Love, Poverty, and War Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays by Christopher Hitchens
1,446 ratings, 4.12 average rating, 65 reviews
Open Preview
Love, Poverty, and War Quotes (showing 1-30 of 37)
“The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“The finest fury is the most controlled.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“I have not been able to discover whether there exists a precise French equivalent for the common Anglo-American expression 'killing time.' It's a very crass and breezy expression, when you ponder it for a moment, considering that time, after all, is killing us.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“How ya doin'?' I always think, What kind of a question is that?, and I always reply, 'A bit early to tell.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Part of the function of memory is to forget; the omni-retentive mind will break down and produce at best an idiot savant who can recite a telephone book, and at worst a person to whom every grudge and slight is as yesterday's.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“In our time, the symbol of state intrusion into the private life is the mandatory urine test.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“When I was a schoolboy in England, the old bound volumes of Kipling in the library had gilt swastikas embossed on their covers. The symbol's 'hooks' were left-handed, as opposed to the right-handed ones of the Nazi hakenkreuz, but for a boy growing up after 1945 the shock of encountering the emblem at all was a memorable one. I later learned that in the mid-1930s Kipling had caused this 'signature' to be removed from all his future editions. Having initially sympathized with some of the early European fascist movements, he wanted to express his repudiation of Hitlerism (or 'the Hun,' as he would perhaps have preferred to say), and wanted no part in tainting the ancient Indian rune by association. In its origin it is a Hindu and Jainas symbol for light, and well worth rescuing.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“In a Pyongyang restaurant, don't ever ask for a doggie bag.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Beware what you wish for, unless you have the grace to hope that your luck can be shared.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Nobody knows how many North Koreans have died or are dying in the famine—some estimates by foreign-aid groups run as high as three million in the period from 1995 to 1998 alone—but the rotund, jowly face of Kim Il Sung still beams down contentedly from every wall, and the 58-year-old son looks as chubby as ever, even as his slenderized subjects are mustered to applaud him.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“We can always be sure of one thing—that the messengers of discomfort and sacrifice will be stoned and pelted by those who wish to preserve at all costs their own contentment. This is not a lesson that is confined to the Testaments.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“The fervor and single-mindedness of this deification probably have no precedent in history. It's not like Duvalier or Assad passing the torch to the son and heir. It surpasses anything I have read about the Roman or Babylonian or even Pharaonic excesses. An estimated $2.68 billion was spent on ceremonies and monuments in the aftermath of Kim Il Sung's death. The concept is not that his son is his successor, but that his son is his reincarnation. North Korea has an equivalent of Mount Fuji—a mountain sacred to all Koreans. It's called Mount Paekdu, a beautiful peak with a deep blue lake, on the Chinese border. Here, according to the new mythology, Kim Jong Il was born on February 16, 1942. His birth was attended by a double rainbow and by songs of praise (in human voice) uttered by the local birds. In fact, in February 1942 his father and mother were hiding under Stalin's protection in the dank Russian city of Khabarovsk, but as with all miraculous births it's considered best not to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Sooner or later, all talk among foreigners in Pyongyang turns to one imponderable subject. Do the locals really believe what they are told, and do they truly revere Fat Man and Little Boy? I have been a visiting writer in several authoritarian and totalitarian states, and usually the question answers itself. Someone in a café makes an offhand remark. A piece of ironic graffiti is scrawled in the men's room. Some group at the university issues some improvised leaflet. The glacier begins to melt; a joke makes the rounds and the apparently immovable regime suddenly looks vulnerable and absurd. But it's almost impossible to convey the extent to which North Korea just isn't like that. South Koreans who met with long-lost family members after the June rapprochement were thunderstruck at the way their shabby and thin northern relatives extolled Fat Man and Little Boy. Of course, they had been handpicked, but they stuck to their line.

There's a possible reason for the existence of this level of denial, which is backed up by an indescribable degree of surveillance and indoctrination. A North Korean citizen who decided that it was all a lie and a waste would have to face the fact that his life had been a lie and a waste also. The scenes of hysterical grief when Fat Man died were not all feigned; there might be a collective nervous breakdown if it was suddenly announced that the Great Leader had been a verbose and arrogant fraud. Picture, if you will, the abrupt deprogramming of more than 20 million Moonies or Jonestowners, who are suddenly informed that it was all a cruel joke and there's no longer anybody to tell them what to do. There wouldn't be enough Kool-Aid to go round. I often wondered how my guides kept straight faces. The streetlights are turned out all over Pyongyang—which is the most favored city in the country—every night. And the most prominent building on the skyline, in a town committed to hysterical architectural excess, is the Ryugyong Hotel. It's 105 floors high, and from a distance looks like a grotesquely enlarged version of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco (or like a vast and cumbersome missile on a launchpad). The crane at its summit hasn't moved in years; it's a grandiose and incomplete ruin in the making. 'Under construction,' say the guides without a trace of irony. I suppose they just keep two sets of mental books and live with the contradiction for now.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“I want to give just a slight indication of the influence the book has had. I knew that George Orwell, in his second novel, A Clergyman's Daughter , published in 1935, had borrowed from Joyce for his nighttime scene in Trafalgar Square, where Deafie and Charlie and Snouter and Mr. Tallboys and The Kike and Mrs. Bendigo and the rest of the bums and losers keep up a barrage of song snatches, fractured prayers, curses, and crackpot reminiscences. But only on my most recent reading of Ulysses did I discover, in the middle of the long and intricate mock-Shakespeare scene at the National Library, the line 'Go to! You spent most of it in Georgina Johnson's bed, clergyman's daughter.' So now I think Orwell quarried his title from there, too.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Trotsky was so much an intellectual that in the final analysis, Marxism was not quite enough for him.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Bloomberg does not support the measure to silence the useless and maddening car alarm: he would rather impose himself on people than on mechanical devices.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Consider the great Samuel Clemens. Huckleberry Finn is one of the few books that all American children are mandated to read: Jonathan Arac, in his brilliant new study of the teaching of Huck, is quite right to term it 'hyper-canonical.' And Twain is a figure in American history as well as in American letters. The only objectors to his presence in the schoolroom are mediocre or fanatical racial nationalists or 'inclusivists,' like Julius Lester or the Chicago-based Dr John Wallace, who object to Twain's use—in or out of 'context'—of the expression 'nigger.' An empty and formal 'debate' on this has dragged on for decades and flares up every now and again to bore us. But what if Twain were taught as a whole? He served briefly as a Confederate soldier, and wrote a hilarious and melancholy account, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. He went on to make a fortune by publishing the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. He composed a caustic and brilliant report on the treatment of the Congolese by King Leopold of the Belgians. With William Dean Howells he led the Anti-Imperialist League, to oppose McKinley's and Roosevelt's pious and sanguinary war in the Philippines. Some of the pamphlets he wrote for the league can be set alongside those of Swift and Defoe for their sheer polemical artistry. In 1900 he had a public exchange with Winston Churchill in New York City, in which he attacked American support for the British war in South Africa and British support for the American war in Cuba. Does this count as history? Just try and find any reference to it, not just in textbooks but in more general histories and biographies. The Anti-Imperialist League has gone down the Orwellian memory hole, taking with it a great swirl of truly American passion and intellect, and the grand figure of Twain has become reduced—in part because he upended the vials of ridicule over the national tendency to religious and spiritual quackery, where he discerned what Tocqueville had missed and far anticipated Mencken—to that of a drawling, avuncular fabulist.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“At a certain point talk about 'essence' and 'oneness' and the universal becomes more tautological than inquisitive.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“I saw exactly one picture of Marx and one of Lenin in my whole stay, but it's been a long time since ideology had anything to do with it. Not without cunning, Fat Man and Little Boy gradually mutated the whole state belief system into a debased form of Confucianism, in which traditional ancestor worship and respect for order become blended with extreme nationalism and xenophobia. Near the southernmost city of Kaesong, captured by the North in 1951, I was taken to see the beautifully preserved tombs of King and Queen Kongmin. Their significance in F.M.-L.B. cosmology is that they reigned over a then unified Korea in the 14th century, and that they were Confucian and dynastic and left many lavish memorials to themselves. The tombs are built on one hillside, and legend has it that the king sent one of his courtiers to pick the site. Second-guessing his underling, he then climbed the opposite hill. He gave instructions that if the chosen site did not please him he would wave his white handkerchief. On this signal, the courtier was to be slain. The king actually found that the site was ideal. But it was a warm day and he forgetfully mopped his brow with the white handkerchief. On coming downhill he was confronted with the courtier's fresh cadaver and exclaimed, 'Oh dear.' And ever since, my escorts told me, the opposite peak has been known as 'Oh Dear Hill.'

I thought this was a perfect illustration of the caprice and cruelty of absolute leadership, and began to phrase a little pun about Kim Jong Il being the 'Oh Dear Leader,' but it died on my lips.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“In effect, nobody who is not from the losing classes has ever been thrust into a death cell in these United States.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Kilmartin wrote a highly amusing and illuminating account of his experience as a Proust revisionist, which appeared in the first issue of Ben Sonnenberg's quarterly Grand Street in the autumn of 1981. The essay opened with a kind of encouragement: 'There used to be a story that discerning Frenchmen preferred to read Marcel Proust in English on the grounds that the prose of A la recherche du temps perdu was deeply un-French and heavily influenced by English writers such as Ruskin.' I cling to this even though Kilmartin thought it to be ridiculous Parisian snobbery; I shall never be able to read Proust in French, and one's opportunities for outfacing Gallic self-regard are relatively scarce.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“The North Korean capital, Pyongyang, is a city consecrated to the worship of a father-son dynasty. (I came to think of them, with their nuclear-family implications, as 'Fat Man and Little Boy.') And a river runs through it. And on this river, the Taedong River, is moored the only American naval vessel in captivity. It was in January 1968 that the U.S.S. Pueblo strayed into North Korean waters, and was boarded and captured. One sailor was killed; the rest were held for nearly a year before being released. I looked over the spy ship, its radio antennae and surveillance equipment still intact, and found photographs of the captain and crew with their hands on their heads in gestures of abject surrender. Copies of their groveling 'confessions,' written in tremulous script, were also on show. So was a humiliating document from the United States government, admitting wrongdoing in the penetration of North Korean waters and petitioning the 'D.P.R.K.' (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) for 'lenience.' Kim Il Sung ('Fat Man') was eventually lenient about the men, but not about the ship. Madeleine Albright didn't ask to see the vessel on her visit last October, during which she described the gruesome, depopulated vistas of Pyongyang as 'beautiful.' As I got back onto the wharf, I noticed a refreshment cart, staffed by two women under a frayed umbrella. It didn't look like much—one of its three wheels was missing and a piece of brick was propping it up—but it was the only such cart I'd see. What toothsome local snacks might the ladies be offering? The choices turned out to be slices of dry bread and cups of warm water.

Nor did Madeleine Albright visit the absurdly misnamed 'Demilitarized Zone,' one of the most heavily militarized strips of land on earth. Across the waist of the Korean peninsula lies a wasteland, roughly following the 38th parallel, and packed with a titanic concentration of potential violence. It is four kilometers wide (I have now looked apprehensively at it from both sides) and very near to the capital cities of both North and South. On the day I spent on the northern side, I met a group of aging Chinese veterans, all from Szechuan, touring the old battlefields and reliving a war they helped North Korea nearly win (China sacrificed perhaps a million soldiers in that campaign, including Mao Anying, son of Mao himself). Across the frontier are 37,000 United States soldiers. Their arsenal, which has included undeclared nuclear weapons, is the reason given by Washington for its refusal to sign the land-mines treaty. In August 1976, U.S. officers entered the neutral zone to trim a tree that was obscuring the view of an observation post. A posse of North Koreans came after them, and one, seizing the ax with which the trimming was to be done, hacked two U.S. servicemen to death with it. I visited the ax also; it's proudly displayed in a glass case on the North Korean side.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Playing pool with Korean officials one evening in the Koryo Hotel, which has become the nightspot for foreign businessmen and an increasing number of diplomats (to say nothing of the burgeoning number of spies and journalists traveling under second identities), I was handed that day's edition of the Pyongyang Times. At first glance it seemed too laughable for words: endless pictures of the 'Dear Leader'—Little Boy's exalted title—as he was garlanded by adoring schoolchildren and heroic tractor drivers. Yet even in these turgid pages there were nuggets: a telegram congratulating the winner of the Serbian elections; a candid reference to the 'hardship period' through which the country had been passing; an assurance that a certain nuclear power plant would be closed as part of a deal with Washington. Tiny cracks, to be sure. But a complete and rigid edifice cannot afford fissures, however small. There appear to be no hookers, as yet, in Pyongyang. Yet if casinos come, can working girls be far behind? One perhaps ought not to wish for hookers, but there are circumstances when corruption is the only hope.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“It would be nice to think that the menacing aspects of North Korea were for display also, that the bombs and reactors were Potemkin showcases or bargaining chips. On the plane from Beijing I met a group of unsmiling Texan types wearing baseball caps. They were the 'in-country' team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, there to inspect and neutralize North Korea's plutonium rods. Not a nice job, but, as they say, someone has to do it. Speaking of the most controversial reactor at Yongbyon, one of the guys said, 'No sweat. She's shut down now.' Nice to know. But then, so is the rest of North Korean society shut down—animation suspended, all dead quiet on the set, endlessly awaiting not action (we hope) or even cameras, but light.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“When the first news of the Nazi camps was published in 1945, there were those who thought the facts might be exaggerated either by Allied war propaganda or by the human tendency to relish 'atrocity stories.' In his column in the London magazine Tribune, George Orwell wrote that, though this might be so, the speculation was not exactly occurring in a vacuum. If you remember what the Nazis did to the Jews before the war, he said, it isn't that difficult to imagine what they might do to them during one.

In one sense, the argument over 'Holocaust denial' ends right there. The National Socialist Party seized power in 1933, proclaiming as its theoretical and organising principle the proposition that the Jews were responsible for all the world's ills, from capitalist profiteering to subversive Bolshevism. By means of oppressive legislation, they began to make all of Germany Judenrein, or 'Jew-free.' Jewish businesses were first boycotted and then confiscated. Jewish places of worship were first vandalised and then closed. Wherever Nazi power could be extended—to the Rhineland, to Austria and to Sudeten Czechoslovakia—this pattern of cruelty and bigotry was repeated. (And, noticed by few, the state killing of the mentally and physically 'unfit,' whether Jewish or 'Aryan,' was tentatively inaugurated.) After the war broke out, Hitler was able to install puppet governments or occupation regimes in numerous countries, each of which was compelled to pass its own version of the anti-Semitic 'Nuremberg Laws.' Most ominous of all—and this in plain sight and on camera, and in full view of the neighbours—Jewish populations as distant as Salonika were rounded up and put on trains, to be deported to the eastern provinces of conquered Poland.

None of this is, even in the remotest sense of the word, 'deniable.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“A local phrase book, entitled Speak in Korean, has the following handy expressions. In the section 'On the Way to the Hotel': 'Let's Mutilate US Imperialism!' In the section 'Word Order': 'Yankees are wolves in human shape—Yankees / in human shape / wolves / are.' In the section 'Farewell Talk': 'The US Imperialists are the sworn enemy of the Korean people.' Not that the book is all like this—the section 'At the Hospital' has the term solsaga ('I have loose bowels'), and the section 'Our Foreign Friends Say' contains the Korean for 'President Kim Il Sung is the sun of mankind.'

I wanted a spare copy of this phrase book to give to a friend, but found it was hard to come by. Perhaps this was a sign of a new rapprochement with the United States, or perhaps it was because, on page 46, in the section on the seasons, appear the words: haemada pungnyoni dumnida ('We have a bumper harvest every year').”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“I was hungry when I left Pyongyang. I wasn't hungry just for a bookshop that sold books that weren't about Fat Man and Little Boy. I wasn't ravenous just for a newspaper that had no pictures of F.M. and L.B. I wasn't starving just for a TV program or a piece of music or theater or cinema that wasn't cultist and hero-worshiping. I was hungry. I got off the North Korean plane in Shenyang, one of the provincial capitals of Manchuria, and the airport buffet looked like a cornucopia. I fell on the food, only to find that I couldn't do it justice, because my stomach had shrunk. And as a foreign tourist in North Korea, under the care of vigilant minders who wanted me to see only the best, I had enjoyed the finest fare available.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
“Kim Jong Il, incidentally, has been made head of the party and of the army, but the office of the presidency is still 'eternally' held by his adored and departed dad, who died on July 8, 1994, at 82. (The Kim is dead. Long live the Kim.) This makes North Korea the only state in the world with a dead president. What would be the right term for this? A necrocracy? A thanatocracy? A mortocracy? A mausolocracy? Anyway, grimly appropriate for a morbid system so many of whose children have died with grass in their mouths.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

« previous 1

All Quotes
Quotes By Christopher Hitchens
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game