian and Polish pogromshchik, the lean American lyncher, [and] the man with the bad teeth who squirts antiminority stories in the bar or the lavatory…

-Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Advertisements

[T]he basic principle I would like to see communicated to people is the idea that every form of authority and domination and hierarchy, every authoritarian structure, has to prove that it’s justified–it has no prior justification. … And when you look, most of the time these authority structures have no justification: they have no moral justification, they have no justification in the interests of the person lower in the hierarchy, or in the interests of other people, or the environment, or the future, or the society, or anything else–they’re just there in order to preserve certain structures of power and domination, and the people at the top.
So I think that whenever you find situations of power, these questions should be asked–and the person who claims the legitimacy of the authority always bears the burden of justifying it. And if they can’t justify it it’s illegitimate and should be dismantled. … I don’t understand anarchism as being much more than that.

-Noam Chomsky, On Anarchism

Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.
But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

-Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

Ed.: K. V. was writing in reference to life in George W. Bush’s America, who he also refers to as a child. K. V. passe away in 2007. You cold say he passed away before the punchline of the joke he himself was telling.

Es war schön und hatte etwas Verlockendes, Macht über Menschen zu haben und vor andern hervorzuglänzen, aber es hatte auch eine Dämonie und Gefahr, und die Weltgeschichte bestand ja aus einer lückenlosen Reihe von Herrschern, Führern, Machern und Befehlshabern, welche mit unendlich seltenen Ausnahmen alle hübsch begonnen und übel geendet, welche alle, wenigstens angeblich, um des Guten willen nach der Macht gestrebt hatten, um nachher von der Macht besessen und betäubt zu werden und sie um ihrer selbst willen zu lieben.

-Hermann Hesse, Glasperlenspiel

… ich persönlich gestehe, daß ich schwer über solche Zusammenstöße mit dem landläufig Menschenlichen, dem naiven Mißbrauch der Macht, der Ungerechtigkeit, der kriecherischen Korruption hinwegkomme. Sie beschäftigten mich zu lange, stürzten mich in ein irritiertes Nachdenken, das seine Fruchtlosigkeit der übergroßen Selbstverständlichkeit und Natürlichkeit dieser Erscheinungen verdankt.

-Thomas Mann, Mario und der Zauberer