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The Unconscious Civilization The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul
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The Unconscious Civilization Quotes Showing 1-21 of 21
“Whenever governments adopt a moral tone - as opposed to an ethical one - you know something is wrong.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Now listen to the first three aims of the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s. These were developed by the people who went on to become part of the Fascist experience:
(1) shift power directly to economic and social interest groups;
(2) push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies;
(3) obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest -- that is, challenge the idea of the public interest.
This sounds like the official program of most contemporary Western governments.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“The neo-conservatives, who are closely linked to the neo-corporatists, are rather different. They claim to be conservatives, when everything they stand for is a rejection of conservatism. They claim to present an alternate social model, when they are little more than the courtiers of the corporatist movement. Their agitation is filled with the bitterness and cynicism typical of courtiers who scramble for crumbs at the banquet tables of real power, but are always denied a proper chair.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Simplicity is no longer presented as a virtue. The value of complex and difficult language has been preached with such insistence that the public has begun to believe the lack of clarity must be a sign of artistic talent.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Virtually every politician portrayed in film or on television over the last decade has been venal, corrupt, opportunistic, cynical, if not worse. Whether these dramatized images are accurate or exagerated matters little. The corporatist system wins either way: directly through corruption and indirectly through the damage done to the citizen's respect for the representative system.
(III - From Corporatism to Democracy)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Criticism is perhaps the citizen's primary weapon in the exercise of her legitimacy. That is why, in the corporatist society, conformism, loyalty and silence are so admired and rewarded; why criticism is so punished or marginalized. Who has not experienced this conflict?”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“If individuals do not occupy their legitimate position, then it will be occupied by a god or a king or a coalition of interest groups. If citizens do not exercise the powers confered by their legitimacy, others will do so.
(I - The Great Leap Backwards)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Fashion is merely the lowest form of ideology. To wear or not to wear blue jeans, to holiday or not to holiday in a particular place can contribute to social acceptance or bring upon us the full opprobrium of the group. Then, a few months or years later, we look back and our obsession, our fears of ridicule, seem a bit silly. By then, we are undoubtedly caught up in new fashions.
(I - The Great Leap Backwards)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Our essential difficulty is that we are seeking in a mechanism, which is necessary, qualities it simply does not possess. The market does not lead, balance or encourage democracy. However, properly regulated it is the most effective way to conduct business.
It cannot give leadership even on straight economic issues. The world-wide depletion of fish stocks is a recent example. The number of fish caught between 1950 and 1989 multiplied by five. The fishing fleet went from 585,000 boats in 1970 to 1.2 million in 1990 and on to 3.5 million today (1995). No one thought about the long- or even medium-term maintenance of stocks; not the fishermen, not the boat builders, not the fish wholesalers who found new uses for their product, including fertilizer and chicken feed; not the financiers. It wasn't their job. Their job was to worry about their own interests.
(IV - From Managers and Speculators to Growth)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“In general, democracy and individualism have advanced in spite of and often against specific economic interest. Both democracy and individualism have been based upon financial sacrifice, not gain. Even in Athens, a large part of the 7,000 citizens who participated regularly in assemblies were farmers who had to give up several days' work to go into town to talk and listen.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Rights are a protection from society. But only by fulfilling their obligations to society can the individual give meaning to that protection.
(V - From Ideology Towards Equilibrium)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
tags: rights
“the regional governments can't raise taxes. The source of revenue would simply leave for another region. In fact, the effect of decentralization without guaranteed funding and national or multinational standards is a competition between regions for the lowest possible tax rates.
(III - From Corporatism to Democracy)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“the marketplace is capable only of calculating exclusive costs; that is; excluding all possible costs that interfere with profit. Leadership of society requires the calculation of inclusive costs. To invoke the marketplace, as if calling upon the Holy Spirit, is to limit ourselves to the narrow and short-term interests of exclusion.
(IV - From Managers and Speculators to Growth)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“To say now that the negative results of globalization are simply Destiny is to say that a whole new round of social divisions and violence is also our Destiny. In other words, the collapsing job market, slipping standards of living, the loss of fair regulations, the evaporation of big business tax revenues and the weakening of social programs are inevitable and so we must begin the endless, sterile battles of social division all over again.
(IV - From Managers and Speculators to Growth)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“(...) his (Adam Smith's) theory of sympathy rejected self-love as the basic motive for behaviour. He also defined virtue as consisting of three elements: propriety, prudence and benevolence. By this he meant propriety or the appropriate control and directing of our affections; prudence or the judicious pursuit of our private interests; and benevolence or the exercise of only those affections that encourage the happiness of others. How poor Adam Smith got stuck with disciples like the market economists and the neo-conservatives is hard to imagine. He is in profound disagreement with their view of society.
(V - From Ideology Towards Equilibrium)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“In a society of ideological believers, nothing is more ridiculous than the individual who doubts and does not conform.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“In reality high profits tend much more to raise the price of (a piece of) work than high wages. (quoting Adam Smith - ch.
(III - From Corporatism to Democracy)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“technologies come and go. Economic structures evolve and change. Society adjusts. But democratic basics persist in spite of the Tofflers, Gingrich and the chorus of corporate voices.
(III - From Corporatism to Democracy)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“If you cannot create, then buy a company that can. In particular, the large corporations buy small, personnally owned companies that have made breakthroughs in particular areas. They are buying creativity, though the immediate rush this produces doesn't last long. Once integrated into an administrative atmosphere, the creativity is sucked out of them.
(IV - From Managers and Speculators to Growth)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“To live in delusion is to live in the comfort of ideology.”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
“Basic technical training is, of course, useful. But to treat it as anything more than that is to lock students into technology that will be obsolete by the time they graduate. The time wasted will also deprive them of the basic training in knowledge and thinking that might help them adjust to the constant changes outside.
(IV - From Managers and Speculators to Growth)”
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization