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 QUO2TES
P.J. O'Rourke - Quotes 101-200

A nation with a goofy foreign policy needs a very serious policy of defense.

P.J. O'Rourke

Jewishness cropped up and has never successfully been put down since.

P.J. O'Rourke

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.

P.J. O'Rourke

Nothing makes an awful secret like a secret Negro... Up North, confess your bloodline freely. There's nothing a Northerner likes better than a black person who is completely white. Do not, however, try this trick with real blacks. They could give a shit... (If you travel in very sophisticated circles, you may want to turn Marcus Aurelius into Moses Schmeckle. Racism is very lower-class. Upper-class people are never racists; they're anti-Semites.)

P.J. O'Rourke

We're told cars are dangerous. It's safer to drive through South Central Los Angeles than to walk there. We're told cars are wasteful. Wasteful of what? Oil did a lot of good sitting in the ground for millions of years. We're told cars should be replaced with mass transportation. But it's hard to reach the drive-through window at McDonald's from a speeding train. And we're told cars cause pollution. A hundred years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?

P.J. O'Rourke

I wonder how many of the people who profess to believe in the leveling ideas of collectivism and egalitarianism really just believe that they themselves are good for nothing. I mean, how many leftists are animated by a quite reasonable self-loathing? In their hearts they know that they are not going to become scholars or inventors or industrialists or even ordinary good kind people. So they need a way to achieve that smugness for which the left is so justifiably famous. They need a way to achieve self-esteem without merit. Well, there is politics. In an egalitarian world everything will be controlled by politics, and politics requires no merit.

P.J. O'Rourke

Foreigners may pretend otherwise, but if English is spoken loudly enough, anyone can understand it, the British included. Actually, there's no such thing as a foreign language. The world is just filled with people who grunt and squeak instead of speaking sensibly. French may be an exception. But since it's impossible to figure out what French people are saying, we'll never know for sure.

P.J. O'Rourke

The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.

P.J. O'Rourke

Only one way to cover a story like this, and make that a double, bartender, please.

P.J. O'Rourke

Wherever there's injustice, oppression, and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening.

P.J. O'Rourke

Your money does not cause my poverty. Refusal to believe this is at the bottom of most bad economic thinking.

P.J. O'Rourke

The idea of a news broadcast once was to find someone with information and broadcast it. The idea now is to find someone with ignorance and spread it around.

P.J. O'Rourke

When Adam Smith was being incomprehensible, he didn't have the luxury of brief, snappy technical terms as a shorthand for incoherence.

P.J. O'Rourke

A charity ball is like a dance except it's tax deductible.

P.J. O'Rourke

Saddam Hussein was reduced to the Unabomber - Ted Kaczynski - a nutcase hiding in the sticks. Sure, the terrorism by his supporters is frightening. Hence, its name, 'terrorism.' Killing innocent people by surprise is not called 'a thousand points of light.' But, as frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. The minute somebody sets off a suicide bomb, you can be sure that person doesn't have 'career prospects.' And no matter how horrendous a terrorist attack is, it's still conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an Air Force.

P.J. O'Rourke

The difference between American parties is actually simple. Democrats are in favor of higher taxes to pay for greater spending, while Republicans are in favor of greater spending, for which the taxpayers will pay.

P.J. O'Rourke

Moore's new book, Dude, Where's My Country?, contains ten chapters of fulminations convincing the convinced. However, Moore does include one chapter on how to argue with a conservative. As if. Approached by someone like Michael Moore, a conservative would drop a quarter in Moore's Starbucks cup and hurriedly walk away.

P.J. O'Rourke

Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Stepanakert, capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region, rioted over much needed spelling reform in the Soviet Union.

P.J. O'Rourke

The people who believe that, as a result of industrial development, life is about to become a hell, or may be one already, are guilty, at least, of sloppy pronouncements. On page 8 of Earth in the Balance, Al Gore claims that his study of the arms race gave him 'a deeper appreciation for the most horrifying fact in all our lives: civilization is now capable of destroying itself.' In the first place, the most horrifying fact in many of our lives is that our ex-spouse has gotten ahold of our ATM card. And civilization has always been able to destroy itself. The Greeks of ancient Athens, who had a civilization remarkable for lack of technological progress during its period of greatest knowledge and power, managed to destroy them fine.

P.J. O'Rourke

In the sixties, however, various consumer advocates began to help complainers find a market for their wares. There is only one organization that is required to take everyone - and their complaints - seriously. So the government became the foremost grumble customer. And it is, of course, the government's bureaucratic agencies who have to do the buying.

P.J. O'Rourke

The Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes is said to have slept in a barrel. And supposedly it was a happy revelation to him that he could drink out of his cupped palms and thus throw away one more possession: his mug. But Diogenes had a barrel, a fairly complex piece of technology. Compared with the way some Tanzanians exist, Diogenes was a Sharper Image customer.

P.J. O'Rourke

God is an elderly, or at any rate, middle-aged, male. A stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal, and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds man strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of others. He is politically connected, socially powerful, and holds the mortgage on everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

P.J. O'Rourke

The preamble to the Constitution states: 'We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare...' It doesn't say, 'guarantee the general welfare.' And it certainly doesn't say 'give welfare benefits to all the people in the country who aren't doing so well even if the reason they aren't doing so well is because they're sitting on their butts in front of the TV.'

P.J. O'Rourke

Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China and dozens of smaller places around the world did indeed create just such leviathan governmental engines of 'good,' and the dreadful history of the 20th century is in large part a history of the terrible results of these collectivist endeavors. Once respect for the individual is lost, then what do 100 million dead individuals matter - especially if their deaths are for the 'collective good?'

P.J. O'Rourke

The first question of political science is - or should be: 'What is good for everyone?' And, by 'everyone' we must mean 'all individuals.'

P.J. O'Rourke

It is the beauty of well-designed fascism that it gives every piss-ant an ant hill to piss from.

P.J. O'Rourke

Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a Parliament of Whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.

P.J. O'Rourke

When somebody screams obscenities at the corner lamppost and relieves himself on your front steps, you can't get that person committed to a mental hospital. But if you walk through the park after 8:00 p.m., all your friends call you crazy. We are not a serious nation.

P.J. O'Rourke

In the end we beat them with Levi 501 jeans. Seventy-two years of Communist indoctrination and propaganda was drowned out by a three-ounce Sony Walkman. A huge totalitarian systemů had been brought to its knees because nobody wanted to wear Bulgarian shoes.

P.J. O'Rourke

The spending of an amount equal to the nation's gross national product in 1987 to relieve poverty has left everybody just sitting around slack jawed and dumbstruck, staring into the maw of that most extraordinary paradox: You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

P.J. O'Rourke

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the chickweed on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.

P.J. O'Rourke

If you listen to campaign rhetoric, you'll realize that politicians no longer spend money, they invest it. Don't worry about paying more to the Internal Revenue Service. You aren't being taxed; you're taking a plunge on a fly-by-night stock issue.

P.J. O'Rourke

The American political system is like a gigantic Mexican Christmas fiesta. Each political party is a piñata - a papier-mâché donkey, for example. The donkey is filled with full employment, low interest rates, affordable housing, comprehensive medical benefits, a balanced budge and other goodies. The American voter is blindfolded and given a stick. The voter then swings the stick wildly in every direction, trying to hit a political candidate on the head and knock some sense into the silly bastard.

P.J. O'Rourke

A president provides leadership, but I don't know what that means. There was always a lot of talk about leadership in the Boy Scouts. So maybe the president is the first person in the nation to learn how to tie 25 different knots and the last person to admit he'd rather be necking with girls than building an Indian wigwam.

P.J. O'Rourke

Collectivism doesn't work because it's based on a faulty economic premise. There is no such thing as a person's 'fair share' of wealth. The gross national product is not a pizza that must be carefully divided because if I get too many slices, you have to eat the box. The economy is expandable and, in any practical sense, limitless.

P.J. O'Rourke

We won't dispassionately investigate or rationally debate which drugs do what damage and whether or how much of that damage is the result of criminalization. We'd rather work ourselves into a screaming fit of Puritanism and then go home and take a pill.

P.J. O'Rourke

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.

P.J. O'Rourke

Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns.

P.J. O'Rourke

Restraining people from demanding ever bigger hand-outs of other people's money is the chief role of government in a democracy. Alexander Tytler, an 18th century Scottish historian and judge, used to insist that democracy could only last as long as people didn't realize that they could vote themselves as much as they wanted from the public treasury.

P.J. O'Rourke

I can remember the antediluvian age of dope hysteria, when the occasional bebop musician's ownership of a Mary Jane cigarette threatened to turn every middle-class American teenager into a sex-crazed car thief. (This particular hysteria proved well-founded. Every middle-class American teenager did try marijuana and did become sex-crazed - although no more car-thievish than usual.)

P.J. O'Rourke

Our Founding Fathers lacked the special literary skills with which modern writers on the subject of government are so richly endowed. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, they found themselves more or less forced to come to the point. So clumsy of thought and pen were the Founders that even today, seven generations later, we can tell what they were talking about.

P.J. O'Rourke

No matter how serious the events I've witnessed, I've never noticed that being serious about them did anything to improve the fate of the people involved.

P.J. O'Rourke

The observers had a logbook recording the assaults, bombings, and artillery attacks on the area. Each page was ruled in vertical columns: DATE, TIME, LOCATION, DAMAGE, CASUALTIES. The columns headed ACTION TAKEN BY THE UN were completely empty.

P.J. O'Rourke

The difference between individual intelligence and group intelligence is the difference between Harvard University and the Harvard University football team.

P.J. O'Rourke

For all we know, the Supreme Court decides cases by playing nude games of Johnny-on-a-pony. This would be a more interesting theory if the members of the Supreme Court were younger and better looking.

P.J. O'Rourke

Maybe it's understandable what a history of failures America's foreign policy has been. We are, after all, a country full of people who came to America to get away from foreigners.

P.J. O'Rourke

My Grandmother wouldn't even speak the word 'Democrat' if there were children in the room, she'd say 'bastards' instead.

P.J. O'Rourke

Relatively uncontrollable spending is not uncontrollable, not even relatively. The president could introduce, and Congress could pass, legislation that would stop it all. But this would leave recipients of government booty - many of whom vote on a regular basis - grouchy. And we don't want that.

P.J. O'Rourke

You know, if government were a product, selling it would be illegal. Government is a health hazard. Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat belts ever have. Government contains impure ingredients - as anybody who's looked at Congress can tell you.

P.J. O'Rourke

Ignorance is stupid, but education leads to college students. Smart people don't start too many bar fights, but stupid people don't build many hydrogen bombs. Then again, smart people would never drop one. Or would they? Its something we ought to know.

P.J. O'Rourke

Our democracy, our culture, our whole way of life is a spectacular triumph of the blah. Why not have a political convention without politics to nominate a leader who's out in front of nobody? Maybe our national mindlessness is the very thing that keeps us from turning into one of those smelly European countries full of pseudo-reds and crypto-fascists and greens who dress like forest elves.

P.J. O'Rourke

Hollywood stands for unhappiness. It was the most unpleasant work I've ever done in my life. There are thousands of people vying for positions of which there are only a few. Most businesses are not entirely run on the zero-sum game. Hollywood is - anyone else's gain is your loss.

P.J. O'Rourke

You fall in love with perhaps half a dozen people in your life, and a like number of people fall in love with you. But the affections are rarely mutual and almost never contemporary. It is the most irresponsible thing that can be done to let such a coincidence pass and not act upon it.

P.J. O'Rourke

As of early 2004, America didn't seem to have the answers for postwar Iraq. Then again, what were the questions? Was there a bad man? And his bad kids? Were they running a bad country? That did bad things? Did they have a lot of oil money to do bad things with? Were they going to do more bad things? If those were the questions, was the answer 'UN-supervised national reconciliation' or 'rapid return to self-rule'? No. The answer was blow the place to bits. A mess was left behind. But it's a mess without a military to fight aggressive wars; a mess without the facilities to develop dangerous weapons; a mess that cannot systematically kill, torture, and oppress millions of its citizens. It's a mess with a message - don't mess with us.

P.J. O'Rourke

Clinton was everybody's best friend. Except when he wasn't. He conducted undeclared air wars against Serbia and Iraq and launched missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan. Clinton used the military more often than any previous peacetime American president. He sent armed forces into areas of conflict on an average of once every nine weeks.

P.J. O'Rourke

Man developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there. Previously, all the dinosaurs had died. Paleolithic, Neolithic, and other oddly named men spread. They used fire, but being primitive, they used it for everything - food, clothing, and bodily decoration. Caves were painted, also fixed up and furnished in a simple but attractive style. They were ideal for young couples who were just starting the human race. The Earth was proved flat and there was an extensive series of religious debates that killed everyone with an IQ over 50.

P.J. O'Rourke

Bicycles are childish. Bicycles have their proper place, and that place is under small boys delivering evening papers. Insofar as children are too short to see over the dashboards of cars and too small to keep motorbikes upright at intersections, bikes are suitable vehicles for them. But what do we make of an adult in a suit and tie pedaling his way to work? St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 13:11, said, 'When I became a man, I put away childish things.' He did not say, 'When I became a man, I put away childish things and got more elaborate and expensive childish things from France and Japan.'

P.J. O'Rourke

Because I was curious and wanted a few facts, there are no important people in this book - no interviews with Heads of State or Major Figures On The International Scene. These people didn't get where they are by being dumb enough to tell reporters the truth.

P.J. O'Rourke

There are no earnest messages in this book. Half the world's suffering is caused by earnest messages contained in grand theories bearing no relation to reality - Marxism and No-Fault Auto Insurance, to name two. Earnestness is just stupidity sent to college.

P.J. O'Rourke

The Japanese take snapshots of everything, not just everything famous but EVERYTHING. Back in Tokyo there must be a billion color slides of street corners, phone booths, fire hydrants and overhead electrical wires. What are the Japanese doing with all these pictures? Its probably a question we should have asked before Pearl Harbor.

P.J. O'Rourke

The government is huge, stupid, greedy and makes nosy, officious and dangerous intrusions into the smallest corners of life - this much we can stand. But the real problem is that government is boring. We could cure or mitigate the other ills Washington visits on us if we could only bring ourselves to pay attention to Washington itself. But we cannot.

P.J. O'Rourke

The principle feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things - war and hunger and date rape - liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it; you just have to be liberal.

P.J. O'Rourke

If we're going to improve the environment, the first thing we should do is duck the government. The second thing we should do is quit being moral. Screw the rights of nature. Nature will have rights as soon as it gets duties. The minute we see birds, trees, bugs, and squirrels picking up litter, giving money to charity, and keeping an eye on our kids at the park, we'll let them vote.

P.J. O'Rourke

The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors - psychology, sociology, women's studies - to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.

P.J. O'Rourke

In comparative terms, there's no poverty in America by a long shot. Heritage Foundation political scientist Robert Rector has worked up figures showing that when the official U.S. measure of poverty was developed in 1963, a poor American family had an income twenty-nine times greater than the average per capita income in the rest of the world. An individual American could make more money than 93 percent of the other people on the planet and still be considered poor.

P.J. O'Rourke

How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?

P.J. O'Rourke

I agree with me.

P.J. O'Rourke

Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government and nothing of anything else.

P.J. O'Rourke

Politics should be limited in scope to war, protection of property, and the occasional precautionary beheading of a member of the ruling class.

P.J. O'Rourke

Watching Republicans in Washington is like watching lemmings, if lemmings jumped into cesspools instead of off cliffs. Splash! There goes Mark Foley!

P.J. O'Rourke

At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

P.J. O'Rourke

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is the archetypal extremely smart person who went into politics anyway instead of doing something worthwhile for his country. So maybe he owes all of us an apology.

P.J. O'Rourke

Sen. Ted Kennedy: 'And when the Reagan administration was selling arms to Iran, WHERE WAS GEORGE?' Answer: Dry, sober, and at home with his wife.

P.J. O'Rourke

One of the problems with being a writer is that all of your idiocies are still in print somewhere. I strongly support paper recycling.

P.J. O'Rourke

The average IQ in America is - and this can be proven mathematically - average.

P.J. O'Rourke

Life is filled with pain and sorrow, facts which cannot fail to touch the heart of any perceptive American. Therefore no US citizen with an IQ over 110 is sober after 6:00 in the evening.

P.J. O'Rourke

When other countries demand a role in the exercise of global power, America can ask another fundamental American question: 'You and what army?'

P.J. O'Rourke

Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?

P.J. O'Rourke

A woman should dress to attract attention. To attract the most attention, a woman should be either nude, or wearing something as expensive as getting her nude is going to be.

P.J. O'Rourke

The founding fathers, in their wisdom, devised a method by which our republic can take one hundred of its most prominent numbskulls and keep them out of the private sector where they might do actual harm.

P.J. O'Rourke

You can't get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism.

P.J. O'Rourke

Any rich man does more for society than all the jerks pasting 'Visualize World Peace' bumper stickers on their cars. The worst leech of a merger and acquisitions lawyer making $500,000 a year will, even if he cheats on his taxes, put $100,000 into the public coffers. That's $100,000 worth of education, charity or US Marines. And the Marine Corps does more to promote world peace than all the Ben & Jerry's ice cream ever made.

P.J. O'Rourke

I really didn't understand before that moment, I didn't realize until just then - we won. The Free World won the Cold War. All the people who had been sent to gulags, who'd been crushed in the streets of Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, the soldiers who'd died in Korea and my friends and classmates who had been killed in Vietnam - it meant something now. All the treasure that we in America had poured into guns, planes, Star Wars and all the terrifying A-bombs we'd had to build and keep - it wasn't for nothing.

P.J. O'Rourke

The great religions (and conservatives are known for approving of God) teach salvation as an individual matter. There are no group discounts in the Ten Commandments, Christ was not a committee, and Allah does not welcome believers into Paradise saying, 'You weren't much good yourself, but you were standing near some good people.' That we are individuals - unique, disparate and willful - is something we understand instinctively from an early age. No child ever wrote to Santa: 'Bring me - and a bunch of kids I've never met - a pony, and we'll share.'

P.J. O'Rourke

Washington has lots of those Greek- and Roman-style buildings that practically make you feel like a senator just walking up the steps of them. Senators, in particular, are fond of this feeling, and this is one reason official Washington escaped the worst effects of modern architecture. Also, steel and glass skyscrapers are relatively cheap to build, and cost effectiveness is not a concept here.

P.J. O'Rourke

Majority rule is a precious, sacred thing worth dying for. But - like other precious, sacred things, such as the home and the family - it's not only worth dying for; it can make you wish you were dead. Imagine if all of life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza. Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stonewashed denim. Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library. And - since women are a majority of the population - we'd all be married to Mel Gibson.

P.J. O'Rourke

Government power is not necessarily abused more often than personal power, but when the abuse does come, it's a lulu. At work, power over the whole supply cabinet is concentrated in the person of the office manager. In government, power over the entire military is concentrated in the person of the commander-in-chief. You steal felt tip pens. Hitler invades Poland.

P.J. O'Rourke

Just as some things are too strange for fiction, others are too true for journalism.

P.J. O'Rourke

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.

P.J. O'Rourke

If Europeans didn't discover North America then how'd we all get here?

P.J. O'Rourke

Why are conservatives opposed to gun control? In case we have to shoot Democrats. It happened during the Civil War, and it could happen again.

P.J. O'Rourke

There are just two rules of governance in a free society: mind your own business, and keep your hands to yourself.

P.J. O'Rourke

If the Perennially Indignant think pollution is the fault only of Reaganites wallowing in capitalist greed, then they should go take a deep breath in Smolensk or a long drink from the river Volga.

P.J. O'Rourke

Crowded as the country is, is overcrowding even its main problem? Hong Kong and Singapore both have greater population densities (14.315 and 12.347 per square mile, respectively) than Bangladesh, and they're called success stories. The same goes for Monaco. In fact, the whole Riviera is packed in August, and neither Malthus nor Ehrlich have complained about the topless beaches of St. Tropez.

P.J. O'Rourke

Reading about economics after watching a lot of economic activity is like reading the assembly instructions after the Christmas toy has been put together. Certain significant patterns begin to take shape in the mind, even though the instructions are still gibberish and the toy doesn't work.

P.J. O'Rourke

Conservatism is a philosophy that relies upon personal responsibility and promotes private liberty. It is an ideology of individuals. Everyone with any sense and experience in life would rather take his fellows one by one than in a crowd. Crowds are noisy, unreasonable and impatient. They can trample you easier than a single person can. And a crowd will never buy you lunch.

P.J. O'Rourke

Terrible danger lurks in the idea that the government should do more to protect people and give them more of the things they need. France shows you what happens when you base politics on the idea that the government has to give ever-greater protection and benefits to people: the economy simply gets asphyxiated. France's official unemployment rate is 10 per cent; its real rate is probably closer to 40 per cent. Government regulations ensure that business-people can't fire anyone in France. They respond by not hiring anyone.

P.J. O'Rourke

Government contains impure ingredients - as anybody who's looked at Congress can tell you.

P.J. O'Rourke

Just once, I'd love to hear a politician say: 'We're going to bring the second-best minds together to work on this.' The second-best minds are all much more practical people than the first-class guys.

P.J. O'Rourke

In its better forms, conservatism simply says that the structures of society, both civil and political, religious and so on, are the result of a long series of trial-and-error experiments by millions of human beings, not only all over the world, but through time. And that you should toss out received wisdom only very carefully. Obviously there are some ideas that were around for centuries that were not good (slavery comes to mind). But when people have been doing something for a millennium or two, there is probably a reason. And you better be pretty careful before you just throw it out.

P.J. O'Rourke

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