The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world.
– James Baldwin – page 489 of COLLECTED ESSAYS (1998), from chapter one of “The Devil Finds Work” (orig. pub. 1976)
Patriotism in its simplest, clearest and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason, conscience, and a slavish enthralment to those in power.
– Leo Toystoy
If they talk about dying for principles that are bigger than life you say mis- ter you’re a liar. Nothing is bigger than life. There’s nothing noble in death. What’s noble about lying in the gound and rotting? What’s noble about never seeing the sunshine again? What’s noble about hav- ing your legs and arms blown off? What’s noble about being an idiot? What’s noble about being blind and deaf and dumb? What’s noble about being dead? Because when you’re dead mister it’s all over. It’s the end. You’re less than a dog less than a rat less than a bee or an ant less than a maggot crawling around on a dungheap. You’re dead mister and you died for nothing. You’re dead mister. Dead.
– Dalton Trumbo – Source: Johnny Got His Gun – I entered the quote directly as it is found in the text with the same line endings, and the same lack of punctuation. Possibly the greatest anti-war novel ever written.