In a democratic age, only the behavior of the authorities is subject to public criticism; that of the people themselves, never.
If a lack of money had prevented people from improving their lot, then mankind would still be living in the caves: unless you believe that investment capital first arrived from outer space.
In the British public service nothing succeeds like failure: indeed, failure is success, if looked on in the right way, namely as something requiring yet further intervention in people's lives to amend.
The attempt to regulate relations between people too closely, by means of the law, in the name of an abstraction such as equality, leads to both absurdity and cruelty.
It is easy to be lenient at other people's expense, and call it generosity of mind.
There is something deeply attractive, at least to quite a lot of people, about squalor, misery, and vice. They are regarded as more authentic, and certainly more exciting, than cleanliness, happiness, and virtue.
If consequences are removed from enough actions, then the very concept of human agency evaporates, life itself becomes meaningless, and is thenceforth a vacuum in which people oscillate between boredom and oblivion.
There is nothing an addict likes more, or that serves as better pretext for continuing his present way of life, than to place the weight of responsibility for his situation somewhere other than on his own decisions.
Having been issued the false prospectus of happiness through unlimited sex, modern man concludes, when he is not happy with his life, that his sex has not been unlimited enough. If welfare does not eliminate squalor, we need more welfare; if sex does not bring happiness, we need more sex.
Civilization is the sum total of all those activities that allow men to transcend mere biological existence and reach for a richer mental, aesthetic, material, and spiritual life.
To make up for its lack of a moral compass, the British public is prey to sudden gusts of kitschy sentimentality followed by vehement outrage, encouraged by the cheap and cynical sensationalism of its press. Spasms of self-righteousness are its substitute for the moral life.
The nearer emotional life approaches to hysteria, to continual outward show, the less genuine it becomes. Feeling becomes equated with vehemence of expression, so that insincerity becomes permanent.
When the cold war ended, I thought, as no doubt did many others, that the age of ideology was over. Again like many others, I underestimated man's need for transcendence, which, in the absence of religion or high culture, he is most likely to find in a political or social cause.
Truth is not the first casualty of war alone: it is the first casualty of populism.
The refusal of free inquiry derives from an awareness of the fragility of the basis of religious faith; and since certainty is psychologically preferable to truth, the former often being willfully mistaken for the latter, anything that threatens certainty is anathematized with fury.