... the sense of human misery is a pre-condition of justice and love. He who does not realize to what extent shifting fortune and necessity hold in subjection every human spirit, cannot regard as fellow-creatures nor love as he loves himself those whom chance separated from him by an abyss. The variety of constraints pressing upon man give rise to the illusion of several distinct species that cannot communicate. Only he who has measured the dominion of force, and knows how not to respect it, is capable of love and justice.
Simone Weil, The Iliad or The Poem of Force

Competitions are for horses, not artists.
Bela Bartok

Reformers who are obsessed with purity and cannot see that their obsession is impure.
E. M. Forster

If the map and the terrain disagree, trust the terrain.
Swiss Army Aphorism

The road to hell has often been paved with good intentions. Therefore, evil is best recognized not by its motives but by its methods.
Raymond's Law of Consequences

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy

Most people think spies are afraid of guns, or KGB guards, or barbed wire, but in point of fact the most dangerous thing they face is paper. Papers carry secrets. Papers can carry death warrants. Papers like this one, this folio with its blurry eighteen year old faked missile photographs and estimates of time/survivor curves and pervasive psychosis ratios, can give you nightmares, dragging you awake screaming in the middle of the night.
Charles Stross, A Colder War

It takes two to speak truth—one to speak, and another to hear.
Henry David Thoreau

If you strike a child take care that you strike it in anger, even at the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor should be forgiven.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.
Eleanor Roosevelt

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln and Free Speech

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to seperate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended—civilizations are built up—excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top, and then it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up alright and run a few yards, and then it breaks down.
C.S.Lewis, Mere Christanity

Those who do not do politics will be done in by politics.
French Proverb

Perfection [in design] is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.
Isaac Asimov, Foundation

This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The idea that laws decide what is right or wrong is mistaken in general. Laws are, at their best, an attempt to achieve justice; to say that laws define justice or ethical conduct is turning things upside down.
Richard M. Stallman, Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays