- Birthday, Books, Politics, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Freedom is creative universality, not utility.”

 

Happy birthday, C. L. R. James! Here are some quotes from the historian:

 

“In politics, all abstract terms conceal treachery.”

 

“Property-owners are the most energetic flag-waggers and patriots in every country, but only so long as they enjoy their possessions: to safeguard those they desert God, King, and Country in a twinkling.”

 

“The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich.”

 

“The cruelties of property and privilege are always more ferocious than the revenges of poverty and oppression. For the one aims at perpetuating resented injustice, the other is merely a momentary passion soon appeased.”

 

“When history is written as it ought to be written, it is the moderation and long patience of the masses at which men will wonder, not their ferocity.”

 

“The rich are only defeated when running for their lives.”

 

“The process of revolution is essentially the process of people finding themselves.”

 

“The end toward which mankind is inexorably developing by the constant overcoming of internal antagonisms is not the enjoyment, ownership, or use of goods, but self-realization, creativity based upon the incorporation into the individual personality of the whole previous development of humanity. Freedom is creative universality, not utility.”

 

“There are and always will be some who, ashamed of the behavior of their ancestors, try to prove that slavery wasn’t so bad after all, that its evils and its cruelty were the exaggerations of propagandists and not the habitual lot of the slaves. Men will say (and accept) anything in order to foster national pride or soothe a troubled conscience.”

 

“The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich.”

 

“An army is a miniature of the society which produces it.”

 

“The race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics, and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental.”

 

“Yet when the masses turn (as turn they will one day) and try to end the tyranny of centuries, not only the tyrants but all ‘civilisation’ holds up its hands in horror and clamours for ‘order’ to be restored. If a revolution carries high overhead expenses, most of them it inherits from the greed of reactionaries and the cowardice of the so-called moderates.”

 

“Uninhibited, they wallowed with zest in the filth and mire of their political conceptions and needs, among the very leaders of their society, but nevertheless the very dregs of human civilisation and moral standards. A historian who finds excuses for such conduct by references to the supposed spirit of the times, or by omission, or by silence, shows thereby that his account of events is not to be trusted.”

 

“But today as then, the great propertied interests and their agents commit the most ferocious crimes in the name of the whole people, and bluff and brow-beat them by lying propaganda.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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