Brutality Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 79 quotes )
I know the evil of my ancestors because I am those people. The balance is delicate in the extreme. I know that few of you who read my words have ever thought about your ancestors this way. It has not occurred to you that your ancestors were survivors and that the survival itself sometimes involved savage decisions, a kind of wanton brutality which civilized humankind works very hard to suppress. What price will you pay for that suppression? Will you accept your own extinction? -The Stolen Journals
On an individual level, the human condition changed day by day, even hour by hour, and while you were soaking in self-pity over a misfortune, you might miss an opportunity for a redeeming triumph. And for every act of inhumanity, the species managed to committ a hundred acts of kindness; so if you were the type to brood, you would be more sensible if you dwelt on the remarkable goodwill with which most people treated others even in a society where the cultural elites routinely mocked virtue and celebrated brutality. BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOONChapter 5
There was an air of indifference about them, a calm produced by the gratification of every passion; and through their manners were suave, one could sense beneath them that special brutality which comes from the habit of breaking down half-hearted resistances that keep one fit and tickle one’s vanity—the handling of blooded horses, the pursuit of loose women.
In another Nabokov novel, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Sebastian's brother discovers two seemingly incongruous pictures in his dead brother's library: a pretty, curly-haired child playing with a dog and a Chinese man in the act of being beheaded. The two pictures remind us of the close relation between banality and brutality.
Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot
It is eminently possible to have a market-based economy that requires no such brutality and demands no such ideological purity. A free market in consumer products can coexist with free public health care, with public schools, with a large segment of the economy -- like a national oil company -- held in state hands. It's equally possible to require corporations to pay decent wages, to respect the right of workers to form unions, and for governments to tax and redistribute wealth so that the sharp inequalities that mark the corporatist state are reduced. Markets need not be fundamentalist.
A man is born into this world with only a tiny spark of goodness in him. The spark is God, it is the soul; the rest is ugliness and evil, a shell. The spark must be guarded like a treasure, it must be nurtured, it must be fanned into flame. It must learn to seek out other sparks, it must dominate the shell. Anything can be a shell, Reuven. Anything. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark.
Truth has advocates who seek understanding," Richard said. "Corrupt ideas have miserable little fanatics who attempt to enforce their beliefs through intimidation and brutality... through faith. Savage force is faith's obedient servant. Violence on an apocalyptic scale can only be born of faith because reason, by its very nature, disarms senseless cruelty. Only faith thinks to justify it.
[from Some words about 'War and Peace']In those days also people loved, envied, sought truth and virtue, and where carried away by passions; and there was the same complex mental and moral life among the upper classes, where were in some instances even more refined than now. If we have come to believe in the perversity and coarse violence of that period, that is only because the traditions, memoirs, stories, and novels that have been handed to us, record for the most part exceptional cases of violence and brutality. To suppose that the predominant characteristic of that period was turbulence, is as unjust as it would before a man, seeing nothing but the tops of trees beyond a hill, to conclude that there was nothing to be found in that locality but trees.
I admit that I treed a rheumatic grandfather of mine in the winter of 1850. He was old and inexpert in climbing trees, but with the heartless brutality that is characteristic of me I ran him out of the front door in his night-shirt at the point of a shotgun, and caused him to bowl up a maple tree, where he remained all night, while I emptied shot into his legs. I did this because he snored. I will do it again if I ever have another grandfather.
In the face of brutality I was prudent. Before injustice I held my peace. I sacrificed the things in hand for the good of they hypothetical whole. I believed in the tongue instead of the fist. As an armor against oppression I taught patience and faith in the human soul I know now how wrong I was. I have been a traitor to myself and to my people. All that is not. Now is the time to act and to act quickly. Fight cunning with cunning and might with might